Politics & the Nation
  • Mayawati Vs Rahul: Amethi likely to get a new name
    • The Mayawati government’s efforts to ‘erase’ the Nehru-Gandhi family’s ‘imprint’ on Amethi got a big boost when the Supreme Court on Wednesday gave the go ahead for the creation of a district carved out of Rahul Gandhi’s Lok Sabha constituency. UP CM Mayawati wants to rename the district after Dalit icon Chatrapati Shahuji Maharaj.
    • UP had moved the apex court, challenging the August 18 interim order of the Lucknow Bench of the HC which stayed restoration of the new district till March 31 next year or till further orders.
    • The new district is being carved out of three tehsils of Sultanpur district, Amethi, Gauriganj, Musafir Khana, and two tehsils of Rae Bareli, Salon and Tiloi. The Rae Bareli parliamentary constituency, which is represented by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, along with Amethi and Sultanpur constituencies form the famous Gandhi bastion. In December 2002, when BSP controlled the state, Ms Mayawati had made the first attempt to rename the district.
    • The district came into existence with Gauriganj as its headquarters six days after Ms Mayawati made the announcement. However, her successor Mulayam Singh Yadav scrapped the decision in his very first cabinet meeting.
  • PM lays foundation for NBPPL
    • The Pime Minister has laid the foundation stone for the Rs. 6,000 crore power equipment manufacturing plant of NBPPL near Tirupati.
    • NBPPL -- NTPC BHEL Power Projects Pvt Ltd will go on stream in 2014-15 and produce equipment to support 5,000 MW of power generation capacity.
    • This will be India's first integrated plant that will manufacture turbines, generators and boilers.
    • NBPPL is a 50:50 joint venture between state-owner power generator NTPC Ltd and equipment manufacturer Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL).
    • NBPPL Chairman and Managing Director: C P Singh
Finance & Economy
  • GDP growth figures corrected by government
    • We have noted earlier in our blog that the GDP growth figures put out by the government for the recent quarter have suffered from discrepancies.  The economy expanded 8.8% in the June quarter when measured by the supply side, and 3.37% if calculated on the demand side, above the accepted 0.5% difference. These numbers also contradicted the evidence of surging sales of automobiles and other durables.
    • Now the government corrected the numbers.   The Central Statistical Organisation, or CSO, nearly tripled the initially estimated growth on the demand side to 10%, from 3.7% announced on Tuesday, following a raise in private consumption, government expenses and investments.  Private consumption grew 3.8% and not 0.3% as reported earlier, the CSO said. The government expenditure figured has been raised to 14.2% from a negative 0.7% earlier. Investment, the statistics office said, grew 7.6%, instead of 3.7% as originally reported.
    • The revision strengthens the belief that India may grow at more than 8.5% in the fiscal year.
    • While on the subject, you just can’t miss this excellent tutorial on how the GDP figures are calculated and cross checked.
  • Demand for eggs in India to go up based on increase in Defence forces' consumption
    • The Defence forces have reportedly decided that the country’s 30 lakh strong armed forces can look forward to an extra egg in their daily ration.  This is set to make the Forces consume nearly 5% of the total eggs sold daily in the country.
    • Till now, jawans deployed above 9000 ft and those in the forward areas were getting one egg a day, while those below officer rank in peace time posting were not given eggs.  This is now set to change.  The troops will now get two eggs a day irrespective of their placements, be it on field or peace locations.
    • The defence ministry has also increased the quota of fresh fruits in the daily diet, creating extra demand for 2,700 tonne of fruits each week. Till now, jawans were entitled to only 230 gm fruits three times a week. With the new announcement, they will get 230 gm fruits daily. The army’s biggest food commodity purchases are rice, wheat flour and lentils.
    • The per capita egg consumption in India is 43 eggs a year, which is much lower than the world average of 124 eggs.
    • India’s layer bird population, or chickens bred to lay eggs, has only risen by 30% in the past decade.
  • Fund managers refuse to play salesman for New Pension Scheme
    • Less than 12,000 members have signed up for the scheme, the dedicated vehicle for managing retirement savings of government employees, after it was thrown open to all citizens in May 2009.  What explains the tardy progress?
    • The fund managers are refusing to promote the scheme, in spite of their having dedicated sales forces to market other schemes.  They get better margins on other schemes when compared with NPS.
    • The seven pension fund managers that the subscribers can choose from are UTI, IDFC, LIC, SBI, ICICI Prudential, Kotak Mahindra and Reliance Capital.
    • Fund managers are paid a fee of 0.0009% on the assets that they manage. So far non-government subscribers have saved just around 20 crore under the NPS umbrella, leaving fund managers with no room for profits.
    • By contrast, NPS distributors who are also referred to as points of presence, earn 40 for registering a new member and 10 for every transaction.
    • Fund managers and intermediaries point out that the NSDL is probably the only one who has an incentive to draw more people into the NPS. The depository charges 50 as account opening charges, 280 as annual account maintenance charges and 6 per transaction.
    • Some important personalities that you should remember in this connection:
      • PFRDA chairman: Yogesh Agarwal
      • NPS trust chairman: Yogendra Narain
  • Why is the nutrient based subsidy policy in fertilizers, a failure?
    • Simply stated: old habits die hard.  Consumption of urea has increased in the first few months of the NBS policy, contrary to expectations that it would lead to a balanced use of fertilisers.  The sale of urea in kharif 2010 season up to July 31 rose to 73.59 lakh tonne from 68.05 lakh tonne in the same period last year.   Overall urea use last kharif stood at 136.65 lakh tonne compared with 120.03 lakh tonne in the previous year.
    • Consequently, the central government’s subsidy spend on the fertiliser will remain high, defying projections of a lower bill in 2010-11.
    • Industry analysts believe that deregulation of urea imports will result in lower subsidy bills. Urea accounts for more than half of the country’s fertiliser consumption. Currently, only government agencies are allowed to import the fertiliser.
    • In 2009-10, the fertiliser subsidy spend of the Centre on indigenous urea totalled 17580.25 crore and another 6999.63 crore was spent on imported urea. In volume terms, imported urea went up to 52.10 lakh tonne in 2009-10 compared to only 20.57 lakh tonne in 2005-06, burgeoning the urea subsidy bill each year. The government’s fertiliser subsidy spend for 2009-10 stands at 64,932 crore but it has signalled its desire to reduce this to 1.5% of the GDP by 2011-12.
  • Perhaps the first ever case of a tennis player collapsing in Court
    • Victoria Azarenka of Belarus collapsed on the court while playing Gisela Dulko of Argentina at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2010. Azarenka was taken off the court in a wheelchair.