In inflation’s shadow: on RBI holding repo rates at 6%
The RBI has stressed the need for vigilance on price stability amid fresh uncertainties
The Reserve Bank of India’s decision to keep the repo rate unchanged was no surprise given the focus with which the Monetary Policy Committee has approached its mandate: of keeping inflation in check. With the relevant measure of price gains, the Consumer Price Index, reflecting an acceleration in inflation for a sixth straight month in December, and that at the fastest pace in 17 months, the bank’s rate-setting panel must have had little difficulty in choosing to remain on hold. This was probably best exemplified (उदाहरण दे कर समझाना) by the reversal in stance of the six-member panel’s hitherto (अब तक) most dovish (शांतिवादी) member, Ravindra H. Dholakia, to vote to stand pat (थपकी देने का कार्य) on interest rates. This the MPC did while retaining a ‘neutral stance’, which gives it the flexibility to change gears in either direction. The RBI’s nominee, Michael Debabrata Patra, in fact voted to head off incipient (आरंभिक) price pressures by raising the policy rate by 25 basis points. Laying out the factors informing its decision, the RBI once again spotlighted the less than reassuring outlook for price stability. For starters, “an unusual pick-up in food prices in November”, combined with a “less than usual” softening in the winter seasonal food price moderation, meant headline inflation averaged 4.6% in the third quarter. The RBI had in December made a projection for inflation in the range of 4.3-4.7% in the six months through March 2018. With pump prices of petrol and diesel having risen sharply in January, the RBI has now been forced to raise its estimate for retail price gains in the fourth quarter to 5.1%.
Extending the time horizon beyond the current fiscal, the inflation scenario gets even more worrying. Clouding the outlook are multiple uncertainties. These include the staggered (विचलित करना) impact of HRA increases by various State governments that may induce second order effects on prices; the pick-up in global growth, a factor the RBI also cites as a positive for the economy, that may push up crude oil and commodity prices worldwide; the Budget’s proposed changes to the minimum support price norms for crops as well as the proposals to increase customs duty on a range of goods; and the fiscal slippage, which could not only fan inflation but also risks increasing borrowing costs. The normalisation of monetary policy by advanced economies could spell a decisive (सोचा समझा) end to global ‘easy money’ conditions and may trigger some flight of capital from emerging markets including India. The upshot is that the RBI sees CPI inflation hovering in the 5.1-5.6% range in the first six months of the new fiscal before moderating to 4.5-4.6% in the second half, subject to a big assumption: a normal monsoon in 2018. Under the looming shadow of inflationary risks, the RBI has again reasserted (पुनः प्रभावकारी होना) the need for unwavering (मजबूत) vigilance on the price stability front.
1. Exemplified: to show or make clear by using examples
Synonyms: demonstrate, illustrate, instance
Antonyms: becloud, blur, cloud, darken, fog, muddy, obscure
2. Hitherto: up to this or that time
Synonyms: heretofore, theretofore, yet
Antonyms: henceforth, henceforward, hereafter, thenceforth, thenceforward (also thenceforwards), thereafter
3. Dovish: inclined to live in peace and to avoid war
Synonyms: peaceful, pacific, pacifist (or pacifistic), peaceable
Antonyms: bloodthirsty, hawkish, martial, warlike
4. Pat: sticking to an opinion, purpose, or course of action in spite of reason, arguments, or persuasion
Synonyms: adamant, adamantine, bullheaded, dogged, hard, hardened, hardheaded, hard-nosed, headstrong, immovable, implacable, inconvincible, inflexible, intransigent, mulish, obdurate, opinionated
Antonyms: acquiescent, agreeable, amenable, compliant, complying, flexible, pliable, pliant, relenting, yielding
5. Incipient: beginning to come into existence
Synonyms: aborning, budding, inceptive, inchoate, nascent
Antonyms: adult, full-blown, full-fledged, mature, ripe, ripened
6. Staggered: to move forward while swaying from side to side
Synonyms: careen, dodder, lurch, reel, teeter, totter, waddle
Antonyms: dive (in), plunge (in)
7. Decisive: fully committed to achieving a goal
Synonyms: bent (on or upon), bound, determined, do-or-die, firm, hell-bent (on or upon), intent, out, purposeful, resolute, resolved, set, single-minded
Antonyms: faltering, hesitant, indecisive, irresolute, undetermined, unresolved, vacillating, wavering, weak-kneed
