a) Khap menace: on interference in relationships between adults

Each time the Supreme Court feels impelled to remind khap panchayats and the society at large that they have no business interfering in the life choices of individuals regarding marriage and love, it is an implicit commentary on our times. The frequency with which one hears the court’s warnings against groups and individuals obstructing inter-faith or inter-caste relationships reaffirms the fact that the social milieu continues to be under the sway of the medieval-minded. The court’s latest observations that khap panchayats should not act as though they are conscience-keepers of society and that no one should interfere in relationships between adults came while it was hearing a writ petition seeking a ban on such community organisations and guidelines to put an end to “honour killings”. In 2011, the highest court termed such khaps “kangaroo courts”, declared them illegal and wanted them stamped out ruthlessly. Similar observations were made in other cases too, some of them in the context of “honour killings”. It is a grave misfortune that parents and self-appointed guardians of social mores continue to use coercion and harassment, and even resort to murderous violence, as a means to enforce their exclusionary and feudal prejudices. The recent murder of Ankit Saxena, a photographer who was in love with a Muslim girl, allegedly by members of her family, is one more extreme indication of families choosing the penal consequences of violence over the perceived dishonour caused by an inter-religious relationship. While the popular narrative situates community pride as a source of unconscionable violence in rural India, such murders are a reality in cities and among educated and presumably socially advanced sections too. The other dimension is that these khap organisations in north India seek to enforce age-old taboos such as the prohibition on sagothra marriages among Hindus. Their grouse is that the present law on Hindu marriage allows sapinda relationships up to a particular degree; they would prefer a limitless bar on any degree of such relationship in lineal ascendancy, which would prevent any marriage with one presumed to be descended from an ancestor belonging to the same gothra. Such views can only be eradicated with a change in social attitudes. The Law Commission in 2012 prepared a draft bill to prohibit interference in marriage alliances. Key provisions that seek to address the problem of khap panchayats in this draft say such informal groups would be treated as an ‘unlawful assembly’ and decisions that amount to harassment, social boycott, discrimination or incitement to violence should be punishable with a minimum sentence. Whether the solution is social transformation or legislative change, high-handed mediation or interference should brook no sympathy.

b) In inflation’s shadow: on RBI holding repo rates at 6%:

The Reserve Bank of India’s decision to keep the repo rate unchanged was no surprise given the focus with which the Monetary Policy Committee has approached its mandate: of keeping inflation in check. With the relevant measure of price gains, the Consumer Price Index, reflecting an acceleration in inflation for a sixth straight month in December, and that at the fastest pace in 17 months, the bank’s rate-setting panel must have had little difficulty in choosing to remain on hold. This was probably best exemplified by the reversal in stance of the six-member panel’s hitherto most dovish member, Ravindra H. Dholakia, to vote to stand pat on interest rates. This the MPC did while retaining a ‘neutral stance’, which gives it the flexibility to change gears in either direction. The RBI’s nominee, Michael Debabrata Patra, in fact voted to head off incipient price pressures by raising the policy rate by 25 basis points. Laying out the factors informing its decision, the RBI once again spotlighted the less than reassuring outlook for price stability. For starters, “an unusual pick-up in food prices in November”, combined with a “less than usual” softening in the winter seasonal food price moderation, meant headline inflation averaged 4.6% in the third quarter. The RBI had in December made a projection for inflation in the range of 4.3-4.7% in the six months through March 2018. With pump prices of petrol and diesel having risen sharply in January, the RBI has now been forced to raise its estimate for retail price gains in the fourth quarter to 5.1%. Extending the time horizon beyond the current fiscal, the inflation scenario gets even more worrying. Clouding the outlook are multiple uncertainties. These include the staggered impact of HRA increases by various State governments that may induce second order effects on prices; the pick-up in global growth, a factor the RBI also cites as a positive for the economy, that may push up crude oil and commodity prices worldwide; the Budget’s proposed changes to the minimum support price norms for crops as well as the proposals to increase customs duty on a range of goods; and the fiscal slippage, which could not only fan inflation but also risks increasing borrowing costs. The normalisation of monetary policy by advanced economies could spell a decisive end to global ‘easy money’ conditions and may trigger some flight of capital from emerging markets including India. The upshot is that the RBI sees CPI inflation hovering in the 5.1-5.6% range in the first six months of the new fiscal before moderating to 4.5-4.6% in the second half, subject to a big assumption: a normal monsoon in 2018. Under the looming shadow of inflationary risks, the RBI has again reasserted the need for unwavering vigilance on the price stability front.


