Politics & the Nation
  • Should there be another investigation into Bofors issue because of the ITAT order?
    • Take a look at this well-reasoned editorial that argues against the demand raised by the BJP / NDA.  While not condoning the wrongs that made up the Bofors scandal, it argues that it is a waste of time and precious resources to seek another probe again into the issue.
  • Bodyguard kills Pak Punjab Governor
    • Salman Taseer, the governor of Pakistan’s wealthiest and the most populous province, was shot dead in Islamabad on Tuesday by one of his own guards, who later told interrogators that he was angry about the politician’s stance against the country’s blasphemy law.
    • The killing was the most high-profile assassination of a political figure in Pakistan since former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in December 2007, and it rattled a country already dealing with crises ranging from a potential collapse of the government to a virulent Islamist insurgency. The killing could also add to concerns about inroads by Islamist extremists and fundamentalists into Pakistan’s security establishment and represented another blow to the country’s Pakistan’s embattled secular movement.
    • Pakistan’s blasphemy law has come under greater scrutiny in recent weeks after a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, was sentenced to death for allegedly insulting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. The law effectively orders death for anyone convicted of insulting Islam. Taseer had said Bibi should be granted a pardon, a stance that earned him opprobrium from Islamist groups across the country as well as threats.
    • Dozens of Pakistanis are sentenced to death each year under the blasphemy law, which dates back to the 1980s military rule of General Mohammad Zia ul-Haq. Most cases are thrown out by higher courts and no executions have been carried out, but human rights activists have long complained that the law is used to settle rivalries and persecute religious minorities.
Finance & Economy
  • Are lobbyists good for the nation?
    • Former Chairman of SEBI, Mr. G.V. Ramakrishna writes on the subject in an op-ed today.  Makes a good reading.  Some excerpts:
    • In the US, lobbyists would collect data, analyse the implications of particular laws for various groups, promote articles and research papers and suggest the line of action that would promote their interests. Similarly, the position of opposing groups gets developed and presented to the legislators. Gradually, this healthy activity spread to socialising by parties, holidays and expensive gifts to important members of the various committees. Cash gifts and election funding also came along as a normal activity of lobbyists.
    • In India, the system of lobbyists is not a recognised activity and has acquired an odour of bribery of legislators, officials and the media.
    • The main problem is that the activity of lobbyists is carried out clandestinely. The interests of different companies or groups are rarely based on research or discussion among disinterested groups.
    • The real criticism about the lobbyists can be summarised as follows: They are mostly individuals. They work behind the scenes. They do not reveal the companies or groups of companies they represent. They do not present any researched papers except through the media without owning their positions openly. The object of lobbying may be policy changes or individual cases. They try to change policy through the ministers or through their advisers.
    • What can be done to make lobbying more transparent?
      • In a sense, the lobbyists should act as advocates that present different views and interpretation to enable the government to take an informed decision.  
      • Rules for lobbyists should be formulated for both individuals and companies to be registered with the ministry of company affairs with sufficient details of the companies or groups of companies they represent.
      • The representations they make should be to the minister or the secretaries and it should be in writing and made available on the website of the lobbyist.
      • The contacts with the minister or secretary should not be in private but in the offices.
      • Lobbyists should represent not individual companies but industry groups where large industry associations have divided interests and cannot take separate views to represent groups.
Language Lessons
  • annus horribilis
    • Annus horribilis is a Latin phrase meaning "horrible year". It alludes to annus mirabilis meaning "year of wonders".
  • ceteris paribus: Adjective
    • All other things being equal