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Waiting for GST

THE RBI has chosen broadly to maintain the status quo ( ) despite there being
many strong reasons for a repo rate cut low inflation, a slower-than-expected GDP growth,
little possibility of oil prices spiralling ( ) beyond the comfort zone, a
normal monsoon forecastauguring ( ) well for the
countrys beleaguered (/) farm sector and the government pitching for a
reduction in the cost of corporate borrowings to perk
up ( the sluggish (/) investment sentiment. If the
RBI Governor-led Monetary Policy Committee has not yielded to pressure from Finance
Minister Arun Jaitley for lowering interest rates, it is not as much an assertion of the RBI
autonomy as an acknowledgment of a systemic compulsion.

There is already excessive liquidity in the system estimated at more than 60 billion. After
demonetisation banks have more cash at hand than they know where to park it profitably. The
demand from the corporate sector is negligible. Some of the major corporate houses are
struggling to come out of the existing loan burden. As the last quarter corporate results indicate,
the economic scenario inside and outside the country is not rewarding enough. With bad loans
weighing them down, government banks too are hesitant in making risky advances. As a result,
private investment is not happening and, as Dr Manmohan Singh has pointed out, the economy is
running on one engine that of public spending. The government view also shared by some
private experts is that the harm done by demonetisation is temporary and the economy would
soon bounce back.

In its last monetary policy review in April, the Reserve Bank had moved its policy stance from
accommodative to neutral and left its benchmark() lending rate unchanged for
the third consecutive time at 6.25 per cent due to an upside risk to inflation. That risk
has abated ( / ) but there is another significant reason for the RBIs
wait-and-watch approach. The central bank would like to assess the impact of the GST rollout,
scheduled in July, on inflation before taking a fresh call on interest rates. That is reasonable
enough, even as critics call RBI Governor Urjit Patel
more hawkish (/) than his predecessor (),
Raghuram Rajan.

1. Status quo (noun): The existing state of affairs, especially regarding social or political
issues. ( )

Synonyms: State Of Affairs, Status, Existing Conditions, Present Situation.

Example: To maintain the status quo, RBI has decided not to cut down the repo rate.
Origin: From Latin Status quo, literally the state in which.

2. Spiral (verb): Show a continuous and dramatic increase. ( )

Synonyms: Soar, Shoot Up, Increase Rapidly, Rise Rapidly, Leap Up, Escalate, Climb, Mount.

Antonyms: Decline, Decrease, Lessen.

Example: Even after the bad press and tabloid rumors, the bands popularity spiraled.

Verb forms: Spiral, Spiraled, Spiraled.

3. Augur (verb): To predict what is yet to come (generally in good sense).

( )

Synonyms: Harbinger, Prophesy, Forecast, Portend, presage.

Antonyms: Ignore, neglect.

Example: A good start against Pakistan augers that India can win the Champions trophy.

Verb forms: Augur, Augured, Augured.

Related words:

Augural (adjective) -
Augury (verb) -

4. Beleaguered (adjective): Put in a very difficult situation. (/)

Synonyms: Hard-Pressed, Troubled, In Difficulties, Harassed, In A Tight Spot.

Antonyms: Untroubled Undisturbed, Pleased, Unbothered.

Example: If we do not spray our house with insect repellant, mosquitoes will beleaguer us all

Verb forms: Beleaguer, Beleaguered, Beleaguered.

Related word

Beleaguer (verb) - To cause constant or repeated trouble for

5. Perk up (phrasal verb): To make (someone) more lively or

cheerful ( / )

Synonyms: Brighten, Ameliorate, Invigorate, Revitalize, Vivify.

Antonyms: Devitalize, Impair, Depress.

Example: Everyone was perked up when India won against Pakistan.

Verb forms: Perk up, Perked up, Perked up.

6. Benchmark (noun): A standard or point of reference against which things may be

compared. ()

Synonyms: Standard, Point Of Reference, Basis, Gauge, Criterion, Specification, Canon.

Antonyms: Guess, Conjecture.

Example: The talented athlete was able to blow past every benchmark set by his coach.

Verb forms: Benchmark, Benchmarked, Benchmarked.

Related words:

Benchmark (verb) - evaluate (something) by comparison with a standard.

7. Abate (verb): Of something unpleasant or severe) become less intense or widespread./ make
(something) less intense. ( / )

Synonyms: Lessen, Diminish, Moderate, Decline, Ebb, Slacken.

Antonyms: Enlarge, Escalate, Expand, Grow, Increase, Intensify.

Example: The firemen sprayed water on the burning house to abate the structural damage.

Verb forms: Abate, Abated, Abated.

Related words:

Abatement (noun)

8. Hawkish (adjective): Advocating an aggressive or warlike

policy, (/)

Synonyms: Combative, Attacking, Aggressive, Assailing.

Antonyms: Calm, Complaisant, Easy-Going.

Example: The administration's hawkish stance against protests was criticized by media.

9. Sluggish (adjective): Slow-moving or inactive./ lacking energy or alertness.


Synonyms: Inactive, Slow, Slow-Moving, Slack, Depressed, Stagnant, Comatose, Draggy.

Antonyms: Active, Energetic, Lively, Spirited.

Example: After demonetization, the economy was expected to be in sluggishness.

Related words:

Sluggishness (noun) -
10. Predecessor (noun): An individual who held a job or office before the current
holder. ()

Synonyms: Forerunner, Precursor, Antecedent, Prior, Former.

Antonyms: Derivative, Descendant, Successor.

Example: Today's smart phones are much faster than their predecessors were.

Origin: From Latin prae beforehand + decessor retiring officer


The Cow and Savarkar

Where the bovine is not divine but the framework () is still hardline Hindutva.

In the mid-1930s, the editor of famous Marathi journal Bhaala posed a question to all Hindus and
answered it himself. Who is a real Hindu? One who regards the cow as his mother! Vinayak
Damodar Savarkar or `Veer' Savarkar, as the fiery (/) Indian revolutionary
from Nashik had come to be then known after his attempted escape from British captivity
() in Marseilles and more than a decade in the Andamans' Cellular Jail, responded to this
assertion. He wrote: If the cow's a mother to anybody at all, it's the bullock. Not the Hindus.
Hindutva, if it has to sustain itself on a cow's legs, will come crashing down at the slightest sign
of a crisis.

Savarkar is known today as the author of the 1923 work Hindutva, the seminal text for Hindu
nationalists, but what he is little known for is
hisstaunch (/) opposition to cow worship. The cow was, for him, a
highly useful animal. But its worship, he argued, made no sense because humans needed to
worship something or someone who was superhuman or endowed with super-human qualities,
not an out-and-out animal inferior to humankind.
He called for the abandonment of the nave practice because it was buddhi hatya or murder
of the intellect. He was not against the nurturing of cows and in fact assiduously promoted the
principle of nurture as a national duty, so long as it was predicated (Affirm) on broader
economic and scientific principles as it was, he stressed, in America that helped maximize
bovine usefulness.

But his standout () line on the subject was that we need cow care, not worship.
He particularly abhorred (regard with disgust and hatred.) the then widely prevalent habit of
consuming cow urine and, in some cases, even cow dung, and believed the practice may have
actually started out in ancient India as a form of punishment so that a person could
expiate ( ) his sins.

And to those orthodox Hindus who thought his views

were blasphemous (/), Savarkar had only one sardonic
(grimly mocking or cynical.) thing to say: your blasphemy's far, far bigger, just see how you've
crammed 33 crore deities into a cow's belly.

Forget India's Left, even its centrists had been loath () to touch Savarkar with a
barge pole for decades. Some of them have now discovered him all of a sudden and taken to
quoting his aforementioned views. Sharad Pawar said at a recent function that Savarkar regarded
the cow as a useful animal, nothing more.

That of course is correct, and his views are particularly instructive in the wake of what's
happening all around us. But the avowed secularists and self-confirmed liberals among us
may perhaps want to read his writings on the subject a little more closely before they throw the
book at the Hindutva-wadis, because Savarkar's stand on the cow,
however utilitarian () his approach may appear to be, cannot be divorced from
his theory of Hindutva.

Savarkar did not believe India had been subjugated ( ) only during
the British Raj. Unlike Nehru who put forward the idea of a `composite culture', he saw the many
hundred years of Islamic rule as an era of shackles, submission, suppression and slavery. And
one of his major issues with cow worship, apart from its deadening of the mind as he saw it, was
that it had ensured many a Hindu defeat in the past. To use a
badpun () which he didn't, it had engendered cow-ardice. He alleged that
Muslim armies had often used cows as a shield during key battles against the Hindus. When
Hindu forces marched on Multan, he said, the Muslims had threatened to destroy the famous Sun
temple there as a warning, and when Malharrao Holkar, a Maratha chieftain (), had
sought to liberate Kashi, the Muslims had again threatened
to defile( / ) all things holy to the Hindus, Savarkar said
and castigated India's majority community for backtracking at such moments for fear of being
responsible for the razing of temples, the humiliation of Brahmins and cow slaughter.

He said if the Hindu Rashtra, as he saw it, was ever to be hemmed in (trapped) by non-Hindu
forces and there was no way out of the siege to get food, cow slaughter had to be exercised as an
option. The Hindus had done considerable damage to their cause, he said, by saving a few cows
used as shields by the rivals, because their survival had ultimately resulted in a far greater
destruction of Hindu shrines and the setting up ofabattoirs() all over the country.

And he had a final word of indictment for those non-Hindus who saw cow slaughter as a
religious duty: he said Hindus were nave in their worship, but they weren't cruel. Those who cut
down the animal as part of their dharma were not only nave but brutal in their religious zealotry,
he said, and added that they had no right to ridicule Hindus for their beliefs. In such slaughter
Savarkar saw excessive barbarism, ingratitude and an asuric (demonic) instinct. He urged such
non-Hindus to give up their cow hate and take up cow care.

Even if firmly situated within the Hindutva framework and calling openly for a Hindu Rashtra,
this is a surprisingly complex and often apparently contradictory opinion on a subject highly
sensitive in today's India.But Savarkar's view is also perhaps unique in that both the gau rakshaks
and the Youth Congress's public slaughterers of a calf in Kerala might wonder what exactly to
make of him.

1. Staunch (adjective): Loyal, trustworthy, reliable, outstanding. (/)

Synonyms: Stalwart, Loyal, Faithful, Trusty, Committed, Devoted, Reliable.

Antonyms: Disloyal, Unreliable, Untrustworthy.

Example: Since the two countries are staunch allies it is not surprising they will work together
in the war to defeat their shared enemy.

Related words:

Staunchly (adverb)
2. Standout (adjective): Exceptionally good. ()

Synonyms: Exceptional, Remarkable, Extraordinary, Notable.

Antonyms: Normal, Ordinary, Unexceptional.

Example: Leonardo DiCaprio received an Oscar for his standout portrayal in the movie The

3. Expiate (verb): Make amends or reparation for (guilt or

wrongdoing). ( )

Synonyms: Atone For, Make Amends For, Make Up For, Do Penance For, Purge.

Example: Many people believe that you can expiate yourself from sins by taking a bathe in
Ganga Water.

Verb forms: Expiate, Expiated, Expiated.

Origin: from Latin expiat- appeased by sacrifice, from the verb expiare, from ex- out
+ piare (from pius pious).

4. Blasphemous (adjective): Sacrilegious against God or sacred

things (/)
Synonyms: Sacrilegious, Profane, Irreligious, Irreverent, Impious, Ungodly, Disrespectful.

Antonyms: Pious, Religious, Respectful, Reverent.

Example: After being suspected of blasphemy, the priest was removed from his office.

Related words:

Blasphemy (noun) - Great disrespect shown to God or something holy

Origin: from Greek blasphemos evil-speaking

5. Sardonic (adjective): (Grimly mocking or cynical.) (/)

Synonyms: Mocking, Satirical, Sarcastic Cynical, Derisive.

Antonyms: Amusing, Gentle, Mild.

Example: Female readers were turned off by the newspaper editors sardonic column that
described violence as the best way to teach a woman.

6. Loath (adjective): Unwilling to do something contrary to one's ways of

thinking ()
Synonyms: Reluctant, Unwilling, Disinclined, Ill-Disposed.

Antonyms: Eager, Ready, Willing.

Example: In the past, many companies were loath to hire women professionals because they
feared the women would quit when they got married.

7. Subjugate (verb): Bring under domination or control, especially by

conquest. ( )

Synonyms: Conquer, Vanquish, Defeat, Gain Mastery Over, Gain Ascendancy Over, Gain
Control Of.

Antonyms: Free, Liberate, Release.

Example: In order to be a dictator, you must first subjugate your people by any means

Verb forms: Subjugate, Subjugated, Subjugated.

Origin: from late Latin subjugat- brought under a yoke, from the verb subjugare.

8. Utilitarian (adjective): Designed to be useful or practical rather than

attractive. ()
Synonyms: Practical, Functional, Serviceable, Useful, Sensible, Effective, Purposeful.

Antonyms: Decorative, Un-Useful.

Example: Because Ann sees her car only as a utilitarian asset that transports her, she is not
concerned about its appearance.

Related words:

Utilitarianism (noun) -

9. Chieftain (noun): The leader or head of a group/a tribal chief or a village head. ()

Synonyms: Tribal Chief, Captain, Director, Head, Leader, Master, Ruler.

Antonyms: Follower, Subservient.

Example: In democracy chieftain is elected by voting system.

10. Defile (verb): Damage the purity or appearance

of ( / )

Synonyms: Spoil, Sully, Mar, Impair, Debase, Degrade, Profane, Desecrate.

Antonyms: Elevate, Purify, Purge.

Example: Although recent history has shown some improvement, humans continue to defile the
planet with their extravagance and waste of natural resources.

Verb forms: Defile, Defiled, Defiled.


Chinks in our Armour

As many as 26 CRPF personnel from the 74th battalion, deployed to oversee an under-
construction road project at Sukma in Chhattisgarh, died recently in
an ambush ( ) by some 300-400 Maoists.

While the failure of Intelligence is palpable (/), an explosive situation prevails

in several areas of the state, notably Bastar, Bijapur, Sukma and Dantewada.

There is an inherent danger in the ubiquitous (/) presence of central

forces. Which is one major reason why police and paramilitary forces are targeted in Kashmir.

The Maoist commander, who allegedly masterminded the massacre in Sukma, operated a
network of dedicated informers across the region and was perhaps privy () to the
movement of the forces. In Kashmir, Chhattisgarh, or any other volatile region, it is the security
forces who are the victims despite their training in the use of sophisticated weapons and guerrilla

In an interesting book titled The New Face of War: How War Will Be Fought in the 21st
Century Bruce Berkowitz has argued that the ability to gather, process and protect information is
the most important factor defining military power ~ Stealth trumps armour, precision trumps
explosive force, and being able to react faster than your opponent trumps speed. Berkowitzs
prescription is simple ~ If you want to defeat your opponent, you must first win the information
war. Prakash Singh, former Director-General, BSF and an expert in tackling Left-wing
extremism, mentioned multiple factors ~ from leadership failure to loopholes in the functioning
of the security forces, thus leading to the recent Sukma ambush.
The most unfortunate part is that despite repeated incidents, no lessons are being learned, he
was quoted as saying. A decade ago, Moloy Krishna Dhar, a former Joint Director, Intelligence
Bureau, pointed out that the governments cutting edge internal security tool is not prepared to
combat the aggressive operations of Pakistans ISI or Islamist tanzeems.

There is a lack of trained manpower at the operative level, lacunae (/) in

training to combat acts of terrorism and insurgency, and lack of electronic and technical
intelligence equipment.

Even if the problem of poor technology can be addressed, intelligence failure is difficult to
be condoned ( / ) as it involves the loss of precious lives, be it
in Mumbai, Uri, Pathankot, Pampore or Sukma. Intelligence reform is direly imperative. But the
government responds only after an offensive.

For instance, the Directorate-General of Security (DGS) was set up only after the war with China
in 1962. R&AW was entrusted with the responsibility to collect external intelligence ~ formerly
a remit of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) ~ following the IndoPak war of 1965 and the Mizo revolt
in 1966.

In the aftermath () of the Kargil operations in 1999, an enquiry by Kargil Review

Committee led to the setting up of the GC Saxena Special Task Force which recommended the
creation of the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) as the nodal point for processing all military
related intelligence.

A Group of Ministers (GoM) was formed on 17 April 2000 to re-examine the issues of security
and intelligence. Accordingly Task Forces were set up for intelligence, internal security, border
management and defence. Though the GoM forwarded its recommendations to the Prime
Minister on 19 February 2001, it is now evident that followthrough action was not taken either
by the NDA or the UPA dispensations... till the Mumbai outrage on 26 November 2008 jolted
the nation to its foundations.

There was talk of a National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC). Within the bureaucracy, there
was little or coordination. According to a paper crafted by the Institute for Defence Studies and
Analyses (IDSA), near-total ignorance about Chinese intentions and capabilities in Tibet and
their designs against India in the 1950s led to serial disasters.

Notably, the alienation () of Kashmiris through repeated changes in state governments

since the early 1950s and, more specifically, during 1986-87; Pakistani subversion plans in the
name of religion in the 70s, and
the proselytizing ( / ) activities of the
Deobandi/Wahabi sect in the Valley in the mid-80s, recruitment of Kashmiri youth for arms
training in Pakistan and their infiltration into the Valley to launch the Kashmiri jihad in the late
80s, and terrorist attacks within India either directly by Pakistani players or their Indian proxies,
especially the Mumbai attack of 26/11. Intelligence failures continue to rattle India.

The Henderson Brooks report on the massive intelligence failures in 1962 underlines the lack of
coordination among the agencies concerned, fragile credibility of sources, and inconsistent
feedback. All this resulted in Indias humiliating defeat against China.

There appears to be a distressing continuity in Indias track record. Take the instance of the
Kargil misadventure. Experts have pointed out how India was clueless about briefings and
authorisations made in Islamabad and Rawalpindi months in advance, about field officers
recruited to train the force in the Baltistan heights of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), about
equipment and supplies being stocked in Pakistan army garrisons at Skardu and Astor before
being sent to camps close to the Line of Control (LoC). The government failed to foresee the
scale of intrusion because of several factors, most importantly the fact that the Pakistan Army
made excellent use of stealth and deception in the run-up to the operation.

The Uri attack is believed to have been facilitated by one of the various agents who the Indian
forces had been using to collect information on the Pakistan Armys logistics.

