Politics & the Nation
  • What is the cause of rise of religious extremism in Pakistan? (aka Islamization of Pakistan's polity)
    • What has aided the spread of such extremism, apart from the security establishment having used extremist/ terror groups as instruments of state policy, is the Islamisation the Zia-era laws sought to bring about.
    • Another reasons is the wider failure of Pakistan’s secular political parties to foster an agenda of progressive, inclusive democracy and development. Given the failures of the state, the religious parties have found the space to mutate the anger of the disempowered masses into disaffection articulated along religious lines.
  • Srikrishna Committee report made public
    • The Government of India had made public the report of the committee that looked into issue of Telangana formation.  
    • You can download the full report from here.
Finance & Economy
  • An excellent critique of the Jalan committee recommendations
    • This committee has been in the news of late for the recommendations it made on reforming the market infrastructure institutions.  The recommendations have attracted both negative and positive support.  Take a look at this very excellent critique that appeared in today’s op-ed.  Worth a read.
  • The retail potential in India
    • The country’s private, retail spending, estimated at about $530 billion today, is poised to cross $1 trillion (at current prices) by 2020. Of this, modern retail (domestic and potentially international too) will not touch even $200 billion by then, leaving an $800 billion or more opportunity for the traditional, small, independent retail.
    • Indeed, just to keep pace with an 8% GDP growth rate-induced increase in private consumption, the country will need an additional 650 million sq ft of retail space by 2015, and about 800 million sq ft more between 2016 and 2020.
    • In absence of a clear real estate policy for the retail sector, it is unlikely that such space will come up.
  • The benefits of excise and service tax integration
    • In a very interesting article Pratik Jain lists the advantages.  Let's take a look:
    • If there is a common legislation for levying tax on manufacture of goods and supply of services, hopefully, the underlying input tax credit rules would also be common and simplified. This would also give the businesses flexibility to transfer their surplus credits from a particular manufacturing location to another manufacturing location and also to a service unit, or vice versa.
    • The other major advantage of this integration would be simplified compliances for taxpayers.  
    • A unified regime would not only conserve time and money of the taxpayer, but it would also offer her the flexibility to streamline or automate the underlying business and IT processes for handling these taxes.
    • The integration would also provide an opportunity for the government to align the administration of these legislations by having common personnel for processing the applications, audit and appeal proceedings and so on. It would also reduce the number of legislations by at least one, which would again be a welcome change.
  • On subsidizing fuels
  • Are we feeding on our future generations?
Language Lessons
  • dastardly: Adjective
    • Despicably cowardly
    • eg: The killing of a liberal politician arguing against the country’s repressive blasphemy laws is dastardly enough in itself.
  • antidiluvian: Adjective
    • Of or relating to the period before the biblical flood; So extremely old as seeming to belong to an earlier period
    • eg: Time and again, quixotic ideology has led to meaningless debates, antediluvian policy and inexplicable strangulation of capacity buildup in both physical and social infrastructure.