Daily Vocabulary Builder – The Hindu Editorial with Vocabulary
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The Hindu Editorial with Vocabulary – “The Changing Structure of Riots”
The recent riots in West Bengal and Bihar have got stuck in the gullet of Indian democracy. These riots are disturbing not only as new rituals of violence but as part of the more narratives of electoral democracy. In fact, as acts of violence, they are depressing thrice over as events. First, as premeditated acts of brutality followed by a sterile weakness of governmental response. What is even more sinister is the narrative of legitimacy built in the aftermath of a riot to normalise them. Let’s try to understand the changing morphology of riots with West Bengal and Bihar as illustrations.
Ram Navami violence
Between communal riots and the lynch mob, India has added a new dimension to its repertoire of violence. But unlike the lynch mob, which feeds on a hunt for an individual, the riot has a complexity we have not fully grasped. Partly this is because riots have changed structurally over time. Conventionally, a riot had a short sequence followed by an almost surprising return to normalcy, where rioter and victim played neighbours again. The new riots have raised a different spectre of violence. Typical of this new style is what one can dub Ram Navami riots.
Associated with the festival of the birth of Lord Ram, these are no longer small mohalla or nukkad affairs. Their change in scale is awesome, with some Ram Navami processions attracting over 25,000 people, such as the one in Bihar Sharif. The festival is used as a pretext for large pre-mediated riots involving murder, arson and destruction of property. The forces of law and order seem lukewarm or ill-equipped to fight such violence. Ironically, policemen who are supposed to control riots have been occasionally seen leading them using the most aggressive of words. The Bihar Home Secretary admitted this to the media but also sought to explain it by saying policeman are a part of society, and may get carried away by the prejudices of society. The question is when the law is seen to shield criminals, who does the victim as citizen turn to?
Another interesting point to note is that there is almost no admission of guilt. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in fact, continues to play the political game by accusing the police of being one-sided in support of minorities. Worse, it often pretends to be proactive and lead an inquiry team to Opposition-ruled States where riots have taken place and where the government lacks the guts to challenge them. They brazenly attacked the Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal even when it was clear that their cohorts in the Bajrang Dal were responsible. This creates a politics of gimmickry and misinformation leading to delays in investigation and a climate of hypocrisy.
The election trigger
To a large extent this new form of rioting stems from the trigger of elections. Riots become a way of dividing society along standard fault lines and intensifying solidarity and suspicion as a way of consolidating vote-banks. The number of riots seems to double or triple before election year. Mass mobilisation for Ram Navami is a new phenomenon including the entry of new self-styled religious samitis and a tendency to expand beyond the locality.
Banally, each riot begins with an act of obtaining permission. The administration is usually reluctant to deny permission, sensitive as they are to the claims of religious groups and also the political furore that follows a denial for any religious performance. The narrative then moves from the police station to the digital space. The Internet is a great carrier of instant rumours. In Nawada, riots were triggered when an idol of Hanuman was found vandalised. In fact, one of the government’s first moves during the recent riots in West Bengal was the suspension of Internet services.
Then, there is the politics of the route. The control of routes almost becomes the ground for riots. All parties usually become unyielding insisting on pushing through a Muslim mohalla. It inevitably becomes a tussle between Bajrang Dal egos and Muslim intransigence and vulnerability. Another aspect, which is distressing to say the least, is that the leaders of riots are not mohalla boys and goondas but leading politicians, including in a recent case a son of a Minister, who abscond happily after the riots. What one senses here is apreening of Bajrang Dal machismo. They only assure us that the logistics of riots is well-organised. One sees it particularly in the heavy presence of trishuls and swords.
By this time there is little scope for conversation or negotiation and the police realise their cautionary caveats have been thrown to the dogs. The stage is now set for murder and arson and the script becomes almost predictably Pavlovian between an aggressive Bajrang Dal/RSS and vulnerable Muslims, wanting retaliation. It is almost as if riots are the price we pay to keep electoral democracy going. They provide the grease for animosity and keep political suspicion and hate alive.
