Indian economy — making sense of the government’s latest steps

June 27, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Making sense of what the press has to say about Monday’s policy pronouncements. Read my notes given in the later part.


Falling below expectations

(Hindu editorial 27 June, 2012)

If our policymakers cannot manage the economy, they should at least learn how to manage expectations. For two days, the UPA government let it be known that a robust package to check the fall of the rupee and improve market sentiment was around the corner. An announcement was scheduled for Monday, Pranab Mukherjee’s last full working day as the Finance Minister. Speaking to reporters on his way back from the G-20 and Rio+20 summits, the Prime Minister also helped talk up sentiments. As far as industry and the markets were concerned, the timing couldn’t have been better. Economic growth has been slowing down, falling to 6.5 per cent in 2011-12. While industrial output continues to be sluggish with a mere 0.1 per cent growth in April, inflation remains elevated. Of specific concern has been the precipitous and psychologically damaging decline in the rupee’s external value. Having lost over 25 per cent in the last one year, it breached the 57 level against the dollar on June 22 and threatened to drop further in the medium-term. To many observers, the rupee’s fall embodies all that has gone wrong with macro-economic management recently. Therefore, it was assumed that any major economic initiative from the government would primarily seek to address concerns over the rupee. More optimistically, it was hoped that the government would announce some reform measures alongside specific rupee-supporting measures.

In the event, it was the absence of any reform measure in the ‘package’ unveiled on Monday that has contributed to the disappointment seen across the board. The stock indices fell back and the rupee once again lost value. The measures announced by the Reserve Bank of India in consultation with the government are by themselves unexceptionable. Companies in the manufacturing and infrastructure sectors with foreign exchange earnings can borrow in dollars to cover rupee loans, up to a ceiling of $10 billion subject to certain conditions. The cap on foreign investment in government bonds has been raised to $20 billion from $15 billion. Sovereign wealth funds and pension funds can invest in government securities. These and a few other measures aim to boost foreign exchange inflows by selectively relaxing existing rules and regulations. However welcome increased dollar supplies are at this juncture, the government’s package reflects a knee-jerk response to the rupee’s decline. In particular, the Finance Ministry and RBI ought to have weighed the consequences of these measures on the country’s already high level of short-term external debt.


A damp squibb .. UPA disappoints again (my explanation on Monday’s pronouncements)

No one can remain oblivious to the fact that India’s economy is racing downwards. Rating agency downgrade, rupee hitting its historic low, dull stock market, GDP growth rate slipping continuously — things can not be worse than this.

The economy is floundering, because the government is floundering. In the face of mounting deficits, and falling growth, government’s policy options are narrowing. We all know this. What is needed is some bold measure to inject vitality to the economy. But, it is clear the government is incapable of taking any daring step. We seem to have fallen into a stupor.

In the face of all this, what was the need for the government to talk about some impending policy initiatives to revitalize the anemic econmy? The outgoing Finance Minister, during whose tenure, such sad state of affairs have come to pass, talked gleefully about some major policy initiative to be made public on Monday, his last day in office. Even the otherwise reticent Dr. Singh hinted at this.

The nation was agog with excitement. Everyone thought the government was finally shedding its indecisiveness to relaunch the econmy. The positive sentiments, so generated, spurred the stock market and pushed the rupee up. But, alas, the optimism lasted just a few hours.

The pronouncements finally came towards the end of Monday. But they were so tame and ineffective.

The announced steps are …

  1. Companies in the manufacturing and infrastructure sectors with foreign exchange earnings can borrow in dollars to cover rupee loans, up to a ceiling of $10 billion subject to certain conditions.  – (Why should companies borrow more when they can not utilize the extra funds? The sluggish economy has slowed down the mamufacturing sectors dangerously. Besides this, many companies have not yet fully utilized the available dolar loans.)
  2.  The cap on foreign investment in government bonds has been raised to $20 billion from $15 billion. –(Why should foreign investors invest in our government bonds when there is so much all-round gloom and the rating agencies have downgraded India to ‘risky’ level?)
  3. Sovereign wealth funds and pension funds can invest in government securities. (No fund manager of a foreign invester will be insane to put his money in a sinking economy such as ours, at least for now.)