8. Reasserted: Assert again.
Synonyms: reaffirm, confirm
9. Unwavering: Not wavering; steady or resolute.
Synonyms: steady, fixed, resolute, resolved, firm, steadfast, decided, unswerving, unfluctuating, unhesitating, unfaltering, unvacillating, untiring, tireless, unflagging, indefatigable, persistent, unyielding, relentless, unremitting, unrelenting, sustained, inexorable, unshakeable
Antonyms: changing, deviating, nonuniform, unsteady, varying
Khap menace: on interference in relationships between adults
It is a sad comment that courts need to keep curbing interference in love and marriage
Each time the Supreme Court feels impelled (प्रेरित करना) to remind khap panchayats and the society at large that they have no business interfering in the life choices of individuals regarding marriage and love, it is an implicit commentary on our times. The frequency with which one hears the court’s warnings against groups and individuals obstructing inter-faith or inter-caste relationships reaffirms (पुनः पुष्टि करना) the fact that the social milieu (वातावरण) continues to be under the sway of the medieval-minded. The court’s latest observations that khap panchayats should not act as though they are conscience-keepers of society and that no one should interfere in relationships between adults came while it was hearing a writ petition (दर्ख़्वास्त) seeking a ban on such community organisations and guidelines to put an end to “honour killings”. In 2011, the highest court termed such khaps “kangaroo courts”, declared them illegal and wanted them stamped out ruthlessly (निर्दयतापूर्वक). Similar observations were made in other cases too, some of them in the context of “honour killings”. It is a grave misfortune that parents and self-appointed guardians of social mores (रीति-रिवाज) continue to use coercion (अवपीड़न) and harassment, and even resort to murderous violence, as a means to enforce their exclusionary (अपवर्जनात्मक) and feudal (जागीर संबंधी) prejudices. The recent murder of Ankit Saxena, a photographer who was in love with a Muslim girl, allegedly by members of her family, is one more extreme indication of families choosing the penal consequences of violence over the perceived (कथित) dishonour caused by an inter-religious relationship. While the popular narrative situates community pride as a source of unconscionable violence in rural India, such murders are a reality in cities and among educated and presumably (अनुमानतः) socially advanced sections too.
The other dimension is that these khap organisations in north India seek to enforce age-old taboos such as the prohibition on sagothra ( कुल, वंश;) marriages among Hindus. Their grouse (असंतोष) is that the present law on Hindu marriage allows sapinda relationships up to a particular degree; they would prefer a limitless bar on any degree of such relationship in lineal ascendancy (अधिकार), which would prevent any marriage with one presumed to be descended from an ancestor belonging to the same gothra. Such views can only be eradicated with a change in social attitudes. The Law Commission in 2012 prepared a draft bill to prohibit interference in marriage alliances. Key provisions that seek to address the problem of khap panchayats in this draft say such informal groups would be treated as an ‘unlawful assembly’ and decisions that amount to harassment, social boycott, discrimination or incitement to violence should be punishable with a minimum sentence. Whether the solution is social transformation or legislative change, high-handed mediation or interference should brook no sympathy.
1. Impelled: to set or keep in motion
Synonyms: actuate, drive, move, propel, work
Antonyms: bridle, check, constrain, contain, control, curb, inhibit, regulate, rein (in), restrain
2. Reaffirms: State again strongly
Synonyms: affirm, assert, reassert, give an assurance, assure someone, repeat, say again, state again, pledge, promise, guarantee
3. Milieu: A person’s social environment.
Synonyms: environment, background, backdrop, setting, context, atmosphere, scene
4. Petition: an earnest request
Synonyms: adjuration, appeal, conjuration, cry, desire, entreaty, plea, pleading, prayer, solicitation, suit, suppliance, supplication
5. Ruthlessly: having or showing a lack of sympathy or tender feelings
Synonyms: affectless, callous, case-hardened, cold-blooded, compassionless, desensitized, hard-boiled, hard-hearted, heartless, indurate, inhuman, inhumane, insensate, insensitive, ironhearted, merciless, obdurate, pachydermatous
Antonyms: charitable, compassionate, humane, kindhearted, kindly, merciful, sensitive, softhearted, sympathetic, tender, tenderhearted, warm, warmhearted
6. Mores: personal conduct or behavior as evaluated by an accepted standard of appropriateness for a social or professional setting
Synonyms: etiquette, form, manner, proprieties
7. Coercion: the use of power to impose one’s will on another
Synonyms: arm-twisting, force, compulsion, constraint, duress, pressure
Antonyms: agreement, approval, consent, permission, convincing, persuasion, reason, suasion
8. Feudal: According to, resembling, or denoting the system of feudalism.
9. Exclusionary: Relating to or characterized by the exclusion of something, especially from a contract or group.
10. Perceived: to make note of (something) through the use of one’s eyes
Synonyms: behold, catch, descry, discern, distinguish, espy, eye, look (at), note, notice, observe, see, regard, remark, sight, spot, spy, view, witness
Antonyms: disregard, ignore, neglect, overpass, pass over, miss, overlook
11. Presumably: by reasonable assumption
Synonyms: assumably, doubtless, likely, probably
Antonyms: implausibly, inconceivably, incredibly, unbelievably, unthinkably
12. Grouse: to express dissatisfaction, pain, or resentment usually tiresomely
Synonyms: beef, bellyache, bitch, bleat, carp, caterwaul, crab, croak, fuss, gripe, grizzle, grouch, complain, growl, grumble, grump, holler, inveigh, keen, kick, kvetch, maunder [chiefly British], moan, murmur, mutter, nag
Antonyms: accept, bear, countenance, endure, take, tolerate, crow, delight, rejoice
13. Ascendancy: controlling power or influence over others
Synonyms: ascendance (also ascendence), supremacy (also ascendency), dominance, domination, dominion, hegemony, imperium, predominance, predominancy, preeminence, reign, sovereignty (also sovranty)
Antonyms: helplessness, weakness, impotence, impotency, powerlessness
14. Sapinda: Sapinda is a term used in context of cousin marriages in Hinduism