Politics & the Nation
  • Lens on 214cr DB Realty loan to DMK’s TV channel
    • Investigating agencies probing the alleged irregularity in allocation of 2G licences are examining a transaction in which over 200 crore was transferred from Mumbai-based DB group to Kalaignar TV, a broadcaster majority-owned by family members of DMK party chief M Karunanidhi.
    • The reason for the transaction—in which 214 crore was transferred in fiscal 2009-10 from a subsidiary of DB Realty to Kalaignar TV by way of two other companies—was for an entity called Cineyug to pick over 30% in the TV channel, says a senior DB Realty official. But the deal fell through because of valuation differences and the money has since been repaid, the official—Asif Balwa, DB Realty’s CFO and executive director—said.
    • Officers from investigating agencies are interested in the deal because the telecom arm of DB Realty figures among the companies that bagged 2G licences in 2008. A Raja, the controversial former telecom minister and a leading light of the DMK who was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday, was in charge when the licences were handed out, allegedly at below-market prices.
  • India Post will let you leave your stamp
    • Bang on the right side of the next envelope you post, you can have a portrait of yours stuck in place of the stamp.  This is courtesy India Post, which in its latest efforts to personalise mail and lift its sagging revenues, is all set to allow Indians customise their stamps from February 12.
    • With this, IndiaPost will be joining its counterparts in the US, UK, Germany and France in offering customised services.
    • This facility, called ‘My Stamp’, is expected to start in India from next week when the World Philatelic Exhibition — Indipex 2011 — will be held in the capital.
    • For now, the personalised postage system is allowed only for individual citizens. One can also bring one’s own or spouse’s photo with an ID card, to have it converted into a personalised stamp. The background will have to be mandatorily chosen from six themes — The Taj Mahal, Tales of Panchatantra, Sun Signs, Trains, WildLife and Aeroplanes.
    • These personalised postages is one of the several ideas that India Post is experimenting with to boost its sagging revenues from personal mail, which have been on a huge deficit zone for the past five years. Deficit at the India Post increased 11% to about Rs 23,700 crore till December 2010, from a year-ago period. As on December last year, the department generated about Rs 470 crore from the sale of postage stamps, up 3.52% from what it made in its earlier fiscal.
Finance & Economy
  • An impassioned plea not to kill MFIs
    • We have noted recently on quite a few occasions about the malevolent behaviour of the MFIs in charging high interest rates from the small borrowers.  The media and the politicians, especially in Andhra Pradesh have been harsh on the MFIs as a whole.  But, take a look at this ET editorial which makes the case for allowing the MFIs to function, albeit with some regulation.  It even suggests an additional measure in using more technology by the banks to enhance financial inclusion.  Well worth a read.  
    • All the same, in this article Saurabh Tripathi argues that financial inclusion is not a technology challenge but a low cost HR challenge.
    • Sample this: MFIs are interesting because they operate profitably at such a low-cost of human capital that they can provide the human touch even for businesses with a low-ticket size. The average cost per head of MFIs is about Rs. 1 lakh per annum compared with Rs. 5.6 lakh for PSU banks, Rs. 5.3 lakh for private sector banks, and Rs. 3.8 lakh for regional rural banks (RRBs).
Language Lessons
  • detritus: Noun
    • The remains of something that has been destroyed or broken up; Loose material (stone fragments and silt etc) that is worn away from rocks
  • recondite: Adjective
    • Difficult to penetrate; incomprehensible to one of ordinary understanding or knowledge
  • tumbrel: Noun
    • A farm dumpcart for carrying dung; carts of this type were used to carry prisoners to the guillotine during the French Revolution