01.04.2011

Politics & the Nation
  • Census 2011 highlights
    • The population of the country is 1210.19 million of which 623.7 million (51.54%) are males and 586.46 million (48.46%) are females.
    • The population of India has increased by more than 181 million during the decade 2001-2011 -- almost as much as the population of Brazil, the fifth-most populous nation.
    • The country now accounts for 17.5% of the world's population, equal to the combined headcount of the US, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Bangladesh & Japan
    • Percentage growth in 2001-2011 is 17.64; males 17.19 and females 18.12.
    • 2001-2011 is the first decade (with the exception of 1911-1921) which has actually added lesser population compared to the previous decade.
    • Uttar Pradesh (199.5 million) is the most populous State in the country followed by Maharashtra with 112 million.
    • The total number of children in the age-group 0-6 is 158.8 million (-5 million since 2001)
    • Population (0-6 years) 2001-2011 registered minus (-)3.08 percent growth with minus (-)2.42 for males and -3.80 for females.
    • The proportion of Child Population in the age group of 0-6 years to total population is 13.1 percent while the corresponding figure in 2001 was 15.9 percent. The decline has been to the extent of 2.8 points.
    • Overall sex ratio at the national level has increased by 7 points to reach 940 at Census 2011 as against 933 in Census 2001. This is the highest sex ratio recorded since Census 1971 and a shade lower than 1961. Increase in sex ratio is observed in 29 States/UTs.
    • Three major States (J&K, Bihar & Gujarat) have shown decline in sex ratio as compared to Census 2001.
    • Kerala with 1084 has the highest sex ratio followed by Puducherry with 1038, Daman & Diu has the lowest sex ratio of 618.
    • Literacy rate has gone up from 64.83 per cent in 2001 to 74.04 per cent in 2011 showing an increase of 9.21 percentage points.
    • Percentage growth in literacy during 2001-2011 is 38.82; males : 31.98% & females : 49.10%.
    • Literates constitute 74 per cent of the total population aged seven and above and illiterates form 26 per cent.
  • Look at these numbers to get a sense of the mammoth effort involved in the Census operations
    • Thirty-four crore questionnaires in 16 languages. Twenty seven lakh enumerators, trained in three days. Administrative maps re-drawn into enumeration blocks. Each surveyor went to 150 households in 20 days. Publicity campaign done in 12 languages.
    • The Census is carried out in over two phases – house listing and population enumeration.
    • The house listing exercise was carried out last year to identify where people live and the amenities they have. This provided the framework to conduct the population headcount, carried out in February this year.
    • During the headcount, citizens are asked personal details such as mother tongue, economic activity they are involved in, migration and fertility-related information, whether they belong to a scheduled caste or tribe, etc.
    • Now, all the filled questionnaires would be scanned and converted into a database.
    • Errors that creep into the data, due to different languages and font styles of citizens, would be manually corrected.
    • But that’s not the only correction headache for officials. When asked about religion, for instance, Indian citizens often don’t give simple answers.
    • The final numbers, officials expect, would be out by May or June 2012.  After the final population data is released, the Census office will release 300-odd tables in a sequential manner that will highlight different facets of India’s population – fertility, migration, marital status, workforce participation, et al.
  • The Judicial Commission to Pakistan may be a non-starter
    • Take a look at this report for understanding the issue.
Finance & Economy
  • Long live nuclear power?
    • Even as we are witnessing the yet unfolding saga in Japan, calls for disbanding nuclear power are gaining momentum.  Take a look at this piece penned by GV Ramakrishna in today's op-ed.  
    • The arguments are all very valid.  But...  Let's revisit the issue sometime in future after all the dust settles.
  • FDI policy reviewed
    • Foreign companies that have an existing joint venture in India will not need the permission of the local partner if they want to set up a wholly-owned subsidiary in the same field of business. The government hopes to attract more foreign direct investment by scrapping of this controversial rule and other simplifications in the foreign direct investment policy.
    • Indian Inc has welcomed the new policy saying it will boost FDI flows, that declined in the past few months.
    • The regulation called Press note 1, 2005 is a diluted version of the earlier policy (Press Note 18) that gave Indian promoters enough legal tooth to stall its foreign partner from going alone in the Indian market in any line of business.  The 2005 policy said the foreign investor would need for a no objection certificate from a local partner only if it decided to go on its own in a similar line of business as existing venture. It also said the rule will not apply to ventures set up after 2005, which were to be governed by the shareholder agreements between the two partners. A number of Indian promoters had invoked this provision to block their foreign joint venture partner from floating fresh ventures. Some of the prominent cases include dispute between the VK Modi group and its US partner Guardian over the latter’s attempt to set up its own subsidiary outside the existing Indian JV, Gujarat Guardian.
