a) On privatisation of Air India: Ready for sale

The Union Cabinet has approved a series of changes in foreign direct investment norms as the government prepares to enter the last lap of its economic policy-setting phase ahead of the 2019 election. Key among these was the decision to allow up to 49% overseas ownership, including by a foreign airline, in Air India. This comes just a little more than six months after the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs gave its nod for a strategic disinvestment of the airline. The relaxation in ownership norms clears the decks for possible bidders such as the Singapore Airlines-Tata combine and Jet Airways — with its overseas equity and route partners — to make a more detailed commercial assessment of the investment opportunity the state-owned flag carrier presents. For the fiscally constrained government, the decision couldn’t have come sooner. With the Union Budget due soon and the government woefully short of its budgeted strategic disinvestment goal for the current financial year — as of end-November, only 28% of the targeted ₹15,000 crore had been realised — the hope must be for an accelerated timetable for the stake sale. Still, the fulfilment of a necessary condition for a strategic sale doesn’t automatically become sufficient grounds for a successful privatisation. Given the carrier’s accumulated debt of about ₹50,000 crore and the fact that the interest of potential investors is likely to be focussed on Air India’s lucrative long-haul international routes and its fleet of more than 40 wide-bodied aircraft, disinvestment will be neither easy nor guaranteed. At the very least, the government needs to set a clear, unambiguous road map for the sale process. The other reform cleared by the Cabinet was the crucial decision to put 100% FDI in Single Brand Retail Trading under the ‘automatic’ route, accompanied by the long-sought relaxation of mandatory local sourcing norms. This had been a major issue with potential investors including Apple, which had repeatedly urged the government to take a more benign view given the level of technological advancement incorporated in its products and the difficulty in finding local sources of supply at the requisite scale. The five-year holiday on the 30% local-sourcing requirement is expected to give companies setting up shop here adequate time to identify, train and even technologically assist in the creation of local supply chains. If this decision was going to be made, it is surprising it was not done in November 2015, when the Centre changed tack and opened up single brand retail to 100% FDI. An early decision would have helped, given the sector’s potential for job-creation and technology upgradation. Still, better late than never.

b) Towards stability in Nepal

A month after the Left Alliance secured a decisive victory in Nepal’s parliamentary elections, a government is yet to be formed in Kathmandu. The Alliance was forged just before the elections between the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre). The transfer of power from the Nepali Congress to the UML-led coalition was delayed initially due to procedural issues. The Upper House, or the National Assembly, needed to be indirectly elected by the provincial assemblies. The parties had disagreed on the means of this indirect election, with the NC advocating a proportional representation-single transferable vote system, and the UML seeking a majority vote. After President Bidhya Devi Bhandari ratified a long-pending ordinance that allowed elections based on the single transferable vote in late December 2017, this issue appeared to have been resolved. But there are other procedural issues to be sorted out. In consultation with the Left Alliance, the caretaker government has to first appoint governors to the seven provinces. Then, the process of choosing their capitals, in order to convene the Assemblies, can be completed. Tentative proposals on new capitals had given rise to protests in several towns, and the main political parties are unwilling to take a clear position on the issue. The caretaker NC government does not seem to be particularly keen on resolving this, and a proposal has been floated to allow the provincial assemblies to convene in Kathmandu first. In the absence of a consensus, this may be best. The clear and decisive choice by the electorate in the polls has put the responsibility of operationalising the intricate provincial model on the Left Alliance. Once the process of nominations to the National Assembly is complete — with 33% of the overall representation in Parliament reserved for women — the election of the Prime Minister will follow. It is a foregone conclusion that UML leader K.P. Oli will be elected: the party got close to the majority mark on its own in the first-past-the-post seats. Ten years since the end of the civil war and the convening of the Constituent Assembly, the promise of economic development has been belied. This is one of the reasons behind agitations called by democratic and republican forces seeking a new CA. Nepal’s economy continues to be highly dependent on remittances from Nepali migrants as the agrarian sector and industrial growth, especially in the hydro-energy sector, have stagnated. For too long, political posturing and the game of thrones involving the major parties, the UML, the NC and the Maoists, in Kathmandu have become pursuits in themselves. With the Left Alliance promising a greater degree of cohesion and winning a clear victory, the sooner the process of election of a new Prime Minister is accomplished, the faster Nepal can get on with the business of governance.


1) Last lap

Meaning: The final circuit of a track, course, etc., to be completed in a race; (hence) the final stage of a journey, action, or enterprise.

2) Nod

Meaning: Signify or express (greeting, assent, or understanding) by nodding.

Example: “He nodded his consent”

Synonyms: Signal, Gesture

3) Decks

Meaning: Decorate or adorn brightly or festively.

Example:”Ingrid was decked out in her Sunday best”

Synonyms: Decorate, Bedeck

4) Bidders

Meaning: A person or organization making a formal offer for something, especially at an auction.

Example: “She was the highest bidder for this rare portrait”

5) Equity

Meaning: The quality of being fair and impartial.

Example: “Equity of treatment”

Synonyms: Fairness, Justness

Antonyms: Inequity, Imbalance

6) Constrained

Meaning: Appearing forced or overly controlled.

Example: “He was acting in a constrained manner”

Synonyms: Unnatural, Awkward

Antonyms: Relaxed

7) Woefully

Meaning: In a manner expressing sorrow or misery.

Example: “She sighed woefully and walked out”

8) Stake

Meaning: A share or a financial involvement in something such as a business.

Example: He holds a 40 percent stake in/of the company.

9) Lucrative

Meaning: Producing a great deal of profit.

