1. a) Mending the rift

The fact that Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have handed over a list of demands to the Qatari regime should, on the face of it, indicate some progress in the impasse created after they cut ties with Qatar. The list has not been officially released, but is reported to include demands that Qatar snap all but trade ties with Iran, end military cooperation with Turkey and shut down the Al Jazeera news network. It may be that many of the demands are only meant to be bargaining counters — even U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has been running the backroom negotiation along with the Emir of Kuwait, said they are “very difficult for Qatar to meet”. In any case, such demands on the list may be more understandable if these countries complied with them as well. For example, in asking Qatar to disown ties with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE cannot ignore their own role in building up Sunni extremist groups across West Asia, sometimes in partnership with Qatar. The UAE has a thriving business relationship with Iran. And while the Saudi-led bloc may object to “negative narratives” and the platform given to their dissidents on Al Jazeera and the other news outlets named, it is unlikely that they will lean too much on the internationally recognised news networks to close shop. The bulk of the demands, however, focusses on asking Qatar to enforce its own commitments from the 2014 Riyadh declaration of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on ceasing support to extremist and terrorist groups. This indicates that a path is being cleared for a resolution to the current crisis. The next few days will be crucial in ensuring the outcome. There are implications of this crisis that India and the international community cannot afford to ignore. While the action against Qatar is mainly political and nowhere close to the Saudi-led action on Yemen, where more than 10,000 people have already been killed, in both cases the muscle power of the regional bullies has been allowed to prevail over a weaker nation. The treatment of Qatar could well become the playbook for future diplomacy, which would lead to a further weakening of the international order, the rule of law and the UN system of conflict resolution. There are also signs that this may be the precursor to a larger conflict with Iran. This is a troubling scenario for the world, and for India in particular with its commitment to build connectivity and shore up oil reserves. The impact of any conflict in the Gulf cannot be over-estimated, given India’s dependence on oil supplies and remittances from some eight million Indians based there. For New Delhi to continue to be as sanguine about the Qatar crisis as it appeared to be a few weeks ago, when External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called it an “internal matter” of the GCC, is no longer an option.


  1. b) In another court

Srikanth brought joy in two equal helpings. The 24-year-old won back-to-back badminton titles in the space of eight days, on Sunday adding the Australian Open title to the higher-rated Indonesia Open he had clinched on June 18. Success is not new to Srikanth, and in Sydney his domination of an elite field could be gauged from the fact that he dropped just one game in five matches. Even more heartening, he is part of a cohort in Indian men’s badminton, with the likes of B. Sai Praneeth and H.S. Prannoy, who have been beating elite players this season. For instance, Srikanth has upstaged the current World No. 1, Korea’s Son Wan Ho, twice in two weeks and raced past the reigning World and Olympic champion, Chen Long, in Sunday’s final at Sydney. He will be back in the world’s top 10 ranking this week, having also beaten World No. 4 and the topmost Chinese, Shi Yuqi, twice this year. In fact, Srikanth, who had overcome a bout of brain fever in July 2014 to become World No. 3 a year later, has beaten all the leading Chinese players. Praneeth, winner of the Singapore Open and the Thailand Open, is finally realising his potential. Interestingly, Praneeth holds a 5-2 head-to-head record against Srikanth, and the latter’s dream run is bound to increase his confidence of also beating the best in the world. Prannoy, unbeaten in this year’s Premier Badminton League and conqueror of the legendary Lee Chong Wei and Chen Long in successive matches in the Indonesia Open this month, will also expect to strike it rich going ahead. In sum, Srikanth, Praneeth and Prannoy are on track for a potential podium finish in the World Championship in Glasgow in August. With Saina Nehwal and P.V. Sindhu maintaining their formidable challenge in the women’s game, Indian badminton now has a strong nucleus of the world’s best. The biggest gain of late has been the consistency with which the male shuttlers are delivering, with each believing he has the game to outdo the other. This healthy competitiveness, coupled with the maturity and patience shown on the court of late, is paying dividends. Srikanth has wisely refrained from being in attack mode at will. Known for his powerful smashes, his current use of soft strokes and deft touches is proving very effective, complementing the deep clearances from the backhand corner. Pullela Gopi Chand’s role in the success of these players is well-known; Indonesian coach Mulyo Handoyo too has clearly made an impact, especially in rallying the players to think clearly in the heat of a match. As a result, Indian shuttlers are no longer ‘choking’ against more illustrious rivals. Significantly, all the leading overseas players today have lost to an Indian at least once. On current form, at least a medal each from the men’s and women’s singles in this year’s World Championship is now a realistic expectation.



