Politics & the Nation
  • Panchayats overhaul soon to smoothen rural schemes
    • With a huge amount of funds riding on various rural development programmes, the Manmohan Singh government has now turned its sights on reforming and strengthening the panchayati raj system. And the task is going to start at the level of the gram panchayats, which are the vehicle for the implementation of most of the rural development projects.
    • With decentralisation and capacity-building serving as the broad parameters, the rural development ministry is working on developing and augmenting three critical aspects — human resources, infrastructure and connectivity. The government proposes to build mini-secretariats in all the two-and-a-half lakh gram panchayats across the country, which would serve as the nodal point for the execution and monitoring of all the rural development programmes.
  • Give foodgrain to poor rather than let it rot: SC
    • Expressing serious concern over government’s failure to provide adequate warehousing and water proof enclosure causing widespread rotting of the foodgrain in the country, the Supreme Court on Thursday asked the authorities to ensure free distribution of the such scattered grains to the poor and hungry.
    • The court directed the government to establish adequate warehouses /godowns for storage of the foodgrain which were rotting in absence of such facilities. It asked the government to ensure construction of a big godown in each of the states besides separate godowns in different districts and divisions within the states.
    • The bench also asked the government to ensure that fair price shops are kept open throughout the month. It also asked the authorities to increase the quantum of food supply to the population Below Poverty Line and to ensure distribution of the foodgrain to the deserving population at a very low cost or no cost. The PDS needs to be strengthened, particularly in tribal and drought-prone areas of the country, court said.
    • The court also found fault with the supply of food through PDS system to people living above the poverty line. If existing subsidy is withdrawn from ABPL families, there would be enough foodgrain to those in the BPL category, court had pointed out.
    • The court had also suggested that the Centre/States examine the idea of taking over the fair price shop ownership from private dealers and instead operate it through a government mechanism to ensure effective implementation of PDS.
  • Indo-US totalisation agreement soon
    • India is expected to take forward the discussions on the totalisation agreement that would enable expatriate workers repatriate their social security contribution.
    • US has reportedly sought some clarification as India does not have social security system in place. What India has are slightly different systems for social security.
    • Totalisation agreements are needed because workers employed in another country could end up paying social security taxes in both his country and where he works.
    • India's IT industry alone contributes about $1 bn in social security contributions to the US economy.
Finance & Economy
  • RBI mulls stiff entry norms into banking
    • The Reserve Bank of India favours stringent eligibility conditions for allowing new private banks, once again laying bare its deep unease at the prospect of allowing industrial houses into the banking business.
    • The banking regulator, which plans to approve a limited number of banking licences in line with the announcement in this year’s Budget by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, has outlined a few policy approaches, or options, which if translated into rules may make it difficult for many big business houses to promote banks.
    • In a discussion paper on the entry of new private banks released on Wednesday, RBI has said that one option could be to allow only those industrial groups which have a diversified ownership base and without any direct or indirect exposure to real estate.
    • If some of the other suggestions too — such as the need for corporate houses to obtain a clean chit from agencies such as the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Enforcement Directorate, income tax and other regulators, denial of the business group’s brand name and logo for the new bank’s brand and a board packed with independent directors — are endorsed later, very few large business groups may make the cut.
  • M&M named lead bidder for SsangYong
    • Mahindra & Mahindra has been named as the preferred bidder to buy SsangYong, the bankrupt South Korean automaker, and emerge as one of the world’s largest SUV makers with a combined turnover of over $4 billion. Mumbai-based M&M, the makers of Scorpio and Bolero utility vehicles, will sign an MoU with SsangYong in two weeks, follow it up with a due diligence in September and a definitive agreement in November or December, the two companies said on Thursday.
    • Buying SsangYong will give M&M access to products, technology and a 1,300-strong dealer network in markets such as Russia and western Europe.
    • M&M will also get access to gasoline engine technology, which Ssangyong is developing.
    • Though it is India’s largest SUV player, M&M lacks presence in the above-Rs 10 lakh segment, both in SUVs and cars. Products of the South Korean firm will now help plug the gap.
  • Mumbai Port gets back to business
    • The Mumbai Port resumed operations on Thursday, five days after it was suspended following a collision between two cargo ships that led to an oil spill. The Indian Navy, which was engaged in mapping the area affected by the spill, escorted 14 freighters in and out of the port on Thursday.
    • Cargo movement at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port and Mumbai Port was suspended on August 7 after the lone navigation channel got jammed by the colliding ships and containers.
    • The port was reopened after the Coast Guard and other agencies involved in salvage efforts cleared the navigational channel of containers that were adrift after falling off Panamanian vessel MSC Chitra, which ran aground as a result of the Saturday collision with another cargo ship Khalijia III into the sea off the Mumbai coast.
    • Two merchant vessels MSC Chitra and MV Khalijia III had collided off the Mumbai coast on Saturday. The hull of MSC Chitra, loaded with 1,219 containers, was breached leading to the oil slick. Of the 1,219 containers, over 250 were believed to have slipped into the sea. The collision resulted in around 550 tonnes of oil spilling into the sea and spreading over 15 to 20 km periphery.
  • We have been hearing about the government’s dispute with Blackberry
    • Now it is reported that the government has slapped a deadline of August 31st for Blackberry to come clean on the issue.
    • Here is a good peek into the whole issue.
  • IIP and Inflation cause worries
    • In a double whammy of sorts, growth in industrial production slipped to its slowest pace in 13 months, whereas food price inflation shot through the double digit mark yet again.
    • Index of industrial production for the month of June was only 7.1% higher than its level a year ago, way below the May growth rate of 11.3% and lower than the Reuters poll forecast of 8.4% for the month of June.
    • The decline in growth was largely because of lower increase in manufacturing and electricity generation, which came in at 7.3 % and 3.5% respectively, data released on Thursday showed.
    • Look at this graphic for some numbers.
  • The six key areas of concern that the RBI raised in its discussion paper on allowing new banks
    • These relate to the minimum capital required to set up a new bank as well as promoter contribution, minimum and maximum limits on shareholding (both promoters’ and others’), the extent of foreign shareholding, the desirability of giving a licence to business and industrial houses or non-banking finance companies and, finally, the business model for new banks.
  • ILO warns of more global unemployment
    • Youth unemployment across the world has climbed to a new high and is likely to climb further this year, according to International Labour Organization. The agency said in a report that of some 620 million young people aged 15 to 24 in the work force, about 81 million were unemployed at the end of 2009. The youth unemployment rate increased to 13% in 2009 from 11.9% in the last assessment in 2007.
    • The agency forecast that the global youth unemployment rate would continue to increase through 2010, to 13.1%, as the effects of the economic downturn continue. It should then decline to 12.7% in 2011.
    • About 152 million young people, or a quarter of all the young workers in the world, were employed but remained in extreme poverty in households surviving on less than $1.25 a person a day in 2008.
Language Lessons
  • shuttered: Verb
    • Close with shutters
    • eg: Why were the non-profit operations shuttered so abruptly?
  • fairweather friend: Idiom
    • A fairweather friend is the type who is always there when times are good but forgets about you when things get difficult or problems crop up.


Latest News said...

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