Apparently, the government has tried to boost forex inflows by opening inflow door a little more. But, the futility of these measures is quite apparent because of the reasons stated above in colour (in brackets).

In particular, India already has a high short-term debt liability. To bring in more foreign funds through these routes will enhance the risk. Have the Finance Ministry and RBI not factored this danger?

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Word power for journalists and history students

June 27, 2012 at 10:39 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Learning the use of 

Bizarre, Grotesque, Gruesome and Revolting


It means something very strange and odd.


  1. When the Parliament session started, some members of the opposition stormed into the well of the House shouting slogans and holding placards. Such a sight was quite bizarre, to say the least.
  2. A mentally retarded youngman climbed atop the wireless communication tower, and demanded that he be given a government job then and there, failing which he threatened to jump and kill himself. This bizarre drama was broadcast live in the T.V channels.
  3. During the last days of his presidency, Nixon suffered from depression. The media’s unrelenting focus on the Watergate scandal was hitting him hard day and night. White House insiders say Nixon used to walk up and down the living quarters murmuring something endlessly. Such bizzare nocturnal behaviour came to light much after he left office.


It means something unnatural, unpleasant and exaggerated.


  1. Mukhesh Ambani’s billion dollar home in Bombay appears somewhat grotesque when you see thousands of shacks in its vicinity where people live with not even the basic needs like running water, electricity, and sanitation.
  2. Whenever the Pakistani cricket team visits Bombay, Shiv Sena activists sneak into the ground and dig up the pitches. Such method of protest is grotesque, and hurts the sentiments of millions of cricket lovers ion the country.
  3. In some types of modern paintings, human head is attached to animal bodies in the background of rich foliage. Such grotesque works of art have many admirers, though.



It means something that is extremely unpleasant, shocking and that causes revulsion in the mind.

  1. The gruesome murder of the old retired couple living alone in their flat shocked the neighbourhood.
  2. For a Jain, who accepts non-violence as the most important creed in life, spending time inside an animal slaughter house is a gruesome experience.
  3. The drug mafia in Mexico specialize in finding ways to drive fear into the minds of their adversaries. In some cases, they kill a person and hanf his head on the entrance door of his family’s flat. The horror and shock the gruesome sight causes in the minds of the family members of the victim benumbs them for days.


Revolting …  

It is used to describe something that causes intense disgust.

1. One day, a devout Muslim gentleman in London found his teen-aged daughter in a pub with a hamburger in one hand and whisky bottle in the other. For the old man rooted to traditional Islam, it was a revolting sight.

2. While reading about the horrors of the World War 2, I learnt about sections of the population of Leningrad resorting to canibalism to stave off hunger during the German siege of the city. It was a very revolting experience for me to go through the chapter.

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Fighting TB — First know who has been affected

June 27, 2012 at 2:48 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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A necessary ban

(Hindu editorial dated June 26, 2012)

The recent decision by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to ban the manufacture, sale, distribution and use of serological (blood) test kits for diagnosing active tuberculosis — both pulmonary and extra-pulmonary — is significant. The blood test diagnoses active TB based on antibody response. The decision does not come as a surprise. In fact, the question was not whether the government would act but how soon it would ban it. In July last year, the World Health Organisation had for the first time issued an “explicit negative policy recommendation” against a practice used in TB care. India’s Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme also endorsed WHO’s advice. It is unfortunate that the world health body had to step in to put an end to a test that has become widely available in many developing countries despite not being recommended by any regulatory agency. “A blood test for diagnosing active TB disease is bad practice,” the WHO stated in its July communiqué. The reason it came out strongly against the “diagnostic tool” is that the test produces very unreliable results. According to a 2008 WHO report, none of 19 commercially available rapid serological tests studied “performed well enough to replace [sputum] microscopy.” The organisation found that the tests provide “inconsistent and imprecise” results due to their inferior sensitivity and specificity. Unlike in the case of HIV and other diseases, detecting antibody response in people with active TB is difficult and hence unreliable as many factors can cause the response.