Apart from the need for international cooperation, crossborder intelligence cooperation guided
by persuasive diplomacy with friendly neighbours is essential in the fight against international

At least five states ~ West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram ~ and five
ministries, namely External Affairs, Home, Water Resources, Commerce and Development of
Northeast Region; and four security and intelligence organizations ~ Intelligence Bureau (IB),
Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) and Border Security
Force (BSF) ~ are pivotal() in dealings with Bangladesh.

Nepal is an important centre for intelligence and subversive operations by foreign powers as well
as nonstate actors against India.

Couretsy: The Statesman (National).

1. Ambush (noun): A surprise attack by people lying in wait in a concealed

position. ( )

Synonyms: Surprise Attack, Ambuscade, Pitfall.

Example: A suicide bomber waited in ambush for the right opportunity to detonate his bomb,
but was tackled before he had the opportunity.
Verb forms: Ambush, Ambushed, Ambushed.

Related words:

Ambush (verb) - Make a surprise attack on (someone) from a concealed position.

2. Palpable (adjective): Capable of being perceive./ comprehensible with

ease. (/)

Synonyms: Evident, Apparent, Noticeable, Seeming, Clear, Visible, Sure.

Antonyms: Ambiguous, Doubtful, Suspicious, Vague, Uncertain.

Example: Video technology has made it so that even people who are a continent apart can
seem palpable to each other.

Related words:

Palpability (adjective) -

Palpably (adverb) -

3. Ubiquitous (adjective): Existing or being everywhere at the same time.

Synonyms: Omnipresent, Everywhere, All-Over, Pervasive.

Antonyms: Rare, Scarce, Hardly Found.

Example: People believe that god is ubiquitous.

Related words:

Ubiquitously (adverb) -

4. Privy (adjective): Allowed to share in confidential information ()

Synonyms: Behind-The-Scenes, Confidential, Nonpublic, Private.

Antonyms: Public, Unconcealed, Known, Revealed.

Example: A psychologist should be privy to his patients thoughts and emotions.

5. Lacuna (noun): An unfilled space; a gap. (/)

Synonyms: Break, Cavity, Gap, Interim, Hiatus.

Antonyms: Completeness, Excellence, Consummations.

Example: As a critic it my duty to find the lacunae in the published books.

6. Condone (verb): Accept (behaviour that is considered morally wrong or
offensive). ( / )

Synonyms: Deliberately Ignore, Not Take Into Consideration, Take No Notice Of, Take No
Account Of.

Example: The police does not condone any behaviour of violence.

Verb forms: Condone, Condoned, Condoned.

7. Aftermath (noun): The aftereffects or consequences of an unpleasant or destructive

event ()

Synonyms: Repercussions, After-Effects, Impact, Outcome, Backwash, Corollary.

Antonyms: Cause, Source, Origin.

Example: The building has been outfitted with a new alarm system in the aftermath of the fire.
8. Alienation (noun): The state or experience of being isolation. ()

Synonyms: Isolation, Detachment, Estrangement, Distance, Separation.

Antonyms: Endearment, Friendliness.

Example: The restaurant owner hesitates to change his menu because he does not want
to alienate his regular customers.

Verb forms: Alienate, Alienated, Alienated.

Related words:

Alienate (Verb) - Make (someone) feel isolated or estranged. ( )

9. Proselytize (verb): Convert or attempt to convert (someone) from one religion, belief, or
opinion to another. ( / )

Synonyms: Evangelize, Convert, Proselyte.

Example: The efforts of early missionaries to proselytize the Native Americans of Minnesota
were largely unproductive
Verb forms: Proselytize, Proselytized, Proselytized.

Related words:

Proselytizer (noun) -

10. Pivotal (adjective): Of crucial importance in relation to the development or success of

something else. ()

Synonyms: Central, Crucial, Vital, Critical, Focal, Essential, Key, Significant, Important,
Determining, Decisive.

Antonyms: Inessential, Minor , Trivial

Example: The fighter planes gave pivotal assistance to the ground forces that were surrounded
by the enemy.


Fault lines in the fields

Abhishek Patidar, 19, had just passed his Class 11 exam this year with dreams of becoming a
doctor. His family owns a piece of land about 27 bighas in Barkheda Path, a village 22 km
north of Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh where they grow soybean, methi (fenugreek)
and chana (gram). On June 6, Abhishek went to Mandsaur along with hundreds of others from
his village to protest against the falling crop prices that were pushing his family to the brink
of desperation (). Tragically, he became one of the victims of police firing, taking
three bullets on a day when farmer protests across the western belt stretching from Madhya
Pradesh to Maharashtra reached a frenzied (/) pitch. He was too
young but was keen to join the protest. We grow everything in our 27-bigha land but in the last
three years, prices have plunged and ruined us, says Abhisheks father, Dinesh Patidar, 55, tears
rolling down his eyes.

Price pinch in Malwa

Barkheda Path is typical of the villages in this region. With an approximate population of 3,500,
95% of the population is engaged in farming in landholdings that are less than a hectare per
family. Abhisheks family members narrate their tale of loss. The last three years have crushed
our backbone because prices have plunged, forcing us to sell our produce at rates where we dont
even recover our investment, says Dinesh, adding, todays market price for soybean is Rs.
2,500-2,700 per quintal while our cost to produce one quintal is above Rs. 3,000. Not only
soybean, prices of onion, gram,methi , vegetables, milk have bottomed while input costs have
soared for seeds, fertilizers, labour and transport, he says.

Madhya Pradesh consistently boasts of double-digit growth in agriculture averaging 13.9%

during 2010-15 and like many other States, had a bumper harvest following a good monsoon
in 2016. Yet as per the National Crime Records Bureau statistics, as many as 1,982 farmers
committed suicide in the State in 2016-17. A combination of factors falling procurement
prices because of a glut () of produce in the market, a cash crunch due to last years
demonetisation policy and the predominance of smaller landholdings which are expensive to
maintain have led to asimmering (/ ) anger. Like their
counterparts in many parts of Maharashtra, farmers in Mandsaur launched an agitation
demanding remunerative prices for their onion, soybean and pulses. As thousands of farmers
poured onto the streets, stopping traffic, attacking trucks and confronting police, things turned
violent and five farmers were killed as a result of police firing and a curfew was imposed across
five districts.

Farmers from the Mandsaur-Neemuch stretch in the Malwa region, aside from growing soybean
and chana, also grow a range of spices and medicinal plants
like methi , dhaniya (coriander), jeera (cumin) and ajwain (carom seeds). Yet, farmers in the
region claim that prices for these cash crops have been falling for the past few years. We never
sold methi below Rs. 4,000 per quintal during the Manmohan Singhs government. But ever
since Modi became PM, methi prices have collapsed, says Dinesh, showing methi gunny bags
stored in his house.
In addition to low prices, what has aggravated the situation is the Central governments
demonetisation move late last year that has adversely hit the rural and agrarian economy.
Notebandi has almost finished us in the rural areas. Even after selling our produce, we dont
get money in our hands before at least two-three weeks and sometimes even a month, says
Lalchand Mali, a farmer from Barkheda Panth.

Interestingly, not many farmers in the region are seeking loan waiver as is being claimed in the
media. Most of them want better and remunerative prices that cover their costs and provide them
income for survival. Believe me, no true farmer would want loan waiver. If the government
provides better prices, we will repay our debt. The problem is the government never provides
better prices, adds Lalchand, who owns a two-hectare plot in the village.

The Maharashtra stir

In the town of Niphad in Maharashtras Nashik district, the main vegetable market, located in a
large yard opposite the tehsil office, lies deserted. In a series of godowns that lie adjacent to the
yard there is a pink gleam as sunlight filters through to large sacks of onions that are waiting to
be transported. In Vittal Sanaps godown, which is nearly packed to capacity with produce, a
large truck with a tarpaulin cover has been parked inside for three days even as workers go about
their usual task of loading onions into bright red sacks.

We had an order for onions to go to Madras (Chennai) a few days back but the truck
was accosted () on the road before it could get to Nashik and all the onions were
dumped on the road, says Sanap. Onions that are left at the mercy of the elements lose their
value almost immediately, so for now Sanap is just waiting for things to tide over.
The hartal (strike) will have to end soon because there are many farmers who have no choice
but to sell their goods even if prices are bad.

Onions and other vegetables from godowns like Sanaps go to the Agricultural Produce Market
Committee (APMC) market in Nashik from where they are taken to other cities in Maharashtra
like Mumbai and Pune as well as to other States in the south like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, and
even Sri Lanka. The APMC market in Nashik is appropriately mammoth on either side of a
dusty road are two large open halls, each the size of a large bus terminus with tall pillars running
right through. On June 8, a day after the one-week strike called by farmers in the region
officially ended, a small group of women have set up shop to sell vegetables like cabbage,
chillies, tomatoes and cucumber. They take up barely a quarter of one hall but as produce is
brought in by farmers in smaller trucks, there are murmurs of anger outside with some
arguments breaking out as the produce is passed inside. These women are not from
Maharashtra, you can tell from their earrings that they are from Rajasthan. These are just small
local farmers who want to break the strike, says one of the men. Still, even these small traces of
activity raise the suspicion that divisions are beginning to form in what was till now a unified
movement in the district.

United in adversity

As the major commercial supplier in this region, Nashik may have become the epicentre of the
farmers movement but it all started in a village called Puntamba in Ahmednagar district three
months ago on April 3, when the villages gram panchayat passed a resolution warning of a
Shetkari Sampa (Strike of the Ryots) from June 1. Their charter of demands addressed to
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis included ensuring crop procurement prices at
least 50% above production costs, a complete waiver of farm loans, 100% subsidy on
drip/sprinkler irrigation systems, and a minimum milk purchase price of Rs. 50.

Farmers across the region may find a specific resonance in one or the other of these demands but
what seems to have really helped the movement spread from Puntamba across the Nashik-
Ahmednagar-Pune stretch of Maharashtra is the language in which the idea of the strike was
communicated. Farmers face many hardships () but this was the first time Ive seen
farmers actually willing to go on strike to and risk everything to see that they are given some
recognition, says Abhijit Dige, who owns an eight-acre farm about 60 km from Nashik.
Politicians dont know what farmers go through, its not like other businesses. Devendra
Fadnavis should come and work in the field for 14 hours a day, work at night in the cold to tend
to onion crops, and then maybe hell understand, he says.

That same sentiment is echoed by Deepak Rane who has a one-acre farm just off Niphad where
he grows cauliflower. The strike should not stop because people dont realise what we go
through. I am not able to recover the cost that I bear to treat my crops with chemicals and
fertilizers. I work from 6 in the morning; what is it all for? he says.

People from all walks of life face hardships but have you ever considered why it is only farmer
suicides you have heard of? asks Dinesh Nikam, another trader in Nashik who has refused to
take orders for onions and other vegetables because he says he stands
in solidarity (/) with the farmers.

The illusion of prosperity

When farm distress (/) was first reported in Maharashtra, it focussed

mainly on the prices of tur and arhar dal and the difficulties faced by farmers in the drought-
prone Marathwada and Amaravati regions. After two years of consecutive drought, a good
monsoon in 2016 brought in a bountiful harvest and the markets were simply swamped with
produce. Record harvests were offset by a steep fall in procurement prices for both crops.
The plight of those farmers is often referenced by prominent leaders of the movement in Nashik
and Ahmednagar though it has to be noted that this region is substantially different. The stretch
from Ahmednagar to Nashik, and down to Kolhapur and Sangli where the movement spread is a
fairlycontiguous (//) belt that is home to relatively
more prosperous farmers. The majority of farmers in the region over the past two decades have
moved from cultivation of crops like bajra (pearl millet) and jowar (sorghum) to cash crops like
grapes and onions. Many have invested in dairy farming (Puntamba, for instance, is home to
many dairy farmers).

Vegetables, then, are actually only a small part of the produce from this region and while the
enduring visual images of the strike may be of vegetables like cauliflower and cabbage being
dumped on the road, there are many places where people show us pictures shot on cell phones of
roads lined with pomegranates, which is the most recent entry to the crop market here.

In Italy, for instance, a village about 10 km from Niphad that was the one of the centres of the
agitation, Swarupananda Bhorgade says that about 80% of the village of 5,000-odd farmers is
involved in grape farming, sometimes done in rotation with onions. I have been growing grapes
for the last 20 years and till about seven or eight years ago I used to sell it for about Rs. 50 a
kilo, says Bhorgade. So it was only natural that I planted grapes on every inch of my 15 acres.
Now it costs me about Rs. 15 to harvest a kilo of grapes and all I can get on the market is Rs. 9 to
Rs. 18 a kilo, he says.

Bhorgade attributes this to a number of factors, the most important of which is climate
storms would come unseasonably and the crops would be destroyed. Or there would be
hailstorms. This past year, the weather was regular and the crop was good for once but there is
no price. You have to take into account how much we have spent on growing these crops and
how we will recover it. It costs a lot to invest in crops like grapes and pomegranates, he says,
adding that farmers from the region initially tried to rope in their counterparts from Amaravati
who grew tur dal but their situation was completely different. They have larger landholdings
and their crop is rain-fed. They dont have to spend on irrigation and other chemicals and
fertilizer like we do.

On June 3, a faction (/) of farmer leaders decided to call off the strike after Mr.
Fadnavis announced a partial loan waiver for small and marginal farmers that would come into
effect on October 31. In a large meeting on June 8 in Nashik that included about 3,000 farmers
and 150 representatives of farmer associations from across the State, that compromise was
rejected. The people who met the Chief Minister did so late at night without anybody knowing
and the agreement was not along the lines of what we were originally demanding, said Raju
Shetti, president of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana that has taken a major role in advancing the
agenda. If the government did not accede to the demand to waive all loans immediately and
bump up procurement prices, the meeting decided that the strike would move to a new phase
of hartals across district and collectors offices from June 12 and rail rokos in some areas. As of
June 8, the meeting concluded that farmers should be allowed to take their produce to the market
in order to meet their minimum needs. Look for Puntamba on that day (June 12), says one of
the farmers who attended the meeting. The first rail roko will be there, where it all started.

1. Desperation (noun): A state of despair, typically one which results in rash or extreme
behaviour. ()

Synonyms: Hopelessness, Despair, Distress, Gloom, Melancholy.

Antonyms: Cheer, Delight, Happiness, Relief.

Example: This feeling of desperation and helplessness was common to most of the refugees.

Origin: from Latin desperatus deprived of hope.

2. Frenzied (adjective): Wildly excited or uncontrolled. (/)

Synonyms: Frantic, Wild, Frenetic, Agitated, Hysterical.

Antonyms: Balanced, Calm, Composed, Controlled.

Example: The frenzied employees became calm as they heard the news of hike after 5 years.

Related words:

Frenzy (noun) - A state or period of uncontrolled excitement or wild behaviour.

3. Glut (noun): An excessively abundant supply of something. ()

Synonyms: Surplus, Excess, Surfeit, Superfluity, Overabundance

Antonyms: Lack, Need, Want, Insufficiency.

Example: Because Cindy consumed a glut of food at the party, she now has a stomach ache.

4. Simmer (verb): Show or feel barely suppressed anger or other strong

emotion. ( / )

Synonyms: Seethe, Rage, be furious, be angry.

Antonyms: Tranquil, Cool, Calm, Please.

Example: Long-simmering tensions between the two groups eventually sparked violence.

Verb forms: Simmer, Simmered, Simmered.

5. Accosted (adjective): Forcefully confronted ()

Synonyms: Opposed, Resisted, Confronted, Repelled.

Antonyms: Dodged, Evaded.

Example: When the man accosted me with a gun, I quickly handed over my purse.

Verb forms: Accost, Accosted, Accosted.

Related words:

Accost (verb) - Approach and address (someone) boldly or aggressively.

6. Solidarity (noun): Unity or agreement of feeling or action, especially among individuals with
a common interest; mutual support within a group.(/)

Synonyms: Unanimity, Unity, Like-Mindedness, Agreement, Accord, Harmony, Consensus,

Concord, Concurrence.

Antonyms: Disagreement, Antagonism, Discord.

Example: While the prisoners were of different races, they all joined in solidarity to protest
their dirty living conditions.
Origin: From French solidaire means solidary.

7. Distress (noun): Extreme anxiety, sorrow, or pain. (/)

Synonyms: Affliction, Agony, Anguish, Excruciation, Anguish, Suffering, Pain.

Antonyms: Cheer, Comfort, Contentment, Delight, Euphoria.

Example: Ron suffered severe emotional distress as a result of the accident.

Verb forms: Distress, Distressed, Distressed.

Related words:

Distress (verb) - Cause (someone) anxiety, sorrow, or pain.

8. Contiguous (adjective): Next or together in sequence./ sharing border.


Synonyms: Adjacent, Neighboring, Adjoining, Bordering, Juxtaposed, Beside.

Antonyms: Divided, Separated.

Example: Because there is a bar contiguous to the pool, you do not have to get out of the water
to order a drink.
Origin: from Latin contiguus touching.

9. Faction (noun): A small organized dissenting group within a larger one (/)

Synonyms: Clique, Coterie, Caucus, Cabal, Bloc.

Antonyms: Individual, Whole, Unity.

Example: The United States Civil War began when several southern states decided to become
a faction and form their own nation.

Origin: from Latin facere do, make.

10. Hardship (noun): Something that causes or entails suffering or privation ()

Synonyms: Adversity, Asperity, Hardness, Difficulty.

Antonyms: Plenty, Affluence, Prosperity.

Example: Since she did not have much credit, the first-time buyer faced a hardship when trying
to purchase a property.

Expensive, hazardous and inequitable

By all accounts, nuclear power has had a bad year. In March, Westinghouse, the largest historic
builder of nuclear power plants in the world, declared bankruptcy, creating a major financial
crisis for its parent company, Toshiba. The French nuclear supplier, Areva, went bankrupt a few
months earlier and is now in the midst of a restructuring that will cost French taxpayers about
10 billion. Its reactor business is being taken over by a clutch (a small group of people or
things.) of companies, including the public sector lectricit de France, which is itself in poor
financial health. In May, the U.S. Energy Information Administration announced that it expects
the share of nuclear electricity in the U.S. to decline from about 20% in 2016 to 11% by 2050.
The newly elected Presidents of Korea and France have both promised to cut the share of nuclear
energy in their countries. And the Swiss just voted to phase out
( ) nuclear power.

