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a) Resignation drama

The resignation of Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati from her Rajya Sabha seat on Tuesday provided the high drama in the opening days of Parliament’s monsoon session. But it was easy to understand why she is giving up the little she has in Parliament in order to raise her political profile. In fact, as he joined other Opposition leaders to line up moral support for her, Rashtriya Janata Dal president Lalu Prasad inadvertently highlighted the position of weakness from which she is launching her fight back. He would help get her re-elected to the Rajya Sabha from Bihar, he said. The BSP, with just 19 seats in the 403-member Uttar Pradesh Assembly, does not have sufficient numbers to ensure the former U.P. Chief Minister’s re-election, something she would have needed less than a year from now anyway. But Ms. Mayawati’s fight is not for a seat in the House, it is for her very relevance. Successive elections have confirmed the squeeze. From being presumed to be both the prime ministerial candidate of the Third Front in 2009 and the beneficiary in 2017 of the cracks in the Samajwadi Party and the expected blowback of the Narendra Modi government’s demonetisation exercise, she now finds herself to be little more than an aside. Ms. Mayawati herself gave away her predicament by the choice of issue she sought extra time for on the floor of the House: denial of permission for a Dalit procession in Saharanpur on April 14, B.R. Ambedkar’s birth anniversary. If on the one hand the BSP finds the BJP taking away large segments of the Dalit vote, the rise of forces like the Bhim Army in Saharanpur with a more fiery Dalit assertion threatens to leave her behind. The challenge for her is nothing less than crafting the next chapter in the BSP’s evolution. The party had first tasted electoral success under Kanshi Ram’s mentorship, with a call for an alliance of the oppressed, along caste, gender and religious lines, to transform society and politics so that they were not simply accommodated through symbolic handouts — but the world around them progressed rapidly for them to win their rightful political space. This aspiration was worked into his strategy of forcing political instability, so that every churn would give the BSP a shot at expanding its base. The next phase took place on Ms. Mayawati’s watch when she crafted a bottom-up rainbow coalition of Dalits, Muslims and upper castes, and got a full majority in the 2007 State elections. With its skilful rewrite of the holding majoritarian narrative and its organisational aggression, the BJP has cherry-picked from that coalition. So much so that the BSP is in an existential struggle to hold on to its core base. More than any other party, the BSP has relied as much on its organisation as on its modernising message. She needs to refresh both.

b) Target Tehran

The U.S. administration’s decision to slap sanctions on 18 Iranian individuals and entities on Tuesday, only a day after it certified to Congress that Tehran was compliant with the conditions of the nuclear deal, sums up its strategic resolve in taking on the Islamic Republic and the tactical dilemma it faces while doing so. It is no secret that President Donald Trump has been critical of the Iran nuclear deal, which ended the international sanctions on Tehran in return for curbing its nuclear programme. During the campaign, Mr. Trump had vowed to either kill or renegotiate the agreement. But as President, his options are limited with Iran remaining compliant with the terms of the agreement. More important, it is not a bilateral pact. The nuclear deal was reached among seven entities, including the U.S., Russia, Germany and Iran. Any unilateral move to withdraw from the agreement would hurt American interests as European countries are keen on expanding economic ties with Iran. This explains why a reluctant Mr. Trump has re-certified the deal twice since his inauguration in January. But on both occasions, he slapped additional sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile programme and “support for terrorism”, signalling that the Obama-era détente with Tehran was over. Administration officials are now saying Iran may be compliant with the terms but it is “unquestionably in default of the spirit” of the agreement. This is an overstretched argument, given that all international monitors say Iran remains committed to the deal. The logical next step of the nuclear agreement should have been an overall improvement in relations between the West and Tehran. Barack Obama had set the stage for such a policy overhaul and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had responded to it, but Mr. Trump, in six months, has taken Washington’s Iran policy back to Republican neo-conservatism. Besides sanctions, Mr. Trump has also endorsed the Saudi-led Sunni bloc’s attempts to isolate Iran. His policy priorities are now clear. The administration will align with Saudi Arabia and Israel, continue to target Iran through sanctions and even try to undermine the nuclear deal in the long term. This is a dangerous turn of events since the historic moment of April 2, 2015, when the framework for the nuclear pact was announced. But this policy of containing Iran could backfire as Iran has already established itself as a rising regional power with substantial geopolitical clout. To stabilise Iraq, the U.S. needs Iran’s help. And there won’t be a long-lasting peace deal in Syria without Iran’s participation and cooperation. If the U.S. is serious about working towards peace and stability in West Asia, it should reciprocate Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal, not punish it through additional sanctions. It should also act as a mediator between Saudi Arabia and Iran, instead of taking sides in a destabilising cold war in West Asia.


