a) A deeper malady: on PNB fraud case

Barely days after news of the Rs.11,500 crore fraud at Punjab National Bank broke, another but very different scam of a Rs.3,695 crore wilful loan default has surfaced. The Central Bureau of Investigation has registered a case against three directors of a Kanpur-based company, and others including unknown bank officials, on allegations of cheating a consortium of banks by siphoning off loans disbursed to the company. If the two cases must be compared, the similarities lie in the breakdown in internal control mechanisms and in the supervisory failure at the banks. In the case of Kanpur-based Rotomac Global, it had availed credit limits from a consortium of seven public sector banks. Given that the facility was made available from 2008 (in the case of Bank of Baroda, which filed the complaint with the CBI), and was used for a range of seemingly unrelated transactions including the import of gems and jewellery and the export of wheat, it is especially surprising that it took such a long time for this diversion of funds to surface as a criminal complaint. It is one thing for individual bank officials to have been complicit in the commission of frauds as has been claimed in the PNB case but quite another for supervisory cadre and risk detection and management systems to have delayed taking remedial action as they did in the Rotomac case. It took too long for the criminal complaints to be filed against the defaulters. On Bank of Baroda’s website Rotomac was listed as its top defaulter almost a year ago; the account had been classified as an NPA in 2015. In the case of the Punjab National Bank fraud, letters of undertaking were issued bypassing the bank’s reporting system; the three-tier audit failed to detect the malfeasance. In contrast, BoB was not oblivious of the Rotomac default and took unconscionably long to act. It is important to determine why the Reserve Bank of India, which is vested with keeping an eye on bank books, was unable to take prompt corrective action in this case. Rather than routinely reiterate the importance of strengthening corporate governance in public sector banks and promising to infuse greater professionalism, transparency and accountability, it is time the Centre, the major shareholder in these institutions, takes serious steps to translate this intent into action. Any improvement in the functioning of the PSBs cannot be undertaken without empowering bank managements and securing their independence from political interference while enforcing strict accountability for lapses. To restore the depositor’s faith in the banking system, the government, the RBI and the judiciary must ensure that prompt and salutary action is taken. The economic cost of doing otherwise is too painful to imagine.

b) The value of life: on U.S. gun ownership regulation

After decades of campaigning to bring about common-sense gun control in the U.S., it appears that a group of children may succeed where even Presidents have failed. Following Friday’s deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in which 17 people including 14 students were killed, survivors took to the streets in a relatively rare show of anger directed at President Donald Trump and Congress for not doing more to promote gun control. Their courage is to be doubly applauded, for they appear undaunted by the depressing history of America’s 227-year-old lethal love affair with guns, built on the constitutional right to bear arms, overlaid with a myriad state-level laws that make gun ownership easy. After the devastating school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012, a tearful Barack Obama, then President, mooted legislation to tighten the regulation of gun ownership. That was speedily seen off by conservative lawmakers. With the failure of all 17 of his attempts to bring common-sense gun control to the floor of Congress, his parting gift to the incoming Trump administration was to close loopholes in gun laws through executive actions that would expand background checks for gun ownership and boost funding for federal enforcement agencies. Mr. Trump nullified those actions in February 2017, as he had promised to do during his election campaign. The fact that school shootings do not lead to gun control reform shows how powerful the gun lobby is. The National Rifle Association contributes over $4 million each year to lawmakers in Washington to ensure their agenda is prioritised, and sizeable dark flows of pro-gun money likely reach Congress under cover of the Citizens United campaign finance law of 2010. But that is a drop in the ocean for most Congressmen and Senators, whose individual coffers can exceed $10 million. The immense pressure for gun rights thus goes beyond funding. It stems in greater measure from the pro-gun lobbies’ ability to mobilise large numbers of voters, who feel strongly about the Second Amendment, whether for personal security, to defend themselves from the “tyranny of government” or to hunt wildlife. This ingrained “gun culture” is exacerbated by the light-touch regulation of gun ownership, which leads to more mass shootings. While the U.S. has 270 million guns — more than 112 per 100 people — and has had 90 mass shooters during 1966-2012, no other country has more than 46 million guns or 18 mass shooters. A 2015 study found that across countries, after controlling for mental health, racial diversity, video game playing and baseline levels of societal violence, it was the extent of gun ownership that determined the odds of mass shootings. At its heart, the U.S. debate on gun laws will only turn on the fundamental value attributed to human life. At the present juncture, it is clear what that value is.


