Politics & the Nation
  • A sampler of the corruption that has gone into CWG
    • Prasar Bharati was more than willing to bend backwards to accommodate the whims / demands of SIS Live to serve the latter’s commercial interests.
    • Read this new report.  
  • Should the practice of presenting a separate Railway budget be discontinued?
    • This question is popping up of late in quite a few debates.  Take a look at this interesting face-off in today’s ET.
    • Some interesting historical facts about Railway budgeting:
      • A separate Railway budget was the brainchild of Acworth Committee.
      • Railway budgets were presented separately for the last 86 years.
Finance & Economy
  • Small investors may get bigger share in PSU floats
    • The department of disinvestment plans to pitch for a higher quota for retail investors in forthcoming share sales at state-run companies, as it looks to use the buzz generated by the Coal India IPO to take equity culture to Indian households.
    • Existing norms stipulate that at least 35% of the shares offered in a book-built share sale, where investors are asked to bid in a pre-decided price band, must be reserved for retail investors.
    • Sebi’s decision to double the retail investment limit in public offers to 2 lakh from 1 lakh will help small investors benefit more from higher reservation. However, the increase in retail quota is likely to be done on a case-to-case basis, after consulting the company concerned and the administrative ministry.
    • The current move is aimed at sharing public wealth with small investors, spreading equity culture to a wider population, and broad-basing the market.
    • In 2009-10, public offers from PSUs, including that of power producer NTPC, received lukewarm response from retail investors. The retail portion of the NTPC offer was subscribed just 0.16%.
    • The offers from REC and NMDC also met the same fate, with their retail portions failing to attract enough investors. Market analysts attribute this to aggressive pricing. All these issues received an overwhelming response after the government cut the offer price.
  • Why do we want to dilute the IFRS standards before moving to them?
    • Take a look at this interesting news report which details how we are trying to dilute the accounting standards before moving to them.
    • The government is reportedly planning to dilute some key provisions relating to foreign exchange differences and overseas borrowings which will make global investors suspect Indian accounting.
    • In the case of accounting for foreign exchange differences that rise because of currency derivatives taken by firms, the government is looking at an option where companies need not provide for any loss in the profit and loss statement but rather just carry forward the value as at the end of March 2011.
    • The National Advisory Committee on Accounting Standards (NACAS), an advisory body for the corporate affairs ministry, is reportedly in favour of allowing companies not to provide for mark-to-market (MTM) losses on their foreign currency convertible bonds (FCCBs).
    • MTM is an accounting principle where the value of the contract is marked at current exchange rate for currency derivatives and current bond price for FCCBs.
    • Both dilutions will be major departures from what the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) prescribe. It has huge upside for India Inc in the short term by helping it to avoid reporting such MTM losses prescribed by IFRS. But it may work to its detriment in the long term by making companies unattractive to global investors.
  • On FII inflows into the country
    • The FII inflows in the current year has crossed $25 billion ($20 billion in equity and $5 billion in debt) in the current fiscal with $6.11 billion equity inflow coming in October itself. At this rate, inflows could cross the bumper $61.6 billion inflows seen in 2007-08, when the government was forced to take some tough measures.
  • Government tries to extend health cover
    • The government is set to take another step towards extending free health cover to the vulnerable low-income earners that are above the poverty line in mathematical terms but are in need of protection from debilitating health emergencies.
    • The Union Cabinet will consider including the country’s four million-plus domestic workers into its flagship insurance scheme for the poor, rashtriya swasthya bima yojana (RSBY), after adding street vendors to the eligible categories last week.
    • India’s domestic workers are not covered under any labour legislation and for the first time they are being made eligible for some social security cover.
    • The RSBY entails cashless treatment up to Rs. 30,000 annually to a family of five at empanelled government and private hospitals through smart cards.
    • The domestic workers, like BPL families, will not have to contribute at all to the insurance scheme except for . 30 as registration charges. The Centre will take care of three-fourth of the funds requirement, while states will have to foot the rest.
    • A report on domestic workers prepared by the task force set up by the labour ministry points out that most laws do not recognise domestic work as real work, and domestic workers as real workers.
    • Because of this, the existing labour legislations fail to include them in the categories of workers and some even specifically exclude them from labour legislations.
  • Tough times for MFI sector
    • With allegations about collecting agents of microlenders driving borrowers to suicide making their appearance, the MFIs are in for some tough times.  Even the RBI has reportedly appointed a committee under financial sector expert YH Malegam to study and recommend measures to handle their growth without causing social disturbances.
  • Is inflation going to moderate in the coming months?
  • Venky’s acquires English club Blackburn Rovers for £46 m
    • Venkateswara Hatcheries, a seller of poultry products based in Pune, has emerged as the rather unlikely buyer of Blackburn Rovers, a football club that plays in the English Premier League (EPL), for £46 million.
    • Look at the reasoning given by Anuradha Desai, the Chairperson of the group: “Football is a global craze and as the VH group globalises, setting up feed plants and hatcheries around the world, we believe we can benefit from being owners of a major football club. It will help build our brand, too. Moreover, we are a protein company, in the health business and there is synergy with health and sports. We have been sponsoring tennis and cricket matches and tourneys here. Now that we are going global, we need a global sport, hence a football club.”
    • Blackburn Rovers FC, established in 1875, is among the three English football clubs to have been among the founders of both, the Premier League, and its predecessor the Football League.  It has been facing financial difficulties.
    • The VH group will acquire the Blackburn, Lancashire based football club, from its current owners, the trustees of the Jack Walker 1987 Settlement, a Jersey trust. Jack Walker, a Lancashire steel magnate, bought the Club in 1992 and followed it up with some high-profile acquisitions of players which took the Club win the Premier League in 1995.
Language Lessons
  • party pooper: Noun
    • Someone who spoils the pleasure of others
  • gainsay (gainsaid): Verb
    • Question the truth or validity of; take exception to
  • dogma: Noun
    • A religious doctrine that is proclaimed as true without proof; A doctrine or code of beliefs accepted as authoritative
    • eg: ...while sound economics is critical in the formulation of governmental policy, it should not regress into dogma.