THE HINDU EDITORIAL – 14 June, 2017 

Peace in West Bengal’s Darjeeling hills has been shattered again, with the key hill party, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, renewing its demand for a separate Gorkhaland state. The protests started with the suspicion that Bengali would be made mandatory in the hills, but have spiralled into a broad-based ‘indefinite’ agitation with the GJM targeting symbols of the state and ordering closure of all government offices from June 12. In May, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had announced that all students would have to study Bengali from Class I, but later clarified that it would not be compulsory in the hill district of Darjeeling. The GJM, which had lost the Mirik municipal election to the Trinamool Congress in May, appeared to hear only one part of the language decree, and announced a host of marches and shutdowns. When Ms. Banerjee arrived in Darjeeling with her ministers for a meeting on ‘development’ last week, she was greeted with protests and stone-pelting of a kind not seen since 2013. The Army was called out, and Ms. Banerjee stayed put in Darjeeling till she thought a semblance of normality had returned. With May and June constituting the peak tourist season, the GJM has, for now, kept hotels, shops and transport facilities outside the purview of the shutdown. It is the peak season for the Darjeeling tea too, with the second flush harvesting on. This eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation spells fresh trouble for a region that depends on tourism and tea for its survival. If the first day of the indefinite bandh was more or less peaceful, it was thanks to the heavy military presence and the stringent measures announced against those who supported it, including a possible break in service for employees missing work. For their part, GJM leaders Bimal Gurung and Roshan Giri want the Centre to intervene. When the TMC came to power in 2011 after 34 years of Left rule, the GJM had agreed to the formation of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration after three years of violence in the hills. Mr. Gurung, who had set up the GJM in 2007 with the sole agenda of separation from West Bengal, became its chief executive, saying he would take the Gorkhaland demand to Delhi and refrain from shutdowns in the hills. But with the TMC making inroads in the hills, the GJM clearly feels its wings are being clipped, especially with the government setting up several development boards of ethnic communities and further weakening the hill party. Watching from the sidelines is the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is keen to expand its base in the State. GJM leaders are in touch with BJP president Amit Shah, but the Modi government has not yet spelt out its stand on Gorkhaland. While the State government must be firm and quick to quell cries for the formation of a separate state in the border region, the GJM should tread carefully as a spiral of violence hurts hill-dwellers the most.

b) Moroccan Spring?

The shadow of the 2010-11 Arab Spring still hangs over Morocco, as its authorities scramble to contain the latest political turmoil. The trigger for the current troubles was the gruesome death last October of a fisherman while retrieving allegedly illegal catch from the police in the Mediterranean port town of alHoceima. The incident in the Rif region, which has been periodically restive, proved a catalyst for social unrest witnessed since then against the general marginalisation of the population, and culminating in the detention of scores of protesters, including journalists and human rights activists. Protests have rocked Rabat too. Attempts to restore normalcy have been hampered as the government and angry protesters continue to trade accusations. A leader of the protest movement has been charged with threatening the security of the state, while some followers face criminal investigation. The monarchy under King Mohammed VI is contending with the overall fallout from the 2004 constitutional guarantees for women, including a minimum age for marriage and fair procedures for divorce. A decade-long campaign for gender justice is now focussing on the denial of equal ownership rights for women, and the government-backed privatisation of tribal land. Against this backdrop, the onerous task of restoring popular faith in the democratic process has fallen on the multi-party coalition of Prime Minister Saad Eddine el-Othmani who took office in March. Paradoxically, the installation of the incumbent government led by the Justice and Development Party came after a prolonged impasse since the general elections of last October. The stalemate lent substance to scepticism that the reforms set in motion in the wake of the Arab Spring were at risk due to the renewed assertiveness of the traditional elites close to the monarchy. Morocco had successfully averted the political upheavals of the Arab Spring witnessed in Libya and Egypt through a calibrated approach of constitutionally managed transition. In return, the country remained a favoured destination for foreign investment and revenue from a thriving tourism sector. These were no mean achievements, in stark contrast to the atrocities unleashed against hundreds of thousands of popular protesters and the lurch towards authoritarian and more brutal regimes elsewhere in the Arab world. The same political sagacity and national stewardship is once again the need of the hour in order to restore confidence in the democratic process. The Prime Minister is known as a consensus-builder, and a genuine dialogue between the government and the leadership of the popular movement is key to a return to stability. Equally, the monarchy would do well to exercise restraint to facilitate the smooth functioning of the mainstream political process.


1) Shattered

Meaning: Break or cause to break suddenly and violently into pieces; Extremely upset.

Example: Shattered glass lay all over the road.

Synonyms: Break, Destroy

Antonyms: Create, Combine

2) Spiralled

Meaning: A situation in which a price, etc. becomes lower, or a situation gets worse and is difficult to control because one bad event causes another.

