The Hindu: October 6, 2015 01:30 IST
Prospect of a clean-up
For long, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has fairly been perceived as an organisation in which the more things change, the more they remain the same. It is therefore premature to view the election of Shashank Manohar as its president — in light of his promise to cleanse the Board — as the dawn of a new era. But there is no doubt that the moment contains the potential for the transformation of organised cricket in India. At the start of his second term, Mr. Manohar has certainly said a lot of the right things. He accepted that the BCCI was facing a crisis of credibility, caused largely by matters relating to conflict of interest and corruption. The announcement that an ombudsman, independent of the BCCI, would be appointed to deal with such complaints is a step in the right direction. Greater transparency, especially in financial matters, was overdue — Mr. Manohar sought to address it by saying that the Board's constitution, inaccessible to the public thus far, and its balance sheet (and entries of any single item of expenditure over Rs. 25 lakh) would be posted on its website. As significant, in terms of rhetoric, was the acknowledgment of the vital role the Indian cricket fan plays. For a body that does not often display concern for this forgotten stakeholder, it was an interesting statement to make.
But though the message the BCCI strived to convey was overwhelmingly positive, there were signs that not too much should be read into it just as yet. Mr. Manohar's assertion that "nothing wrong is being done in the Board", and that it was all "myth" and "perception", was disappointing. He left himself open to criticism that the BCCI would not proceed beyond cosmetic changes. Although the decision to air more of the Board's working is welcome, the fact remains that the BCCI is not accountable to outside agencies or the public under the Right to Information Act — a situation that Mr. Manohar said must continue unless the government amends the law. And while the new president has a reputation as a man of personal integrity, it must not be forgotten that it was during his first term in office that the BCCI amended its constitution to allow office-bearers to have a stake in the Indian Premier League — the root of the conflict of interest issue concerning N. Srinivasan. Critics moreover will interpret Mr. Manohar's comments on Sunday about the need for unity — particularly his praise for Mr. Srinivasan's administrative abilities — as an indication that there are no permanent friends or enemies in Board politics, only permanent interests. The BCCI faces several challenges to the old order, not least the recommendations for reform that the Supreme Court-appointed Justice R.M. Lodha committee will put forth. It will be judged not by declarations made at media conferences, but by actions.
- prospect noun (POSSIBILITY)
> the possibility that something good might happen in the future:
Is there any prospect of the weather improving?
There seems little prospect of an end to the dispute.
[+ that] There's not much prospect that this war will be over soon.
There's every prospect of success.
prospects B2 [plural]
› the possibility of being successful, especially at work:
She's hoping the course will improve her career prospects.
Prospects of/for (= opportunities for) employment remain bleak for most people in the area.
> the idea of something that will or might happen in the future:
The prospect of spending three whole days with her fills me with horror.
I'm very excited at the prospect of seeing her again.
We face the prospect of having to start all over again.
› a person who might be chosen, for example as an employee:
We'll be interviewing four more prospects for the jobs this afternoon.
› someone who works for a government or large organization and deals with the complaints made against it:
Complaints to the Banking Ombudsman grew by 50 percent last year.
> to try very hard to do something or to make something happen, especially for a long time or against difficulties:
[+ to infinitive] Mr Roe has kindled expectations that he must now strive to live up to.
- cosmetic adjective (NOT REAL)
› disapproving Corrective changes, etc. are intended to make you believe that something is better when, really, the problem has not been solved:
They were offered a few cosmetic improvements to their working conditions, but nothing of significance.
the hindu: October 6, 2015 01:38 IST
Feeding the frenzy
In India, the cow has taken on communal colours. It would seem that eating beef is no longer the simple exercise of a food choice, but a pre-meditated act intended to offend Hindus and show disrespect to Hinduism. The lynching of a Muslim, Mohammad Akhlaq, in Dadri last week, followed rumours that he had consumed beef, and an announcement over the loudspeaker in the midst of a kirtan from the local temple that a cow had been killed in the neighbourhood. Therefore, for Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to appeal that a "communal colour" should not be added to the incident is deeply intriguing. Not only do the immediate context and the trigger for the murder appear to point toward the violence being 'communal' in nature, but also the wider environment in the communally sensitive western Uttar Pradesh in the last couple of years speaks to a situation of communal hatred and religious identity politics. After the recent controversy over a meat ban effected in some areas during days of the Jain fasting period and Vinayaka Chaturthi, meat consumption moved up as a topic of discussion from dining areas to media platforms. But if the meat ban threatened to divide Hindu society, the beef ban exacerbated the Hindu-Muslim divide as the cow has had the status of a sacred animal within many traditions of Hinduism. Unfounded rumours of a Muslim family consuming beef were enough to instigate a mob.
