November 30, 2019
India’s GDP slowdown continues to touch 4.5%
Confirming the worst fears of the economists, India’s GDP figures for Q2 (July ’20 to September ’20) plummeted to 4.5%. Quite disturbingly, this is the lowest figure in the last six years and three months period. The GVA (Gross Value Added) figure also touched an equally gloomy level of 4.5%. Almost all India-watchers like the IMF, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Nomura had forecast such a downward trend. What is alarming is that the slower growth will make it very hard for the Finance Minister to garner resources for the plan and non-plan expenditure of the government.
* What are GDP, and GVA? – See notes at the end of this newsletter
Good words used .. Plummet, Garner
India to give 450 million USD as aid to Sri Lanka
To signal India’s willingness to engage with the new Sri Lankan government under the stewardship of Gotabaya Rajapakshe, Prime minister Modi has announced a 450-million Line of Credit to the island nation. Included in this offer is a 50-million assistance to enable Sri Lanka to beef up its anti-terror apparatus.
** What is the difference between Line of Credit and Financial aid? Answer at the end
Good words and phrases used .. Signal as verb, Beef up
International drug racket busted in Bengaluru
The police have seized a sizeable cache of narcotic substances that were peddled by operatives through the Dark Web. In a related development, police have alerted schools and the parents of the students to keep a strict watch on drug use by young students. Worryingly, students have been caught bringing drugs to schools to show off their clout among the friends.
** What is Dark Web? Answer at the end
Good words used .. Bust as verb, Peddle, Cache, Clout
Arrey Metro shed building work in Aarey stayed by Udhav
The overnight felling of trees in the Aarey forest in the outskirts of Mumbai had triggered widespread indignation among environmental activists. To bypass a possible stay order by the Apex Court, the authorities went on an over-drive to chop off the trees at night. The nocturnal operations had left the activists seething in anger. Now, the new CM, Udhav Thaceray has temporarily stopped the building work of the shed.
***Where is Aarey? Why a shed is being built there?
Good words used .. Indignation, Overdrive, Nocturnal, Seethe
IMD warns of a warmer winter
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has warned that this year’s winter will be warmer than before. The northern part of India may, however, escape such warming. A warmer winter will affect agriculture, floriculture, and a host of other practices. IMD attributes it to warm surface water of the equatorial Pacific Ocean.
**** How do IMD, and other weather forecasting agencies make their predictions? Answer at the end
DRDO defends Nag missiles
To counter advancing enemy tanks, the armed forces use different types of ammunitions. One among them is a missile than can be fired from the shoulders of an infantry soldier. Its light weight, and high portability make it very lethal weapon against even the most powerful enemy tanks. One such anti-tank missile is the ‘Nag’ class, codenamed ‘Man Portable Anti-tank Guided Missile’ (MPATGM). This indigenous weapon is in advanced stages of development, and is expected to be ready for deployment soon.
However, the ‘Nag’ has a powerful competitor now. It is the Spike- LR (Long Range) missile developed by the Rafale Advanced Missile System. Last week, two successful tests were carried out with this weapon in the Infantry Test Range at Mhow, in Madhya Pradesh. After the test, the spokesperson of Rafale System issued a statement saying that Spike-LR is a fourth generation missile ideally suitable for the armed forces. Its availability makes the development of much-delayed Nag, a third generation anti-tank missile redundant.
The DRDO rebutted the views of the Rafale systems saying that its ATGM was the best of its class in the world and is ready for induction to the armed forces. The MPATGM was indeed a fourth generation missile system and will serve the army better because it is designed for Indian atmospheric environment.
This feud underlines the role of foreign companies trying to undermine Indian efforts to develop its own armaments.
***** What is DRDO? What does it do?
Good words used .. Feud, Undermine
Fresh attempts to disband the Electoral Bond system
The obnoxious and opaque system of electoral funding has drawn widespread criticism from activists. Prashant Bhushan, the eminent advocate known for his crusade against immorality in public life, has spearheaded the campaign to do away with this system. The BJP government made amendments to the Financial Acts of 2017 and 2016, and cleverly characterized the bill as Money Bill to ensure its easy passage through the Rajya Sabha. Thus, the Electoral Bond Scheme of 2018 came into effect. Since then, astonishingly large amounts of money has flown into BJP coffers, mostly from unknown corporate entities. The way money power has vitiated politics is in full display today.
Prasant Bhushan has filed a plea in the Supreme Court seeking direction to declare the Electoral Bond scheme as illegal. An earlier attempt in this regard had failed as the Attorney General opposed the move tooth and nail.
****** What is a ‘Money Bill’? How, it is misused at times? Answer at the end.
Good words and phrases used .. Spearhead, Obnoxious, Vitiate, Tooth and nail, Coffer
Manmohan Singh expresses foreboding at the economic downturn
Dr. Manmohan Singh says the economic slowdown could cause unbearable social distress as jobs will become increasingly scarce and restive jobseekers could wreck havoc on the streets to vent their frustration. He says a growth of minimum 8 to 9% is essential, so that enough new jobs are created to somehow satisfy the young unemployed youth. He ascribed the present tepid growth to an atmosphere of fear created by the government by unleashing its coercive powers through agencies like the CBI, ED, and the IT. It creates a fear psychosis among investors. Hounding of bankers for increasing NPAs also makes them very wary of lending to even genuine borrowers. All such actions have contributed to a shrinking growth, said Dr. Singh.
Good words used .. Foreboding as noun, Restive, Wreck havoc, Coercive, Psychosis
Chief Justice Bobde delegates powers to the three senior-most Justices to hear PILs
Chief Justice Bobde will hear PILs, Contempt, Habeas Corpus, Election, Social Justice, Direct and Indirect taxes.
