a) This time with feeling

The Centre has empowered the Reserve Bank of India to get banks to take tougher steps, including insolvency and bankruptcy proceedings against defaulters, to address the growing volume of bad loans on their books. An ordinance to amend the Banking Regulation Act of 1949 has been issued to quell doubts whether the existing provisions allowed the RBI to direct banks to deal with specific stressed assets. The RBI has also been vested with the power to form oversight committees wherever it deems fit. Currently such committees exist only for loans brought into a scheme for sustainable structuring of stressed assets, also known as S4A. Now the RBI can bring in such panels to monitor the alphabet soup of other mechanisms for tackling non-performing assets (NPAs) such as SDR (strategic debt restructuring) through the JLFs, or joint lenders’ forums. The hope is that this will let bankers take decisive calls on loan accounts that have turned bad, as an independent oversight committee’s approval could keep investigative agencies off their backs. Bankers may not always have the sectoral expertise to monetise or leverage assets underlying bad loans in the best possible way. Yet, their paralysis on the NPA front, with its collateral impact being the worst bank credit growth recorded in decades, is driven by the fear that they could get themselves implicated for poor lending and monitoring decisions. The success of this latest salvo against bad loans will depend on the fine print on how the ultimate decision — whether to take a haircut on a loan and restructure it or invoke bankruptcy clauses — is arrived at. Perhaps of equal significance is the reshuffle of certain public sector bank officials announced on Friday. This is a clear signal that the NDA government is losing its patience with bankers persisting with a status quoits approach. The ordinance is the latest attempt to resolve the twin balance sheet problem (of indebted borrowers and NPA-burdened lenders) plaguing India’s domestic investment cycle. In 2015, the Prime Minister launched a Gyan Sangam conclave with bankers, and an Indradhanush road map to revitalise public sector banks. Last year, a Bank Board Bureau was set up to recommend the appointment of top bosses at banks and help them develop strategies and plan raising of capital. If the government wants to see a spurt in investment and job-creation, it needs to do more than just pin its hopes on new oversight committees. It must amend the anticorruption law as has been promised for a while now, and accept the need to fix the policy-level stress affecting sectors such as telecom, power and highways. Above all, the government cannot in the same breath argue that the political cost of reforms is dissipating, but that the ‘re-privatisation’ of banks as mooted by the RBI recently is still a holy cow for the Indian polity.

b) Space for all

By launching the GSAT-9 ‘South Asia satellite’, India has reaffirmed the Indian Space Research Organisation’s scientific prowess, but the messaging is perhaps more geopolitical than geospatial. To begin with, the Centre has kept its promise of considering India’s “neighbourhood first”. Within a month of taking over as Prime Minister in 2014, Narendra Modi went to Sriharikota for the launch of PSLV C-23 and “challenged” ISRO scientists to build this satellite for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. The decision was then announced at the SAARC summit in Kathmandu, and the government has kept its commitment of gifting its neighbours at least one transponder each on the GSAT-9, a project that cost about ₹450 crore. India has no doubt gained goodwill across the subcontinent through the gesture, and the moment was neatly captured by the videoconference that followed the launch, showing all SAARC leaders (with the exception of Pakistan’s) together on one screen as they spoke of the benefits they would receive in communication, telemedicine, meteorological forecasting and broadcasting. The message is equally strong to South Asia’s other benefactor, China, at a time when it is preparing to demonstrate its global clout at the Belt and Road Forum on May 14-15. The Belt and Road Initiative is an infrastructure network that every SAARC nation other than India has signed on to. China has pledged billions of dollars in projects to each of the countries in the region; that, India is obviously not in a position to match. Where India does excel is in its space programme, as it is the only country in South Asia that has independently launched satellites on indigenously developed launch vehicles. However, in recent years Pakistan and Sri Lanka have launched satellites with assistance from China, while Afghanistan, the Maldives and Nepal are also understood to have discussed satellite projects with China. Bangladesh, which will launch its first satellite Bangabandhu-1 this year, is working with a European agency. With the GSLV launch India is showing that where it is capable its commitment to the development of its neighbours is strong. Finally, by going ahead with the project despite Pakistan’s decision to pull out, the Modi government is signalling that it will continue with its plans for the neighbourhood — ‘SAARC minus one’ — if necessary. This vision was dealt a minor blow recently when Bhutan pulled out of the ‘mini-SAARC’ alternative plan of a motor vehicles agreement for BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India Nepal), but the government’s persistence indicates it will not be deterred by the obvious domestic constraints of the SAARC grouping. As Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, particularly aggrieved by Pakistan’s refusal to grant transit rights for India-Afghanistan trade, said at the launch of the GSLV-F09: “If cooperation through land is not possible, we can be connected through space.”

1) Quell

Meaning: To stop something, especially by using force.

Example: Police in riot gear were called in to quell the disturbances/unrest.

Synonyms: Conquer, Defeat

Antonyms: Encourage, Compliment

2) Vested

Meaning: Vested shares, pension plans, etc. can be kept by an employee who has worked the necessary number of years for a particular company.

