The Hindu Editorial with Vocabulary – May 2018
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The Hindu Editorial with Vocabulary – “Towards a Ceasefire in J&K?”
Much groundwork and political consensus are needed to pull off the Ramzan ceasefire proposal. Finally, after four bleak years of unremitting conflict, a small ray of light appears to be struggling to get through in Jammu and Kashmir. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s proposal for a Ramzan ceasefire, backed by a State all-party delegation, has gained some traction in the policy community. Though we are yet to see how Prime Minister Narendra Modi responds, there is little doubt that a ceasefire would be hugely welcomed, most of all by the Jammuites of the border areas and the Kashmiris of the Valley, who have had little respite from violence since 2014.
Then and now
Yet there is a sting in the proposal. Ms. Mufti talked about a unilateral ceasefire as was declared by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in November 2000. In response, Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat has asked who would then guarantee that the security forces would be defended from attack. The question is not idle. During the first three months of the 2000 ceasefire, casualties amongst security forces rose sharply, despite the fact that there was considerable public pressure on the separatists as well as Pakistan to reciprocate, including from the ‘azaadi’ constituency.
Gen. Rawat is right in anticipating that there will be continuing attacks on security forces under a unilateral ceasefire. Nevertheless, it is imperative to curtail the violence that people in Jammu and Kashmir suffer, and a ceasefire might provide the best opportunity to de-escalate. As the rising number of youth turning to arms attests, the last four years of counterinsurgency have not succeeded in ending insurgency. We could have learned this lesson from past experience too — the counterinsurgency of the 1990s did not end insurgency. But it did pave the way for a peace process and it was this peace process that made progress towards ending armed conflict until Pakistan’s then leader, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, put it on a back burner.
The 2000 ceasefire experience also showed that casualties among the security forces could have been minimised had more urgent attention been paid to tightening defence of security installations and personnel. The Vajpayee administration did not prepare for continuing attacks and the ceasefire created both resentment among the troops and an understandable but misplaced relaxation of alertness. Gen. Rawat and his corps commanders could work on plugging such lapses and the Modi administration could take rapid steps to improve working conditions for security forces, including shorter service periods in the Valley.
What impact will a unilateral ceasefire have on the ground? Clearly there will be immediate relief to the beleaguered residents of the State. But the ceasefire can only provide an opportunity for other steps to be taken, such as India-Pakistan talks, dialogue with the Hurriyat and allied groups, and backchannel negotiations for a reciprocal ceasefire by armed groups. It is not clear whether such initiatives are already in the pipeline or whether the State government has presented a road map of how to get them going. What is clear is that taking these steps is far more difficult now than it was in 2000.
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Mr. Vajpayee’s ceasefire took place at a time when there were active negotiations at a multitude of levels — India-Pakistan, Hizbul-Indian Army, Hurriyat-India-Pakistan, civil society and even business groups. He was able to set off the rise in casualties during the ceasefire against the political gains of a peace process, which eventually led to a sharp decrease in violence.
That context is gone today. There is little public pressure on the armed groups. The impetus for peace has been replaced by communal stand-offs, anger and hatred. More civilians, militants and security forces have died in the first five months of 2018 than in corresponding periods for the previous decade. The State is polarised, and society has become increasingly lumpen, as the death by stoning of a young Tamil tourist and the communal mobilisation around the rape and murder of a child in Kathua indicate. In the Valley, alienation from India is as high as it was in the early 1990s, when insurgency took root.
The Pakistan factor
For a unilateral ceasefire to have the desired impact, of paving the way for a sustained peace process, it will have to be accompanied by rapid action on two fronts: externally, wide-ranging peace talks between India and Pakistan, the Modi administration and ‘azaadi’ groups; and internally, peace-building on the ground by the Mufti administration and Opposition parties.
There are faint indications that Pakistan’s military might be nudged into curtailing support for armed groups. The announcement of a unilateral ceasefire would put considerable international pressure on Pakistan’s civil-military leadership to restore the 2003 ceasefire along the International Boundary and the Line of Control. Negotiations with armed groups to reciprocate the ceasefire will be more difficult to get started — there is no Majid Dar today, and here again Pakistan holds the key, with so many instigators lodged there.
