THE HINDU EDITORIAL -14TH AUGUST 2017
THE HINDU EDITORIAL -14TH AUGUST 2017
a) History is not repeating itself:
Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would never have imagined three weeks ago that he would be spending Pakistan’s 70th anniversary of Independence today as yet another of the country’s former Prime Ministers deposed by a verdict of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. He must have had very different plans for today, perhaps even to address the Pakistan public on national television, telling us how his government since 2013 had brought Pakistan closer to M.A. Jinnah’s dreams and vision for a just, egalitarian and prosperous Pakistan. He must surely have prepared a speech, perhaps even to be delivered at the Minar-e-Pakistan in his hometown of Lahore, extolling the many achievements and virtues of his most recent tenure as Pakistan’s 19th Prime Minister since 1947, not a single one of whom was able to complete his or her full term as appointed or elected head of government. Even the cliché of his being ‘third time lucky’ when he was sworn in as Prime Minister in 2013 proved misplaced, and now Mr. Sharif has the ignoble honour of being the only Prime Minister of Pakistan who was elected three times to that office, and who was also thrice dismissed. But this dismissal is a long cry away from another cliché, that ‘history repeats itself’, whether as tragedy or farce, for other than being dismissed yet again, there is little of repetition of what has happened in Pakistan’s political history this time round. Pakistan’s 70 years of Independence have had an almost equal tenure of military dictatorships intermingled with civilian appointed and elected leaders. In simple numerical terms of the actual years between military dictatorships and civilian interregnums, the non-military rule, by 2011, had nudged ahead. But one cannot deny the fact that Pakistan’s military state and the establishment of the deep security state have dominated Pakistan’s politics for considerably longer. The dominance of the military on political institutions has been marked for at least 50of Pakistan’s 70 years as an independent state. However, over the last decade, there have been clear signs that other competing institutions, such as the judiciary and legislature with elected civilian elected representatives, to name just two, have emerged to contest and claim the hegemony over the political sphere. Rather than the undisputed supremacy of the military from 1958 to 2008, other institutions have emerged to challenge this hegemony. This is not the first time that the supreme judiciary has played its part in the removal of an elected prime minister, but on almost all occasions it has played a supportive role to either the military or the President of Pakistan. The first dismissal of Mr. Sharif and his government (1993) were made under the provision of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan, under Article 58 2(b), which allowed the President of Pakistan to dismiss Parliament. Both Benazir Bhutto (1991, 1996) and Mr. Sharif have been dismissed under this provision, and all three dismissals were during the tenure of President Ghulam Ishaq Khan. Mr. Sharif’s removal in 1999 was after a military coup by General Parvez Musharraf, bringing in Pakistan’s third military dictatorship. Pakistan’s supreme judiciary, as in 1958, 1977 and 1999, supported the actions of the military often citing the ‘doctrine of necessity’ to give some constitutional and judicial cover to the military coups. The judiciary, along with other institutions such as the media and pro-democracy forces, played a key role in marking the shift away from the military’s hegemony, a process which could be dated to around 2007-2008 when what is known as the ‘lawyers’ movement’ gave some credibility to the notion that the judiciary could actually be independent in asserting its own interests rather than being perceived to be a lackey of the military. It is this new, forceful entity which has been responsible for dismissing two of Pakistan’s last three Prime Ministers. What is particularly pertinent is that following the new democratic turn in Pakistan’s politics in 2008, it has been the judiciary, and not Pakistan’s supposedly omnipotent military, which has dismissed the two longest serving Prime Ministers of Pakistan, Yousuf Raza Gilani of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in June 2012, and Mr. Sharif less than three weeks ago. Not only is Mr. Sharif’s third removal as Prime Minister very different from his earlier two, but given his political standing, it is also different from the judiciary’s dismissal of Mr. Gilani. Mr. Gilani was a fill-in candidate following Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, and was never the leader of the PPP, which has always been dominated by the Bhuttos, and now by Asif Zardari. Mr. Sharif, on the other hand, is the leader and main voice of the most popular political party in Pakistan, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, although following his dismissal, the Election Commission of Pakistan has asked him to be removed formally as the party’s president. In 1999, he was arrested after Gen. Musharraf’s coup, and was humiliated on national television by the General. This time round, Mr. Sharif has taken to the streets and to the electorate, claiming to be a victim of his times, suggesting that the people’s electoral mandate