a) Going grey: on Pakistan and the FATF watch list

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that monitors countries on action taken against terror-financing and money-laundering has decided to place Pakistan back on its watch list, or “greylist”, from June. The decision is both appropriate and overdue, given Pakistan’s blatant violation of its obligations to crack down on groups banned by the Security Council 1267 sanctions committee that monitors groups affiliated to the Taliban (which originally included al-Qaeda affiliated groups), such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Haqqani network. Their leaders like Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar continue to hold public rallies and freely garner support and donations. In the process, both the LeT and JeM, which continue to praise and claim credit for terror attacks in India, have grown their bases in Pakistan, with fortress-like headquarters in Muridke and Bahawalpur that the authorities turn a blind eye to. By doing this, successive Pakistani governments have jeopardised ties with India, and shown disregard for the outcry against terrorism worldwide. One violation was a Pakistani court’s bail to Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, LeT operational commander and a key planner of the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. Under the 1267 sanctions ruling, banned entities can get no funds, yet Lakhvi received the bail amount, and the authorities have since lost track of him. It is surprising, then, that the first round of talks of the International Cooperation Review Group that makes its recommendations to the FATF plenary failed to reach the consensus needed to list Pakistan, despite a formidable team of the U.S., U.K., France and Germany proposing the resolution against it. That the initial support for Pakistan came from China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries is cause for concern in New Delhi, given the recent diplomatic outreach by India. Equally significant, however, is China’s turnaround in the plenary session two days later, when it dropped objections to the resolution, indicating that its support for Pakistan is negotiable and not set in stone. The FATF listing will not miraculously change Pakistan’s behaviour, and this is not the first time it has been listed as a country with “strategic deficiencies” in countering terror-financing and money-laundering. However, if the greylisting comes as part of a concerted campaign to hold Pakistan accountable, and pressure is ratcheted up with financial strictures on its banks and businesses and targeted sanctions imposed against specific law enforcement and intelligence officials, it may yet bear fruit. The hope is that such sanctions will persuade Pakistan to stop state support for these terror groups and become a responsible player on the global stage and a responsive neighbour.

b) The 1947 singularity

In the debates on India’s contemporary history, the meaning and significance of 1947 and of the framing of the Constitution have always been contested. Did the Constitution mark a moment of discontinuity with the colonial past, and a desire to transform Indian political and social structures? Or was it simply a transfer of political power and a change of rulers, leaving underlying institutional arrangements intact? Supporters of the second view marshal a formidable array of arguments to support their case that the Constitution was simply a continuation of what existed before, with a few cosmetic changes. They point out that two-thirds of the Constitution replicates the 1935 Government of India Act, that key enablers of colonial executive dominance such as the ordinance-making power and Emergency powers were carried over, and that the Constitution expressly endorsed existing colonial laws. This interpretation has sometimes been validated as well by the Supreme Court, which once pointed out that the Constitution “did not seek to destroy the past institutions; it raised an edifice on what existed.”

Incremental progress

Central to this argument is the issue of suffrage. It is argued that in the thirty years before Independence, there had been a slow and incremental development of representative institutions in India. Waymarked by the 1919 and 1935 Government of India Acts, which established a limited franchise and allowed for the functioning of provincial legislative assemblies, the argument — again, in the words of the Supreme Court — is that the “new governmental set-up was [only] the final step in the process of evolution towards self-government.” This is not merely an academic debate. As the civil liberties lawyer K.G. Kannabiran pointed out, “Our political struggle retained with total composure the entire colonial legal system which had been effectively used against the freedom struggle”. Indeed, elements of this system have been upheld and endorsed by the courts, some quite recently. These include the laws of sedition, blasphemy and criminal defamation, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, and far-reaching Emergency powers. All these provisions are based on similar logic: the colonial imperative of reducing citizens to subjects and placing their liberties at the mercy of centralised and unaccountable power. It is in this context that the publication of a new book — How India Became Democratic: Citizenship and the Making of the Universal Franchise — assumes great importance. Written by the Israeli scholar Ornit Shani, it is the story of the first general election of independent India. The preparations for this election were conducted in tandem with the deliberations of the Constituent Assembly and the framing of the Constitution. They involved massive tasks such as the preparation of electoral rolls for an entire nation and the setting up of an electoral machinery, all against the background of a violent Partition and mass displacement of people. How India Became Democratic traces the mechanics of this process, which was truly epic in its scale, scope and imagination, and resurrects the histories of the bureaucrats and civil servants, the unsung heroes, who made it possible. Beyond that, however, it makes a crucial point: notwithstanding the existence of voting and the presence of representative institutions in pre-Independence India, the imagination and implementation of universal suffrage was not in any sense a “continuation”, or simply an “incremental development” of what existed before. Rather, it was revolutionary in the true sense of the word, a re-imagination of the social contract and the basic principles that underlay it.