1) Impelled

Meaning: Drive, force, or urge (someone) to do something.

Example: “financial difficulties impelled him to desperate measures”

Synonyms: Force, Compel

2) Implicit

Meaning: Suggested though not directly expressed.

Example: “comments seen as implicit criticism of the policies”

Synonyms: Implied, Indirect

Antonyms: Explicit, Direct

3) Obstructing

Meaning: Deliberately make (something) difficult.

Example: “fears that the regime would obstruct the distribution of food”

Synonyms: Stop, Block

4) Milieu

Meaning: A person’s social environment.

Example: “Gregory came from the same aristocratic milieu as Sidonius”

Synonyms: Environment, Background

5) Sway

Meaning: Control or influence (a person or course of action).

Example: “he’s easily swayed by other people”

Synonyms: Influence, Affect

6) Writ

Meaning: a form of written command in the name of a court or other legal authority to act, or abstain from acting, in a particular way.

Example: “the two reinstated officers issued a writ for libel against the applicants”

Synonyms: Summons, Warrant

7) Kangaroo courts

Meaning: An unofficial court held by a group of people in order to try someone regarded, especially without good evidence, as guilty of a crime or misdemeanour.

Example: “they conducted a kangaroo court there and then”

8) Stamped out

Meaning: To get rid of something that is wrong or harmful.

Example: The new legislation is intended to stamp out child prostitution.

Synonyms: Causing

9) Coercion

Meaning: The action or practice of persuading someone to do something by using force or threats.

Example: “it wasn’t slavery because no coercion was used”

Synonyms: Force, Compulsion

Antonyms: Persuasion

10) Murderous

Meaning: Capable of or intending to murder; dangerously violent.

Example: “a brutal and murderous despot”

Synonyms: Violent, Savage

11) Exclusionary

Meaning: Causing someone or something not to be allowed to take part in an activity or to enter a place.

Example: A formal US-EU trade agreement could be viewed as an exclusionary zone by Asians.

12) Feudal

Meaning: Absurdly outdated or old-fashioned.

Example: “his view of patriotism was more than old-fashioned—it was positively feudal”

13) Perceived

Meaning: Become aware of (something) by the use of one of the senses, especially that of sight.

Example: “he perceived the faintest of flushes creeping up her neck”

Synonyms: Notice, Identify

14) Unconscionable

Meaning: Not right or reasonable.

Example: “the unconscionable conduct of his son”

Synonyms: Amoral, Unethical

Antonyms: Ethical, Acceptable

15) Presumably

Meaning: Used to convey that what is asserted is very likely though not known for certain.

Example: “it was not yet ten o’clock, so presumably the boys were still at the pub”

Synonyms: Probably, Doubtless

16) Taboos

Meaning: A social or religious custom prohibiting or restricting a particular practice or forbidding association with a particular person, place, or thing.

Example: “many taboos have developed around physical exposure”

Synonyms: Prohibition, Proscription

Antonyms: Acceptance, Encouragement

17) Grouse

Meaning: Complain about something trivial; grumble.

Example: “she heard him grousing about his assistant”

Synonyms: Grumble, Complain

18) Ascendancy

Meaning: Occupation of a position of dominant power or influence.

Example: “the ascendancy of good over evil”

Synonyms: Dominance, Supremacy

Antonyms: Subordination

19) Descended

Meaning: (of a situation or group of people) reach (an undesirable state).

