a) Avoid trade wars: on America’s decision to impose tariffs

World leaders did well to avoid protectionist trade policies in the aftermath of the Great Recession of 2008. After all, they had learned their lessons from the global trade war of the 1930s which deepened and prolonged the Great Depression, or so it was thought. American President Donald Trump last week announced that his administration would soon impose tariffs on the import of steel and aluminium into the U.S. for an indefinite period of time. The European Union, one of the largest trading partners of the U.S., has since vowed to return the favour through retaliatory measures targeting American exporters. The EU is expected to come out with a list of over 100 items imported from the U.S. that will be subject to scrutiny. For his part, Mr. Trump has justified the decision to impose protective tariffs by citing the U.S.’s huge trade deficit with the rest of the world. He explained his logic in a tweet on Friday which exposed a shocking ignorance of basic economics. He likened his country’s trade deficit to a loss that would be set right by simply stopping trade with the rest of the world. International trade, like trade within the boundaries of any country, however, is not a zero-sum game. So the trade deficit does not represent a country’s loss either, but merely the flip side of a capital account surplus. This is not to deny that there are definitely some losers — for example, the U.S. manufacturing industry which lost out to competition from countries such as China due to increasing globalisation. But throwing free trade out of the window would only make Americans and everyone else poorer. Despite the global backlash, it is unlikely that Mr. Trump will walk back on his decision, especially given its populist resonance. Steelworkers in key States in the U.S. played a significant role in Mr. Trump’s election win in 2016. In fact, these are the only people who will benefit from the steel and aluminium tariffs while American consumers as a whole will pay higher prices for their goods. Mr. Trump’s desire to appeal to populist sentiment also explains why his protectionist turn comes in the midst of steadily improving economic growth. With Mr. Trump’s tariffs not going down well with the EU, it will be important to see how China and other major trading partners respond to his opening salvo. They can take a leaf out of the books of major global central banks which have shown enough maturity to avoid using currency wars as a means to settle disputes. Instead of retaliating with more tariffs, which could cause the current dispute to spiral into a full-fledged global trade war, the U.S.’s trading partners must try to achieve peace through negotiations.

b) The saffron breeze in the Northeast

Of the three States whose Assembly election results were declared on March 3, Tripura’s was doubtlessly the most stunning. Tripura has been the safest Left bastion since the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Front first swept to power in 1978. Only once since then, in 1988, did the Left Front lose to the Congress-TUJS (Tripura Upajati Juba Samity) alliance, but it returned to power in 1993. Since then it has been in power, with Manik Sarkar as Chief Minister since 1998. So for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to emerge out of nowhere and score a spectacular victory by getting a majority in the Assembly on its own is nothing short of a miracle. Beneath this surprise lies a cobweb of contradictions that the BJP’s election managers, especially Sunil Deodhar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s poll manager in Varanasi, seem to have managed so well.

The Tripura manoeuvre

By striking an alliance with the tribal Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) which demands a separate tribal State of Twipraland it wants carved out of the autonomous district council of the State, the BJP assured itself of a sweep in the 20 seats reserved for Scheduled Tribes. The IPFT has close connect to the separatist National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT), and the CPI(M) cadre is no match for the armed guerrillas who back the IPFT’s young militant cadres in the remote hill interiors. But by not endorsing the Twipraland demand and by not giving the IPFT the majority of the ST reserved seats (11 contested by the BJP, nine by the IPFT), the BJP sent a clear message it would not be a junior partner to its ally, as in Jammu and Kashmir. That got the BJP much of the tribal backing, and also of Bengalis in rural remote interiors who saw support to the BJP as their safest security option. Then by absorbing almost the entire Congress-turned Trinamool Congress leadership in its fold, the BJP ensured that it ran away with the 30% Congress votebank. In Tripura, the fight has always tended to be between the Left and the anti-Left. With the Congress decimated and seen as the B-team of the Left, with Congress president Rahul Gandhi avoiding any attack against Mr. Sarkar, the anti-Left voter had no option but to go with the BJP as it was seen as the only viable option to dethrone the Left. The middle class Bengali vote swung the saffron way because of the Left’s poor track record in employment generation, forcing Tripura’s best brains to seek jobs in Pune, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. Mr. Sarkar’s refusal to meet the captains of IT industry during a 2015 Tripura Conclave organised to leverage Agartala’s emergence as India’s third Internet gateway did not go down well with GenNext, tribals and Bengalis alike. That explains the BJP sweep in Agartala and other urban areas. So with the tribal vote and the middle class urban Bengali vote swinging its way, all that the BJP needed was a small swing in the rural Bengali vote. While much of that remained with the Left (which is marginally behind the BJP in overall vote share), in the deep interiors dominated by the IPFT’s militant cadre, the Bengali settlers seem to have voted against the Left, as it was seen to be no longer capable of defending them in the event of a resurgent tribal insurgency. Fear of the unknown always haunts the rural Bengalis who have borne the brunt of tribal insurgency since the violence of 1980 — and a dominant BJP with a majority of its own was their best bet to tame the IPFT and nip the Twipraland demand in the bud. Politics is the art of managing the contradictions. It now seems those who swear by Kautilya seem to handle it better than those who preach Marx and Engels, at least in India.