1) Wilful

Meaning: (of a bad or harmful act) intentional; deliberate.

Example: “wilful acts of damage”

Synonyms: Deliberate, Intentional

Antonyms: Accidental, Unintentional

2) Surfaced

Meaning: Come to people’s attention; become apparent.

Example: “the row first surfaced two years ago”

Synonyms: Emerge, Arise

3) Consortium

Meaning: An organization of several businesses or banks joining together as a group for a shared purpose.

Example: A consortium of textile manufacturers.

Synonyms: Enterprise

4) Siphoning off

Meaning: To dishonestly take money from an organization or other supply, and use it for a purpose for which it was not intended.

Example: He lost his job when it was discovered that he had been siphoning off money from the company for his own use.

Synonyms: Fraud, Corruption

5) Availed

Meaning: Use or take advantage of (an opportunity or available resource).

Example: “my daughter did not avail herself of my advice”

Synonyms: Use, Utilize

6) Seemingly

Meaning: So as to give the impression of having a certain quality; apparently.

Example: “a seemingly competent and well-organized person”

Synonyms: Apparently, Avowedly

Antonyms: Genuinely

7) Complicit

Meaning: Involved with others in an activity that is unlawful or morally wrong.

Example: “the careers of those complicit in the cover-up were blighted”

8) Defaulters

Meaning: A person who fails to fulfil a duty, obligation, or undertaking.

Example: “a mortgage defaulter”

Synonyms: Non-payer, Tax dodger

9) Bypassing

Meaning: Avoid or circumvent (an obstacle or problem).

Example: “a manager might bypass formal channels of communication”

Synonyms: Avoid, Evade

10) Malfeasance

Meaning: An example of dishonest and illegal behaviour, especially by a person in authority.

Example: Several cases of malpractice and malfeasance in the financial world are currently being investigated.

Synonyms: Dishonest

11) Oblivious

Meaning: Not aware of or concerned about what is happening around one.

Example: “she became absorbed, oblivious to the passage of time”

Synonyms: Unaware, Unconscious

12) Unconscionably

Meaning: Morally unacceptable

Example: This unconscionable policy will cause great suffering.

​Synonyms: Unnecessary

13) Vested

Meaning: Give (someone) the legal right to power, property, etc.

Example: “the local planning authorities are vested with powers to regulate land use and development”

14) Keeping an eye on

Meaning: To watch someone or something or stay informed about the person’s behavior, esp. to keep someone out of trouble.

Example: Keep an eye on your brother while I’m out, please.

15) Reiterate

Meaning: Say something again or a number of times, typically for emphasis or clarity.

Example: “she reiterated that the government would remain steadfast in its support”

Synonyms: Repeat, Restate

16) Intent

Meaning: Determined to do (something).

Example: “the government was intent on achieving greater efficiency”

Synonyms: Bent, Determined

Antonyms: Half-hearted, Reluctant

17) Enforcing

Meaning: Compel observance of or compliance with (a law, rule, or obligation).

Example: “the role of the police is to enforce the law”

Synonyms: Impose, Apply

18) Lapses

Meaning: A brief or temporary failure of concentration, memory, or judgement.

Example: “a lapse of concentration in the second set cost her the match”

Synonyms: Failure, Failing

19) Prompt

Meaning: Done without delay; immediate.