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When riots have almost become an extension of the discourse on electoral politics, the inevitable litany of mechanical questions follow. The police become the standard target. They seem neither capable of prevention or control, even if they have an acute sense of the possible violence. It is almost as if they have become a passive ineffectual backdrop to the inevitability of riot scenarios. Yet the pressure on them from local politicians must be intense and their efforts to control the route of a riot seem often ineffective. But it is at the political level of leadership that one sees different patterns of disastrous handling. The Chief Ministers of Bengal and Bihar, Mamata Banerjee and Nitish Kumar, had slightly different responses, with Ms. Banerjee banking on threats and then vacillation, and Mr. Kumar greeting it with a strange indifference, conveying a tacit message that his political continuity and stability were more important than the consequences of a riot.
In fact, Ms. Banerjee and Mr. Kumar constitute two separate melodramas of political irresponsibility. Both realised that these were organised riots, but while Mr. Kumar stayed indifferent, Ms. Banerjee was indecisive. Her bluster seems to have had little impact on the BJP as they intruded with their own four-man investigative committee into Asansol. Ms. Banerjee seems caught in a populist quagmire while Mr. Kumar seems concerned with himself. His handling of the riots has vitiated what little reputation he built as a good administrator. One is not even clear whether his indifference will save him, as a wave of dissatisfaction spreads around him.
Mr. Kumar’s alleged vulnerability in power has created the larger vulnerability of citizens, especially minorities in Bihar. The man who was early on firm on these questions waffles when he encounters them. His hypocrisy is more appalling than Ms. Banerjee’s empty threats and hysteria. Mr. Kumar’s contempt for the electorate demands a deeper analysis. Political irresponsibility tied to weak governance becomes an added incentive for politicians prone to use riots as an act of electoral consolidation.
Riots have become premeditated acts of violence serving as a prelude and a catalyst for India’s electoral machine. In that sense, riots are challenging the very essence of government and politics in Indian democracy. Sadly, most critiques become Cassandra cries in a world which sees violence as an integral part of the electoral ritual. One might suggest that along with majoritarianism of the Modi regime, the cynical structure of riots might make electoral democracy one of the most tragic oxymorons of the time.
Vocabulary Words from The Hindu Editorial
1. Gullet(noun) अन्ननाल/ ग्रासनली/ गला : The passage by which food passes from the mouth to the stomach. (Your gullet is the tube which goes from your mouth to your stomach.)
Synonyms: Oesophagus, Throat, Pharynx; Crop, Craw, Maw; Weasand, Throttle,
Example: If all has gone well you should feel a little sensation of trapped air coming up the gullet from the stomach.
2. Cynical(adjective) निंदक / दोषदर्शी : Believing that people are motivated purely by self-interest; distrustful of human sincerity or integrity. (distrustful or contemptuous of virtue, esp selflessness in others; believing the worst of others, esp that all acts are selfish)
Synonyms: Misanthropic, Pessimistic, Distrustful, Sardonic, Sceptical
Antonyms: Trustful, Optimistic, Credulous, Positivist
Example: No wonder some people are deeply cynical about who benefits most from many investments.
3. Repertoire(noun) प्रदर्शनों की सूची : A stock of plays, dances, or pieces that a company or a performer knows or is prepared to perform. (the entire stock of things available in a field or of a kind)
Synonyms: Collection, Stock, Range, Repertory, Reserve, Store, Repository, Supply
Antonyms: Debt, Dearth, Lack
Example: His entire repertoire is a cartoon gallery of the unexpected.
4. Cohorts(noun) समानता रखने वाले लोग : A group of people banded together or treated as a group. (a group of people with a statistic in common, esp having been born in the same year)
Synonyms: Associate, Companion, Compatriot, Comrade, Crony, Fellow, Hobnobber, Mate, Follower, Proponent
Antonyms: Enemy, Foe, Opponent, Adversary, Antagonist
Example: That only encourages the dolphin to make people its social cohorts rather than other dolphins.
5. Gimmickry(noun) मसख़रापन, नौटंकी : If you describe features or actions as gimmickry, you mean they are not necessary or useful, and their only purpose is to attract attention or publicity.
Synonyms: Contrivance, Ploy, Manoeuvre, Manipulation, Stratagem
Antonyms: Honesty, Candour, Frankness, Sincerity, Truthfulness
Example: Weird whistles and other sound effects add atmosphere but not gimmickry.
