THE HINDU EDITORIAL : DECEMBER 2, 2017

 

a) Accident-prone: the apathy over enforcing road safety rules

The most effective measure to keep roads safe is enforcement of rules with zero tolerance to violations. But as anyone who uses India’s roads knows only too well, that is not an administrative priority. Even the periodic directions of the Supreme Court in a public interest case, Dr. S. Rajasekaran v. Union of India, have not produced any dramatic change in the official attitude. In spite of the court setting up the Committee on Road Safety and appointing an amicus curiae to help implement its recommendations, it is mostly business as usual for the police in enforcing road rules, for engineers tasked with forming roads and pavements, and transport officials in charge of licensing. The death of 1,50,785 people in accidents in 2016, which represents a 3.2% rise over the previous year, indicates the scale of the challenge. Fortunately, the orders of the court now provide actionable points with deadlines for implementation. Governments should be called to account on these, and civil society must ensure that they act without compromise. The most important among these is the Road Safety Action Plan that each State and Union Territory must announce by March 2018, and roll out after giving due publicity. But police forces and transport bureaucracies need not wait for formalisation of the plan, and should start enforcing rules relating to lane-based driving, using CCTV cameras to penalise offenders, and conducting safety audits along with experts. The absence of a scientific approach to accident investigation in India remains a major factor in fixing responsibility. This was pointed out by the Sundar Committee of the Ministry of Road Transport in 2007, but other than a failed attempt at creating a National Road Safety and Traffic Management Board, no real effort has been made at reform. The orders of the Supreme Court provide a road map, and the direction to States to form a District Road Safety Committee headed by the Collector before January 31, 2018 should ensure that someone is accountable when citizens file complaints on hazardous conditions. It bears pointing out that the court-appointed Committee on Road Safety has written to States on the need to prosecute every case of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, seeking imprisonment and fine, and to treat driving on the wrong side of the carriageway as an offence under Section 279 of the Indian Penal Code, which can lead to imprisonment, and not merely under the Motor Vehicles Act. Stringent penalties have a lower chance of being imposed, compared to fines that are proportionate to the offence. Yet, even the existing minor penalties are not being imposed, and road conditions remain hazardous due to poor engineering. This is proof of the apathy of the system. It’s time to shake the system out of its indifference.

b) Fragile momentum: India’s economic growth

Turning around a large ship is never easy. So it must give policymakers a measure of satisfaction that the slowdown seen during the last fiscal year and in the first quarter has been reversed. Data released on Thursday show that economic growth as measured by the gross domestic product rebounded to 6.3% in the three months through September, from a three-year low of 5.7% in the preceding quarter. The reversal in direction apart, what is equally noteworthy is that this revival was coterminous with the nationwide roll-out of the goods and services tax from July 1. Interestingly, it was manufacturing that was in the vanguard of the rebound, with gross value added for the sector recovering smartly from the first quarter’s anaemic 1.2% growth to post a healthy 7% expansion. While the GVA data for the sector appear, on the face of it, to be significantly at variance from the Index of Industrial Production data that had been reported for the last quarter, the Central Statistics Office made it clear that the second-quarter IIP manufacturing growth figure of 2.2% was indeed factored in and used as a proxy for the approximately one-fifth of manufacturing GVA contributed by the “quasi-corporate and unorganised segment”. A lion’s share, or more than 70%, of economic activity in the sector was measured using growth among private listed corporate entities, based on the numbers reported by them. Sustaining and building on this reversal of momentum may be more challenging in the coming months, given other economic data that are a cause for concern and some external headwinds. Specifically, agriculture remains in a slump, and this in a ‘normal’ monsoon year — GVA growth in the sector, which includes forestry and fishing, slowed to 1.7%, from 2.3% in the first quarter, and was considerably weaker than the 4.1% pace posted in the year-earlier period. Agriculture is a significant contributor to rural incomes and consumption demand, and the impact of a protracted agricultural slowdown on the larger economy cannot be overstated. Worryingly, the foodgrain output in the kharif season contracted by 2.8%, compared with a 10.7% expansion in the year-earlier period. This could portend a resurgence of inflationary pressures on food prices that would limit the room for growth-supportive monetary action by the Reserve Bank of India. Consumption spending by households also remains in a stubborn rut: the second-quarter growth at 6.5% was a tad slower than the 6.6% seen in April-June; it was 7.9% a year earlier. With global oil prices having risen appreciably, and the fiscal headroom for more pump priming by the government having narrowed drastically — the fiscal deficit at the end of October has already hit 96.1% of the budget estimate for 2017-18 — the coming quarters could well test the real mettle of the economic recovery.


WORDS/ VOCABULARY

1) Dramatic

Meaning: (Of an event or circumstance) sudden and striking.

Example: A dramatic increase in recorded crime.

Synonyms: Considerable, Substantial

Antonyms: Insignificant

2) Amicus Curiae

Meaning: One (such as a professional person or organization) that is not a party to a particular litigation but that is permitted by the court to advise it in respect to some matter of law that directly affects the case in question.

3) Fortunately

Meaning: It is fortunate that.

Example: Fortunately, no shots were fired and no one was hurt.

Synonyms: Luckily, Happily

4) Bureaucracies

Meaning: A system of government in which most of the important decisions are taken by state officials rather than by elected representatives.

Synonyms: Civil service, Administration

5) Lane

Meaning: A narrow road, especially in a rural area.

Example: She drove along the winding lane.

Synonyms: Byroad, Byway

6) Penalise

Meaning: Subject to a penalty or punishment.

Example: High-spending councils will be penalized.

Synonyms: Punish, Discipline

Antonyms: Reward

7) Audits

Meaning: Conduct an official financial inspection of (a company or its accounts).

Example: Unlimited companies must also have their accounts audited.

