THE HINDU EDITORIAL : October 14, 2017


  1. a) Six steps to job creation

In India’s highly segmented labour market, one can still discern at least three demographic groups that are in urgent need of jobs: a growing number of better educated youth; uneducated agricultural workers who wish to leave agricultural distress behind; and young women, who too are better educated than ever before. India is indeed the fastest growing large economy in the world; yet with investment low, credit off take low, capacity utilisation in industry low, agricultural growth low, plant load factor low, it is hardly surprising that job growth is low as well. Although growth is relatively high (though slowing for last several quarters), it is the pattern of growth that is the problem. Among many dimensions of this problem is the fact that in the quarter century since economic reforms began, it is not manufacturing that has been the leading sector driving growth. Manufacturing should drive productivity in the whole economy. Services cannot, as services by definition ‘service’ the distribution of produced goods. So what can policy-makers do to revive job growth, other than invest more in infrastructure, which this government has been attempting to do especially for last 18 months or so, in both rural and urban India?

Industrial, trade policy

First, an industrial and trade policy is needed. The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) is finally preparing an industrial policy. For 20 years after economic reforms began in 1991 there was no National Manufacturing Policy, and the Policy, when it came in 2011, was not even implemented. By the time the 12th Plan (with the first mention of Industrial Policy since 1991) became public, the UPA government had gone into policy paralysis. Not only did tariffs come down too fast in the 1990s, but what has damaged manufacturing is inverted duty structures. While the DIPP is preparing the industrial policy document, it is essential that trade policy is consistent with such an industrial policy. Otherwise the two may work at cross purposes and undermine each other’s objectives. This is precisely what has happened over many years. Excessive imports have been decimating Indian manufacturing. An inverted duty structure has the following features: higher duty on intermediate goods compared to final finished goods, with the latter often enjoying concessional customs duty. As a result, domestic manufacturers face high tariffs since the last 12-15 years, leading to higher raw material cost at home, emanating from the unfavourable inverted duty structure. This was pointed out by FICCI way back in 2014 for aluminium, steel, chemicals, capital goods, electronics. This has prevented many manufacturing sectors from growing since economic reforms began. This must be corrected. The automobiles sector in India faced no inverted duty structure, and has thrived. India has become in the last decade one of the largest producers of vehicles of several kinds in the world now. Electronics faced an inverted duty structure, but the Finance Minister has made changes, and slowly electronics manufacturing has grown. Second, special packages are needed for labour-intensive industries to create jobs. There are a number of labour intensive manufacturing sectors in India such as food processing, leather and footwear, wood manufacturers and furniture, textiles and apparel and garments. The apparel and garments sector received a package from the Government of India roughly a year back. The other labour intensive sectors have been ignored. The nature of the package will need to be individually designed for each sector defined as quickly as possible.

Cluster development

Three, there should be cluster development to support job creation in micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). Most of the unorganised sector employment is in MSMEs, which tend to be concentrated in specific geographic locations. There are 1,350 modern industry clusters in India and an additional 4,000 traditional product manufacturing clusters, like handloom, handicraft and other traditional single product group clusters. There is a cluster development programme of the Ministry of MSMEs, which is poorly funded and could be better designed as well. But the Ministry’s total annual budget for all programmes, including cluster development, is grossly inadequate. Spread over 6,000 clusters, it becomes even more inadequate to transform MSMEs located in clusters. Fourth, align urban development with manufacturing clusters to create jobs. The Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) has a programme called AMRUT (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation) aimed at improving infrastructure for small towns. Infrastructure investment by the government always creates many jobs. But the programme does not take into account whether the infrastructure investment under it is taking place in towns which have clusters of unorganised sector economic activities. Hence an engagement between the Urban Development and MSME Ministries is necessary to ensure that this is happening. It will attract more investment to industrial clusters, which is where most non-agricultural jobs are. Fifth, focus of women. Girls are losing out in jobs, or those with increasing education can’t find them, despite having gotten higher levels of education in the last 10 years. Secondary enrolment in the country rose from 58% to 85% in a matter of five years (2010-2015), with gender parity. Skilling close to clusters (rather than standalone vocational training providers), which is where the jobs are, is likely to be more successful. The problem with skilling programmes has been low placement after skilling is complete. The availability of jobs close to where the skilling is conducted will also enhance the demand for skilling. And sixth, public investments in health, education, police and judiciary can create many government jobs. Public investment in the health sector has remained even in the last three years at 1.15% of GDP, despite the creation of the national health policy at the beginning of 2017. The policy indicates that expenditure on health will rise to 2.5% of GDP only by 2025. Given the state of health and nutrition of the population, it is critical that public expenditure on health is increased faster and not as late as 2025. In the absence of greater public expenditure, the private sector in health keeps expanding, which only raises the household costs on health without necessarily improving health outcomes, because the private sector does not spend on preventive and public health measures. But the private sector prefers to set up hospitals to cure people after they have become sick rather than prevent them from becoming unhealthy in the first place. Preventive and public health have always been in all countries the responsibility of government. More government expenditure in health means more jobs in government and better health outcomes.