According to an August 2011 paper in PLoS Medicine, the blood test, if used in place of sputum microscopy for a year, will be able to diagnose 14,000 more active TB cases but will end up misdiagnosing more than 121,000 people as suffering from the disease (false positive cases). The antibody test is also prohibitively expensive. Every year in India, about 1.5 million serological tests are done at a cost of $15 million. As a result, a staggering number of people end up being wrongly diagnosed and unnecessarily medicated every year. The direct fallout of unnecessary medication is the increased chances of people developing acquired drug resistance, thus further complicating and compromising TB care. But imposing a ban is just the first step towards rooting out the malaise. Since implementing the ban will be a tall order, there is a need for increasing awareness level among the public. Simultaneously, the government should quickly complete the pilot testing of the WHO recommended Xpert MTB/RIF molecular test and make it widely available. Only the availability of a superior alternative can solve the problem.


 The scourge of TB — How not to diagnose the disease  (My explanatory note)

  1. Along with sub-Saharan Africa, India remains one of the worst TB hotspots in the world. It kills nearly 3.5 lakh Indians a year. Nearly 20 lakh Indians contact this disease each year, out of which 8.7 lakh can be classified as ‘lnfectious’.
  2. Such large scale incidence of the disease pushes fighting TB towards the top of the nation’s health agenda. In recent years erratic use (both over use and under use) of TB drugs have lead to the creation of drug-resistant strains of TB. This adds an extra dimension to the anti-TB campaign.
  3. The WHO has been helping India generously through funds and tachnical advice to fight TB. WHO’s flagship anti-TB programme is known as Revised National Tuberocolosis Contro Programme (RNTCP).
  4. Spotting a person in the initial stages of infection and putting him under a suitable drug adminstration regimen is the main challenge before anti-TB personnel.
  5. Testing the sputum of a suspected TB patient is the most reliable and time-tested procedure for detection. However, its main drawback is the fact that it takes about 6 to 8 weeks for the results to come out. Perhaps this is why attempts have been made to find out some accelerated testing of possible infection in people likely to have contacted the disease.
  6. One such test is a blood test which looks for presence of anti-body in the blood sample. A positive finding shows that the person has TB. But there is a danger here. The mere presence of ant-body is not conclusive evidence of the presence of TB in the person’s body. Anti-bodies can be present due to many other reasons, not connected to TB at all. Here lies the problem. In case of a positive test finding, the patient gets erroneously clasified as a TB-positive case.
  7. If the patient, not affected by TB at all, is made to take TB medication needlessly, he might develop complications. One such is his propensity to develop the feared ‘drug-resistance’ in his body. Should he contact TB later, treating him with the standard medication will be in-effective.It will make the task of treating him very difficult.
  8. Oblivious of this danger of diagnostic over-reach and out of expediency, doctors often ask the patient to undergo these rather dubious blood tests to quickly determine his status. Such serological test kits have become ubiquitous these days among the medical professionals.
  9. Sensing this danger from the rampant use of serlogical test kits, the ministry of health of the government of India has imposed a ban on the manufacture, stocking, sale and use of these serological kits.
  10. The other reason for the government for banning these kits is their prohibittively high cost – a big burden on poor Indians.
  11. This step was long time coming. Though belated, this has to be welcomed by all.

As a further measure to address the fears of poor people wary of this crippling affliction, the government should fast-track the pilot testing of the WHO recommended Xpert MTB/RIF molecular test and make it widely available. Only the availability of a superior alternative can solve the problem.

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Essay writing tips for Civil Service, GRE, GMAT and CAT

June 24, 2012 at 2:39 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Some tips for effective writing …

1. There are three types of sentences, simple, compound and complex. There can be sentences that are short or long. A good writer uses a mixture of all these.

2.As much as possible, write in ‘Active’ voice.

3.Don’t use adjectives needlessly.

Example … It was a horrible massacre. ‘Massacres’ are always horrible. You may do without this adjective.