Synonyms: Inspect, Examine

8) Prosecute

Meaning: Institute legal proceedings in respect of (a claim or offence).

Example: The state’s attorney’s office seemed to decide that this was a case worth prosecuting.

Synonyms: Accuse, Cite

Antonyms: Defend, Pardon

9) Imprisonment

Meaning: The state of being imprisoned; captivity.

Example: He was sentenced to two months’ imprisonment.

Synonyms: Incarceration, Interment

Antonyms: Freedom

10) Carriageway

Meaning: Each of the two sides of a dual carriageway or motorway, each of which usually have two or more lanes.

Example: The eastbound carriageway of the M4.

11) Merely

Meaning: Just; only.

Example: Gary, a silent boy, merely nodded.

Synonyms: Only, Purely

12) Stringent

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

Example: Stringent guidelines on air pollution.

Synonyms: Strict, Firm

Antonyms: Lenient, Flexible

13) Imposed

Meaning: Force (an unwelcome decision or ruling) on someone.

Example: The decision was theirs and was not imposed on them by others.

Synonyms: Foist, Force

14) Offence

Meaning: A breach of a law or rule; an illegal act.

Example: The new offence of obtaining property by deception.

Synonyms: Crime, Misdeed

15) Apathy

Meaning: Lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern.

Example: Widespread apathy among students.

Synonyms: Indifference, Phlegm

Antonyms: Enthusiasm, Interest

16) Turning around

Meaning: To change a plan, business, or system that is unsuccessful and make it successful.

Example: He was hired by the government to help turn around the failing high-street bank.

17) Rebounded

Meaning: Recover in value, amount, or strength after a decrease or decline.

Example: The Share Index rebounded to show a twenty-point gain.

Synonyms: Recover, Rally

18) Preceding

Meaning: Come before in order or position.

Example: Take time to read the chapters that precede the recipes.

Synonyms: Foregoing, Previous

19) Noteworthy

Meaning: Worth paying attention to; interesting or significant.

Example: Noteworthy features.

Synonyms: Notable, Interesting

Antonyms: Unexceptional, Boring

20) Coterminous

Meaning: Having the same boundaries or extent in space, time, or meaning.

Example: The coterminous Borough and Parliamentary Constituency of Blyth Valley.

21) Roll-out

Meaning: To make a new product, service, or system available for the first time.

Example: A media campaign is expected to roll out early next year.

22) Vanguard

Meaning: A position at the forefront of new developments or ideas.

Example: The prototype was in the vanguard of technical development.

Synonyms: Forefront, Advance

Antonyms: Rear

23) Indeed

Meaning: Used to emphasize a description.

Example: It was a very good buy indeed.

Synonyms: Very, Extremely

Antonyms: Moderately, Slightly

24) Proxy

Meaning: The authority to represent someone else, especially in voting.

Example: Britons overseas may register to vote by proxy.

Synonyms: Deputy, Representative

25) A lion’s share

Meaning: The largest part or most of something.

Example: Reputable charities spend the lion’s share of donations on aid and a tiny fraction on administration.

26) Concern

Meaning: Make (someone) anxious or worried.

Example: The roof of the barn concerns me because eventually it will fall in.

Synonyms: Worry, Disturb

27) Headwinds

Meaning: A wind blowing in the opposite direction to the one you are moving in.

Example: The runners had to battle against a stiff/strong headwind.

28) Slump

Meaning: A prolonged period of abnormally low economic activity, typically bringing widespread unemployment.

Example: He had survived two world wars and a slump.

Synonyms: Plunge, Drop

Antonyms: Rise

29) Pace

Meaning: Speed in walking, running, or moving.

Example: He’s an aggressive player with plenty of pace.

Synonyms: Speed, Rate

30) Protracted

Meaning: Lasting for a long time or longer than expected or usual.

Example: A protracted and bitter dispute.

31) Portend

Meaning: Be a sign or warning that (something, especially something momentous or calamitous) is likely to happen.

Example: The eclipses portend some major events.

Synonyms: Presage, Augur

32) Resurgence

Meaning: An increase or revival after a period of little activity, popularity, or occurrence.

Example: Resurgence of interest in religion.

Synonyms: Renewal, Revival

33) Monetary

Meaning: Relating to money or currency.

Example: Documents with little or no monetary value.

Synonyms: Financial, Fiscal

34) Rut

Meaning: A habit or pattern of behaviour that has become dull and unproductive but is hard to change.

Example: The EC was stuck in a rut and was losing its direction.

Synonyms: Treadmill, Dead end

35) Tad

Meaning: A small amount of something.

Example: Crumpets sweetened with a tad of honey.

36) Appreciably

Meaning: To an appreciable extent; considerably.

Example: Profits have grown appreciably over the last four years.

Synonyms: Considerably, Significantly

Antonyms: Negligibly

37) Headroom

Meaning: The amount of space below a roof or bridge.

Example: It’s a small car but there’s lots of headroom.

38) Priming

Meaning: Make (something) ready for use or action.

Example: He grabbed a gun from a nearby wall and primed it.

Synonyms: Prepare, Load

39) Deficit

Meaning: The amount by which something, especially a sum of money, is too small.

Synonyms: Shortfall, Deficiency

Antonyms: Surplus, Profit

40) Mettle

Meaning: A person’s ability to cope well with difficulties; spirit and resilience.

Example: The team showed their true mettle in the second half.

Synonyms: Spirit, Fortitude


Check the previous THE HINDU EDITORIALS from the links:

THE HINDU EDITORIAL:DECEMBER 1, 2017

THE HINDU EDITORIAL:NOVEMBER 29, 2017

THE HINDU EDITORIAL:NOVEMBER 27, 2017

THE HINDU EDITORIAL:NOVEMBER 28, 2017


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