Politics & the Nation
  • CBI set to quiz Kanimozhi this week
    • The DMK’s woes in the run up to the assembly polls in Tamil Nadu are set to be compounded with the imminent interrogation of Chief Minister M Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi for her alleged links to DB Realty, the real estate firm promoted by Shahid Usman Balwa. Along with her mother Rajathi Ammal, Kanimozhi owns an 80% stake in Kalaignar TV. The broadcaster company, promoted by Tamil Nadu’s first family, was the recipient of a Rs. 214-crore loan from DB Realty, which funnelled the amount through two intermediary firms. Kalaignar TV, however, has rejected allegations that it had anything to do with the 2G spectrum allocation scam.
    • But the CBI, which is hot on the money trail of the kickbacks allegedly paid by a clutch of telecom players for bagging 2G spectrum licences during A Raja’s stint in the Sanchar Bhawan, wants to question Kanimozhi on the transaction in an attempt to find out whether there was a quid-pro-quo deal of any sort.
Finance & Economy
  • Juice economics
    • India grows 70 million tonnes fruit annually, of which mango and banana make up 50% share. No other fruit grows on industrial scale. So, juice concentrate is wholly imported.
  • Goa's per capita income is highest, while Bihar's is lowest
    • Goa recorded the highest per capita income among all states and union territories during 2009-10, while Bihar bagged the last spot, Parliament was informed on Wednesday.  Goa topped the list with an annual per capita income (PCI) of Rs. 1,32,719 in the last fiscal. It was followed by the union territory (UT) of Chandigarh at Rs. 1,20,912 and Delhi at Rs. 1,16,886.
    • In contrast, Bihar recorded the lowest PCI of Rs. 16,119 in the same period.
    • States such as Uttar Pradesh registered PCI of Rs. 23,132, Assam (Rs. 27,197) and Madhya Pradesh (Rs. 27,250). Among other major states, Maharashtra recorded a PCI of Rs. 74,027, Tamil Nadu of Rs. 62,499 and Gujarat of Rs. 63,961.
  • Contract labour fatcs
    • The government is more guilty of employing contract labour on unfair terms than the private sector, a study commissioned by the prime minister’s office said.
    • A recast of the laws to give contract labour the same benefits as the regular worker doing the same work will cost the government Rs. 11,000 crore annually against Rs. 5,500 crore for private firms.
    • The VV Giri National Labour Institute carried out the study on behalf of the labour ministry.  Almost 32% of the labour force in public sector is on contract as against 30% in the private sector, the study shows.
  • Excellent lessons in foreign policy
    • Know what is 'smart power'?  It refers to the intelligent integration and networking of diplomacy, defense, development, and other tools of so-called “hard” and “soft” power.  Nation states have to keep on practising this concept for a successful conduct of their foreign policy.  
    • Let us learn about it from Joseph S. Nye, Jr., a former US Assistant Secretary of Defense, who is a professor at Harvard University through his column in Project Syndicate here.  Very interesting read.
  • The conventional beliefs that got buried with the Arab uprisings
    • There is no clear end in sight to the turmoil sweeping across the Arab world. Protests have already toppled governments in Tunisia and Egypt, leaving other Arab countries faced with widespread discontent.
    • The unrest caught most people by surprise – both inside and outside the region – and has fundamentally upended at least five conventional beliefs about the Arab world; notes Marwan Muasher, former foreign minister and deputy prime minister of Jordan.  What are these beliefs?
      • Arabs don’t go into the street.
      • Economic liberalization should precede political reform.
      • Closed systems are necessary to prevent Islamists from taking power.
      • Elections equal democracy.
      • The international community has no role to play.
    • Want to know more about them?  Then you should read this piece.
Language lessons
  • disingenuous: Adjective
    • Not straightforward or candid; giving a false appearance of frankness
    • eg: West Bengal CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s recent statement on his party’s failures being the main reason for the rise of the Trinamool is a manifestation of that. But accepting that statement wholly would be disingenuous.
  • semiotics: Noun
    • (philosophy) a philosophical theory of the functions of signs and symbols
  • blimp: Noun
    • A small nonrigid airship used for observation or as a barrage balloon