Politics & the Nation
  • Jats are on the warpath
    • With the Jats threatening to go on warpath seeking the inclusion of their community within the Centre’s OBC list, the issue of reservation in government jobs has been once again pitchforked into the domain of public discourse.
    • The agitation by the Jats entered its 10th day on Monday. Even though its impact has been felt mainly in Haryana, where the community is quite dominant and has, with some exception, been controlling the state’s polity in the past few decades, and pockets of western UP, efforts are on to take it to newer areas such as Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and Rajasthan.
    • Jats as a community figure in the state list of OBCs in Uttar Pradesh, while Rajasthan, they are included both in the state and central list of OBCs. The central list, however, excludes the community members hailing from the districts of Bharatpur and Dholpur.
    • However, in Haryana, Jats are excluded from both the state and central lists. With the Bhupinder Singh Hooda extending its tacit backing to the campaign being waged by the Akhil Bharatiya Jat Arakshan Samiti, the agitation has affected normal life in several districts.
Finance & Economy
  • Planning Commission to set road map for capital infusion in banks
    • The Planning Commission will chalk out a long-term capital infusion plan for public sector banks, helping them meet the credit needs of an economy seen growing at over 9% in the medium term.
    • The finance ministry had so far been providing need-based equity support to banks, often leading to delays as the government was not always in a position to provide the kind of funds banks required.
    • A combination of high growth and higher regulatory requirements under the Basel III framework will sharply push up capital needs of Indian banks.
    • According to a study by ratings agency ICRA, Indian banks will need about Rs. 6 lakh crore of capital over the next nine years to meet the norms. The Basel-III norms, which seeks to strengthen regulation, supervision and risk management in the banking sector, is to be implemented in phases beginning January 2013.
    • The capital infusion road map will be prepared after detailed consultations with banks and the finance ministry.
    • The decision to shift the responsibility to the Plan panel is also consistent with the change in the treatment of capital provided to banks in the budget for 2011-12.
  • Foreign investors will have to commit to money laundering rules
    • Foreign investors may have to give a commitment that they will abide by the country's stringent money laundering laws if a proposal mooted by the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP) is accepted.
    • The proposal is included in the draft of the revised foreign direct investment (FDI) policy circulated by DIPP.
    • The DIPP reviews the FDI policy every six months and a circular on the revised policy is expected by the end of this month. The new circular seeks an undertaking from a foreign investor that it will abide by the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. An offence under the Money Laundering Act could invite rigorous imprisonment of up to seven years and fine of up to Rs. 5 lakh. The DIPP proposal came following recommendations of a panel of secretaries that was asked to look into the FDI policy for sensitive sectors and a new law for post-investment surveillance of investors.
    • India has attracted $142 billion of foreign investment since 1991. More than 40% of these foreign inflows come from Mauritius, which experts say is actually a third country investment. This makes it difficult to trace the origin of these funds, raising concerns of laundering.
    • The proposed declaration will be on the lines of the one made by Indian companies under the Foreign Collaboration-General Permission Route (FC-GPR). A company has to make this declaration to the RBI within 30 days of receiving foreign capital raised through shares or convertible debentures.
  • India's nuclear plans may take a hit
    • Japan’s nuclear crisis will create obstacles for India’s atomic energy programme, but this has not dented the optimism of equipment suppliers such as GE and India’s Larsen and Toubro as the country remains determined to expand capacity.
    • The government has ordered a thorough review of India’s 20 nuclear rectors and their ability to withstand natural disasters like a severe earthquake and tsunami that damaged Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told Parliament that Indian nuclear plants had already weathered natural disasters like the Gujarat earthquake in 2002 and the tsunami in 2004 without any mishap.
    • The chief of Nuclear Power Corporation of India said India was likely to add close to 2,000 MW of nuclear power generation capacity by the end of the 11th Five Year Plan. The existing operational capacity is 4,870 MW, he said.
    • SK Banerjee, chairman, Atomic Energy Commission said there was no change in India’s nuclear programme.
    • But some energy experts in India say the crisis in Japan was already a setback for India’s plans for nuclear energy plants, which account for barely 4% of power generation capacity, but were poised for expansion.
    • In the meantime...
    • Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told both Houses of Parliament that he has ordered a technical review of India's atomic plants to check if they can withstand the impact of major natural disasters like tsunami and earthquakes.
    • Singh said Indian nuclear plants have met safety standards during major natural calamities like the Gujarat earthquake on January 26, 2001, and the December 2004 tsunami.
    • In India, we are currently operating 20 nuclear power reactors. 18 of these are the indigenous Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors. Two reactors at Tarapur, TAPS-1& TAPS-2 are Boiling Water Reactors of the type being operated in Japan.  Indian nuclear plants have in the past met their safety standards. Following the earthquake in Bhuj on 26 January, 2002, the Kakrapar Atomic Power Station continued to operate safely without interruption. Following the 2004 tsunami, the Madras Atomic Power Station was safely shutdown without any radiological consequences.
  • Bank of Japan injects a record $183 bn cash
    • The Bank of Japan poured a record 15 trillion yen ($183 billion) into money markets on Monday to assure financial stability amid a plunge in stocks and surge in credit risk. Policy makers said they were concerned corporate and household sentiment will worsen, with production set to decline in the aftermath of the temblor and an ensuing tsunami. The March 11 catastrophe killed an estimated number of more than 10,000 people, shut down factories, prompted rolling power cuts and sparked the risk of a meltdown at a nuclear power plant.
Language lessons
  • batty: Adjective
    • Informal or slang term meaning insane or very stupid
  • asinine: Adjective
    • Showing a lack of intelligence or thought; stupid and silly
  • birdbrained: Adjective
    • (informal) stupid, slow witted or dull
  • perdition: Noun
    • (Christianity) the abode of Satan and the forces of evil; where sinners suffer eternal punishment
    • eg: Only time will tell if your path leads to paradise or perdition.