Both Areva and Westinghouse had entered into agreements with the Indian government to
develop nuclear plants. Areva had promised to build the worlds largest nuclear complex at
Jaitapur (Maharashtra), while last June, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President
Barack Obama announced, with great fanfare, that Westinghouse would build six reactors at
Kovvada (Andhra Pradesh). The collapse of these
companies vindicates( ) critics of these deals, who consistently
pointed out that Indias agreements with Areva and Westinghouse were fiscally irresponsible. If
these projects had gone ahead, Indian taxpayers would have been left holding the bag billions
of dollars of debt, and incomplete projects. This narrow escape calls not only for a hard look at
the credibility of those members of the nuclear establishment who advocated these deals for a
decade, but for a comprehensive re-evaluation of the role of nuclear power in the countrys
energy mix.
Therefore, the governments recent decision to approve the construction of ten 700 MW
Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) deserves to be scrutinised carefully. Strictly
speaking, there is little that is new in this decision. A list of all the sites where the PHWRs are to
be constructed had already been provided to Parliament by the United Progressive Alliance
government in 2012. But delays with the first 700 MW PHWRs already under construction, the
changed international scenario for nuclear energy, and the ongoing reductions in the cost of
renewable energy all imply that these earlier plans are best abandoned.

It doesnt come cheap

First, although the 700 MW PHWRs are cheaper than imported reactors, their electricity is likely
to be costly. These reactors are commercially untested, since the largest PHWRs constructed so
far in India are the 540 MW twin units at Tarapur. There are two 700 MW PHWRs under
construction at Rawatbhata (Rajasthan) and Kakrapar (Gujarat), but these have been delayed by
over two years, and the government has not revealed the resultant cost increases.

Nevertheless, assuming a capital cost of Rs. 10 crore per megawatt, suggested by the
governments press release on its decision, and using the pattern of expenditure seen at
Rawatbhata and Kakrapar, a rough estimate suggests that the cost of electricity during the first
year of operations at these reactors is likely to be around Rs. 6 per unit at current prices. The
Central Electricity Regulatory Commissions published tariffs show that almost all currently
operating Indian coal, natural gas and hydroelectric power plants produce cheaper electricity.

Even prices for solar power have dropped below those of nuclear power. For example, the
winning bid at the auction for the Bhadla Phase-IV Solar Park in Rajasthan held last month was
Rs. 2.44 per unit, which is fixed for 25 years. This is not an isolated example, but part of a trend
of falling prices in the renewable sector.

In fact, the governments tariff model makes nuclear power appear more competitive than it
really is. The capital invested in any plant yields no returns while the plant is being constructed.
At the end of construction, the government fixes a tariff by calculating a rate of return on the
nominal amount of capital invested, disregarding the value this amount could have accumulated
during this idle time. As a result, the effective rate of return on equity invested in nuclear energy
is significantly lower than the rate of return provided by other sources of electricity that have
shorter gestation (the development of something over a period of time.) periods. Nuclear
power would be even less economically attractive if a methodology that
consistently incorporates ( / ) the time value of
capital were to be used to establish tariffs.
While announcing its decision, the government claimed that these plants would generate more
than 33,400 jobs in direct and indirect employment. But this number ceases to be impressive
when viewed in the context of the planned capital expenditure of Rs. 70,000 crore. The relevant
factor in assessing the employment opportunities provided by a project is not just the total
number of jobs produced but the ratio of the jobs produced to the capital invested.

A widely cited study by three analysts from the University of California, Berkeley, found that
nuclear power created only 0.14 job-years per gigawatt-hour of electricity produced. In contrast,
solar photovoltaic sources were more than six times as labour intensive, creating about 0.87 job-
years per gigawatt-hour of electricity. Since solar energy is cheaper, this comparison is even
more unfavourable to nuclear power when viewed in terms of jobs created per rupee spent.

Bad fit for climate change

The government also argued that these reactors would bolster global efforts to combat climate
change. While climate change is indeed a grave problem, it is not the only environmental
problem confronting us. Nuclear power poses its own set of threats to the environment and
public health, and is therefore an inappropriate tool
to mitigate ( ) climate change.

All nuclear reactors produce radioactive waste materials because each fission event involving
nuclei of uranium or plutonium gives rise to radioactive elements called fission products. Some
of these remain radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years. Despite decades of research,
nuclear waste remains an unavoidable long-term problem for the environment.

Nuclear reactors are also capable of catastrophic accidents, as witnessed in Fukushima and
Chernobyl. A single nuclear disaster can contaminate largetracts () of land with
radioactive materials, rendering these areas uninhabitable for decades. More than 30 years after
the accident at Chernobyl, about 650,000 acres are still excluded from inhabitation.

The peoples concerns

Local communities are keenly aware of the hazardous nature of nuclear power. Since the 1980s,
every new site chosen for a nuclear plant has beengreeted with a protest movement. Sometimes,
these movements have succeeded in forcing the cancellation of plans, including at two sites in
Kerala and one site in West Bengal. More recently, the plan to establish a plant near Patiala
seems to have been dropped.

Other communities have been less lucky. In some proposed sites, such as Fatehabad (Haryana),
the government has succeeded in using financial incentives to counter opposition to nuclear
construction, in essence exploiting the economic vulnerability of the local population. But
protests continue at other sites, such as Chutka (Madhya Pradesh). The sad irony in Chutka is
that some of the affected people were previously displaced by the Bargi dam, and are now being
asked to move a second time. Their plight typifies ( ) the social dynamics
associated with nuclear power. The risks and costs are borne overwhelmingly by poor rural
communities, who consume only a tiny fraction of the electricity that is generated.

The government claims that its recent decision displays Indias commitment to sustainable
development. But does the path to sustainable development run through a source of electricity
that is expensive, hazardous (/) and antithetical () to

1. Clutch (noun): (A small group of people or things.) (/)

Synonyms: Group, Collection, Set, Cluster, Conglomeration.

Antonyms: Raft.

Example: The recent economic conference was attended by the heads of a clutch of companies.

2. Phase out (phrasal verb): To discontinue or withdraw gradually./ to discontinue the practice,
production, or use of by phases ( )

Synonyms: Eliminate, Discontinue, Close, Terminate, Abandon.

Antonyms: Continue, Encourage, Strengthen.

Example: Over the following three years, the use of the drug will be phased out, said the newly
elected Chief Minister.

Verb forms: Phase out, Phased out, Phased out.

3. Vindicate (verb): Show or prove to be right, reasonable, or
justified. ( )

Synonyms: Justify, Substantiate, Establish, Demonstrate, Ratify, Authenticate, Verify, Confirm,


Antonyms: Contradict, Disprove, Disapprove.

Example: When my daughter misbehaves at school, I expect her to vindicate her behavior.

Verb forms: Vindicate, Vindicated, Vindicated.

Related words:

Vindication (noun) - Proof that someone or something is right, reasonable, or justified.

4. Gestation (noun): (The development of something over a period of time.)


Synonyms: Development, Formation, Evolution, Growth, Expansion, Progress.

Antonyms: Retrogression, Stagnation, Decline.

Example: Continued steady gestation in the real estate market is largely contingent on low
interest rates.

5. Mitigate (verb): Reducing the severity, seriousness, or painfulness of

something. ( )

Synonyms: Alleviate, Reduce, Diminish, Lessen, Lighten, Attenuate.

Antonyms: Agitate, Extend, Increase, Intensify, Raise, Strengthen.

Example: The doctor gives the prescription to mitigate the pain.

Verb forms: Mitigate, Mitigated, Mitigated.

Related words:

Mitigation (noun)-

Origin: From Latin mitis means mild.

6. Typify (verb): Be characteristic or a representative example of. ( )

Synonyms: Epitomize, Exemplify, Represent, Be Characteristic of, Be Symbolic of, Represent,

Be Emblematic of.

Example: Lionel Messi typifies what a professional footballer should be.

Verb forms: Typify, Typified, Typified.

Origin: From Latin typus means type.

7. Incorporate (verb): Take in or contain (something) as part of a whole;

include. ( / )

Synonyms: Include, Subsume, Assimilate, Integrate, Take In, Engulf

Antonyms: Exclude, Separate, Disconnect.

Example: While tutoring a foreign student, I try to incorporate as many slang words as possible
so she fully understands how Americans speak.

Verb forms: Incorporate, Incorporated, Incorporated.

Related words:

Incorporation (noun)

Origin: from Latin in- into + Latin corporare form into a body.

8. Tract (noun): An area of land, typically a large one. ()

Synonyms: Area, Region, Expanse, Span, swathe, Zone, Plot, Field.

Example: A two-mile-wide tract of homes was affected by the tornado, with most of the zone
being demolished.

9. Antithetical (adjective): Directly opposed or contrasted; mutually incompatible.


Synonyms: Contradictory, Contrary, Contrasted, Converse, Counter, Opposed.

Antonyms: Supporting, Corroborative, Aiding.

Example: The bill has not passed parliament because the opposition party is antithetical to the
ruling partys proposal.

Related words:

Antithesis (noun) /

Origin: From Greek from antitithenai set against.

10. Hazardous (adjective): Risky; dangerous (/)

Synonyms: Dangerous, Risky, Unsafe, Perilous, Precarious, Insecure

Antonyms: Harmless, Innocent, Innocuous, Nonhazardous, Nonthreatening, Safe.

Example: Certain pesticides should be banned since they are hazardous to the environment.

Related words:

Hazard (noun) - A danger or risk.


Rational ecology
On the occasion of World Environment Day (5 June), it would be useful to underline that
Mahatma Gandhis concept of non-violence can be extended from its political and social
implications to the concept of conservation of nature against the invasion of modern technology
without which we survived for thousands of years.

The tremendous progress of technology has now become a part of our lives as we take for
granted the comfort and advantages it offers, disregarding the negative impact it can cause to
nature in general. Gandhis non-violent methods envisage that nature ought to be handled in a
mild manner, much against modern technologys onslaught (a fierce or destructive attack.) on
nature to help technology achieve its goal.

Tagore had also written on the love of nature that nourished us for thousands of years and is still
a source of nourishment and pleasure for both physical and mental needs.

The traditional respect for nature helped conservation, while the modern concept of science
conquering nature hastened its destruction.

The modern slogan of save nature and save yourself is belated warnings that were followed in
the past. The two key principles of rational ecology namely, maximum diversity and minimum
interference can be followed if the Gandhian principle of non-violence is accepted in spirit.
It is nothing new for us because in India we have always followed the simple formula of least
interference. For example, according to Indian tradition, cows were not milked for a while after a
calf is born so that the latter gets enough nourishment. Arable (-) land is not
cultivated for sometime after reaping a crop so that it gets some rest.

Flowers and leaves were not plucked at night when these were supposed to sleep. The sacred
groves or various customs/deities of the forest or hills helped conservation in a regular way.

Modern science and technology debunked ( ) these traditions as

superstitions without any suitable environmental alternative that can help conservation.

Gandhis love of traditional values and Nature is criticized and

even ridiculed ( ) on various counts not least because the philosophy is against
modernity and technology.

But of late, people have become conscious of

the desecration (/) of nature in the wake of natural calamities,
change in the weather pattern, excessive pollution that can cause various ailments, change in the
harvesting patterns, destruction of flora and fauna, and so on. Electronic items can damage the
environment as well as human life.

In less than 300 years, the symbiotic () relationship between man and nature has
been snapped () by the onslaught of modern technology and western colonialism.

The number of elephants, tigers, and wolves, which play an important role in the ecosystem for
their large biomass, is dwindling. Whales are dying in the sea due to the oil-spill of big ships.
The worst part of this onslaught is that those who once lived nearest to nature are the worst
sufferers of such depletion of wild life. The so-called natural classification is anthropocentric
( ).

For instance, while water hyacinth is destroyed, rose and corn are conserved. The reason is
obvious: whatever is good for human consumption (corn or other edibles) or for aesthetics (rose
or sandalwood) is to be conserved and whatever is not good or necessary (like water hyacinth) is
to be destroyed.

The Gandhian concept of combining tradition and modernity however tried to combine the
traditional empathy () for nature. Some people obviously thought it is anti-
modern and anti-science while some others regarded him as a forerunner of the modern concept
of rational ecology.

Post-independent Indias initial euphoria over development by resorting to heavy

industrialisation for overcoming poverty and hunger also tried
tosever (/ ) the umbilical cord with nature. Gandhis emphasis on
traditional values and methods was discarded as an impediment to progress.

Large projects were undertaken by both public and private sectors. These initiatives brought
about modernity and prosperity to a section of the society but at the same time left a larger
section outside its ambit.

In the present context we can only say that the honeymoon with modernity in this context is over
for many, and a large number of thinkers are turning towards tradition and its various facets to
meet the ecological problems of a technology-oriented society because Gandhi turned his back to
urban life and its related issues, to quote Ramachandra Guha in Gandhi and the Environmental
Problems in Gandhi and the Global Crisis, edited by Ramashray Ray, Simla 1996.

In his reckoning, Gandhis awareness of the impending environmental crisis can place him as an
early environmentalist, but his solutions will not appeal to our modern problems of a technology
oriented society because he turned his back to urban life and its related issues.

Gandhis attempt to adhere to traditional ways of life was generally rejected.

However, some neo-Gandhian scholars are calling for the revival of many traditional ways to
handle new difficulties including conservation problems in the light of modern scientific
knowledge. These attempts to give a new look at our traditional ideas and methods are necessary
in order to handle various environmental problems aggravated by mindless devastation of the
environment by technological projects.

Various forms of traditional wisdom about practical solutions of different problems are
considered by environmentalists to be more prudent than the ones offered by modern technology.
Some scholars are examining the merits of traditional methods of irrigation in todays world with
specific reference to India. Various forms of traditional wisdom about practical solutions of
different problems are considered by the environmentalists to be more prudent than the ones
offered by modern technology.

It is good to see that not only scholars and intellectuals but our present political system also
recognises the classical model of environmental management reflected in various constitutional
provisions and laws. The tradition of recognition of the rights of nature as envisaged by Gandhi
in the present era is gradually being recognised by both the public authorities and private

Both Gandhi and Tagore were very sensitive about nature and its protection. The concept of
rights was not so clear then, but it was clear that we should not harm nature indiscriminately. The
terms and conditions were not very explicit in their writings unlike the ancient texts, but at least
it is clear that we should use them only minimally under certain conditions.
Another welcome change is that the responsibility of protection of nature has been passed on to
individuals. It is no longer the sole responsibility of the State.

No longer is the environmental stewardship () solely the responsibility of Kings

and their ministers; within a democracy this becomes a more broadly shared responsibility.

Indeed through the 42nd amendment to the Constitution, environmental stewardship along with
nine other specified responsibilities became a duty of every Indian citizen, as the
environmentalist, Mary McGee, has emphasised.

Courtesy: The Statesman (Concerning)

1. Onslaught (noun): (A fierce or destructive attack.) ()

Synonyms: Assault, Attack, Invasion, Incursion, Blitz.

Antonyms: Retreat, Defence.

Example: The massive onslaught of terrorists on London Bridge caught the country by surprise.

Origin: From Middle Dutch aenslag, from aen on + slag blow. The change in the ending was
due to association with (now obsolete) slaught slaughter.

2. Arable (adjective): Used or suitable for growing crops. (-)

Synonyms: Farmable, Cultivable, Cultivatable, Tillable, Fertile, Productive.

Antonyms: Infertile, Sterile.

Example: Because the farmland was dry and not arable, nobody bid on the parcel at the auction.

Origin: from Latin arare to plough.

3. Debunk (verb): Expose the falseness or hollowness of (an idea or
belief). ( )

Synonyms: Expose, Demystify, Uncloak, Unmask.

Antonyms: Prove, Uphold.

Example: The scientist hoped to debunk the genetic theory by completing his own research.

Verb forms: Debunk, Debunked, Debunked.

4. Ridicule (verb): Subject to contemptuous and dismissive language or

behaviour. ( )

Synonyms: Deride, Mock, Laugh At, Make Fun Of, Pillory.

Antonyms: Admire, Love, Praise, Respect.

Example: It is very common for friends to ridicule one another.

Verb forms: Ridicule, Ridiculed, Ridiculed.

Related words:

Ridicule (noun): The act of making fun of someone or something in a cruel and mean way

Origin: from Latin ridere to laugh.

5. Desecration (noun): Treatment of a sacred place or object with disrespect or contamination.


Synonyms: Profanation, Sacrilege; Pollution, Contamination, Degradation.

Antonyms: Veneration, Sanctification.

Example: Because the priests are knowledgeable men, they will not desecrate the holy temple
by any act.

Verb forms: Desecrate, Desecrated, Desecrated.

Related words:

Desecrate (verb) - To treat a sacred place or object with disrespect

6. Anthropocentric (adjective): Regarding humankind as the central or most important element

of existence ( )
Synonyms: Human Centric, Humanoid, Focused on Homo Sapiens.

Antonyms: Equipollency, Parity of Species.

Example: While visiting the zoo, we watched a monkey peal a banana in such
an anthropoid way.

Related words:

Anthropoid (adjective) - resembling a human being in form.

7. Snap (verb): Break suddenly and completely ()

Synonyms: Break, Fracture, Splinter, Separate, Come Apart, Part, Split.

Antonyms: Connect, Unite, Associate, Combine, Join.

Example: Their relationship was snapped over a trivial argument.

Verb forms: Snap, Snapped, Snapped.

8. Sever (verb): Divide by cutting or slicing, especially suddenly and

forcibly. (/ )

Synonyms: Detach, Disconnect, Cut, Disjoin.

Antonyms: Attach, Combine, Connect, Couple, Join, Link.

Example: Activists are asking the government to sever all diplomatic relations with the country
over terrorism.

Verb forms: Sever, Severed, Severed.

9. Steward (noun): An official appointed to supervise arrangements or keep order at a large

public event. ()

Synonyms: Official, Marshal, Administrator, Representative.

Example: The steward of investments was responsible for companys bankruptcy.

Related words:

Stewardship (noun) -

Origin: Old English stweard, from stig (probably in the sense house, hall) + weard ward.

10. Empathy (noun): The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Synonyms: Affinity, Compassion, rapport.

Antonyms: Disdain, Hatred, Indifference, Mercilessness.

Example: Bart has a hard time forming healthy relationships because he lacks empathy for

Verb forms: Empathize, Empathized, Empathized.

Related words:

Empathize (verb) -


Accounting for three good years

By glossing over () the positives in the three-year rule of the National Democratic
Alliance (NDA) government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, our
political adversaries (), especially the Congress party, are trying to project a false

When the NDA took over the reins from the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance in 2014,
it had to overcome all-round despondency ()after scam-ridden UPA rule. Now, there
is an all-round, positive image for India and the NDA leadership has delivered on its promise of
clean, responsive and transparent governance.

