Politics & the Nation
  • Rajasthan HC stays 5% reservation for Gujjars
    • The Rajasthan High Court on Wednesday stayed operation of a 2008 Act granting five percent reservation for Gujjars in the state, causing angry community leaders to threaten an intensified agitation.
    • The Court held that Gujjars could not be given special reservation as an Act of 2008 has no substratum of quantifiable data that could justify the quota. The judges, while hearing a petition by G Sharma, ruled that the government could continue to provide one per cent reservation for Gujjars in its ongoing recruitment drive. However, they asked the government to carry out within a year an exercise to collect details on the economic status of Gujjars and other communities, including Raikas, Raibari and Gadiya Lohars, to justify their quota under the special backward classes category.
    • Reacting to the court decision, Colonel (Retd) KS Bainsla, convener of Gujjar Arakshan Sangharsh Samiti (GASS), said that the community would intensify its stir launched on Monday.
    • A 2008 Act had provided for five per cent reservation for Gujjars and 14 per cent for economically backward classes, taking the total quota in Rajasthan to 68%.
    • The high court thereafter stayed the quota in jobs and educational institutions in the state for Gujjars and economically backward classes as the reservation ceiling had exceeded the cap of 50% laid down by the Supreme Court.
    • Gujjars in Rajasthan, demanding reservation for better educational and job prospects, staged many violent protests between 2006 and 2008, leading to loss of lives.
Finance & Economy
  • Does health sector need an infrastructure status?
    • This is an excellent article that cannot be missed.  A must read.  Some excerpts:
    • Total beds per 100,000 people fell from 73.64 in 1981 to 69.34 in 2001.  India’s average of around 70 beds per 100,000 people compares poorly to the world average of 396 beds per 100,000 and the developing country average of 430 beds per 100,000.
    • Increasing the number of beds to around 200 per 100,000 would mean creation of 1.3 million new beds, which would require fresh investments of $80 billion.
    • What does providing the infrastructure status to health care sector would mean?
      • Providing infrastructure status to health care would enable long-term funding from agencies such as India Infrastructure Finance Ltd at low rates of interest.  
      • It would also exempt them from payment of service tax to commercial or industrial construction companies, reducing input costs of health care projects.
      • Infrastructure status will raise the ECB cap for hospitals from $100 million per year to $500 million per year.
      • Infrastructure status to health care would enable them to enjoy a 10-year tax holiday under Section 80IA.
  • How big is the country’s interest payment liability?
    • Interest payments already eat up more than 35% of the government’s tax revenues.
  • Define carefully, ‘no go’ areas don’t have to be so for ever: Montek Singh Ahluwalia
    • The Planning Commission has called for a careful delimitation of areas where coal mining is going to be totally prohibited, or the so called ‘no go’ areas.
    • The demand for clarity comes amid concerns from both mining companies and the coal ministry that overzealous environment protection policies may hamper economic and industrial development.
    • The Forest and Environment Ministry had decided to categorise forest and other land into ‘no-go’ (Category A) and ‘go’ (Category B) lands, citing environmental concerns. Mining is totally prohibited in ‘no go’ areas and even in the category B areas projects will have to go through due environmental and forest clearance.
  • Govt won’t set CSR floor for India Inc
    • The government has watered down its proposal on corporate social responsibility (CSR) by not including a provision in the Companies Bill that would have mandated firms to spend 2% of their profit on social causes.
    • The final proposal only requires a company to have a policy that targets to spend 2% of its profit on CSR. The bill, however, seeks to make it compulsory for a company to give details of the money it has spent on CSR in its annual report.
    • The proposal is a dilution of the government’s stance before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance that it was considering making the CSR spend mandatory.
    • The actual spend of most companies on CSR is well below the 2% threshold, and much of it would not be considered if a strict definition is applied.
    • But central public sector enterprises have a policy that requires them to spend 0.5-5% of their net profit on CSR activities.
  • Nuances between futures contracts and forward contracts
  • Now Stuxnet slips into India, quietly
    • We have noted about Stuxnet sometime back in our blog.  Now it is reported to have affected some 10,000 installations in India.
    • Stuxnet is a Windows-specific computer worm — first discovered in July 2010 by VirusBlokAda, a security firm based in Belarus.
    • It is the first discovered worm that spies on and reprograms industrial systems, and the first to include a programmable logic controller rootkit. What’s crucial is that having affected the controls, the virus can transfer the effective command of these installations to a remote location – mostly overseas. Simply said, Stuxnet can shut down or transfer control of any installation as long as it has an intelligent electronic control systems.
    • The authors of the virus are capable of monitoring inputs and changing outputs. This implies that this malware could lead to system shutdowns, explosions or inability to control important attributes like pressure and temperature — critical to power plants and process-driven installations.
    • India is the third largest infected nation, after Iran and Indonesia.
Language Lessons
  • auteur: Noun
    • A filmmaker who has a personal style and keeps creative control over his or her works
  • betide: Verb
    • Become of; happen to
    • eg: He promised that no harm would betide her.