4. Use linkers such as ….. and, in addition, moreover, additionally, furthermore, besides, in particular, but, yet, although, even though, nevertheless, on the contrary, while, where as, consequently, in fact, similarly, who, whom, which, likewise, unlike etc.

 These simple words make the writing clearer, easier to     comprehend and unambiguous. But, be careful. Wrong selection of these ‘linkers’ may alter the meaning.

 Some more useful words …

Ostensible ..

The Russians went into the Artic ostensibly to erect a scientific research station there, but their real intention was to reinforce foothold in the highly contested territory.


The Taliban have been preaching a queer idea. They say the government is giving mass polio vaccination to the young children ostensibly to free them from this deadly affliction, but their real intention is to drug them and impair their sperm producing capacity in future so that they can not reproduce and the Muslim population on earth will dwindle. All this is being done at the behest of the Americans.


Omnibus … There can be no better gift to a school-going boy, than a copy of Ruskin Bond’s Omnibus which contains Bond’s most striking short stories published earlier in newspapers.


Transience ..

The young man had begun to develop a detached view of life, causing great worry to his fabulously wealthy parents. Despite being deliberately exposed by his father to the trappings of wealth such as racing cars, young damsels and luxury yachts, he seemed to be lost in deep philosophical brooding. The more his parents lavished luxuries on him, the more he talked about the transience of life and futility of wealth.

In many ways, his life mirrored that of Gautam Buddha.



Before the advent of Martin Luther King Jr,       disaffection of black Americans against white domination was widespread, but their voice was fragmented and faction-ridden. Martin Luther King conflated all these voices and built it to a powerful single protest movement.



For a government security organization, it becomes very difficult to spot and apprehend terrorists because they manage to seamlessly mingle with the population. Such insidious threat can be countered if the members of the public are vigilant and cooperate with the security establishment.


Chasm ..

In America, the chasm between the Republicans and the Democrats over the issue of containing the spiraling budget deficit made resolution of the problem more difficult.


It is heartening to see that after the downing of the Turkish fighter plane by the Syrians has not widened the chasm between the two countries to a point where a full-blown conflict can break out.


Detour ..

Due to any reason, if the Suez Canal is closed to traffic, it will spell disaster for maritime trade. Ships loaded with merchandize will then have to a make a detour around the southernmost tip of South Africa to reach their destinations in Asia.



The opprobrium suffered by Berlusconi after his sexual transgressions became public did not deter him from engaging in his nocturnal pleasure-seeking among prostitutes.


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Key words for essay writing for Civil Service, CAT /GMAT

June 21, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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The Secretary General of the United Nations Secretary-General often has to mediate between countries who are at daggers drawn with one another. In such prickly role, the Secretary-General needs to be patient, soft and accommodative. Taking strong positions or talking abrasively is certainly not the required attributes of the Secretary General. He should be emollient so that he can cool frayed tempers of feuding parties.


Among Indian politicians, one can call Pranab as an emollient politician.


Ameliorate …

Making AIDS drugs available in affordable rates in some African countries will ameliorate the scourge of this deadly affliction. Some Indian phrama companies have been making the drugs and selling them available to the needy countries. A few western drug companies have unsuccessfully tried to stop the Indian companies from doing so, citing patent law violations.


Selling subsidized rice at Rs. 2 a kilo (2 cents a kilo) may make a few economists frown, but the step goes a long way in ameliorating hunger among the poor sections of the population.

——————————– ..———————————–

Ambivalence ..  

Politicians and economists in the EU zone countries have different prescriptions for pulling the ailing PIIGS economies out of difficulties. It is this varying perception of the problem and its solution which creates so much ambivalence among the leaders. They seemed to be locked in endless arguments about the panacea that could save the Euro from receding to oblivion.



The plethora of political parties in the UPA (ruling coalition of India) makes decision-making a difficult task. This is why, we see so much ambivalence of the government on urgently-needed reforms.


Parsimonious …

Angela Merkel is been quite justifiably been reluctant to deploy German tax-payers’ money to prop the sagging European economies.  Many of her critics describe her as myopic, parsimonious and selfish. Only history will tell if she deserved such criticism.