6. Hypocrisy(noun) पाखंड/ आडम्बर/ कपट : The practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense.
Synonyms: Dissimulation, Posturing, Speciousness, Empty Talk, Deceit, Dishonesty, Mendacity, Pretence, Duplicity, Sanctimony
Antonyms: Honesty, Sincerity, Genuineness, Straightforwardness, Forthrightness
Example: The necessary hypocrisy of politicians partly derives from the egregious hypocrisy of the People.
7. Intransigence(noun) कट्टरता/ अड़ियल : Refusing to change your opinions or behaviour. (If you talk about someone’s intransigence, you mean that they refuse to behave differently or to change their attitude to something.)
Synonyms: Uncompromising, Inflexible, Unbending, Unyielding, Unshakeable, Unwavering, Resolute, Stubborn, Obstinate, Obdurate
Antonyms: Compliant, Flexible, Docile, Yielding, Subservience
Example: Political intransigence has had the opposite effect.
8. Preen(verb) आत्मसंतुष्ट होना/ ख़ुदपसंद होना : To spend time making yourself look attractive: (If someone preens, they think in a pleased way about how attractive, clever, or good at something they are.)
Synonyms: Primp, Titivate, Groom, Clean, Tidy, Beautify
Antonyms: Dirtify, Uglify, Disarray, Deface
Example: DRY skin on your feet may be a sign of stress – perhaps as busy lives mean less time for personal preening.
9. Tacit(adjective) मतलब रखा हुआ/ अनकहा/ सूचित : Expressed or understood without being directly stated. (implied or inferred without direct expression; understood)
Synonyms: Implicit, Understood, Implied, Inferred, Presumed, Hinted
Antonym: Explicit, Spoken, Stated, Blatant, Manifested, Apparent
Example: The move has tacit support from at least one government minister.
10. Quagmire(noun) दलदल/ नाज़ुक हालत : A difficult, complicated, or unpleasant situation which is not easy to avoid or escape from.
Synonyms: Bind, Dilemma, Fix, Impasse, Jam, Mire, Predicament,
Antonym: Solution, Breakthrough, Advance, Progress
Example: It is a political and legal quagmire, so nobody will go near it.
11. Sterile (adjective) बंजर / विसंक्रमित / बंध्य : Free from bacteria or other living microorganisms; totally clean
Synonyms: pointless, unproductive, unfruitful, unrewarding, useless, unprofitable, profitless.
Antonym: Cheerful, productive, unsterile, profitable.
Example: This kind of drama has become artificially sterile, wasteful of good technicians and fine actors.
12. Vandalised (verb) उपद्रव मचाना / तोड़-फोड : Deliberately destroy or damage (public or private property).
Synonyms: Destroy, desecrate, despoil, deface, disfigure, mutilate, damage, sabotage.
Antonym: Construct, improve, repair, help.
Example: We must send out a message that to vandalise public facilities is neither big nor clever.
Word of the Day – “Asthenia”
- Rescind (verb) रद्द करना, मंसूख करना, निरसन, काट देना, विखंडित करना, निरस्त करना, काट डालना, लोप करना, तोड़ना
- Meaning:- A law or agreement, they officially withdraw it and state that it is no longer valid. (revoke, cancel, or repeal (a law, order, or agreement).0
- Synonyms: revoke, repeal, cancel, reverse, overturn, overrule, annul, nullify, void, invalidate.
- Antonym: Approve, establish, enforce, sanction, validate.
- Example: The vendor claimed that he had rescinded the contract on the purchaser’s failure to comply with the notice to make the payment.
- उदाहरण: विक्रेता ने यह दावा किया कि भुगतान करने के नोटिस का अनुपालन करने में क्रेता के विफल रहने के कारण उसने ठेके को रद्द कर दिया था।
Quote of the Day
“The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty. The activist is the man who cleans up the river.” Ross Perot
“वह व्यक्ति कर्मठ नहीं है जो कि यह कहता है कि नदी गंदी है। कर्मठ तो वह व्यक्ति होता है जो कि नदी को सफाई करना शुरु कर देता है।” रॉस पेरो
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