The quid pro quo for Pakistan will be talks on Kashmir. This is a bitter pill for the Modi administration, which has opposed talks while terrorist attacks continue. One way out would be to encourage talks between Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s all-party delegation and Pakistan Parliament’s Kashmir committee. This would allow the Modi administration some flexibility. It has the added advantage of having been proposed by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq back in 2010.
Talks with the Hurriyat are also complicated. The Mirwaiz Hurriyat is vulnerable, and the Geelani Hurriyat that has some, albeit limited, influence on militants is under a new leader who refused to ask his son to give up arms — how is he to be persuaded to support a ceasefire? Will he be amenable to suggestions from the other members of the ‘Joint Resistance Leadership’ who have supported ceasefires earlier? And what about the Hizbul and other armed groups? Given the lack of youth leadership, despite the plethora of martyr icons, Yusuf Shah, aka Salahuddin, might be the best bet for the first port of call. Alternatively, there is our own short-lived initiative as interlocutors, of putting out feelers through militants safely lodged in jail, which aroused such a howl of protest that we were forced to abandon it.
Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has already opposed Ms. Mufti’s proposal as have Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh and the State Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)unit. Mr. Vajpayee was able to silence opponents within his party and alliance. There is little doubt that Mr. Modi could do the same, given that he is feted within the party and his allies in government would in any case support a ceasefire.
The question is, does he want to? The declaration of a unilateral ceasefire would undoubtedly be to his advantage in the Valley, where the BJP is reviled by many. But Mr. Modi is due to visit Kashmir on May 19, two days after Ramzan begins, and many in Kashmir hope that he might announce a ceasefire then. If he does not do so, he will again have shattered Kashmiri hopes and snubbed Ms. Mufti, as he did her father.
Yet Ms. Mufti also bears responsibility. If she has not done the groundwork to ensure that a unilateral ceasefire will soon be reciprocated, and a political process follows, then she too has played opportunist politics geared towards restoring the credibility of her failing administration. In that case she would have done better to seek common ground with her coalition partner to curtail the counterproductive counterinsurgency campaign and improve governance on the ground.
Vocabulary Words from The Hindu Editorial
1. Bitter pill(idiom) जिसे स्वीकार करना मुश्किल या अप्रिय है : An unwanted or unpleasant situation that someone is forced to accept.
Synonyms: Affliction, Burden, Curse, Tribulation
Example: Dropping strokes on the last two holes was something of a bitter pill to swallow.
2. Revile(verb) गाली देना/ बुरा-भला कहना : To criticize someone strongly, or say unpleasant things to or about someone: (criticize in an abusive or angrily insulting manner)
Synonyms: Vituperate, Vilify, Censure, Stagmatize
Antonym: Laud, Extol, Praise, Commend
Example: During the years of feminist revilement , Hughes wrote and said little in public about his life with Plath
3. Curtail(verb) संक्षिप्त करना/ कम करना : To reduce or limit something: (reduce in extent or quantity; impose a restriction on.)
Synonyms: Abridge, Retrench, Truncate, Curb
Antonyms: Protract, Elongate, Dilate, Extend
Example: One is that the restrictions of movement in rural areas could curtail normal campaigning.
4. Fete(verb) अभिनंदन करना/ आदर करना: To praise, welcome or honor someone publicly because of their achievements. (If someone is feted, they are celebrated, welcomed, or admired by the public.)
Synonyms: Honor, Commemorate, Felicitate, Acknowledge
Antonyms: Neglect, Discredit, Disregard, Reprobate
Example: The returning servicemen and servicewomen were feted with a week’s worth of celebrations.
5. Snub(verb) अपमान/ अनादर करना / कोई महत्त्व न देना : An act of showing disdain or a lack of cordiality by rebuffing or ignoring someone or something. (a deliberately insulting act or remark)
Synonyms: Insult, Desecrate, Disdain, Humiliate, Slight
Antonyms: Compliment, Regard, Welcome, Exalt, Flatter
Example: He did need to stop to attend to the needs of a bleeding world that mainly snubbed their noses at him.