When it comes to committing funds for Air India, even the most extravagant Indian will become parsimonious, because it is clear the airline can never repay its mountain of debt.


Penchant ..

Silivio Berlusconi’s penchant for risqué recreation came for severe ridicule, but he never changed his ways.


Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackrey’s penchant for making atrocious and caustic comments on other politicians is well-known.


Petulant …

John McEnroe was, no doubt, a great tennis player, but he used to lose his cool too quickly over small matters. His critics called his mannerisms as unbecoming and petulant.


The recent controversy created by Mamata regarding Presidential election reinforces the perception that she is a petulant and unpredictable person.


Penury  .. 

There is no denying the fact that the economic crisis has reduced some vulnerable Greeks to penury.


During the early colonial rule in India, the British government’s forcible introduction of opium cultivation had reduced peasants in North India to penury.


Tarnish ..

The Monica Lewinsky scandal tarnished Bill Clinton’ image somewhat, but he retired from Presidency with his popularity soaring.


There is hardly any politician in India today whose reputation has not been tarnished by corruption allegations.


Impel ..

Long siege of Leningrad by Germans during the WW2 impelled many residents to eat human flesh to stave off hunger.


Lack of employment opportunities in Kshmir has impelled many young men to turn to violence against the Indian state.


Ostentatious …

The debt-trapped Greek government has banned all ostentatious state banquets as an austerity measure.


The Marcos family, during the time they were in power, attracted a lot adverse comments for their ostentatious life style, but they never cared. 


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Essay writing words for Civil Service, CAT and GMAT

June 19, 2012 at 6:24 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Some essay writing words for Civil Service, GRE and GMAT  …

Words and phrases that help you to say more with less.


Cannibalize …

The army general, in the midst of an intense battle, had a few of his tanks partly damaged. He wanted some spares to get the tanks back in action, but the army had no stock of these. The general ordered his engineers to take out spares from another tank and use them in the damaged tanks to repair them. In this way, he could restore 10 of his damaged tanks although it resulted in one tank getting reduced to its bare frame. We can say that one tank was cannibalized to repair 10 damaged tanks.


Truculent  ** In the throes of … 

I had a classmate who was irritable and prone to argue bitterly over small matters. She got married in due course to a jovial man whom I knew. When I went to see them after about a year, I was very saddened to find that they were barely in talking terms, contemplating divorce. Apparently, the man could not get going with his truculent wife. The couple was in the throes of parting ways for good.


The Congress Party might have found co-habitation with the truculent Trinamool Congress too much of a drag. So, in stead of permanently being in the throes of arm-twisting and blackmail by a rather small constituent, the Congress might be secretly rejoicing at the imminent parting of ways with TMC.


Content ..

 As noun  .. The internet is awash with pernicious and vulgar content. One should be careful while allowing children to access the internet.

As adjective .. The farmer had expected a bumper harvest of 500 quintals of paddy. But a few showers of unseasonal rains damaged the standing crop, and he had to be content with just 43 quintals.

We gave just two chapattis and some curry to the famished beggar. Strangely, he appeared to be content with this small quantity of food. Perhaps, long periods of starvation had robbed him of his normal appetite.

As verb .. The truculent wife gave her husband very hard times. Nothing less than a new silk saree every month and weekend dinners in posh restaurants would content her.


Nothing less than the Railway portfolio could content Mamata and make her to agree to join the UPA. Sadly, she appears to be losing it now, through a needless show of brinkmanship on the issue of Presidential election.


Contend ..

The western world finds it hard to contend with the brutal unleashing of military force by Assad against his detractors, who are fellow Syrians.


After the Chinese ban on export of rare earths, countries around the world contend for the limited stock of these materials available in limited quantities elsewhere.


Contention ..

Meaning one ..President Bush’ contention that most evils emanate from the three countries North Korea, Iraq and Iran (Axis of Evil) caused a lot of unnecessary political and diplomatic problems for America.


The doctor’s contention that the disease could surely be cured through medication was proved wrong when the patient died after being under his medication for about a year.

Meaning two .. India’s corruption and poverty puts it out of contention for a seat in the United Nations Security Council.


