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Directions (1-10): Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions given below them. Certain words/phrases have been printed in bold to help you locate them while answering some of the questions.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has recently tightened priority sector lending (PSL) norms for foreign banks in India. Foreign banks with more than 20 branches in India will now be required to extend a portion of their loans to small and marginal farmers as well as micro enterprises from fiscal year 2018-19, as per the respective sub-sectoral targets. Those with less than 20 branches will also need to fulfil the overall PSL norms of 40% of adjusted net bank credit (ANBC) in a phased manner by 2020. However, foreign banks have cited their lack of knowledge, and fear of stressed assets, as reasons for their reluctance to lend to these sectors. The impact of priority sector loan targets on banks’ credit risk management strategies in India has been commented upon by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In a recent report the IMF, raising concerns regarding the role of the public sector in the financial system, has advised the RBI to review its PSL policy to allow for greater flexibility in meeting targets. It also suggests a gradual reduction in PSL as a means to move funds into “more productive activities”, and greater participation of the private sector in capitalizing public sector banks, together with full capitalization. What is the truth? Are PSL norms responsible for banks’ stressed assets? Is there a business case for greater flexibility in targets for PSL, if not a complete removal of PSL norms?
A perusal of the RBI’s Trend and Progress of Banking in India reports over the last decade reveals that public-sector banks have been continuously underperforming on the total priority sector target of 40% since 2012, while private sector banks have continuously lent more than the mandatory target of 40%, except for two years. Foreign banks also outperformed their mandated target of 32% throughout the decade till 2015-16, as well as the higher targets required later. However, all banks have defaulted on their sub-sectoral targets, especially that of 18% for agriculture, in most years. This appears strange, since paradoxically, priority sector loans have contributed far less to the gross non-performing assets (NPAs) of all three categories of banks than non-priority sector loans. In fact, public sector banks had a large proportion of NPAs among their priority sector loans (50%) in 2012, a figure that had come down to 24.1% in 2017. Non-priority sector loans contributed to 82% of NPAs in the case of private sector banks in 2017, against the 18% of NPAs in the case of priority sector loans. Foreign banks had a comparable figure for NPAs within their non-priority loans.
Thus, priority sector lending may not be responsible for compromising banks’ credit risk minimization strategies, or risk accumulation. Yet, most bankers seem reluctant to lend to the priority sectors. An informal chat with bankers reveals that the problem with priority sector loans is the lack of understanding of the sub-sectoral target groups, especially agriculture and the small and medium sector, as also weaker sections. A foreign bank, desirous of opening a bank branch in some remote area to service agricultural borrowers, neither understands its borrower, nor is clearly aware of the legal provisions to recover stressed assets. Further, given the vagaries of the monsoon that agriculture is susceptible to and the undiversified risk portfolios in such rural areas, the credit risks for such banks from such PSL would be extremely high. The same would be the case for PSL to the micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) sector. The sector, with its unorganized operations and lack of proper accounting records and financial statements, poses higher costs and greater risks in credit disbursement. Little wonder, then, that foreign banks have exhibited a reluctance to extend their bank branches, with the number of foreign bank branches in India falling to 286 on 31 January 2018, compared to 317 in FY 2016.
Thus, while priority sector lending, by itself, may be seen as serving the purpose of directed credit within a developing country like India, there appears to be a genuine business case for allowing flexibility in sub-targets for various categories of bank priority sector lending. Banks should be allowed to choose the category they wish to lend to. Foreign banks may then choose to lend in the form of export credit (which was a sub-sectoral target for foreign banks prior to 2012, and was later removed), rather than to agriculture. Similarly, private sector banks may choose to lend housing credit in urban areas, rather than being forced to lend agricultural finance. The government may rely on specialized institutions such as the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) to fulfil sectoral lending targets, while at the same time ensuring structural reforms in these sectors to make lending to them more viable. It is time the banking sector in India is allowed to grow its balance sheets, and do business the only way that it ought to be done, namely, with reference to bottom lines.
Q1. What are the reasons cited by private sector banks for their unwillingness towards priority sector lending?
(l) not having complete knowledge about these sectors.
(ll) fear of stressed assets.
(lll) Not having sufficient funds.
However, foreign banks have cited their lack of knowledge, and fear of stressed assets, as reasons for their reluctance to lend to these sectors.
Q2. As per the passage, what are the risks associated with agriculture sector and MSMEs that are responsible for reluctance of banks for PSL?
(l) Unexpected changes of monsoon that agriculture is prone to.
(ll) Lack of proper accounting records in MSMEs
(lll) Lack of awareness about the legal provisions for recovering stressed assets.
Q3. As per the passage, what should the government do to make PSL more feasible?
Q4. As per RBI, what is the mandatory target for banks for priority sector lending?
Q5. What is the most suitable title of the passage?
Q6. What is the tone of the author?
Q7. Choose the word which best expresses the meaning of the following word given in bold in the passage
Scrutiny: critical observation or examination.
Q8. Choose the word which best expresses the meaning of the following word given in bold in the passage
Absurdity: the quality or state of being ridiculous or wildly unreasonable.
