Politics & the Nation
  • Kashmir to get a political package
    • Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday made the first move to reach out to the bleeding Valley by promising a political solution that addresses emotional needs of the people and their alienation.
    • Addressing a meeting of an allparty delegation from Jammu and Kashmir, Mr Singh, however, said that only prolonged peace can provide the required momentum to the political process.
    • The prime minister, who backed the security forces that are engaged in bringing normalcy to the Valley, refused to give a commitment on the demand for the withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.
    • In his address, the prime minister also asked the state political parties and the state government to connect more effectively with the people of the Valley. Although the current violent protests are being choreographed by forces based in the hostile neighbourhood, it is also seen as an expression of lack of confidence of people in the Abdullah dynasty. Chief minister Omar Abdullah has proved to be ineffective in meeting the challenges posed by the stone-pelters and their handlers.
    • An expert group headed by Dr C Rangarajan with N R Narayana Murthy, Tarun Das, P Nanda Kumar, Shaqueel Qalander and a representative of the J&K government as members is being set up to formulate a job plan for the state.
  • India up in arms over the US Senate bill
    • India launched a formal protest on Tuesday against the proposed US Senate bill that will raise funds for the Mexico border security by more than doubling visa fees for Indian tech professionals.
    • The discriminatory nature of the bill arises out of the fact that it applies only to the US-based companies that have more than half their employees on H1-B or L-1 visas. This will affect companies of Indian origin as most of them have employed majority of their staff from India even though the total number of such employees account for less than 12% of the total visas issued by the US.
    • US companies, on the other hand, issue a much larger number of H1-B and L-1 visas in total, but generally have more US citizens on their payroll than foreigners and will, therefore, not have to pay this levy.
    • The Indian software industry is already deeply burdened in the absence of a Totalisation Agreement, requiring them to pay more than $1 billion every year to the US in the form of social security.
Finance & Economy
  • JLR steers Tata Motors to highest quarterly profit of 1,988 crore
    • Tata Motors reported its highestever quarterly profit, boosted by an 81% jump in revenue at the Jaguar Land Rover unit, once considered a millstone around its neck but now paves the way for debt lowering and challenging leaders in the luxury cars market.
    • The UK-based luxury carmaker sold 57,153 units compared with 35,947 a year earlier. Revenues from the unit rose 81% to Rs. 15,387 crore, from Rs. 8,508 crore a year ago. Pre-tax profits was Rs. 1,683 crore against a loss of Rs. 873 crore a year ago.
  • The YouGov-Legatum survey
    • This is a survey of 4,000 businessmen in India and China by YouGov, a top online survey organisation, and the Legatum Institute, an independent think tank. The survey represents the subjective view of Indian and Chinese entrepreneurs and provides some useful lessons for public policy.
    • First, economic liberalisation needs to proceed much faster. The bureaucracy continues to be a major problem, so we need get rid of many pointless rules and regulations. The quality of governance is poor, so we need administrative and legal reforms to reduce corruption and improve access to common justice. Access to finance is a major problem in India, and so the Reserve Bank of India must abandon its ultra-conservative policy in licensing more banks and branches.
    • Finally, jugaad is a vital ingredient of success. India may not have ample natural resources like oil or copper, but it has jugaad, which is more valuable. Natural resources like oil are often a curse: they can lead to government kleptocracy and authoritarianism. But jugaad helps foil government kleptocracy and authoritarian regulations. It enabled Indian business to survive the licence-permit raj, and to blossom after the 1991 reforms.
    • Some specific findings from the survey:
    • No less than 93% of Chinese businessmen say the main reason for their spectacular success is network connections (guangxi), especially with government officials. Indian businessmen, however, have succeeded despite the government: 81% say the main reason for their success is jugaad, the ability to find innovative way round prohibitive rules and institutions.
    • In 2011-20, India’s workforce will increase by 110 million, but China’s by less than 20 million, according to a Goldman Sachs study. This advantage may translate into faster GDP growth.
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  • Japan public debt hits record high
    • Japan's government debt hit a record high of more than 10 trillion dollars as of the end of June report, 733.81 trillion yen, or 81.2%, of the total accounted for government bonds.
    • Per-capita debt is around 7.1 million yen ($83,000).
    • The debt is a legacy of massive stimulus spending during the economic “lost decade” of the 1990s, as well as a series of pump-priming packages to tackle the recession which began in 2008. It crawled out of a severe year-long recession in 2009, but high public debt as well as deflation and weak domestic demand are hindering Japan.
    • Japan has faced global pressure to do more to cut its debt in recent months, although with around 95% of government bonds held by domestic investors, Japan’s risk of default is seen to be much lower than some eurozone countries.
Language Lessons
  • roadster: Noun
    • An open automobile having a front seat and a rumble seat; A small lightweight carriage; drawn by a single horse
  • station wagon: Noun
    • A car that has a long body and rear door with space behind rear seat
  • mendicant: Noun
    • A male member of a religious order that originally relied solely on alms; A pauper who lives by begging
  • snafu: Noun
    • An acronym for: situation normal all fouled up