Universal suffrage

In at least four distinct ways, universal suffrage in independent India marked a decisive break from its colonial past. First, arithmetically: the franchise granted by the British regime in the 1919 and 1935 Government of India Acts was highly restricted, and at the highest (in 1935) no more than 10% of Indians could vote. Second, structurally: voting in British India took place under the regime of separate electorates, divided along class and economic lines. Third, the character of the electorate: voting entitlements were based on property and formal literacy-based qualifications, which reproduced existing social and economic hierarchies, and excluded the very people whose interests were most in need of “representation”. Indeed, women’s entitlement to vote was often linked to the status of their husbands. And fourth, voting was a gift of the colonial government, which could be granted or taken away at its will. Suffrage was a privilege accorded to a few Indians, and not a right that all Indians had to decide who would govern them. Consequently, in expanding the electorate from 10% to almost 100%; in abolishing separate electorates for a conception of universal citizenship; and above all, in decisively rejecting arguments that individuals who were formally “illiterate” were incapable of exercising the franchise, the Indian Constitution – and the first general election – were truly transformative in character. How India Became Democratic argues persuasively that in transforming voting from a privilege that was accorded to a select few to a right that could be enforced by all, independent India transformed the status of its people from subjects to citizens, in important and far-reaching ways. In the realm of the political, it was a transformation from hierarchy and subordination to radical equality. This insight should make us think more deeply about the Constitution’s transformative character. As Kannabiran wrote, “a Constitution framed after a liberation struggle… is like poetry, emotion recollected in tranquility.” Would it be a fair reading of this poem to assume that in the one, narrow sphere of elections and voting, it meant to transform subjects into citizens, but in all other political and social spheres, it intended to retain hierarchy and subordination? Would this be in tune with the freedom struggle itself, whose aspirations went much beyond the simple demand of periodic elections? Could it not, instead, be argued that universal suffrage was the most visible and tangible instance of the constitutional aspiration to democratise the Indian polity and society in its most comprehensive sense: that is, to democratise the relationship between the individual and the state even after elections, by constraining the amount of centralised power that the state could accumulate (even when it claimed to be acting in the best interests of citizens), and to democratise the relationships of power and dominance within other non-state institutions, such as the workplace and the family? Could it not be said, in language developed by South African constitutional scholars, that the Constitution intended to take us from a “culture of authority” to a “culture of justification” – that is, a culture in which every exercise of power and authority must be justified to those who are subject to it, even when it is said to be for their own good?