A global bright spot

The economy which was almost in a shambles (in a messy state;), is now estimated to grow at
7.5% this fiscal. India is being hailed as the bright spot by the International Monetary Fund
and other international bodies amid global gloom.

The Prime Minister believes that development would be incomplete without the poor benefiting
from economic growth. With his stress on reform, perform and transform, people feel that he is
the biggest transformer.
The 7.5% growth projections for this fiscal clearly indicate that economic resilience is due to
efficient management. Fiscal prudence has been the watchword of this government. The golden
indicators of the economy show that fiscal deficit is under control; the current account deficit is
down to 0.7% from 4% in 2014; inflation is at a low of 4% as against a high of 11% in 2014;
foreign direct investment inflows have touched $62.3 billion, and Indias foreign exchange
reserves have touched a new high of $379 billion for the week ended May 19.

The introduction of the landmark GST regime from July 1 is set to improve the economy further.
Another important reform is the abolition of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board.

The Bankruptcy and Insolvency Code, which helps in the quick resolution
of insolvency () cases, is one of the governments biggest reforms. As part of
governance reforms, the share of States from the divisible pool of taxes has been increased to

The other big reform has been the enactment of Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act,

On the foreign policy front, the Prime Ministers pro-active engagement with world leaders has
ensured widespread backing for Indias claim for UN Security Council membership.

The Prime Minister has made it clear that Gaon, Garib, Kisan, Mazdoor, Mahila, Yuva form
the core of the NDAs people-centric policies and schemes have been formulated for their uplift.
Agriculture has been accorded highest priority and the goal is to eventually double the income of

Credit facility to agriculture has been increased to a whopping Rs. 10 lakh crore this will go a
long way in preventing farmers from falling prey tousurious
(, ) money lenders.

Another major pro-farmer scheme has been the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, which
covers all food grains and all risks in the crop cycle. With
an outlay (// ) of Rs. 50,000 crore, the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee
Yojana seeks to provide water to every field (Har Khet ko Pani) in five years. The highest ever
expenditure of Rs. 51,902 crore was made in 2016-17 under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural
Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).

There is also the Blue Revolution to ensure economic prosperity for fishermen and nutritional
security where integrated development and management of fisheries, with an outlay of Rs. 3,000
crore, has been envisaged (contemplate or conceive of as a possibility or a desirable future
event.) for five years.
The NDA government had to rework tax agreements with some countries. The series of
measures to unearth black money include constituting a Special Investigation Team to
announcing the successful Income Declaration Scheme (IDS). With the Benami Transactions
(Prohibition) Act, the government has blocked a key route to generate and hold black money.

Finally, the game-changing invalidation of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 notes has dealt a major blow to
the twin menaces of black money and corruption, which became all too pervasive during the
UPA regime.

The entire amount of black money has come into the banking system through demonetisation and
every rupee is being verified whether it is black or white. Post-demonetisation, 91 lakh people
have been added to the income tax net. There has also been unprecedented growth in digital

This government has ushered (cause or mark the start of something new.) in an infectious
( ) sense of honesty, accountability and transparency in the bureaucracy.
The biggest example of this is the transparent auctioning of coal blocks and spectrum.
Auctioning of 82 blocks over the life of the lease period would net Rs. 3.94 lakh crore. Compare
this with the astronomical loss of Rs. 1,86,000 crore in the coal blocks allocations, as the
Comptroller and Auditor General computed it, under the UPA dispensation.

There has also been decisiveness in resolving the four-decade old One Rank One Pension for ex-
servicemen and the long-pending Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh.

I move back to welfare for the needy. Under Jan Dhan Yojana, a record 28.52 crore bank
accounts were opened. Another 13 crore people have availed social security cover
at nominal ( ) rates under Jan Suraksha. Capital of Rs. 3.17 lakh crore as
collateral-free loans has been provided to 7.45 crore small entrepreneurs under the Micro Units
Development & Refinance Agency Ltd (MUDRA) scheme.

Other pro-poor initiatives include Atal Pension Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana
and Jan Suraksha Yojana benefiting 16 crore people.

After the Prime Ministers appeal, about 1.2 Lakhs people have surrendered their LPG subsidy,
which is being given to the poor under Ujjwala Yojana.

As many as 224 schemes have been brought under the Direct Benefit Transfer platform and over
Rs. 1.92 lakh crore transferred to 32 crore beneficiaries, resulting in a saving of Rs. 49,560 crore.
Rural development, infrastructure and housing have been given a huge thrust through Housing
for All; rural electrification (about 13,432 of 18,456 un-electrified villages have been
electrified) and rural connectivity (1.20 lakh km of rural roads constructed in last three years) are
Several schemes to empower women have been successfully implemented which include Beti
Bachao, Beti Padhao (BBBP), Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana (over one crore accounts opened),
Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act (increasing maternity leave to 26 weeks) and Pradhan
Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (safe pregnancy). After BBBP, there has been a remarkable
improvement in the child sex ratio in Haryana 950 girls to 1,000 boys.

Another important reform-driven outcome has been the cancellation of 23 million fake ration
cards following Aadhar-linked public distribution in the States. With the mass movement of
Swachh Bharat, 40 million toilets have been built and 1,94,000 villages have become open
defecation free.

The NDA Government can definitely look back with satisfaction on its three-year rule.

Courtesy: The Hindu (National)

1. Gloss over (Phrasal verb): Try to conceal or disguise (something unfavourable) by treating it
briefly or representing it misleadingly. ()

Synonyms: Conceal, Cover Up, Hide, Camouflage, Disguise, Mislead, Misrepresent, Veil.

Antonyms: Disclose, Divulge, Expose.

Example: The report praised the managers but glossed over the high cost ofthe project.

Verb forms: Glossed over, Glossed over, Glossed over.

2. Adversary (noun): One's opponent in a contest, conflict, or dispute. ()

Synonyms: Opponent, Rival, Enemy, Foe, Nemesis, Antagonist, Combatant, Contender,


Antonyms: Ally, Friend, Helpmate.

Example: If you dont believe in yourself, then you are your worst adversary.

Origin: from Latin adversarius opposed, opponent.

3. Despondency (Noun): Low Spirits From Loss Of Hope Or Courage ()

Synonyms: Gloom, Despair, Discouragement, Dispiritedness, Downheartedness, Low Spirits,


Antonyms: Cheerfulness, Encouragement, Happiness.

Example: Because I just won a huge lottery, I am no longer despondent about my financial

Related words:

Despondent (adjective) - very sad and without hope

Origin: from Latin despondere give up, abandon

4. Insolvency (noun): Inability to pay debts ()

Synonyms: Bankruptcy, Financial Ruin, Pennilessness, Impecunious.

Antonyms: Solvency, Affluence.

Example: The economy has entered a sharp downturn, and unemployment and insolvencies can
be expected to increase.

Related words:

Insolvent (adjective) - Unable to pay debts owed.

5. Usurious (adjective): Relating to or characterized by

usury (, )

Synonyms: Extorting, Avaricious, Acquisitive, Extortionate.

Antonyms: Generous.

Example: Rick refused the loan offer because the terms outdid usury and forced him to pay a
sixty percent interest rate on the loan.

Related words:

Usury (noun) - The action or practice of lending money at unreasonably high rates of interest.

6. Outlay (noun): An amount of money spent on something. (// )

Synonyms: Expenditure, Expenses, Spending, Outgoings, Money Spent, Cost, Price.

Antonyms: Savings.

Example: The Company has outlaid nearly 20 million dollars in its new project.

Verb forms: Outlay, Outlaid, Outlaid.

Related words:

Outlay (verb) - To lay out (money)

7. Envisage (verb): (Contemplate or conceive of as a possibility or a desirable future event.)

Synonyms: Conceive, Ideate, Foresee, Predict, Forecast, Foretell, Anticipate.

Antonyms: neglect, Ignore.

Example: He had never envisaged spending the whole of his working life in that particular job.

Verb forms: Envisage, Envisaged, Envisaged.

Origin: from French envisage

8. Infectious (adjective): Likely to spread or influence others in a rapid manner.

( )
Synonyms: Contagious, Spreading, Communicable, Epidemic, Virulent.

Antonyms: Non-Infectious, Uncommunicable.

Example: The steel band music of Trinidad and Tobago is an infectious musical rhythm with a
strong beat, and notes similar to American jazz.

9. Usher in (Phrasal verb): (Cause or mark the start of something

new.) ( )

Synonyms: Herald, Mark The Start Of, Prelude, Pave The Way Form.

Example: We ushered in the India victory with champagne and dancing.

Verb forms: Usher, Ushered, Ushered.

10. Nominal (adjective): (Of a price or charge) very small; far below the real value or
cost. ( )

Synonyms: Tiny, Minute, Minimal, Small, Infinitesimal, Insignificant, Trifling.

Antonyms: Considerable, Substantial.

Example: Dinesh did not get a lot of job applicants because he offered only a nominal salary to
his employees.


EVM Hackathon
Responding to a plethora of complaints from political parties which lost the recent election to the
Uttar Pradesh and Punjab Assemblies about possible rigging () of Electronic
Voting Machines, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi said the EC had no favourites and
that it maintained equidistance from all parties. The criticism was not against the EC but against
EVMs which the EC maintains are infallible ( ). Mr Zaidi threw
a challenge to the doubting parties to demonstrate its tampering under strict conditions and
organised a hackathon from 3 June at the Nirvachan Sadan in New Delhi. Only the CPI-M and
the Nationalist Congress Party have taken up the challenge while the Aam Aadmi Party, which
was in the forefront of the demand, wanted to be allowed to tinker (attempt to repair or
improve something in a casual or desultory way.) with the motherboard. Zaidi denied
permission, saying it was the heart of the EVM.

While the AAP and the Congress have questioned the framework of the hackathon, the BJP, CPI
and the Rashtriya Lok Dal wanted to observe the show. Experts in electronics had misgivings
from the time EVM was introduced in a few constituencies on an experimental basis in the
1980s. Barring the Congress, almost all mainstream political parties, which included the BJP,
CPI and CPI-M, Janata Party, Janatal Dal (United), AIADMK, Rashtriya Lok Dal, Samajwadi
Party and the Telugu Desam Party had expressed reservations of the EVMs in the aftermath of
the 2009 Lok Sabha election, even as the then Chief Election Commissioner, Navin Chawla,
maintained that the Indian EVMs were superior and infallible. The electronic voting system in
our Parliament House is a standing example that there is no such thing as an infallible electronic
voting system as our honourable members frequently resort to ( ) paper
ballots, doubting the numbers thrown up by the electronic system.

When the EC adopted EVMs, it had practically no knowledge about its technology. It had relied
on a committee of experts led by Prof PV Indiresan, retired Director of the Indian Institute of
Technology, Madras. His expertise was electrical engineering, that many said was dated and had
no connection with modern electronics. According to experts, the danger for EVM manipulation
is not only its software but also the hardware which can easily be replaced either in parts or as
the entire unit. One crucial part that can be manipulated is the microcontroller used in the EVMs
into which the software is copied.

Each EVM contains two EEPROMS (Electrically Erasable and Programmable Memory) inside
the control unit in which the voting data is stored The machines are completely unsecured and
can be manipulated from an external source. Bharat Electronics Limited, Bengaluru, and the
Electronic Corporation of India Limited, Hyderabad, manufacturers of Indian EVMs, have
shared the confidential software programme with Microchip of the USA and Renesas of Japan to
copy it onto micro-controllers used in the EVMs.

When these foreign companies deliver micro-controllers fused with software code to the EVM
manufacturers, neither the manufacturer nor the EC officials can read back their contents because
they are locked. This process should have been done securely by the Indian manufacturers of
EVMs. By using generic micro-controllers rather than the more secure ASIC (Application
Specific Integrated Circuit) or FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array), EVM manufacturers
have facilitated easy replacement of micro-controllers. Such manipulations would go undetected
because the EC and the manufacturer are not in the habit of undertaking any hardware or
software audit. It is for these reasons GVL Narasimha Rao, psephologist-turned-BJP
spokesperson, came out with his seminal (/) book,
Democracy at Risk ~ Can We Trust our EVM? after the 2009 Lok Sabha election.

That EVMs are fallible was known to the EC at least since 2000 when MS Gill was the CEC. At
the behest of Subramanian Swamy, then president of the Janata Party, Prof Sanjay Sarma of the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Prof Gitanjali of Harvard University demonstrated
howvulnerable (/) the chips in the EVMs were. Some changes in
procedures were made subsequently, but the fundamental flaws remained. There was
a flurry ( ) of activities in the EC after the 2009
Lok Sabha election, the result of which surprised even the victorious Congress.

Amidst widespread criticism of tampering with the EVMs, CEC Navin Chawla invited two IT
software engineers from Hyderabad, Hariprasad and VV Rao, to demonstrate in the presence of
representatives from the doubting political parties and Prof Indiresan, technical adviser to the
EC, how the infallible EVMs could be breached. Half way through, EC officials
abruptly aborted ( / ) the demonstration claiming it violated the
patent rights of ECIL, manufacturer of the EVM. Subsequently, Hariprasad managed to get an
EC EVM from Mumbai and demonstrated before the public how it could be manipulated. Instead
of learning about the vulnerability of the EVM and finding ways and means of rectifying them,
the EC prosecuted Hariprasad for alleged theft of one of its EVMs. Political parties wanting to
observe the hacking on 3 June need not wait that long. The entire exercise is available on You
Tube. Many experts on Information Technology and electronics and distinguished professors of
computer science in advanced countries including the USA and Japan maintain that any man-
made system can be tampered with.

The decision of the EC to incorporate the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system in
all its EVMs before the 2019 Lok Sabha election is a welcome move as it allows a voter to
physically verify that the vote cast by him goes only to the candidate selected by him and no one
else. The small printout of the vote cast is deposited in a box and kept in the custody of the EC.

Considering the general feeling of the losing candidates about EVM manipulation, there is a
possibility of every runner-up insisting on counting the VVPATs cast in his favour
and tally ( / ) it with the EVM figure of the winning
candidate. In such cases, declaration of result could be delayed even more than the counting of
regular ballot papers of yesteryear. The EC takes about three months to conduct a General
Election, but wants the counting to be over in just a few hours by deploying EVMs. Because of
the risk of tampering, countries like the Netherlands, Ireland, Italy and some of the states in the
USA have banned EVMs. The technologically advanced countries like Britain, France and Japan
never allowed EVMs in their elections.

Article 324 of the Constitution vests the superintendence (/),

direction and control of election to the Election Commission. Election is the essence of
democracy. It is through the electoral process that political parties and leaders are chosen to
govern the country. Over the years, the electoral process has faced challenges to its integrity and
the EC has been found wanting in maintaining the highest standards. One area it should pay
attention to is to ensure election petitions are disposed of within six months of the election. If
need be, the Representation of the People Act could be amended suitably to achieve this.
Stealing elections are not unknown in India. Massive buying of votes, criminalizing of electoral
politics and utilising mafia muscle power have crept into the electoral process robbing it of its

In the 2009 Lok Sabha election in Sivaganga, the returning officer was intimidated to declare the
runner-up the winner by manipulating the voting figures in the last round of counting. The
election petition of the aggrieved candidate was dragged on for five years by seeking stay after
stay till the case became infructuous () when the present Lok Sabha was constituted
in 2014. It was a travesty of electoral integrity. The EC should address this problem seriously
and ensure no repetition of this kind of blatant stealing of election ever takes place in future.

1. Tinker (verb): (Attempt to repair or improve something in a casual or desultory

way.) ( / )

Synonyms: Mend, Improve, Repair, Reform, Darn.

Antonyms: Damage, Destruct, Harm, Hurt.

Example: Please call a professional to repair the hot water heater, the wife complained to her
husband, because it still doesnt work after you decided to tinker with it.

Verb forms: Tinker, Tinkered, Tinkered.

Related words:

Tinkerer (noun) -

2. Seminal (adjective): Strongly influencing later

developments. (/)

Synonyms: Influential, Formative, Important, Primary.

Antonyms: Dull, Inessential, Insignificant, Minor, Unsubstantial.

Example: Newtons laws are seminal in the field of physics.

Origin: from Latin semen seed.

3. Flurry (noun): A number of things arriving or happening suddenly and during the same
period. ( )

Synonyms: spate, cluster, outbreak, deluge (of activities).

Antonyms: Order, Array Or Alignment (Of Activities).

Example: Many applications provide a flurry of editorials having significant relevance to


Verb forms: Flurry, Flurried, Flurried.

Related words:

Flurry (verb) - To move in an agitated or confused manner

4. Resort (verb): Turn to and adopt (a course of action, especially an extreme or undesirable
one) so as to resolve a difficult situation. ( )

Synonyms: Use, Utilize, Employ, Adopt To, have recourse to.

Antonyms: Ignore, Avoid, Forgo.

Example: Feeling the difficulty they resorted to another path to reach the destination.

Verb forms: Resort, Resorted, Resorted.

5. Infallible (adjective): Never failing; always effective. ( )

Synonyms: Unerring, Error-Free, Unfailing, Faultless, Flawless, Impeccable, Perfect

Antonyms: Erring, Fallible, Faulty, Imperfect.

Example: Your DNA at the scene is infallible evidence that you committed the crime.

Origin: Latin infallibilis, from in- not + Latin fallere deceive.

6. Abort (verb): To terminate a procedure prematurely /bring to a premature end because of a

problem or fault. ( / )

Synonyms: Halt, Stop, End, Call Off, Cut Short, Discontinue, Terminate.
Antonyms: Continue, Go On, Linger.

Example: They aborted the execution of project due to lack of money.

Verb forms: Abort, Aborted, Aborted.

7. Tally (verb): Calculate the total number of. ( / )

Synonyms: Count, Calculate, Add Up, Total, Enumerate, Compute

Example: Before there were calculators, merchant would use an abacus to tally up debts owed.

Verb forms: Tally, Tallied, Tallied.

8. Superintendence (noun): The act or function of superintending or directing


Synonyms: Administration, Care, Charge, Control, Direction, Governance, Guidance, Handling.

Antonyms: Ignorance, Negligence.

Example: Under her lax superintendence the company eventually went bankrupt.
Verb forms: Verb forms: Superintend, Superintended, Superintended.

Related words:

Superintend (verb) - / )

Origin: Late Latin superintendere, from Latin super- + intendere to stretch out, direct.

9. Infructuous (adjective): Not fruitful; not conducive to abundant production. ()

Synonyms: Fruitless, Unprofitable, Futile, Ineffective, Ineffectual, Inefficacious.