A bid for all three

The BJP parliamentary board has expressed the hope that despite not getting a clear majority in Nagaland and also the Congress emerging as the single largest party in Meghalaya, the BJP will form the government in both these Christian-majority States. Again, the BJP seems to have managed the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) — NSCN (IM) — to back its bid for power with its new found ally and the Naga People’s Front (NPF) may join in as well, all apparently to pave the way for a final settlement of the Naga imbroglio. Failure to deliver a final settlement more than two years after signing the Framework Agreement would have normally jeopardised the poll prospects of the BJP, especially after it fell out with the ruling NPF, but party general secretary Ram Madhav’s political engineering in triggering a successful split and then taming the main NPF and the NSCN is something that would have done Kautilya proud. But now the challenges. In Tripura, the BJP has to deliver on its development promise — the new Chief Minister may do well to go for roadshows to attract big ticket investments to leverage the IT gateway and may consider, for instance, decommissioning the 10MW Gumti hydel project to reclaim thousands of acres of fertile tribal land that the project submerged nearly four decades ago. While IT investments would appeal to the young, both tribals and Bengalis, the dam decommissioning may open the path for ethnic reconciliation which the Marxists overlooked at their own peril by trying to play the wild card of Bengali chauvinism. In Nagaland, the BJP has to deliver a final settlement in a way that pleases most, if not all, rebel and political factions. This is no easy task in a very divided tribal society. In Meghalaya, where the BJP appears to have managed to dethrone Chief Minister Mukul Sangma (who led the Congress to emerge as the single largest party), it would have to hold together a coalition of disparate regional players; ensuring the survival of such a coalition will not be easy in Meghalaya’s ‘aya ram gaya ram’ politics.

Message for West Bengal

Most regional parties in Northeast now prefer the BJP as their national partner, and not the Congress which has a tribal base, but managing the contradictions will be a full-time task. Meanwhile, the Tripura results will definitely worry one Chief Minister in particular — Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal. It is easy to see why she spoke of Left arrogance and Congress missteps in not aligning with her party in Tripura. She seems to know that she will be the next to face the saffron fire.


1) Deepened

Meaning: Make or become deep or deeper.

Example: “the crisis deepened”

Synonyms: Grow, Increase

2) Vowed

Meaning: Solemnly promise to do a specified thing.

Example: “the rebels vowed to continue fighting”

Synonyms: Swear, Affirm

3) Retaliatory

Meaning: (of an action) characterized by a desire for revenge.

Example: “fears of a retaliatory attack by the victim’s friends”

4) Zero-sum game

Meaning: A situation in which an advantage that is won by one of two sides is lost by the other.

Example: Free trade benefits everyone in the end because trade is never a zero-sum game.

5) Backlash

Meaning: A strong negative reaction by a large number of people, especially to a social or political development.

Example: “a public backlash against racism”

Synonyms: Comeback, Counterblast

6) Walk back

Meaning: To change an opinion that you had expressed before or admit that a statement you made was wrong.

Example: He has since walked back his opposition to the bill.

7) Resonance

Meaning: The quality in a sound of being deep, full, and reverberating.

Example: “the resonance of his voice”

8) Protectionist

Meaning: Relating to the theory or practice of shielding a country’s domestic industries from foreign competition by taxing imports.

Example: “protectionist measures against foreign imports”

9) Salvo

Meaning: A sudden, vigorous, or aggressive act or series of acts.

Example: “the pardons provoked a salvo of accusations”

10) Full-fledged

Meaning: Completely developed or established; of full status.

Example: “David had become a fully fledged pilot”

Synonyms: Mature, Adult

Antonyms: Novice

11) Stunning

Meaning: Extremely impressive or attractive.

Example: “she looked stunning”

Synonyms: Remarkable, Extraordinary

Antonyms: Ordinary, Unattractive

12) Swept

Meaning: Win all the games in (a series); take each of the winning or main places in (a contest or event).