  • An existing confusion removed
    • The FDI policy review has also clarified on foreign ownership of Indian companies.
    • ICICI Bank and other banks that have more than 50% foreign investment will be treated as “foreign companies” as per the new FDI policy, imposing restriction on their downstream investments in sectors which are barred for foreign investment.
    • The other lenders that have more than 50% foreign equity holding are HDFC Bank, Yes Bank, IndusInd Bank, Federal Bank, ING Vysya, and Development Credit Bank.
    • All the investments by such a company into other ventures or subsidiaries would be considered foreign investment. Thus, such investments would be subject to the restrictions that apply to foreigners.
    • This could come in the way of investments made by these lenders in sectors where FDI is prohibited, such as pensions.
    • The new FDI guidelines, issued by DIPP, classify companies into two categories -- companies owned or controlled by foreign investors and companies owned and controlled by Indian residents.
    • The circular has done away with the earlier categorisation of 'investing companies', 'operating companies' and 'investing-cum-operating companies'.
  • Vodafone to buy out Ruias for $5 bn
    • Vodafone and Essar have agreed on an amicable divorce after a four-year marriage marred by bitter fighting, with the British group offering its Indian partner a previously agreed pre-nuptial settlement of $5 billion ( 22,200 crore).
    • Vodafone on Thursday said both sides would exercise options under which Essar would sell its 33% holding in India’s No. 3 mobile operator by customers, Vodafone Essar, to the world’s biggest mobile phone company by revenues. Industry experts said the contours and timing of the deal, expected to be completed by November, underscored the fractious nature of the relationship between the two sides. The $5-billion figure had been agreed in 2007 when Vodafone bought into the Indian company, and, in the process, granted options to Essar to enable it to sell its entire stake at that value. Essar could sell a part of it at an independently appraised fair value. Essar had a put option allowing it to sell a 22% stake to Vodafone, which held a call option to buy the remaining 11% if Essar chose to exercise its option.
    • These options were to expire on May 8, after which both sides would have been forced to negotiate a price, which many analysts say would most certainly have been less than $5 billion because the Indian telecom sector has seen a significant downward rerating since 2007. The country’s top mobile company, Bharti Airtel, was valued at $33 billion when Vodafone bought a 67% stake in the then Hutchison Essar in February 2007, but is now valued at around $30 billion, despite adding some 180 million customers since then.
    • Essar could have let the options expire and hoped to sell its holding to Vodafone or any other buyer at a negotiated price, or offered them via an IPO of shares.
International
  • An excellent quote
    • At one time or the other, you would have heard this quote --  “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
    • Remember who is credited with uttering it?  Spanish born US philosopher George Santayana.
  • US Treasury made a cool $23 bn profit from bailouts
    • US Treasury officials laid claim to an eventual $23.6 billion gain for taxpayers on the entire rescue programme, despite doubts from sceptics about just how Washington crunched the numbers.  Treasury officials say they are actually being conservative in their profit projections. But even if that roughly $24 billion estimate proves too optimistic, the trend still represents a major turnabout from the river of red ink critics predicted. The administration itself projected a $100 billion loss only a year ago.
    • What explains the wild swings between losses and profits?  For starters, asset prices improved as the economy rebounded. But some of the gains remain on paper, and profits that haven’t been booked have to be continually adjusted to reflect price swings in the market. Then there are the vagaries of government accounting, like how to properly value complex mortgage securities.
  • John le Carre withdraws from Booker Prize
    • First bestowed on Albanian writer Ismail Kadare in 2005, Man Booker International Prize is awarded every two years to recognise a living author’s achievement in fiction and literary excellence.
    • The winner will be announced at the Sydney Writers’ Festival on May 18. The contest is sponsored by hedgefund manager Man Group Plc (EMG), which also funds the Man Booker Prize for Fiction.
Language Lessons
  • outr√©: Adjective
    • Conspicuously or grossly unconventional or unusual
    • eg: The proposal by the European Union to ban ‘conventionally fuelled’ cars from its cities by 2050 is admittedly less outr√© than its infamous diktat regarding the curvature and length limits on imported bananas and cucumbers...
  • hoof it: Verb
    • Walk
  • ingenuous: Adjective
    • Characterized by an inability to mask your feelings; not devious; Lacking in sophistication or worldliness

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