The Hindu Editorial with Vocabulary – May 2018
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The Hindu Editorial with Vocabulary – “Remembering and forgetting in Karnataka”
During the electoral campaign, historical figures have been plucked out of rich and complex contexts. History has been weaponised afresh in the electoral war zone of Karnataka.What set the ball rolling was the first idiomatic reference by Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to the historic face-off between Pulakeshin II (the great Chalukyan king) and Harshavardhana of Kanauj in the early seventh century, in which the former prevented the conquest from the north. Since then, we have been witness to a kind of deep mining of Karnataka history to serve two distinct purposes: reel in the votes of specific caste communities and construct a narrative of Hindutva unity.
All about Tipu
In the last few weeks, historical figures have been plucked out of rich and complex contexts to be beaten into swords, flintlocks, arrows, or simply blunt objects with which to bludgeon the electoral opponent. Here, the favourite (and easiest) beating boy has, predictably, been Tipu Sultan (r. 1782-99). The inflationary career of Tipu Sultan’s detractors over the last three decades and Mr. Siddaramaiah’s decision to celebrate Tipu Jayanti has provided the ballast for a campaign which is all too impatient with the historical method. Tipu the Tyrant has won over other equally well document aspects of this modernising 18th century monarch, through the well-worn (though little substantiated or understood) criticism about his attempts at conversion, his ‘destruction’ of temples and his indifference to Kannada. To this arguable list of failings, some prominent news channels have now added the charge of ‘mass rapist’.
Yet it was Tipu the Moderniser who also supported many temples and mathas and left the larger part of his domain undisturbed on matters of religion. Tipu the Indefatigable Fighter who died valiantly on the battlefield, making him, along with Lakshmibai of Jhansi, the ‘figure of the epoch’ in Nandlal Bose’s enduring illustrations of the Indian Constitution. Tipu the Untiring Innovator, particularly of rocket technology, has been admired by leading Indian technologists (Roddam Narasimha and A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, for starters).
What has changed between the 1950s and the second decade of the new millennium in popular assessments of Tipu? Has ‘the sense of the past’ triumphed over the indisputable historical document? Does the insistence on making Tipu the Tyrant reflect either the discovery of new archives or new interpretations of the massive archival presence of this monarch? The answer is none of the above. Tipu’s fall from grace has been drawn, ironically, from the oldest and most prejudiced accounts of colonial historians, rather than the sophisticated late 20th century analyses of this 18th century monarch.
Hence the promise to honour the memory of Madakari Nayaka of Chitradurga, who was defeated by Hyder Ali in 1779. In order to do this, one would have to ignore the fact that Madakari Nayaka shrewdly weighed his options between the two powers that had made his independent continuance impossible: the Marathas and the Mysoreans under Hyder Ali. This war between rising regional powers and petty Poligars was not between Hindus and Muslims, but it will be made one. And Onake Obavva who purportedly clobbered the Hyderi soldiers entering the fort with her pestle, and has gained much affection over the years, will be deified.
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Not since the 1920s and 1930s in the Hindi/Hindu heartland has there been such a determined search for a Hinduised historical narrative. Historical heroes who had already been annexed by one or another caste group (Sangolli Rayanna and Kanakadasa by the Kurubas, Kempe Gowda and even Kuvempu by the Vokkaligas, Koti and Chennayya by the Billavas) are now being woven into electoral speeches both to connect to the demand for a caste history and also to create a new Hindu narrative. So all the new historical research about what the Vijayanagar kings shared with the Bahmani sultans — administratively, militarily, economically — will be no more than an inconvenient truth.
Such selective memorialising also effaces the pasts of Karnataka: nothing has revealed this as much as the Right’s ‘ownership’ of the Basavanna legacy. Similarly, quoting the poetry of Shishunala Sharif, that saint poet of the 19th century, has also defiled the memory of the rich commingling from which such poetry emerged.
A past to plunder
That is why the real military pioneer, Tipu Sultan, calls for an act of forgetting: though the past is a place to be plundered only for pride and glory, it would disturb the singular narrative of Tipu the Tyrant to admit any complexities. At the same time, it would be too much to expect the newcomers to Karnataka to understand the deep beauty of one of Sharif’s most popular songs set to music by C. Aswath: the hen has swallowed the monkey, the goat consumed the elephant, the wall has eaten up the paint. The Right will no doubt use its unique historical training to detect some scientific miracle or another in this poem, because they have firmly jettisoned nuance or metaphor for a painfully literal reading of poetry and myth.
Truly, we can do no better than turn to Shishunala Sharif, when he said, ‘The roof is leaking due to ignorance, the roof is leaking…’ (Sorithihudu maneya maalige, agnanadinda), and there is no one to repair the beams, he said, in this darkness that surrounds me.
To argue in the face of this sustained onslaught, which a certain regional and even sectarian pride had kept at bay for some time, that ‘history is too important for the likes of politicians’ is a futile cry in the wilderness. There is today an explosion of lay interest in questions of history, and a demand for a past that stokes only pride, making the specialist a dispensable figure. She may even endanger the project of speaking in one historical voice. But, as Walter Benjamin had darkly warned, even the dead will no longer be safe if this mission of programmatic remembering and forgetting is allowed to triumph.
