Politics & the Nation
  • Sonia re-elected as Congress party President
    • Ms Sonia Gandhi was on Friday formally elected as Congress president for the fourth consecutive term.  It’s a feat no other Congress leader has accomplished — not even her husband, the late Rajiv Gandhi, or her mother-in-law, or her grand father-in-law, the late Jawahar Lal Nehru, the country’s first prime minister.
  • CWG on LeT's radar for paraglider strikes?
    • The Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) has reportedly procured paragliders from China and Gulf countries.  The Indian security agencies believe that LeT may use these to pose an aerial threat to the Commonwealth Games.  
    • The fact that paragliders don't require any runway and could be launched from anywhere is what is causing worry for the Indian security establishment.
    • According to inputs collected by the intelligence agencies, LeT is known to have bought around 150 paragliders from China and various Gulf countries sometime earlier this year. However, no airborne attack has been attempted so far.
    • Paragliders are controlled by a pilot suspended on a harness under a special controllable parachute. Modern paragliders can travel as many as 500 kilometres and stay in the air for up to 11 hours.
  • How to tackle tribal disaffection?
    • While dealing with the Maoist problem, the thought about tribal disaffection might have crossed our minds at least once.  How do you tackle this?  How do you make them join the mainstream?  What is presently alienating them?  These are some of the issues that this op-ed in today’s ET outlines and provides some decent suggestions.  Take a look at it.  Worth a read.
Finance & Economy
  • Ringfencing gratuity funds -- a good move from the government
    • Indian companies may be asked to create a separate fund for meeting gratuity payments of their employees to ensure that retirement savings of workers are not wiped out in corporate bankruptcies.
    • The arrangement suggested would mean that companies would have to regularly set aside funds for meeting their gratuity liabilities, which will ringfence the retirement dues of employees from corporate events.
    • Firms that employ more than 10 workers have to pay gratuity at the rate of half a month’s basic salary for every year completed in service. Employees who complete five years of continuous service with a company are eligible for gratuity payment.
    • In the case of provident fund payments, there is an adequate mechanism to ensure that savings are protected through an arms-length mechanism and strict penal rules.
    • Gratuity payments have no such protection, though there is a Gratuity Act that seeks to protect such savings.
    • The gratuity rules cover a larger number of organisations as the threshold is 10 employees.
    • The proposal has become particularly important as the government is considering hiking the gratuity limit to Rs 10 lakh from the current Rs 3.5 lakh.
  • Food inflation rises again
    • Food and fuel inflation shot up in the week ended August 13, belying the expectation that prices will soften gradually following a good monsoon.
    • Food price index rose at an annual rate of 10.86% in the week after declining for two straight weeks.  The stickiness in food price inflation is sure to worry the Reserve Bank of India as it tries to rein in the high overall inflation.
    • Fuel prices, too, inched up marginally to 12.71% from 12.57% the week before.
    • This has raised structural concerns about food inflation, which has remained high since last year even when headline inflation number dropped to negative levels.
    • Reserve Bank governor D Subbarao had last week said inflationary pressures were easing because of an improved supply position besides the impact of interest rate tightening.
  • Rising gold prices trigger mining rush in India
    • As Gold prices reach record highs, it is adding new lustre to prospects for gold mining. While moves are afoot to revive state-owned Bharat Gold Mines (BGML), closed since 2001, Deccan Gold Mines, the country’s only listed private gold miner, is also stepping on the gas to start gold production.
    • Also, the Karnataka government-owned Hutti Gold Mines (HGML), the only producer of gold in India, is planning to expand production through joint ventures.
    • Since BGML was closed down in 2001, when the cost of extracting an ounce of gold became higher than its market price, the precious metal has appreciated nearly five-fold. Prices are now at over 19,000 per 10 gm, compared with 4,800 at the time of BGML’s closure.
  • Sachin is Indian Air Force group captain
    • Indian sports icon Sachin Tendulkar was on Friday conferred the honorary rank of group captain by the Indian Air Force (IAF) for services the cricketer has rendered to the nation through the sport. The cricketer was presented his rank by Air Chief Marshal P V Naik.
Language lessons
  • evanescence: Noun
    • The event of fading and gradually vanishing from sight