Politics & the Nation
  • One more regulator on the anvil
    • This time it is a regulator for wireless radio spectrum.
    • TRAI wants to exercise this power.  But the telecom minister Mr. A. Raja feels otherwise and is toying with the idea of establishing a separate regulator who will also have control over the wireless spectrum used by the Armed forces.  Even the Armed forces are reportedly unhappy with the move.
    • It would be called the National Radio Regulatory Authority of India.
    • Wireless spectrum has been the cause of much heartburn, bickering and scandal. Mobile phone companies have been squabbling with each other over the amount of 2G frequencies — the airwaves which carry most of our cellphone communications now — they are entitled to hold. Allegations of corruption in the allotment of 2G licences and airwaves in 2008 are being investigated by CBI and the auction of 3G airwaves for high-speed data services was delayed for months because the spectrum that was meant to be allotted was in the hands of the armed forces.
  • Former IG of Kerala sentenced to life
    • Four decades after the sensational murder of Naxalite leader Arikkad Varghese, in February 1970, a CBI special court in Kochi on Thursday sentenced retired IG K Lakshmana to life imprisonment for the crime. Lakshmana’s colleague P Vijayan, who retired as DGP, was acquitted in the case after being given the benefit of doubt.
    • Varghese’s death had been passed off for an encounter killing for almost three decades until Ramachandran Nair, one of the police constables who had been a part of the squad that killed Varghese, made the startling confession that Varghese had been shot to death by him at the orders of Lakshmana, then a deputy superintendent of police.
Finance & Economy
  • Round tripping in diamond trade
    • Look at the following for some lessons in how this occurs: (excerpted from today's ET)
    • STEP 1: Diamond merchant ABC gets pre-shipment or packing credit for three months from a bank of, say, $100 to import rough diamonds and pay for labour charges
    • STEP 2: ABC cuts and polishes the diamonds and exports them at $120 to, say, EFG, not a genuine client, but his own person, located in Dubai, New York or HK
    • STEP 3: Once this is done, he takes post-shipment credit of $120 against export receivables, extended by the bank for up to six months. Of this, he pays back $100 extended by the bank as pre-shipment credit
    • STEP 4 The same diamond is returned through another destination to ABC from say, XYZ, again his own person, and the same procedure of acquiring bank finance is repeated against export of the same diamonds. The practice is easy as there is no duty on polished diamond import.
  • Chemicals industry to get first right over ethanol?
    • An expert panel on ethanol pricing headed by the Planning Commission member Saumitra Chaudhuri is reportedly considering recommending giving priority to the chemical industry in ethanol allotment.  If this were to happen, it is likely to deal a big blow to the programme of blending ethanol with petrol.
    • The Union Cabinet had approved a mandatory 5% ethanol blending with petrol under the programme and an interim price of Rs 27 per litre was approved. The Plan panel is expected to arrive at a formula to derive a long term, fair and remunerative price for the commodity.
    • India imports more than 80% of its crude oil requirement. The 5% ethanol in petrol would have helped cut import of crude oil.
  • India lets IMF, Bank check its financial pulse
    • India has agreed to an International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank scrutiny of its financial system to assess the country's capacity to manage a financial crisis, as part of the global efforts to prevent a 2008 type of financial meltdown, which could also trigger some financial sector reforms.
    • The government has communicated to the Financial Stability Board (FSB) to be considered for a full-fledged financial sector assessment programme (FSAP) by IMF and World Bank. This follows asuggestion by the FSB in this regard after the results of self-assessment were communicated to it.
    • The result of the scrutiny would be a report from them and it would only be recommendatory and there would not be any mandatory obligations on India to carry out any reform it does not agree to.
    • The FSAP provides the framework for comprehensive and in-depth assessments of a country's financial sector, and was established in 1999, in the aftermath of the Asian crisis.
    • India was among the first to undertake the pilot FSAP in 2000-01. In addition, India also undertook a comprehensive self-assessment of International Financial Standards and Codes during 2002 and undertook a review in 2005.
  • Do we have another Raghuram Rajan in the making here?
    • Take a look at this interview from a very well informed Professor Gita Gopinath from Harvard University.  The perspectives that she brings to the table on issues close to the heart of many an indophile and students of Indian economy like us, are really worth our attention.  Recommend a strong read of the entire interview.  
Language Lessons
  • don’t give a fig about: idiom
    • if you say that you don't care a fig, you mean that something or someone is not important to you at all
    • eg: It’s a reaction the 1-lakh car has been evoking among people who otherwise, in their choice of cars, don’t seem to give a fig about price, fuel economy and the like.
  • tipster: Noun
    • One who sells advice about gambling or speculation (especially at the racetrack)