1) Giving up

Meaning: To stop trying to guess.

Example: After ten minutes trying to get the answer I gave up.

2) Line up

Meaning: A row of people, including a person who is believed to have committed a crime, who are shown to a witness to find out if the witness recognizes that person.

Example: They lined them up and shot them.

3) Inadvertently

Meaning: Without intention; accidentally.

Example: His name had been inadvertently omitted from the list.

Synonyms: Accidently, Mistakenly

Antonyms: Deliberately

4) Ensure

Meaning: Make certain that (something) will occur or be the case.

Example: The client must ensure that accurate records are kept.

Synonyms: Secure, Confirm, Check

5) Relevance

Meaning: The quality or state of being closely connected or appropriate.

Example: This film has contemporary relevance.

6) Squeeze

Meaning: A strong financial demand or pressure, typically a restriction on borrowing, spending, or investment in a financial crisis.

Example: Industry faced higher costs and a squeeze on profits.

7) Blowback

Meaning: Negative reactions or results that were not intended, such as criticism, protest, or anger

Example: If he tried to control immigration, there would be blowback from farmers who could not get workers to pick produce.

8) Predicament

Meaning: A difficult, unpleasant, or embarrassing situation.

Example: The club’s financial predicament.

Synonyms: Mess, Difficulty

9) Denial

Meaning: The action of denying something.

Example: She shook her head in denial.

Synonyms: Contradiction, Counterstatement

10) Fiery

Meaning: Having a passionate and quick-tempered nature.

Example: A fiery, imaginative Aries.

Synonyms: Passionate, Impassioned

Antonyms: Bland, Indifferent

11) Alliance

Meaning: A union or association formed for mutual benefit, especially between countries or organizations.

Example: A defensive alliance between Australia and New Zealand.

Synonyms: Association, Union, Treaty

12) Oppressed

Meaning: Keep (someone) in subjection and hardship, especially by the unjust exercise of authority.

Example: A system which oppressed working people.

Synonyms: Persecute, Abuse

13) 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, Bloc

14) Cherry-picked

Meaning: Selectively choose (the most beneficial or profitable items, opportunities, etc.) from what is available.

Example: The company should buy the whole airline and not just cherry-pick its best assets.

15) Slap

Meaning: Put or apply (something) somewhere quickly, carelessly, or forcefully.( impose a fine or other penalty on.)

Example: The government had slapped an embargo on imports.

Synonyms: Impose, Levy

16) Dilemma

Meaning: A situation in which a difficult choice has to be made between two or more alternatives, especially ones that are equally undesirable.

Example: He wants to make money, but he also disapproves of it: Den’s dilemma in a nutshell.

Synonyms: Problem, Predicament

17) Curbing

Meaning: Restrain or keep in check.

Example: She promised she would curb her temper.

Synonyms: Control, Stifle

Antonyms: Release

18) Renegotiate

Meaning: Negotiate (something) again in order to change the original agreed terms.

Example: The parties will renegotiate the price.

19) Detente

Meaning: The easing of hostility or strained relations, especially between countries.

Example: His policy of arms control and detente with the Soviet Union.

20) Overhaul

Meaning: Overtake (someone), especially in a sporting even.

Example: Jodami overhauled his chief rival.

Synonyms: Overtake, Pass, Outstrip

21) Clout

Meaning: Influence or power, especially in politics or business.

Example: I knew she carried a lot of clout.

Synonyms: Influence, Power