THE HINDU EDITORIAL – August 31, 2018 is one of the must read section for the competitive exams like IBPS RRB PO, IBPS RRB Office Assistant 2018, RBI Grade “B” 2018 & NIACL Assistant 2018. These topics are widely expected to be asked in the reading comprehension , Cloze Test or Error Detection topics in the forthcoming exams. So gear up your Exam preparation and learn new words daily.

A) Money, money, money: on demonetisation

The Reserve Bank of India’s annual report for 2017-18 reveals that 99.3% of currency notes that were demonetised at midnight on November 8, 2016 have returned to the banking system. This is only marginally higher than its provisional estimate last year that over 99% — or ₹15.28 lakh crore worth of the old ₹500 and ₹1,000 notes — out of the ₹15.44 lakh crore that were in circulation at the time had been deposited by June 30, 2017. This makes a couple of things crystal clear. First, the hope that a large chunk of unaccounted money would not return to the system — arguably, the principal reason for the exercise — was almost wholly belied. As a result, the plan to transfer the arising surplus from the RBI to the Centre, which was not formally declared but strongly rumoured, was a non-starter. Second, given the sheer logistical difficulty in penalising all those who converted unaccounted money into legal tender, demonetisation worked as an unintended amnesty scheme. Despite the significant cost to the economy, demonetisation, to the disappointment of the Prime Minister’s critics, had no political fallout. Narendra Modi succeeded in portraying the move as one that would knock out the corrupt rich — a harsh but necessary shock therapy. This was perhaps why the massive disruption caused by the overnight removal of 86% of the currency in value terms did not cause agitations.

Nevertheless, the RBI report, which points to a spurt in counterfeiting of the new ₹500 and ₹2,000 notes, raises the old question all over again. Was it worth the slowdown in growth, the damage to informal sector supply chains, and job losses in sectors such as construction that were the bulwark of employment creation for the unskilled? True, there have been some benefits. For instance, the number of income tax returns filed has surged a little over the trend growth rate. But surely this could have been achieved by other policy measures. Cashless modes of payment have become more common, but financial savings in the form of currency have also risen, suggesting that people still value cash. Not all policy choices work out and accepting mistakes or planning flaws helps strengthen governance processes. For example, learning from the UPA’s mistakes, a cleaner auction process for natural resources has been worked out. The government must not disown its biggest reform attempt or try to sidestep parliamentary scrutiny of the outcomes of demonetisation. Instead, it could focus on fixing the problems that people still face — transactions with ₹2,000 notes in the absence of ₹1,000 notes are difficult as it is a departure from the currency denomination principle (every note should be twice or two and a half times its preceding denomination). Even as these issues are sorted out, the larger lesson must be heeded: sudden shocks to the economy don’t always yield intended policy objectives

B) Pride and foreign aid

India’s refusal to take help in times of natural disasters is self-defeating and against the federal spirit

The Central government’s decision to decline offers of humanitarian aid from the United Arab Emirates and other concerned countries for Kerala, in the aftermath of the worst flood in the State in close to a century, is unfortunate. Whichever way one plays it, New Delhi’s unwillingness to accept foreign aid reflects poor judgment, is bad optics, and goes against the spirit of cooperative federalism. Moreover, this decision, when read with the National Democratic Alliance government’s adversarial attitude towards foreign-funded NGO activism in the country, suggests a sense of insecurity and paranoia that hardly befits a rising power.

While the government itself has been very cryptic in its response to the recent foreign aid offers, those in support of the government’s informal decision have essentially made five sets of arguments to justify the government’s decision. Let’s examine their merit.

Policy precedent

The strongest argument by far for refusing foreign aid flows from past policy and practice. It is argued that there is a policy in place since 2004, enunciated by the then Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, to not accept foreign aid in times of natural disasters. Dr. Singh had stated in the wake of the tsunami in December that year, “We feel that we can cope with the situation on our own and we will take their help if needed.” The practice thereafter has been to shun foreign aid during natural calamities because the government has been confident of “coping with the situation” using internal sources

However, it is important to note that the 2004 statement by Dr. Singh was a political articulation, not a legal directive or policy document. In any case, his statement did not close the door to external aid (“we will take their help if needed”). Does Kerala need help? Yes, it desperately does. Former National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, in a recent tweet, explained the 2004 decision in the following words: “If memory serves, the 2004 decision was to not accept foreign participation in relief but accept it for long term rehabilitation case by case.”