Changes in court

There are recent signs that the courts have begun to understand this. In early 2017, in a very significant judgment involving the executive’s ordinance-making powers, the Supreme Court expressly departed from colonial precedents on the subject, and placed important limits upon the scope of presidential ordinances. Later in the year, when the court was hearing the dispute between the elected Delhi government and the Lieutenant-Governor (another colonial holdover), more than one counsel framed the issue in terms of the constitutional commitment to progressively deepening democracy. And indeed, many of the pending and upcoming cases in the Supreme Court’s docket involve questions of how much power the state can wield over individuals, what rights individuals have to decide for themselves how they will define their relationship with the state, and above all, how the constitutional “culture of justification” holds the state accountable for the uses and abuses of such power. In hearing and deciding these cases, the court has an opportunity to affirm the words of one of its greatest civil rights judges, Justice Vivian Bose, who recognised the deeply transformative character of the Constitution when he said: “Is not the sanctity of the individual recognised and emphasised again and again? Is not our Constitution in violent contrast to those of states where the state is everything and the individual but a slave or a serf to serve the will of those who for the time being wield almost absolute power?” How India Became Democratic helps us to understand that the answer to both those questions is an unambiguous “yes.”


1) Overdue

Meaning: Having been needed for some time.

Example: “reform is now overdue”

2) Blatant

Meaning: (of bad behaviour) done openly and unashamedly.

Example: “blatant lies”

Synonyms: Flagrant, Glaring

Antonyms: Inconspicuous, Subtle

3) Affiliated

Meaning: Officially attach or connect (a subsidiary group or a person) to an organization.

Example: “they are national associations affiliated to larger organizations”

Synonyms: Associated, Allied

4) Garner

Meaning: Gather or collect (something, especially information or approval).

Example: “the police struggled to garner sufficient evidence”

Synonyms: Gather, Collect

5) Fortress

Meaning: A military stronghold, especially a strongly fortified town.

Synonyms: Castle, Blockhouse

6) Turn a blind eye

Meaning: To ignore something that you know is wrong.

Example: Management often turns a blind eye to bullying in the workplace.

Synonyms: Neglecting, Ignoring

7) Jeopardised

Meaning: Put (someone or something) into a situation in which there is a danger of loss, harm, or failure.

Example: “a devaluation of the dollar would jeopardize New York’s position as a financial centre”

Synonyms: Threaten, Endanger

Antonyms: Safeguard

8) Outcry

Meaning: A strong expression of public disapproval or anger.

Example: “an outcry of spontaneous passion”

Synonyms: Shout, Exclamation

9) Plenary

Meaning: A meeting or session attended by all participants at a conference or assembly.

Example: “working parties would report back to the plenary with recommendations”

10) Consensus

Meaning: A general agreement.

Example: “there is a growing consensus that the current regime has failed”

Synonyms: Agreement, Harmony

Antonyms: Disagreement

11) Formidable

Meaning: Inspiring fear or respect through being impressively large, powerful, intense, or capable.

Example: “a formidable opponent”

Synonyms: Forbidding, Redoubtable

Antonyms: Comforting, Easy

12) Outreach

Meaning: An organization’s involvement with or influence in the community, especially in the context of religion or social welfare.

Example: “the growth of evangelistic outreach”

Synonyms: Involvement

13) Set in stone

Meaning: To be very difficult or impossible to change:

Example: The schedule isn’t set in stone, but we’d like to stick to it pretty closely.

14) Miraculously

Meaning: In a way that suggests or resembles a miracle; in a remarkable and extremely lucky manner.

Example: “a shrine where people bring the sick to be miraculously healed”

15) Concerted

Meaning: Jointly arranged or carried out; coordinated.

Example: “a concerted attempt to preserve religious unity”

Synonyms: Joint, United

Antonyms: Separate, Individual

16) Ratcheted up

Meaning: To increase something in controlled stages over a period of time.

Example: The constant ratcheting up of rewards for executives means they are expanding out of all proportion to those of other staff.

17) Bear fruit

Meaning: If something that someone does bears fruit, it produces successful results.

Example: Eventually her efforts bore fruit and she got the job she wanted.

Synonyms: Creating, Producing

18) Responsive

Meaning: Reacting quickly and positively.

Example: “a flexible service that is responsive to changing social patterns”

Synonyms: Reactive, Receptive

Antonyms: Apathetic, Insensitive

19) Contemporary

Meaning: Living or occurring at the same time.