Banning cow slaughter is a key component of Hindutva politics. True, the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutional validity of legislation in many States against cow slaughter. And, prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle is part of the Directive Principles of State Policy. But the rationale in the Constitution was economic, relating to the organisation of agriculture and animal husbandry in a predominantly rural economy, and not religious. However, the stridency in the recent demands to ban the slaughter of cattle and the sale of meat, is part of the new muscular Hindutva that allows for no differences or exceptions or reasons other than the invocation of religious sentiments. Indeed, after the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power at the Centre last year, there has been a renewed demand for a central legislation banning cow slaughter. Currently, such legislation is under the State List. Surely, Mr. Rajnath Singh is seeking to divert blame, and not clarify the issue in black and white, when he is asking that the killing of Akhlaq not be given a communal colour. To ignore the social context and the prevailing political atmosphere while situating the killing is to ignore the Hindutva politics of communal hate and religious intolerance. Those who feed the mob frenzy must be made accountable for the mob violence.
> (an example of) uncontrolled and excited behaviour or emotion that is sometimes violent:
In a frenzy of rage she hit him.
the media frenzy over the celebrity wedding
› to interest someone a lot, especially by being strange, unusual, or mysterious:
Throughout history, people have been intrigued by the question of whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe.
>to make something that is already bad even worse:
This attack will exacerbate the already tense relations between the two communities.
› to cause an event or situation to happen by making a set of actions or a formal process begin:
The government will instigate new measures to combat terrorism.
The revolt in the north is believed to have been instigated by a high-ranking general.
> a large, angry crowd, especially one that could easily become violent:
The angry mob outside the jail was/were ready to riot.
a lynch mob
50 people were killed in three days of mob violence.
› informal a group of people who are friends or who are similar in some way:
The usual mob was/were hanging out at the bar.
- draught noun (COLD AIR)
> a current of unpleasantly cold air blowing through a room
draught noun (BOATS)
› specialized sailing the depth of water needed for a boat to be able to float:
A punt has a shallow draught.
draught noun (BEER)
› a system of storing and serving drinks from large containers, especially barrels:
Is the lager on draught or is it bottled?
Over to Sebi
Market regulator must act on black mone
The 90-day "window" for the declaration of unaccounted assets held abroad by Indian taxpayers came to an end on October 1. According to Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia, a total of Rs 4,147 crore was declared. The government's tax receipts - 60 per cent of the freshly declared assets - came to Rs 2,488 crore. The total assets uncovered cannot exactly be considered to be a princely sum. In fact, it is minuscule in comparison to the vast claims that have been made by ruling-party politicians and others in the past about the sums held abroad. It is smaller even than the sum the prime minister stated from the ramparts of the Red Fort on August 15 - Rs 6,500 crore.
In response, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley justifiably pointed out that the bulk of black money was within India. For the government, this is a belated but welcome realisation. The truth is that there are multiple mechanisms in existence which create and perpetuate black money, and also allow it to move into India. What is unfortunate is that, while the government has insisted on its strong approach to black money, it has chosen the wrong ways to go about curbing the menace. It has introduced draconian laws that give too much power to the already intimidating taxman. What is needed instead is structural, legal and policy changes that minimise the creation and transfer of black money. Sadly, this is where both the executive and regulators have fallen short.
One major roadblock in the way of tackling the black money issue is the dilatory approach of the market regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India or Sebi. For example, India continues to permit participatory notes, or P-notes - derivative instruments issued by foreign portfolio investors against underlying securities in domestic markets. These allow foreign investors to speculate in India without the costs of actual investing in Indian markets - or subjecting themselves to adequate regulatory supervision. Unfortunately, this effectively permits the return of unaccounted wealth held abroad to India. While Sebi has made the requirements for P-notes more stringent over the past years, resulting in a decline in the proportion of foreign funds held through such instruments, it is inexplicable why a method so open to abuse has not yet been banned.