Antonyms: Efficacious, Efficient, Fruitful, Potent, Productive.

Example: It appears that filling out job applications in this troubled economy is an Infructuous

10. Rigging (noun): Underhand, unscrupulous, or dishonest behaviour or

activities. (())

Synonyms: Trickery, Unscrupulousness, Underhandedness, Skullduggery.

Antonyms: Honesty, Truthfulness.

Example: He resorted to rigging to get what he wanted.


Save A Whale, Save A Planet

Let's all learn from how volunteers selflessly came together to save a baby whale named JJ.

In 1997, a dramatic scene played out near Los Angeles as a new-born grey whale was
discovered stranded (/ ) in Marina del Rey. It had become separated
from its mother during the annual migration from Alaska to Mexico.

Hundreds of volunteers commandeered (enlist (someone) to help in a task.) boats and moving
vans and used makeshift stretchers to move this lone baby female whale over 100 miles to San
Diego in a desperate attempt to save her life. Named JJ by her rescuers, she arrived weak,
dehydrated and disoriented; but after 18 months in care, she was restored to health and released
back into the wild.

While many celebrated that day, the challenges JJ overcame were nothing compared to the
threats she and her entire grey whale species now face 20 years later. That threat is climate

Today, our oceans are under immense pressure as their waters absorb much of the carbon dioxide
and other greenhouse gases pumped into the air by human activity, resulting in a 30% increase in
acidity. The progress of the human race, particularly since the Industrial Revolution, has resulted
indevastating (///) impacts to
our entire climate, and those impacts are particularly prevalent () in our oceans.

Seashells are weaker, massive ancient coral formations are bleaching and essential ecosystems
are dying. The marine food chain is endangered: clams, oysters, lobsters and crabs, which are a
dietary staple for large sea creatures such as seals, otters and walruses, are under the threat
ofextinction ().

Most worrisome () of all, plankton, amphipods (tiny shrimp-like creatures) and

other microscopic organisms that sustain mighty whales and fish of all types and sizes are
becoming harder to find. This frightening trend means JJ will likely starve to death before the
end of her normal lifespan, and much of the sea life that billions of humans depend on will

Unlike other threats to the ocean, such as plastic pollution and overfishing, these changes are not
always easy to see, but there are obvious warnings.More than half of the world's 17 penguin
species are now endangered, largely due to climate change-related declines in their food supply.

Common clams are smaller than ever quite literally disappearing before our eyes and humans,
too, will suffer from that loss. A protein found in a common clam shell has been shown to cure
cancers. Where do we turn when it's gone?

As a result of climate change, the world's oceans are already warming to the point where they
can no longer absorb our pollution, meaning efforts to cut carbon emissions will have to go far
beyond the levels laid out by the 2015 Paris Agreement if we are to avoid the
most catastrophic (/) impacts.

Sea level rise and the damage to coastal regions from more intense and long-lasting storms have
already wiped out vulnerable (/), low-lying
communities and the livelihoods of local fishers, tourism workers, farmers and so many others.
Our thirst for oil has led to massive oil spills that hurt even more.

But there is hope. The Paris Agreement paved the way to a more sustainable future for the planet
and especially its oceans. My foundation has supported research at The Solutions Project that
shows the world could be powered by 100% clean, renewable energy by 2050. In Vietnam,
mangroves are being restored along the coast to absorb carbon, provide nurseries for countless
fish species and buffer ( ) the coast from violent storms.

And in the same waters near Los Angeles where JJ was found two decades ago, volunteers are
replanting vital giant kelp forests that are home to 800 species of other plants and animals, and
that provide oxygen to the planet for everyone.

Will it be enough? Hundreds of volunteers came together to rescue JJ people from all walks of
life, all ages, all backgrounds. They checked their egos and agendas at the beach and dove in,
quite literally, to save a creature in dire (/) need. We can do so
again for our oceans, for ourselves, and for our future.
But just as we made a conscious decision to rescue JJ once upon a time, we are now making
another equally profound ( ) choice of whether she lives a full, normal life, or
whether further ocean degradation will starve her, prematurely, to death. If that happens, we are
also condemning our children to a much bleaker (/) quality of life than
the one we take for granted today.

We know that humankind is powerful enough and apparently foolish enough to change the very
chemistry of two thirds of the planet. The same alarm and urgency that arose to save JJ in 1997
needs to happen today as the massive threat to her and an entire class of marine biodiversity

United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14 asks us to conserve and sustainably use the
oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development. Let's remember that this goal
cannot be achieved merely by limiting the number of fish we take from the sea or ending risky
oil exploration in coastal waters, but also by eliminating the threats posed to our oceans from
climate change and the emissions we drive here on land.

Courtesy: The Times of India (Concerning)

1. Stranded (adjective): Left without the means to move from

somewhere. (/ )

Synonyms: Marooned, Isolated, Left In The Lurch, Deserted, Stuck.

Example: On the way to California, the couples car broke down and they were stranded on the
side of the road.

Verb forms: Strand, Stranded, Stranded.

Related words:

Strand (verb) - Leave (someone) without the means to move from somewhere.
2. Prevalent (adjective): Accepted, done, or happening often or over a large area at a particular
time/common or widespread. ()

Synonyms: Extensive, Widespread, Rampant, Rife, Pervasive, Present In A Wide Area.

Antonyms: Rare, Limited, Scarce.

Example: Smoking is becoming increasingly prevalent among younger women.

3. Extinction (noun): The state or process of being or becoming extinct. ()

Synonyms: Dying Out, Disappearance, Vanishing, Annihilation.

Antonyms: Preservation, Conservation, Safekeeping.

Example: The discussed editorial is all about to try to save a species of animal from extinction.

Related words:

Extinct (adjective) - (of a species, family, or other larger group) having no living members.

4. Worrisome (adjective): Causing anxiety or concern. ()

Synonyms: Worrying, Grave, Concerning, Alarming.

Antonyms: Comforting, Soothing, Allaying.

Example: The unfitness of many players has become worrisome for team management.

5. Catastrophic (adjective): Involving or causing sudden great damage or

suffering. (/)

Synonyms: Calamitous, Ruinous, Tragic.

Antonyms: Blessed, Fortunate, Advantageous.

Example: Because of the severe drought, this year has been quite catastrophic for farmers.

Related words:

Catastrophically (adverb)

Catastrophe (noun) - An event causing great and usually sudden damage or suffering; a disaster.

6. Vulnerable (adjective): Exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either

physically or emotionally. (/)

Synonyms: In Danger, In Peril, In Jeopardy, At Risk, Endangered, Unsafe, Unprotected, Ill-

Protected, Unguarded, Exposed, Wide Open; Undefended, Unshielded.

Antonyms: guarded, protected, safe, secure.

Example: People who are vulnerable to the flu virus should get the flu shot every year.
Related words:



7. Buffer (verb): Lessen or moderate the impact of

(something). ( / )

Synonyms: Lessen, Diminish, Moderate, Mitigate, Allay, Muffle.

Antonyms: Aggravate, Intensify, Worsen.

Example: In order to prevent head injuries, the football team wore helmets to buffer any contact
with the opposing team.

Verb forms: Buffer, Buffered, Buffered.

Related words:

Buffer (noun)-

8. Dire (adjective): In the sense of requiring immediate action./ extremely serious or urgent.

Synonyms: Urgent, Emergency, High-Priority, Top-Priority, Important, Vital, Crucial.

Antonyms: Unimportant, Trivial.

Example: A government split would have dire consequences for domestic peace.

9. Profound (adjective): Very great or intense/ characterized by intensity of feeling or

quality. ( )

Synonyms: Intense, Acute, Severe, Extreme.

Antonyms: Light, Superficial, Trivial, Unimportant.

Example: discovery of insulin has a profound effect on many areas of medicine.

Related words:

Profoundly (adverb) -

Profoundness (noun) -

10. Bleaker (adjective): Charmless and inhospitable; dreary. (/)

Synonyms: Gaunt, Desolate, Lorn, Dismal, Grim.

Antonyms: Bright, Cheerful, joyful.

Example: The Garden looks incredibly bleaker without any plants.


How to share intelligence

The United States currently gives an impression of being at war with itself. This stems from a
series of charges and countercharges levied against President Donald Trump and his advisers,
including that of collusion with the Russians, who are accused of meddling with the presidential

Several probes have already been launched in this connection. Meanwhile, the kaleidoscopic
( ) nature of the changes taking place in the top echelons of the
new administration is hardly helping matters. The peremptory actions of the President, such as
the dismissal of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey, has only
aggravated this situation. Almost every step taken by the new administration is leading to
partisan rows. The media and intelligence agencies are far from impartial in their behaviour.
Leaks from within the administration, including the White House, have also created
a piquant ( ) situation. Nothing comparable to this has been seen since the
Nixon years.

Unparalleled disdain

Liberal America and Beltway Washingtons disdain for President Trump, and the manner in
which he conducts his policies, is quite unparalleled. Barack Obama, Mr. Trumps predecessor,
is by contrast credited currently with many more virtues than at any time when he was in office.
Forgotten is the anger against Obamacare and the Obama doctrine. He is seen as a moderate,
someone wedded to maintaining equilibrium in international relations and, above all, someone at
peace with the American nation and its people, in marked contrast to Trumponomics. What has
led to a fractured society in the U.S. today carries a message for democracies everywhere.
Democracy needs sensitive handling. One of the principal charges against members of the Trump
team is that they maintained improper contact with Russian diplomats who, after Ukraine and
Crimea, were regarded as international outcasts, at least from the point of view of the U.S.
Contact with other foreign diplomats was acceptable, but not with the Russians, possibly a new
and modified form of McCarthyism (McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of
subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence.), but nevertheless the current
norm. A point to consider, no doubt, is whether there is indeed
something sinister (/) in all this, or it is a case of the liberal media overreaching
itself, with investigative and intelligence agencies such as the FBI and the Central Intelligence
Agency (CIA) acting in tow ( ). The role of Congress and the elected representatives
is little in evidence.

Even after becoming President, Mr. Trump remains a disruptor extraordinaire. Disruption is
today acceptable in fields such as technology and business, even regarded as essential for
progress, but the same cannot be said for politics and diplomacy.

The jury is still out on his overtures (/) towards Russia, his simultaneous
diplomatic forays ( ) vis--vis Saudi Arabia and Israel, his
approach to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and Europe, his attitude towards China and
the policy towards North Korea.

For the present, hence, the President appears to be under a virtual siege. Apart from Congress
and Congressional committees, which constitute an essential element of the U.S. system of
checks and balances, he is today confronted by teams of lawyers assigned to a kind of Trump
Watch, journalists, and NGOs. These apart, there are the street protesters. Seldom has an elected
President had to face a situation of this kind.

The most recent accusation levelled against the President, viz. that of leaking state secrets,
surpasses anything levelled against him previously. It was the result of a leak from within the
White House, and related to a meeting that Mr. Trump had with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey
Lavrov in the Oval Office on May 10. The accusation is that the President revealed certain
highly classified intelligence information to Mr. Lavrov.

The impression conveyed was that the President had thereby violated the strict norms that govern
dissemination of secret information. The classified intelligence is said to have been provided by
a West Asian ally to the U.S. and was not to be shared with anyone. It was stated to be so
sensitive that U.S. officials had not shared it widely within the U.S. government, and had not
passed it on to other allies. The fear expressed was that the West Asian ally would not share any
sensitive information with the U.S. in future.

The facts of the case do not quite add up to what has been put out. An element of bias does seem
to have crept in. It would seem that the main grouse (a complaint or grumble.) of Washington
insiders was to the meeting effected between Mr. Trump and Mr. Lavrov, which also included
the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, a meeting from which the U.S. press was excluded and
to which the Russian press
was privy ( / ). Mr. Kislyaks presence
was a kind of red rag as his name had previously figured in the controversies involving
Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Leaking of sensitive secret information became a useful plank to hit the President with. The
secret intelligence referred to was that of advances made by the Islamic State in bomb-making,
and its plans to mask the explosive devices by concealing it inside laptop computers, which
could be carried on to an aircraft to launch a terrorist attack. No mention seems to have been
made about the identity of the source or the mechanics of how the intelligence was obtained.
Only the city from where the intelligence was obtained had been mentioned.

It is not unusual for Presidents and Prime Ministers to exchange sensitive information
including of the intelligence variety in closed-door sessions. It is again the general practice
worldwide that heads of state and government are the best judges of what they
can divulge ( /) to their counterparts at such closed-door

In this case, the President was apparently expansive during his meetings with the Russian
Foreign Minister. There is nothing to indicate that he went beyond boasting about the
intelligence information in the possession of the U.S. In itself, what the President revealed was
hardly a crime. It is well-known that leaders at this level are far less parsimonious
(/ ) in parting with intelligence than are intelligence chiefs and
members of the intelligence fraternity.

The Indian experience

We in India have been victims of such inadequate provision of intelligence by friendly countries,
despite having elaborate arrangements for counterterrorism cooperation, an instance in point
being the failure of friendly counter-intelligence agencies in 2008 to share all the information in
their possession which might have prevented the November 26, 2008 terror attacks on multiple
targets in Mumbai. A welcome departure from the attitude of intelligence chiefs is generally the
approach of Presidents and Prime Ministers, who tend to take a more liberal view. Mr. Trump is
perhaps guilty of breach of intelligence protocol. Intelligence protocol stipulates that prior
approval should be obtained from the country providing the intelligence to share the classified
information with a third country. Disclosure of bare-bone intelligence, short of identity and
mechanics, is not an offence. That the media should have portrayed it as one of the
gravest crises yet for the White House is inexplicable (unable to be explained or accounted
This does not absolve Mr. Trump of not being careful with the intelligence in his possession, and
to which he is privy through the Presidential Daily Brief and periodic meetings with his Director
of Intelligence, and the heads of intelligence and investigative agencies such as the CIA and the
FBI. One such intelligence gaffe (/) on the part of Mr. Trump was his
recent disclosure to the Philippines President of the location of two nuclear submarines in the
waters off the Korean Peninsula, while discussing the situation in North Korea.

Relations between President Trump and sections of society in the U.S. appear stalemated at
present. The avalanche of leaks from within the government reveals an unhealthy atmosphere.
Maintaining secrecy of information is important, especially where it concerns exchanges
between two governments.

For democracies everywhere, there are lessons to be learnt from the

present imbroglio (/) in the U.S. The need to maintain a balance
between the government, the judiciary and the legislature, the media, interest groups and various
elements in society is vital. Without this, the functioning of government and institutions would
become highly untenable.

1. Kaleidoscopic (adjective): Continually shifting or rapidly changing.

( )

Synonyms: Altering, Fast Changing, Portraying Rapid Patterns.

Antonyms: Stable, Steady, Unchanging.

Example: Because of his kaleidoscopic nature, he was impeached immediately from the
position of COO.

2. In tow (adverb): Accompanying or following someone. ( )

Synonyms: Accompanying, Following, Escorting, In Chaperone.

Antonyms: Separately, Dividedly.

Example: The manager went to the meeting with her staff in tow.

3. Overture (noun): An approach or proposal made to someone with the aim of opening
negotiations or establishing a relationship. (/)

Synonyms: Opening Move, Conciliatory Move, Approach, Proposal, Proposition.

Antonyms: Withdrawal, Abandonment, Aloofness.

Example: In an attempt to make peace the government has made a significant peace overture by
opening the door to negotiation.

4. Foray (noun): An initial attempt at something / a brief but spirited attempt to become
involved in a new activity or sphere. ( )

Synonyms: Initial Effort, First Effort, Endeavor At Inception.

Antonyms: End, Culmination.

Example: Tired of being single, Rachel decided to try a foray into the realm of online dating
Verb forms: Foray, Forayed, Forayed.

Related words:

Foray (verb) - make or go on a foray.

5. Inexplicable (adjective): (Unable to be explained or accounted

for.) (/ )

Synonyms: Unexplainable, Incomprehensible, Unfathomable Baffling, Puzzling, Perplexing.

Antonyms: Comprehensible, Explainable, Understandable.

Example: Because the weather was clear and sunny a few moments ago, the sudden
thunderstorm is inexplicable.

Origin: From Latin inexplicabilis that cannot be unfolded

6. Privy (adjective): Sharing in the knowledge of (something secret or

private). ( / )

Synonyms: Behind-The-Scenes, Confidential, Esoteric, Nonpublic, Private.

Antonyms: Public, Unconcealed, Known, Revealed.

Example: As the presidents chief adviser, Richard is privy to many of the executive officers
deepest thoughts.

Origin: From Latin privatus withdrawn from public life.

7. Divulge (verb): Make known (private or sensitive

information). ( / )

Synonyms: Disclose, Reveal, Make Known, Leak, Expose, Uncover.

Antonyms: Conceal, Cover, Hide, Keep Secret.

Example: Drug manufacturers are required to divulge any side effects that may be caused by
their drugs.

Verb forms: Divulge, Divulged, Divulged.

Origin: From Latin divulgare, from di- widely + vulgare publish (from vulgus common

8. Parsimonious (adjective): Very unwilling to spend money or use

resources. (/ )

Synonyms: Mean, Niggard, Frugal, Tight-Fisted.

Antonyms: Extravagant, Lavish.

Example: Even though I have plenty of money, I tend to be parsimonious with my spending.

Related words:

Parsimoniously (adverb) -

9. Gaffe (noun): An obvious error or mistake (/)

Synonyms: Blunder, Error, Goof, Lapse, Miscue, Misstep, Mistake

Antonyms: Correction, Efficiency.

Example: The blogger made a gaffe when he referred to the football player by another athlete's

10. Imbroglio (noun): An extremely confused, complicated, or embarrassing

situation. (/)
Synonyms: Complexity, Difficulty, Predicament, Plight, Trouble, Entanglement, Confusion,
Muddle, Mess

Antonyms: Peace, Harmony.

Example: The hostages found themselves in an imbroglio when the two kidnappers began to

Origin: From Italian imbrogliare confuse


Cow slaughter and the Constitution

Over the last few days, the Central governments new Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
(Regulation of Livestock Market) Rules have run into strong headwinds. These rules, which
effectively prohibit the sale of cows and buffaloes for slaughter at animal markets, and are
therefore perceived as imposing an indirect beef ban, have been the subject of protests in Kerala
and Tamil Nadu, and have drawn strong condemnation () from West Bengal Chief
Minister Mamata Banerjee. With the Madras High Court on Tuesday staying the rules for four
weeks, the battle has swiftly moved to the court as well. And with this, apart from the political
turmoil, legal and constitutional fault lines have also been reopened, causing much uncertainty
about what the outcome will be.

