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THE HINDU EDITORIAL – November 15, 2018, is one of the must-read section for the competitive exams like  IBPS Clerk 2018, Indian Bank PO & LIC HFL 2018. These topics are widely expected to be asked in the reading comprehension, Cloze Test or Error Detection in the forthcoming exams. So gear up your Exam preparation and learn new words daily.

A) Full disclosure: on the credit rating industry

THE HINDU EDITORIAL : NOVEMBER 15, 2018 Structural reforms are needed to bring accountability to the credit rating industry

After the IL&FS crisis, the Securities and Exchange Board of India is now trying to increase the level of scrutiny on credit rating agencies that failed to warn investors about it. SEBI has come out with new guidelines to improve the quality of disclosures made by credit rating agencies. According to the new norms, credit rating agencies will have to inform investors about the liquidity situation of the companies they rate through parameters such as their cash balance, liquidity coverage ratio, access to emergency credit lines, asset-liability mismatch, etc. Further, rating agencies will have to disclose their own historical rating track record by informing clients about how often their rating of an entity has changed over a period of time. SEBI has been working hard to improve transparency and credibility among rating agencies for some time now, including through a circular issued in November 2016 calling for enhanced standards for rating agencies. But the latest disclosure norms seem to be a response to the IL&FS defaults and the ensuing crisis. While rating agencies already make at least some of these disclosures one way or the other, mandating the formal disclosure of these facts is still welcome. The ready availability of information can help investors make better decisions.

But the latest regulations can only help to a certain extent as a lot of the problems with the credit rating industry have to do with structural issues rather than the lack of formal rules. The primary one is the flawed “issuer-pays” model where the entity that issues the instrument also pays the ratings agency for its services. This often leads to a situation of conflict of interest, with tremendous potential for rating biases. Second, the credit rating market in India has high barriers to entry, which prevent competition that is vital to protecting the interests of investors. This is not very different from the case in many developed economies where rating agencies enjoy the benefits of an oligopoly. Better disclosures can increase the amount of information available to investors, but without a sufficient number of alternative credit rating providers, quality standards in ratings will not improve. It is thus no surprise that even after repeated ratings failures in their long history, credit rating agencies continue to remain and flourish in business. Structural reform should aim to solve another severe problem plaguing the industry, which has to do with rating shopping and the loyalty of credit rating agencies in general. Rating agencies will have to come up with lucrative business models that put the interests of investors above those of borrowers. Such a change requires a policy framework that allows easier entry and innovation in the credit rating industry.

B) A question of writ


The Sabarimala and Asia Bibi cases put the spotlight on how institutions adhere to constitutional principles

On the streets of India and Pakistan, a frightening message is being sent out: that courts must not rush in where politicians fear to tread. In matters of faith, courts must simply sit on their hands and pray for divine intervention to resolve the petition before them. The public and political responses to Supreme Court judgments in two instances — Sabarimala in India and the Asia Bibi case in Pakistan — bear striking similarities. What is different, however, is the ability of the two states to enforce their writ.

Sabarimala is considered to be one of the holiest temples in Hinduism, with one of the largest annual pilgrimages in the world. The faithful believe that the deity’s powers derive from his asceticism, and in particular from his being celibate. Women between the ages of 10 and 50 are barred from participating in the rituals.

The exclusion was given legal sanction by Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965. The validity of the rule and other provisions restricting the entry of women was decided by the Supreme Court last month. The Court, by a majority of 4:1, held that the exclusion of women between these ages was violative of the Constitution.

The Sabarimala judgment

Then Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justice A.M. Khanwilkar held that the practice of excluding women did not constitute an “essential religious practice”. Crucially, the judges also relied on Section 3 of the Act mentioned above which stipulates that places of public worship must be open to all sections and classes of Hindus, notwithstanding any custom or usage to the contrary. It was held that Rule 3(b) prohibiting the entry of women was directly contrary to this. A concurring judge, Justice R.F. Nariman, further held that the right of women (in the age bracket in question) to enter Sabarimala was guaranteed under Article 25(1). This provision states that all persons are “equally entitled” to practise religion. According to him, Rule 3 prohibiting the entry of women, was violative of Article 15(1) of the Constitution.

Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, also concurring, emphasised the transformative nature of the Constitution which was designed to bring about a quantum change in the structure of governance. More crucially, it was a founding document, designed to “transform Indian society by remedying centuries of discrimination against Dalits, women and the marginalised”. ‘Morality’ used in Articles 25 and 26, the judge held, referred to constitutional morality which includes the values of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity.