1)      Mending

Meaning: Things to be repaired by sewing or darning.

Example: Once a week they had Troops Day when they could bring their mending,’ she says.

Synonyms: Resolution, Settlement, Rectification

2)      Regime

Meaning: A particular government or a system or method of government.

Example: The old corrupt, totalitarian regime was overthrown.

Synonyms: Government, Authorities

3)      Complied

Meaning: Act in accordance with a wish or command.

Example: We are unable to comply with your request.

Synonyms: Abide By, Agree To

Antonyms: Ignore, Disobey

4)      Thriving

Meaning: Very healthy or successful.

Example: The dog is thriving in its new home.

Synonyms: Flourishing, Prosperous

Antonyms: Moribund, Dying

5)      Dissidents

Meaning: A person who publicly disagrees with and criticizes their government.

Example: A dissident who had been jailed by a military regime.

Synonyms: Dissenter, Rebel

Antonyms: Conformist

6)      Ceasing

Meaning: To stop something.

Example: The company has decided to cease all UK operations after this year.

Synonyms: Pause, Break Off

Antonyms: Start, Continue

7)      Prevail

Meaning: To get control or influence.

Example: I am sure that common sense will prevail in the end.

Synonyms:Exist, Abound, Win

8)      Diplomacy

Meaning: The management of relationships between countries.

Example: Diplomacy has so far failed to bring an end to the fighting.

Synonyms: Statemanship, Negotiation

Antonyms: Tactlessness

9)      Precursor

Meaning: A person or thing that comes before another of the same kind; a forerunner.

Example: Biological research has often been a precursor to medical breakthroughs.

Synonyms: Forerunner, Predecessor, Forefather

10)    Remittances

Meaning: An amount of money that you send to someone.

Example: She sends a small remittance home to her parents each month.

Synonyms: Payment, Settlement

11)    Sanguine

Meaning: (Of someone or someone’s character) positive and hoping for good things.

Example: They are less sanguine about the prospects for peace.

Synonyms: Optimistic, Bullish

Antonyms: Pessimistic, Gloomy

12)    Clinched

Meaning: To finally get or win something.

Example: I hear he finally clinched the deal to buy the land he wanted.

Synonyms: Secure, Settle, Conclude

Antonyms: Lose

13)    Elite

Meaning: The richest, most powerful, best-educated, or best-trained group in a society.

Example: The silent majority were looked down upon by the liberal elite.

Synonyms: Best, Aristocracy

Antonyms: Dregs

14)    Gauged

Meaning: A way of judging or showing something, especially how successful or popular something is.

Example: The fact that the play is being performed on Broadway is a gauge of its success.

Synonyms: Assess, Evaluate, Appraise

15)    Cohort

Meaning: A group of people who support a particular person, usually a leader.

Example: The Mayor and his cohorts have abused their positions of power.

Synonyms: Group, Grade

16)    Reigning

Meaning: Being the most recent winner of a competition.

Example: She’s the reigning champion at Wimbledon.

Synonyms: Incumbent, Current

17)    Conqueror

Meaning: A person who conquers a place or people; a vanquisher.

Example: A chance for revenge against his Olympic conqueror.

Synonyms: Vanquisher, Defeater, Subjugator

Antonyms: Loser

18)    Podium

Meaning: A raised area on which a person stands to speak to a large number of people, to conduct music, or to receive a prize in a sports competition.

Example: Tears ran down her face as she stood on the winner’s podium.

Synonyms: Platform, Stage, Dais

19)    Formidable

Meaning: Causing you to have fear or respect for something or someone because that thing or person is large, powerful, or difficult.

Example: She is a formidable figure who commands a great deal of respect .

Synonyms: Intimidating, Forbidding, Redoubtable

Antonyms: Comforting, Weak

20)    Nucleus

Meaning: The group of people or things that are the most important part of something.

Example: These three players will form the nucleus of a revised and stronger team.

Synonyms:Small group, Core

21)    Smashes

Meaning: In tennis or volleyball, to hit the ball down towards the ground quickly and forcefully.

Example: In tennis, there is the forehand, the backhand, the overhead smash and the drop volley, all with a different grip.

Synonyms:Crowd-puller, Knockout

22)    Deft

Meaning: Skilful, clever, or quick.

Example: Her movements were deft and quick.

Synonyms: Skillful, Nifty

Antonyms: Clumsy, Awkward

23)    Rallying

Meaning: A continuous exchange of hits between players in tennis, squash or badminton.

Example: There will be fierce competition among the top seeds over two tough days of rallying to decide the outcome of this most prestigious of motorsport events.

Synonyms:Gather, Improve

Antonyms: Deteriorate, Disband