THE HINDU EDITORIAL – September 29, 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) Freedom to pray: on Sabarimala verdict

With its Sabarimala verdict, the SC underlines the Constitution’s transformative power

The Constitution protects religious freedom in two ways. It protects an individual’s right to profess, practise and propagate a religion, and it also assures similar protection to every religious denomination to manage its own affairs. The legal challenge to the exclusion of women in the 10-50 age group from the Sabarimala temple in Kerala represented a conflict between the group rights of the temple authorities in enforcing the presiding deity’s strict celibate status and the individual rights of women to offer worship there. The Supreme Court’s ruling, by a 4:1 majority, that the exclusionary practice violates the rights of women devotees establishes the legal principle that individual freedom prevails over purported group rights, even in matters of religion. The three concurring opinions that form the majority have demolished the principal defences of the practice — that Sabarimala devotees have constitutionally protected denominational rights, that they are entitled to prevent the entry of women to preserve the strict celibate nature of the deity, and that allowing women would interfere with an essential religious practice. The majority held that devotees of Lord Ayyappa do not constitute a separate religious denomination and that the prohibition on women is not an essential part of Hindu religion. In a dissenting opinion, Justice Indu Malhotra chose not to review the religious practice on the touchstone of gender equality or individual freedom. Her view that the court “cannot impose its morality or rationality with respect to the form of worship of a deity” accorded greater importance to the idea of religious freedom as being mainly the preserve of an institution rather than an individual’s right.

Beyond the legality of the practice, which could have been addressed solely as an issue of discrimination or a tussle between two aspects of religious freedom, the court has also sought to grapple with the stigmatisation of women devotees based on a medieval view of menstruation as symbolising impurity and pollution. The argument that the practice is justified because women of menstruating age would not be able to observe the 41-day period of abstinence before making a pilgrimage failed to impress the judges. To Chief Justice Dipak Misra, any rule based on segregation of women pertaining to biological characteristics is indefensible and unconstitutional. Devotion cannot be subjected to the stereotypes of gender. Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said stigma built around traditional notions of impurity has no place in the constitutional order, and exclusion based on the notion of impurity is a form of untouchability. Justice Rohinton F. Nariman said the fundamental rights claimed by worshippers based on ‘custom and usage’ must yield to the fundamental right of women to practise religion. The decision reaffirms the Constitution’s transformative character and derives strength from the centrality it accords to fundamental rights.

B) The poor are left to themselves

The benefits being projected in Aadhaar’s name are not backed by the data

The first death anniversary of Santoshi Kumar, a Dalit girl from Simdega, Jharkhand, was this week. She died of hunger, at the age of 11, a few weeks after her family’s ration card was cancelled by the State government because they failed to link it to Aadhaar.

The Aadhaar judgment of September 26 provided an opportunity for the Supreme Court to make amends for her tragic death. The upholding (by and large) of Section 7 by the majority judges is, therefore, the biggest let-down in the Aadhaar judgment. This is because the judges decided to accept the government’s ‘assertions’ — wrongly — as ‘facts’.

Assertions versus facts

In the majority opinion, they state: “The entire aim behind launching this programme is the ‘inclusion’ of the deserving persons who need to get such benefits. When it is serving much larger purpose by reaching hundreds of millions of deserving persons, it cannot be crucified on the unproven plea of exclusion of some. We again repeat that the Court is not trivialising the problem of exclusion if it is there.” (p. 389.) There are many instances of assertions being accepted as facts. This piece seeks to show why they were wrong in believing the assertion about inclusion, identification and exclusion, to illustrate the bigger problem with the majority view.

For instance, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) submitted to the court that the ‘failed percentage’ of iris and finger authentication are 8.54% and 6%, respectively. Later, on Page 384, discussing the issue of exclusion, the judgment notes that the UIDAI is said to have claimed 99.76% “biometric accuracy”, suggesting that two different failure rates have been submitted to the court.

Though the UIDAI claims to have taken care of these failures by issuing a circular on October 24, 2017 (after Santoshi’s death), to put in place an exemption mechanism, until then there was no exemption. Even after the circular has been issued, there is little evidence of it being implemented. Since 2017, there have been at least 25 hunger deaths that can be traced to Aadhaar-related disruption in rations and pensions, of which around 20 deaths occurred after the aforementioned circular was issued.

