THE HINDU EDITORIAL like many other sections will be the imperative one to crack the forthcoming exams like SBI PO 2018, SBI Clerk 2018 and IBPS RRB 2018 & South Indian Bank PO 2018. Learn new vocabulary words routinely.

a) No easy solutions: on tackling NPAs

Union Minister Piyush Goyal, currently in charge of the Finance Ministry, has announced the formation of a committee to assess the idea of special asset reconstruction companies or asset management companies to take over bad loans from banks. The bankers’ panel has been given two weeks to revert. The idea of a ‘bad bank’ is not new. Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian had suggested the creation of a Public-Sector Asset Rehabilitation Agency (PARA) to deal with what he described as India’s “festering twin balance sheet problem”. By this he meant over-leveraged corporates unable to service debt or invest afresh, and banks hit by non-performing assets (NPAs) cagey about fresh lending. This overhang hurts new investments and continues to dent India’s medium-term growth and job creation prospects. A professionally-run PARA, or the so-called ‘bad bank’, could assume custody of the largest and most difficult-to-resolve NPAs from lenders’ balance sheets. This would allow banks to focus on extending fresh credit and supporting the pick-up in growth. More importantly, a bad bank taking tough decisions on borrowers-gone-bad, it was argued, could free bankers from the risks entailed in large loan write-downs. But there are good reasons why the Finance Ministry left the bad bank idea in the cold over the past year and a half – among them the fact that the new entity would need a lot of capital support, just as banks do. Some of this was envisaged as coming from the Reserve Bank of India through a complicated transaction. After a long debate within government, under Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, it was noted that setting up a new institution would be very time-consuming and there would be challenges on its ownership structure as well as the pricing of bad loans taken over from banks. In any case, going by the experience of private asset reconstruction companies, a PARA by itself would not be able to deploy dramatically different tools to extract better value from underlying assets and would, at best, amount to window-dressing bank books to attract investors. As former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan had pointed out, a government-owned bad bank could still face scrutiny from the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Central Vigilance Commissioner. For now, the government is clearly under pressure to demonstrate fresh intent to investors as India Inc believes bank loans are likely to remain sluggish for the next two-three years. Whether or not the knots in the bad bank idea are sorted out, the government should focus on other reforms as well. One, amend the Prevention of Corruption Act to shield bankers and officers from investigative witch-hunts. Two, back bankers to take demonstrable action against wilful defaulters. And three, take a hard look at what ails the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.

b) Ceasing fire: on truce in Afghanistan

The Taliban’s announcement of a three-day ceasefire with Afghan government troops for Eid, two days after President Ashraf Ghani declared an unconditional week-long ceasefire, is a glimmer of hope for a breakthrough in the long-struggling peace process. This is the first time the Taliban has announced a ceasefire in the 17 years since it was removed from power in Kabul. Though it has not acknowledged the government ceasefire, the timing and the public declaration unmistakably point to the reciprocity of the decision. In the past, Mr. Ghani’s government had tried several times to reach out to the Taliban to find a breakthrough in the conflict. In 2015, when both sides were in an advanced stage of talks, it was revealed that the Taliban leader Mullah Omar had died years ago, upending the whole process. In February, Mr. Ghani had invited the Taliban to shun weapons and join peace talks in return for security assurances and passports to militants. But the group shunned the offer after days of uncertainty. The surprise ceasefire declaration during Ramzan is the latest gambit by Mr. Ghani. The war has long entered a stalemate, and something needs to give. The Taliban has made enormous military gains in recent years. It now controls vast swathes of rural, mountainous Afghanistan, while the government retains its grip on the more populated urban centres. The Taliban doesn’t seem to be in a position to capture power by overthrowing the government as long as the U.S. and its allies remain committed to the regime’s security. Equally, Afghan forces are unable to defeat or even check the Taliban’s momentum in rural areas. The fact that the government and the Taliban finally accepted a limited ceasefire suggests that the appetite for a political solution is now stronger. But a three-day Taliban ceasefire will not necessarily set the scene for a more productive engagement. The Taliban has said that the truce is applicable only to the “domestic opposition”, which means it will continue to target foreign troops. Also, the announcement came immediately after several attacks over 24 hours left at least 50 security personnel dead, which shows how precarious the situation is. Even for talks to be initiated, there are serious bottlenecks — the Taliban insists that foreign troops be withdrawn, while the government demands that the group accept the Afghan constitution. Despite these challenges, the Taliban’s positive response is a small gesture which could be used by both sides to build confidence before moving to the next step. The U.S. could put pressure on the Taliban through Pakistan to bring them to the table. If not, the war will carry on, with neither side gaining a decisive edge and leaving millions of Afghans in unending misery.


1) Revert

Meaning: Return to (a previous state, practice, topic, etc.).

Example: “he reverted to his native language”

Synonyms: Return, Regress

2) Bad bank

Meaning: A bank that takes bad assets (= assets that have lost their value) and bad loans (= debts that are unlikely to be paid back) from other banks or organizations and deals with them in order to help with economic problems.

Example: The Treasury is creating a bad bank that will take on the toxic assets that have damaged the global banking system.

3) Festering

Meaning: If an argument or bad feeling festers, it continues so that feelings of hate or lack of satisfaction increase.

Example: It’s better to express your anger than let it fester inside you.

4) Over-leveraged

Meaning: An over-leveraged person or business has borrowed too much money in relation to their ability to pay it back.

Example: When prices collapsed, many over-leveraged developers went bankrupt.

5) Cagey

Meaning: Reluctant to give information owing to caution or suspicion.

Example: “a spokesman was cagey about the arrangements his company had struck”

Synonyms: Secretive, Guarded

Antonyms: Frank, Open

6) Overhang

Meaning: Something that has a negative effect on a situation.