Example: “the event was recorded by a contemporary historian”

20) Contested

Meaning: Engage in competition to attain (a position of power).

Example: “she declared her intention to contest the presidency”

Synonyms: Enter, Take part in

21) Underlying

Meaning: Be the cause or basis of (something).

Example: “the fundamental issue which underlies the conflict”

Synonyms: Fundamental, Basic

Antonyms: Subordinate

22) Replicates

Meaning: Make an exact copy of; reproduce.

Example: “it might be impractical to replicate Eastern culture in the west”

Synonyms: Copy, Reproduce

23) Validated

Meaning: Check or prove the validity or accuracy of.

Example: “all analytical methods should be validated in respect of accuracy”

Synonyms: Check, Prove

24) Suffrage

Meaning: The right to vote in political elections.

Example: “universal adult suffrage”

Synonyms: Franchise, Enfranchisement

25) Franchise

Meaning: An authorization granted by a government or company to an individual or group enabling them to carry out specified commercial activities, for example acting as an agent for a company’s products.

Example: “Toyota granted the group a franchise”

Synonyms: Warrant, License

26) Provincial

Meaning: Of or concerning a province of a country or empire.

Example: “provincial elections”

Synonyms: Rustic, Outlying

Antonyms: National, Metropolitan

27) Composure

Meaning: The state or feeling of being calm and in control of oneself.

Example: “she was struggling to regain her composure”

Synonyms: Calmness, Coolness

Antonyms: Agitation, Discomposure

28) Blasphemy

Meaning: The action or offence of speaking sacrilegiously about God or sacred things; profane talk.

Example: “he was detained on charges of blasphemy”

Synonyms: Profanity, Sacrilege

Antonyms: Reverence

29) Defamation

Meaning: The action of damaging the good reputation of someone; slander or libel.

Example: “she sued him for defamation”

Synonyms: Libel, Slander

Antonyms: Commendation

30) Intandem

Meaning: At the same time.

Example: The heart and lungs will be transplanted in tandem.

Synonyms: Simultaneous, Consecutive

31) Resurrects

Meaning: Revive or revitalize (something that is inactive, disused, or forgotten).

Example: “the deal collapsed and has yet to be resurrected”

Synonyms: Revive, Regenerate

32) Unsung

Meaning: Not celebrated or praised.

Example: “Harvey is one of the unsung heroes of the industrial revolution”

Synonyms: Uncelebrated, Unhonoured

Antonyms: Famous, Celebrated

33) Entitlements

Meaning: The fact of having a right to something.

Example: “full entitlement to fees and maintenance should be offered”

Synonyms: Right, Prerogative

34) Privilege

Meaning: A special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group.

Example: “education is a right, not a privilege”

Synonyms: Advantage, Right

35) Conception

Meaning: An abstract idea; a concept.

Example: “the conception of a balance of power”

Synonyms: Idea, Concept

36) Realm

Meaning: A field or domain of activity or interest; a kingdom.

Example: “the realm of applied chemistry”

Synonyms: Domain, Sphere

37) Aspiration

Meaning: A hope or ambition of achieving something.

Example: “the needs and aspirations of the people”

Synonyms: Desire, Hope

38) Accumulate

Meaning: Gather together or acquire an increasing number or quantity of.

Example: “investigators have yet to accumulate enough evidence”

Synonyms: Gather, Collect

Antonyms: Dissipate

39) Docket

Meaning: A document or label listing the contents of a consignment or package.

Example: “they write out an individual docket for every transaction”

Synonyms: Document, Voucher

40) Unambiguous

Meaning: Not open to more than one interpretation.

Example: “instructions should be unambiguous”

Wish to learn more , then you should definitely read the previous editions of THE HINDU EDITORIAL and extend your preparations.


Aspirants can also check the previous month THE HINDU EDITORIAL and can improve the vocabulary list & can ace the exams. Learning the language is easy and this will make the process simple.