Example: “we knew we had to sweep these three home games”

13) Spectacular

Meaning: Strikingly large or obvious.

Example: “the party suffered a spectacular loss in the election”

Synonyms: Impressive, Splendid

Antonyms: Unimpressive

14) Beneath

Meaning: Extending or directly underneath something.

Example: “a house built on stilts to allow air to circulate beneath”

Synonyms: Underneath, Below

Antonyms: Above

15) Cobweb

Meaning: Something resembling a cobweb in delicacy or intricacy.

Example: “the city fans south in a cobweb of canals”

16) Endorsing

Meaning: Declare one’s public approval or support of; recommend (a product) in an advertisement.

Example: “the report was endorsed by the college”

Synonyms: Support, Approval

17) Tended

Meaning: Be liable to possess or display (a particular characteristic); regularly or frequently behave in a particular way or have a certain characteristic.

Example: “Walter tended towards corpulence”

Synonyms: Incline, Swing

18) Decimated

Meaning: Drastically reduce the strength or effectiveness of (something).

Example: “public transport has been decimated”

19) Viable

Meaning: Capable of working successfully; feasible.

Example: “the proposed investment was economically viable”

Synonyms: Workable, Feasible

Antonyms: Impracticable

20) Dethrone

Meaning: Remove from a position of authority or dominance.

Example: “he dethroned the defending title-holder”

Synonyms: Depose, Oust

Antonyms: Enthrone, Crown

21) Swung

Meaning: Shift or cause to shift from one opinion, mood, or state of affairs to another.

Example: “opinion swung in the Chancellor’s favour”

Synonyms: Change, Oscillate

22) Conclave

Meaning: A private meeting.

Example: “a conclave of American, European, and Japanese business leaders”

Synonyms: Session, Gathering

23) Leverage

Meaning: The power to influence a person or situation.

Example: “the right wing had lost much of its political leverage in the Assembly”

Synonyms: Influence, Power

24) Interiors

Meaning: The inland part of a country or region.

Example: “the plains of the interior”

Synonyms: Center, Hinterland

Antonyms: Borderland

25) Resurgent

Meaning: Increasing or reviving after a period of little activity, popularity, or occurrence.

Example: “resurgent nationalism”

26) Insurgency

Meaning: An active revolt or uprising.

Example: “rebels are waging an armed insurgency to topple the monarchy”

27) Haunts

Meaning: (of something unpleasant) continue to affect or cause problems for.

Example: “cities haunted by the shadow of cholera”

28) Borne

Meaning: Have or display as a visible mark or feature.

Example: “many of the papers bore his flamboyant signature”

Synonyms: Display, Exhibit

29) Brunt

Meaning: The worst part or chief impact of a specified action.

Example: “education will bear the brunt of the cuts”

Synonyms: Force, Impact

30) Tame

Meaning: Make less powerful and easier to control.

Example: “the battle to tame inflation”

Synonyms: Subdue, Control

31) Imbroglio

Meaning: An extremely confused, complicated, or embarrassing situation.

Example: “the abdication imbroglio of 1936”

Synonyms: Trouble, Complication

32) 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

33) Submerged

Meaning: Completely cover or obscure.

Example: “the tensions submerged earlier in the campaign now came to the fore”

Synonyms: Hide, Conceal

34) Decommissioning

Meaning: Make (a nuclear reactor) inoperative and dismantle it safely.

Example: “we need to decommission old nuclear power stations”

35) Peril

Meaning: Serious and immediate danger.

Example: “you could well place us both in peril”

Synonyms: Danger, Risk

Antonyms: Safety, Security

36) Wild card

Meaning: Someone who is allowed to take part in a competition, even though they have not achieved this in the usual way, for example by winning games.

Example: Phillips is hoping for a wild card entry to the championships.

37) Chauvinism

Meaning: Exaggerated or aggressive patriotism.

Example: “they have a tendency towards small-mindedness and chauvinism”

Synonyms: Jingoism, Partiality

38) Pleases

Meaning: Give satisfaction.

Example: “she was quiet and eager to please”

Synonyms: Friendly, Amiable

39) Factions

Meaning: Dissension within an organization.

Example: “a council increasingly split by faction”

Synonyms: Dissension, Dissent

Antonyms: Harmony

40) Coalition

Meaning: A temporary alliance for combined action, especially of political parties forming a government.

Example: “a coalition between Liberals and Conservatives”

Synonyms: Alliance, Union

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.