Another area where Sebi has been slow to act is the possibility that fictitious long-term capital gains (LTCG) claims can be used for tax evasion. Worryingly, Sebi appears to have not acted on this issue even though the then revenue secretary, according to recent reports, wrote a letter to the regulator's chairman pointing out that the income-tax department had found that LTCG was being "misused for large-scale systematic tax evasion". Sebi, he went on to say, had tied the hands of the income-tax department by not recording any adverse findings about the dubious transactions. This is in spite of the considerable powers, including those of search and seizure, the regulator has been granted in the last few years.
There is no question that the need to minimise India's black economy is urgent. However, the fight should focus on regulatory and policy fixes. When such fixes are clear, as in the two cases outlined above, it is mystifying that they have not been properly implemented
› a large wall built round a town, castle, etc. to protect it
> to control or limit something that is not wanted:
The government should act to curb tax evasion.
>something that is likely to cause harm:
Drunk drivers are a menace to everyone.
Dogs running loose are a public menace.
the menace of industrial pollution
› a dangerous quality that makes you think someone is going to do something bad:
He had a slight air of menace which made me uneasy.
He spoke with a hint of menace.
› making you feel frightened or nervous:
an intimidating array of weapons
an intimidating manner
› slow and likely to cause delay:
British institutions have been dilatory in cutting credit card charges.
› to confuse someone by being or doing something very strange or impossible to explain:
I was mystified by her decision.
Most Americans are totally mystified by the English game of cricket.
Poverty's great fall
But the World Bank numbers, based on new methodology, should be viewed with caution.According to the World Bank report on global poverty released over the weekend, the proportion of people living below the global poverty line in 2015 will fall to single digits — 9.6 per cent — down from 12.8 per cent in 2012. This is a first, ever since such data was calculated in 1990. Apart from this, three aspects stand out. One, the famous dollar-a-day poverty line (actually $1.25), prevalent since 2005, stands updated to nearly two dollars a day ($1.90 — based on 2011 price levels) to better reflect current realities. Two, the decline has happened despite the near-global slowdown of growth since the 2008 crisis. Three, notwithstanding the overall fall, poverty is getting increasingly concentrated in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. For instance, despite the rapid alleviation of poverty over the past three decades, South Asia continues to be home to one-third of the world's poor. In fact, as of 2012, India had the largest number of the world's poor.
While detailed India-specific data is still pending, there are two clear takeaways. One, there is unequal progress across states when it comes to non-income dimensions of development. Data shows that it is easier to reduce income or monetary poverty, but multidimensional poverty is far more persistent. This underlines the increasingly important role of state governments when it comes to implementing poverty alleviation programmes. This is crucial because public provisioning of health and education, both in terms of the budget allocated as well as ground-level implementation, varies significantly across states. With states expected to fund more such activities from the increased devolution of tax funds, this aspect will assume importance.
Two, the fall in poverty globally as well as in India is due to methodological reasons that will further fuel the ongoing debate on India's domestic poverty-line calculations. One is the way India measures poverty. The WB report has chosen a new method, wherein consumption expenditure is based on "modified mixed reference period" (or MMRP) against the Indian norm of "uniform reference period (URP)". Consumption data according to the MMRP for 2011-12, for instance, shows that Indians spent more than what the data according to the URP suggests. This results in a lower poverty figure. The additional problem is that India started collecting MMRP-based data only since 2009-10 and so, there is no comparative data. It would be best to regard the latest numbers with some caution.
› to make something bad such as pain or problems less severe:
The drugs did nothing to alleviate her pain/suffering.
Oct 06 2015 : The Times of India (Ahmedabad)
India must bring down dangerously high pesticide levels in its vegetable supply
Eat your vegetables, doting moms tell their children every day .
Loving dads cook these vegetables at home instead of ordering a takeaway . But there is a chilling defect in this wellness scheme: Dangerously high levels of pesticides have made a lot of India's vegetable supply more of a health hazard than boon. The 2014-15 report on monitoring pesticide residues at the national level shows that vegetables accounted for over 56% of the samples which had pesticides above the maximum residue level set by the food regulator. Major culprits include brinjal, cabbage, capsicum, cauliflower, coriander, green chilli, okra, spinach and tomato. It's a malady spread from Delhi to Hyderabad, Mumbai to Kolkata.
Pesticides are being used many times above the permissible limit. Dangerous and banned pesticides are also being used. Many are introduced at the farm level and others at the transportation and retail levels. Organic and home-grown solutions cannot supply to necessary scale. As for more intense inspec tions and tests, even these can only have limited effectivity given how heavily both the farm and retail sectors are fragmented. Consolidation and modernisation show the real way forward. Monitoring food safety and enforcing standards is much more doable in a modern supply chain. Also, studies have shown that organised retail yields higher average price realisation for farmers than government regulated and middleman dominated mandis, thus reducing the incentive for breaking the safety rules.
