Narayanswamy’s bravado backfires

November 13, 2012 at 2:20 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Narayanswamy’s plans for CAG..

Narayanswamy, the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office put his foot in his mouth when he suggested that the Controller and Auditor General of India (CAG) should be made a multi-member body. It has drawn a sharp reaction from the Opposition and the anti-corruption crusaders like Arvind Kejriwal and others.

In the past three years, the government has tried to undermine the many respected institutions of the Indian democratic structure. The attempt had started some five years ago when the Congress Party foisted Ms. Pratibha Patil to the post of President in preference to Dr. Abdul Kalam whom an overwhelming majority in India wanted to give a second term. Ms. Patil demited office with cartloads of official gifts she, as President, had received from foreign dignitaries. Whatever spin she put on this, the action was perceived to be very unbecoming of an out-going president.

This emboldened the Congress Party to start putting pliable persons in key places. The unsavoury row over the resignation of the earlier CVC bolstered this perception. Then came the most disgusting impropriety allegations against the ex-Chief Justice of India, Mr. Balakrishnan and few more judges. The government was languid in its response in cleaning up the mess. The country watched with anger and helplessness at the government’s inaction.

Soon to follow was the undeclared feud with the now-retired Army Chief. The Defence ministry did not emerge out of this episode with any great glory.
The succession of corruption allegations and the virtual nullification of the powers of the CBI and ED has annoyed the people of India greatly. These two organizations now serve the Congress Party with more loyalty than they serve the country. Subverting these two agencies to make them act as intimidators of political foes has been politically expedient for the Congress Party, but such acts have done immense damage to the credibility of the government and the ruling coalition. All these are being watched keenly by all. The people’s anger will come back with vengeance at the time of the next poll.

As if all this was not enough, Narayanswamy has floated an idea on restructuring of the CAG at the most inopportune time. The CAG has acted fearlessly in exposing the wrongdoings of the government. A mature government would have shown far more sagacity in treating the CAG criticisms gracefully by acting promptly on it. Instead of doing this, the Congress Party has unleashed a malicious campaign against Vinod Rai, the man who heads the CVC. People are indeed very distraught at such attitude.

When public anger against the government is reaching a boiling point, trying to tweak Vinod Rai’s authority in any manner will surely inflame public anger.
Owning up mistakes and trying to correct them sincerely are the hallmarks of character, be it for an individual or for a political party. Sadly, the Congress Party seems to lack this very visibly.



Learn to use the right adjective

November 10, 2012 at 3:16 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Select the proper adjective….


How will you describe ….. (Select the best one/two adjectives.)

a. A father who does not even ask his daughter’s opinion even once before finalizing a match for her……. (aloof, insensitive, arrogant, domineering, overbearing, outmoded, stone-hearted)

b. A man who just looks on at an accident victim groaning in pain on the road ..(indifferent, callous, un-civil, cruel, self-centered, selfish)

c. A man who brings gifts for his wife on every small occasion, but has develops an affair with another woman .. (deceitful, treacherous, womanizer, flamboyant, flirtatious, cunning)

d. A man who quarrels with people around him over petty matters .. (quarrelsome, truculent, irksome, troublesome, mischief-monger, wicked)

e. A boy or a girl who shows superhuman talent in any good thing from his very childhood … (amazing, prodigious, praiseworthy, mind-boggling, extraordinary)

f. A man who does not speak much about what he thinks … (reticent, introvert, self-conscious, secretive, silent)

g. A mother who lavishes too much affection on her child .. (doting, adoring, fawning, lovesome, lovesick)

h. A politician who is fat and wealthy .. (bully, bloated, mushy, oversized, gaudy)

i. A person who is inordinately proud about himself and his achievements … (vainglorious, arrogant, boastful, overbearing, flippant)

j. A woman who quarrels over small things … (truculent, vixen, trouble-maker, quarrelsome, acid-tongued)

Post your answers on my blog to get my feedback.


Learning words from Dryden’s Mac Flecknoe

November 9, 2012 at 2:28 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Dryden’s Mac Flacknoe …

Understanding the difficult words used by Dryden in his poem (3) …

Choose the right word and insert it in the gap.


