Politics & the Nation
  • Hijacking Parliament’s role
    • Anna Hazare’s campaign against corruption has received very wide support all over India and even from Indians residing abroad.  The country certainly seems to have missed a point in celebrating Hazare’s victory.  CL Manjo brings that out very well in his op-ed today.  Take a look.  Very well articulated.  
    • It is not Manoj alone who has such reservations.  Even the former Speaker of the Lok Sabha Mr. Somnath Chatterjee too has some serious reservations and has articulated his concerns quite well in his piece.  A must read.
  • While on the subject of corruption one more excellent debate
    • Take a look at this face-off column in today’s ET.  It debates whether or not the Lok Pal institution will be sufficient to fight corruption.  Some strong views there.  Worth our attention.
  • Some noteworthy thoughts on philanthropy (Excerpted from an op-ed in today's ET)
    • The distribution and proper utilisation of wealth has engaged the human mind almost as much as its creation. How to ensure an equitable social order in which there is no exploitation and in which wealth is used not only to take care of the poor and needy, but also to bring beauty, art and knowledge to all, continues to be a vexed question. Philanthropy, defined as the creative use of wealth for the long-term benefit of society, without any expectation of a quid pro quo, has been considered a way to take the sting out of the inequitable distribution of wealth.
  • Binayak Sen gets bail from Supreme Court
    • The Supreme Court has granted bail to civil rights activist Binayak Sen, awarded life imprisonment on charges of sedition and for having links with Maoists by a Raipur sessions court.
    • The bench said, “no case of sedition is made out,” during the course of the hearing in the case. “We are a democratic country. He may be a sympathiser (of Naxalites) but it did not make him guilty of sedition”. It rejected the plea of Chhattisgarh government which had opposed Sen’s bail saying that the documents and pamphlets found in his house suggested that he was actively associated with Maoists.
Finance & Economy
  • Oil economics
    • It is very well known to us that our PSU oil majors keep losing lot of money on account of their supplying fuel at subsidized prices.  Usually it is the Centre which keeps pumping some money into them so that they don't go into the red.  Now, the Centre is moving a proposal whereby the States too will have to contribute something for the PSU majors.
    • In this context, it is interesting to note that the oil sector pays Rs. 110,000 crore in taxes to the Centre and Rs. 81,000 crore to states.
  • BRICs alternative to the dollar?  (Excerpted from today's ET editorial)
    • BRICs have reportedly reached an agreement to provide credit to each other in local currencies and collaborate in capital markets and other financial services.  This is no doubt a step towards finding an alternative to the dollar.  But the demand for credit in local currencies within the group is small and is unlikely to be cost-effective either given the dollar’s pre-eminence.
    • Reserve currencies are not created by fiat; they emerge from historical forces of trade and investment. The dollar is the world’s favourite currency because it is simply the most traded, circulated and accepted currency in the world. Brics or others hoping to supplant the dollar will have to develop large and deep markets, first within their own national economies and then across the world for bonds in those currencies.
  • Spectrum's potential to GDP
    • According to a report by Analysys Mason, a 1% increase in broadband penetration could lead to Rs. 162 billion being added to the country’s GDP by 2015. The report suggests that even releasing 5 MHz of additional 3G spectrum per licensee could lead to a 3.3% rise in broadband penetration — which would contribute Rs. 538 billion to the country’s GDP by 2015.
  • Normal monsoon forecast
    • India is likely to receive a normal monsoon this year, the South Asia Climate Outlook Forum (SACOF) said in Pune on Friday, providing some cheer to the economy battling rising inflation and high food prices.
    • The forecast says likelihood of below normal rainfall over the north-western parts and some north-eastern parts of South Asia, but normal rainfall over the southern parts of South Asia, including the islands.
    • SACOF is an initiative of the World Meteorological Organisation to provide regional information.
    • India receives most of its rains in June-September, which is crucial for both the immediate kharif crops and also the rabi crops as the quantity of rain decides the moisture content of the soil for the winter crop.
    • India’s weather department, the India Meteorological Department (IMD), will put out its official forecast on April 19. Initial indications suggest that IMD will also put out a normal monsoon forecast.
Language Lessons
  • melange: Noun
    • A motley assortment of things
  • au courant: Adjective
    • Being up to particular standard or level especially in being up to date in knowledge
  • quail: Verb
    • Draw back, as with fear or pain
    • eg: She quailed when they showed the slaughtering of the calf.