Politics & the Nation
  • Why is the proposed nuclear liability bill wrong?
    • We have heard of (or even read) Mark Antony’s speech.  Take a look at this excellent piece from Brahman Chellaney on the nuclear liability bill.  You are sure to feel outraged at what the Government of India is trying to do.
    • Since the piece it its entirety needs to be read thoroughly, we are not giving any excerpts.  A must read.
    • You should also read this very impressive defense of the bill.  
  • Ajit unites Oppn, wants Land Acquisition Act altered
    • RLD chief Ajit Singh has sought the backing of all major Opposition parties to pile up pressure on the government to scrap the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, and replace it with a stringent law.
    • He articulated the need to bring the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill back, with a few amendments, which would make acquiring land by private players very difficult.
    • He feels that the government should never acquire land on behalf of private parties.  He has no problem if the government acuires land on its own for public good.
    • Mr Ajit Singh also wanted the government to weigh in intended use of the land being acquired before deciding the compensation package. He also wants the government to revert the land to its owners if it was not used for intended purpose within five years.
    • The bill, along with the accompanying Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill, 2009, had been introduced in the Lok Sabha on February 25, 2009, but was allowed to lapse in view of the strong opposition from Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee.
Finance & Economy
  • Vedanta faces turbulent times
    • The Government of India appears to be not too keen to support Anil Aggarwal's projects or the bid for Cairn deal.  This may not augur well for the Vedanta group.
    • A key advisory panel of the environment ministry, the Forest Advisory Committee, has recommended that the government not give clearance to the proposal to mine the Niyamgiri hills for bauxite. The committee has also recommended action against Vedanta’s alumina refinery at Lanjigarh, at the base of the Niyamgiri Hills, for violating environment laws.
    • Vedanta, through its subsidiary Sterlite India, has a joint venture agreement with Orissa Mining Corporation to mine the Niyamgiri Hills for bauxite.
    • The committee’s recommendation is based on the fact that claims under the Forest Rights Act have not been settled. Traditional and customary rights as well as age-old access of the Dongaria and Kutia Kondh tribes to the area have been recognised in several forest settlement reports and government working plans. Also, several gram sabhas of the affected villages have passed resolutions claiming community and habitat rights.
  • IIP-like index for services output by early 2011
    • India will soon have an index to measure output of services that contribute more than half of its national income.
    • The government is likely to release by early next year regular data on sectors such as road transport, ports, aviation, telecom, post & telegraph and banking, for which the methodology has been firmed up.
    • Over the years, services have become the most dynamic sector of the economy. They contributed 57% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2009-10, up from a meagre 29% in 1950.
    • An index for services is expected to help policymakers and analysts get a better understanding of the economy.
    • Constructing an index of services is not easy given the problems in measuring many of them.
    • Take a look at this graphic to get a picture of why measuring services output is important.
  • Govt rolls out 1000 crore sops for exporters
    • The government handed out a 1,000-crore ($214 million) package of fresh incentives to exporters still struggling in an uncertain global market.
    • The incentives announced are targeted at labour-intensive export sectors such as leather, carpets, handicrafts, engineering goods, jute and ready-made garments, which face an uncertain six months due to troubles in their largest markets such as the US and Europe.
    • Exports account for less than a fifth of India’s $1.2 trillion economy, but it helps reduce poverty in the country by creating a large number of jobs.
    • The government is confident of achieving the targeted $200 billion exports for the year, despite a moderation in exports growth to 13.2% in July after five months of over 30% growth.
  • ITC completes 100 years today
  • The problem with BPL (below poverty line) calculus
    • Look at the following excerpt from an op-ed in today's ET.  Very well said.
    • Over the last few decades the BPL (below poverty line) concept has become central to our thought processes regarding poverty alleviation and inclusive growth. An increasing number of welfare programmes target those below the poverty line. It was felt that economic growth by itself would take too long to have the desired impact on poverty, which has been extreme since colonisation, and, therefore, directed programmes targeting the poor were required. There are, however, limitations of the BPL concept itself which need better appreciation and greater discussion.
    • The problem with the BPL approach is that if one is lucky enough to get into the BPL list one gets entitled to a flow of benefits. In the actual world of real villages, when one is required to choose a certain fixed percentage of households as being BPL from a larger number of similar households, it is very difficult to do so in a manner which appears fair and just. Consequently these BPL lists are, often, subject to political controversy, complaints and enquiries. It breeds a particular kind of political economy which is not conducive to good governance. As state governments get central funds through many channels linked to the number of BPL households, they have a natural incentive to try and push up the percentage below BPL. This is usually a bone of contention between the centre and the states.
  • What is a forward premium?  What are currency futures?
  • Atwal wins US PGA tour title to create history
    • Arjun Atwal, called the nearly-man for years, finally brought for Indian golf its first-ever success on the elite PGA Tour.
    • What makes it so special?  Why are all papers gung-ho about this?
    • The win is notable for the reason that he is the first India-born player to have won the championship and also the first Monday qualifier to win on the tour in 24 years.
    • Fred Wadsworth achieved the same feat before him at the 1986 Southern Open.
    • BTW who is a "Monday qualifier"? For entering into the tour (because he does not have an entry status) one must play these qualifiers that are conducted on a Monday.
    • The other notable championships / titles that he won include:
    • He won the flagship event in Indian golf – the 1999 Indian at Royal Calcutta Golf Club.
    • The following year he won the Hero Honda Masters and Star Alliance events on Asian Tour in consecutive weeks.
    • In 2002 he became the first Indian to win on European Tour at Singapore Masters and in 2003 he won the Malaysian Open and the Hero Honda Masters.
    • He became the first Indian to qualify for the US Tour in 2004.
Language Lessons
  • sonatina: Noun
    • A short and simple sonata
  • putter around: Verb (also potter around)
    • Move around aimlessly
  • metronome: Noun
    • Clicking pendulum indicates the exact tempo of a piece of music
  • immure: Verb
    • (law) lock up or confine, in or as in a jail
    • eg: China’s decadent emperors were immured behind the Great Wall and inside the Forbidden City.