Politics & the Nation
  • Search Committee for choosing Ratan Tata's successor
    • It comprises of five eminent persons: Lord Bhattacharya, Cyrus Mistry, Shirin Bharucha, RK Krishna Kumar and NA Soonawala.
    • For a brief profile of these five persons see this piece in today's ET.
  • 15 killed in Leh flash floods
    • At least 115 people were killed and almost 350 injured in flash floods triggered by a massive cloudburst that hit Leh town of Jammu and Kashmir’s Ladakh region, washing away several government buildings and houses.
    • The relief and rescue operation is being carried out in Leh town by over 6,000 soldiers as well as troopers of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). As foot movement is extremely difficult, army helicopters had been pressed into service.
    • The cloudburst occurred at Choglamsar village, which is situated above Leh. Flash floods and mudslides followed the cloudbursts, unleashing the tragedy on the town.
    • Leh, situated at 3,524 mt above sea level, is spread over 45,110 sq km, and comprises the main town and 12 adjacent villages.
  • Supreme Court laments on the pace of judicial process
    • When the SC itself laments over the slow pace of judicial process, what can the country do? Where should it look for solutions?
    • Is it the Law that is the culprit or the legal process?
    • Incidentally look at what the US also is saying (though we all know the same thing) -- that our laws and legal processes cannot deliver justice in time for terror related cases to be tackled effectively.
Finance & Economy
  • Indian rival in works to take swipe at Visa,MasterCard
    • VISA and MasterCard, the American giants that play a role nine out of ten times when anyone uses a credit card in the world, will face an unusual rival in India.
    • IndiaPay, a new state-backed payment processing platform, will be up and running within the next two years. Once it goes onstream, the IndiaPay card will not only dilute the dominance of Visa and MasterCard in the payment processing space, but also bring down transaction charges for banks.
    • At present, close to four crore plastic cards (credit and debit cards put together) are in circulation in the country, with the majority of them being serviced by the two entities.
    • IndiaPay, being developed with Reserve Bank of India’s active support, will be India’s first indigenously developed card payment service provider. The platform is being developed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) — the agency entrusted with the task of steering the project by the central bank.
    • Every time card holders use credit or debit cards at ATMs, point-of-sale terminals or for making online payments, banks have to pay fees to Visa and MasterCard for facilitating the processing of such transactions.
    • Countries like Malaysia and China have put in place their domestic payment processing platforms. While the former established Malaysian Electronic Payment System (MEPS) in 1997, the latter came up with China UnionPay (CUP) in March 2002.
    • The NPCI is promoted by major Indian banks including State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank as well as foreign banks like Citibank and HSBC. The idea was born after the central bank released a vision document in 2005 containing a proposal to set up an umbrella institution for all retail payment systems in the country.
    • Currently, the organisation is headed by AP Hota, chief general manager with the RBI.
  • US doubles H-1B fee to fund border policing
    • This is going to burden the Indian outsourcing industry by about $250 mn annually.
    • A bill, introduced by Democratic senators Chuck Schumer and Claire McCaskil on late Thursday, proposes to raise funds for the $600 million US-Mexico border security by doubling the price for each H-1B work permit. This will increase the annual visa cost for India’s $50 billion outsourcing industry by $200-250 million annually, according to Nasscom.
    • Indian tech firms already pay about $1 bn annually for social security benefits, for which it doesn't derive any benefits.
    • From around $2,000 being paid for each H-1B permit, Indian tech firms will have to pay $4,500 for new visas and $4,000 for visa renewals.
  • Political solution to the stalled GST reform
    • The Centre, which has already bent backwards to accommodate states' concerns, has yet again showed willingness on its part to accommodate states' concerns on the veto power to the Union Finance Minister.
    • Take a look at this news story. Makes an interesting reading. But some excerpts worth noting:
    • The Centre decided to have a state finance minster as Vice Chairman of the proposed Joint Council and limit the Union Finance Minister's veto power only to the extent of Central GST.
    • The Centre has already diluted its stand on a number of issues to get states on board. It has agreed to a three-rate structure for GST, in line with the recommendation of the state FMs panel, under which goods will attract a levy of 20%, services 16% and essential items a concessional 12%. A list of 99 essential items, exempt under the current value-added tax regime, will also be exempted from tax under the GST. It has also offered to compensate the states in full for any revenue loss on account of implementing GST.
    • Now we should wait and see whether all the states would play ball and pass the necessary amendment for GST roll out.
  • Gujarat shows the way in reducing power distribution losses
    • It has a unique scheme called Jyotigram. Under this programme, there’s separation of feeder lines: a heavy-duty one for tubewells and a light-duty one for domestic use and small-scale manufacturing and services. The idea is that consumers get 24×7 power supply for non-agricultural purposes, enhancing both domestic and commercial possibilities. But tubewell power is restricted to eight hours, providing enough water for crops, thus avoiding over-pumping from aquifers and attendant misuse. The dual-feeder system does cost extra: under the scheme, panchayats are required to pay 30% of the estimate cost or 25,000, whichever is more, with the balance 70% met by the state government.

  • US makes history by attending the Hiroshima memorial
    • US sent its Ambassador John Roos to attend the 65th anniversary of the bombing.
    • It is seen by many as potentially paving the way for President Barack Obama to visit Hiroshima - which would be unprecedented for a sitting U.S. leader.
    • About 140,000 people were killed or died within months when the American B-29 'Enola Gay' bombed Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. Three days later, about 80,000 people died after the United States attacked Nagasaki.
    • Japan surrendered on Aug. 15, ending World War II.
    • Concerns that attending the ceremony - an emotional event beginning with the offering of water to the dead and a moment of silence to soothe their souls - would reopen old wounds had kept the U.S. away until this year.
  • Here are some examples of industry-academia (research) interactions
    • It is often said in business schools that industry-academia interaction is what turns out better B-school graduates. In similar vein are statements made about the importance of 'lab to field' flow.
    • Take a look at this piece. We can see some live examples of these interactions. Interesting and heartening to know.
Language Lessons
  • cloudburst: Noun
    • A heavy rain

1 Comment:

Gaurav said...

A Letter to Responsible Media

First in TRP, First in wealth
Media is making our life hell

Forgot Bhopal, forgot Ayodhya
There is anger, we wont tell

You expose corrupt politicians
when no one can hide them

On the bed of corruption
Common-wealth will fail

Everyone knows that
but no one will to go to jail

We will forget everything
We have many things to do

There are big fat mediators
who are inflating our foods

Media targets entertainment
Entertainment targets media

Seriousness of the serious
get mixes with Chaiya chaiya

Rukhsana waits, Rakhi moves
We are not blind, you make us fool

I have stopped watching you
Others will also follow

One day will come
You will also have to follow

Till than keep bull shitting