1. The miner was abruptly dismissed from service for habitually reporting for duty in an inebriated state. He ——— at the Manager all day, but no one took notice of him. Even his Union ignored him. (objected / complained / railed)

2. During the Kargil war, heavy tanks were ——- to the front lines, at considerable risk of being spotted and attacked by enemy aircrafts. (transported / railed / airlifted)

3. The place where the Prime Minister was to land was ——– off from the surging crowds by the local police. (separated / railed / divided)

4. By drastic reduction of public spending, the Greek government is trying to put the country’s finances back on the ———–. (control / balance / rails)

5. Gradgrind was a somewhat eccentric man with an unusual mind that quite stubbornly eulogized ‘facts’ at the expense of ‘emotion’. Quite foolishly, he had ——— himself all the wisdom in the world in the field of education. (owned / arrogated / demanded)

6. The man was a womanizer. His mind was full of lust. He habitually ——– young girls to have sex with them. (exploited / seduced / romanticized)

7. Now-a-days, young kids learn the art of writing with dot pens. In earlier times, great men of literature like Shakespeare and Kalidas did all their writing with ————– pens. (rudimentary / old-fashioned / quill)

8. Politicians all over the world, particularly in India, are adept in ———- . They give high-sounding speeches without realizing that the ordinary people treat such speeches with a certain degree of contempt. (bluster / bravado / rhetoric)

9. When bird flue breaks out, thousands of birds are ——— . (killed / culled / slaughtered)

10. The speaker made the audience laugh heartily as he ——- his speech with jokes. (interposed / spaced / intertwined)

Correct answers will be posted tomorrow.


Dryden’s Mac Flecknoe —- More words

November 7, 2012 at 7:29 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Word exercises to enable a young learner to understand the poem … (2)

Insert the right word in the gaps —


1. If you are tired or feel restless due to whatever reasons, don’t sit down to write an essay or solve mathematics problems. To you dismay, you will find later that you have allowed errors to —— into your work. (spoil /creep)

2. The Special Forces are a formidable component of a country’s defense shield. They are deputed to neutralize enemies in places where normal police or army personnel can not go — like a hijacked aircraft or a kidnap/ransom situation. The Special Forces are trained how to —— up on the enemy. They stand a better chance of success in such situations. (hold / creep)


3. Sandy told her friend Suneeta, “Keep away from Douglas. He is a nasty little ——–.” [Sandy was quite critical of Douglas because, in her view the guy behaved too obsequiously before his manager to get his promotion.] (stooge/ creep)


4. The owner of the two-century-old winery in France wanted to close down his business because he could not stand the price war with the cheaper Australian wine exporters. He put his plant and equipment to auction. On the last day, when the last truck load of 18-litre ——— left his gate, he broke down in grief. Nostalgia of his hey days came rushing to his mind as tears rolled down from his eyes. (drums / Kilderkilns)

5. As a souvenir, he kept back a large ——– which his great grandfather had got built using the wood from the oak trees in their backyard. (reservoir / tun)


6. The cow had mistakenly ingested some poisonous herbs. She lay there groaning in pain. ——- had caused her stomach and abdomen to swell awkwardly. (Diarrhea / Tympany)


7. R.K. Narayan’s ‘A Vendor of Sweets’ is a gripping novel. In it, Mali, the only son of Jagan, wants to swindle his father Jagan’s out of his hard-earned savings on the ———– of starting a dubious business to make story-writing machines. (pretence / guise)

8. Hurricane Sandy wrecked havoc on the ———- New York city. Footages of the devastation shook me. (vast / wondrous)


9. The novel ‘A Vendor of Sweets’ has a lively description of the birth of Mali. Jagan reminisces about the way his house was ——- by a radiance of joy on arrival of Mali after ten years of his wife Ambika remaining childless. (inundated / transfused)


10. The burglar effortlessly opened the main door of the flat and decamped with the valuables. The police felt the thief must have somehow managed to ——— a copy of the key. (purloin / reproduce)


Corrected answers on November 16


Dryden’s Mac Flecknoe — Understanding the words

November 6, 2012 at 2:38 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Word exercises to enable a young learner to understand the poem …


Insert the right word in the gaps —

1. Check the —— in the cough syrup bottle before you buy it. (label / level)

2. More than preferential tax exemptions, Indian industrialists clamoured for a —- playing field so that they could effectively compete with the MNCs entering India. (label / level)