The real future lies in pesticide-resistant GM crops. For example, across the world trials of pest resistant varieties of brinjal, broccoli, cabbage, potato and tomato are being watched with excitement.India continuing to hold its nose on GM isn't wise. So long as we refuse to modernise our food production and distribution systems the poisoned veggies problem along with others such as farmers' distress will only grow worse.
› in Christian ceremonies, a large, decorative gold or silver cup from which wine is drunk
› in magic, a cup representing the element of water
› something that is very helpful and improves the quality of life:Guide dogs are a great boon to the partially sighted
› formal the part that is left after the main part has gone or been taken away, or a substance that remains after a chemical process such as evaporation :
She cut off the best meat and threw away the residue.
The white residue in/on the kettle is a result of minerals in the water.
› specialized law the part of a dead person's money and property that is left after taxes, debts, etc. have been paid:
The residue (of the estate) went to her granddaughter.
- malady noun (DISEASE)
› a disease:
All the rose bushes seem to be suffering from the same mysterious malady.
malady noun (PROBLEM)
› a problem within a system or organization:
Apathy is one of the maladies of modern society.
› consisting of several separate parts:
In this increasingly fragmented society, a sense of community is a thing of the past.
Oct 06 2015 : The Economic Times (Mumbai)
Slow, Steady Gains in Ties With Germany
India must step up talks on EU free trade deal
The visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, head of the most powerful European Union member-state, should put to rest perceptions of trouble in the India-EU relations, particularly given the strategic and economic cooperation outlined by the two countries. Beyond the clear commitment to work together to tackle climate change and increase clean energy technology cooperation, the German Chancellor's visit has resulted in some strategic gains. The joint statement, however, leaves progress on the stalled India-EU trade agreement feeble.
A key step is Germany's active support for India's accession to export control regimes on chemical and biological weapons, conventional arms and dual-use technology, missile technology and nuclear supplies. To realise the full potential of release from global technology denial set off by the Indo-US nuclear deal of 2008, India must become a full member of the four clubs that restrict export of sensitive technologies to non-members. Germany reiterated its commitment to reform of the UN Security Council and its permanent membership. The promised regular consultation on cyber security is vital for India to leverage its acknowledged information technology capability to advance its own and collective security of strategic and com mercial kinds. The joint statement's reiteration of the need for countries to abide by the law of the sea extends the hard edge India's bilateral statements with western powers have acquired with regard to Chinese ambitions in the South China Sea and beyond.
In the arena of economic cooperation, the focus is on clean energy: Germany has pledged ¤2 billion for a Green Energy Corridor and a new assistance package for solar projects. Germany will invest in the clean Ganga efforts, and collaborate in clean tech R&D. India must leverage this partnership to procure and deploy advances in technology in infrastructure, whether transport or urban planning, that develop in Germany but cannot be deployed there without writing off huge chunks of still viable built-up infrastructure.
- stall verb (DELAY)
› to delay taking action or avoid giving an answer in order to have more time to make a decision or get an advantage:
She says she'll give me the money next week but I think she's just stalling (for time).
> weak and without energy, strength, or power:
He was a feeble, helpless old man.
The little lamp gave only a feeble light.
› to say something again, once or several times:
The government has reiterated its refusal to compromise with terrorists.
- arena noun [C] (PLACE)
› a large, flat area surrounded by seats used for sports or entertainment:
an Olympic/a sports arena
- arena noun [C] (ACTIVITY)
› an activity that involves argument and discussion:
After 30 years in the political arena, our local member of parliament is retiring next year.
- leverage noun [U] (ACTION)
› the action or advantage of using a lever:
Using ropes and wooden poles for leverage, they haul sacks of cement up the track.
leverage noun [U] (POWER)
› power to influence people and get the results you want:
If the United Nations had more troops in the area, it would have greater leverage.
leverage noun [U] (BUSINESS)
› specialized finance & economics the relationship between the amount of money that a company owes to banks and the value of the company
› specialized finance & economics the act of using borrowed money to buy an investment or a company:
With leverage, the investor's $100,000 buys $500,000 or more of stock if he wants.