In the Constituent Assembly

This dispute has a history, which goes back to the founding of the Republic. During the framing
of the Constitution, the subject of cow slaughter was one of the most fraught and contentious
topics of debate. Seth Govind Das, a member of the Constituent Assembly, framed it as a
civilisational [problem] from the time of Lord Krishna, and called for the prohibition of cow
slaughter to be made part of the Constitutions chapter on fundamental rights, on a par with
(equal in importance or quality to.) the prohibition of untouchability. In this, he was supported
by other members of the Constituent Assembly, such as Shibban Lal Saksena, Thakur Das
Bhargava, Ramnarayan Singh, Ram Sahai, Raghu Vira, R.V. Dhulekar and Chaudhari Ranbir
Singh. Proponents of a cow slaughter ban advanced a mix of cultural and economic arguments,
invoking the sentiments of thirty crores of population on the one hand, and the indispensability
of cattle in an agrarian economy on the other.

There was one small, snag (/), however: fundamental rights were meant
to inhere ( ) in human beings, not animals. After much debate, the
Constitutions Drafting Committee agreed upon a compromise: prohibition of cow slaughter
would find a place in the Constitution, but not as an enforceable fundamental right. It would be
included as a Directive Principle of State Policy, which was meant to guide the state in
policymaking, but could not be enforced in any court. Furthermore, in its final form, this
Directive Principle (Article 48 of the Constitution) carefully excluded the question of religious
sentiments. Nor did it require the state to ban cow
slaughter outright ( / ). Instead, under the
heading Organisation of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, Article 48 says the state shall
organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in
particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter, of
cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.

Members of the Constituent Assembly found these incremental compromises both unprincipled
and unsatisfactory. Shibban Lal Saksena objected to such back door tactics, and asked why the
Drafting Committee was ashamed of providing for [the prohibition of cow slaughter] frankly
and boldly in so many plain words.

Z.H. Lari, one of the Muslim representatives in the Assembly, stated that his community would
not stand in the way of the majoritys desire, but nonetheless asked that the majority express
itself clearly and definitely, so that Muslims could know exactly what the position was on cow
slaughter. However, clear and definite expression on the issue of cow slaughter was one thing
that the Assembly was unwilling to commit to. Article 48, a provision that was grafted out of a
compromise that left nobody satisfied, came into being with the rest of the Constitution, on
January 26, 1950.

In the Supreme Court

The fundamental disingenuousness (/) that underlay Article 48 was

to be repeated, many times over, in constitutional litigation before the Supreme Court. Right
from 1958, the Supreme Court was asked to adjudicate upon the constitutional validity of cattle
slaughter bans passed by various States. Petitioners before the court argued that a prohibition of
cow slaughter violated their rights to trade and business, and also their right to freedom of
religion. The Supreme Court rejected these arguments and upheld the laws, but it did so by
focussing its reasoning entirely on apparent economic considerations. Detailed analyses of
agricultural output and milch yields give these judgments a strained, almost unreal quality. Much
like the Drafting Committee, it was as if the court was unwilling to admit and
to uphold ( / ) the possibility of non-economic
considerations behind such laws, as though this would shatter the thin facade () of
secularism to which the Constitution remained (ostensibly) committed.

A possible answer

The disingenuousness that marked the Constituent Assembly debates, that was written into final
text of Article 48, and that has been inscribed into 50 years of the Supreme Courts
jurisprudence, has found its latest avatar in the present rules. This time, the Central government
has invoked a Supreme Court order on cattle smuggling across the Nepal border, as well as a
1960 law, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, as its justification.

However, the Supreme Courts order makes no mention of cattle slaughter, and a reading of the
Act demonstrates clearly that it does not contemplate prohibiting animal slaughter per
se ( /). Not only does it specifically exempt slaughter of animals for food, it
also provides for advice on the design of slaughterhouses, so that unnecessary pain or suffering,
whether physical or mental, is eliminated in the pre-slaughter stages as far as possible.

Now, under our legal and constitutional system, an executive notification cannot even go beyond
the specific terms and ambit of the parent law from which it derives its authority. The
governments new rules, however, go even further: by prohibiting the sale of cattle for slaughter
at animal markets, they contravene ( ) the Prevention of Cruelty to
Animals Act by specifically forbidding what that Act permits. There is a strong argument,
therefore, that the rules are invalid.

Furthermore, if indeed the purpose of the rules was to prevent cruelty to animals, then why is
their scope limited only to cattle and to camels? It is true that the government is always at
liberty, for reasons of administrative convenience or otherwise, to choose and categorise the
subjects to whom its actions will apply; but while under-inclusiveness is not generally a ground
for a court to invalidate executive action, in the present case, there seems no rational basis for
limiting the reach of an anti-cruelty regulation to only some animals. At the very least, in law,
this casts serious doubts about the governments motivation and justification for its rules.

One might wonder why the Central government chose to take such
a momentous (//) step armed with such
a flimsy(/) defence. The only possible answer seems to be that had it gone
with the traditional, economic justification for an (effective) ban on cow slaughter, it would have
run up against an insurmountable (/) constitutional difficulty: under our
constitutional scheme, agriculture and the preservation of stock fall within the exclusive
legislative competence of the States. This is the reason why, historically, different cow slaughter
laws have been passed by different States. It is to get around this that the Central government has
invoked the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, a subject on which both the Centre and States
can make laws.

What this has resulted in is a badly drafted set of rules, which is unlikely to withstand judicial
scrutiny. It is also, however, an opportunity for citizens and courts to think once again
whether the prescription of food choices is consistent with a Constitution that promises economic
and social liberty to all.

1. Snag (noun): An unexpected or hidden obstacle or drawback. (/)

Synonyms: Obstacle, Difficulty, Complication, Hitch, Pitfall, Impediment.

Antonyms: Benefit, Blessing, Help.

Example: The snags that were ignored at the time of forming constitution are now creating
turmoil in communities.

2. Inhere (verb): (Of rights, powers, etc.) be vested in a person or group or attached to the
ownership of a property. ( )

Synonyms: Vested In, Be Contained In, Be Expressed In, Be Existed In.

Example: Since Mark has an inherent love for music, it is not surprising that he is a successful
guitar player.
Verb forms: Inhere, Inhered, Inhered.

Related words:

Inherent (adjective) - existing in something as a permanent, essential, or characteristic attribute

Origin: From Latin verb inhaerere, from in- in, towards + haerere to stick.

3. Outright (adverb): Wholly and

completely. ( / )

Synonyms: Completely, Entirely, Wholly, Fully, Totally, Absolutely, Altogether, In Every


Antonyms: Partially, Incompletely.

Example: When the amateur chef poured a cup of salt into the recipe, his customers believed his
bread was outright too salty.

Related words:

Outright (adjective) - open and direct.

4. On a par with (Phrase): (Equal in importance or quality to.) ( )

Synonyms: Comparable With, Equivalent To, Much The Same As, Equal To, Of The Same
Standard As.

Antonyms: Disproportionately, Unevenly,

Example: The new version of the software is on a par with the old one.

5. Uphold (verb): Confirm or support (something which has been

questioned). ( / )

Synonyms: Confirm, Endorse, Sustain, Validate, Ratify, Verify, Vindicate, Justify, Approve.

Antonyms: Oppose, Protest, Abandon.

Example: Minister took an oath to uphold the Constitution.

Verb forms: Uphold, Upheld, Upheld.

6. Per se (adverb): By or in itself or themselves; intrinsically. ( /)

Synonyms: By Its Very Nature, In Essence, By Definition, Essentially, Really, Indeed.

Antonyms: Vaguely, Ambiguously, Falsely.

Example: I'm not a doctor, per se, but my uncle is.

7. Contravene (verb): Offend against the prohibition or order of (a law, treaty, or code of
conduct). / to act against a rule or law. ( )

Synonyms: Break, Breach, Fail to comply with, Violate, Infringe.

Antonyms: Obey, Comply, Abide By, Follow.

Example: The unauthorized reproduction of the book contravenes copyright laws.

Verb forms: Contravene, Contravened, Contravened.

Related words:

Contravention (noun) -

Origin: from Latin contravenire, from Latin contra- against + venire come.

8. Momentous (adjective): Of great importance or

significance, (//)

Synonyms: Significant, Epoch-Making, Critical, Crucial, Vital, Decisive, Pivotal, Weighty.

Antonyms: Insignificant, Meaningless, Ordinary, Trivial, Unimportant.

Example: Winning the world cup was Momentous moment for Indian team.

9. Flimsy (adjective): Insubstantial and easily damaged. (/)

Synonyms: Insubstantial, Slight, Light, Fragile, Breakable, Frail, Shaky, Unstable.

Antonyms: Healthy, Strong, Convincing, Firm, Heavy, Reasonable.

Example: The judge was displeased with the lawyer, because he kept on interrupting the
proceedings with one flimsy argument after another.

Related words:

Flimsiness (noun)

10. Insurmountable (adjective): Too great to be overcome. (/)

Synonyms: Insuperable, Unconquerable, Invincible, Unassailable.

Antonyms: Beatable, Attainable, Defeatable.

Example: Because of the insurmountable obstacles facing his candidacy, William decided that
he would not run for the position.

Dont tax the tiller

For peasants, the Mughal Empire was fundamentally an extractive state; a protection racket run
riot. Typically, the land revenue share of a crop varied between 33% and 50%, depending on
fertility, with a further 10-25% paid to the zamindar for his efforts. Its replacement by the East
India Company and later the British government provided little respite (/).
Zamindars were now granted hereditary and proprietary () rights, with the rate
of assessment fixed in perpetuity ( ). The Companys share was
often fixed at 2/3rd of the gross produce received by the zamindars from the ryots (an Indian
peasant or tenant farmer.). The consequences of such land revenue systems were stark
agricultural output grew at just 0.37% per annum between 1891 and 1947, with foodgrains at just
0.11% per annum, while commercial crop output rose by 1.31% annually; meanwhile the
population rose at 0.67% annually. The colonial government pushed farmers into heavy debts
and eventual pauperization(-).

Post-Independence, the national and State governments sought

to redress (/ ) this. The Agrarian Reforms Committee of 1949
sought a programme of land reforms that would transform the
actual tillers (/) into owner-cultivators by a large scale. Instead, a step-by-
step approach was adopted to abolish intermediaries, which encouraged zamindars
to evict ( ) existing tenants () instead, pauperising them further.
The Central government did its part by seeking to not tax agricultural income, with most States
following suit.

Pitfalls in the tax demand

However, with growth in agriculture rising, a demand for taxing agriculture income has arisen.
Agricultural income declared by taxpayers, in returns filed till end 2014, for exemption was at
Rs. 9,338 crore, with over 2,746 income tax cases declaring Rs. 1 crore agricultural income in
the 2014-15 assessment year.

The estimated total annual agricultural income from cultivation and livestock, as estimated by
the National Sample Survey Office, is at Rs. 4,16,092.5 crore, with the total income of the top
bracket at Rs. 16,084 crore and that of the first two brackets, including households with over four
hectares, at Rs. 83,433 crore.

Taxing 9,73,000 large farm holdings having greater than 10 hectares of land earning an average
of approx. Rs. 5 lakh annually shall yield about Rs. 1,200 crore of agricultural income tax on
varying crop conditions, consequent incomes and applicable tax rules.

Weve tried this before. The K.N. Raj Committee on Taxation of Agricultural Wealth and
Income (1972) sought to institute a progressive agriculture tax on agricultural income in a norm-
based manner, with regional average crop yields defining levy rates in a universal manner. The
recommendations were not accepted, given limited political
and grassroots () support.

However, there remain significant pitfalls ( ) with this demand. Given

the level of informal occupation prevalent in agriculture, implementing an agricultural tax will
not be easy. Any agricultural tax system would have to evolve crop-specific norms of return to
the land, while accommodating external shocks like droughts, floods or pests. Furthermore, for
imposing tax on value of goods produced, the mechanism would fail to take individual farm
economics into account, thereby presenting a case wherein a farmer would be taxed even if he
makes a loss on sale. It shall require administration to ensure exact estimate of crop productivity
and realised sale price per crop harvested a seemingly humongous task for all farmers. Lack
of clarity on land titles and cropping patterns based on lease/share-cropping shall further
introduce randomness to the system.

Further complications arise if farmers suffer from multiple crop failures followed by one
successful crop, for the income in that period may be subjected for tax payment. Taxing
agricultural incomes is an idea devoid of knowledge of farming practices as well.

Many farmers save seeds from one harvest for the next and the practice remains critical to
running Indian agriculture proposals based on value of goods produced would end up taxing
such sustainable practices as well. For tax based on sales, it shall disincentivise farmers to sell
through organised formal channels, thereby increasing risk to farmers income. Instead of raising
agricultural income, we would trend back to age-old farmer pauperisation.

Not worth the effort

In addition, any crop-specific taxation would have to be traded-off against input subsidies, which
are nationally uniform for fertilisers and vary on a State-wise basis for water and electricity.
Should input subsidies, assumed to be high at the institution of the crop tax rate, fall in the
future, the farmer would effectively lose out on both ends of the value chain. Any crop-specific
taxation would have been locally based, with a national crop register not necessarily linked to
which crops would be taxed in specific regions or States. The tax rates for the same crop in
different regions could be different, inequitably ensuring arbitrage (the simultaneous buying
and selling of securities, currency, or commodities in different markets or in derivative
forms in order to take advantage of differing prices for the same asset.) for some farmers.

Amidst all this, it is hard to determine if there would be net benefit to taxing agricultural
revenues, even for rich farmers (defined on local thresholds), compared to cost of monitoring and
rolling out such a system. Even a progressively structured taxation system would
encourage fictitious (/) ownership splits amongst rich farmers and their relatives.
Even assuming a net take of approx. Rs. 1,200 crore, the potential increase in the Central
governments taxation revenues would be increased by about 0.1%, while input subsidies,
currently totalling Rs. 35,784 crore in 2016-17, would face significant upward pressure. Is this
truly worth the effort?

Agricultural taxation has historically been considered the third rail of Indian politics. While
we harken (listen; used mostly in the imperative)about improving economies of scale in
agriculture, such efforts send discouraging signals to large and medium farmers who seek to
increase their produce through utilisation of better techniques, differing crop patterns and more
judicious use of agricultural inputs. A nation-state where a farmer can be moderately rich one
year and marginally poor the other cannot in good conscience tax their income.

1. Respite (noun): A short period of rest or relief from something difficult or

unpleasant. (/)

Synonyms: Rest, Relief, Lull, Relaxation, Ease.

Antonyms: Hurt, Damage, Injury.

Example: After driving through the desert all day, Jack enjoyed the respite of an air-conditioned
hotel room.
Origin: from Latin respectus refuge, consideration.

2. Proprietary (adjective): Relating to an owner or ownership. ()

Synonyms: Pertaining To Ownership, Related To Possession, Of Property.

Antonyms: Pertaining To Lease, Rental.

Example: In order to get a patent on an idea, one may have to disclose proprietary information
on the design process.

Related words:

Proprietor (noun) - the owner of a business, or a holder of property.

Origin: from Latin proprietarius proprietor.

3. Redress (verb): To make something right or the payment for a

wrong (/ )

Synonyms: Rectify, Correct, Right, Reform, Amend.

Antonyms: Damage, Make Worse.

Example: If Jim is not paid the money he is owed, he will go to court to seek redress.
Verb forms: Redress, Redressed, Redressed.

Related words:

Redress (noun) - remedy or compensation for a wrong or grievance.

4. Perpetuity (noun): Forevermore or permanently ( )

Synonyms: Permanence, Constance, Everlasting, Eternity.

Antonyms: Ephemerality, Impermanence, Temporariness, Transience.

Example: The greedy investor wanted to receive a royalty off the product in perpetuity.

Origin: from Latin perpetuus continuing throughout.

5. Pauperization (noun): The act or process of impoverishing someone. (-)

Synonyms: Extreme Poverty, Destitution, Penury, Privation.

Antonyms: Surplus, Adequacy, Affluence.

Example: Isnt it ironic that such a large number of Pauperized people live in one of the
wealthiest countries of the world?
Verb forms: Pauperize, Pauperized, Pauperized.

Related words:

Pauperize (verb) - To reduce to poverty

6. Tenant (noun): A person who occupies land or property rented from a

landlord. ()

Synonyms: Holder, Occupant, Renter, Lessee.

Antonyms: Owner, Possessor.

Example: One of the tenants in the apartment block beside ours caused a fire that destroyed the
entire building.

Origin: From Latin tenere means holding.

7. Evict (verb): Expel (someone) from a property, especially with the support of the
law. ( )

Synonyms: Oust, Dispossess, Expel, Dislodge.

Antonyms: Admit, Take In.

Example: His landlord has threatened to evict him if he doesn't pay the rent soon.

Verb forms: Evict, Evicted, Evicted.

8. Grassroots (noun): The most basic level of something ()

Synonyms: Fundamental, Elemental, Radical, Structural, Most Basic.

Antonyms: Accessory, Auxiliary, Extrinsic, Inessential.

Example: the newly elected MP expressed a wish for greater contact with people at grass-
roots level.

9. Pitfall (noun): A hidden or unsuspected danger or difficulty, a problem that

is likely to happen in a particular situation ( )

Synonyms: Hazard, Danger, Risk, Peril.

Antonyms: Security, Safety.

Example: The experienced programmer did not expect the pitfall that would occur when trying
to install the new software.
10. Fictitious (adjective): Not real or true; imaginary or fabricated. (/)

Synonyms: False, Fake, Counterfeit, Fabricated, Sham.

Antonyms: Authentic, Real, Genuine, Bona Fide.

Example: I always use a fictitious name when submitting comments online, to maintain my

Related words:

Fictitiously (adverb) -

Origin: from Latin ficticius


Beyond the language conflict

It is famously said that a language is a dialect with an army. If not an army, the Hindi language is
armed with two strengths: the constitutional mandate to promote it as Indias lingua
franca ( ), and the fact that it is far more widely spoken and understood
than any other language in the country.

Theres been a linear movement of Hindi to become Indias national language, not just the
official language. Moreover, the Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas (SSUN), an RSS-affiliate and a
part of the current dispensations brain trust, wants English to be removed as the medium of
instruction. The implications are not hard to fathom ( ).

However, a case is gaining momentum in favour of revisiting Part XVII of the Constitution
which envisages, in essence, the replacement of English language with Hindi at the national level
and with other languages in the Eight Schedule in their respective states.

