Politics & the Nation
  • Is UK on a wooing mission to India?
    • If you read this article from David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, that is what we are sure to conclude. Take a look. An interesting read.
  • Quraishi is the new CEC
    • President Pratibha Patil appointed Election Commissioner (EC) Shahabuddin Yaqoob Quraishi as the next Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) under Clause 2 of the Article 324 of the Constitution.
    • Mr. Quraishi will assume office on July 30 as the incumbent, Navin Chawla, demits office on Thursday. He will head the three-member Election Commission till June 10, 2012.
    • Mr. Quraishi is an IAS officer of the 1971 batch from the Haryana cadre. Born on June 11, 1947 in Delhi, Mr. Quraishi is a post-graduate in history from St. Stephen's College here. He did his Ph.D in communication and social marketing.
    • Mr. Quraishi became EC on June 30, 2006. Prior to that, he was Union Secretary, Youth Affairs and Sports. He also served as Director-General, Doordarshan (National Television Network), and Power Secretary of the Haryana government.
  • Those who want the economy to flourish cannot afford to tolerate fascist or authoritarian politics, of which fake encounters are one ugly manifestation. Comment.
    • If you are asked such a question, today's op-ed by TK Arun offers the best possible answer. To summarize:
    • The quintessentially antigrowth nature of fascist politics works at three levels.
    • One, curtailment of individual liberty is inimical to innovation and creativity. Capitalist growth thrives on innovation and creativity, which could have quite disruptive consequences for established businesses. The capitalist economy thrives on the basis of decentralised decisions. An authoritarian state that controls everything hampers such decentralised decision-making and makes the whole system suboptimal.
    • Two, entrenched big business can use its proximity to the state — and the politicians who man it — to get rid of those who make trouble for them, whether extortionists like the late, unlamented Sohrabuddin or upstart industrialists. Crony capitalism and the fascist state are made for each other.
    • Three, the fascist ideology is a combination of authoritarianism with mobilisation of the majority through whipped up hatred of a minority. The social schism created by such antagonistic mobilisation is immanent with disruptive violence. The discrimination that the minority faces under a fascist state deprives the larger community of the creative talents of that minority (First-rate physicists Einstein, Max Born and Schrodinger fled Nazi Germany). More perniciously, it prepares the ground for disruptive violence in society. Often, the violence is directed at, and borne by, the minority. Sometimes, there is retaliatory violence, on a massive scale.

Finance & Economy
  • RBI raises key policy rates; but banks raise only deposit rates
    • In a move to tame price rise, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Tuesday hiked its short-term indicative lending rate by 25 basis points from 5.5 per cent to 5.75 per cent and borrowing rate by 50 basis points from 4 per cent to 4.50 per cent with immediate effect. Take a look at this graphic.
    • The central bank has also raised the projection for real gross domestic product (GDP) growth for 2010-11 to 8.5 per cent, up from its April policy projection of 8 per cent with an upside bias.
    • Some banks have announced a hike in deposit rates without hiking their lending rates. To the layman this may sound a bit strange. Look at the following explanation:
    • The central bank cut the repo rate, the rate at which it lends to banks, by 425 basis points, to 4.75% from 9%, between October 2008 and February this year. During the period banks cut 1-3 year deposit rates by 400 basis points to a low of 6%. But the benchmark lending rates hardly moved by 100 basis points between 14.25% and 13.25%. This action by banks boosted their profitability, leaving the customer poorer. Net interest margins of banks got a boost. These high margins leave scope for slower gains in lending rates even if the central bank keeps raising rates.
  • RBI governor to be vice chief of joint market regulators’ body
    • The government introduced a bill in the Lok Sabha that provides for a joint mechanism headed by the Finance Minister to resolve differences among the financial regulators - SEBI, IRDA, RBI and PFRDA.
    • It had also proposed a joint commission comprising the Finance Minister as Chairperson and RBI Governor as Vice Chairman, Secretary in the Department of Economic Affairs, Secretary (Financial Services) and the heads of stock market, insurance, banking and pension fund regulators - SEBI, IRDA, RBI and PFRDA - as members.
  • Dedicated debt corridor on anvil
    • So reads a headline in today's ET. Is it a physical corridor?
    • No. It is about enabling the establishment of dedicated debt funds to channelise foreign savings into the infrastructure sector. This is yet another attempt to address inadequate funding of this crucial sector that threatens to disrupt India’s economic progress.
    • The finance ministry has reportedly written to regulators to facilitate the setting up of such funds by private entities, and allow them to tap into long-term foreign resources such as pension and insurance funds.
  • Do you have a prescription for controlling inflation?
    • By deploying monetary policy, we cannot hope to achieve medium- or long-term price stability. The decisive action to tackle inflation has to be in the form of acceleration of farm sector growth and ensuring comprehensive and timely distribution of agricultural produce. Also, focus must go back to economic reforms, which will ease supply-side constraints and bottlenecks.

  • Maradona is no longer Argentina's coach
    • The Argentine Football Association (AFA) decided not to renew Maradona’s contract, ending his erratic 21-month stint in charge of the national team that had mirrored his own long personal history of unpredictable behaviour and defiance.
    • The AFA had offered him a four-year contract to continue through to the 2014 World Cup, but Maradona said he would only stay if his entire staff remained.
    • That was an unacceptable condition to AFA president Julio Grondona, who wanted to replace several assistants including Maradona’s close friend, Alejandro Mancuso.

Language Lessons
  • suss: Verb
    • If you suss a person or situation, you realize or work out what their real character or nature is.
  • balminess
    • the quality of weather that is deliciously mild and soothing
  • Sisyphean
    • In Greek mythology, `Sisyphus` was a king punished in the Tartarus by being cursed to roll a huge boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll down again, and repeat this throughout eternity.
    • eg: But whenever the US tries to train security forces in Iraq and Afghanistan so that we can leave behind a somewhat stable country, it’s positively Sisyphean.
  • prêt-à-porter
    • Ready-to-wear or prêt-à-porter (often abbreviated RTW; off the rack or "off-the-peg" in casual use) is the term for factory-made clothing, sold in finished condition, in standardized sizes, as distinct from made to measure or bespoke clothing tailored to a particular person's frame.