Example: “the army had descended into chaos”

Synonyms: Degenerate, Deteriorate

Antonyms: Improve

20) Boycott

Meaning: A punitive ban on relations with other bodies, cooperation with a policy, or the handling of goods.

Example: “a boycott of the negotiations”

Synonyms: Ban, Embargo

Antonyms: Approval

21) Incitement

Meaning: The action of provoking unlawful behaviour or urging someone to behave unlawfully.

Example: “this amounted to an incitement to commit murder”

Synonyms: Urging, Motivation

Antonyms: Suppression, Discouragement

22) Brook

Meaning: Tolerate or allow (something, typically dissent or opposition).

Example: “Jenny would brook no criticism of Matthew”

Synonyms: Tolerate, Allow

23) Exemplified

Meaning: Be a typical example of.

Example: “the best dry sherry is exemplified by the fino of Jerez”

Synonyms: Typify, Epitomize

24) Stance

Meaning: The attitude of a person or organization towards something; a standpoint.

Example: “the party is changing its stance on Europe”

Synonyms: Attitude, Stand

25) Hitherto

Meaning: Until now or until the point in time under discussion.

Example: “hitherto part of French West Africa, Benin achieved independence in 1960”

Synonyms: Previously, Formerly

26) Dovish

Meaning: Supporting discussion or other peaceful solutions in political relationships rather than the use of force.

Example: He is a dovish politican who was one of the signers of a model peace treaty.

Synonyms: Peace, Calm

27) Head off

Meaning: To start a journey or leave a place.

Example: What time are you heading off?

Synonyms: Advancing, Moving forward

28) Incipient

Meaning: Just beginning.

Example: Signs of incipient public frustration.

Synonyms: Starting, Beginning

Antonyms: End

29) Spotlighted

Meaning: Direct attention to (a problem or situation).

Example: “the protest spotlighted the overcrowding in British prisons”

Synonyms: Highlight, Underline

30) Scenario

Meaning: A postulated sequence or development of events.

Example: “a possible scenario is that he was attacked after opening the front door”

Synonyms: Situation

31) Clouding

Meaning: Make or become less clear or transparent.

Example: “blood pumped out, clouding the water”

Synonyms: Darken, Dirty

Antonyms: Clear

32) Staggered

Meaning: Continue in existence or operation uncertainly or precariously.

Example: “the treasury staggered from one crisis to the next”

33) Slippage

Meaning: The action or process of slipping or subsiding.

Example: “£16 million has been spent on cracks and slippage”

34) Decisive

Meaning: Settling an issue; producing a definite result.

Example: “the archers played a decisive part in the victory”

Synonyms: Deciding, Conclusive

Antonyms: Insignificant

35) Trigger

Meaning: Cause (an event or situation) to happen or exist.

Example: “an allergy can be triggered by stress or overwork”

Synonyms: Precipitate, Prompt

36) Upshot

Meaning: The final or eventual outcome or conclusion of a discussion, action, or series of events.

Example: “the upshot of the meeting was that he was on the next plane to New York”

Synonyms: Result, Outcome

Antonyms: Cause, Origin

37) Hovering

Meaning: Remain poised uncertainly in one place or between two states.

Example: “her hand hovered over the console”

38) Looming

Meaning: (of an event regarded as threatening) seem about to happen.

Example: “there is a crisis looming”

Synonyms: Threaten, Menace

39) Unwavering

Meaning: Not wavering; steady or resolute.

Example: “she fixed him with an unwavering stare”

Synonyms: Steady, Fixed

Antonyms: Unsteady

40) Vigilance

Meaning: The action or state of keeping careful watch for possible danger or difficulties.

Example: “security duties that demand long hours of vigilance”

Synonyms: Care, Surveillance

Antonyms: Inattentive


The List of Other THE HINDU EDITORIAL posts available in BANKERSDAILY: