To gain some perspective on the Centre’s decision to divest 25% of its stake in five public sector general insurers, consider these numbers. Last year, the gross premium income of four of these companies — New India Assurance, United India Insurance, Oriental Insurance and National Insurance — increased by over 12%. But their profits after tax fell by more than half from a year earlier, from ₹3,094 crore in 2014-15 to just ₹1,499 crore in 2015-16.
The limits to popular sentiment
Tamil Nadu is caught in a near-spontaneous mass upsurge in support of jallikattu, the bull-taming spectacle held during the time of the harvest festival of Pongal. Tens of thousands have gathered in public places, most notably on Chennai’s Marina beach, on a day-and-night vigil, seeking the reversal of the Supreme Court-ordered ban on the conduct of the annual ritual.
The hard road to Brexit
Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech on her government’s plans for Britain’s exit from the EU was many things at once — a declaration of intent, a warning, a motivational talk and a balancing act with several contradictions. She painted the first stroke on the negotiation canvas: Britain had chosen a “hard Brexit”. It would leave the single market and with it gain more control over its borders and its laws, some of which are currently under the oversight of the European Courts of Justice.
Mulayam Singh Yadav can certainly tell friends from foes. In the Samajwadi Party dispute that was before the Election Commission of India, the important thing for him was to ensure that the party symbol, the bicycle, did not get frozen. That would have helped neither him nor his son, Akhilesh Yadav, who is leading the split in the SP; worse, it would have paved the way for his principal rival, the BJP, to return to power given the serious disadvantages of fighting an election with a symbol that is unfamiliar to the electorate.
In the nick of time
The Goods and Services Tax Council has made some breakthroughs on outstanding negotiables that were holding up the introduction of the indirect tax regime. A compromise has been reached between the Centre and the States on the formula for administrative control over taxpayers under the GST, which will subsume myriad existing State and Central levies on commercial activity.
A wake-up call
A flurry of videos has emerged in the social media in recent days showing jawans of both the paramilitary forces and the Army complaining against a host of issues from diet to colonial-era practices. While these are disciplinary breaches, they are a good reason to initiate a detailed study into the internal health of our security establishment. The present lot of videos began early last week when BSF constable Tej Bahadur Yadav posted a series of them complaining about burnt parathas and watery lentil curry served along the Line of Control.