a) Pragmatic Step

The Kerala government’s new liquor policy is a pragmatic step that may help boost its revenue and retrieve lost ground in the tourism sector. More important, it will end the discrimination in favour of five-star hotels. Kerala’s erstwhile United Democratic Front government had restricted bar permits to five-star hotels alone, resulting in more than 700 hotels of other categories losing their bar licences. Under the new policy, hotels in the three- and four-star category may also have bars that serve Indian Made Foreign Liquor. Two-star hotels are permitted to serve wine and beer. At the same time, the Left Democratic Front government in the State has sought to give a boost to the traditional toddy business by allowing hotel bars to sell toddy too. To partially offset criticism, it has raised the legal drinking age from 21 to 23. The new excise policy is, of course, no surprise as the LDF election manifesto had made it clear that it does not favour prohibition and would rather emphasise on voluntary abstinence. In a State that has a high per capita alcohol consumption, there is a case for a vigorous campaign about the ill-effects of being addicted to alcohol, as opposed to one that makes liquor scarce and encourages bootlegging. The government has waited for a year before unveiling the changes it wanted, lest it be seen as acting in undue haste. Politically, the LDF is on firm ground. The UDF regime’s hardline liquor policy was the result of an internal game of one-upmanship between factions, and that decision did not help it return to power. Some opposition to the new policy is expected from influential religious groups as well as opposition parties. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has justified his decision to liberalise the sector by describing the earlier policy, which had received the Supreme Court’s approbation as well, as a fiasco’, as the restrictions on the sale of liquor had brought down tourism traffic, caused job losses and led to a spike in drug abuse. He will now have to ensure that the purported positive outcomes, such as revitalising the tourism sector and the hotel industry, boosting employment and ending the brewing of hooch are actualised on the ground. The big challenge lies in pursuing this policy without violating the Supreme Court’s ban on having liquor outlets within 500 metres of national and State highways. News that a 1983 document of the Indian Roads Congress has said all highways automatically become arterial roads or sub-arterial roads while passing through urban areas gives a new dimension to the highway ban. State governments may now consider examining this aspect to get the Supreme Court to relax its highway ban in respect of hotels located within towns and cities. As protests mount against relocating bars from highways to interior residential areas, the situation calls for a pragmatic and holistic solution.

b) Comey’s case

The dramatic three-hour hearing of James Comey before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8 has dragged President Donald Trump deeper into the Russia scandal, which he desperately wants to get out of. Mr. Trump once called Mr. Comey, who he fired as the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation last month, a “nut job” and the probe into allegations of Russian intervention in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections a “witch-hunt”. But Mr. Comey’s testimony, under oath before the Senate, lends credence to arguments that the administration’s handling of Russiagate was problematic from the very beginning. Mr. Comey, who questioned the President’s integrity and accused the administration of spreading “lies, plain and simple”, has torn into the White House narrative on both the Russia probe and his firing. He confirmed reports that Mr. Trump had asked him to let go of the investigation on Michael Flynn, the initial choice as National Security Adviser who was fired for lying to the Vice President over his own Russia links. This assertion directly counters Mr. Trump’s claim that he had not asked Mr. Comey to back off on the Flynn probe. Mr. Comey also said he was fired over the Russia probe, not over any mishandling of the investigation, as claimed by the White House, into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while Secretary of State. In short, Mr. Comey did not directly accuse the President of trying to obstruct justice — when asked he said it is up to the Special Counsel to understand what the President’s intent was. He tactfully presented a timeline of their interactions: Mr. Trump first asks for Mr. Comey’s loyalty, tells him to drop the probe on his aide Mr. Flynn, and later fires Mr. Comey. Mr. Trump is still adamant on his earlier positions. He has called Mr. Comey a liar and dismissed his Senate testimony. But the Senate hearing has already shifted the contours of the Russia probe. It is no longer only about Russian intervention in the presidential election, but also about whether the President of the United States tried to obstruct justice in his country. Here, the parallels between the Watergate scandal that led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974 and Mr. Trump’s current predicament are striking. It is still not established whether Nixon ordered the break-in at the Democratic party office in the Watergate complex in Washington that triggered the crisis, but he had to go over his interference in the FBI probe into the Watergate case. It is up to Special Counsel Robert Mueller to find out if Mr. Trump tried to obstruct justice by asking the FBI chief to let Mr. Flynn go and whether he lied to the American public over Mr. Flynn, Mr. Comey and Russiagate. While the investigation will take time, its widening scope and the new revelations pose greater difficulties for a President who appears to be clueless on how to tackle the issue.


1) Pragmatic

Meaning: Dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations.

