Politics & the Nation
  • An explanation of why there was no communal outrage after the Ayodhya verdict
    • Here is an excerpt from CL Manoj's op-ed that appeared in today's ET that gives an an excellent explanation:
    • Unlike the 1990s and early 2000s when mainstream politics was dominated by the divisive and sectarian political agenda of the Ayodhya and Mandal-Kamandal planks, India has now entered a phase where the inclusive politics of development and a better economic deal for the common man is setting the discourse. No wonder, even a Narendra Modi is finding few takers beyond the Parivar core constituency despite his attempts to repackage himself as a development messiah. Even Lalu and Mulayam are now finding that their Muslim-Yadav constituency can’t be nurtured only on a daily diet of ‘insecurity politics’. The fact that a whole lot of productive social sector schemes have brought in a quality change in the rural belt, even in these days of inflation, has changed the tone and tenor of politics even at the grassroots.
    • Ordinary Indians, irrespective of their religious affiliations, seem to have acquired the wisdom and skill to ensure that they remain concerned and responsive political citizens without being pawns in the destructive games of divisive politics. That is why the politician, much used to dictating the agenda to the common man, appears at a loss to gauge the post-verdict public mood.
  • Yeddyurappa wins confidence motion; but loses morally
    • By now all of you would have seen the tamasha unfold in the TVs.  It is a ‘free for all’ now.  Anybody can comment on the developments to his liking.
Finance & Economy
  • Titbit on the Cairn-Vedanta deal
    • We know that Vedanta is paying a Rs. 50 non-compete fee to Cairn India's parent Cairn Plc.  Do you know why this fee is paid?
    • This is to ensure that the parent Cairn Plc stays away from India for 10 years.  Because such a re-entry, in view of the fact that it had access to proprietary information about its Indian arm, would compromise Vedanta's business interests in India, the fee is paid.
  • FM to meet regulators today to settle FSDC differences
    • The finance ministry plans to create the Financial Stability and Development Council, a super regulator of sorts for the financial sector, which could be notified in a month’s time. The finance minister had, in his Budget speech, proposed the council to resolve inter-regulatory coordination issues.
    • The ministry is working on the structure of FSDC.
    • The consultation with the regulators comes amid reservations expressed by some of them that the council could compromise their autonomy. The proposal envisages the Union finance minister as the head of FSDC, of which all financial sector regulators will be members.
    • The FSDC will look into macro-prudential supervision of the economy, including functioning of large financial conglomerates and address inter-regulatory co-ordination issues.
    • Both Sebi and RBI have raised objections to the structure and powers of the FSDC, proposed in the consultation paper circulated by the finance ministry in April.
  • On currency wars
    • Thanks to Guido Mantega, this phrase has acquired significance now.  Take a look at this ET in the Classroom column that explains the phenomenon.
    • An attempt by the government to prevent its currency from appreciating too steeply and too fast against competing nation is what is seen as currency war between different countries. The history of currency wars dates back to the Great Depression era when major economies devalued their currencies as a part of a measure to give preference to local goods over imported ones.
  • Economics Nobel goes to...
    • Peter A Diamond, Dale Mortensen and Christopher Pissarides shared the 2010 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for research into the difficulties of matching supply and demand, particularly in the labour market.
    • Diamond, 70, is a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and a candidate for the Federal Reserve Board. Pissarides, 62, teaches at the London School of Economics, and Mortensen, 71, is on the faculty at Northwestern University.
    • Peter Diamond has analysed the foundations of search markets.  Dale Mortensen and Christopher Pissarides have expanded the theory and have applied it to the labour market. The laureates’ models help us understand the ways in which unemployment, job vacancies, and wages are affected by regulation and economic policy.
    • Search theory tries to explain such conundrums as how high unemployment can be accompanied by a large number of job openings. One conclusion is that more generous jobless benefits lead to higher unemployment as those who are looking for work take longer to find it.
  • Scientists claim to have discovered vital clues to the spread of cancer in the body
    • An international team, led by University of New South Wales, has found that cancer cells are accompanied by growth-enabling stromal cells when they travel in the bloodstream to new sites in the body.
    • The finding challenges the belief that metastasis is the sole preserve of cancer cells and has implications for all solid tumours.  It’s always been presumed that only cancer cells travel in metastasis.  But the team is reported to have shown for the first time that stellate cells also travel in tandem with the cancer cells.
Language Lessons
  • tack: Verb
    • Reverse (a direction, attitude, or course of action)
    • eg: ...Since then, the two companies have changed tack and have extensively interacted with government officials.
  • reading tea leaves
    • Very surprised to see this phrase in today’s paper.
    • eg: Mr Agarwal said he had not been able to read the tea leaves from the attitude of Murli Deora, the minister for petroleum, in his encounters with him.
    • It means getting a feel of the future.  Reading tea leaves is a practice in which the future of the tea drinker is told by the reader.  The practice is known as tasseography or tasseomancy or tassology.  Look at Wikipedia for more info.
  • tendentious: Adjective
    • Having or marked by a strong tendency especially a controversial one
  • mendacious: Adjective
    • Given to lying; Intentionally untrue
    • eg: If it had been only this bit of tendentious and mendacious reporting, it would have been par for the course in a world where distortions and deliberate misleading are considered valid weapons in our time of peace.
  • déclassé: adjective
    • Fallen or lowered in class, rank, or social position; lacking high station or birth; of inferior status
    • eg: Just as leading European continentals look down upon the crazy Anglo-Saxon appetite for boom and bust, much preferring to lock up the excesses of individualism in the brick and mortar of massive government — run by clever civil servants or generals (take your pick) and not by the déclassé trader.