Example: “A lucrative career as a stand-up comedian”

Synonyms: Profitable, Profit-making

Antonyms: Unprofitable

10) Long-haul

Meaning: A prolonged and difficult effort or task.

Example: “Implementing the White Paper is likely to be a long haul”

11) Unambiguous

Meaning: Not open to more than one interpretation.

Example: “Instructions should be unambiguous”

12) Norms

Meaning: Something that is usual, typical, or standard.

Example: “Strikes were the norm”

Synonyms: Standard, Usual

Antonyms: The exception

13) Benign

Meaning: Gentle and kind.

Example: “His benign but firm manner”

Synonyms: Kindly, Kind, Warm-hearted

Antonyms: Unfriendly, Hostile

14) Incorporated

Meaning: Take in or contain (something) as part of a whole; include.

Example: “He has incorporated in his proposals a number of measures”

Synonyms: Absorb, Include

Antonyms: Separate

15) Requisite

Meaning: Made necessary by particular circumstances or regulations.

Example:”The application will not be processed until the requisite fee is paid”

Synonyms: Necessary, Required

Antonyms: Optional, Unnecessary

16) Tack

Meaning: Add or append something to something already existing.

Example: “The castles have new wings and other bits tacked on”

Synonyms: Attach, Add

17) Alliance

Meaning: A union or association formed for mutual benefit, especially between countries or organizations.

Example: “A defensive alliance between Australia and New Zealand”

Synonyms: Association, Union

18) Coalition

Meaning: A temporary alliance for combined action, especially of political parties forming a government.

Example: “A coalition between Liberals and Conservatives”

Synonyms: Alliance, Union,

19) Provincial

Meaning: Of or concerning the regions outside the capital city of a country, especially when regarded as unsophisticated or narrow-minded.

Example: “Provincial towns”

Synonyms: Regional, State

Antonyms: National, Sophisticated

20) Ratified

Meaning: Sign or give formal consent to (a treaty, contract, or agreement), making it officially valid.

Example: “Both countries were due to ratify the treaty by the end of the year”

21) Sorted out

Meaning: An occasion when you put things in order or in their correct place.

Example: I’ve had a sort-out in the bedroom – it’s looking rather better.

22) Caretaker

Meaning: Holding power temporarily.

Example: “The club’s caretaker manager”

Synonyms: Temporary, Short-term

Antonyms: Permanent

23) Convene

Meaning: Come or bring together for a meeting or activity; assemble.

Example: “He had convened a secret meeting of military personnel”

Synonyms: Summon, Call

Antonyms: Disperse

24) Floated

Meaning: Put forward (an idea) as a suggestion or test of reactions.

Example: “The Chancellor floated the idea of offering dual citizenship”

Synonyms: Suggest, Put forward

Antonyms: Withdraw

25) Consensus

Meaning: A general agreement.

Example: “There is a growing consensus that the current regime has failed”

Synonyms: Agreement, Harmony

Antonyms: Disagreement, Minority view

26) Electorate

Meaning: All the people in a country or area who are entitled to vote in an election.

Example: “75 per cent of the electorate voted for a Scottish parliament in some form”

27) Polls

Meaning: The process of voting in an election.

Example: “The country went to the polls on March 10”

Synonyms: Vote, Ballot

28) Intricate

Meaning: Very complicated or detailed.

Example: “An intricate network of canals”

Synonyms: Complex,  Tangled

Antonyms: Simple, Straightforward

29) Nominations

Meaning: The action of nominating or state of being nominated.

Example: “Women’s groups opposed the nomination of the judge”

30) Foregone

Meaning: Go without (something desirable).

Example: “She wanted to forgo the tea and leave while they could”

Synonyms: Do without, waive, renounce,

Antonyms: Keep

31) Belied

Meaning: (Of an appearance) fail to give a true impression of (something).

Example: “His lively, alert manner belied his years”

Synonyms: Contradict, Be at odds with

Antonyms: Testify to, Reveal

32) Agitations

Meaning: A state of anxiety or nervous excitement.

Example: “She was wringing her hands in agitation”

Synonyms: Anxiety, Perturbation

Antonyms: Calmness, Relaxation

33) Remittances

Meaning: A sum of money sent in payment or as a gift.

Example:”Complete your booking form and send it together with your remittance”

Synonyms: Payment, Settlement

34) Migrants

Meaning: A person who moves from one place to another in order to find work or better living conditions.

Synonyms: Immigrant, Emigrant

35) Agrarian

Meaning: Relating to cultivated land or the cultivation of land.

Example: “Brazil is rapidly diversifying its agrarian economy”

36) Stagnated

Meaning: Cease developing; become inactive or dull.

Example: “Teaching can easily stagnate into a set of routines”

Synonyms: Stand still, Be sluggish

Antonyms: Rise, Boom

37) Posturing

Meaning: Adopt (a particular attitude) so as to impress or mislead.

Example: “The companies may posture regret, but they have a vested interest in increasing Third World sales”

38) Thrones

Meaning: Used to signify sovereign power.

Example: “The heir to the throne”

Synonyms: Sovereignty, Rule, Command

39) Pursuits

Meaning: The action of pursuing someone or something.

Example: “The cat crouched in the grass in pursuit of a bird”

Synonyms: Chasing, Pursuing

40) Cohesion

Meaning: The action or fact of forming a united whole.

Example: “The work at present lacks cohesion”

Synonyms: Unity, Togetherness

Other Important THE HINDU EDITORIALS for the month of December , 2017 :


Other Important THE HINDU EDITORIALS for the month of January , 2018 :