The player is out of contention for the next match because of his cramped leg muscles.


Meaning three ..The South China Sea has become an area of contention between China and its eastern neighbours.


Iran’s clandestine efforts to enrich Uranium well above 4% is the matter of contention between it and the western powers.


In the next lesson I will take up these words.

Emollient, Ameliorate, Ambivalence,  Parsimonious, Penchant,  Petulant, Penury, Tarnish, Impel, Ostentatious, Ostensible, Omnibus, Transience, Conflate, Insidious,  Chasm, Detour, Opprobrium, Cataclysm, Grotesque, Grisly, Posterity, Eulogy, Retrograde,  Fortuitous,  Fractious

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Aung San Suu Kyi — Why the free world owes her a debt of gratitude

June 17, 2012 at 6:54 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Suu Kyi’s advent in the international stage ..  An ominous sign for China, Syria and North Korea  Do you feel the people in power in these countries are rejoicing to read her Nobel speech?


Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi have many things in common. These diminutive, unarmed persons stood up to formidable adversaries – the state power with large army, police and resources. But, they carried on, because they had one weapon their antagonists did not have – the power of truth and morality. No wonder, after decades of incarceration, humiliation and oppression, they won.

Suu Kyi, is a frail woman who should have become the prime minister of Burma decades back. She was denied that rise to leadership and fame because the military did not like her. She spent long years in house arrest, could not see her dying husband, and could not meet her own people. But she did not buckle or break. Upright she stood almost taunting the generals to smother her, if they could. Desperation, frustration and isolation were aplenty as she lived through her life of a forced hermit. However, the trauma and the seclusion failed to undermine her. She listened to her soul that told her, “Come on. Darkness will soon give way to light. The bayonet can not rule for good. Democracy will triumph one day.”

Thus, the frail, little lady perilously hung on to her body and soul. Today, as the generals blow their last bugle and the spirit of democracy fills the air in Myanmar, smile returns to the face of Suu Kyi. She smiles, raising the spirit of millions of people around the world reeling under oppressive dictators. She, through her perseverance and grit, seems to tell everyone on this planet that the spirit of freedom is indomitable. The flame can be deemed for a while, but can not be extinguished.

So, for each one of the freedom-loving citizens of the world, Suu Kyi speaks through her deeds. Her message is clear and simple. Dogged non-violence can overcome the most brutal unleashing of state-sponsored violence. What is needed is the strength of conviction, a never-say-die spirit and faith that evil can not prevail permanently. Never yield to injustice, never compromise on your principles and never forget that salvation lies in saving others from indignity, poverty and deprivation.  This is the lesson Suu Kyi’s life teaches us.

Vocabulary building for good writing skills …

June 16, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Words starting with ‘out’  …..

 As nouns …..

Outcry .. The Chinese often wonder why there is a huge outcry in the western media each time some activist gets arrested in their country. In their view, the western countries commit worse human rights violations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

 Outfit  .. Sooner or later, Pakistan will have to disband the militant outfits it has nurtured so far. Otherwise, Pakistan’s integration to mainstream global community will be hampered.

 Outlay .. Merely having huge outlay on education and child welfare will not help India. The government must ensure proper utilization of the funds.

 Outgo  .. The outgo of precious government funds on social sector benefits is a matter of grave concern for the French government.

 Outhouse .. Many mansions given to ministers in Delhi have outhouses where security personnel live.

 Outcast .. If a Muslim man is found to be eating pork, he is sure to be treated as an outcast by his community.


As adjective ..

 Outmoded .. A modern army must have state-of-the-art weapons. Outmoded arms and ammunition will severely curtail its effectiveness in the battlefield.

 Outbound .. Some outbound flights were delayed as a section of the pilots went on a wild-cat strike.

Outboard .. The outboard motor of the fishing boat stopped working. The boat sailed adrift for two days in the sea before the fishermen aboard the boat were rescued by a passing ship.

 Outreach .. In Afghanistan, the American army faces logistical problems in protecting remote villages against the Taliban. Securing these outreach areas is a nightmare for American commanders.