In any case, since 2004, various policy documents have explicitly and implicitly suggested that the government may accept foreign aid during emergencies. The 2016 National Disaster Management Plan states: “…if the national government of another country voluntarily offers assistance as a goodwill gesture in solidarity with the disaster victims, the Central Government may accept the offer.” Similarly, the National Policy on Disaster Management of 2009 and the Disaster Management Act of 2005 are both positively inclined to coordinating with external agencies and institutions for disaster relief. The 2009 document even argues — thoughtfully so — that “disasters do not recognise geographical boundaries.”

In short, while the 2004 policy says that foreign aid can be accepted if need be, the 2016 policy document states that the government “may” accept foreign aid. The question is whether the situation in Kerala can persuade the Centre to operationalise the word “may” in a generous manner.

National pride

The second argument against accepting foreign aid seems to flow from a sense of national pride: that India is a not a poor country any longer and hence it doesn’t need anyone’s charity. There was a time we were forced to go abroad with a begging bowl, but those days are over and we can look after ourselves, goes the argument. Despite its powerful emotional appeal, this argument is misplaced at several levels. For one, it is misleading to say that only poor states accept foreign aid in times of natural disasters. For instance, India’s offer of aid was accepted by the U.S. in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and by China after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. The reality is that countries reeling under natural calamities routinely accept emergency aid from other countries irrespective of how rich or poor they are.


The third argument is that India is self-sufficient and hence does not need relief material to deal with natural disasters. Here, it is important to make a distinction between foreign aid during normal periods and emergency humanitarian and reconstruction assistance. Besides, in the case of Kerala, by providing only a fraction of the emergency and reconstruction assistance requested by the State government despite repeated appeals, the Central government seems to have implicitly indicated that there aren’t sufficient funds available. Although New Delhi has taken the line that “in line with the existing policy, the government is committed to meeting the requirements for relief and rehabilitation through domestic efforts,” its actions so far fly in the face of this tall claim. So, if New Delhi is unable to heed Thiruvananthapuram’s urgent requests, shouldn’t it let Kerala take help from outside?

Aid with strings

Then there is the argument that foreign aid comes with strings attached. Yes, it has in the past, especially developmental assistance from Western nations or the World Bank. Aid and loans often came with demands of economic restructuring or resetting governance priorities, and an occasional sermon on human rights. But there is again a fundamental difference between such funding and humanitarian assistance. Hence the argument that UAE’s disaster relief to Kerala would come with strings attached is ludicrous. Abu Dhabi’s rationale for offering aid to Kerala is straightforward: the Malayali population in UAE has been crucial in its development, and the aid offer is a recognition of that bond.

A related issue is the paranoia displayed by successive governments in New Delhi about the ‘foreign hand/s’ constantly trying to undermine the Indian state. This has increased over the years, particularly under the current regime: consider the manner in which it cancelled the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) licenses of thousands of NGOs, including Greenpeace and Amnesty, depriving them of foreign funding.

Ironically, even as New Delhi vows to continue the policy of not allowing foreign humanitarian aid, and of restricting the activities of foreign-funded NGOs, it recently amended the FCRA to allow foreign funding of Indian political parties.

Money won’t bring relief

The fifth argument is that airdropping monetary aid doesn’t help in the absence of pre-existing administrative capacity for proper distribution, reconstruction and governance. In fact, some would argue that monetary aid without a focus on governance capacity building is useless or could even make the situation worse. While there is some merit in such an argument, this holds little relevance to the case of Kerala which happens to be one of India’s best governed States. What Kerala requires at the moment is monetary assistance, not lessons in governance.

New Delhi’s unilateral decision to not let humanitarian assistance reach a needy State also does not befit the federal character of the country as the spirit of federalism demands that such crucial decisions be taken after consultations with the stakeholders. The Union government should consult the affected federating units, which have large populations to care for, before crucial decisions of this nature are taken.

The argument here is not that India should seek/ receive regular foreign aid, but that it should accept foreign aid in times of humanitarian emergency, as do several countries, including the U.S., China and Japan. Moreover, there is an urgent need to evolve sensible, practical and empathetic guidelines on receiving emergency aid for the federal units in times of dire need.

Happymon Jacob teaches Disarmament and National Security at the School of International Studies, JNU, New Delhi


1) demonetised

Meaning : deprive (a coin or precious metal) of its status as money.

