The Hindu Editorial with Vocabulary – May 2018
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The Hindu Editorial with Vocabulary – “History is Not Just About Villains and Heroes”
An amusing, but also instructive, moment of the recently concluded Karnataka elections was the ease with which politicians on both sides relied on Indian history to make a case for their party’s political future. Congress leader Siddaramaiah invoked the Chalukya ruler Pulakeshin II as a mascot of Kannada pride, while BJP president Amit Shah asked where the Congress stood on the question of the power struggle between Hyder Ali and the ruler of Mysore, Krishnaraja Wodeyar II. Seen from the outside, there is an element of the absurd in this invoking of premodern, non-democratic personalities in today’s India. More subtly, what these historical excursions reveal is that the kind of history that Indian politicians tell us is indistinguishable from an archetypal 19th century style of history writing filled with great men, stinging betrayals and memorable sacrifices. In contrast, within the academy, the answers to fundamental questions — what is history and how to tell it — have undergone substantive re-evaluations.
Intentions, time and truth
For much of the 19th century, when history was professionalized as a discipline in the university system, historiography — the study and documentation of history — was under the influence of the methods formalised by the influential German historian Leopold von Ranke. Amongst these Rankean innovations were methods such as archival research, analysis of primary documents, and eventually a change in teaching methods that included seminars. What remained unchanged, since the days of Thucydides’s account of the Peloponnesian War, in the Rankean world, was how history was understood: intentions were followed by actions, time was unidirectional (events followed a causal stream), and there was a universal truth of events that history writing was hoping to apprehend. For Ranke, who lived before the industrialisation of Germany, the history of politics of the Prussian state (and not its society or economics) was supreme.Implicit in this stress was also the belief, as the American historian Georg Iggers later wrote, that “history possessed an inner coherence and development”.
By the late 19th century, when mass industrialisation across Europe led to the emergence of a middle class, new urban centres and economic-colonial interests, a new generation of historians emerged — such as the great Belgian historian Henri Pirenne — who sought to turn history into a form of social science. Their concerns were less the story of great men or events but rather the histories of social and economic pressures, the arrangements of capital, cities, and labour. In the shadow of the influence of Marxist historians and moral abomination of the Holocaust, from 1960s onwards, when decolonisation was in full effect and Western society in social tumult, history writing underwent a period of self-questioning and transformation.
No longer were “grand narratives” of history tenable. More fundamentally, an understanding of historical time itself underwent a change. For the great French historian Fernand Braudel, any historical moment was concurrently pregnant with effects of different forces that operate with different time lags — from geology to social institutions to the histories of individuals. By the end of Braudel’s illustrious career, however, in contrast to the ambitions of Ranke who wanted to make history a science, history took a linguistic turn under the influence of works in other social sciences — Claude Levi Strauss in anthropology, Ferdinand de Saussure in linguistics, and the iconoclastic Jacques Derrida who declared that “there is nothing outside of the text”.
In this milieu of ferment, the great American anthropologist Clifford Geertz argued that entire cultures were texts, which meant, like great books, there was no irreducible way to interpret a society. He wrote: “Man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun.” The language used by historians was now understood to be both a mirror and a prison, and any historical text was imbricated, like petals in a flower, in negotiations with power structures within a society. By the 1980s and into the 1990s, coinciding with postmodernism, a new set of histories — on culture, everyday practices, and “microhistories” of women, gender, class, and so on — burst forth. What was gained from the decades-long internal tumult was that an old idea of a homogenous, pristinely birthed narrative of a history of heroes and villains was permanently cast aside. We have returned to an understanding of events, perhaps not dissimilar to what the ancient Jain seers had called anekantavaada: a theory of non-one-sidedness.
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Our understanding of the past
Meanwhile, as our societies grow complex, the irony is that our democratic politics continues to treat history in a monochromatic, 19th century style with villains and heroes. The result is an elevation of identity politics often at the cost of other phenomena with their own specific histories — environment, gender, social justice, etc. Arguably, democratic politics is a competitive bloodsport where only winning matters.
The consequence, however, is that thanks to the overwhelming focus on the retelling of unimaginative political histories, our people can no longer conceive of themselves in anything but political terms. It is not hard to imagine that many of the social ruptures in India, including a lack of compassion, is perhaps because our descriptions of our past do not correlate with our intuitions about empathy, each other, and ultimately ourselves.
Vocabulary Words from The Hindu Editorial
1. Tumult (noun) कोलाहल: A loud, confused noise, especially one caused by a large mass of people. (It is a state of great confusion or excitement.)
Synonym: Turmoil, Disarray, Mayhem, Upheaval, Ferment, Cataclysm, Convulsion,
Antonym: Calm, Hush, Quietude, Stillness, Tranquility, Orderliness
Examples: During the financial tumult of the past three weeks a shocking question has been hanging in the air.