The idea that Aadhaar enables inclusion has taken firm root in people’s minds, as well as the judges’. This belief, however, is misconceived. If it means that Aadhaar is an easy ID to get, that is perhaps true. Only ‘perhaps’ because there are many people who have paid to get Aadhaar even though it is meant to be free; many have had to try several times before they succeeded in getting it. Those with any disability have found it very hard to enrol or have failed to enrol.

The number of people excluded from getting Aadhaar may be small (as a percentage of the population), but they happen to be the most vulnerable — bed-ridden old persons, victims of accidents, people with visual disabilities, etc.

Further, it is a misconception that for millions of Indians, it is the only (or first) ID they have. According to a response to an RTI, 99.97% of those who got Aadhaar numbers did so on the basis of existing IDs.

More importantly, no one in government has been able to explain how Aadhaar enables inclusion into government welfare programmes. Each government programme has its own eligibility criterion. In the Public Distribution System (PDS), there are State-specific inclusion/exclusion criteria. In some States, if you have a government job or live in a concrete/pucca home, you cannot get a PDS ration card — even if you have an Aadhaar card.

Conversely, if you lived in a mud hut or were an Adivasi, you would get a PDS ration card. After the coming of Aadhaar, on top of satisfying the State eligibility criteria, you need to procure and link your Aadhaar number in order to continue to remain eligible for your PDS ration card.

Before Aadhaar was made mandatory, it was neither necessary (you could get subsidised PDS grain without Aadhaar), nor sufficient (possessing Aadhaar alone did not entitle you to PDS grain). With Aadhaar being made compulsory, it has become necessary, but it is not sufficient to get welfare. It is a pity that the majority judges were unable to grasp this point.

The biggest source of exclusion from government programmes (before and after Aadhaar) remains the fact that India’s spending on welfare remains abysmally low. Before the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013 was implemented, roughly 50% of the Indian population was covered by the PDS. The NFSA expanded coverage to about two-thirds. This expansion of the PDS is what has led to inclusion though exclusion errors persist in some areas (for example, regions such as western Odisha where universal coverage is necessary).

It’s about budgets

The question that arises is, did the government misdiagnose the source of exclusion by blaming it on a lack of IDs rather than inadequate budgets and faulty selection of eligible households? Or, did the government purposely mislead the public on this issue because fixing the real problem would have entailed an increase in government spending?

Either way, a very successful programme of propaganda was set in motion to convince people into believing that Aadhaar was a project of inclusion and the ultimate tool against corruption in welfare programmes.

The claims about what and how much Aadhaar could do for reducing corruption in welfare were similarly blown out of proportion. For instance, quantity fraud (where a beneficiary is sold less than her entitlement, but signs off on the full amount) continues with Aadhaar-based biometric authentication. A rogue dealer who I cannot easily hold to account can as easily force me to biometrically authenticate a purchase of 35 kg, but give me only 32 kg, as he could force me to sign in a register.

Meanwhile, the propaganda machinery again convinced people by repeating that the welfare rolls in India were full of fakes, ghosts, duplicates, etc. There was no reliable evidence on the scale of this problem (“identity fraud”). Recent independent surveys and government data are beginning to suggest that it wasn’t the main form of corruption. Linking Aadhaar cards with the PDS in Odisha led to the discovery of 0.3% duplicates.

Pointer to a divide

Yet, the majority opinion states that “the objective of the Act is to plug leakages” and that “we have already held that it fulfills legitimate aim” (page 386). For those who work on these programmes, it is very puzzling why these straightforward misrepresentations have not been challenged by the media.

This phenomenon appears to be an outcome of the deep social and economic divide in Indian society. Those who benefit from these programmes and who understand why Aadhaar cannot improve inclusion do not have a voice in the media or policy-making. This allows anecdotes (repeated ad nauseam) to become the basis for taking big decisions. Contrary to the rhetoric of evidence-based policy-making, what we have seen in this case is anecdote-based policy-making. The opinion of the majority judges also betrays this deep divide — caste and class — in society.

Yet, Wednesday’s Aadhaar verdict with four judges latching on to the government’s version of the story, and one of them applying his mind to the matter independently, reaffirms that you can’t mislead all the people all the time.