3. Just because the —– of corruption in India has risen to absurd proportions, it would be unfair to ——- all politicians as corrupt. (label / level)

4. Being a loner and introvert in mentality, I hate going to ———- gatherings where people behave in very disorderly way. (raunchy, rambunctious)

5. Prospecting for crude oil in sea is a risky proposition. Such ————— explorations are fraught, expensive and at times, may turn out to be totally futile. (subhuman / subterranean)

6. Many films have been made centered around the spies who worked during and after the WW 2. The spies operated in their ———– world full of betrayers, patriots, crooks and whores, out to destroy careers of un-suspecting men for petty financial gains. (subterranean / wonderful)

7. It was a cold morning. Reluctantly, Lucy got up from her bed, put on her —— tightly around her body, and headed towards the railway station to receive her friend. (woolen cap / mantle)

8. After the old man breathed his last, the —— for running the huge business fell on his eldest son. (duty / mantle)

9. It was the middle of the harsh winter. The poor man spread a ——— on the floor of his one-room shack to stave off the cold of the damp floor and slept. (bed sheet / drugget)

10. The audience burst into peels of laughter when the boy, excited by the clapping of the people in his front, began to ——– the visions he has in his life. (proclaim / declaim)

11. The lone cowherd boy played his ——- to fight his boredom. (bugle / lute)

12. Being quick-witted and a master in words and spellings, the boy loved exercises in ——–. (comprehension / anagram)

13. The boy was extraordinarily intelligent, but was wayward too. When he grew up, he turned his ——— talents to the smuggling trade. (wicked / felonious)
14. The newly-started private degree college had not received recognition either from the government or from any university. But, the management had the ——— to ask for huge donations from students seeking admission. This landed trustees of the college in trouble later. (audacity / gall)

15. The boy was born in a family headed by a matriarch who was an eminent writer. Her great grandson looked upon her as a ——– and strove hard to become a poet. After about five years of hard work, he sought into fame. (role model / muse)

Answer on November 13

———————————— End ——————————

Swiss banking and tax system — Why the guilt would not go

November 5, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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How and why Switzerland attracts both white (hard-earned, tax-paid) and black (bribes, loot and tax-evaded) money in such humongous quantities from all corners of the world?

‘Swiss bank account holder’ is an oft-repeated slur on Indian politicians and dodgy industrialists. We seethe in anger when we speak about those who have stashed millions in Swiss banks in secret, numbered accounts. Baba Ramdev spews fire when he roars, “We want our money brought back, by hook or by crook.”

Switzerland’s banking laws permit total secrecy of its depositors. This is why the crooks and the corrupt, the warlords and the drug-lords, all love Switzerland’s secretive banking system. On the collective conscience of the world’s righteous community, this self-serving veil of Swiss banking secrecy sits like a monster. It plays havoc with the poor world’s governance, sucking it of resources like a leach does to our limbs.

Let us leave this aspect of Swiss banking for the time being. Let us look into Switzerland’s income tax regimen. Switzerland tax rates are perhaps the lowest in the developed world despite the fact that the country taxes both incomes and assets of people. Wealthy people from abroad save a lot of money by keeping their money in Swiss banks because they need to pay much less income tax here than in their own country.

This apart, if a wealthy person buys assets in Switzerland, he can opt to pay a one-time tax, equivalent to the rent the asset would fetch as rent in five years. There is a restriction here though. The beneficiary must not work in Switzerland. For the super-rich people, working in Switzerland is not needed at all. The other condition is their net worth must be above 200 million dollars. For the ultra-rich, this is peanuts. On the whole, this one-time tax levy is a great attraction for the super-rich people to invest in Swiss properties.
Switzerland is a small country with just about eight million people. The attractive tax rules have brought in nearly 5000 super-rich individuals from America and other parts of Europe. The country has gained some 700 million from these people through federal and state taxes.

Other countries look on helplessly as Switzerland sucks in the wealth of their citizens, but can not do anything about it.

But, this system may end soon. Some left-leaning politicians are moving an amendment to the tax system that would do away with liberal tax rates for foreign depositors. The one-time tax system on properties and other assets is to go, if the amendment is passed in the parliament.