› [T] to get something, especially after an effort:
She's managed somehow to procure his phone number.
[+ two objects] He'd procured us seats in the front row.
› to use something or someone, especially in an effective way:
The company is reconsidering the way in which it deploys its resources/staff.
My job doesn't really allow me fully to deploy my skills/talents.
› to move soldiers or equipment to a place where they can be used when they are needed:
The decision has been made to deploy extra troops/more powerful weapons.
- write sth off (MONEY)
› to accept that an amount of money has been lost or that a debt will not be paid:
The World Bank is being urged to write off debts from developing countries.
› to be able to use the cost of something you have bought to reduce the amount of tax you owe:
You might be able to write off the car as a business expense.
› a roughly cut piece:
a chunk of cheese/meat
› informal a part of something, especially a large part:
a chunk of text
a substantial chunk of our profits
> able to work as intended or able to succeed:
In order to make the company viable, it will unfortunately be necessary to reduce staffing levels.
I am afraid your plan is not commercially/economically/financially/politically viable.
› specialized biology able to continue to exist as or develop into a living being:
There is a continuing debate about the age at which a human foetus can be considered viable.
America's flawed military approach
The shocking aerial bombing of a hospital run by Médecins Sans Frontières in Kunduz, Afghanistan, by US forces has bloodily underlined several problems with the American military approach in the region and the waging of counter-insurgencies generally.
To begin with, the horror of what was inflicted on the MSF-run hospital has been compounded by the reluctance of American officials to immediately and clearly acknowledge that, no matter what the circumstances, it is simply unacceptable for its forces to bomb a hospital.
Worse yet, there have been shameful indirect suggestions that the bombing while regrettable may have been justified in the heat of the battle because Afghan Taliban fighters had either sought cover inside the hospital premises or were continuing to attack US and Afghan forces from inside the hospital.
Kunduz, it should be emphasised, had already fallen last week to the Afghan Taliban in a spectacular collapse — it stretches credibility to argue that events in and around the MSF hospital on Saturday were somehow pivotal to the retaking of Kunduz or the defeat of the Taliban.
However, the American refusal to condemn the incident and try and shield its military from strident criticism is a regrettably familiar reaction. Be it the night raids inside Afghanistan that former president Hamid Karzai so fiercely opposed or drone strikes in Fata that the US government pretended never killed civilians or even extraordinary events like the Salala incident in Mohmand Agency in 2011, apologies are usually late or never delivered when locals are killed.
The reaction tends to be very different when Americans, such as the kidnapped Warren Weinstein, are accidentally killed by US military operations.
True, the US military does try and avoid or minimise civilian casualties, unlike the militants and insurgents, who often deliberately target civilians. But there is also a clearly different and very necessary burden on any state that is fighting an insurgency — to win, the state must be seen to hold itself to higher standards of behaviour and discipline than the insurgents and militants.
The whole point to the US military operations in Kunduz — nine months after combat operations were to have officially ended — was to try and help the Afghan state reassert its legitimate control of the city. That aim has surely been seriously undermined by the hospital bombing.
Inadequate as the initial US response has been, there are lessons that others can draw from the experience. Clearly, no matter how bad the news, it is important that it be made public rather than buried. Information aids accountability and can help improve tactics. Contrast the widespread coverage of the Kunduz disaster with the virtual media blackout of the Pakistani military operations in Fata, especially Operation Zarb-i-Azb in North Waziristan Agency. The state claims of sustained progress and non-existent civilian casualties should be weighed against the reality that the operation still continues 15 months on.
› in or from the air, especially from an aircraft:
Meanwhile, the massive aerial bombardment/bombing of military targets continued unabated.
› to force someone to experience something very unpleasant:
These new bullets are capable of inflicting massive injuries.
The suffering inflicted on these children was unimaginable.
› central and important:
a pivotal figure/role/idea
- strident adjective (LOUD)
› A strident sound is loud, unpleasant, and rough:
People are put off by his strident voice.
strident adjective (FORCEFUL)
› expressing or expressed in forceful language that does not try to avoid upsetting other people:
a strident newspaper article
They are becoming increasingly strident in their criticism of government economic policy.
› in a frightening, violent, or powerful way:
to growl/fight fiercely
to burn fiercely
She's fiercely competitive/independent.
› [C usually plural] formal someone who is fighting against the government in their own country:
All approaches to the capital are now under the control of the insurgents.
› [C] US someone who opposes political authority