1) profess

Meaning : claim, often falsely, that one has (a quality or feeling).

Synonym : affirm , proclaim

Antonyms : conceal

Example : “he had professed his love for her only to walk away”

2) propagate

Meaning : breed specimens of (a plant or animal) by natural processes from the parent stock.

Tamil Meaning : கடத்தப்பட

Synonym : inseminate , multiply

Antonyms : decrease

Example : “try propagating your own houseplants from cuttings”

3) deity’s

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

Tamil Meaning : தெய்வத்தின்

Synonym : divinity , immortal

Antonyms : mortal

Example : “a deity of ancient Greece”

4) devotees

Meaning : a person who is very interested in and enthusiastic about someone or something.

Tamil Meaning : பக்தர்கள்

Synonym : addict , adherent

Antonyms : detractor

Example : “a devotee of Lewis Carroll”

5) prevails

Meaning : prove more powerful or superior.

Tamil Meaning : நிலவும்

Synonym : abound , beat

Antonyms : forfeit

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

6) purported

Meaning :

Tamil Meaning :

Synonym :

Antonyms :

Example :

7) concurring

Meaning : appear to be or do something, especially falsely.

Tamil Meaning : அபாயகரமான விளைவுகளை

Synonym : pretend , profess

Antonyms : conceal

Example : “she is not the person she purports to be”

8) celibate

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

Tamil Meaning : பிரம்மச்சாரி

Synonym : chaste

Antonyms : active

Example : “a celibate priest”

9) dissenting

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

Tamil Meaning : எதிர்ப்போடு

Synonym : balk , contradict

Antonyms : accept

Example : “two members dissented from the majority”

10) touchstone

Meaning : a standard or criterion by which something is judged or recognized.

Tamil Meaning : உரைகல்லாக

Synonym : barometer , criterion

Antonyms : standard

Example : “they tend to regard grammar as the touchstone of all language performance”

11) morality

Meaning : principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behaviour.

Tamil Meaning : அறநெறி

Synonym : decency , integrity

Antonyms : dishonor

Example : “the matter boiled down to simple morality: innocent prisoners ought to be freed”

12) tussle

Meaning : a vigorous struggle or scuffle, typically in order to obtain or achieve something.

Tamil Meaning : மோதல்

Synonym : fray

Antonyms : agreement

Example : “there was a tussle for the ball”

13) grapple

Meaning : engage in a close fight or struggle without weapons; wrestle.

Tamil Meaning : பற்று

Synonym : confront , contend

Antonyms : agree

Example : “passers-by grappled with the man after the knife attack”

14) abstinence

Meaning : the practice of restraining oneself from indulging in something, typically alcohol .

Tamil Meaning : தவிர்ப்பு

Synonym : fasting , frugality

Antonyms : excess

Example : “I started drinking again after six years of abstinence”

15) pilgrimage

Meaning : a pilgrim’s journey.

Tamil Meaning : யாத்திரை

Synonym : crusade , excursion

Antonyms : jaunt

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

16) pertaining

Meaning : be appropriate, related, or applicable to.

Tamil Meaning : தொடர்பான

Synonym : connected , referring

Antonyms : unrelated

Example : “matters pertaining to the organization of government”

17) indefensible

Meaning : not able to be protected against attack.

Tamil Meaning : சமாதானம்

Synonym : connected , related

Antonyms : unrelated

Example : “the towns were tactically indefensible”

18) stereotypes

Meaning : a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.

Tamil Meaning : ஒரே மாதிரியான

Synonym : pattern

Antonyms : difference

Example : “the stereotype of the woman as the carer”

19) notions

Meaning : a conception of or belief about something.

Tamil Meaning : கருத்து

Synonym : approach , sentiment

Antonyms : being

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

20) claimed

Meaning : state or assert that something is the case, typically without providing evidence or proof.

Tamil Meaning : கூற்றை

Synonym : allege , assert

Antonyms : abandon

Example : “the Prime Minister claimed that he was concerned about Third World debt”

21) amends

Meaning : compensate or make up for a wrongdoing.

Tamil Meaning : கைவிட

Synonym : spontaneity , disregard

Antonyms : restraint

Example : “try to make amends for the rude way you spoke to Lucy”

22) tragic

Meaning : causing or characterized by extreme distress or sorrow.