 As verb …

 Outgrow ..  This boy is growing fast. In just one year, he has outgrown his shoes.

 Outpace .. Between the couple, the wife walks faster. She easily outpaces her doctor-husband.

 Outsmart .. Lipa is a moody girl. When in right mood, she can outsmart even the brightest of her peers.

 Outdo .. The three sons love their mother very much. When she falls ill, they outdo each other in attending to her.

 Outwit .. The prosecution lawyer had strong grounds against the arrested man. But the defense lawyer was quite sharp. He outwitted his counterpart and convinced the judge that the arrested man was innocent.

 Outclass ..  In batting, Tendulkar is renowned all over the world. There are few batsmen today who can outclass him in batting.

 Outnumber … There was a confrontation between the armed burglars and the police force. The burglars had to surrender as they were outnumbered by the police.

Outperform ..  Modern cars have got powerful engines. They can easily outperform the old Ambassador cars in a race.

 Outline .. The teacher outlined the main points of the lesson in lucid language.

 Outlast ..  My father had a leather suitcase. It has outlasted at least four of my mother’s suitcases made out of synthetic materials. When he meets a visitor, he boasts about his precious possession.

Outmaneuver ..  Experts say the French Raffle fighter jet can outmaneuver the American F-16 and the Russian Mig-29.

 Outlive ..  The oldest man in the village is a centenarian. He has outlived his four brothers and one sister.

 Outsource .. The General Manager of the American company decided to outsource the work to companies in China due to cost advantages.

 Outweigh .. Physical activity may cause some wear and tear of the joints, but its benefits outweigh its harmful effects.

 Outshine  .. Chinese students regularly outshine their counterparts from advanced countries in international competitions in mathematics and science skills.

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India’s economic downturn

June 13, 2012 at 9:12 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

India’s economy creeping back to the ‘Hindu rate’ of growth?


India’s growth story is fading

 With a leadership void, India stares into a period of low growth and great social distress


With economic gloom hovering over most parts of the world, India’s GDP growth of 5.3% may still look healthy, but with further decline appearing imminent, economic pain is going to pinch India harder than it has done to a few other troubled European countries. Within the period 2004-2008, India notched up impressive growth (nearing double digits). It was a period of fast job creation, rise in family incomes and all-round optimism. Millions of poor Indians were lifted out deprivation. Had this growth rate accelerated or even sustained, the scourge of unemployment would have vanished for ever. India’s young population would, thus, have driven the economic engine rather than dragging it down.


Now the picture is anything but dismal. The Rupee has depreciated sharply, private investment flows are down to a trickle. GDP is facing south. It is now the politicians only who can turn things around. Fur souring them to action, the voters have to drive them. Will this happen? Frankly, thinking about this, pessimism pervades and hope recedes, everywhere, in all sectors.

 An emperor without an army

 Among the country’s politicians, there is undue misplaced optimism that the situation will revive on its own. Such lackadaisical attitude has proved to be the bane elsewhere in the world. The downturn in growth, mostly due to internal reasons, has been long time coming. With expenditure spiraling, the government has been forced to borrow from market and banks. This has eroded banks’ ability to lend money for productive purposes. Inflation has shot up. No reforms, rampant corruption, court cases, and too many avoidable controls have unsettled the country’s industrialists. Not-too-transparent tax laws have been coercively given effect to despite rulings by the apex court. Such moves have frightened off foreign investors. Current account deficit has ballooned driving the rupee down.


Surprisingly, there is little divergence on the panacea for the sickness. Expenditure cut by drastic pruning of subsidies, bringing in transparency in tax laws to improve investment climate, removing road blocks hampering mega projects, ridding the government of corruption will all invigorate the economy. A healthy economy will boost government revenue and contain budget deficit. No dispute on this. But, all these need government’s determined initiative.  


Then, why is the economist-prime minister does not act? The reasons are so clear. No coherence among senior ministers, back-seat driving by Sonia Gandhi, pandering to coalition partners’ irrational demands, and most clearly, Dr. Manmohan Singh’s aversion to assert his authority have contributed to the present sorry state of affairs. Among the ruins, however, a few institutions have managed to survive and flourish.  These are the fiercely anti-graft Supreme Court, the IT firms, flag-ship schemes like the UID, and, of course, a vibrant media. The sickly state thus manages to chug on, somehow.