He also held that barring menstruating women from entering the shrine is violative of Article 17 (the constitutional provision prohibiting untouchability). The judge held that the concept of untouchability is grounded in the ideas of ‘purity and pollution’. These same notions form the basis for excluding the entry of menstruating women into religious shrines.

The sole woman judge, Justice Indu Malhotra, who dissented, reasoned, “Issues of deep religious sentiments should not be ordinarily be interfered by the court. The Sabarimala shrine and the deity is protected by Article 25 of the Constitution of India and the religious practices cannot be solely tested on the basis of Article 14… Notions of rationality cannot be invoked in matters of religion… What constitutes essential religious practice is for the religious community to decide, not for the court. India is a diverse country. Constitutional morality would allow all to practise their beliefs. The court should not interfere unless if there is any aggrieved person from that section or religion.”

While the Bharatiya Janata Party has seen the judgment as an attack on the Hindu religion, the Congress too has not lagged behind. Even an “instinctive liberal” such as Shashi Tharoor has said, “abstract notions of constitutional principle also have to pass the test of societal acceptance — all the more so when they are applied to matters of faith… In religious matters, beliefs must prevail; in a pluralistic democracy, legal principles and cultural autonomy must both be respected…”

Asia Bibi case

In 1929, the funeral of a killer, Ilmuddin, took place in Lahore, executed for the murder of Rampal, a publisher, who had published an allegedly unsavoury reference to the life of Prophet Muhammad. Ilmuddin had been buried without funeral prayers as the authorities anticipated further trouble. But some eminent personalities, who included M.D. Taseer, assured the British authorities that there would be no trouble if there was a proper burial with a procession and Islamic prayers. The British relented and at the public mourning, the funeral prayer had to be read thrice before the surging crowds. The upshot of these events was that Section 295A was introduced into the Indian Penal Code to punish a deliberate insult to religious feelings.

Years later, in Zia-ul-Haq’s Pakistan, Sections 295B and 295C were added to the Pakistan Penal Code which criminalised blasphemy against Islam and even made it punishable with death. In 2009, Asia Bibi, a Christian woman, was accused of blasphemy by her neighbours and jailed pending trial. She was sentenced to death in 2010 by a trial court.

Her case became a cause célèbre and Salman Taseer, the Governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province, visited her in prison to express support. This act by Taseer, who was the son of M.D. Taseer who had negotiated Ilmuddin’s burial, did not go down well. So enraged was his bodyguard Mumtaz Qadri, that he assassinated Taseer in 2011. When Qadri was produced in court for trial, he was showered with rose petals by lawyers. He was tried and hanged in 2016, and his funeral attracted a crowd that rivalled the one at Ilmuddin’s.

Last month, the Supreme Court of Pakistan allowed Asia Bibi’s appeal and declared her innocent of the charges. She has now been released and expected to be granted asylum in Europe. Her lawyer has fled Pakistan and the judges now fear for their lives. Pakistan faced the threat of mob violence led by the radical Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan party. Despite Prime Minister Imran Khan’s initial bluster, an agreement has been signed with mob leaders to end the violence.

The Chief Justice of Pakistan, Saqib Nisar, has reportedly defended himself by saying, “No one should have the doubt that the Supreme Court judges are not lovers of Prophet Muhammad… How can we punish someone in the absence of evidence?”

The thread

It is easy to dismiss the Sabarimala and Asia Bibi cases as being unconnected and belonging to different jurisdictions and contexts. But both belong to the same region and trajectory of history. India was built on a secular foundation while Pakistan was built on a majoritarian Muslim agenda. However, both countries profess at least lip service to the rule of law. Years of majoritarianism have brought Pakistan to the point where its institutions have had to defend themselves before doing justice to minorities. India is at a stage, where its majority is seeking to bring its institutions to acquiesce in majoritarian instincts. A majority whose forebears had committed themselves to a magnificent constitutional compact now has elements who seek to regress from those values.

The question is whether the people and the institutions succumb to pressure or adhere to principle. Each individual, regardless of birth ascribed identity, is a minority of one entitled to an individual guarantee of rights protected by the Constitution. It is in the adherence to individual rights that the greater public good rests. Those who sacrifice a little man or woman’s liberty for the security of the many will find neither liberty, nor security.

Let us keep this in mind, as the Supreme Court agrees to hear in open court a review petition against its Sabarima judgment.


