THE HINDU EDITORIAL : October 9, 2017


  1. a) Course correction

Nearly 100 days after India’s tryst with the new Goods and Services Tax regime began, the GST Council empowered to oversee its implementation has approved several alterations. These relate to coverage and compliance norms with a view to easing the burden of paperwork and stretched cash flows imposed on smaller businesses and exporters. The Council lowered the rates on 27 items, including dried sliced mango, khakhra, unbranded namkeen and, more importantly, yarn and sewing threads to soothe the textile industry that has been in distress over GST norms and is a bulwark for job-creation. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said the Council’s decisions at its 22nd meeting, taken at his behest to overcome the GST system’s apparent shortcomings, are akin to an early Deepavali. That the meeting was advanced by almost 20 days, and that it has tried to deliver on the Prime Minister’s promise to fix the problems faced by traders in the first quarter of GST is welcome. The decision to switch the requirement to le three monthly returns and an annual return to a quarterly frequency for firms with a turnover of ₹1.5 crore will ease the burden of compliances on small and medium enterprises, and reduce the workload on the tax regime’s fledgling IT backbone. Equally critical is the expansion and proposed simplification of the composition scheme, under which firms with an annual turnover of up to ₹1 crore pay a flat and low tax, and the six-month suspension of the reverse charge mechanism that required large firms to deduct tax on supplies from firms outside the GST net. This should spur fresh confidence among small firms and help expand the tax base. The promise of faster tax refunds, starting Tuesday, for exporters facing a working capital crunch too is re-assuring. Time will tell how smoothly these decisions pan out on the ground, but suspension for six months of the payment of integrated GST (IGST) on inputs used for exports will bring immediate relief. While putting offthe e-way bill provisions dealing with movement of goods that were making businesses and transporters nervous, the Council is instead considering a staggered introduction. So the system would begin with one or more States from January 2018 and cover the entire country by April 2018. It is not clear months, and industry has good reason to worry about fresh complications. Amidst this flurry of adjustments, suspense persists on the operationalisation of the GST law’s anti-profiteering provisions, which cramp pricing decisions by businesses. The government needs to move swiftly to bring clarity on all such remaining grey areas. Lastly, though some of the latest rate revisions may be based on impeccable economic rationale, it is important to resist giving the impression that some tweaks, even if they are warranted, are based on the Assembly election schedules.

  1. b) New Left in Nepal

In a most unexpected development, the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified-Marxist Leninist), the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist-Centre) and the Naya Shakti Party (NSP) have agreed to form a Left coalition to contest provincial and federal elections later this year. They have also formed a coordination committee that will work towards their unification into a single leftist party after the elections. This marks a major shift in Nepal’s polity because the status-quoist UML and the radical Maoists have been at loggerheads for decades and have differed on significant issues — in particular, state restructuring after the Constituent Assembly elections of 2008 and 2013. While these parties worked together along with other political forces in the run-up to abolishing the monarchy, there has been little love lost between them over the past decade. But the Maoists have also undergone a series of splits during this period. Hardline sections led by Mohan Baidya ‘Kiran’ and Netra Bikram Chand branched o to form their own parties, while Baburam Bhattarai, who preferred greater parliamentary engagement and was unflinching on the state restructuring demand, also left the parent party. So far the UML has been steadfast in opposing greater federalisation, basing its argument on the principle of national unity, while the Maoist-Centre has changed positions depending on the prevailing power equations to suit its chairman, and ex-Prime Minister, Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’. In the run-up to the elections, Mr. Dahal sees a possibility of winning more seats by being in a Left alliance, which is why he chose to talk to the UML even though he currently shares power with the Nepali Congress. The UML did well overall in the local body elections held recently, but fared relatively poorly in the second phase of the polls in which a greater number of the contests were in the Terai region. The Maoists surprised many with a decent haul in this phase. Electorally it makes sense for the two parties to come together in an alliance. The addition of the NSP gives the alliance what is perceived by some as intellectual heft — its leader, Mr. Bhattarai, had been the prime mover in the Maoists giving up their armed struggle and joining the democratic process. In aligning with the UML and the Maoists, Mr. Bhattarai may have to relent on his key demand of state restructuring — but perhaps this was already inevitable following the Madhesi parties’ poor show in the recent elections. It remains to be seen how the contradictions over this issue will be resolved in the future, even if they hope that a call for national unity and social justice will calm the Madhesis. For the Nepali Congress, the new Left alliance will be a difficult adversary to overcome, and it would have to strive to bring other centrist forces under its own “democratic” alliance. The Madhesi parties, however, may well be left in the lurch.


Words/ Vocabulary

1) Tryst

Meaning: A private romantic rendezvous

Example: Her father discovers the tryst and immediately arranges to send Claire home.

Synonym: Meeting, Engagement

2) Regime

Meaning: A system or ordered way of doing things.

Example: Detention centres with a very tough physical regime.

Synonym: System, Arrangement

3) Oversee

Meaning: Supervise (a person or their work), especially in an official capacity.

Example: The Home Secretary oversees the police service.

Synonym: Supervise, Superintend

4) Compliance

Meaning: The action or fact of complying with a wish or command.

Example: The ways in which the state maintains order and compliance.

Synonym: Yielding, Capitulation

Antonym: Denial, Dissent

5) Imposed

Meaning: Put (a restriction) in place.

Example: Sanctions imposed on South Africa.

Synonym: Foist, Force

Antonym: Disorder, Displace

6) Soothe

Meaning: Gently calm (a person or their feelings)

Example: Sir Irwin held him down gently, soothing him with soft words and petting him.