Revitalise schools

Government schools also have such poor quality that parents are voting with their feet by spending money on private schools, whether or not the poor parents can afford it. The number of teachers required, at secondary and higher secondary levels, is very high, particularly in science and mathematics. Many new government jobs can be provided if more young people could be trained specially to become teachers for science and mathematics at the secondary and higher secondary levels. The same applies to the police and the judiciary. While the number of paramilitary personnel continues to grow, State governments are not filling even sanctioned posts in the policy and in the judiciary (at all levels there are vacancies). More police and a larger judiciary can both reduce crime as well as speed up the process of justice for the ordinary citizen.

  1. b) Benefit of doubt — on Aarushi murder case probe and trial

The Allahabad High Court verdict acquitting Rajesh Talwar and Nupur Talwar of the charge of murdering their 14-year-old daughter Aarushi and domestic worker Hemraj in May 2008 is not merely an indictment of the Central Bureau of Investigation Special Court that sentenced them to life in 2013; it exposes the shoddy investigation by the Noida police in the first few days after the double murder, and hints at the lack of probity even in the way the CBI handled the case. The Bench terms some witnesses as “planted”, and concludes that circumstances indicating that someone else could have committed the crime had been ignored. At one point it even observes that there was “clinching evidence” about the presence of outsiders in the Talwar residence on the fateful night. It is in keeping with the see-saw nature of the investigation that the trial court’s findings — that the dentist couple committed the crime, that they shifted Hemraj’s body to the terrace, dressed up the crime scene and hid the weapons — now lie in tatters. The Talwar trial is illustrative of the vast gulf between public perception, now lamentably exemplified in speculative media coverage and social media frenzy, and courts of law that go by evidence and reason. However, the facts and circumstances were such that anyone would have been torn between blaming the parents and sympathising with them. It did not help their case that the murders took place in their home. The claim that they were fast asleep while Aarushi was being killed in the very next room and the body of Hemraj was being moved to the terrace did stretch credulity. In the end, they have got the benefit of doubts that surfaced during the probe and the trial. Usually, in a case based on circumstantial evidence the court looks for a cogent narrative pointing to guilt, and will not treat suspicion as proof. Few would dispute the fact that the investigation was botched up. The crime scene was unprotected. Hemraj’s body was not found for a whole day. Three associates of Hemraj were suspects, but there was not much evidence to proceed. A DNA report implicating one of them, Krishna, was dismissed as a typographical error. To be fair to the CBI, it did want to close the case for want of evidence, but was forced by the court to pursue the prosecution. At the end of the appellate stage, it is difficult to say whether the case should never have gone to trial or that it was desirable that the entire evidence underwent scrutiny at two levels. Acquittal in a murder case is an injustice of sorts. It either means the state has failed to bring home the guilt of the accused or that it prosecuted the wrong people. Those exonerated will naturally feel vindicated, but the perception of justice having been done is limited to the accused and their well-wishers. It is difficult to ignore the fact that the culprits who murdered Aarushi are yet to be nailed and duly held to account.


1) Discern

Meaning: Recognize or find out.

Example: I can discern no difference between the two policies.

Synonyms: Perceive, Detect

Antonyms: Overlook, Miss

2) Indeed

Meaning: Used to emphasize a statement or response confirming something already suggested.

Example: It was not expected to last long, and indeed it took less than three weeks.

Synonyms: Actually, Really

3) Revive

Meaning: Give new strength or energy to.

Example: The cool, refreshing water revived us all.

Synonyms: Reinvigorate, Revitalize

Antonyms: Torpefy

4) Paralysis

Meaning: Inability to act or function properly.

Example: The paralysis gripping the country.

Synonyms: Shutdown, Stoppage

5) Tariffs

Meaning: A tax or duty to be paid on a particular class of imports or exports.

Example: The reduction of trade barriers and import tariffs.

Synonyms: Tax, Duty

6) Inverted

Meaning: Put upside down or in the opposite position, order, or arrangement.

Example: Invert the mousse on to a serving plate.

Synonyms: Upturn, Upend

7) Decimating

Meaning: Kill, destroy, or remove a large proportion of.

Example: The inhabitants of the country had been decimated.

8) Latter

Meaning: Denoting the second or second mentioned of two people or things.

Example: The Russians could advance into either Germany or Austria—they chose the latter option.

Synonyms: Last –mentioned, Second

Antonyms: Former, Prior

9) Concessional

Meaning: (Of a rate or allowance) constituting a concession.

Example: A concessional interest rate.

10) Emanating

Meaning: Give out or emit (a feeling, quality, or sensation).

Example: He emanated a powerful brooding air.

Synonyms: Exude, Exhale

11) Reforms

Meaning: Make changes in (something, especially an institution or practice) in order to improve it.

Example: The Bill will reform the tax system.

