Politics & the Nation
  • On economic census of 2012
    • The Central Statistics Office, or CSO, conducted the first economic census in 1977. Since then, it has carried out four more economic censuses in 1980, 1990,1998 and 2005.
    • The economic census is the only way to meet the need for data in respect of the unorganized non-agricultural sectors of the economy. It’s a complete count of all entrepreneurial units located within the geographical boundaries of the country.
    • Economic census is going to be carried out this year too.  The enumeration of below the poverty line, or BPL, families is due to start in April and the caste census in July this year. The BPL census will seek to identify the beneficiaries of the government’s subsidized foodgrain schemes. The caste census will be the first in the country in 80 years.
    • The exercise will cost an estimated Rs 700 crore.
  • Chiranjeevi joins Congress
    • In an attempt to ensure comfort for its government in Andhra Pradesh, the Congress on Sunday got megastar Chiranjeevi to merge his Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) with it. The PRP’s 16 MLAs — two of its MLAs have declared independence of sorts — are certain to help the party tide over the threat posed by Jaganmohan Reddy.
    • The Praja Rajyam Party, which was formed to challenge the Congress’ dominance, could not really make a mark in the last assembly polls. Chiranjeevi, who belongs to the powerful Kapu community, was seen to have the potential to make a dent in the Congress’ prospects in the coastal Andhra region. But after the election, which was reality check for the megastar, the Praja Rajyam Party has been expressing its keenness to work with the Congress.
Finance & Economy
  • The three classes of deficits in a nutshell
    • Look at the following sentence; you will get a good idea of the deficits
    • Thanks primarily to telecom auctions, the government’s finances are in much better shape. As a result, the revenue deficit or the excess of revenue expenditure over revenue receipts (in the period up to November 2010, i.e. for two-thirds of the year) is just 50.7% of the Budget estimate compared to 91.2% a year ago. Fiscal deficit or the excess of total expenditure over revenue receipts is 48.9% compared to 76.4% in November 2010 while the primary deficit which is the fiscal deficit minus interest payments or the deficit discounted for past sins is just 39.2% as against a whopping 106.4% at the same time last year.
  • On the need to rethink agriculture
    • This is a very good article that throws light on some new thinking.  Its main argument is that if we focus only on simply boosting agricultural productions, we are setting our sights too low and missing the point.  New findings suggest that agriculture has the potential to do much more to improve people’s health and nutrition than we have generally recognised.  An interesting reading.  A new concept that is worth our attention in this regard:
    • Biofortification: It refers to adding nutrients like iron, vitamin A and zinc to staple crops.
  • What is the confusion surrounding the taxation of software?
    • To get a glimpse of the problem, you must read this news report.  
    • Confusion largely stems from the fact that software is sometimes treated as a good when sold on a compact disc, while it is considered a service when supplied via electronic download.
  • Egypt government, Opposition agree on panel for democracy
    • The campaign to oust embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak took a decisive turn on Sunday as the regime and opposition groups including the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood reached a landmark deal to form a committee to study constitutional reform to pave for a democratic set up. Egypt's ruling regime, under pressure from the international community, entered into historic negotiations with the opposition groups today, after 13 days of relentless street protests by Egyptians seeking an end to the 30-year rule of Mubarak and a transition towards a representative government.
    • The talks resulted in an agreement over the setting up of a committee comprising political and judicial figures to study possible constitutional amendments on putting term limits for the presidential tenures and defining rules for who can run for the presidency. The committee has been asked to finish its task of suggesting amendments by the first week of March following which the future course of action will be decided.
Language Lessons
  • Kafkaesque: Adjective
    • Characterized by surreal distortion and a sense of impending danger
    • eg: It is not often that official reports succeed in creating an alternate reality in which fair is foul, beauty is ugly and lies are the truth. Such a Kafkaesque feat has been achieved by recent reports on telecom, the latest being the one by former Justice Shivraj Patil.
  • terroir: Noun
    • The complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, including factors such as the soil, topography, and climate
  • cru: Noun
    • (France) A vineyard or group of vineyards, esp. one of recognized quality
  • lance the boil: phrase
    • Solve the problem
    • eg: Not to mention, of course, that like any other asset bubble, if you lance the boil, the pain will spread rather far and wide and in quite unexpected directions.