The malaise has affected the main opposition BJP as much as it has strangled the ruling coalition. With a few bureaucrats in jail for their complicity in corruption scams, their peers have chosen stupor in preference to proactive decision making. With the exit of the Congress and the BJP, The political space has now been snatched by regional outfits, thus further undermining cohesive governance. What is more worrying is the absence of the citizens’ apathy towards radical reforms. The nascent enthusiasm for liberalization of 1991-93 seems to have faded. This impairs the government’s verb for decisive push on policy reforms.


Constrained by so many infirmities, the government can not muster enough strength to steam-roll the myriad road blocks on the path to reform. Fuel subsidy removal, acquiring of land for industries, levy of VAT, pension reforms, allowing multi-brand retail, allowing FDI for aviation sector and labour law changes have all been checkmated by one coalition ally or the other. Compounding the government’s problem is the deliberate undercutting of Prime Minister Dr. Singh by Sonia Gandhi, who wants her son to ascend to the P.M’s chair sooner than later.


If Dr. Singh needs to be eased out to give the government a fresh start, the next logical choice is Rahul Gandhi. But, this man has failed time and again to enthuse the electorate to vote for Congress.

The BJP’s choice is apparently Modi, the Gujurat Chief Minister who is still trying to erase the stigma of the 2002 communal pogrom. If Congress loses power, the next choice will be, in all likelihood, another unruly coalition.


Some cynics say a total economic collapse may even be a good thing for India, because the government will then be jerked out of its stupor. But, with a robust Reserve Bank of India, this is not likely.


Thus, what appears as the most likely scenario is a prolonged period of low growth, with its likely consequences such as high inflation, high unemployment and more pain for millions of Indians. This might force the citizens to vote for a government that delivers.


Simple words –how they help you to articulate better

June 9, 2012 at 9:28 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Outcry as noun,    Outmoded as adjective,    Outreach as adjective,      Outdo,        Outgrow,       Outlive,      Outperform,     Outwit,      Outsmart,      Outpace,       Outclass,     Outlast,     Outline,   Outpace,     Outmanoeuvre as verbs,    Outpouring as noun


See how the above words, when used appropriately, clarify the intended sense quite lucidly.

 1. This boy is growing fast. In just one year, he outgrew his shoes.

2. Between the couple, the wife walks faster. She easily outpaces her doctor-husband.

3. Lipa is a moody girl. When in right mood, she can outsmart even the brightest of her peers.

4. I do not know why such a beautiful girl comes to college in such outmoded dress. Perhaps her upbringing has been quite orthodox.

5.The three sons love their mother very much. When she falls ill, they outdo each other in attending to her.

6. The prosecution lawyer had strong grounds against the arrested man. But the defense lawyer was quite sharp. He outwitted his counterpart and convinced the judge that the arrested man was innocent.

7. In batting, Tendulkar is renowned all over the world. There are few batsman today who can outclass him in batting.

8. There was a confrontation between the armed burglars and the police force. The burglars had to surrender as they were outnumbered by the police.

9. Modern cars have got powerful engines. They can easily outperform the old Ambassador cars in a race.

10. The teacher outlined the main points of the lesson in lucid language.

11. In Afghanistan, the American army faces problems in protecting remote villages against Taliban. Securing these outreach areas is a logistical nightmare for American commanders.

12. My father had a leather suitcase. It has outlasted at least four of my mother’s suitcases made out of synthetic materials. When he meets a visitor, he boasts about his precious possession.

13. Experts say the French Raffle fighter jet can outmanoeuvre the American F-16 and the Russian Mig-29.

14. The recent rise in petrol prices in India caused a huge public outcry, but the government did not relent.

 15. The oldest man in the village is a centenarian. He has outlived his four brothers and one sister.

16. The worldwide outpouring of grief on Lady Diana’s death surprised many.

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