Unlike other democracies, ordinary citizens can force the parliament to discuss a bill if they submit a petition signed by at least 1, 00, 000 citizens. In the present case, some 1,03, 000 citizens have already signed the petition. Quite likely, the proposed amendment will be passed in the parliament.

Switzerland will emerge with a clearer conscience if it amends its tax regimen, but the larger issue would remain. As the repository of the third world’s ill-gotten wealth, Switzerland will find it hard to cast off its guilt as an abettor of the plunder of resources of the most impoverished people in this planet.



Prepositions — ‘On’ and ‘In’ confusion and vocabulary building

November 5, 2012 at 7:30 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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‘On’ / ‘In’ confusion – Get it right. Also improve your word power.

See these examples, and chose the right preposition –‘on’ or ‘in’ —— … Also mark the underlined words


a. The girl succeeded in taking out her college-going car surreptitiously from the garage at around 9 pm. She picked up her boy friend at the rendezvous. They decided to head to a pub of a five-star hotel. As ill luck would have it, her parents were going to the same hotel to meet a friend. The girl saw her father’s car on/in the rear-view mirror. She was at her wit’s end as her father’s giant sedan pulled up from behind.

b. [There were days when cooking gas was not in vogue. People in many parts of India used coal as fuel in their stoves.] The wife told her husband, “Don’t put fresh coal on/in the stove. Cooking for the night is all but over.”

c. It was past 2 pm. The hustle and the bustle in the bank had died down. The security guard had settled in/on the grass lawn for a snooze. The burglar and his accomplice lurking nearby thought the time was opportune for a strike.

d. One of the burglars tiptoed his way into the bank, brandished his pistol and asked the cashier to put all the cash into his sack. The cashier was too intimidated to refuse. With his mission accomplished, the burglar made a quick exit. He got on/in his accomplice’s car with the booty and drove off.

e. At 8 am in/on a Sunday morning, when I went into the kitchen to make me a cup of tea, someone came from behind and hugged me tight. In surprise I flailed my arms to break free. On turning around, I discovered that the trespasser was a chum of mine whom I had not seen on/in years.

Answers next Monday



Preposition — ‘On’ and ‘In’confusion

November 4, 2012 at 10:21 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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‘On’ / ‘In’ confusion – Get it right.

See these examples and choose the right preposition, ‘on’or ‘in’ …

1. When I approached the minister’s house, I saw a small notice board in/ on the gate that read, ‘Ferocious dog inside. Beware.’

2. When the police entered the flat by breaking open the front door, they found a woman’s body lying in/on the floor in a pool of blood.

3. Do you know the British colonial government ran a large internment camp in/on the Andaman islands?

4. Pointing to a house down the lane, Amit told his friend, “In the house in/on the corner there, a doctor lives who has worked in Africa for more than two decades.

5. In the aftermath of the bomb blast, the mall’s glass front lay in ruins. A customer cut his foot on/in some shard of glass lying on/in the floor.

6. The student was abruptly expelled from the university in the United Kingdom. After making some futile attempts to have the expulsion decision reversed, he returned to India. When he landed in Delhi, he had just ten pounds left in/on him.

7. Pointing to a scratch in/on her arm, the young woman, still distraught, explained to the police officer how some travelers in the bus had tried to outrage her modesty.

8. The smile in/on her face vanished when she realized that the job for which she had been short-listed had gone to another candidate.

9. Before writing my first resume for a job application, I felt lost and clueless. I decided to buy a book on/in resume writing. The book had examples of model resumes on/in a wide range of skills.

10. My first drama was modeled on/in Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. I had acknowledged it in the foreword of my book.

Answers to the previous ‘Fill in the blanks exercise’ and this will be posted next Sunday (November 11, 2012).


Vocabulary building — through a story

November 4, 2012 at 2:12 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Fill in the blanks in the paragraphs taken from a seafarer’s story. You have to use the words whose list is given below (in red). The word ‘countenance’ occurs four times in the write-up.