The fact that this transformation should have been completed by 1965 but has been continually
deferred is indicative of how sensitive and potentially explosive the issue can be. If left
unresolved, the language muddle is bound to affect both the efficacy of our educational system
and the integrity of our judiciary.

A fait accompli ( )

The higher judiciary appeared to be the sole exception to this English-to-Hindi journey as Article
348 (1) stipulates ( ) the use of English in the Supreme Court and High Courts as
well as for drafting Bills, Acts and Orders. But Article 348(2) read with Section (7) of the
Official Languages Act 1963 provides for Hindi or other official languages to be used in High
Courts in addition to English.

Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh have already been granted the right to use
Hindi in their High Courts. But the same right has been withheld from Tamil Nadu and Gujarat
and Chhattisgarh which sought permission to use Tamil, Gujarati and Hindi respectively.

With regard to the functioning of High Courts, all Indian official languages enjoy equal status
and, therefore, demands for permission to use these languages in High Courts are bound to
increase. This ought to, in any case, be the logical outcome of our language policy.

Moreover, given our preference for mother tongue as the medium of instruction coupled with a
States official language being the sole language for all administration, it would be illogical to
exclude that States sole official language from being used in its High Court.

And the Supreme Court doesnt appear to relax its English-only policy.

How will, then, judges be transferred from one High Court to another or elevated to the Supreme
Court? Though, on paper, all High Courts also use English in their work, the English fluency of
both litigants () and their lawyers will progressively get worse as a result of
our language policy.
The complexity of the language issue has been exemplified by four developments that took place
in April this year. Three of the four are the outcomes of stipulations enshrined in Part XVII and
the fourth one is a case in point on what happens as a consequence.

The Parliamentary Committee on Official Language recommended to the Central Board of

Secondary Education (CBSE) to make Hindi compulsory in all CBSE-affiliated schools till Class
X. This requirement obviously targets CBSE schools in non-Hindi speaking States and English-
medium schools everywhere.

Sensing backlash (/) from non-Hindi States, especially Tamil

Nadu, the CBSE announced that it has not taken a final decision on the matter. One can only
wish that those in a hurry to promote Hindi had listened to what the Supreme Court has clearly
pronounced on the issue. A Constitution Bench of the Court held in 2014 ( in Karnataka Vs
Recognised-Unaided Schools ) inter alia: Even for linguistic minorities, it is the fundamental
right of parents to determine what their mother tongue is; A child, and on his behalf his parent or
guardian, has the right to choose the medium of instruction at the primary school stage under
Article 19(1)(a), and; The imposition of mother tongue at the primary school stage (by the State)
affects the fundamental rights under Articles 19(1)(a) and (g) of the Constitution.

The Bench goes a step further on the issue of standards of education and precludes (prevent
from happening) any proactive role for the State. The general import of the verdict is that the
State may promote a language or a subject, but it cannot impose the same on an
unwilling populace().

In fact, the apex courts line of reasoning must be music for

the votaries (/) of English-medium schooling: For example,
prescribing English as a medium of instruction in subjects of higher education for which only
English books are available and which can only be properly taught in English may have a direct
bearing and impact on the determination of standards of education. Prescribing the medium of
instruction in schools to be mother tongue in the primary school stage in classes I to IV has,
however, no direct bearing and impact on the determination of standards of education, and will
affect the fundamental rights under Articles 19(1)(a) and 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.

Thus, a move such as what CBSE is contemplating will face the danger of being struck down as
unconstitutional. The least that will happen is one more prolonged legal process, affecting the
future of millions of our students.

The other two developments relate to the promotion of non-Hindi Indian languages in their
respective states. Andhra Pradesh announced that a department
will coin ( / ) new Telugu words to replace English words
in vogue now.

And the government of Kerala declared that from May, Malayalam would be the sole language
of the administration. However, the State retained English as a link language in its dealings with
the Centre and the outside world.

True to its reputation, Kerala has stuck to the global norm of mother tongue plus English.
However, the efficacy of this policy will vary depending on how a State balances its desire to
promote its language and culture with the imperative of helping its young people to have
sufficient fluency in English.

The fourth development is the order passed by the apex court on April 11 terming
an impugned () order passed by the Himachal Pradesh High Court as not possible
to comprehend and directed the High Court to hear the case afresh.

Rethink necessary

It can only be called a manmade disaster that the apex court was forced to dismiss a judgment of
a High Court as incomprehensible. Part XVII in full operation will render India
incomprehensible to itself and to the outside world.

It is time for India to relook its language policy under Part XVII which
became obsolete () more than 50 years ago. Theres no point in reinventing the
wheel. Instead, the nation must adopt mother tongue plus English, with Hindi accorded a pride of
place for ceremonial occasions at national and international levels.

1. Lingua franca (noun): A language that is adopted as a common language between

speakers whose native languages are different. ()

Synonyms: Common Language, Jargon, Communication Language, Parlance.

Example: English is rapidly becoming the lingua franca of Asia.

Origin: From Italian lingua franca

2. Fait accompli (noun): A thing that has already happened or been decided before those
affected hear about it, leaving them with no option but to accept
it. ( )

Synonyms: Accomplished Fact, Irreversible Act, Presumably Irreversible, Undeniable Fact.

Example: Since the demolition of the historic site is a fait accompli, a protest would be

Origin: From French, literally accomplished fact.

3. Stipulate (verb): To insist upon something as a condition of an agreement or

provision ( )

Synonyms: Designate, Specify, Set Out, Lay Down, Set Forth.

Antonyms: Break Off.

Example: The contracts of the baseball players stipulate they must attend all practices and
Verb forms: Stipulate, Stipulated, Stipulated.

Related words:

Stipulation (noun) - A condition or requirement that is specified or demanded as part of an


Origin: From Latin stipulat- demanded as a formal promise, from the verb stipulari.

4. Litigant (noun): A person involved in a lawsuit. ()

Synonyms: Opponent In Law, Plaintiff, Claimant, Complainant, Petitioner, Appellant.

Example: The litigant sued the medical practice for negligence, due to misdiagnoses of his
mothers illness, which resulted in death.

Verb forms: Litigate, Litigated, Litigated.

Related words:

Litigate (verb) - Be involved in a lawsuit.

Origin: From Latin litigant- carrying on a lawsuit, from the verb litigare
5. Backlash (noun): A strong negative reaction by a large number of people, especially to a
social or political development. (/)

Synonyms: Adverse Reaction/Response, Counteraction, Counterblast, Repercussions,


Antonyms: Cause, Source.

Example: School administration also fears a backlash from parents if school fee is increased

6. Preclude (verb): (Prevent from happening) (/ )

Synonyms: Prevent, Stop, Prohibit, Debar, Interdict, Block, Bar, Hinder.

Antonyms: Aid, Assist, Facilitate.

Example: The young gymnast has suffered an injury which will preclude him from being part
of the Olympic team.

Verb forms: Preclude, Precluded, Precluded.

Related words:
Origin: From Latin praecludere, from prae before + claudere to shut, (in the sense bar a
route or passage)

7. Populace (noun): The people living in a particular country or area. ()

Synonyms: Inhabitants, Residents, Natives, Public, Rabble.

Example: More police officers are needed to keep the populace calm during the protest march.

Related words:

Population(noun) - All the inhabitants of a particular place.

Origin: From Italian popolaccio common people.

8. Coin (verb): Invent (a new word or phrase). ( / )

Synonyms: Invent, Create, Devise, Conceive, Originate, Formulate, Fabricate.

Antonyms: Ignore, Neglect.

Example: Chillax is a recently coined word added to dictionary which means Calm down and
Related words:

Coinage (noun) - The invention of a new word or phrase.

Verb forms: Coin, Coined, Coined.

9. Impugn (verb): Dispute the truth, validity, or honesty of (a statement or motive) (-


Synonyms: Dispute, Gainsay, Contradict, Call Into Question, Oppose.

Antonyms: Support, Allow, Agree.

Example: An atheist is quick to impugn the concept of a supreme power.

Verb forms: Impugn, Impugned, Impugned.

Related words:

Impugnable (adjective) -

Impugnment (noun) - -

Origin: From Latin impugnare assail, from in- towards + pugnare fight.
10. Obsolete (adjective): Of a kind or style no longer current./ no longer in use or no longer
useful. ()

Synonyms: Outdated, Archaic, Anachronistic, Defunct, Extinct.

Antonyms: Current, Modern, New, Contemporary, In vogue.

Example: If you look inside of most classrooms, you will not see chalkboards because they are
nearly obsolete in education today.

Related words:

Obsoleteness (noun)

Origin: From Latin obsoletus grown old, worn out.


Misreading the tea leaves

Institutions created by human beings necessarily reflect the pre-eminent
(/) preoccupation () of their time. The present, the
post-Second World War global order, anchored in (to be firmly based on
a particular set of ideas or beliefs) the United Nations and the Bretton Woods institutions, the
International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and now the World Trade Organisation, has
survived for over seven decades. This is partly because these institutions responded to the
imperative of history when they were created to prevent succeeding generations from being
subjected to the scourge (thing that causes great trouble or suffering.) of war and the need for
post-war economic reconstruction.

Two events

Is this present global order still fit for purpose? Much can be said for both sides of the
argument. One thing is, however, clear. An alternative order or vision is not on the horizon. It is
useful to bear this in mind whilst evaluating two developments. The first is the underwhelming
first hundred days of the Donald Trump presidency which finds itself in an internal civil war
situation with both the deep state and the fourth estate and provides cause for anxiety to some
that it may be unraveling (solving). The second is Beijings spectacular Belt and Road Initiative
(BRI) extravaganza( ).

Some initiatives result in the building of institutions that are viable and establish their relevance
over a period of time. Others, such as the ill-fated League of Nations, start badly and then fail
altogether. Those based on flawed thinking find it even more difficult to take off. The present
global, post-1945, order can broadly be characterised as having evolved in two phases, the pre-
1989 and post-1989 phases. The disintegration of the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War and
the advent and what seemed like the triumph of globalisation resulted in some intellectuals like
Francis Fukuyama to go somewhat prematurely into a celebratory dance.

Brexit and Mr. Trumps victory appeared to some observers to change all that. As I observed
elsewhere, it was far too early in 1989 and still too early in 2017 to celebrate the premature
demise of globalisation, free trade, human rights, the Washington consensus and interventionist
mindsets. All that Brexit and the Trump presidency signify is that Western industrial
democracies have still not come to terms with slow rates of economic growth.

Still the only superpower

Does this provide an opening for an alternative order to come into being? Some rebalancing will
most certainly take place. But no fundamentalalteration () and restructuring of
the existing global order appears, at this point of time, to be realistically on the horizon. Any
suggestions that the Chinese are taking over or that the two worlds largest economies have now
resolved all their differences cannot but be somewhat fanciful.

The U.S. is not only an $18 trillion economy but also has by far the largest industrial military
complex and a lead in technology and innovation that it will take several decades for China, the
second largest economy, to catch up. The U.S. provides global leadership in terms of global
public goods. Even allowing for some set-back through mismanagement, it is inconceivable (not
capable of being imagined or grasped mentally) that these global public goods could be
provided by even a transforming China.

This brings us to the BRI extravaganza. When the initiative was first announced in 2013, it was
clear that the motivation was to find external outlets for the surplus infrastructure building and
manufacturing capacity that had been domestically created and for which demand was
now petering out (to dwindle). This brings us to the essential kernel (central part) of the
problem. Large white elephant type mega projects, such as the one in Hambantota in Sri Lanka,
can never be attractive for private investors who will look for returns on their investment. This is
where Chinas state banks come in. With 68% of Sri Lankas GDP now required for debt
servicing, such infrastructure projects have their limitations. A railway line China is building in
Laos is expected to cost $6 billion and is unlikely to break even after 11 years, as anticipated.
Meanwhile Laoss public debt stands at around 60% of GDP. This is a familiar pattern in country
after country. Yes, the Chinese are investing heavily overseas but not in BRI projects. BRI
projects get funding from the state banks and are laying the ground
for acrimony () with local communities, on adequate compensation for land
acquisition, Chinese labour, collusive award of works and a host of other problems. All these
point to an economic model that can never be viable.

The EU-27, which account for a significant proportion of global economic activity, refused to
sign on to the trade statement in Beijing. Add to that this the $18 trillion U.S. and $5 trillion
Japanese economies. It appears highly unlikely that these countries will sign on to a global
scheme that is designed to favour contracts being awarded to Chinese economic entities.

Indias position is beautifully captured in its May 13 statement: connectivity initiatives must
be based on universally recognised international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness,
transparency and equality. Connectivity initiatives must follow principles of financial
responsibility to avoid projects that create debt burden for communities. Also:
Connectivity projects must be pursued in a manner that respects sovereignty and territorial

Staying away from the BRI

Indias decision to stay away from the BRI event in Beijing was not only well considered but, in
a sense, the only option open to it. That our smaller neighbours decided to attend should not be
allowed to influence our overall approach and strategy. Having said that, it needs to be
emphasised that the time has come for us to engage the Chinese at a sufficiently senior political
and strategic level on how to progress our economic relations. We would be doing ourselves
great disservice (/) if we allow this important relationship to be viewed
through a 1962 mindset. Equally, a more strategic engagement with China, irrespective of
provocations from them, real or imagined, will serve long-term strategic interests in terms of
both our security and economic interests.

China has registered impressive economic gains. Apart from lifting hundreds of millions of its
citizens out of poverty, it has become a major global economic power. It is running massive trade
surpluses with most of its trading partners. Whether these surpluses are the result of Chinas
competitiveness, unfair trading practices or its exchange rate, it is inconceivable that this state of
play can continue indefinitely.
Once the leaders who were present in Beijing have returned to their capitals and resumed their
normal duties, they will have no option but to evaluate proposals on their merit. The leaders in
Africa are already calling for ( ) a rebalancing of bilateral trade. It is
unlikely that countries ranging from Russia to Hungary or in Central Asia will agree to trading in
their interests for a grand scheme in which their long-term economic interests are not looked
after. For the BRI to be a success, it will need to build in win-win elements not only for China
but for other stakeholders as well. Unless that is done, the scheme is not likely to take off.

1. Pre-eminent (adjective): Surpassing all others; very distinguished in some

way. (/)

Synonyms: Greatest, Foremost, Best, Chief, Outstanding, Consummate, Distinguished,

Prominent, Peerless.

Antonyms: Inessential, Inferior, Insignificant, Minor.

Example: Dr. Michaels is always winning awards because he is the preeminent medical
researcher in the country.

Origin: from Latin praeeminent- towering above, excelling, from the verb praeeminere,
from prae before + eminere stand out.

2. Extravaganza (noun): An elaborate and spectacular entertainment or production./ a lavish or

spectacular show or event. ( )

Synonyms: Spectacular, Caricature, Show.

Example: Cricket cynics always considered IPL as extravaganza of cricket.

Related words:

Extravagant (adjective) - lacking restraint in spending money or using resources.

Origin: from Italian estravaganza means extravagance.

3. Alteration (noun): The action or process of changing or being changed. ()

Synonyms: Change, Modification, Variation, Amendment, Transformation, Metamorphosis.

Antonyms: Sameness, Stagnation.

Example: The new version of the Vocab24 has an alteration that makes it more users friendly.

Verb forms: Alter, Altered, Altered.

Related words:

Alter (verb) - Make structural changes

Origin: From Latin alter other.

4. Inconceivable (adjective): (Not capable of being imagined or grasped mentally).

(/ )

Synonyms: Unbelievable, Incredible, Unthinkable, Unimaginable, Extremely Unlikely.

Antonyms: Believable, Conceivable, Credible, Imaginable.

Example: It is inconceivable that no one saw the murder take place in the crowded park.

Related words:

Inconceivability (noun) - the state of being impossible to conceive

5. Peter out (Phrasal verb): To dwindle. ( )

Synonyms: Ebb, Recede, Wane, Diminish, Lessen, Abate.

Antonyms: Increase, Rise, Develop, Grow.

Example: I petered out toward the end and lost the race.

Verb forms: Peter Out, Petered Out, Petered Out.

6. Kernel (noun): (Central point of something) ( )

Synonyms: Essence, Core, Essential Part, Quintessence, Fundamental, crux.

Antonyms: Exterior, Surfacial.

Example: We really need to get to the kernel of the problem, to solve it immediately.
Origin: Diminutive of corn (a seed).

7. Acrimony (noun): Bitterness or ill feeling. ( )

Synonyms: Bitterness, Rancour, Ill Will, Animosity, Acridness, Asperity.

Antonyms: Good Will, Love, Benevolence, Liking.

Example: Despite the acrimonious relationship I have with my boss, he respects my quality of

Related words:

Acrimonious (adjective) - Angry in tone; bitter

Origin: from Latin acer - bitter.

8. Disservice (noun): A harmful action. (/)

Synonyms: Detriment, Disfavor, Mischief, Injury.

Antonyms: Benefit, Advantage, Help, Favor.

Example: You have done a disservice to the people of this country by making false promises.

9. Call for (Phrasal verb): Make necessary/ publicly ask for or

demand. ( )

Synonyms: Require, Need, Necessitate, Make Necessary, Demand.

Antonyms: Have, Possess.

Example: This job calls for someone with experience.

Verb forms: Call for, Called for, Called for.

10. Scourge (noun): (Thing that causes great trouble or suffering.) (/)

Synonyms: Affliction, Bane, Curse, Menace, Evil, Misfortune.

Antonyms: Benefit, Blessing, Boon.

Example: Many science fiction and horror movies introduce some terrifying mutant creature
who becomes the scourge of the city.
Verb forms: Scourge, Scourged, Scourged.

Related words:

Scourge (verb) - Because great suffering to.


The Loss of Innocence

The unprofessional behaviour of the young perhaps even well-meaning Army Major in the
Kashmir Valley is proof of how an aggressive political establishment, and the popular support
it enjoys, can transform the unlawful act into a nationalist issue. Otherwise, how is it that pinning
a civilian to the bonnet of a jeep as a grim warning to the stone-pelting local
population, reminiscent () of what conquering militaries often do in
vanquished lands, becomes an act worthy of praise?

Such a brazen display of aggression is also an unmistakable indication of the ongoing

transformation of Indias self-image. The conventional self-image of civilisational India as an
inclusive, liberal and relatively non-violent polity with a strong urge to be a global success story
may be fast changing, quicker than we realise and for the worse.

