THE HINDU EDITORIAL : 8th  AUGUST-2017

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1) a) Pursued by danger

The issue of women’s safety comes under the national limelight with shameful regularity. The recent incident of a woman being pursued at night by men in a car in Chandigarh is a reminder that neither law nor public odium is a sufficient deterrent to such crimes. Two men, one of them the son of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Haryana State unit chief, have been booked for stalking the woman. They have been released on bail; Section 354D of the Indian Penal Code, which pertains to stalking, is a bailable offence. This has attracted the criticism that the police did not invoke more stringent provisions. It is believed that the police had originally sought to include sections relating to an attempt to kidnap the woman, but dropped the idea. The use of a particular section depends on whether the ingredients of the offence are present in the actions of the accused. The onus is on the Chandigarh police to show that available evidence is limited to the offence of stalking. The claim that there is no closed-circuit television footage from anywhere along the entire route needs investigating. The victim’s presence of mind to call the police in time foiled her pursuers’ designs, but not every woman may survive such an ordeal in the same manner. This is one reason why the police, as well as family and friends of the victim, ought to take complaints of stalking seriously, and act at an early stage. As crimes against women go, stalking is far too often dismissed as harmless. However, it is important to understand how traumatic and inhibiting it is for a woman to be pursued with unsolicited interest, and for such stalking to be considered ‘normal’. There are times when stalking contains the seed for a bigger, often violent crime. It should not be forgotten that murders and acid attacks have had their origins in stalking. It became an independent offence in 2013, when the country’s criminal law was amended in the wake of the horrific gang rape of a woman in Delhi in December 2012. The hope that expanding the rigour and scope of penal laws would bring down crimes against women has, unfortunately, been belied often since then. The Chandigarh incident reveals that a sense of privilege, owing as much from gender as political influence, permeates the offenders’ actions. The victim’s father is a senior civil servant, and it may not be easy to give this case a quiet burial. However, there is another, in fact quite familiar, element: the attempt by quarters close to the accused to cast aspersions on the victim. One can only hope that society has advanced sufficiently to call out such victim-shaming. Stalking tends to dominate the public discourse only when it relates to well-known people or results in violence — this episode should compel a deeper understanding of how widespread this offence is, and how rarely offenders are brought to justice.

1)b) Raging rupee

The Indian rupee has turned out to be one of the best-performing currencies in the world with a gain of well over 6% against the U.S. dollar this year to date. In fact, the currency hit a two-year high of 63.60 last Wednesday, supported by strong inflows of foreign capital. Around the beginning of 2017, analysts were bearish on the rupee, predicting that it would breach the 70-mark by the end of the year. But strong capital inflow has managed to turn the tide. According to the Reserve Bank of India, foreign portfolio investors invested $15.2 billion in India’s equity and debt markets this year until the end of July. In addition, foreign direct investment in April-May doubled compared to last year. Such generous inflow of capital, of course, is in sharp contrast to 2013 when the tightening of policy by the U.S. Federal Reserve had rattled the rupee. This time around, emerging markets have escaped any such taper tantrum as the Fed’s approach towards tightening has been measured. Another major contributor to the rupee’s strength is the RBI’s hawkish stance, which has pushed down domestic retail inflation to a record low of just around 2%. This has spilled over to influence the external value of the rupee as well. Oil prices remaining stable at around the $50 mark too has helped as Indians have had to shell out fewer rupees on oil imports. This is reflected in the improved current account deficit, which stood at 0.7% of GDP in 2016-17 compared to almost 4.8% in 2012-13. Notably, worries about the impact of a strong rupee on exports have risen in tandem — particularly in sectors such as pharma and information technology. There is little doubt that an appreciating rupee will affect the competitiveness of Indian exporters. In fact, it is estimated by UBS that each 1% appreciation in the external value of the rupee causes earnings of Nifty companies to drop by 0.6%. The question, however, is whether it is sufficient reason to tinker with the value of the currency in a way that makes it expensive for Indians to import goods. After all, any protectionist action, particularly in today’s low-growth global environment where countries look to steal growth from each other, is likely to draw retaliatory action. This will not bode well for the growth prospects of India or any other country. Exporters should instead be pushed to adapt to the uncertainties of doing business across borders. And the rupee’s improving external value should be seen, at least in part, as a reflection of the improving quality of the currency. The central bank has thus clearly done well for now by not fiddling with the value of the rupee. At the same time, it would be foolhardy to take things for granted. Going forward, tighter monetary policy in the West will invariably exert more pressure on the rupee. The RBI would then have to muster greater will to let the rupee find its natural value.

 WORDS/ VOCABULARY

1) Limelight

Meaning: The focus of public attention.

Example: The shock win has thrust him into the limelight.

Synonyms: Prominence, Exposure

Antonyms: Obscurity

2) Odium

Meaning: General or widespread hatred or disgust incurred by someone as a result of their actions.

Example: He incurred widespread odium for military failures and government corruption.

Synonyms: Disgust, Abhorrence

Antonyms: Approval, Delight

3) Deterrent

Meaning: A thing that discourages or is intended to discourage someone from doing something.

Example: Cameras are a major deterrent to crime.

Synonyms: Disincentive, Discouragement

Antonyms: Incentive, Encouragement

4) Stalking

Meaning: Pursue or approach stealthily.

Example: A cat stalking a bird.

Synonyms: Hunt, Pursue

5) Stringent

Meaning: (Of regulations, requirements, or conditions) strict, precise, and exacting.

Example: Stringent guidelines on air pollution.

Synonyms: Strict, Firm

Antonyms: Lenient, Flexible

6) Foiled

Meaning: Prevent (something considered wrong or undesirable) from succeeding.

Example: A brave policewoman foiled the armed robbery.

Synonyms: Thwart, Frustrate

Antonyms: Assist

7) Traumatic

Meaning: Deeply disturbing or distressing.

Example: She was going through a traumatic divorce.

Synonyms: Disturbing, Shocking

Antonyms: Soothing, Calming

8) Rigour

Meaning: The quality of being extremely thorough and careful.

Example: His analysis is lacking in rigour.

Synonyms: Meticulousness, Thoroughness

Antonyms: Carelessness

9) Turned out

Meaning: To happen in a particular way or to have a particular result, especially an unexpected one.

Example:  As events turned out, we were right to have decided to leave early.

10) Breach

Meaning: An act of breaking or failing to observe a law, agreement, or code of conduct.

Example: A breach of confidence.

Synonyms: Contravention, Violation

11) Portfolio

Meaning: A range of investments held by a person or organization.

Example: A portfolio of insured municipal securities.

12) Rattled

Meaning: make or cause to make a rapid succession of short, sharp knocking sounds.

Example: The roof rattled with little gusts of wind.

Synonyms: Clatter, Bang

13) Hawkish

Meaning: Advocating an aggressive or warlike policy, especially in foreign affairs.

Example: The administration’s hawkish stance.

14) Bode

Meaning: Be a portent of a particular outcome.

Example: Their argument did not bode well for the future.

Synonyms: Augur, Presage

15) Foolhardy

Meaning: Recklessly bold or rash.

Example: It would be foolhardy to go into the scheme without support.

Synonyms: Reckless, Rash

16) Muster

Meaning: Assemble (troops), especially for inspection or in preparation for battle.

Example: 18,000 men had been mustered on Haldon Hill.

Synonyms: Assemble, Gather

Antonyms: Disperse

 

 

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