Politics & the Nation
  • Some very good commentary on the Allahabad High Court's judgement on Ayodhya dispute
    • Yet, the Allahabad High Court tried to clothe a compromise as a form of legal resolution, relying on faith as actionable evidence and doing damage, in the process, to the law and to vital political values. It is necessary and sufficient that the Supreme Court should undo this damage done by the high court. If it can delineate the boundaries of judicial action and leave needed further resolution to the political process, that would be what is required.
  • What is the best way to compensate the landowners from whom land is taken away for urbanization needs?
    • While it is true that there is no one ideal solution, what ET suggests in its editorial today is worth our attention:
    • A viable form of stakeholdership is to transfer ownership of the land in question to a special purpose vehicle (SPV) in which half the ownership is vested in the original owners of the land, while the other half vests with the project developer. The project could pay the SPV lease rentals that reflect the commercial value of the new activity coming up on the land, offering landlosers a steady, certain stream of income. The value of the SPV’s shares would increase as the land rises in value over time and the erstwhile farmers would share in the upside. Further, the landlosers could be organised into production units that deliver assorted services to the new project, adding to their incomes. These should be an integral part of the project.
  • Supreme Court rules out corrective action in Bhopal gas case
    • The Supreme Court has refused to change its mind about a 1996 judgment and allow stricter punishments for seven corporate executives convicted for their role in the world’s worst industrial disaster.
    • Dismissing the curative petition filed by the CBI, it observed “No satisfactory explanation is given to file such curative petitions after about 14 years from 1996 judgment of the Supreme Court.”
    • In 1996, the Supreme Court diluted the charges against the accused from culpable homicide not amounting to murder to criminal negligence.
Finance & Economy
  • What went wrong with Economics and Economists?
    • You must read this op-ed by Bradford Delong.  It tries to answer this question in the context of the recent financial crisis that the globe had witnessed.  A very interesting read.
  • Know what is ‘middle income trap’?
    • This refers to countries that have grown out of poverty and can no longer compete with low-cost producers, but cannot also make the leap to an advanced economy.  ADB says that many Asian economies are in danger falling into this kind of trap now.  
  • Managing farm inventories
    • Today, about 60% of the produced wheat enters the market as marketed surplus. Hence, of the 84 million tonnes, about 50 million tonnes enter the market. About half of this is absorbed through the procurement process by the government, thus leaving just 25 million tonnes for private traders.
  • Personality
    • Haruhiko Kuroda: Is the President of Asian Development Bank
  • Is a Lehman moment immanent in Greece?
    • Many an expert is speaking of a possible “Lehman moment” — a shock so severe that it would cause banking crises and domino bankruptcies throughout Europe -- for Greece.
    • The fears are genuine.  Greece’s debts are officially forecast to hit 159% of GDP in 2012. Sustaining such a burden would require so much austerity that the economy would be crushed for years. Though the country is supported by a 110 billion-euro European Union/International Monetary Fund programme, it is only funded until early next year, and will need to raise 27 billion euros in 2012.  The logic for restructuring is compelling because with every month that passes, more bailout money gets used to pay off private debt, helping those who lent to it foolishly at the expense of taxpayers in other countries.
    • But how to prevent a restructuring becoming a Lehman moment?
      • First, haircut Greece’s debt by about 40%, so that its peak borrowings are just under 100% of GDP. This will help maintain pressure on the Greek government to go ahead with a privatisation programme that could cut the ratio by another 20 points. It will also serve as an incentive to further reform.
      • Second, recapitalise the Greek banks. A failure to do this would destroy the country’s financial system and cause depositor runs elsewhere.
      • Third, recapitalise weak banks elsewhere as soon as the latest Europe-wide stress tests are published next month.
      • Finally, provide banks with medium-term funding if they can’t raise money in the market.
Language Lessons
  • cloying: Adjective
    • Overly sweet;
    • Verb: Supply or feed to surfeit; Cause surfeit through excess though initially pleasing
  • praxis: Noun
    • Translating an idea into action
    • eg: The EC might, during polls, do a good job of keeping parties and candidates on a leash to end the prevalence of practices like sops-for-votes or plain intimidation, but changing the wider political praxis calls for a re-envisaging of how politics is conceived of, and practiced.
  • Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war: Idiom
    • The military order Havoc! was a signal given to the English military forces in the Middle Ages to direct the soldiery (in Shakespeare's parlance 'the dogs of war') to pillage and chaos.
    • The term is the predessor of 'play havoc' (with). This is now more common than 'cry havoc' but has lost the force of the earlier phrase - just meaning 'cause disorder and confusion'.