Politics & the Nation
  • Parties to the Ayodhya-Babri dispute initiate talks
    • In a welcome move, one of the four litigants to the case, Mr Mohammed Hashim Ansari, has initiated moves to hammer out an out-of-court settlement to the six-decade-long dispute by calling on Mahant Gyan Das of Hanumangarhi, who is also the president of Akhil Bhartiya Akhara Parishad, at Ayodhya on Sunday to explore the possibility of an amicable solution.
    • Already 'social justice' stalwarts like SP's Mulayam Yadav and LJP's Ram Vilas Paswan have gone on record saying that justice was denied to the Muslims in the Ayodhya case.  But better sense appears to have prevailed over the litigants and they seem to have realized that political parties after all 'political' in nature and are there only to stoke fires.
    • This is a good development.  Nothing is impossible when both the sides are ready for a compromise.  
    • Read this interesting development in this news story.
Finance & Economy
  • On contract labour law changes
    • The Centre will push for laws to bring the 130 million contract labour on a par with permanent employees in terms of wages and benefits but not security of tenure, at a conference of all stakeholders next month.
    • The labour ministry has decided to hard sell its own proposal to better the lot of contract labour at the tripartite conference of government, employers and employees scheduled next month after a task force set up last year failed to reach common ground.
    • The labour ministry will put up a proposal at the conference listing out the benefits that should be extended to contract labour including equal wages, provident fund, ESI (health insurance), holidays, hours of work and other privileges enjoyed by permanent labour, which would have to be clearly mentioned in the work contract.
    • However, building a consensus is not going to be easy. A task force on contract labour amendment set up at the last Indian Labour Conference—the meeting ground of policymakers and representatives of employers and workers groups — could not broker a compromise between employers and employees.
    • The worker groups sought complete abolition of contract labour but employers did not want to give any privileges to them.
    • Employers, on the other hand, maintain that giving privileges to contract labour could act as a disincentive to the industry to employ.
    • The proposed law will require employers to clearly indicate in the work contract the wages, contributions towards social security schemes and other benefits to workers hired on contract.
    • Most states are in favour of improved terms for contract labour.
  • Some titbits from an interesting op-ed by Mythili Bhusnurmath
    • This is one piece that those interested in forex would surely like to read.  A good one.  Some excerpts from it for us:
    • We have often come across the phrase "our currency, your problem" while reading about forex management issues.  Do you know that it was coined by John Connolly?  He is reported to have uttered this to a European delegation that was worried about the impact of a cheap dollar on their exports.
    • "Shared growth beyond crisis" is the slogan for the forthcoming G20 summit in Seoul.
  • Some high funda stuff
    • This is an article which the weak-hearted cannot easily understand.  But those of you with economics and / or finance as background cannot ignore reading it.  Strongly advice reading it at least once.  A good one.
    • If you are ever asked the following question, excerpts taken from the article are the best possible answer for it.
    • Can you identify a few of the trade-offs involved in the policies being advocated by economists to counter rising unemployment levels and to boost aggregate demand?
    • First, there is a trade-off between greater employment and protection of labour rights and labour legislation. While labour protection remains a valid goal of policy, we must accept that overemphasis on this could promote labour-saving technology, contributing to the problem of rising unemployment.
    • Secondly, interests of the developed and the developing world are often at cross-purposes, on employment. Rising employment in the developing world could mean fewer jobs in the developed world. Some developed world politicians might champion protectionism but possibly not for ever, because of the inter-twining of economic and political interests in the real world polity of today.
    • Thirdly, there is also a conflict between increasing factor productivity, enabled by technology, and the objective of creating jobs for all. Surely, one cannot abandon the quest for scientific improvement, technology and knowledge for a better world. Yet, one needs to figure out how this ostensible conflict can be resolved, without compromising employment generation.