12 October 2015



Fiscal balance turns surplus after 8 years  –   (Economics)

  • For the first time in 8 years, India’s fiscal balance turned from deficit to surplus in the month of August, the latest data from the Controller-General of Accounts (CGA) show. The fiscal deficit, the excess of the Centre’s expenditure over its revenues, was (-) Rs. 15,808 crore in August.
  • The negative figure indicates surplus of revenues over expenditure. In contrast, the Centre ran up a fiscal deficit of Rs. 73,005 crore in August 2014.



Central University of Karnataka to document endangered languages  –    (Indian Culture)

  • The Union government has taken up a project to document endangered languages and identified eight universities to shortlist and document them. Their grammar too will be documented. Overall, a sum of Rs. 37 crore has been earmarked for the purpose.
  • The Central University of Karnataka (CUK) at Kadaganchi in Kalaburagi district and the Central University of Kerala at Kasaragod will take up the work in South India and CUK will be the lead university.



Fighting silence with dignified dissent  –    (Social Issues)

  • When intellectual censorship is accompanied by cultural censorship and book bans and film bans are followed by food bans, we know that a forced policing of the society has begun.
  • In returning their awards, Nayantara Sahgal and Ashok Vajpeyi have reminded Modi of two duties he has neglected — that of upholding a citizen’s right to life and of protecting an artist’s right to creativity. Their angst is also directed at the silence of fellow writers and literary institutions.



Honouring a robust civil society  –    (International Relation)

  • The award of the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize to the National Dialogue Quartet comprising the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT), the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA), the Tunisian Human Rights League (LTDH) and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers, is richly deserved.
  • This quartet of civil society institutions, that came together in 2013, had managed tortuous political negotiations for a consensus-based Constitution and a transition to a robust democracy in Tunisia. The UGTT in particular played a pivotal role, after massive protests erupted in 2013 against the Ennahda-led government.


Limited finance limits democracy  –    (Indian Polity)

  • By relaxing the restrictive rules on campaign finance, the Election Commission will be able to increase compliance, transparency and representation in elections.
  • Given the official limits, candidates rely almost completely on unaccounted cash from undisclosed donors, which negates other transparency initiatives of the Election Commission.



Our support for Palestine remains steadfast, says Pranab   –     (International Relation)

  • India’s traditional support for the Palestinian cause remains “steadfast and unwavering,” and the country is ready to “work with all like-minded nations” for amicably solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Sunday.
  • Addressing students and academics at the Jordan University here, on the second day of his six-day tri-nation tour to West Asia, President Mukherjee sought to ease concerns among the Arab nations about India’s growing ties with Israel.



Writers protest ‘silence’ of Akademi  –    (Indian Polity)

  • The trend of noted writers resigning from official posts and returning literary honours in protest against the killing of scholar M.M. Kalburgi and other rationalists is continuing.
  • In Karnataka, writer Arvind Malagatti announced his resignation from the general council of the Central Sahitya Akademi in protest against the killing of Kalburgi and other rationalists. Novelist Kumvee (Kumbar Veerabhadrappa) and translator D.N. Srinath said they would return the Akademi awards. Senior journalist and writer G.N. Ranganath Rao too returned the award.
  • In Gujarat, renowned literary critic and author G.N. Devy has returned his award.


And now, a PDS jute bag scam   –    (Indian Polity)

  • Jute bags meant for packaging of foodgrains under the Public Distribution System (PDS) allegedly provided their manufacturers — in league with some officials of procuring State government agencies, quality insurance inspectors and middlemen — an opportunity to siphon off thousands of crores in government revenue.
  • So serious is the scam that the Prime Minister’s Office has taken note of it and the Central Bureau of Investigation has been directed by the Union Textiles Ministry to inquire into the allegations. An investigation has been launched.


Veteran communist elected Nepal PM  –    (International Relation)

  • Political turbulence in Nepal appears to be far from over despite the election of veteran communist leader K.P. Sharma Oli on Sunday as the country’s first Prime Minister under the newly introduced constitutional system.



U.S. envoy accused of being Pak. spy tries to salvage reputation    –    (International Relation)

  • Last fall, federal agents raided the home and office of Robin L. Raphel in search of proof that she, a seasoned member of America’s diplomatic corps, was spying for Pakistan. But officials now say the spying investigation has all but fizzled, leaving the Justice Department to decide whether to prosecute Ms. Raphel for the far less serious charge of keeping classified information in her home.
  • The fallout from the investigation has in the meantime seriously damaged Ms. Raphel’s reputation, built over decades in some of the world’s most volatile countries.



Deficiency in rainfall may hit rural incomes  –    (Economics)

  • Even though deficiency of rainfall is likely to impact rural economy, as vulnerability of domestic farm sector continues, its impact on food prices is expected to be less compared to the previous years.
  • For the second year in a row, India has had a deficient monsoon. In June, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) had forecast 12 per cent shortfall in rains, and the actual deficit turned out to be 14 per cent.



Finance Ministry invites suggestions on tax rates  –    (Economics)

  • With preparations for the next Union Budget picking up pace, the Finance Ministry has invited suggestions from trade and industry for changes in tax rates and broadening of base.
  • The Budget is to be presented at the end of February by the Finance Minister.



Sense and sensitivity behind rate cut  –    (Economics)

  • The sequence of cutting interest rates — both on deposits and loans — in response to the RBI’s steep 0.50 percentage point repo rate reduction, has been predictable. Banks have been reducing their deposit rates by a higher margin than the rates they charge on loans. Banks’ fixed deposit rates have taken a hit.
  • Leading banks have dropped their three year fixed deposit rates to below eight per cent.
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