Example: Prices are unlikely to increase while there is an overhang of 40,000 unsold new houses.

7) Dent

Meaning: Have an adverse effect on; diminish; mark with a dent.

Example: “this neither deterred him nor dented his enthusiasm”

Synonyms: Diminish, Weaken

Antonyms: Increase

8) Entailed

Meaning: Involve (something) as a necessary or inevitable part or consequence.

Example: “a situation which entails considerable risks”

Synonyms: Require, Need

9) Write-downs

Meaning: A reduction in the value of an asset in a company’s accounts, when it is calculated to be worth less than previously shown.

Example: The business was hurt by $15 million in inventory write-downs.

Synonyms: Depreciation

10) Envisaged

Meaning: Contemplate or conceive of as a possibility or a desirable future event.

Example: “the Rome Treaty envisaged free movement across frontiers”

Synonyms: Predict, Anticipate

11) Deploy

Meaning: Move (troops or equipment) into position for military action.

Example: “forces were deployed at strategic locations”

Synonyms: Position, Station

Antonyms: Concentrate

12) Window-dressing

Meaning: An adroit but superficial or misleading presentation of something, designed to create a favourable impression.

Example: “the government’s effort has amounted to little more than window dressing”

13) Scrutiny

Meaning: Critical observation or examination.

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

Synonyms: Inspection, Survey

Antonyms: Glance

14) Intent

Meaning: Intention or purpose.

Example: “with alarm she realized his intent”

Synonyms: Aim, Purpose

15) Sluggish

Meaning: Slow-moving or inactive.

Example: “a sluggish stream”

Synonyms: Inactive, Quiet

Antonyms: Busy, Brisk

16) Sorted out

Meaning: To separate one type of things from a group of things.

Example: Sort out any clothes you want to throw away and give them to me.

Synonyms: Classifying

17) Witch-hunts

Meaning: A campaign directed against a person or group holding views considered unorthodox or a threat to society.

Example: “he claimed he was the victim of a media witch-hunt”

18) Demonstrable

Meaning: Clearly apparent or capable of being logically proved.

Example: “the demonstrable injustices of racism”

Synonyms: Verifiable, Plain

Antonyms: Unverifiable

19) Defaulters

Meaning: Someone who does not pay interest or other money that they owe, or who fails to do something that they should do by law.

Example: The names of credit card defaulters are referred to credit rating agencies.

20) Take a hard look

Meaning: To examine something very carefully in order to improve it in the future.

Example: We need to take a long, hard look at the way we control gun ownership.

Synonyms: Thinking, Contemplating

21) Ails

Meaning: Trouble or afflict (someone) in mind or body.

Example: “exercise is good for whatever ails one”

22) Ceasefire

Meaning: A temporary suspension of fighting; a truce.

Example: “the latest ceasefire seems to be holding”

23) Unconditional

Meaning: Not subject to any conditions.

Example: “unconditional surrender”

Synonyms: Unqualified, Unreserved

Antonyms: Conditional

24) Glimmer

Meaning: A faint sign of a feeling or quality, especially a desirable one.

Example: “there is one glimmer of hope for Becky”

Synonyms: Gleam, Trace

25) Reciprocity

Meaning: The practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit, especially privileges granted by one country or organization to another.

Example: “the Community intends to start discussions on reciprocity with third countries”

26) Reach out

Meaning: To try to communicate with a person or a group of people, usually in order to help or involve them.

Example: The new mayor is reaching out to the local community to involve them in his plans for the city.

27) Breakthrough

Meaning: A sudden, dramatic, and important discovery or development.

Example: “a major breakthrough in the fight against AIDS”

Synonyms: Advance, Development

Antonyms: Setback

28) Conflict

Meaning: A prolonged armed struggle.

Example: “regional conflicts”

Synonyms: War, Action

Antonyms: Peace

29) Upending

Meaning: To push or move something so that the part that usually touches the ground is not touching the ground any more.

Example: She upended the chessboard halfway through the game because she was losing.

Synonyms: Pushing

30) Shunned

Meaning: Persistently avoid, ignore, or reject (someone or something) through antipathy or caution.

Example: “he shunned fashionable society”

Synonyms: Avoid, Evade

Antonyms: Accept, Seek

31) Gambit

Meaning: An act or remark that is calculated to gain an advantage, especially at the outset of a situation.

Example: “his resignation was a tactical gambit”

Synonyms: Scheme, Plan

32) Vast

Meaning: Of very great extent or quantity; immense.

Example: “a vast plain full of orchards”

Synonyms: Huge, Extensive

Antonyms: Tiny

33) Swathes

Meaning: A large part of something that includes several different things.

Example: These people represent a broad/wide swathe of public opinion.

34) Overthrowing

Meaning: Remove forcibly from power.

Example: “military coups which had attempted to overthrow the King”

Synonyms: Depose, Displace

35) Appetite

Meaning: A strong desire or liking for something.

Example: “her appetite for life”

Synonyms: Craving, Longing

Antonyms: Aversion

36) Truce

Meaning: An agreement between enemies or opponents to stop fighting or arguing for a certain time.

Example: “the guerrillas called a three-day truce”

Synonyms: Ceasefire, Armistice

Antonyms: Fighting

37) Bottlenecks

Meaning: A situation that causes delay in a process or system.

Example: “animated films are still stymied by a technological bottleneck”

38) Bring them to the table

Meaning: To provide something that will be a benefit.

Example: Clarkson was the right person to hire – she brings a lot of experience and some important skills to the table.

39) Decisive

Meaning: Settling an issue; producing a definite result.

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

Synonyms: Deciding, Conclusive

Antonyms: Insignificant

40) Misery

Meaning: A cause or source of great distress or discomfort.

Example: “the miseries of war”

Synonyms: Affliction, Difficulty

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