No doubt, political and social change is inevitable in a country with a multitude of sociopolitical
realities, more so when the erstwhile Congress system is being replaced with an equally
overbearing, but far more ideologically zealous (/ ), Hindutva system of
things. But to what end?

Secularism is derided ( ). Liberalism is challenged. Dissent

is sedition (). Questioning the government is anti-national not a clich from
some nave armchair human rights activist, these are words of former Home Minister P.
Chidambaram. The Gandhian-Nehruvian India is losing its innocence, abandoning a self-
definition of romantic idealism to embrace brash realism, and in the process confronting a few
ugly truths about itself. We always had that dark side to our socio-political self: the current
political environment has merely enabled those dark forces to unveil our pretensions of
civilisational sanctimoniousness ( ).

Aggression as strength

There is a great deal more unabashed aggression and hostility in the collective life of our nation
today than ever before: the language of aggression isunmissable ( ), be it
in our political discourse, TV studios, passenger buses or marketplaces. At a certain level, the
aggression of the post-colonial underdog is understandable. Having been victimised
imagined, real or due to sheer incompetence and undervalued, the
subaltern () has finally decided to speak out. The problem, however, is that it is
speaking the wrong language, of violence and otherisation, not of justice, strength and a rightful
place in the comity (/) of nations. Prime Minister Narendra Modis
evocative assertion, earlier you felt ashamed of being born Indian, is symbolic of this new-
found sense of strength. But then, the Hindutva faithful erroneously and often deliberately
translates strength as aggression against fellow subalterns.

As a result, our great tradition of argument, public debate, intellectual pluralism and generosity
(Amartya Sen, The Argumentative Indian) is transforming into a culture of violence, bullying
and pettiness. Our fiercely independent media used to go after (to pursue) corrupt politicians
and inept governments. Today, many of them prefer to preach down (to oppress) to us the
virtues of nationalism and uses of brute force: prove your nationalism before you speak, they

Human rights and rule of law

There was a time we were reasonably confident about the human rights record of our country,
despite the aberrations in Kashmir and elsewhere, and would put up a genuine defence of it. We
would reason that we were a new democracy, a state in the making, there had been
imperfections, but these were no systematic human rights violations, and, in any case, many of
those inadequacies would get self-corrected in due course. Is that the case any more? We seem to
have assumed a new cloak ( /) of nationalist indifference today. We have given up
paying lipservice to the ideals of human rights, we do not even bother pretending that their
violations dont exist: the new tendency is to justify human rights violations for the greater glory
of the nation. Whats so wrong about tying a civilian to the bonnet of an army vehicle in a last
act of self-defence? goes the argument.

Hence, rule of law can be made flexible in the service of what is represented as national interest:
a mere mention of nationalism would do.
When our neighbours Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Pakistan and others were struggling with
democracy, and getting individual liberty and religious freedom wrong, India, despite its many
inadequacies, was widely seen as a regional hub of modern liberal values and social and religious
inclusion. In the past, we provided refuge to the persecuted: today some of us are busy sending
others to Pakistan, the country our founding fathers didnt want us to become. Werent we all
proud to belong to a multicultural India where we could eat, wear, speak and write what we
wanted, with some reasonable restrictions? Everyone had his/ her own space there. We knew we
belonged here, and that was a settled matter. I am not so confident about that any more. Today
we hesitate before taking positions on issues ranging from national security to eating habits.

We had a reputation for being a peace-loving nation. Our foreign policy, defensive military
posture, and grand strategic behaviour displayed a strong desire for peaceful coexistence,
stability and order in the region and a multipolar world. When in 1971, India aided the creation
of Bangladesh (by breaking up Pakistan), world opinion was willing to live by Indias declared
peaceful intentions, and the international community did not go overboard when India conducted
nuclear tests in 1998. The reason was simple: Notwithstanding Indias nuclear weapons and the
third largest army in the world, the world didnt think India harboured aggressive intentions.
There was a time when India played with terror outfits, and a former Prime Minister was killed
when the Frankenstein that we created came back to haunt us. We learned our lesson then: are
we now unlearning those lessons? In todays India, how my opinion is viewed depends on who I
am and which god I worship not on the merit of what I say.

A nation divided

For an avowedly peaceful country towards the outside world, we seem to make up by displaying
a lot of aggression and fighting among ourselves, just as we were doing when the European
colonisers arrived at our shores centuries ago. The process of cultural-nationalist purification
underway in contemporary India will end up making a lot more others within the confines of
our nation. Who needs a Pakistan to bleed us through a thousand cuts if we end up hating each
other with the Hindutva zealots fanning the fires?

Such aggression and consequent otherisation along caste, religious and political
lines, masquerading ( ) as nationalism, in a country with rising
unemployment, youth bulge (an unusual temporary increase in number or size.), disturbingly
skewed sex ratio and existing social anxieties could prove to be a recipe for disaster. Consider
this, India ranks 141 on a Global Peace Index making it far less peaceful than several war-torn
African nations.

Not that India has always been a peaceful country. However, we had our own indigenous ways
of dealing with those conflicts, albeit not all of them noble. There was an underlying belief that
domestic conflict resolution is a political project, not a terrorist menace. The Central
governments muscular policy in Kashmir today, for instance, reflects how far our polity has
moved away from traditional conflict resolution models based on negotiations, concessions
and assimilation (): violence seems to be the preferred instrument of our
statecraft today, as India gets ready to mark the seventieth anniversary of Independence.

Courtesy: The Hindu (National)

1. Reminiscent (adjective): Tending to remind one of something. ()

Synonyms: Evocative, Remindful, Redolent, Bringing To Mind.

Antonyms: Forgetful, Oblivious.

Example: As Jason grew older, he started to exhibit behaviors my mother said

were reminiscent of our deceased father's personality.

Related words:

Reminiscence (noun)

Origin: from Latin reminiscent- remembering, from the verb reminisci .

2. Zealous (adjective): Feeling or showing strong and energetic support for a person, cause,
etc. (/ )

Synonyms: Fervent, Ardent, Fervid, Passionate, Devout, Fanatical.

Antonyms: Apathetic, Indifferent, Dispassionate.

Example: When the zealous missionary talks about his religious beliefs, he actually glows with
Related words:

Zeal (noun)

Origin: Latin zelus zeal

3. Deride (verb): Express contempt for/ to subject to bitter ridicule. ( )

Synonyms: Ridicule, Mock, Jeer At, Scoff At, Jibe At, Make Fun Of.

Antonyms: Admire, Compliment, Praise, Respect.

Example: If the police do not intervene, the fans of the winning team will deride the losing
players as they leave the arena.

Verb forms: Verb forms: deride, derided, derided.

Related words:

Derision (noun) Mockery

Origin: from Latin deridere scoff at.

4. Sedition (noun): Insurrection against lawful authority/ the crime of saying, writing, or doing
something that encourages people to disobey their government. ()

Synonyms: Agitation, Revolt, Insurrection.

Antonyms: Obedience, Submission.

Example: The rebels were arrested for sedition when they protested outside of the dictators

Origin: Latin seditio, literally means separation. sed (apart) + itio (act of going).

5. Sanctimonious (adjective): Making a show of being morally superior to other people/

hypocritically pious or devout. ( )

Synonyms: Holier-Than-Thou, Pharisaic, Hypocritical, Pietistic.

Antonyms: Modest, Meek, Forthright.

Example: My sanctimonious aunt tends to look down upon people who do not go to church
every Sunday.

Related words:

Sanctimoniousness (noun) -
Origin: from Latin sanctimonia sanctity (from sanctus holy) + -ous.

6. Subaltern (adjective): Of lower status. ()

Synonyms: Inferior, Subordinate, Second-Fiddle, Subservient.

Antonyms: Chief, Superior, Major, Vital.

Example: A Subaltern is never provided an authority to make critical decisions in any


Origin: from Latin sub- next below + alternus every other.

7. Comity (noun): Courtesy and considerate behaviour towards

others. (/)

Synonyms: Harmony, Compatibility, Concord, Courtesy, Moral Behavior.

Antonyms: Discord, Hostility, Ill Will, Dislike, Hatred.

Example: A team must be characterized by comity.

Origin: from Latin comis courteous.

8. Cloak (noun): Something serving to hide or disguise something. ( /)

Synonyms: Cover, Camouflage, Shield, Veneer, Veil, Mantle, Shroud.

Example: The robbers wore large coats to cloak their weapons from the security guards.

Verb forms: Cloak, Cloaked, Cloaked.

Related words:

Cloak (verb): hide, cover, or disguise (something). ( / )

9. Bulge (noun): An unusual temporary increase in number or size.

Synonyms: Surge, Upsurge, Rise, Increase, Escalation, Boost, Intensification.

Antonyms: Reduction, Shortfall, In-Growth.

Example: Because of low supply and high demand, there is a bulge in the price of natural oil.

10. Assimilation (noun): The process of taking in and fully understanding information or ideas./
the process of becoming similar to something.()

Synonyms: Adoption, Taking In, Acculturation.

Antonyms: Repulsion,
Example: Because I am not good with math, I find it difficult to assimilate most of the
geometry formulas.

Verb forms: Assimilate, Assimilated, Assimilated.

Related words:

Assimilate (verb) - to learn something so that it is fully understood and can be used

Origin: from Latin assimilat- absorbed, incorporated.


Scaling the Summit

It has been an eventful three years for the NDA Government. While there may be differences on
how it scored, there is no denying its actionpacked look and feel. At the critical mid-point
juncture, moving towards the idea of New India is being seriously contemplated. Civil servants
have been advised to reorient and align themselves to this vision of the contemporary leadership.

The Prime Minister was probably referring to the change imperative () in his address
on the occasion of Civil Services Day last month. He urged introspection on various issues,
including why civil servants did not have a positive image in the eyes of the public, despite being
good individuals. What he, very interestingly, underscored was anubhav ka bojh or the burden of
experience, something which has not been articulated by the political executive, perhaps not
even sensed, vis--vis (in relation to) civil servants. Within the system, it translates, in fairly
simple terms, to the comparatively wizened senior levels applying brakes, screechingly or slo-
mo, on innovation, experimentation and functioning in an unorthodox, out-of-the box style, to
get things going on the ground.

Alternatively, it means coming down heavily, often incognito (having one's true identity
concealed.), on those not sufficiently compliant or daring to not be docile() yes-
persons. These are among the most familiar and distasteful experiences for any civil servant
worth her salt. Coming from the exalted pulpit that it did, the burnished message to junk
manacles of hierarchy and privileged mindsets that have, unfortunately, become synonymous
with governance, was strikingly significant.

It is not only the lal batti, the infamous symbol of all that was perverse
(contrasted) (/) about the arrogance of power, that has become part of a
dark patch of our governance history, as of 1 May. There is talk of codifying entitlements to
make it difficult to sneak back to having a rollicking time at public expense, though the all
permeating jugaadu attitude may not give in quite so tamely. Be that as it may, many certitudes
do look set to quietly fade away.

Of a piece with the catchy () reform-and-transform mantra is the recent decision of

the Government to rather subtly tweak () the selection process for Secretaries to
the Government of India. Being apex posts, even the slightest change has reverberations. Cutting
loose from the past, two batches of IAS officers, of 1984 and 1985, have been empaneled in one
shot. While it means somewhat reduced waiting time to scale the professional summit for some,
it disappointingly scrunches the available coveted () space for many others.
Seventeen officers of the 1984 batch and 20 from the 1985 batch have been anointed, contrasted
to 31 and 28 from the 1983 and 1982 batches respectively. Widening the talent pool is the most
likely rationale. The special focus on an in-between, largely incomprehensible, category of
Secretary-equivalents, counts as a change, too, though it appears somewhat inexplicable. For the
uninitiated, this category was supposedly meant for those with less than two years to go before
retirement, however wobbly and garbled ( ) the logic, going by the game of
musical chairs that is constantly played with postings at this level. This time around, however,
few officers with just 18 months in service have been empaneled as Secretaries, while others
with between 3 and 6 years in their bag have been cloistered (kept away from the outside
world) in the unambiguously lesser ~ one may call it Tier 2 ~ category, with the clear prospect
of working with juniors as their administrative bosses or languishing in posts which are
definitely non-mainstream.

Notwithstanding these evident dampeners, there must be marinating joy for all those empaneled,
though the exact destination and the time taken to get there remains as yet unknown and is
frankly, unknowable. That IAS officers head almost all Ministries/Departments of the
Government of India is no official secret. The steel frame has successfully retained its steely
clasp on the top echelons (/ ). Efforts to change this arrangement ~ or
deal, as some scornfully see it ~ have so far fallen by the wayside. Hence the need to get a better
appreciation of what the process of empanelment is all about. With the enveloping buzz of
openness and transparency, this may be best perceived as an endeavour towards enhanced public
education. Secretaries are after all the ace doers, movers and shakers in our polity.
According to a set of guidelines, dating back to 2008 (almost a decade!), empanelment for IAS
officers is to be considered NOT as a reflection of the intrinsic merit, or otherwise, of an officer,
but primarily the suitability of the officer to occupy senior levels in the Central Government.
What these very special skillsets are, remain undisclosed. Instead, there is an attempted
elaboration which utterly lacks coherence and clarity. It merely states that given the background
and experience of an officer, she may be highly suited to occupy senior positions in State

Likewise, another officer, in view of the background and experience, may be considered more
suitable for the Central Government. Considering this is meant exclusively for All-India Service
officers, whose basic mandate, from day one, is to serve both at the State and the Centre, one is
leftconfounded (used for emphasis, especially to express anger or annoyance.) as to its
justification and wider implications. There are hardly any programmes that can take off other
than in the spirit of cooperative federalism. Can the same officer then be adjudged suitable for
one level and unsuitable for another, both in the same spectrum? There should ideally be no
room for the unsuitables. The concept of a Welfare State cannot be stretched to such mind-
bending lengths.

The adjudication process that steers officers into the hallowed portals of empanelment is fraught
with complexities and problems. It is marvelously opaque and document-reliant. The mighty
document is the archaic Annual Appraisal Report, which according to a Supreme Court ruling is
no longer confidential and has to be disclosed. Therefore, on paper, invariably everyone is rated
outstanding, with only 40 per cent weightage to work-related criteria and 60 per cent
weightage to personality traits. The statedly contemporary twist of a 360 degree review by peers,
seniors and colleagues, is an equally hush-hush affair and does not really pass muster as an
objective assessment () tool for professional capabilities, given our unique work
environment. Further, the mechanism which provides scope for two rounds of reviews to
transition from the non-empaneled into the empaneled category leaves ample room
for discretion () and makes the initial decision open to question. Why some make it
through the review -filter and not others, is inevitably a subject of endless and
avoidable conjecture (/).

Not very illuminating after all. What is even more foggy is the final matching of the empaneled
officer with the post. It has happened, times without number, that officers are assigned Ministries
where they have no sector-specific expertise or experience and have to necessarily spend a huge
chunk of valuable time just learning the ropes. The tenures are almost always short because of
the slow, unpredictable, cumbersome () trek up to the summit.
It was expected that with Niti Aayogs gentle nudge to bring in best global and corporate
practices to the administrative helm and with the impressive political will to carry them through,
there would have been some big bang, comprehensive changes in this critical area.

Courtesy: The Statesman (National)

1. Imperative (adjective): Of vital importance; crucial. ()

Synonyms: Vital, Crucial, Critical, Essential.

Antonyms: Inessential, Insignificant, Trivial, Uncritical.

Example: Even though Macys father agreed to allow her to get a puppy, he felt it
was imperative that she first talk to a vet about the responsibilities of caring for a pet.

2. Vis--vis (adverb): (In relation to) ( / )

Synonyms: With regard to, As compared with, As opposed to.

Example: At currency exchange office each currency is given a value vis--vis the other

3. Incognito (adjective): (Having one's true identity concealed.) (/)

Synonyms: Camouflaged, Unrecognized, Unidentified; Secret, Covert, Anonymous.

Antonyms: Known, Openly, Unhidden.

Example: The celebrity has an assortment of wigs, stage makeup, and body padding so that she
can move around town incognito.

4. Docile (adjective): Ready to accept control or instruction ()

Synonyms: Compliant, Obedient, Pliant, Dutiful, Passive, Submissive.

Antonyms: Determined, Headstrong, Inflexible, Intractable, Obstinate.

Example: Although the lion appears docile during the circus acts, he is really a fierce animal
when uncontrolled by a trainer.

Related words:

Docilely (adverb) -

5. Garble (verb): Reproduce (a message, sound, or transmission) in a confused and distorted

way. ( )

Synonyms: Mix Up, Muddle, Jumble, Confuse, Blur, Slur, Obscure, Distort, Twist.

Antonyms: Explain, Organize, Straighten.

Example: The boy started to garble the poem when he could not remember the words.
Verb forms: Garble, Garbled, Garbled.

6. Echelon (noun): A level or rank in an organization, a profession, or

society. (/ )

Synonyms: Level, Rank, Grade, Rung, Tier, Stratum.

Example: Only members of societys highest echelon can afford to own airplanes.

Verb forms: Echelon, Echeloned, Echeloned.

Related words:

Echelon (verb) - arrange in an echelon formation.

7. Assessment (noun): The action of assessing/evaluating someone or something. ()

Synonyms: Evaluation, Judgment, Gauging, Rating, appraisal.

Antonyms: Ignorance, Avoidance.

Example: The purpose of the final exam is to assess how much information students have
acquired throughout the semester.

Verb forms: Assess, Assessed, Assessed.

Related words:

Assess (verb)

8. Discretion (noun): The trait of judging wisely and objectively ()

Synonyms: Discreetness, Common Sense, Gumption, Prudence, Sensibleness, Wisdom.

Antonyms: Imprudence, Indiscretion.

Example: As you are hosting the party, you should feel free to invite guests at your discretion.

Related words:

Discreet (adjective)

9. Conjecture (noun): An opinion or conclusion formed on the basis of incomplete

information. (/)

Synonyms: Guess, Speculation, Surmise, Presumption.

Antonyms: Reality, Truth, Certainty.

Example: After doing additional research, the scientist admitted his conjecture about the
chemical reaction was incorrect.

Verb forms: Conjecture, Conjectured, Conjectured.

Related words:

Conjecture (verb)

10. Cumbersome (adjective): Large or heavy and therefore difficult to carry or use / slow or
complicated and therefore inefficient. (/)

Synonyms: Complicated, Complex, Hefty, Weighty, Burdensome.

Antonyms: Convenient, Light, Manageable.

Example: The assignment was so cumbersome that Jill had to hire six temporary workers to
assist her.