Politics & the Nation
  • There simply was no case for the government to exempt ICC from tax
    • Today's ET editorial, very rightly, took note of the issue and came out with the opinion that the government should not have exempted ICC from its tax obligations.  We strongly support such a line of argument.
    • Sport is not just celebration of human athletic prowess. It is also business, very prosperous business. There is no reason to exempt sport as business from tax. Cricket has become a money spinner for cash-rich ICC that prides itself as a truly global business organisation. It also earns huge revenues through sponsorship and media rights. And this is not small change. So, there is simply no reason why ICC should not contribute to the tax kitty.
    • Such tax exemptions are arbitrary and provide political patronage opportunities. They must be eschewed.
    • Similarly, there is no logic in exempting the Indian Premier League (IPL), an arm of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), from paying tax on its income. The BCCI has ceased to promote cricket as a ‘charitable’ activity. It has become a commercial entity with huge revenue streams. Revenue generated from the IPL is shared between the umbrella cricket body and its franchisees.  The BCCI also uses only 10% of the surplus money on promoting cricket and the balance is shared with players. Cricketers pay tax on their income from IPL matches. So do franchisees, but not BCCI.
    • When individuals with even Rs. 3 lakhs as income are paying tax, why shouldn't rich sporting bodies be paying tax?  This is atrocious!
  • The definition of a soft state
    • India has, for long, been regarded as a soft state. Gunnar Myrdal is credited with inventing this term, intended to mean a country where law enforcement and social discipline are low; by extension, one that is as timid and diffident in its dealings with other nations as with its own citizens.
Finance & Economy
  • The minimum wages and MNREGS imbroglio
  • India's external liabilities
    • India’s external liabilities rose by $22.7 billion in the quarter ending December 2010, over the previous three months, to $628 billion, mainly on account of increase in portfolio investment, FDI and debts. The country’s increase in external liabilities rose to $628.6 billion as on December 31 from 605.9 billion at the end of September, according to RBI data.
  • Inflation worries
    • Even as food prices have started to moderate, inflation has now spilled over to manufactured products and is yet to peak, say economists.
    • Overall inflation as measured by the wholesale price index was 8.31% for February, above the most aggressive estimates of economists, who now believe that it is the start of a phase of generalized inflation.
    • Core inflation, which excludes more volatile food and energy price changes, is a rough indicator of underlying long-term inflation.
    • While economists agree that inflation is going to remain high in the coming months, its trajectory has been difficult to predict. The Reserve Bank revised its estimates upwards, for the second time, to 8% for March end.
    • In February, the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council had admitted that the sustained increase in food prices has spilled over to other areas in the economy.
    • Around the globe, advanced economies have been following loose monetary and fiscal policies in an attempt to bolster growth in their respective economies. As more money chases the same amount of goods, the threat of inflation is imminent. India returned to its growth trajectory fairly quickly, which meant that demand for manufactured and primary goods picked up soon enough. Economists say prices of manufactured products could see a spurt in the coming months, which would push the WPI upwards. Non-food manufactured products have a weight of 55% in the WPI.
    • Economists also note that the elevated prices of crude oil have not been passed through and are a threat to inflation. And when the international prices are passed on, it would provide a further upward push.
  • Government moves to fine tune job survey
    • The government has set up an expert committee of economists and statisticians to fine-tune the labour department's annual employment survey launched last year to enhance its accuracy and effectiveness.
    • Consultations with the expert group on sampling design and survey, scheduled to start later this month, would result in more than a month's delay in the commencement of the survey, but the results are expected to be out on time by the end of the calendar year.
    • The expert committee, headed by S P Mukherjee from the Calcutta University, has members from various institutions including the NCAER, Institute of Economic Growth, the Planning Commission and the NSSO.
    • Nation-wide employment and unemployment survey has so far been the domain of the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) which brings out the data on a five-yearly basis.
    • Prompted by reports of growing unemployment in specific sectors of the economy worst-affected by the global economic crisis, the labour department decided to carry out a country-wide survey on an annual basis last year to monitor the situation closely and take corrective actions.
    • Results of the first labour department survey for the period April-March 2009-10 announced in October 2010 revealed a much higher unemployment rate of 9.4% for India's over 400 million workforce compared to 2.8% arrived at by the NSSO survey of 2004-05.
    • To widen its survey base, the labour bureau this year plans to cover all 629 districts in the country as opposed to only 300 last year and would interview 1 lakh respondents, more than double of last year's numbers.
    • It would also look at expanding the scope of the survey by including migrant workers and other categories, but a call on this will be taken by the expert group.
  • Sohan Qadri
    • Sohan Qadri, one of India’s greatest abstractionists in the genre of meditative moorings passed away early in March.
    • Growing up in northern India, Qadri was exposed to Sufism, Hinduism, and Sikhism. He was initiated into yogic practice at the age of seven. His stay at a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in search of higher truths shaped his sensibility and gave him a Zen facet. He was particularly inspired by Vajryana or Tantric Buddhism which emphasised the notion of sunyata or emptiness.
    • Qadri was born in 1932 in Punjab, India. He received his MFA from the Government College of Art in Simla, India. He left India in 1965 and travelled through East Africa, North America and Europe. He eventually set up a studio in Zurich before settling in Copenhagen where he lived for 40 years.
    • Take a look at this full piece in today's ET to have a look at his abstract art.
Language Lessons
  • quotidian: Adjective
    • Found in the ordinary course of events
  • preen: Verb
    • Pride or congratulate (oneself) for an achievement; clean with one’s bill; dress or groom with elaborate care.