Example: This year’s downward spiral of house prices has depressed the market.

Synonyms: Soar

Antonyms: Fall, Decrease

3) Decree

Meaning: An official statement that something must happen.

Example: More than 200 people were freed by military decree.

Synonyms: Mandatory, Rule

Antonyms: Lawlessness

4) Semblance

Meaning: A situation or condition that is similar to what is wanted or expected, but is not exactly as hoped for.

Example: He was executed without even the semblance of a fair trial.

Synonyms: Appearance, Show

5) Purview

Meaning: The limit of someone’s responsibility, interest, or activity.

Example: This case falls outside the purview of this particular court.

Synonyms: Attention, Attitude

Antonyms: Stupidity, Mistake

6) Confrontation

Meaning: A fight or argument.

Example: Some couples seem to like confrontation, but Josh and I hardly ever argue.

Synonyms: Conflict, Fight

Antonyms: Peace, Calm

7) Stringent

Meaning: Having a very severe effect, or being extremely limiting.

Example: The most stringent laws in the world are useless unless there is the will to enforce them.

Synonyms: Strict, Severe

Antonyms: Flexible

8) Intervene

Meaning: To intentionally become involved in a difficult situation in order to improve it or prevent it from getting worse.

Example: The minister intervened personally to stop the museum from being closed.

Synonyms: Intercede, Interfere

Antonyms: Ignore, Leave

9) Scramble

Meaning: To move or climb quickly but with difficulty, often using your hands to help you.

Example: She scrambled up the steep hillside and over the rocks.

Synonyms: Climb, Clamber

10) Turmoil

Meaning: A state of confusion, uncertainty, or disorder.

Example: The country is in a state of political turmoil.

Synonyms: Turbulence, Mayhem

Antonyms: Calm, Peace

11) Restive

Meaning: Unwilling to be controlled or be patient.

Example: The audience was becoming restive as they waited for the performance to begin.

Synonyms: Apprehensive, Restless

Antonyms: Calm, Biddable

12) Catalyst

Meaning: An event or person that causes great change.

Example: The high suicide rate acted as a catalyst for change in the prison system.

Synonyms: Incentive, Impetus

Antonyms: Not changed

13) Culminating

Meaning: If an event or series of events culminates in something, it ends with it, having developed until it reaches this point.

Example: Their many years of research have finally culminated in a cure for the disease.

Synonyms: Supreme, Ultimate

14) Detention

Meaning: The act of officially detaining someone.

Example: Concern has been expressed about the death in detention of a number of political prisoners.

Synonyms: Confinement, Internment

Antonyms: Freedom, Release

15) Hampered

Meaning: To prevent someone doing something easily.

Example: Fierce storms have been hampering rescue efforts and there is now little chance of finding more survivors.

Synonyms: Obstruct, Inhibit

Antonyms: Help

16) Onerous

Meaning: Difficult to do or needing a lot of effort.

Example: She found the duties of motherhood onerous.

Synonyms: Inconvenient, Oppressive

Antonyms: Easy, Effortless

17) Incumbent

Meaning: Officially having the named position.

Example: The incumbent president faces problems which began many years before he took office.

Synonyms: Mandatory, Necessary

Antonyms: Optional

18) Stalemate

Meaning: A situation in which neither group involved in an argument can win or get an advantage and no action can be taken.

Example: Despite long discussions, the workers and the management remain locked in stalemate.

Synonyms: Deadlock, Standstill

Antonyms: Progress

19) Scepticism

Meaning: Doubting that something is true or useful.

Example: Many experts remain sceptical about/of his claims.

Synonyms: Doubt, Suspicion

Antonyms: Belief, Faith

20) Assertiveness

Meaning: Someone who is assertive behaves confidently and is not frightened to say what they want or believe.

Example: If you really want the promotion, you’ll have to be more assertive.

Synonyms: Forceful, Positive

Antonyms: Retiring

21) Atrocities

Meaning: An extremely cruel, violent, or shocking act.

Example: They are on trial for committing atrocities against the civilian population.

Synonyms: Obscenity, Outrage

Antonyms: Kindness, Good Behaviour

22) Brutal

Meaning: Cruel, violent, and completely without feelings.

Example: He was imprisoned in 1945 for the brutal murder of a twelve-year-old girl.

Synonyms: Vicious, Savage

Antonyms: Gentle, Humane

23) Sagacity

Meaning: Having or showing understanding and the ability to make good judgments.

Example: A sagacious person/comment/choice.

Synonyms: Wisdom, Ability

Antonyms: Inability, Mistake

24) Stewardship

Meaning: Someone’s stewardship of something is the way in which that person controls or organizes it.

Example: The Company has been very successful while it has been under the stewardship of Mr White.

Synonyms: Control, Maintenance

Antonyms: Ignorance