Example: “she would have died but for the prompt action of two ambulancemen”

Synonyms: Quick, Swift

Antonyms: Slow, Late

20) Salutary

Meaning: (especially with reference to something unwelcome or unpleasant) producing good effects; beneficial.

Example: “it failed to draw salutary lessons from Britain’s loss of its colonies”

Synonyms: Beneficial, Profitable

Antonyms: Unwelcome, Irrelevant

21) Undaunted

Meaning: Not intimidated or discouraged by difficulty, danger, or disappointment.

Example: “they were undaunted by the huge amount of work needed”

Synonyms: Unafraid, Unalarmed

Antonyms: Afraid, Fearful

22) Depressing

Meaning: Causing or resulting in a feeling of miserable dejection.

Example: “that thought is too depressing for words”

Synonyms: Distressing, Painful

23) Overlaid

Meaning: Something that is overlaid with something has a particular quality added to it that influences its character.

Example: Her new novel is overlaid with political concerns.

Synonyms: Covering

24) Myriad

Meaning: Countless or extremely great in number.

Example: “he gazed at the myriad lights of the city”

Synonyms: Innumerable, Countless

25) Devastating

Meaning: Causing severe shock, distress, or grief.

Example: “the news came as a devastating blow”

Synonyms: Shattering, Shocking

26) Mooted

Meaning: Raise (a question or topic) for discussion; suggest (an idea or possibility).

Example: “the scheme was first mooted last October”

Synonyms: Raise, Broach

27) Seen off

Meaning: To go to the place that someone is leaving from in order to say goodbye to them.

Example: My parents saw me off at the airport.

28) Parting

Meaning: The action of leaving or being separated from someone.

Example: “they exchanged a few words on parting”

Synonyms: Farewell, Goodbye

29) Loopholes

Meaning: An ambiguity or inadequacy in the law or a set of rules.

Example: “they exploited tax loopholes”

30) Enforcement

Meaning: The act of compelling observance of or compliance with a law, rule, or obligation.

Example: “the strict enforcement of environmental regulations”

Synonyms: Imposition, Fulfillment

31) Nullified

Meaning: Make legally null and void; invalidate.

Example: “judges were unwilling to nullify government decisions”

Synonyms: Annul, Void

Antonyms: Ratify, Validate

32) Contributes

Meaning: Give (something, especially money) in order to help achieve or provide something.

Example: “taxpayers had contributed £141.8 million towards the cost of local services”

Synonyms: Give, Donate

33) Sizeable

Meaning: Fairly large.

Example: “a sizeable proportion of the population”

Synonyms: Substantial, Respectable

Antonyms: Small, Tiny

34) Coffers

Meaning: The funds or financial reserves of an organization.

Example: “there is not enough money in the coffers to finance the reforms”

Synonyms: Fund, Money

35) Stems

Meaning: Originate in or be caused by.

Example: “many of the universities’ problems stem from rapid expansion”

Synonyms: Emanate from

Antonyms: Cause

36) Ingrained

Meaning: (of a habit, belief, or attitude) firmly fixed or established; difficult to change.

Example: “his deeply ingrained Catholic convictions”

Synonyms: Entrenched, Established

Antonyms: Transient

37) Exacerbated

Meaning: Make (a problem, bad situation, or negative feeling) worse.

Example: “the exorbitant cost of land in urban areas only exacerbated the problem”

Synonyms: Aggravate, Worsen

Antonyms: Calm, Reduce

38) Light-touch

Meaning: A situation in which only a few people are in charge of something or something is not controlled very strictly.

Example: I think we have five account managers covering the whole United States, so it’s a light touch.

39) Racial

Meaning: Relating to race.

Example: “a racial minority”

Synonyms: Ethnic, Cultural

40) Juncture

Meaning: A particular point in events or time.

Example: “it is difficult to say at this juncture whether this upturn can be sustained”

Synonyms: Point, Time

Check the previous edition of THE HINDU Editorial to learn more words and to ace the English section in the forthcoming exams.



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