Hearing PILs is one of the main works of the Apex Court that keeps it in public eye most of the time. The three senior judges are Justice Ramana, Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Rohington Nariman.
******* What is Habeas Corpus? Answers at the end
President Trump visits Afghanistan
In a visit shrouded in maximum secrecy, President Trump arrived in Afghanistan. He met American troops there and declared that he had ordered the stalled peace talks with Taliban to resume. This move marks a complete reversal of his stance on Taliban talks.
Terrorist attack in London
A terrorist who had been set free from jail a year ago ran amok and started to stab pedestrians setting off panic and confusion in London’s streets. Later, police shot him dead. It emerged that he was venting his anger against India’s actions in J&K.
Iraqi PM to demit office after violent street protests
Violent street protests erupted and continued for two months in the Iconic Tahriri Square of Baghdad and in different cities against rampant corruption, unemployment, and price rise. The crackdown by police using live ammunitions caused many deaths and injuries. It made Abel Abel Mahdi, the Prime minister to resign on moral grounds.
Sudan retracts moral policing law
Sudan, an orthodox Muslim majority state had cracked down on alcohol consumption, and wearing western clothes by women. Such practices were deemed to be abhorrent to Islamic values. However, the pro-democracy protesters had aggressively demanded that such moral policing be stopped. Bowing to their demands, the government withdrew the controversial order.
RBI files Insolvency plea against the ailing Dewan Housing
The Reserve Bank moved to enforce the provisions of the Insolvency Bankruptcy Code (IBC) against the beleaguered DHFL in the Mumbai bench of the National Company Law Tribunal. This is the first instance of a housing finance company being dragged before the NCLT to face IBC.
Panacea from economists to pull the country out of the economic gloom
Rangarajan’s suggestions .. Mr. Rangarajan, the ex-Governor of the Reserve Bank and a veteran economist has suggested that the government should recap the banks by infusing fresh capital. This will spur lending and boost industrial activity. This is the most suitable long term solution to the problem of a slowing economy.
Pranab Sen’s suggestions .. Mr. Pranab Sen, former chief economic advisor to the prime mister has asked to openly declare the country’s fiscal deficit, so that policies could be framed to rein it in. Apart from that, the government should put mone in the hands of the common people, so that they begin spending it for buying new goods and using services. If this is done without any more delay, the ailing economy can be revived.
Reprieve for Karvy from SAT
The Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) has asked the SEBI to reconsider its restraining order on KARVY about use of the PoAs in its custody. It’s a provisional order.
Zurich Airport gets the contract to build the new proposed airport at Jewar (near Delhi)
Zurich Airport out-bided it two rivals – the Adani Group, and the GMR group that has built the present swanky airport at New Delhi.
* GVA and GDP .. GVA is gross value addition, whereas GDP is Gross Domestic Product. Both are the measures of a nation’s output. Mathematically,
GVA = GVA + subsidies – Indirect Taxes
In India, both parameters are decreasing uniformly.
** Line of Credit does not involve parting with any cash. In the present case, it allows Sri Lanka to buy goods and services from India worth Rs.450 million on credit basis.
***Dark Web .. We can not access the Dark Web through our search engines like Google or Yahoo, because the contents are encrypted. Special browsers like Tor are needed to access the Dark web. This facility is generally used for underworld and illegal activities.
**** Where is Aarey? It is a small patch of forest close to Mumbai city where large number of trees were felled to make space for a shed of Metro rail parking shed.
***** How does IMD make weather predictions .. The weather on earth is a dynamic system on earth. Weather changes quickly and unpredictable because it is influenced by millions of parameters happening 24×7 around the world and in the skies. Weather organizations collect the data on a real time basis, and feed them into super-fast computers to get some indication of the weather pattern of a place. Such indications are generally true.
****** What is DRDO? .. Defence Research and Development Organization is a fully central government owned body that develops arms and ammunitions for use of the army and export. It is headquartered in New Delhi.
******* Money Bill .. There are two types of Bills – Ordinary Bill and Money Bill. The bills that relate to government’s revenue collection and spending are characterized as Money Bills. The Rajya Sabha can discuss it, but can’t block it.
********What is Habeas Corpus .. It is a form of extreme right given to citizens to force the police to present a missing person before the Court. When a person goes missing, or is suspected to be in police custody, the aggrieved party can file a writ in the high court or in the Supreme Court praying for an order by the Court to the police to present the person before the judges. It’s a very powerful weapon that citizens use to counter arbitrary arrest and their secret detention.
Use as Noun and Phrasal verb
Mark these examples.
Run in as Phrasal verb… Love for music runs in my family, so my father, grandfather, and me either sing or play musical instruments.
Second meaning .. The other day, I ran into my childhood friend in the market. I saw him after 12 years.
Run-in as Noun.. Due to his erratic driving habits, he had frequent run-ins with the traffic police.
Slow down as Phrasal verb … See a child crossing the road, the car slowed down.
Slowdown as Noun ..The economic slowdown is hitting the poor very hard.
Downturn as noun .. The economic downturn has affected the popularity of the BJP government to some extent.
Turn down ..as Phrasal verb .. My request for leave was turned down by the General Manager.
See through as phrasal verb.. The crook was trying to sell a duplicate watch to me by posing as a big company’s representative. I saw through his design, and rudely told him to leave my house.
See-through .. The girl chose to go to the party wearing see-through dresses. Her mother strongly rebuked her for this.
Try to frame sentences with these.
Lock up, Lock-up
Hand over, Hand-over
Burn out, Burn-out
Read this BBC article.
Question ..Suppose the Indian government introduces it here, will you approve of it or resent it?
Questions for tomorrow .. Just think what will be the right answer. I will send a model answer tomorrow.
What are the plus and minus points of a export-driven economy? A note will be posted on this tomorrow.