Politics & the Nation
  • A very sane editorial comment on the Raja episode and how should move from there.
    • Take a look at it here.
  • Pakistan is a source of fake Indian currency
    • The annual inflow of fake Indian currency from Pakistan is estimated at Rs 100 crore. Of every Rs 100 fake note pumped into India, Rs 70 of white Indian money returns to Pakistan. This, the Indian agencies believe, is used to finance terror activities.
Finance & Economy
  • The necessity of taking geograpical consideratons into economic computations
    • Cross-country econometric models have focused only on GDP per capita as a variable to be explained. For eg., our telecom auctioning process takes into account 'revenue potential' as a factor to grade various circles as A, B and C categories.  The authors convincingly argue for a system of categorization based on GDP density, because the potential for recovering the cost of service provision in the poor revenue potential circles is turning out to be better than what is perceived to be the case.
    • Take a look at this interesting essay.  But some excerpts for our record:
    • John Gallup, Jeffrey Sachs and Andrew Mellinger in 1999 introduced the concept of ‘GDP density’, calculated by multiplying GDP per capita by the number of people per square kilometre. Defined in this way, GDP density is a measure of economic activity by area. One of the original purposes for deriving this measure was to study the role of geography in economic development. As described by Sachs, et al, one finding is that the great majority of the poorest countries lie in the geographical tropics, the area between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. In contrast, most of the richest countries lie in the temperate zones as well as along coastal areas.
  • Vodafone gets 3 weeks to deposit Rs.2.5k cr with SC
    • As you all know by now, Vodafone is slapped with a tax demand of more than Rs. 11,000 crore by the IT department.  It has approached the Supreme Court contesting the demand.  The SC asked it to deposit Rs. 2,500 crore in three weeks and furnish bank guarantees worth Rs. 8,500 crore in eight weeks.  This is a setback for the company.
    • The apex court will now hear the case on February 24, 2011.
  • Import growth at 7-yr low of 6.8% in Oct
    • India's import growth plummeted to 6.8% in October from a year ago, lowest in seven years, reinforcing the perception that India’s domestic economy was slowing down, but exports continued to grow at a fast rate, indicating an improving external environment.
  • New ground handling policy to be implemented from January
    • The civil aviation ministry has decided to roll out the new ground-handling policy in January 2011 despite hectic lobbying by private airlines, ushering in a quiet revolution in quality of support services at airports across the country.
    • The new policy will eliminate deployment of outsourced manpower and restrict the number of service providers operating at airports -- improving service standards, safety and security. In the bargain, private airlines will lose their right to carry out their own ground-handling, instead hiring national carrier Air India or independent agencies nominated by airport operators.
    • The value of ground-handling business at airports across the country is estimated to be Rs 1,000 crore, and is now divided among a large number of small agencies.
    • Ground-handling services include checkin, baggage handling, cargo handling, aircraft cleaning, loading and unloading of food & beverages on aircraft, proving electricity back-up to aircraft while they are at airports, supplying water to aircraft, ferrying passengers to and from planes and maintaining toilets.
    • As of now, airlines are allowed to handle these services on their own, but many nominate outside agencies, rather than using approved ground-handling service available at airports. The nominated agencies in turn outsource staff from manpower suppliers. The home ministry, security agencies and the bureau of civil aviation security (BCAS) feel that deployment of such a large number of contract employees could pose a security threat. A key aspect often blamed for 9-11 terrorist attacks in New York is security loopholes at American airports, which allowed arms to be carried on board passenger aircraft. Similarly, hijack of an Indian aircraft which took off from Kathmandu in 1999 was primarily on account of arms being smuggled in. Therefore, a new policy on groundhandling, mandating use of full-time staff by a limited number of agencies, was recommended by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) and approved by Parliament in 2007.
  • Cheaper food keeps inflation down at 8.58%
    • Inflation declined marginally to a 10-month low of 8.58% in October, prompting policymakers to proclaim victory in their effort to cool prices, but economists remained sceptical saying the fight is far from over.
    • The decline was mainly due a fall in food inflation to 14.13% from 15.71% in September and the base effect, or higher inflation of last year.
  • Sovereign wealth funds invest in the India story
    • Sovereign wealth funds from Norway to Abu Dhabi are increasing bets on India by buying into Coal India and Power Grid issues as they increase their share of emerging market assets when the West is grappling with shaky sovereign ratings and tepid growth.
    • There are some 60-odd sovereign funds that have a direct account to invest in Indian equities through their registration with the market regulator, Sebi. These funds have traditionally been active investors in the secondary market. High secondary valuations, the disinvestment ministry’s sales pitch and prospects of getting a huge block drew them.
    • Foreign institutional investors own $118 billion net of sales in Indian equities, according to Sebi data.
    • Sovereign funds are chasing countries with stable policies and strong economic growth. With Indian state-owned companies seen as stable ones and when attractively priced, they draw top investors.
  • Titbit on commodity exchanges in the country
    • About Rs. 33,000 crore worth of commodity futures are traded every day on the five exchanges currently operational -- MCX, NCDEX, NMCE, R-ADAG's ICEX and Kotak-promoted ACE Derivatives & Commodity Exchange. This is about one-fifth of the volumes traded on Indian stock exchanges. It's a big business and volumes could one day exceed those on the stock market.
    • In all, five national exchanges are up and running, one is expected to come up in a year, and two are waiting for approval.
Language Lessons
  • nub: Noun
    • The choicest or most essential or most vital part of some idea or experience
    • eg: The nub of ED’s case is that if the licences awarded were illegal, then the money received from selling stakes in them could also be tainted.
  • hoofing: Noun
    • dancing in which the steps are more important than gestures or postures