Tamil Meaning : முடிவு

Synonyms : termination , ending

Antonyms : substantiation

Example : “coins minted with the name and portrait of Emperor Caligula were demonetized after his death”

2) chunk

Meaning : a thick, solid piece of something.

Synonyms : clump

Antonyms : give

Example : “huge chunks of masonry littered the street”

3) penalising

Meaning : subject to a penalty or punishment.

Tamil Meaning : தண்டிப்பதை

Synonyms : pillory

Antonyms : praise

Example : “high-spending councils will be penalized”

4) unintended

Meaning : not planned or meant.

Tamil Meaning : திட்டமிடப்படாத

Synonyms : unmotivated

Antonyms : motivated

Example : “the unintended consequences of people’s actions”

5) portraying

Meaning : depict (someone or something) in a work of art or literature.

Tamil Meaning : சித்தரிக்க

Synonyms : represent

Antonyms : prosecute

Example : “the ineffectual Oxbridge dons portrayed by Evelyn Waugh”

6) disruption

Meaning : disturbance or problems which interrupt an event, activity, or process.

Tamil Meaning : இடையூறு

Synonyms : barracking

Antonyms : activity

Example : “the scheme was planned to minimize disruption”

7) agitations

Meaning : a state of anxiety or nervous excitement.

Tamil Meaning : கிளர்ச்சிகள்

Synonyms : pother

Antonyms : precede

Example : “she was wringing her hands in agitation”

8) counterfeiting

Meaning : imitate fraudulently.

Tamil Meaning : கள்ள

Synonyms : forge

Antonyms :veritable

Example : “my signature is extremely hard to counterfeit”

9) bulwark

Meaning : .

an extension of a ship’s sides above the level of the deck.

Tamil Meaning : அரணாக

Synonyms : defend

Antonyms : attack

Example : “the ships met, their crews lining the bulwarks”

10) auction

Meaning : a public sale in which goods or property are sold to the highest bidder.

Tamil Meaning : ஏலம்

Synonyms : vendue , sale

Antonyms : purchase

Example : “the books are expected to fetch a six-figure sum at tomorrow’s auction”

11) scrutiny

Meaning : critical observation or examination.

Tamil Meaning : கண்காணிப்பின்

Synonyms : checkup , scan

Antonyms : deviate

Example : “every aspect of local government was placed under scrutiny

12) Heed

Meaning : pay attention to; take notice of.

Tamil Meaning : கவனம்

Synonyms : attentiveness, attention

Antonyms : inattention

Example : “he should have heeded the warnings”

13) unfortunate

Meaning : having or marked by bad fortune; unlucky.

Tamil Meaning : துரதிருஷ்டவசமான

Synonyms : inauspicious , unpromising

Antonyms : auspicious

Example : “there’d been an unfortunate accident”

14) cryptic

Meaning : having a meaning that is mysterious or obscure.

Tamil Meaning : ரகசிய

Synonyms : concise

Antonyms : prolix

Example : “he found his boss’s utterances too cryptic”

15) enunciated

Meaning : say or pronounce clearly.

Tamil Meaning : இயற்றுவது

Synonyms : sibilate , pronounce

Antonyms : devoice

Example : “she enunciated each word slowly”

16) cope

Meaning : (of a person) deal effectively with something difficult.

Tamil Meaning : சமாளிக்க

Synonyms : improvise

Antonyms : refrain

Example : “his ability to cope with stress”

17) desperately

Meaning : in a way that shows despair.

Tamil Meaning : நம்பிக்கையற்ற

Synonyms : hopeless

Antonyms : hopeful

Example : “he looked around desperately”

18) rehabilitation

Meaning : the action of restoring someone to health or normal life through training and therapy after imprisonment, addiction, or illness.

Tamil Meaning : புனர்வாழ்வு

Synonyms : reclamation

Antonyms : decline

Example : “she underwent rehabilitation and was walking within three weeks”

19) gesture

Meaning : a movement of part of the body, especially a hand or the head, to express an idea or meaning.

Tamil Meaning : சைகை

Synonyms : indicant

Antonyms : raspberry

Example : “Alex made a gesture of apology”

20) solidarity

Meaning : unity or agreement of feeling or action, especially among individuals with a common interest; mutual support within a group.

Tamil Meaning : ஒற்றுமை

Synonyms : commonness

Antonyms : individuality

Example : “factory workers voiced solidarity with the striking students”

21) charity

Meaning : an organization set up to provide help and raise money for those in need.