Example: He chose to receive his vested benefits in a single lump-sum payment.

Synonyms: Dressed, Robed

3) Decisive

Meaning: Able to make decisions quickly and confidently, or showing this quality.

Example: You need to be more decisive.

Meaning: Strongly affecting how a situation will progress or end.

Example: These results could prove decisive in establishing the criminal’s identity.

Synonyms: Conclusive, Definite

Antonyms: Ineffective, Trivial

4) Leverage

Meaning: The action or advantage of using a lever.

Example: Using ropes and wooden poles for leverage, they haul sacks of cement up the track.

Meaning: Power to influence people and get the results you want.

Example: If the United Nations had more troops in the area, it would have greater leverage.

Meaning: The relationship between the amount of money that a company owes to banks and the value of the company.

Example: With leverage, the investor’s $100,000 buys $500,000 or more of stock if he wants.

Synonyms: Influence, Advantage

Antonyms: Weakness

5) Paralysis

Meaning: A condition in which you are unable to move all or part of your body because of illness or injury; a situation in which you are unable to take action.

Example: Some nervous disorders can produce paralysis.

Synonyms: Depression, Economic decline

Antonyms: Calm, Increase

6) Collateral

Meaning: Valuable property owned by someone who wants to borrow money, that they agree will become the property of the company or person who lends the money if the debt is not paid back.

Example: She used/put up her house as collateral for a loan.

Synonyms: Indirect, Incident

Antonyms: Different, Important

7) Implicated

Meaning: To show that someone is involved in a crime or partly responsible for something bad that has happened.

Example: Have they any evidence to implicate him in the robbery?

Synonyms: Involved, Suspected

8) Invoke

Meaning: To use a law in order to achieve something, or to mention something in order to explain something or to support your opinion or action.

Example: Police can invoke the law to regulate access to these places.

Synonyms: Conjure, Appeal to

Antonyms: Answer, Reply

9) Plaguing

Meaning: To annoy someone, especially by asking repeated questions.

Example: The children plagued him with questions all through lunch.

Synonyms: Annoy, Disturb

Antonyms: Please, Aid

10) Conclave

Meaning: A private meeting at which the discussions are kept secret.

Example: The qualitative difference is that there’s no effort, no intention to ‘shut down’ the Democratic conclave.

Synonyms: Secret meeting, Huddle

11) Revitalise

Meaning: To give new life, energy, activity, or success to something.

Example: Japanese investment has revitalized this part of Britain.

Synonyms: Refresh, Restore

Antonyms: Break, Damage

12) Spurt

Meaning: To increase or grow very quickly, or to suddenly increase by a particular amount.

Example: Shares of the jewellery store chain spurted $6.

Synonyms: Commotion, Spate

Antonyms: Peace, Continuity

13) Dissipating

Meaning: To (cause to) gradually disappear or waste.

Example: The heat gradually dissipates into the atmosphere.

Synonyms: Deplete, Blow

Antonyms: Build, Hoard

14) Geospatial

Meaning: Relating to information that identifies where particular features are on the earth’s surface, such as oceans and mountains.

Example: A new industry association has arisen to address security-related aspects of geospatial technologies and information.

15) Gesture

Meaning: A movement of the hands, arms, or head, etc. to express an idea or feeling.

Example: She made a rude gesture at the other driver.

Synonyms: Action, Salute

Antonyms: Speech

16) Demonstrate

Meaning: To show or make something clear.

Example: These problems demonstrate the importance of strategic planning.

Meaning: To express or show that you have a particular feeling, quality, or ability.

Example: He has demonstrated a genuine interest in the project.

Meaning: To make a public expression that you are not satisfied about something, especially by marching or having a meeting.

Example: Thousands of people gathered to demonstrate against the new proposals.

Synonyms: Display, Show

Antonyms: Conceal, Disprove

17) Pledged

Meaning: A serious or formal promise, especially one to give money or to be a friend, or something that you give as a sign that you will keep a promise.

Example: I give you this ring as a pledge of my everlasting love for you.

Synonyms: Promised, Guaranteed

18) Indigenously

Meaning: Naturally existing in a place or country rather than arriving from another place.

Example: Are there any species of frog indigenous to the area?

Synonyms: Domestic, Native

Antonyms: Foreign

19) Deterred

Meaning: To prevent someone from doing something or to make someone less enthusiastic about doing something by making it difficult for that person to do it or by threatening bad results if they do it.

Example: These measures are designed to deter an enemy attack.

Synonyms: Avert, Check

Antonyms: Advance, Encourage

20) Constraints

Meaning: Something that controls what you do by keeping you within particular limits.

Example: Financial constraints on the company are preventing them from employing new staff.

Meaning: If you do something under constraint, you do it only because you have been forced to.

Example: They confessed, but only under severe constraint.

Synonyms: Force, Pressure

Antonyms: Deterrent, Freedom