Politics & the Nation
  • Karunanidhi melts as Sonia talks tough
    • The Congress-DMK negotiations on Tuesday ended in capitulation by the southern party, which conceded 63 seats for its ally in the coming Tamil Nadu polls. The two sides, which were staring at each other with clenched fists for the past three days, embraced the agreement at a meeting here on Tuesday evening. The Congress was represented by Pranab Mukherjee, Ghulam Nabi Azad, and Ahmed Patel. Of the 63 seats, 61 will be from DMK’s kitty while the remaining two will come from the quota of PMK and IUML.
    • Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who stepped into the negotiation process on Monday night and read the riot act to DMK, had made it plain her party cannot be expected to make more concessions to save the alliance. After Gandhi rearranged the terms of negotiations in the meeting with MK Azhagiri and Dayanidhi Maran and sent out the message that Congress cannot be talked down, DMK spent the day attempting to salvage its pride and alliance.
Finance & Economy
  • Welcome news on nuclear power front
    • By the end of this fiscal year, public sector Nuclear Power Corporation (NPC) will generate 25.5 billion units of power, a 35% jump from last fiscal year.
    • Such a jump had become possible because the benefits of the Indo US nuclear deal started flowing in.  The country's reactors which have been starved of fuel are now having adequate fuel.  So, plants which were operating at a plant load factor of 50% are now operating at 90% PLF.
    • NPCL is poised to produce close to its capacity of 4,680 mw.  NPCL has 19 reactors of which nine are built and fuelled by partners like Russia, France and the US.
    • Around 900 mw of new capacity is ready to come online from reactors in Karnataka and Rajasthan. Another 2,500 mw will get fired up soon from two plants in Tamil Nadu. By 2017, nearly 3,000 mw more will come from plants in Gujarat and Rajasthan. These projects, about 6,500 mw in all, will more than double NPC’s capacity in a relatively short time. But the really big push will come through the next few years when construction starts at seven different sites across India for large nuclear power projects.
  • Why is the rupee range bound?
    • An analysis of the rupee movement against the dollar indicates that the secular weakening of the rupee over decades was reversed for the first time in mid-2002. Since then, the rupee, by and large, rose against the dollar till the end of 2007, when the tremors of the global financial crisis started being felt in India. During 2008 and till early-2009, the local currency significantly eroded its value vis-à-vis the USD. Again, with signs of greenshoots in the global economy, the rupee strengthened significantly in 2009, along with quite a few other emerging market currencies.  However, the scenario has changed markedly since early 2010. The rupee kept on moving both ways on several occasions.
    • Experts attribute such a movement in 2010 largely to three factors — persisting uncertainties in the global economy leading to continued two-way crosscurrency movements (US dollar-euro), equity capital flows remaining two-way and chunky for India (large inflows at times of IPOs, and spells of sell-offs in the same year), and the Reserve Bank of India largely staying away from the market.
  • National Consumer Policy
    • The government on Tuesday proposed to formulate a national consumer policy to ensure that goods, services and technology are made available to consumers at affordable prices.
  • 54 PSUs posted combined loss of Rs. 14k cr in 2008-09
    • Fifty four public sector companies, including Air India, Eastern Coalfields, Bharat Coking Coal and Scooters India, have posted a combined loss of Rs. 14,424 crore in 2008-09.
  • What is stress testing?
    • Stress testing is a quantitative tool used to test the financial soundness of the banking system in the case of extreme nevertheless plausible shocks, used by the central bank, which in case of India is the Reserve Bank of India. In 2006, RBI had drafted norms for stress testing, wherein the guidelines said banks should identify their major sources of risk and carry out stress tests that are appropriate to them. These may also be used in the management of credit risks, operational risks and liquidity funding risk, in addition to the traditional stress tests used in managing market risks.
  • How can the world ensure food for all?
    • Take a look at this op-ed from Olivier De Shutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on right to food.  Good one.  He suggests an eight pronged strategy to ensure food for all.
  • Roubini sees dobule-dip recession if oil hits $140
    • Nouriel Roubini, the economist who predicted the global financial crisis, said an increase in oil prices to $140 a barrel will cause some advanced economies to slide back into recession.
    • Oil prices at their current levels probably won't lead to a "significant" acceleration in advanced economies because they are recovering from a "severe recession" and still face high unemployment, Roubini told a conference on hedge funds in the Persian Gulf emirate earlier on Tuesday.
  • Bill Gates' philanthropy cost him the title of Richest Man
    • Bill Gates didn’t lose his title as the world’s richest man last year; he gave it away by plowing billions into his charitable foundation, experts say.
    • Forbes will release its 2011 billionaires list on Wednesday and Gates, investor Warren Buffett and last year’s richest man, Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim, will almost certainly be in the top three. The trio have topped the list for the past five years. But it would be no contest if Microsoft co-founder Gates had not already given away more than a third of his wealth to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which focuses on global health and development and US education.
    • Gates is currently worth about $49 billion, behind Slim, whose fortune is estimated at $60 billion. Buffett, also a philanthropist, is now worth some $47 billion. But had Gates not given away any money, he would be worth $88 billion.
    • Gates and his wife Melinda have so far given $28 billion to their foundation, the largest in the United States. Forbes’ 2010 billionaires list put Gates’ fortune at $53 billion, but he was knocked into second spot by Slim’s $53.5 billion, losing the crown for only the second time since 1995.