There will be no posting for a month i.e., till 23.07.2010 as I am going on a month long trek to Kailash Manasarovar in China. Will be back from 23rd of July. Regret the inconvenience.
Politics & the Nation
  • Apex court pulls up ‘blogger’ judge of Karnataka high court
    • This makes an interesting, if not amusing, reading. A High Court going in appeal against an order of a bench of itself against it. And the bench itself showing lot of disrespect to its own Chief Justice. Looks somebody somewhere have lost track of discipline and appropriated for themselves much more than what is due under the law.
  • On amendments relating to the Civil Nuclear liability bill
  • Australia is no longer a favoured destination for Indian students
    • The increasing regularity with which Indian students have been targeted in racial attacks in Australia, appears to have finally taken a toll. Many of the Indian students are no longer preferring Australia as a destination for their higher education. It’s almost certain now that the number of Indian students going to Australia will take a big hit in 2010, and some experts even see a 75% decline.
    • Australia has received over 2.67 lakh global student visa applications in the fiscal year to May 31, 2010. The figure represents a fall of over 18% when compared to the record figures of 2008-09.
    • Indeed, Fall 2010 will be a tad different from previous years. A combination of factors such as stricter immigration norms, changing dynamics in the global job market and incidents of racism in some georgaphies is reshaping the decisions taken by Indian students on overseas education. Some are actually putting their overseas studies on hold for a year or two, despite having got their visas stamped. Many of them prefer to stay back in India and work–at least for now.
Finance & Economy
  • Direct Taxes Code watered down to keep all happy
    • The government has retained the form, but abandoned the spirit of the Direct Taxes Code (DTC) to have a simple, clean tax system without exemptions.
    • A revised discussion paper on the Direct Taxes Code, released by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) on Tuesday, dropped many controversial proposals of the original draft code to help individuals and companies save on their tax outgo.
    • These include levying minimum alternate tax (MAT) on gross assets and taxing savings schemes such as the public provident fund at the time of maturity. Companies will pay MAT on book profits.
    • For more on the rehashed DTC read this news report.
  • Factories, higher rates aid indirect tax mopup
    • Tax collection in the early part of the ongoing fiscal grew at a rapid pace, possibly leading to a lessening of pressure due to government borrowing.
    • Indirect tax revenue, which includes Customs duty, central excise and service tax, increased by 49% in April and May to about Rs 35,000 crore from a year ago.
    • Advance tax payments by corporations are estimated to rise by a fifth in the three months to June 2010.
  • IRDA wins the ULIP battle
    • Insurance industry regulator Irda has emerged the victor in a high-profile tussle over the regulation of so called unit-linked insurance plans, or Ulips, with the government ruling that it and not the market watchdog Sebi would oversee the product.
    • This would set at rest all the issues regarding Ulips between the two financial regulators.
    • The government promulgated an ordinance late on Friday to amend four major laws that could revive the sale of Ulips and force the mutual fund industry to look for new avenues to get investors.
    • Irda and Sebi got into a legal battle over Ulips regulation after the markets regulator on April 9 banned 14 insurers from selling Ulips. Sebi withdrew the ban when bureaucrats brokered a truce, but only to revive it. Sebi moved the Supreme Court to club various public interest litigations against Ulips and resolve the issue of alleged mis-representation and the issue of jurisdiction.
    • The Supreme Court will have to take cognisance of the Ordinance when it hears the case on July 8.
    • The ruling is a relief to existing policy holders who were unsure of continuing with the product and new investors were wary of buying them.
    • Ulips are hybrid products incorporating investment and insurance cover. They account for more than 85% of the portfolio for life insurers. Insurers can now sell new Ulips launched after April 9, 2010.
    • The government will amend the RBI Act, the Insurance Act, the Sebi Act and the Securities Contract Regulation Act to include Ulips, scripts or any such instruments under the life insurance business. The Bill will be introduced in the monsoon session of Parliament.
    • In fiscal year 2009-10, Ulips accounted for more than four-fifths of the total insurance premium of around Rs 2.60 lakh crore that was collected.
  • US to check Chinese plans to build Pak reactors
    • The Obama Administration has decided to oppose China’s plans to build two civilian nuclear reactors in Pakistan. The deal is expected to be discussed at the NSG meeting being held in New Zealand next week.
    • China National Nuclear Corporation plans to finance two more civilian reactors at the Chashma site despite concerns raised about the safety of nuclear material in Pakistan. China earlier built two reactors for Pakistan. The deal oversteps the guidelines of the 46-country Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which bars nuclear commerce between Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) members like China and nonmember states like Pakistan.
    • A special leave of the NSG is required before such a deal can be finalised, as was done in the case of the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal, as India too is not a signatory to the NPT.
    • China disagrees. For its part, Beijing has maintained that the deal had been grandfathered before it joined the NSG in 2004 because it was completing work on two earlier reactors for Pakistan at the time. Washington appears unconvinced by the argument. Additional nuclear cooperation with Pakistan beyond specific projects that were grandfathered in 2004 would require consensus approval by the NSG.
  • The challenges to increased India focus by Britain
    • UK is reportedly trying to forge a new special relationship with India. What are the challenges it faces on its way?
    • From India’s point of view, New Delhi has been taking note of the criticisms by various organisations in India and the UK of the new government’s determination to cap immigration from non-EU countries and the more stringent visa rules for students, spouses and tourists brought into force recently.
    • Secondly, while the Cameron government is eager to take its ties with India to a higher level, it is aware of the competition from the US on that issue. Britain had been partially eclipsed by the US, which signed a nuclear co-operation deal with India in 2008. That was a game-changer for India in terms of its relationship with the US, when it came in from the cold after its nuclear tests and sanctions were lifted.
  • More on the Gulf oil spill and BP's troubles
    • The oil spill is happening because of an explosion on April 20 on an offshore rig. The explosion killed 11 workers.
    • The blowout preventer that is supposed to work properly and stop the oil spill following such explosions did not work. Oil is spewing, reportedly, at the rate of upto 60,000 barrels from the well.
    • BP’s well has reportedly used a cheaper technology than the industry standard and was less secure against natural gas blowouts of the type that destroyed it.
    • The spill — actually hundreds of thousands of small oil patches—has idled much of the US Gulf Coast’s multibillion dollar fishing industry and seeped into ecologically sensitive marches and wetlands despite the efforts of an army of workers to keep it at bay with oil-soaking booms.
    • Hollywood star Kevin Costner joined cleanup efforts on Friday, showing off his ‘dream’ machines to separate oil from water. He has developed them over 17 years — while the oil industry virtually ignored oil spill cleanup research — and BP has acquired 32 of the centrifuges.
  • Jose Saramago
    • Jose Saramago, considered by many to be the world's greatest novelist, was a late bloomer and wrote starkly allegorical fiction. Known for his unflinching communism and hard attacks on globalisation, Saramago, a lyrical fantasist, wrote many masterpieces such as The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reisand Blindness.
    • Calling his books “written orality”, Saramago remained prolific till the end of his life. One of his last books was The Elephant’s Journey, a Quixote-like travel narrative about an Indian elephant named Salomon travelling from Lisbon to Vienna.


Himanshu said...

We will surely miss your current affair update for a month. But that's really an adventurous journey. I have heard that it is the heaven on the earth. Will wait for your experience of the journey as a blog:). Best of luck for the journey sir.

Shikha said...

have a great tour sir....... and enjoy ur kailash mansorovar freezing cold

Anonymous said...

Have a Great Trip!!

Anonymous said...

great trip

Anonymous said...

Your Post is simply superb and very informative.