Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from March 5, 2014

The mischief in the rules

The refusal by two eminent jurists to join the Lokpal Search Committee is symptomatic of the credibility crisis that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime faces in its last days. Even the process of putting in place an independent anti-corruption ombudsman has been engulfed in controversy, exposing the government to the charge that it is in an unseemly hurry to appoint the body before the expiry of its term. At the very first meeting of the Selection Committee, Sushma Swaraj, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, objected to the inclusion of senior advocate P.P. Rao in the selection panel as the fifth member, and her objection was overruled. Senior advocate Fali Nariman declined to be on the Search Committee, voicing the fear that in the two-stage selection process, “the most competent, the most independent and the most courageous will get overlooked.” Retired Supreme Court judge, Justice K.T. Thomas, went through the Rules framed under the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, and no…

Pakistan’s terror conundrum

Pakistan’s response to terrorism continues to be characterised by confusion, lack of national consensus on a way forward, lack of will and capacity to fight the menace and the consequent creeping surrender of the state to extremists and terrorists Despite being a country subject to and used to frequent terror attacks, the alarming upsurge in terror-related violence in January in Pakistan made people sit up. Nearly 40 personnel of the army and other security forces were killed in terror attacks between January 19 and 22, including one near the GHQ in Rawalpindi; 24 Shias were killed near Quetta by Sunni extremists on January 21. Daily killings in Karachi and attacks against polio vaccinators continue. These incidents are a reminder, if one was needed, of the enormity of Pakistan’s terror conundrum. Yet, a large section of Pakistan’s political class believes that the terror challenge can be met through dialogue.Slow track to dialogueA conditional offer of talks by the Tehreek-e-Taliban …

Chidambaram to discuss UBI crisis with RBI Governor

Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday said he will discuss United Bank of India’s bad loan crisis with the Reserve Bank Governor later this week. “United Bank is a special case. We will deal with that. It’s not an alarming case...UBI issue will be discussed separately when the governor comes here on (March) 7th and we know the path forward. It will be resolved on 7th,” he said. The Finance Minister is scheduled to address the Reserve Bank of India board here on March 7. Besides the UBI issue, Chidambaram will discuss matters related to new bank licences. Kolkata—based UBI posted a net loss of Rs 1,238 crore in the three months ended December, during which its gross non—performing assets (NPAs) surged to Rs 8,546 crore from Rs 2,964 crore at the end of March last year. UBI has recovered Rs 400 crore in cash and has upgraded Rs 800 crore worth of accounts. NPAs have been reduced by Rs 1,200 crore, Chidambaram said after meeting with chief executives of PSU banks and financial inst…

Bad loans biggest challenge facing public sector banks: Chidambaram

Concerned over rising non-performing assets, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Wednesday asked public sector banks to focus on recovery of bad loans, which happen to be high among large corporate accounts. Addressing a press conference after reviewing performance of PSU banks, he also said that credit disbursal to medium-sized industry has declined and was only “satisfactory” in the agricultural sector. “Biggest challenge facing the public sector banks is NPAs and their asset qualities,” he said, adding that a large part of the meeting with banks’ chiefs was focused on bad loans and the steps needed for the recovery. Pointing out that NPAs were “high in large corporate sectors” and small industries, although they were down for the real estate segment, Chidambaram said banks have been told to focus on recovery. NPAs or bad loans of PSU banks rose by 28.5 per cent from Rs 1.83 lakh crore in March, 2013 to Rs 2.36 lakh crore in September last year. The Minister also said the banks recov…

Bitcoin bank closes after high-tech heist

A Canada-based bank specializing in bitcoins says it has closed after computer hackers stole its digital currency. The closure of the Flexcoin bank comes just a week after the collapse of Mt. Gox, a major bitcoin exchange. The Japan-based Mt. Gox also linked its demise to an electronic heist. The twin failures of Mt. Gox and Flexcoin will likely raise more doubts about bitcoin’s ability to establish itself as an alternative currency. In a notice on Tuesday, Flexcoin says 896 bitcoins were stolen from its online vault. That translates into a loss of about $600,000, based on bitcoin’s current trading value. Unlike banks dealing in government-backed currencies, Flexcoin’s losses aren’t covered by deposit insurance. The Alberta, Canada, bank says it can’t recover from the setback. Bitcoins that Flexcoin kept offline, or in “cold storage,” remain secure, according to the bank. Although Flexcoin didn’t provide details, bitcoins stored this way are often documented on paper certificates or o…

Gujarat third most indebted State: Anand Sharma

The UPA Government on Tuesday launched an attack on the “Gujarat economic model”, with Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma saying that though BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi takes credit for Gujarat's pro-investments image, it is in fact the third most indebted State. “Nearly Rs 1.38 trillion is the debt of the State,” Mr. Sharma said. Latest Reserve Bank data on State indebtedness released in Janaury, however, shows that Gujarat has in fact outperformed the target set by the Thirteenth Finance Commission (TFC) for it on the crucial parameter of debt as a percentage of the gross state domestic product (GSDP). Against the TFC target of 27.6 per cent, Gujarat achieved a debt-GSDP ratio of 23.2. It ranks ninth on the non-special category States list on the parameter. Addressing a press conference here, Mr. Sharma further said that Mr. Modi's economic vision for India was nothing but “political plagiarism” and only a rehash of the UPA Government's a…