Politics & the Nation
  • Meira meets Chacko, Joshi on PAC probe into 2G scam
    • Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar on Friday met Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) Chairman P C Chacko and Public Accounts Committee (PAC) head Murli Manohar Joshi to discuss Chacko’s complaint that there is overlap of functions between the two committees probing 2G spectrum scam.
    • The meeting lasted for close to two hours but no decision was taken on the issue. Chacko complained that PAC was conducting a parallel inquiry in the issue and summoning the same witnesses that JPC would call later.
Finance & Economy
  • Is there a need for scrapping sectoral caps in FDI?
    • Yes, argues today’s ET editorial.  And we can’t disagree.  That kind of FDI policy only appears to have enabled local businessmen to resort to rent seeking.
  • An excellent article on tackling our power sector ills
    • This is one article that you can’t afford to miss reading.  It may take you half an hour to read.  But it is well worth it.  Some excerpts for us:
    • Use of groundwater has increased from almost zero in 1947 to over 60% of net irrigated area. In 1980, canals and tubewells were irrigating about 15 million hectares each. After 30 years, coverage by canal irrigation had remained unchanged despite substantial public investment, while tubewell irrigation had more than doubled to about 35 million hectares.
    • Of the country’s 5,723 groundwater blocks, as many as 30% are now classified as over exploited, critical or semi-critical, depending on the extent of depletion of aquifers. If the trend endures unabated, 60% of all groundwater aquifers would be in a critical state in 20 years.
    • In 1960, both India and China used 20 billion cu km (bckm) of groundwater for irrigation; today, China (as well as the US) uses less than 100 bckm, while India uses more than 250 bckm of groundwater.
    • About 60% of the country’s population is living in rural areas.
    • Over 60% of the country’s rural population depends on this small share of GDP (17%) that has seen an annual growth rate of only about 2% in the last decade.
    • Even six decades after Independence, more than 30% Indians do not have access to electricity, and the power sector is characterised by a stubborn energy deficit exceeding 9% and mounting financial losses year after year. In 2008, the sector suffered a loss of about Rs. 32,000 crore, part of which was expected to be paid from a subsidy of Rs. 19,000 crore for supply to agriculture.
    • If the country wants to sustain its economic growth rate of 8-9%, it needs to add about 70,000 mw of generation capacity for the XIIth Plan (by 2017) and another 75,000-80,000 mw in the XIIIth Plan (by 2022). In other words, India needs to add about 15,000 mw every year in the next decade, compared to its best performance of adding 19,000 mw in five years in the IXth Five-Year Plan.
    • China added more than 80,000 mw every year in the last five years.
    • The Achilles’ heel of Indian power sector is not farm subsidy but unmetered power supply.
    • A World Bank study estimated in 2001 that about 33% of estimated sales to agriculture are commercial losses wrongly attributed to agricultural consumption.
  • Manufacturing in US grows at near 7-yr high
    • Manufacturing in the US expanded in March at close to the fastest pace in almost seven years, reinforcing signs the industry will propel growth in the world’s largest economy.
    • The strength in manufacturing is also generating job gains, a necessary ingredient to a sustained expansion.
  • What a poignant reading!
    • Look at this piece about Japan’s young!  Japan is facing very hard times. There is no doubt about that.  But also look at their calm and poised responses!  Even in the worst of times, they held their cool and are rebuilding bit by bit.  There is so much there for all of us in India to learn.  Can we ever become a Japan?
  • And finally the Final
    • Let us say All the Best to India in today’s World Cup final.  Incidentally, those of you who are nostalgic of Mumbai can read this piece by Vikram Doctor about Wankhede Stadium.
    • Just heard that Sri Lanka has won the toss and will bat first.
Language Lessons
  • covey: Noun
    • A small collection of people; A small flock of grouse or partridge