Politics & the Nation
  • MPs salaries hiked threefold; still there are not happy
    • Inspite of the hefty rise, MPs are demanding more hike and are demanding the complete acceptance of the JPC report that recommended a bigger hike.
    • MPs cutting across party lines supported Lalu Prasad Yadav who took up the MPs cause in the Lok Sabha.  
    • Take a look at this figure which gives a detailed look into the earnings of an MP.  
    • It is a well known fact that all the MPs -- barring a few -- are very rich.  Take a look at these details that were published in today’s ET.
  • GST set to miss deadline as bill won’t roll yet
    • The government will not introduce vital legislation required for reforming the country’s indirect tax laws in Parliament until there is wide consensus, making it almost certain that the landmark reform to create an integrated national market for goods and services will miss its next April 1 timeline.
    • The introduction of GST, which aims to create a single levy nationwide to replace a plethora of indirect taxes, will need an amendment to the Constitution, vital to give the central government the power to tax retail trade, state governments the power to tax services, and for setting up a council for resolving disputes. At present, the Centre can tax services and goods only at the factory gate while states can tax goods only at the retail level and do not have the power to tax services.
    • A Constitution amendment has to be cleared by two-thirds majority in the House and there is no point in introducing the bill when there is no consensus,” Mr Mukherjee said.
    • The Constitution amendment bill has to be passed by both Houses of Parliament and at least 15 state assemblies.
    • States are opposing changes on ground that they undermine their fiscal autonomy and federal structure of the country.
    • The most contentious issue is the creation of a council of states and Centre to decide on tax rates in future Creation of council contentious issue.
    • The Centre has attempted to accommodate concerns and suggestions of states to the proposed GST system, but has failed to bring them on board so far.
    • However, the Centre is also keen to ensure that states do not distort the structure of this nationwide single levy though unilateral action.
Finance & Economy
  • Why is the enhanced retail investor limit in IPOs and FPOs bad?
    • You might remember that Sebi has proposed to raise the limit for retail investment from Rs.  1 lakh to Rs. 2 lakhs.  This proposal has invoked lot of criticism.  Look at this one...
    • Today, less than 5% of the Indian public invests in shares; most investors preferring, instead, to keep their savings in bank deposits. In such a scenario, if the cap on retail investment is raised to 2 lakh, the IPO and followon public offer (FPO) market will effectively be closed to genuinely small investor.
  • Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU)
    • Indian Institute of Science and Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, are the only two institutions to make it to the list of the top 500 universities, in Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s 2010 edition ofARWU.
    • What ARWU factors in is how many Nobel Prizes or Fields Medals (Nobel equivalents in maths) have gone to alumni and staff, how many papers have been published in Nature and Science, and the total number of papers indexed in Science Citation Index-Expanded and Social Science Citation Index. Indian schools fare very poorly on all these counts.
  • India to push for early opening up of services sector with Asean
    • The proposed services and investment agreement between India and Asean hasn’t made much headway due to the trade block’s reluctance to open up a large number of services to Indian companies and professionals.
    • So far, most Asean members have made offers in just four-five of the more than 150 services categories and are hesitating to give commitments on allowing easier movement of professionals.
    • India and Asean have already implemented a bilateral free trade agreement in goods early this year with the intention of extending it to services and investment by the end of the current calendar year.
    • The delay in talks is disappointing for India as it expects to gain much more in services than from goods as     Asean has also not agreed to India’s demand for a separate chapter on liberalising movement of professionals and are yet to come up with specific offers in the area. India hopes to make inroads into several areas such as education, medicine & healthcare and accountancy and architecture once the norms are liberalised.
  • China has big plans for introducing electric vehicles
    • The Chinese government plans to invest billions of dollars over the next few years to develop electric and hybrid vehicles.
    • The Chinese government said a group of 16 big state-owned companies had already agreed to form an alliance to do research and development, and create standards for electric and hybrid vehicles. The plan aims to put more than a million electric and hybrid vehicles on the road over the next few years.
    • Beijing reportedly intends to invest nearly $15 billion in the venture, which would make it one of the world’s most ambitious attempts to develop more energy-efficient vehicles.
    • Beijing said that over the next three years, 500,000 energy-efficient vehicles would reach the market each year and that more-efficient vehicles would soon account for 5 percent of passenger car sales in China.
Language Lessons
  • skewer: Noun
    • A long pin for holding meat in position while it is being roasted
  • rue: Noun
    • (French) a street or road in France
  • quay: Noun
    • Wharf usually built parallel to the shoreline
  • traipse: Verb
    • Walk or tramp about