Example: I know I am recommending a pragmatic rather than a principled stand, but that is what national interest and foreign policy is all about.

Synonyms: Empirical, Hands-On, Real, Actual

2) Retrieve

Meaning: To find and bring back something.

Example: Computers are used to store and retrieve information efficiently.

Synonyms: Get back, Recover, Salvage

3) Discrimination

Meaning: The unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of race, age.

Example: There should be no discrimination on the grounds of colour.

Synonyms: Prejudice, Racism

Antonyms: Impartiality

4) Toddy

Meaning: A drink made of spirits with hot water, sugar, and sometimes spices.

Example: On Christmas Eve, people eat Lenten foods (no meat or dairy products) and drink hot toddies.

5) Manifesto

Meaning: A written statement of the beliefs, aims, and policies of an organization, especially a political party.

Example: In their election manifesto, the Liberal Democrats proposed increasing taxes to pay for improvements in education.

Synonyms: Policy statement, Declaration

6) Emphasise

Meaning: Give special importance or value to (something) in speaking or writing.

Example: He emphasized that all the people taking part in the research were volunteers.

Synonyms: Bring attention to, Accent, Stress

Antonyms: Understate, Play down

7) Abstinence

Meaning: The practice of restraining oneself from indulging in something, typically alcohol.

Example: It is also important to note that most patients reported reduced use rather than abstinence.

Synonyms: Teetotalism, Celibacy

Antonyms: Promiscuity

8) Bootlegging

Meaning: Illegally made, copied, or sold.

Example: He had a stall selling bootleg cassette tapes.

Synonyms: Illegal, unlawful, Smuggled

9) Unveiling

Meaning: Show or announce publicly for the first time.

Example: The Home Secretary has unveiled plans to crack down on crime.

Synonyms: Reveal, Display, Make known

10) Approbation

Meaning: Approval or agreement, often given by an official group.

Example: The council has finally indicated its approbation of the plans.

Synonyms: Approval, Praise, Endorsement

Antonyms: Criticism

11) Fiasco

Meaning: A complete failure, especially a ludicrous or humiliating one.

Example: The show was a fiasco – one actor forgot his lines and another fell off the stage.

Synonyms: Failure, Flop

Antonyms: Success

12) Purported

Meaning: That has been stated to be true or to have happened, although this may not be the case.

Example: A recent study into the purported health benefits of the drink was not conclusive.

Synonyms: Claim, Profess

13) Hooch

Meaning: Alcoholic drink, especially inferior or illicit.

Example: I went to my desk and got my bottle of hooch from the drawer.

Synonyms: Liquor, Intoxicating Liquor, Alcoholic Drink

14) Holistic

Meaning: Characterized by the belief that the parts of something are intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole.

Example: I think where Chaos and Complexity theory are really going, is, a holistic understanding of the universe.

15) Dragged

Meaning: To make someone go somewhere they do not want to go.

Example: That procedure was bound to drag out the negotiations.

Synonyms: Prolong, Delay, Resistance, Pull

16) Credence

Meaning: The belief that something is true.

Example: I’m not prepared to give credence to anonymous complaints.

Synonyms: Acceptance, Credibility

17) Integrity

Meaning: The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles that you refuse to change.

Example: No one doubted that the president was a man of the highest integrity.

Synonyms: Honesty, Honour

Antonyms: Dishonesty, Fragility

18) Assertion

Meaning: A confident and forceful statement of fact or belief.

Example: She very quickly asserted her authority over the class.

Synonyms: Declaration, Claim

19) Adamant

Meaning: Impossible to persuade, or unwilling to change an opinion or decision.

Example: I’ve told her she should stay at home and rest but she’s adamant that she’s coming.

Synonyms: Unshakeable, Unswerving

Antonyms: Unsure

20) Contours

Meaning: An outline representing or bounding the shape or form of something.

Example: This map has contours marked at 250-metre intervals.

Synonyms: Outline, Silhouette, Form

21) Predicament

Meaning: An unpleasant situation that is difficult to get out of.

Example: She is hoping to get a loan from her bank to help her out of her financial predicament.

Synonyms: Difficult situation, Mess

22) Triggered

Meaning: An event or situation, etc. that causes something to start.

Example: There are fears that the incident may be a trigger for more violence in the capital.

Synonyms: Activate, Cause, Precipitate

23) Revelations

Meaning: The act of making something known that was secret, or a fact that is made known.

Example: Washington has been rocked by the further revelation that the alleged killer is a respected economist.

Synonyms: Disclosure, Acknowledgement, Divulging

Antonyms: Keeping