Synonyms: Improve, Better

Antonyms: Preserve, Maintain

12) Thrived

Meaning: (Of a child, animal, or plant) grow or develop well or vigorously.

Example: The new baby thrived.

Synonyms: Flourish, Prosper

Antonyms: Decline, Wither

13) Apparel

Meaning: Clothing.

Example: They were dressed in bright apparel.

Synonyms: Clothes, Dress

14) Rejuvenation

Meaning: The action or process of making someone or something look or feel better, younger, or more vital.

Example: Plans for the rejuvenation of the area.

15) Afford

Meaning: Have enough money to pay for.

Example: The best that I could afford was a first-floor room.

Synonyms: Manage, Provide

16) Speed-up

Meaning: An increase in speed, especially in a person’s or machine’s rate of working.

17) Acquitting

Meaning: Free (someone) from a criminal charge by a verdict of not guilty.

Example: She was acquitted on all counts.

Synonyms: Absolve, Clear

Antonyms: Convict

18) Merely

Meaning: Just; only.

Example: Gary, a silent boy, merely nodded.

Synonyms: Only, Purely

19) Sentenced

Meaning: Declare the punishment decided for (an offender).

Example: Ten army officers were sentenced to life imprisonment.

Synonyms: Convict, Condemn

20) Shoddy

Meaning: Badly made or done.

Example: We’re not paying good money for shoddy goods.

Synonyms: Poor-quality, Inferior

Antonyms: Well made, careful

21) Probity

Meaning: The quality of having strong moral principles; honesty and decency.

Example: Financial probity.

Synonyms: Integrity, Honesty

Antonyms: Untrustworthiness

22) Witnesses

Meaning: A person who sees an event, typically a crime or accident, take place.

Example: Police are appealing for witnesses to the accident.

Synonyms: Observer, Onlooker

23) Clinching

Meaning: Confirm or settle (a contract or bargain).

Example: The Texan wanted to impress him to clinch a business deal.

Synonyms: Secure, Settle

24) See-saw

Meaning: A situation characterized by rapid, repeated changes from one state or condition to another.

Example: The emotional see-saw of a first love affair.

25) Hid

Meaning: Put or keep out of sight.

Example: He hid the money in the house.

Synonyms: Conceal, Secrete

Antonyms: Flaunt, Expose

26) Gulf

Meaning: A large difference or division between two people or groups, or between Viewpoints, concepts, or situations.

Example: The widening gulf between the rich and the poor.

Synonyms: Divergence, Contrast

27) Exemplified

Meaning: Be a typical example of.

Example: The best dry sherry is exemplified by the fino of Jerez.

Synonyms: Typify, Epitomize

28) Speculative

Meaning: Engaged in, expressing, or based on conjecture rather than knowledge.

Example: He gave her a speculative glance.

Synonyms: Conjectural, Theoretical

Antonyms: Proven

29) Frenzy

Meaning: A state or period of uncontrolled excitement or wild behaviour.

Example: Doreen worked herself into a frenzy of rage.

Synonyms: Hysteria, Madness

30) Credulity

Meaning: A tendency to be too ready to believe that something is real or true.

Example: Moneylenders prey upon their credulity and inexperience.

Synonyms: Naivety, Simplicity

Antonyms: Worldliness, Suspicion

31) Cogent

Meaning: (Of an argument or case) clear, logical, and convincing.

Example: They put forward cogent arguments for British membership.

Synonyms: Convincing, Compelling

Antonyms: Vague, Muddled

32) Suspicion

Meaning: A feeling or thought that something is possible, likely, or true.

Example: She had a sneaking suspicion that he was laughing at her.

Synonyms: Intuition, Feeling

Antonyms: Certainty

33) Dispute

Meaning: A disagreement or argument.

Example: A territorial dispute between the two countries.

Synonyms: Debate, Discussion

Antonyms: Agreement

34) Botched up

Meaning: Make a mess of, destroy or ruin.

Example: I botched the dinner and we had to eat out.

35) Typographical

Meaning: Relating to the style, appearance, or production of printed matter.

Example: The bibliography contains many typographical errors.

36) Pursue

Meaning: Follow or chase (someone or something).

Example: The officer pursued the van.

Synonyms: Follow, Chase

Antonyms: Avoid, Flee

37) Prosecution

Meaning: The institution and conducting of legal proceedings against someone in respect of a criminal charge.

Example: The organizers are facing prosecution for noise nuisance.

38) Scrutiny

Meaning: Critical observation or examination.

Example: Every aspect of local government was placed under scrutiny.

Synonyms: Inspection, Survey

Antonyms: Glance

39) Exonerated

Meaning: (Of an official body) absolve (someone) from blame for a fault or wrongdoing.

Example: An inquiry exonerated those involved.

Synonyms: Absolve, Clear

Antonyms: Charge, Convict

40) Duly

Meaning: In accordance with what is required or appropriate; following proper procedure or arrangement.

Example: A document duly signed and authorized by the inspector.

Synonyms: Properly, Correctly

Antonyms: Improperly

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