Tamil Meaning : சோக

Synonym : appalling , dreadful

Antonyms : blessed

Example : “the shooting was a tragic accident”

23) deserving

Meaning : worthy of being treated in a particular way, typically of being given assistance.

Tamil Meaning : தகுதியுடைய

Synonym : commendable , fitting

Antonyms : unworthy

Example : “the deserving poor”

24) crucified

Meaning : put (someone) to death by nailing or binding them to a cross, especially as an ancient punishment.

Tamil Meaning : சிலுவையில் அறையப்பட்டு

Synonym : torment , excruciate

Antonyms : compliment

Example : “two thieves were crucified with Jesus”

25) disruption

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

Tamil Meaning : இடையூறு

Synonym : interruption

Antonyms : order

Example : “the scheme was planned to minimize disruption”

26) misconceived

Meaning : fail to understand (something) correctly.

Tamil Meaning : தவறான

Synonym : confound , confuse

Antonyms : clarify

Example : “some academic latinists did misconceive Pound’s poem in that way

27) inclusion

Meaning : the action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure.

Tamil Meaning : சேர்ப்பதற்காக

Synonym : admittance involvement

Antonyms : exclusion

Example : “they have been selected for inclusion in the scheme”

28) Conversely

Meaning : introducing a statement or idea which reverses one that has just been made or referred to.

Tamil Meaning : மாறாக

Synonym : again

Antonyms : inversely

Example : “he would have preferred his wife not to work, although conversely he was also proud of what she did”

29) entitlement

Meaning : the fact of having a right to something.

Tamil Meaning : உரிமத்தை

Synonym : certificate , grant

Antonyms : responsibility

Example : “full entitlement to fees and maintenance should be offered”

30) anecdotes

Meaning : a short amusing or interesting story about a real incident or person.

Tamil Meaning : நிகழ்வுகளை

Synonym : narration sketch

Antonyms : facts

Example : “he told anecdotes about his job”

31) legitimate

Meaning : conforming to the law or to rules.

Tamil Meaning : முறையான

Synonym : appropriate , normal

Antonyms : affected

Example : “his claims to legitimate authority”

32) betrays

Meaning : expose (one’s country, a group, or a person) to danger by treacherously giving information to an enemy.

Tamil Meaning : துரோகம்

Synonym : abandon , deceive

Antonyms : assist

Example : “a double agent who betrayed some 400 British and French agents to the Germans”

33) latching

Meaning : (of a device) become fixed in a particular state.

Synonym : bolt , catch

Antonyms : key

Example : “the output relay can be set to latch at a preset value”

34) reaffirms

Meaning : state again strongly.

Tamil Meaning : மேலும் உறுதிப்படுத்துகிறது

Synonym : continue , resume

Antonyms : destroy

Example : “the prime minister reaffirmed his commitment to the agreement”

35) persist

Meaning : continue in an opinion or course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.

Tamil Meaning : தொடர்ந்து

Synonym : continue , recur

Antonyms : cease

Example : “the minority of drivers who persist in drinking”

36) presiding

Meaning : be in the position of authority in a meeting or other gathering.

Tamil Meaning : நிறுத்தப்படுகிறது

Synonym : controlling , directing

Antonyms : commanding

Example : “the prime minister will preside at an emergency cabinet meeting”

37) subsidy

Meaning : support (an organization or activity) financially.

Tamil Meaning : மானியம்

Synonym : allowance

Antonyms : forfeit

Example : “the mining industry continues to be subsidized”

38) trivialize

Meaning : make (something) seem less important, significant, or complex than it really is.

Tamil Meaning : சிறுதிறமான

Synonym : blubber , mumble

Antonyms : conceal

Example : “the problem was either trivialized or ignored by teachers”

39) assertions

Meaning : a confident and forceful statement of fact or belief.

Tamil Meaning : வலியுறுத்தல்களை

Synonym : affirmation

Antonyms : desertion

Example : “his assertion that his father had deserted the family”

40) demolished

Meaning : pull or knock down (a building).

Tamil Meaning : இடிக்க

Synonym : annihilate obliterate

Antonyms : help

Example : “the house was demolished to make way for the shopping centre”


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