which brought him to power is far stronger than the judiciary’s decision to dismiss him. Moreover, 1999 saw the end of democracy in Pakistan with the end of Parliament, while this time around, if anything, there has been a smooth transition in electing a replacement Prime Minister, with Parliament still very much in session, and Pakistan functioning with much semblance of its own particular democratic norms and procedures. So while one could make the case that the democratic process continues in Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif’s own future is certainly at stake. There has been much public debate, especially by lawyers, about the Supreme Court’s decision to dismiss him as Prime Minister. While allegations of corruption against him still abound, he was dismissed for not declaring income which he received from a Dubai firm at the time he led his nomination papers for the 2013 election. He has promised to challenge the decision and gathered some support among the legal community over the modus operandi of the superior judges. Still, claiming that he is innocent of any corruption, his conviction a la Al Capone, on grounds unrelated to the real allegations, does allow him to seek redress and attempt to make a comeback. In 1999 after a General removed, then imprisoned and finally exiled, him, Mr. Sharif’s political career surely seemed over. Whether he can make yet another comeback and make history repeat itself will be determined over the course of the next few months as Pakistan prepares for its next democratic elections. Whether street power and the electorate’s wishes can do to the judiciary’s verdict what they did to a sitting General’s in 2008 might redefine the nature, yet again, of who holds power in Pakistan.
b) Wages of neglect:
The death of more than 60 children in the span of a few days in a major referral hospital in Uttar Pradesh has jolted the conscience of the nation. This was an entirely preventable tragedy. It will take an independent inquiry to establish why children perished at the BRD Medical College in Gorakhpur between August 7 and 11. Such an inquiry should examine whether and to what extent the disruption of oxygen supply to those who were extremely sick was a cause for the deaths. That the two events were not entirely unrelated seemed to be indirectly confirmed with the frantic requisitioning of emergency oxygen supplies and the State government suspending the principal of the college. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s immediate assertion that no deaths took place due to lack of oxygen was inappropriate as it would prejudice any administrative probe. After all, the company that supplied the oxygen had issued notice to the hospital on large unpaid bills, warning of a crisis. Only a high-level judicial inquiry will have credibility. That no lessons have been learned by the State government and the Centre is evident from the unremitting annual peaks of disease and death in U.P., particularly in the eastern districts: data show that Japanese encephalitis, which afflicted many of the children who died last week, has claimed more than 10,000 lives in the State between 1978, the year of the first major outbreak, and 2005. High mortality has been witnessed in subsequent years as well. As a parliamentarian representing Gorakhpur for almost two decades, Mr. Adityanath was only too familiar with the epidemics that wracked his constituency frequently. Previous State governments have done little to address this problem, but that cannot be Mr. Adityanath’s response to the tragedy. Reducing the incidence of fatal or crippling disease calls for robust medical infrastructure, which governments can create quickly, if they have the will. In the case of U.P., the epidemics have their roots in weak social determinants such as housing and sanitation, coupled with ecological changes. Encephalitis is correlated with expansion of irrigation and construction of dams four decades ago, resulting in an increase in disease-transmitting mosquitoes. Proximity to pigs and birds created viral transmission pathways. The Centre has a vaccination programme in place and a stated commitment to build paediatric intensive care units in priority districts, but these have not had significant impact. The way forward would be for the Indian Council of Medical Research to launch a special commission for U.P., treating it as a public health emergency. It is also an appropriate moment for the Centre and the States to consider their poor record. They trail even other developing economies, such as neighbouring Thailand and some African countries, in moving to universal health care. Such a system should be non-commercial and regulated to contain costs, giving everyone affordable access to doctors, diagnostics and treatment
Meaning: Remove from office suddenly and forcefully.
Example: He had been deposed by a military coup.
Synonyms: Overthrow, Overturn
Meaning: A decision on an issue of fact in a civil or criminal case or an inquest.
Example: The jury returned a verdict of not guilty.
Synonyms: Judgement, Adjudication
Meaning: Believing in or based on the principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities.
Example: A fairer, more egalitarian society.
Meaning: Successful in material terms; flourishing financially; bringing wealth and success.
Example: Prosperous middle-class professionals.
Antonyms: Poor, Depressed
Meaning: Praise enthusiastically.