Vocabulary Words from The Hindu Editorial
1. Pioneer(noun) पहला/ प्रथम अन्वेषक : A person who is one of the first people to do something. (develop or be the first to use or apply)
Synonyms: Trailblazer, Initiate, Founder, Innovator, Foremost
Antonyms: Following, Last, Ultimate, Latter, Succeeding
Example: Their aim was to pioneer a new approach to business and technology consulting.
2. Bludgeon(verb) चोट देना/ मारना : To hit and beat (someone) repeatedly with a bludgeon or other heavy object.
Synonyms: Clobber, Smash, Trounce, Beat, Thrash
Example: A widow was bludgeoned to death as she sat down to her lunch at home in what appears to have been a motiveless attack
3. Detractor(noun) आलोचक/ समीक्षक/ निन्दा करनेवाला : Someone who criticizes something or someone, often unfairly. (The detractors of a person or thing are people who criticize that person or thing.)
Synonyms: Critic, disparager, denigrator, deprecator, belittler, attacker, fault-finder, backbiter, slanderer.
Antonyms: Supporter, Proponent, Optimist, Iconodule
Example: His detractors may question whether he has any of the above-mentioned qualities.
4. Plunder(verb) लूटमार/ डाका डालना/ चुराना : Steal goods from (a place or person), typically using force and in a time of war or civil disorder.
Synonyms: Pillage, Loot, Ransack, Despoil, Booty
Antonyms: Give, Gift, Aid
Example: The former president will also be tried in a multi-million dollar case of plunder , a crime punishable by life imprisonment or death.
5. Indefatigable(adjective) न थकनेवाला/ अथक : Never becoming tired. (We use indefatigable to describe someone who never gets tired of doing something.)
Synonyms: Unflagging, Inexhaustible, Tenacious, Indomitable
Antonyms: Lethargic, Weary, Fatigued, Tired
Example: One can only salute such indefatigable souls, and wish them success in their efforts..
6. Clobber(noun पीटना/ क़त्ले आम/ मार-पीट : Hit (someone) hard/ defeat heavily.)
Synonyms: Batter, Pummel, Wallop, Drub, Smite, Strike
Example: The hateful practice of clobbering oriental porcelain, already begun, pointed a cheap and easy way to the decorators of faience.
7. Efface(verb) रगड़कर मिटा देना/ नष्ट करना/ नष्ट करना : To remove something intentionally/ erase. (It means to destroy or remove it so that it cannot be seen any more.)
Synonyms: Obliterate, Expunge, Exterminate, Delete
Antonyms: Build, Create, Restore, Construct
Example: Some literary critics have argued that interactivity will efface literature itself.
8. Defile(verb) अपवित्र करना/ मैला कर देना/ बिगाड़ देना : To spoil the purity of something or someone. (To defile something that people think is important or holy means to do something to it or say something about it which is offensive.)
Synonyms: Contaminate, Taint, Sully, Desecrate, Stain
Antonyms: Sanctify, Purify, Hallow, Sterilize, Clean
Example: You will never convert us to your religion and defile our women..
9. Jettison(verb) बाहर फेंक देना/ बोझ गिराना/ निकाल फेंकना : Throw or drop (something) from an aircraft or ship to make it light. (If you jettison something, for example an idea or a plan, you deliberately reject it or decide not to use it.)
Synonyms: Discard, Dump, Shed, Unload, Riddance, Abdicate
Antonym: Load, Keep, Retain, Gather
Example: This month, it jettisoned the plan as part of broader efforts to cut costs to cope with a steep downturn in the industry.
10. Cry in the wilderness(idiom) कोई जिसके सुझावों को नजरअंदाज कर दिया जाता है : Someone whose suggestions are ignored. (One who expresses an unpopular opinion or idea.)
Synonyms: Nonentity, Light Weight, Minion, Unheaed appeal, Futile effort.
Example: It was a cry in wilderness. Nothing came out of it. No ice was cut.
Word of the Day – “Discord”
- Discord (noun) विसंगति, विस्वरता, अनबन, असामंजस्यता मतभेद, फूट, विरोध.
- Meaning:- Discord is disagreement and argument between people. (lack of harmony between notes sounding together.)
- Synonyms: Disagreement, dissension, dispute, difference of opinion, disunity, division, opposition.
- Antonym: Harmony, agreement, concord, accord.
- Example: When we do evil, we create discord in the universal harmony, and we must restore that harmony.
- उदाहरण: जब हम बुरा काम करते हैं तो हम सार्वभौमिक सामंजस्यता में विसंगति पैदा करते हैं और हमें उस सामंजस्यता की पुनः स्थापना करनी चाहिए।
Quote of the Day
“The World is what we think it is. If we can change our thoughts, we can change the world.” H.M. Tomlinson
“दुनिया वैसी ही है जैसे हम इसके बारे में सोचते हैं। यदि हम अपने विचारों को बदल सकें, तो हम दुनिया को बदल सकते हैं।” एच.एम.टोमलिसन
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