- Bang in the middle, right upfront
July 13, 2013
As the Arab Spring turns into an autumn, especially in Egypt, we ought to carefully consider just who props up radical groups across the Middle East,…
- Deflating victim Narendra Modi
July 6, 2013
With the CBI chargesheet in the Ishrat case, the carefully crafted Modi-versus-The Rest campaign has gone for a toss.
- It's time we moved mountains
July 6, 2013
Lamenting the tragedy of Uttarakhand isn't enough, we need to set up a commission to manage natural hazards, says KS Valdiya.
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48 hours after she was found hanging from her ceiling, newschannels are still speculating, "Who killed Viveka Babajee? Methinks the frisson of excitement is for two reasons : the victim was a model so enough pretty pictures to make news look good, and her friends are models, so a chance to beam more pretty faces - all of whom declare she was wonderful and strong and they are shocked. But not shocked enough to appear teary-eyed, or without make-up. Dozens of people kill themselves everyday - who cares. But if someone who is beautiful, rich and famous kills themselves . . . ouch! That means the majority of human beings - average-looking, unknown, living in Vasai (E), with nagging mother-in-laws and leakage in the bathroom - what hope do they have?
bigb. bigadda. com
Ever so often when we move away from the 'hustle and bustle' of life, we get that unique opportunity to hear our own breathing. Here, up in the Nilgiri mountains as the clouds descend upon the tops of the peaks and gently drift down towards the valley, the grey mist giving this little town an opaque disposition, I get to hear my breath ! Nothing else. A thin piercing tone that at times envelopes our ears. In this volume of silence, and the greenish blue presence of the hills, the tapping of the key board is like a hammer pounding its head on the table that bears the burden of my laptop. Nothing moves, nothing dares to make sound. Far away a dog barks. Its gentle echo fades away as the next word forms itself on the post . . and then quiet again.
India in the foreign press
MULTIPLICATION IS THE NAME OF THE GAME
An article on BBC News online titled 'Conservationists hail arrival of India vulture chicks' dated 29 June 2010 spoke about three rare vulture species that have been bred successfully in captivity in the Indian states of West Bengal and Haryana.
India has achieved quite a feat in conservation by breeding 10 chicks in partnership with British and Indian conservation groups such as BirdLife International, Bombay Natural History Society, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), UK International Centre for Birds of Prey (ICBP), and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). Of these four fledglings are oriental white-backed vultures, which, according to experts, have been declining at a "rate quicker than the dodo before it became extinct".
"Conservationists say four out of the five major vulture species in India are critically endangered because vultures have been badly affected by the use of the painkiller diclofenac in cattle. " The vulture population in South Asia has seen a major decrease - from tens of millions to less than 60, 000 birds. The population of at least one species has been decreasing by 50 per cent every year and the success of the captive breeding means there might be hope yet. "This exciting news provides some long-term hope for these three critically endangered species, especially as the ultimate aspiration will be to return birds to the wild, " the report cited an RSPB statement as saying.
SAVING THE BANKS
'India's Overdue Bank Overhaul', an article by Harsh Joshi in the Wall Street Journal's 'Heard on the Street' column published on June 30, talks about how India has tried to ensure that banks do not take outsized risks by putting in place a rate of interest below which banks cannot lend.
The RBI has made banks establish a rate that decides what the top-rated customers will be charged. Borrowers who pose more risks have to pay more than this and banks are not allowed to go below the stipulated rate.
"The idea is to avoid a repeat of the boom, when competition for business and easy liquidity meant 70% of outstanding bank loans were priced below the banks' internal benchmarks by March 2009. At State Bank of India, the country's largest lender by assets, that benchmark was 11. 75% last year. The average yield on its loan book, meanwhile, was 9. 66%. The old system also meant that changes in the central bank's key interest rates weren't necessarily passed on to borrowers. "
The RBI had cut its lending rate by 4. 25 percentage points in 2008, but banks shed only 2. 75 percentage points or less from internal lending benchmarks. The new base rates will be sensitive to policy changes, Joshi wrote, adding that the enforcement of the rates will eliminate absurdly low pricing for preferred borrowers.
"But smaller scale borrowers and individuals should benefit. This group often wound up paying hefty premiums to internal benchmarks, to compensate for the discounts given to big borrowers. It's a critical step for the Indian economy, when it comes to long-term stability - even if it casts a shortterm shadow over credit growth. "
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