1) scrutiny

Meaning : critical observation or examination.(n)

Tamil Meaning : கண்காணிப்பின்

Synonyms : investigation

Antonyms : glance

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

2) disclosures

Meaning : the action of making new or secret information known(n).

Tamil Meaning : வெளிப்படுத்துதலை

Synonyms : revelations

Antonyms : denials

Example : “a judge ordered the disclosure of the government documents”

3) credibility

Meaning : the quality of being trusted and believed in.(n)

Tamil Meaning : நம்பகத்தன்மை

Synonyms : reliability

Antonyms : deceit

Example : “the government’s loss of credibility”

4) flawed

Meaning : having or characterized by a fundamental weakness or imperfection.(Adj)

Tamil Meaning : குற்றமுள்ள

Synonyms : imperfect

Antonyms : flawless

Example : “a fatally flawed strategy”

5) conflict

Meaning : a serious disagreement or argument, typically a protracted one(n).

Tamil Meaning : மோதல்

Synonyms : dispute

Antonyms : agreement

Example : “the eternal conflict between the sexes”

6) tremendous

Meaning : very great in amount, scale, or intensity(adj).

Tamil Meaning : மிகப்பெரிய

Synonyms : enormous

Antonyms : small

Example : “Penny put in a tremendous amount of time”

7) flourish

Meaning : a bold or extravagant gesture or action, made especially to attract attention(n).

Tamil Meaning : வளம்

Synonyms : thrive

Antonyms : lose

Example : “with a flourish, she ushered them inside”

8) lucrative

Meaning : producing a great deal of profit(Adj).

Tamil Meaning : இலாபகரமான

Synonyms : remunerative

Antonyms : baneful

Example : “a lucrative career as a stand-up comedian”

9) tread

Meaning : a person’s manner of walking or the sound made as they walk(n).

Tamil Meaning : ஜாக்கிரதையாக

Synonyms : tramp

Antonyms : encourage

Example : “I heard the heavy tread of Dad’s boots”

10) enforce

Meaning : compel observance of or compliance with (a law, rule, or obligation).(v)

Tamil Meaning : செயல்படுத்த

Synonyms : force

Antonyms : disregard

Example : “the role of the police is to enforce the law”

11) writ.

Meaning : a form of written command in the name of a court or other legal authority to act, or abstain from acting, in a particular way.(n)

Tamil Meaning : நீதிப்பேராணை

Synonyms : mandate

Antonyms : reprieve

Example : “the two reinstated officers issued a writ for libel against the applicants”

12) pilgrimage

Meaning : a pilgrim’s journey.(n)

Tamil Meaning : யாத்திரை

Synonyms : excursion

Antonyms : stay

Example : “he wanted to go on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela”

13) celibate

Meaning : abstaining from marriage and sexual relations, typically for religious reasons(adj).

Tamil Meaning : பிரம்மச்சாரி

Synonyms : monk

Antonyms : slut

Example : “a celibate priest”

14) relied

Meaning : depend on with full trust or confidence.

Tamil Meaning : நம்பியிருந்தன

Synonyms : believed

Antonyms : distrusted

Example : “I know I can rely on your discretion”

15) stipulates

Meaning : demand or specify (a requirement), typically as part of an agreement.

Tamil Meaning : ஒத்துப்போகிறது

Synonyms : agrees

Antonyms : requests

Example : “he stipulated certain conditions before their marriage”

16) contrary

Meaning : opposite in nature, direction, or meaning(adj).

Tamil Meaning : மாறாக

Synonyms : opposite

Antonyms : similar

Example : “he ignored contrary advice and agreed on the deal”

17) emphasised

Meaning : special importance, value, or prominence given to something.

Tamil Meaning : வலியுறுத்தினார்

Synonyms : stress

Antonyms : weakness

Example : “they placed great emphasis on the individual’s freedom”

18) discrimination

Meaning : the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of race(n)

Tamil Meaning : பாகுபாடு

Synonyms : discernment

Antonyms : fairness

Example : “victims of racial discrimination”

19) fraternity

Meaning : a group of people sharing a common profession or interests(n).

Tamil Meaning :

Synonyms : society

Antonyms : sorority

Example : “members of the hunting fraternity”

20) barring

Meaning : except for; if not for.

Tamil Meaning : தடுப்பதன்

Synonyms : excluding

Antonyms : abetting

Example : “barring accidents, we should win”

21) shrine

Meaning : a place regarded as holy because of its associations with a divinity or a sacred person or relic, marked by a building or other construction(n).