Tamil Meaning : தொண்டு

Synonyms : benevolence

Antonyms : maleficence

Example : “the charity provides practical help for homeless people”

22) reeling

Meaning : wind something on to a reel by turning the reel.

Tamil Meaning : அங்கும் இங்கும் அசை

Synonyms : swag

Antonyms : ride

Example : “sailplanes are often launched by means of a wire reeled in by a winch”

23) assistance

Meaning : the action of helping someone by sharing work.

Tamil Meaning : உதவி

Synonyms : aid

Antonyms : ease

Example : “the work was completed with the assistance of carpenters”

24) implicitly

Meaning : in a way that is not directly expressed; tacitly.

Tamil Meaning : மறைமுகமாக

Synonyms : quality , simpleness

Antonyms : complexity

Example : “she implicitly suggested that he was responsible for the error”

25) ludicrous

Meaning : so foolish, unreasonable, or out of place as to be amusing.

Tamil Meaning : நகைப்பிற்குரியது

Synonyms : derisory

Antonyms : wise

Example : “it’s ludicrous that I have been fined”

26) paranoia

Meaning : a mental condition characterized by delusions of persecution, unwarranted jealousy,

Tamil Meaning : சித்த

Synonyms : psychosis

Antonyms : mental health

Example : “mild paranoia afflicts all prime ministers”

27) relevance

Meaning : the quality or state of being closely connected or appropriate.

Tamil Meaning : சம்பந்தம்

Synonyms : pertinence

Antonyms : unconnectedness

Example : “this film has contemporary relevance”

28) spirit

Meaning : the non-physical part of a person which is the seat of emotions and character; the soul.

Synonyms : bravery

Antonyms : cowardice

Example : “we seek a harmony between body and spirit”

29) empathetic

Meaning : showing an ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Tamil Meaning : அதேமாதிரி

Synonyms : empathic

Antonyms : disagreeable

Example : “she’s compassionate and empathetic towards her daughter”

30) dire

Meaning : extremely serious or urgent.

Tamil Meaning : கொடிய

Synonyms : critical

Antonyms : pleasant

Example : misuse of drugs can have dire consequences”

31) Disarmament

Meaning : the reduction or withdrawal of military forces and weapons.

Tamil Meaning : ஆயுத ஒழிப்பு

Synonyms : disarming

Antonyms : mobilization

Example : “the public wanted peace and disarmament”

32) monetary

Meaning : relating to money or currency.

Tamil Meaning : பண

Synonyms : pecuniary

Example : “documents with little or no monetary value”

33) federating

Meaning : (with reference to a number of states or organizations) form or be formed into a single centralized unit.

Synonyms : unify , federalise

Antonyms : multilane

Example : “in 1901 the six colonies federated to form the Commonwealth of Australia”

34) Amnesty

Meaning : an official pardon for people who have been convicted of political offences.

Synonyms : freedom

Antonyms : free

Example : “an amnesty for political prisoners”

35) depriving

Meaning : prevent (a person or place) from having or using something.

Tamil Meaning : மறுக்கிறது

Synonyms : starve , disinherit

Antonyms : feed

Example : “the city was deprived of its water supplies”

36) amended

Meaning : make minor changes to (a text, piece of legislation, etc.) in order to make it fairer or more accurate, or to reflect changing circumstances.

Tamil Meaning : திருத்தப்பட்ட

Synonyms : revised

Antonyms : unamended

Example : “the rule was amended to apply only to non-members”

37) recognition

Meaning : identification of a thing or person from previous encounters or knowledge.

Tamil Meaning : அங்கீகாரம்

Synonyms : acknowledgment

Antonyms : rejection

Example : “she saw him pass by without a sign of recognition”

38) sermon

Meaning : a talk on a religious or moral subject, especially one given during a church service and based on a passage from the Bible.

Tamil Meaning : பிரசங்கம்

Synonyms : homily

Antonyms : skew

Example : “I preached my first sermon on original sin”

39) despite

Meaning : without being affected by; in spite of.

Tamil Meaning : போதிலும்

Synonyms : disregard

Antonyms : oblige

Example : “he remains a great leader despite age and infirmity”

40) persuade

Meaning : induce (someone) to do something through reasoning or argument.

Tamil Meaning : இணங்க

Synonyms : work , badger

Antonyms : rede

Example : “it wasn’t easy, but I persuaded him to do the right thing”


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