2. Conceive(verb) कल्पना करना/ ध्यान में लाना : To bring a thought or idea into being; imagine: (If you cannot conceive of something, you cannot imagine it or believe it.)
Synonym: Apprehend, Visualize, Assimilate, Perceive
Antonym: Disbelieve, Misunderstand, Misconstrue, Misapprehend
Examples: He had conceived a plan on a national scale and he intended to see it through.
3. Compassion(noun) सहानुभूति/ मेहरबानी/ दया भाव : Sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.
Synonyms: Pity, Sympathy, Empathy, Solicitude, Mercy, Benevolence
Antonyms: Indifference, Callousness, Stoicism, Animosity
Examples: There is not one word of compassion or concern for the inevitable victims of another onslaught.
4. Intuition(noun) सहज बोध/ प्रातिभज्ञान : The ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning.
Synonym: Instinct, Insight, Hunch, Sixth Sense, Divination, Clairvoyance,
Antonyms: Knowledge, Reasoning, Intellect, Conscience
Examples: They know they have to live their own lives, and use that inherent intuition as a guide to practical decisions.
5. Empathy(noun) सहानुभूति/ समवेदना : The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
Synonyms: Compassionate, Humane, Sympathetic, Understanding
Antonyms: Callous, Cold-Blooded, Apathy, Rancorous, Inhuman
Examples: She had no hidden agenda, no axe to grind, just great empathy and overwhelming sympathy.
6. Invoke(verb) आह्वान करना/ अभिमंत्रित करना/ विनती करना : Cite or appeal to (someone or something) as an authority for an action or in support of an argument.
Synonyms: Supplicate, Entreat, Solicit, Beseech, Implore, Importune
Antonym: Answer, give, reply.
Examples: It will also be able to add quietly and effectively to its own wealth and to the wealth of its favorite groups, and without incurring the wrath that taxes often invoke.
7. Excursion(noun) आमोद विहार/ अध्ययन-यात्रा/ सैर सपाटा : A short journey or trip, especially one taken as a leisure activity. (especially if it is made for pleasure or enjoyment)
Synonyms: Jaunt, Expedition, Odyssey, Safari, Ramble
Examples: He had packed for camping trips and other short excursions before, but he didn’t know how long he would have to stay out of town.
8. Substantive(adjective) मौलिक/ महत्वपूर्ण पुष्ट आधारवाला : Having a firm basis in reality and therefore important, meaningful, or considerable.
Synonym: Considerable, Essential, Prodigious, Sizeable, Meaningful, Significant,
Antonym: Inconsiderable, Insignificant, Insubstantial, Negligible, Nominal
Examples: His recuperative perception, in other words, is the substantive basis of a dramatic engagement.
9. Implicit(adjective) अस्पष्ट/ अव्यक्त/ अंतर्निहित : Understood although not put into words. (Something that is implicit is expressed in an indirect way.)
Synonyms: Implied, Tacit, Unexpressed, Inferred
Antonyms: Explicit, Apparent, Blatant, Evident, Manifest, Unequivocal
Examples: We take into consideration the explicit and implicit teachings of the Bible.
10. Coherence(noun) अनुकूल होना/ सम्बद्धता/ सुसंगती : The situation when the parts of something fit together in a naturalor reasonable way: (the quality of being logical and consistent.)
Synonym: Cohesion, Integrity, Adhesion, Congruity, Integrity
Antonym: Disagreement, Discord, Nonsense, Difference
Examples: The state of the past promised to cohere the nation; such coherence seems impossible today.
Word of the Day – “Tortious”
- Tortious (adjective) अन्यायपूर्ण, अनुचित, बेजा, अपराधपूर्ण, अपकृत्य
- Meaning:- Having the nature of or involving a tort; wrongful.
- Example: Under these clauses of the new act, only when people are committing or threatening to commit a criminal or tortious act can they be prosecuted.
- उदाहरण: नए अधिनियम के इन खंडों के अंतर्गत केवल उसी समय लोगों के विरूद्ध मुकदमा चलाया जा सकता है जब वे किसी आपराधिक या अनुचित कार्य को करते हैं या ऐसा करने की धमकी देते हैं।
Quote of the Day
“This is the best day the world has ever seen.” R.A. Campbell
“दुनिया में आज का दिन सर्वोत्कृष्ट दिन है।” आर.ए.कैम्बैल
हाई लेवल डाटा इंटरप्रिटेशन प्रैक्टिस वर्कबुक (नवीनतम पैटर्न पर आधारित 200+ प्रश्न विस्तृत समाधान के साथ) – डाउनलोड करने के लिए क्लिक कीजिये
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