Tamil Meaning : கோவில்

Synonyms : chancel

Antonyms : secular

Example : “the medieval pilgrim route to the shrine of St James”

22) notions

Meaning : a conception of or belief about something.(n)

Tamil Meaning : கருத்துக்களை

Synonyms : thoughts

Antonyms : realities

Example : “children have different notions about the roles of their parents”

23) dissented

Meaning : hold or express opinions that are at variance with those commonly or officially held.(v)

Tamil Meaning : எதிர்ப்பை

Synonyms : clashed

Antonyms : agreed

Example : “two members dissented from the majority”

24) deity

Meaning : a god or goddess (in a polytheistic religion)(n).

Tamil Meaning : தெய்வம்

Synonyms : goddess

Antonyms : mortal

Example : “a deity of ancient Greece”

25) aggrieved

Meaning : feeling resentment at having been unfairly treated.(Adj)

Tamil Meaning : ஆளாகிறது

Synonyms : upset

Antonyms : pleased

Example : “they were aggrieved at the outcome”

26) instinct

Meaning : an innate, typically fixed pattern of behaviour in animals in response to certain stimuli(n).

Tamil Meaning : உள்ளுணர்வு

Synonyms : feeling

Antonyms : knowledge

Example : “the homing instinct”

27) prevail

Meaning : prove more powerful or superior.(V)

Tamil Meaning : மேம்படு

Synonyms : dominate

Antonyms : lose

Example : “it is hard for logic to prevail over emotion”

28) funeral

Meaning : a ceremony or service held shortly after a person’s death, usually including the person’s burial or cremation(n).

Tamil Meaning : இறுதி சடங்கு

Synonyms : inhumation

Antonyms : time

Example : “in the afternoon, he’d attended a funeral”

29) relented

Meaning : abandon or mitigate a severe or harsh attitude, especially by finally yielding to a request(v).

Tamil Meaning : தளர்த்திய

Synonyms : relaxed

Antonyms : resisted

Example : “she was going to refuse his request, but relented”

30) procession

Meaning : a number of people or vehicles moving forward in an orderly fashion, especially as part of a ceremony(n).

Tamil Meaning : ஊர்வலம்

Synonyms : parade

Antonyms : retreat

Example : “a funeral procession”

31) deliberate

Meaning : done consciously and intentionally(n).

Tamil Meaning : வேண்டுமென்றே

Synonyms : consider

Antonyms : random

Example : “a deliberate attempt to provoke conflict”

32) blasphemy

Meaning : the action or offence of speaking sacrilegiously about God or sacred things; profane talk.

Tamil Meaning : தெய்வ நிந்தனை

Synonyms : sacrilege

Antonyms : sanctuary

Example : “he was detained on charges of blasphemy”

33) negotiated

Meaning : obtain or bring about by discussion(v).

Tamil Meaning : பேச்சுவார்த்தை

Synonyms : intervened

Antonyms : confronted

Example : “he negotiated a new contract with the sellers”

34) rivalled

Meaning : be or seem to be equal or comparable to(V).

Tamil Meaning : போட்டியுடையதாக

Synonyms : competed

Antonyms : partnered

Example : “the efficiency of the Bavarians rivals that of the Viennese”

35) asylum

Meaning : the protection granted by a state to someone who has left their home country as a political refugee(n).

Tamil Meaning : புகலிடம்

Synonyms : refuge

Antonyms : threat

Example : “she applied for asylum and was granted refugee status”

36) fled

Meaning : run away from a place or situation of danger(v)

Tamil Meaning : தப்பி

Synonyms : escaped

Example : “to escape the fighting, his family fled from their village”

37) Prophet

Meaning : a person regarded as an inspired teacher or proclaimer of the will of God(n)

Tamil Meaning : தீர்க்கதரிசி

Synonyms : seer

Antonyms : atheist

Example : “the Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah”

38) defended

Meaning : resist an attack made on (someone or something); protect from harm or danger.

Tamil Meaning : பாதுகாத்து

Synonyms : protected

Antonyms : betrayed

Example : “we shall defend our island, whatever the cost”

39) acquiesce

Meaning : accept something reluctantly but without protest(v).

Tamil Meaning : இணங்குவார்

Synonyms : agree

Antonyms : dissent

Example : “Sara acquiesced in his decision”

40) trajectory

Meaning : the path followed by a projectile flying or an object moving under the action of given forces(n).

Tamil Meaning : பயணப்பாதை

Synonyms : course

Example : “the missile’s trajectory was preset”


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