Politics & the Nation
  • Japan fights to avert nuclear meltdown
    • Even as were away from blogging, Japan had witnessed massive earthquakes and a humungous natural calamity.  Most of you would have got a glimpse of it by now on TVs.  Let's catch along...
    • Japan fought on Sunday to avert a meltdown at three earthquake-crippled nuclear reactors, describing the massive quake and tsunami, which may have killed more than 10,000 people, as the nation’s biggest crisis since World War II.
    • The world’s third-largest economy is struggling to respond to a disaster of epic proportions, with more than 1 million without water or power and whole towns wiped off the map.
Finance & Economy
  • What does the nutrient based subsidy policy for fertilizers do?
    • Take the case of Urea.  It fixes the amount of subsidy available on per tonne of urea basis, regardless of how much companies claim as the cost of production.
    • Is this good enough?  What else can be done?
      • The farmgate price must be decontrolled.  But how will it help?
      • Decontrolling farm gate prices gives fertiliser companies the freedom to set the price of what they produce.  It will allow farmers to benefit the most from innovations in products, marketing and soil-specific nutrition diagnostics. It will allow manufacturers to offer innovative nutrient combinations, improve the fertiliser balance, soil health and farm yields. This has the potential of attracting fresh investment, down the line.  
  • Lewis turning point
    • When surplus labour from rural farming areas has been largely used up, an economy is stated to be at this turning point.
    • China is believed to closing in on this point.  This is the result of both heavy migration to cities over the last two decades and tight enforcement of the one-child policy that has shrunk the size of the workforce. Only 5 million people in the 35-54 age group will join China’s core labour force this decade, versus 90 million in the previous decade.
    • The shrinking workforce is the key reason why China is seeing structural inflation for the first time in decades.
  • Nuclear energy ambitions of the world in for second look
    • With the Japanese nuclear reactors blowing up right before our eyes on TV screens, the world is in for a rude shock about the desirability of going nuclear in its quest for more electrical energy.  The damaged Japanese reactor, designed by General Electric Co, began commercial operation in 1971 and is similar to units still running in the US.
    • There are 442 reactors worldwide that supply about 15% of the globe’s electricity, according to the London- based World Nuclear Association. There are plans to build more than 155 additional reactors, most of them in Asia, and 65 reactors are currently under construction, the association said on its website.
    • Japan gets about a third of its electricity from 54 nuclear power plants, the third-most after the US and France. Two reactors are under construction and 12 more are planned, according to the World Nuclear Association.
    • China is tripling the number of its reactors, building 27 units to add to the 13 operating reactors on the mainland, according to the association. In the US, companies including Southern Co and NRG Energy have submitted applications to build as many as 21 new reactors, adding to 104 existing units.
    • It will take sometime for the world to evaluate the options in the light of the Japanese experience.  Japan, being a highly developed country, has so far handled the situation with lot of maturity.  But, if such a blowing up has to occur anywhere in the third world, what would be consequences?  Can these countries handle the situation so well?
Language lessons
  • flotsam: Noun
    • The floating wreckage of a ship
  • jetsam: Noun
    • The part of a ship's equipment or cargo that is thrown overboard to lighten the load in a storm; The floating wreckage of a ship
  • chicanery: Noun
    • The use of tricks to deceive someone (usually to extract money from them)
  • snarky: Adjective
    • (informal) irritable, sarcastic, irreverent, impertinent