Example: He extolled the virtues of the Russian peoples.
Synonyms: Praise enthusiastically
Meaning: Not honourable in character or purpose.
Example: Ignoble feelings of intense jealousy.
Synonyms: Dishonourable, Unworthy
Meaning: An event or situation that is absurd or disorganized.
Example: The debate turned into a drunken farce.
Synonyms: Absurdity, Mockery
Meaning: Mix or mingle together.
Example: Daisies intermingled with huge expanses of gorse and foxgloves.
Synonyms: Mix, Intermix
Meaning: A period when a country or organization does not have a leader.
Example: It is for this reason that the imagery of the 1990s as an interregnum is somewhat misleading.
Meaning: Coax or gently encourage (someone) to do something.
Example: We have to nudge the politicians in the right direction.
Synonyms: Prompt, Encourage
Meaning: Power and influence over others.
Example: The worldwide dominance of Hollywood.
Synonyms: Supremacy, Superiority
Antonyms: Subservience, Subjugation
Meaning: Leadership or dominance, especially by one state or social group over others.
Example: Germany was united under Prussian hegemony after 1871.
Synonyms: Leadership, Dominance
Meaning: Not disputed or called in question; accepted.
Example: The undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.
Synonyms: Undoubted, Uncontested
Antonyms: Doubtful, Disputed
Meaning: The quality of being convincing or believable.
Example: The book’s anecdotes have scant regard for credibility.
Synonyms: Plausibility, Acceptability
Meaning: Behave or speak in a confident and forceful manner.
Example: It was time to assert himself.
Synonyms: Behave confidently
Meaning: Interpret or regard (someone or something) in a particular way.
Example: If Guy does not perceive himself as disabled, nobody else should.
Synonyms: look on, View
Meaning: A person who is obsequiously willing to obey or serve another person.
Example: He denied that he was the lackey of the Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
Synonyms: Toady, Flunkey
Meaning: Relevant or applicable to a particular matter; apposite.
Example: She asked me a lot of very pertinent questions.
Synonyms: Relevant, to the point
Antonyms: Irrelevant, Inappropriate
Meaning: Make (someone) feel ashamed and foolish by injuring their dignity and pride.
Example: You’ll humiliate me in front of the whole school!
Synonyms: Embarrass, Mortify
Antonyms: Aggrandize, Glorious
Meaning: The outward appearance or apparent form of something, especially when the reality is different.
Example: She tried to force her thoughts back into some semblance of order.
Synonyms: Appearance, Outward appearance
Meaning: Remedy or set right (an undesirable or unfair situation) or compensation for a wrong or grievance.
Example: The question is how to redress the consequences of racist land policies.
Synonyms: Rectify, Correct
Meaning: A person’s moral sense of right and wrong, viewed as acting as a guide to one’s behaviour.
Example: He had a guilty conscience about his desires.
Synonyms: Sense of right and wrong, Sense of right
Meaning: Die, especially in a violent or sudden way.
Example: A great part of his army perished of hunger and disease.
Synonyms: Die, Lose one’s life
Meaning: Disturbance or problems which interrupt an event, activity, or process.
Example: The scheme was planned to minimize disruption.
Synonyms: Disturbance, Disordering
Meaning: Demand the use or supply of (something) by official order.
Example: The government had assumed powers to requisition cereal products at fixed prices.
Synonyms: Commandeer, Appropriate
Meaning: Clearly seen or understood; obvious.
Example: She ate the biscuits with evident enjoyment.
Synonyms: Obvious, apparent
Meaning: Never relaxing or slackening; incessant.
Example: Unremitting drizzle.
Synonyms: Relentless, Unrelenting
Antonyms: Intermittent, Spasmodic
Meaning: Coming after something in time; following.
Example: The theory was developed subsequent to the earthquake of 1906.
Synonyms: Following, Succeeding
Antonyms: previous, Prior
Meaning: Cause extreme pain, anguish, or distress to.
Example: He was racked with guilt.
Synonyms: Torment, Afflict
Meaning: Cause a severe and almost insuperable problem for.
Example: Developing countries are crippled by their debts.
Synonyms: Ruin, Destroy
Meaning: Have a mutual relationship or connection, in which one thing affects or depends on another.
Example: The study found that success in the educational system correlates highly with class.
Synonyms: Correspond, Agree
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