The Christmas celebrations aboard the luxury liner Emperor Napoleon


Slovenly, Boisterous, Atrocious, Famished, Countenance, Countenance, Countenance, Countenance


It was Christmas eve night. The motley crowd of pleasure seekers aboard the luxury ship Emperor Napoleon were in boisterous mood. The luxury liner was cruising in the Mediterranean Sea. Music blared full blast in the banquet hall of the ship. Waiters, smartly dressed for the occasion, moved briskly back and forth with trays of wine bottles and food. Excitement was in the air. Amorous lovers kissed each other interminably. Older couples waltzed across the floor. A few clowns entertained the younger folks.

Just when the celebrations were reaching a crescendo, a highly unusual thing happened leaving the merry-makers awe-struck. The Captain announced that the ships crew had discovered a stow-away hiding in the cargo bay of the ship. They had hauled him up to the Captain. The 15-year-old lad was a black boy from somewhere in Africa who had sneaked in somewhere, which he did not disclose. The boy was cold, ———– and was trembling in fear. The Captain was nervous too, unable to decide what to do with the trespasser. Obviously, he would face a lot of questioning in the next port of call. He asked a few questions to the boy in English. The boy, perhaps, did not understand English. He stood, motionless. His impenetrable eyes and inscrutable ———– gave little away.

The Captain was a compassionate man. He was reluctant to the use of any coercion to ——– out the vital information from the boy, although his staff were virtually screaming at him for having spoiled the Christmas party. The second-in command of the ship argued with the Captain stating how it was fraught to ———— the presence of the tramp aboard the ship.

The crowd of guests gathered around the boy, peering into his eyes. The ———– dressed boy was such a distraction. The guests had put the boy out of ——— through their inquisitive looks. The Captain struggled to keep himself in ————. He knew he will have to confront difficult questions from the police in the next port.

A guy from among the guests, obviously a little tipsy, yelled, “Throw the boy to the sea.” It was an ———- suggestion. The Captain treated it with the contempt it deserved.


Grammar confusion of non-English speaking students

October 30, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Use of ‘Have had’, ‘Had had’ and ‘Has had’ (through examples)

Vineet, the 8-year-old lad, had gone to a birthday party next door. He returned home around 9pm, just when his parents were having dinner. His mother Sasmita called out, “Vineet, come to the table for food.”

True to Vineet’s usual ways, he ignored the call. His mom waited for a while and called out again, rather commandingly, “Vineet, come here fast. You can’t go to bed hungry.”

Vineet replied, “No, mummy, I have had enough –the pizza, the cake and the Halwa. I don’t need anything more.”


It means Vineet has ensured his stomach is full when he gets delicious food.


Why ‘I have had’, and not “I had’ or ‘I have’? …

Vinnet, the glutton, has returned just miniutes back from the party where he had (ate) food to his heart’s content. To say, “I had enough ….” will not be very appropriate, because the eating took place just miniutes back. This apart, he wants to convey the impression that he has just finished eating and can not eat more. Hence the verb ‘have’ is more appropriate than ‘had’. Thus, “I have had enough.” is the most logical way of saying, “I have eaten enough.”

Going by the same logic, use of ‘I had had enough,” is not quite appropriate here.


Another example …

Around 5 pm, Vineet returned from school and slumped on the bean bag, and switched on the TV. His mummy screamed, “Vineet, switch off the TV, and go down to play with Arya. You need exercise.”


Vineet replied, “Mummy, I had had enough of it in the school. We had a football match around 10 am today, and I had to run all over the field in the hot sun.”

Here, the football playing exercise took place hours before he reached home. Perhaps, he still feels drained out and is no mood to exert himself more. In such a circumstance, saying, “I had had enough exercise in the school.” looks logical.



One more example ..

Milonee and her parents checked into a five star hotel. At midnight, when they are deep asleep, a rat ran across Milonee’s face. She screamed in horror. Her parents soon discovered the nocturnal trespasser nibbling at the small piece of Nan left over from the dinner. They called in the housekeeper and demanded to be shifted to a different room. The request was readily accepted and the luggage shifted promptly. Just miniutes into their sleep, they heard the ferocious, noisy duel between to cats. Their battle cries scared Milonee’s parents. Beset with disgust and anger, they decided to check out. The apologetic manager came in begging them to stay back. He offered a suite in the same price as the room they had occupied. But, the rat-cat encounter had scared the family to the core. Milonne’s mother blurted out, “We had had enough of your hospitality. It is time to tell you good bye for good.”



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