6. Unremitting(adjective) निरंतर/ लगातार : Never stopping, becoming weaker, or failing. (Something that is unremitting continues without stopping or becoming less intense)
Synonyms: Perpetual, Incessant, Inexorable, Unabating
Antonyms: Intermittent, Spasmodic, Sporadic, Unsteady
Example: This would occur not by itself, but only through unremitting class struggle and the teaching of the masses
7. Put something on back burner(idiom) किसी चीज़ को स्थगित या बाद के लिए निलंबित कर देना: To put on hold or suspended temporarily.
Synonyms: Adjourn, Suspend, Defer, Delay, Postpone
Antonyms: Expedite, Hasten, Advance, Continue
Example: I think that painting the house should be on the back burner until we decide on what furniture we want to buy.
8. Beleaguered(adjective) परेशान/ धेरा डालना : Suffering or being subjected to constant or repeated trouble or harassment, being attacked or criticized. (A beleaguered person, organization, or project is experiencing a lot of difficulties, opposition, or criticism.)
Synonyms: Harassed, Troubled, Fraught, Pestered, Gnawed
Antonyms: Carefree, Pleased, Soothed, Untroubled
Example: You have identified another looming problem for the beleaguered car industry.
9. Impetus(noun) प्रेरणा/ प्रोत्साहन : Something that encourages a particular activity or makes that activity more energetic or effective. (an impetus makes it happen or progress more quickly.)
Synonyms: Stimulus, Impulse, Spur, Inducement, Goad
Antonyms: Discouragement, Hindrance, Block, Disincentive
Example: This book provides all the impetus you could need to get sowing and planting
10. Lumpen(adjective) कम अक्ल/ सुस्त और बेकार: Used to describe people who are not clever or well educated, and who are not interested in changing or improving their situation.
Synonyms: Boorish, Gross, Unintelligent, Stupid
Antonyms: Partrician, Eminent, Aristrocratic, Noble
Example: We are not obliged to share the superficial view that lumpen social layers possess an inherently revolutionary character.
11. Insurgency (noun) विद्रोह/ राज-द्रोह: An insurgency is a violent attempt to oppose a country’s government carried out by citizens of that country.
Synonyms: Revolution, nonconformity, insubordination, sedition, disobedience.
Antonyms: Orthodoxy, peace, obedience, calm.
Example: He said: ‘We will not let this aberration knock us off our course to rid this country of the insurgency.
12. Reciprocate (verb) विनिमय करना / प्रतिफल चुकाना और आदान-प्रदान करना : Respond to (a gesture or action) by making a corresponding one. (to move or cause to move backwards and forwards)
Synonyms: Requite, return, give back, match, equal, recompense.
Antonyms: Request, disagree, refuse.
Example: It was all his fault; Will had picked up on his feelings and assumed he was expected to reciprocate them.
Word of the Day – “Obfuscate”
- Obfuscate (verb) अंधेरा करना, घबरा देना, उलझाना, अस्पष्ट करना
- Meaning:- To obfuscate something means to deliberately make it seem confusing and difficult to understand.
- Synonyms: Obscure, confuse, make unclear, blur, muddle, complicate, overcomplicate, muddy.
- Antonym: Clear up, illuminate, reveal, enlighten, clarify.
- Example: Local councils have been warned over a slew of jargon that baffles ordinary people, but why do they love to obfuscate?
- उदाहरण: स्थानीय पंचायतों को आम जनता को चकरा देने वाली अपरिचित शब्दावली का प्रयोग न करने की चेतावनी दी जा चुकी है, लेकिन इन्हें बात को उलझाने का क्या शौक है?
Quote of the Day
“This world is a bitter tree, it has only two sweet nectar like fruits – one is soft voice and the other is company of gentlemen.” Chanakya
“संसार एक कड़वा वृक्ष है, इसके दो फल ही अमृत जैसे मीठे होते हैं – एक मधुर वाणी और दूसरी सज्जनों की संगति।” चाणक्य
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