Politics & the Nation
  • A very good commentary on why deploying the Army against the Maoists is not a correct strategy
    • This is a very good editorial comment worth our reading. It cautions the State against deploying the Army to fight Maoists and draws attention to the successful strategy adopted by the state of Andhra Pradesh in combating Maoists.
    • Though we may wonder oftentimes that the kind of policies followed by the late YSR encourage fiscal profligacy, at times like these -- when we are presented with the challenges of containing Maoist depradations -- we will be left equally wondering about what is good expenditure. Is it the money spent on containing Maoists or is it the money splurged on our rural populace? Had the latter been done in a careful way, there may perhaps be no need for the former.
Finance & Economy
  • Centre mulling a nodal company for managing telecom networks
    • In the wake of its security concerns -- especially about Chinese telecom equipment manufacturers -- the Centre has mooted an idea of forming a nodal company/establishment that will be owned by all telecom operators and will be responsible for for managing, maintaining and building communication networks for them. All international equipment suppliers—Nokia Siemens, Ericsson, Huawei, and Alcatel Lucent, among others—will execute contracts for all service providers through this company.
    • The proposal is based on the premise that getting telcos and gear makers to operate within such a set-up will address security concerns arising out of foreign, especially Chinese, telecom equipment companies building and managing telecom networks in the country.
  • BWA autctions fetch record amounts; Mukesh makes a big-bang entry into the telecom scene
    • Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) made a dramatic return to the telecommunications sector by buying Infotel Broadband just hours after the Nahata family-owned company became the sole winner of pan-India broadband airwaves in an auction that concluded on Friday.
    • RIL is set to acquire a 95% stake in Infotel Broadband for Rs 4,800 crore by subscribing to fresh equity. RIL will not be immediately pitted in direct competition with Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Communications (RCOM), which pulled out of the auction last week.
    • After 16 days and 117 rounds, the auction of broadband wireless access (BWA) spectrum delivered the government an unexpected bonanza of Rs 38,543 crore ($8.25 billion), twice the amount predicted by analysts. Infotel alone bid Rs 12,848 crore for 22 circles. In comparison, India’s largest telco by customer and revenues, Bharti Airtel, paid about Rs 12,300 crore for 3G frequencies in 13 circles.
    • The combined revenues for the Centre from the 3G auction that ended last month and the sale of BWA spectrum is Rs 1.06 lakh crore. The government expected to get Rs 35,000 crore.
    • The auction proceeds are expected to bring down fiscal deficit for FY11 to 4.5% of GDP against govt estimates of 5.5% of GDP
    • Budgeted fiscal deficit for FY11 will come down to Rs 3,10,146 crore from Rs 3,81,408 crore.
  • A good Q&A session related to BWA auctions excerpted from today's ET:
    • What is Broadband Wireless Spectrum?
      • Airwaves that enable access to faster internet data at download rates as high as 6-10 MBPS via the wireless medium. Basically, customers can access streaming videos. Technologies such as WiMax, Long-Term Evolution (LTE) amd Flash-OFDMA support such networks. In India, spectrum winners are expected to use LTE and WiMax.
    • What are the benefits?
      • Improved and faster internet connectivity on the move. To help people in remote and hilly areas, where wireline broadband is out of reach. E-governance and m-commerce will be easier.
    • When will high-speed mobile broadband services be launched?
      • Operators looking to ride the WiMax technology may offer services in a year. For Long-Term Evolution (LTE-4G) operators such as Qualcomm and now RIL, it might take about a year or more.
    • What will be the cost of wireless broadband services & devices?
      • Experts peg broadband service prices at Rs 500-700 a month. In the US, smartphones loaded with WiMax and GSM services cost about $300. LTE handsets are yet to be launched. WiMax laptops cost nearly Rs 500 more than WiFi ones. At about Rs 2,000, WiMax routers cost Rs 600 more than that of a WiFi router.
  • Industry roars at 17.6% in April
    • Industrial production surpassed all predictions to grow 17.6% in April, strengthening the calls for an increase in key policy rates in the quarterly monetary policy review next month despite the gloomy global outlook.
    • Buoyant consumer demand and higher infrastructure spending propelled factory output growth to its strongest since December 2009. But the smart pickup in industrial production, which dipped to 13.5% in March after clocking a 15%-plus growth for three straight months, left finance minister Pranab Mukherjee asking for more.
    • Official data released here on Friday showed that the industrial growth was at a 20-year high.
    • The blockbuster industrial output numbers for April support the government’s expectations of an 8.5% growth in gross domestic product in the current fiscal year, compared with 7.4% last year.
    • Wholesale food inflation had climbed to 16.74% for the week ended May 29, compared with 16.55% in the previous week, putting pressure on RBI to raise rates. However, concerns over the European debt crisis and slowing pace of global economic recovery may prevent RBI from opting for aggressive tightening.
    • Policymakers insist that the time may not be ripe for quickening monetary tightening.
  • An independent labour movement stirs in China
    • This is an article that lets us on to an important development in China.
    • China has only an official labour union. No other union is allowed to come into existence. China basically frowns on labour unrest. But subtle change is under way in China in recent times. The article points us to the evolving trends in China.
  • At Rs 16.4cr, Raza Sets World Record
    • A painting by SH Raza was sold at Christie's for £2.4 million (Rs 16.42 crore) on Thursday, making it a record for any modern or contemporary Indian work of art. Saurashtra, a 7-foothigh, richly-coloured abstract dating from 1983, had been expected to sell for £1.3-1.8 million.
    • The London auction price broke the previous record held by Raza’s work La Terre, which sold for £1.27 million (Rs 8.56 crore) on June 30, 2008, and Souza’s Birth, which set a record on June 11, 2008, with a similar price tag of £1.27 million. The earlier Raza and Souza prices were world auction records for the artists too.
    • Want to see the art piece that got this mind boggling price? Take a look. Understood anything?
Language Lessons
  • calabash: Noun
    • Round gourd of the calabash tree; A pipe for smoking; has a curved stem and a large bowl made from a calabash gourd
  • twit: Noun
    • Someone who is regarded as contemptible; Aggravation by deriding or mocking or criticizing
    • Verb: Harass with persistent criticism or carping
    • eg: Now, most dog lovers would probably want to throw a brick at the chap who suggests their keen, intelligent and highly sensory pets are brainless twits.