Q9. Choose the word which is most opposite to the following word given in bold in the passage
Resistant: unwilling and hesitant; disinclined.
Q10. Choose the word which is most opposite to the following word given in bold in the passage
Directions (11-15): In the passage given below there are blanks which are to be filled with the options given below. Find out the most appropriate word in each case which can most suitably complete the sentence without altering the meaning of the statement.
The biggest challenge faced by the fruit processing industry is perhaps, limited and ………(11)………. availability of fruits. Due to low per capita availability of fruits in India, most fruits find their way to retail markets, and almost nothing is left for processing. In the …..(12)…… of consistent fruit supply, the industry cannot assure supply to its customers. They are reduced to …..(13)……. players processing table varieties and filling the gap left by crop failures in other parts of the world. This leads to ……(14)…….. and low capacity utilization of processing units. This, ….(15)…. with low farm productivity, makes fruit processing a non-.starter or a high-cost producer at best.
As the sentence talks about challenges, therefore inconsistent goes correctly with the sentence.
Directions (16-20): In each of the questions given below a sentence is given which is then divided into five parts out of which last part is given bold and correct. There is no error in three out of four remaining parts and therefore only one of the parts is incorrect. You must choose the grammatically incorrect part as your answer. If no part is incorrect, choose option (e) as your answer .i.e. “No error”.
Q16. Thirteen persons were(A)/ killed of police(B)/ firing during(C)/ the protests(D)/ against the plant(E).
Q17. At present, the company is waiting(A)/ for clearance from the(B)/ court and the government for restart(C)/ the plant, which(D)/ was closed for annual maintenance(E).
Q18. An employee of the Calicut Medical College admitted(A)/ in a private hospital here, was most(B)/ prone to virus infection as she had(C)/ been exposed to treatment of those(D)/ infected by Nipah virus(E).
Q19. The State government on Thursday formed(A)/ the new zonal system which would have(B)/ seven zones and two multi-zones(C)/ to facilitated recruitment(D)/ and transfer of employees(E).
Q20. All the attacks were fuelled(A)/ of messages on social media claiming(B)/ that gangs of child snatchers(C)/ were roaming(D)/ the streets of Bengaluru(E).
Directions (21-25): Rearrange the following five sentences (A), (B), (C), (D) and (E) in the proper sequence to form a meaningful paragraph and then answer the questions given below.
Q21. (A) Don’t they know of the many scientists who had been just ordinary students?
(B) It is hard to think how anyone can decide a student cannot study a subject because the marks in the particular subject are ‘low’.
(C) There is today a culture of glorifying only students who have secured relatively high marks (D) Who are we to write off someone’s destiny?
(E) in the subjects of ‘greater order of significance’.
Q22.(A) meeting them halfway to make everyone’s day better.
(B) So, as much as I like to watch my regular soaps, I watch that teen drama on TV and commiserate
(C) with them about how brutal homework can be. (D) I too get the giggles, the huhs and the duhs! But I think I handle them better than my better half,
(E) It’s not just my husband.
Q23. (A) with a majority of them living past 60.
(B) with an incidence of about 30,000 babies a year in India.
(C) has almost doubled during the past three decades,
(D) The overall life expectancy of individuals with Down Syndrome
(E) DS occurs across gender, racial and socio-economic profiles,
Q24. (A) and a collection of lipsticks from the most loved decade were before us.
(B) an array of cosmetics including eye-shadow kit, blush, mascara and liquid foundation,
(C) A little badgering by loving daughters pushed our father to unfasten the lock with a hammer.
(D) Our happiness knew no bounds as our eyes almost immediately exhibited the feeling.
(E) Wooden hair pins, metal bindi stamps with tiny containers of coloured bindi powder, small wooden kumkum cases,
Q25. (A) It was probably the last decade when one witnessed the existence of a hobby such as philately
(B) or learnt the idea of cinema halls being a focal point of urban spaces, or would know that Eclairs was a toffee of the highest order.
(C) From this perspective the 1990s should be lauded aside from being loved, for its fine balancing act.
(D) The decade cherry-picked the finest to offer to us millennials.
(E) Or so I would like to believe.
Directions (26-30): In each of the following sentence, there are two blank spaces. Below the sentences, there are five options and the blanks are to be filled with the pair of words given below to make the sentences correct. Fill up the sentences with the correct word.
Q26. While the eager beavers sit in the front row, there are some who don’t want to be ........... — Mohan Sen, for instance, sits at the back of the room, away from Ms. Chaterjee’s line of ............
Q27. She remained away from the ............ handling the relatively ............ IT department for over a year before getting Accounts in July last.
Obscure- hard to understand
Q28. The government was fed up with constant ............. generated by her and it felt ........... at every controversy she created.
Embarrassed- having a feeling of shameful discomfort
Q29. The press release was issued by the I&B Ministry, which had ........... the guidelines and sought to punish journalists by cancelling their ........... if found circulating fake news.
Accreditation- to ascribe or credit with
Q30. Twelve people are ........... killed after a flyover under construction collapsed in Varanasi on Tuesday. Many vehicles are buried under the .......... bridge near the railway station in Cantonment.
Collapsed- to break apart and fall down suddenly
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