Synonym: Calm, Calm down

Antonym: Aggravate, Agitate

7) Bulwark

Meaning: A defensive wall.

Example: Israel bills the barrier as its bulwark against infiltrating Palestinian suicide bombers.

Synonym: Wall, Rampart

Antonym: Hurt, Injury

8) Behest

Meaning: A person’s orders or command.

Example: They had assembled at his behest.

Synonym: Instruction, Bidding

9) Shortcomings

Meaning: A fault or failure to meet a certain standard, typically in a person’s character, a plan, or a system.

Example: He is so forthright about his shortcomings, it’s hard to chastise him.

Synonym: Defect, Fault

Antonym: Benefit, Perfection

10) Akin

Meaning: Of similar character/ Related by blood.

Example: Something akin to gratitude overwhelmed her.

Synonym: Similar, Related

Antonym: Unlike, Unrelated

11) Turnover

Meaning: The amount of money taken by a business in a particular period.

Example: A turnover approaching £4 million.

Synonym: Revenue, Gross revenue

12) Fledgling

Meaning: A person or organization that is immature, inexperienced, or underdeveloped.

Example: The country’s fledgling democracy.

Synonym: Emerging, Emergent

Antonym: Expert, Professional

13) Backbone

Meaning: The chief support of a system or organization.

Example: These firms are the backbone of our industrial sector.

Synonym: Mainstay, Cornerstone

14) Deduct

Meaning: Subtract or take away (an amount or part) from a total.

Example: Tax has been deducted from the payments.

Synonym: Subtract, Take away

Antonym: Add, Increase

15) Spur

Meaning: A thing that prompts or encourages someone; an incentive.

Example: Wars act as a spur to practical invention.

Synonym: Stimulus, Incentive

Antonym: Block, Curb

16) Crunch

Meaning: A severe shortage of money or credit.

Example: The agencies are facing a financial crunch.

17) Staggered

Meaning: Continue in existence or operation uncertainly or precariously.

Example: The treasury staggered from one crisis to the next.

18) Interim

Meaning: The intervening time.

Example: In the interim I’ll just keep my fingers crossed.

Synonym: Meantime, Meanwhile

19) Complications

Meaning: A circumstance that complicates something; a difficulty.

Example: There is a complication concerning ownership of the site.

Synonym: Difficulty, Problem

Antonym: Clarity, Ease

20) Flurry

Meaning: A sudden short period of activity or excitement.

Example: There was a brief flurry of activity in the hall.

Synonym: Burst, Outbreak

Antonym: Delay, Rest

21) Cramp

Meaning: Painful involuntary contraction of a muscle or muscles, typically caused by fatigue or strain.

Example: An attack of cramp.

Synonym: Muscle spasm, Muscular spasm

22) Swiftly

Meaning: At high speed; quickly.

Example: She got up and walked swiftly to the door.

Synonym: Rapidly, Quickly

Antonym: Slow, Sluggish

23) Grey areas

Meaning: An ill-defined situation or area of activity not readily conforming to a category or set of rules.

Example: Grey areas in the legislation have still to be clarified.

24) Impeccable

Meaning: In accordance with the highest standards; faultless.

Example: He had impeccable manners.

Synonym: Flawless, Faultless

Antonym: Flaw, Fault

25) Coalition

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

Example: A coalition between Liberals and Conservatives.

Synonym: Alliance, Union

Antonym: Disunion, Parting

26) Leftist

Meaning: A person with left-wing political views.

Example: These values are shared by many leftists.

27) Loggerheads

Meaning: A foolish person.

Synonym: Idiot, Moron

28) Unflinching

Meaning: Not showing fear or hesitation in the face of danger or difficulty.

Example: He has shown unflinching determination throughout the campaign.

Synonym: Resolute, Determined

Antonym: Coward, Timid

29) Steadfast

Meaning: Resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering.

Example: Steadfast loyalty.

Synonym: Loyal, Faithful

Antonym: False, Disloyal

30) Federalisation

Meaning: Form into a single centralized unit; unite in a federal union.

Example: He tried to federalize the Habsburg monarchy.

31) Prevailing

Meaning: Existing at a particular time; current.

Example: The unfavourable prevailing economic conditions.

32) Alliance

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

Example: A defensive alliance between Australia and New Zealand.

Synonym: Association, Union, League

Antonym: Discord, Disunity

33) Haul

Meaning: Pull or drag with effort or force.

Example: He hauled his bike out of the shed.

Synonym: Drag, Pull

34) Electorally

Meaning: Relating to elections or electors.

Example: Electoral reform.

35) Heft

Meaning: Lift or carry (something heavy)

Example: He lifted crates and hefted boxes.

Synonym: Lift up, Raise

Antonym: Dodge, Lower

36) Relent

Meaning: Become less severe or intense.

Example: The rain relented.

Synonym: Ease off, Slacken

Antonym: Advance, Ascend

37) Inevitable

Meaning: Certain to happen; unavoidable.

Example: War was inevitable.

Synonym: Unavoidable, Inescapable

Antonym: Avoidable, Escapable

38) Adversary

Meaning: One’s opponent in a contest, conflict, or dispute.

Example: Davis beat his old adversary in the quarter-finals.

Synonym: Opponent, Rival, Enemy

Antonym: Friend, Backer

39) Centrist

Meaning: Having moderate political views or policies.

Example: A centrist politician.

40) Lurch

Meaning: Make an abrupt, unsteady, uncontrolled movement or series of movements; stagger.

Example: The car lurched forward.

Synonym: Stagger, Stumble

Antonym: Stay, Steady