Politics & the Nation
  • Rajat Gupta is getting painted into a tight corner
    • Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein made his much-anticipated appearance at Raj Rajaratnam’s trial, telling jurors that former director Rajat Gupta leaked inside details to the accused hedge fund manager.
    • Blankfein was called to testify by prosecutors in Manhattan federal court.
    • The Goldman chief told jurors that Gupta violated Goldman confidentiality policies by revealing to Rajaratnam the board’s June 2008 discussion of a possible merger with Wachovia Corp or an insurance company.
    • Gupta, a former worldwide managing director at consulting firm McKinsey & Co, has denied the SEC’s accusations and sued the agency last week. Goldman has not been accused of wrongdoing.
Finance & Economy
  • Country is sitting on grain bomb, warns the CACP
    • The Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) warned that the country's overflowing grain bins will lead to a crisis if the government did not come up with a plan to dispose of the stored grain.
    • It said the Centre, which is the biggest buyer of grain in the country, was sitting over huge grain inventories and that the problem will compound further when the wheat procurement begins in a few days. India’s wheat production is expected to touch a record 81.47 million tonnes (mt) this year.
    • The disclosure is indicative of an increasing concern in the government on the subject and comes barely a year after the country faced an acute grain supply strain, which resulted in double-digit inflation and spiraling food prices.
    • The CACP computed the cost to the government on the storage of additional grain based on current economic cost of around Rs. 20 per kg for rice and Rs. 16 for a kg of wheat.
    • According to government estimates, foodgrain harvest in 2010-11 would be to the tune of 232mt, second highest of all time.
    • The government has set a procurement target of 26.3mt, but storage is woefully inadequate and incentive schemes for the private sector slow and unattractive. The government had sanctioned 150 lakh tonne of additional storage facility, but less than 1% of it has been constructed so far.
    • Last year, archaic distribution rules forced release of only a small amount of grain despite high inflation. This led to wastage of about 50,000 tonnes of wheat.
  • On potential growth rate and its link to inflation
    • Some economists link the persistently high prices to the pace of economic growth. They say Indian economy is expanding at a rate beyond its ‘potential growth rate’. ET examines the concept and its relationship with prices in today's ET in the Classroom column.  Interesting concept to learn.
  • An noteworthy criticism of our petroleum sector
    • Successive petroleum ministers have been alleged to milking these companies for political largesse. Skewed policies geared towards the vote bank have consistently killed competition, creating an uneven play for both public and private sectors.
  • How do we take India on a $45 trillion path?
  • Liz Taylor
    • Elizabeth Taylor, the violet-eyed film goddess whose sultry screen persona, stormy personal life and enduring fame and glamour made her one of the last of the old-fashioned movie stars and a template for the modern celebrity, died Wednesday at age 79. She was surrounded by her four children when she died of congestive heart failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she had been hospitalised for about six weeks.
    • Taylor was the most blessed and cursed of actresses, the toughest and the most vulnerable. She had extraordinary grace, wealth and voluptuous beauty, and won three Academy Awards, including a special one for her humanitarian work. She was the most loyal of friends and a defender of gays in Hollywood when AIDS was still a stigma in the industry and beyond. But she was afflicted by ill health, failed romances (eight marriages, seven husbands) and personal tragedy.
    • Her more than 50 movies included unforgettable portraits of innocence and of decadence, from the children’s classic “National Velvet” and the sentimental family comedy “Father of the Bride” to Oscar-winning transgressions in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “Butterfield 8.”
    • The historical epic “Cleopatra” is among Hollywood’s greatest onscreen fiascos and a landmark of offscreen monkey business.
    • The London born actress was a star at age 12, a bride and a divorcee at 18, a superstar at 19 and a widow at 26.
    • Taylor’s ailments wore down the grudges. She underwent at least 20 major operations and she nearly died from a bout with pneumonia in 1990. In 1994 and 1995, she had both hip joints replaced, and in February 1997, she underwent surgery to remove a benign brain tumour. In 1983, she acknowledged a 35-year addiction to sleeping pills and pain killers. Taylor was treated for alcohol and drug abuse problems at the Betty Ford Clinic in Rancho Mirage, California.
    • Her advocacy for AIDS research and for other causes earned her a special Oscar, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, in 1993.
  • Global wheat output figures
    • Global wheat output is estimated to rise by 3.4% to 676 million tonnes in 2011 as high global prices led to an increase in the area under coverage in many countries, United Nation's body Food and Agriculture Organisation said on Wednesday.
    • The production in 2011 would still be below the bumper harvests in 2008 and 2009. Besides rise in area, FAO expects that productivity would increase in countries which were affected by drought in 2010.
Language lessons
  • peroration: Noun
    • A flowery and highly rhetorical oration; (rhetoric) the concluding section of an oration
  • stupor: Noun
    • The feeling of distress and disbelief that you have when something bad happens accidentally; Marginal consciousness