Politics & the Nation
  • Anna Hazare's fast unto death on corruption moves crowds all over the country
    • Social Activist Anna Hazare launched an indefinite hunger strike against corruption in New Delhi on Tuesday. He asked the government to include more stringent measures in the Lokpal Bill, 2010, meant to tackle corruption in public life.
    • The ‘fast-unto-death’ by the 73-year-old social activist pushes the government into a corner at a time when it is facing an integrity crisis, following a series of ‘big ticket’ scams and the imprisonment of a cabinet minister.
    • Hazare and his fellow activists demand that civil society members be made part of the panel that drafts the bill, a demand the government will find extremely difficult to accept, both due to the technicalities and for the uneasy precedent that will be set by such an arrangement.
    • Hazare’s struggle aims to revive and strengthen the idea of the institution of Lokpal, or a public ombudsman. In 1969, following the success of the office of Ombudsman in eradicating corruption in Scandinavian countries, a Lokpal Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha. It was, however, not passed by the Upper House. Since then, the Lokpal has been unsuccessfully introduced in Parliament on nine different occasions. The latest iteration is the Lokpal Bill, 2010, drafted by Law Minister Veerappa Moily. The bill is under consideration by a group of ministers headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee.
    • The Jan Lokpal bill seeks overarching powers for the institution of Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayukta in the states. The bill seeks the merging of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Anti-Corruption Bureau into the Lokpal and Lokayuktas. It envisages enhanced punishment (minimum of five years of imprisonment and maximum of life imprisonment) for those found guilty and provides for investigating corruption charges against judges as well as the officers of investigating agencies such as the CBI.
  • PAC may question Congress
    • Congress’ rhetorical onslaught against Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairman Murli Manohar Joshi and its charge that the body was overstepping its brief in the 2G spectrum allocation investigation has pushed the ruling side into a difficult corner with members of the panel seeking action against the party.
    • The PAC is getting prepared to submit its report by this month end.
  • Narmada Andolan faces perjury charges
    • The Supreme Court has asked the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), why perjury proceedings should not be initiated against it for providing false information under oath.
    • The court issued the notice on a petition by the Madhya Pradesh government accusing it of making ‘wrong statements’ on land acquisition for Omkareshwar dam Project in Madhya Pradesh.  The Madhya Pradesh government had sought initiation of legal actions against NBA for submitting ‘false information’ to the court on the issue of land acquisition from five villages — Dhardi, Nayapura, Guwadi, Kothmir and Narsinghpura.
    • The petition on behalf of the MP government said NBA had filed an affidavit in February, 2010, making a “wrong” statement that the authorities have taken possession of the disputed 284.03 hectares falling within the five out of 30 villages affected by Omkareshwar Dam Project.
    • The Madhya Pradesh government maintained the land acquired in the five villages were denotified and returned to the villagers who were using them for agriculture.
Finance & Economy
  • On identification of the poor
    • The census to identify the below poverty line (BPL) population is scheduled to take off this year and will aid the government’s public distribution system, proposed national food security scheme and other subsidy-based schemes for the poor.  The census identified the BPL beneficiaries, so far, by using a 'scoring method.'  This method is supposedly having a higher error rate.  The scoring system involved ranking households which were not automatically excluded or included, on a scale of 0 to 10 based on caste, religion, employment, literacy, and presence of debilitating illnesses such as tuberculosis, leprosy and HIV/AIDS. The households were to be placed in descending order, with those with the highest score coming in first.
    • Now the government is reportedly considering an alternative method of identifying the BPL beneficiaries.  It is the ranking of households by a set of deprivation indicators as suggested by the Planning Commission.  This also grades the villages by their level of deprivation and provides a map of poverty levels in the country.  It ranks the households using seven pointers, of which states will decide on three, to capture poverty in the state.  The level of deprivation of a household will govern its position on the BPL list, with those with high deprivation coming in first.
    • Inclusion in the list will continue till the cumulative percentage of households is less than the state poverty ratio ceiling fixed by the Plan panel based on the recommendations of committee headed by Suresh Tendulkar.
    • For households that are a point below the deprivation cut off, in case of states where the deprivation cut off does not equal state poverty ceiling, a geographic ranking system has been proposed. In that, villages will be ranked according to average deprivation points.  Households would then be included village-by-village, starting from the most deprived till the state poverty ceiling is reached.
Language Lessons
  • sliver: Noun
    • A small thin sharp bit of wood, glass or metal; A thin fragment or slice (especially of wood) that has been shaved from something