Politics & the Nation
  • Western forces pound Libya; India calls for restraint
    • Western forces pounded Libya’s air defences and patrolled its skies on Sunday, but their day-old intervention hit a serious diplomatic setback as the Arab League chief condemned the “bombardment of civilians”.
    • European and US forces unleashed warplanes and cruise missiles against Gaddafi on Saturday in a United Nations-backed intervention to prevent the veteran leader from killing civilians as he fights an uprising against his 41-year rule. But Arab League chief Amr Moussa said what was happening was not what Arabs had envisaged when they called for the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya.   Arab backing for a no-fly zone provided crucial underpinning for the passage of the UN Security Council resolution last week that paved the way for the Western intervention, the biggest against an Arab country since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Withdrawal of that support would make it much harder to pursue what some defense analysts say could in any case be a difficult, open-ended campaign with an uncertain outcome.
  • Galleon case: Gupta sues SEC
    • Rajat K Gupta, a former director of Goldman Sachs and Procter & Gamble who has been accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission of leaking confidential information about those companies, on Friday sued the agency.  Gupta’s complaint against the agency, filed in US District Court in Manhattan, contends that the SEC violated his rights by bringing its case under the Dodd-Frank Act instead of suing in a court. Dodd-Frank allows the agency to pursue its case in a special administrative proceeding.
    • Gupta is also the Chairman of the Indian School of Business based in Hyderabad.  Markets are rife with rumours that he has offered to quit as Chairman of ISB too.
    • Gupta, 62, is accusedof tipping Raj Rajaratnam, the Galleon Group hedgefund manager now on trial for securities fraud and conspiracy charges, about Goldman’s and P&G’s earnings, as well as information about Warren Buffett’s $5 billion in investment in Goldman, just minutes after the board approved it.
Finance & Economy
  • Some thoughts on financial inclusion
    • Take a look at this ET editorial.  It describes how regulation is actually stunting the outreach of banks to the unbanked.  It presents the way forward.  Worth a read.
  • Varieties of teas
    • First flush tea:   First Flush refers to the first picking season of the year. Typically around March. First Flush Indian tea typically has a rich and fresh aroma. The flush might have a marginal green tint.  Analysts say that first flush tea is generally used for gifting purpose during the Easter time.  Incidentally, the first flush teas fetch price anything between 2,000 and 12,000 per kg.
      • With GJM (Gorkha Janmukti Morcha) calling for a ban on movement of tea now, demanding more wages and inclusion of the Terai and the Dooars regions in the north Bengal jurisdiction, Darjeeling tea companies are a worried lot as their first flush teas will lose international clientele.
    • Orthodox tea:  Orthodox tea refers to either hand-processed tea or tea that is rolled with machinery in a manner that mimics hand-rolling. Most specialty tea is made with orthodox production methods.  Orthodox tea is generally known for being more nuanced and complex than CTC tea. All whole-leaf tea is made with orthodox production methods.
    • CTC tea: (Crush, Tear, Curl) The opposite of orthodox tea is CTC tea, which is machine-processed in a way that chops the leaves into uniformly-sized bits that are typically used for low-grade teabags.
  • Goldman Sachs to repay Buffett’s ‘expensive’ $5-billion investment
    • Goldman Sachs has decided to repay Buffet's money that it took during the darkest days of financial crisis.  The deal was a lifeline for Goldman — but it came at a hefty price, namely a 10% annual dividend.  It was due to expire in 2013.  Because of its high cost, Goldman reportedly decided to repay it early.
    • In total, the investment netted the billionaire investor $1.7 billion, or approximately $187,000 a day.
  • Elections for Tibetan government in exile
    • Do you know that there is a current prime minister-in-exile for Tibetans?  It is Samdhong Rinpoche.  He served two terms.  The Tibetan charter bars an individual from holding the office for more than that period.
    • With the announcement by Dalai Lama that he is stepping down as the political leader of Tibetans, the role prime minister in exile assumes significance.  Currently elections are on for the post.
    • The three candidates in the fray for the post of the prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile, which is known as ‘Kalon Tripa’ in Tibetan language, are – Lobsang Sangay, Tenzin Namgyal Tethong and Tashi Wangdi. Lobsang Sangey is a senior fellow of Harvard Law School, whereas Tenzin Namgyal Tethong is a diplomat also settled in the US. Tashi Wangdi was the Dalai Lama’s representative in Brussels, New York and New Delhi.
Language lessons
  • dilettante: Adjective
    • Showing frivolous or superficial interest; amateurish
    • Noun: An amateur who engages in an activity without serious intentions and who pretends to have knowledge
    • eg: He was precise and articulate and demonstrated a mastery that belied the image some have of Gandhi as a dilettante.