THE HINDU EDITORIAL : 28, July – 2017

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a) The shift in Bihar

Nitish Kumar’s impending split from the Mahagathbandhan, or Grand Alliance, in Bihar had been the subject of speculation for months so that when it came, the only surprise was the swiftness and finality of the separation from Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal — and of his embrace of the Bharatiya Janata Party. The sequence of events suggests that Mr. Kumar had secured the new alliance and his continuation as Chief Minister before he resigned. This is why the proffered reason for his resignation — the allegations of corruption against his Deputy Chief Minister and Mr. Prasad’s son, Tejashwi Yadav — lacked conviction. Mr. Kumar’s record of shifting fast and loose between allies is a story of political expediency and it is not entirely clear what political compulsion or personal ambition the latest move was born of. If it was naive to believe that in 2013 he led the Janata Dal (United) away from the BJP, with which he led a coalition government in Bihar, because of a sudden aversion to prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and communalism, then it is just as ingenuous to think that his recent move is a result of a principled fight against corruption. Surely, Mr. Kumar knew he had teamed up with a party led by a man convicted for corruption in the fodder scam when he joined hands with Mr. Prasad to fight the 2015 Bihar Assembly election? The record shows that Mr. Kumar’s rallying cry changes depending on which political party he chooses to be up against. As Mr. Kumar inched closer to the BJP, praising demonetisation, supporting its presidential candidate and even colouring a lotus at a public function, the war on corruption became his overriding theme once again. While it is likely he will steer the JD(U) on this political realignment in the days to come, a question mark remains on how long the new arrangement will last. In the BJP’s take-no-prisoners project to expand its electoral footprint, a multi-cornered contest in Bihar, on the lines of the last Lok Sabha election, could be the best-case scenario for the party in 2019. Will it have any use for the JD(U) then? As for Mr. Kumar, he has since 2005 built a constituency made up of vulnerable subsections of the electorate: women and the more backward among the Other Backward Classes, Dalits (Mahadalits), and Muslims (Pasmanda Muslims). These are voters he has sought to tie in to the development narrative with his various allies and forge winning coalitions. Whether this tactic has run its course will be known at the next election, mid-term or otherwise. The gains to the JD(U) from the patch-up are not immediately evident, if indeed Mr. Kumar sees something more durable than a settling of scores with Mr. Prasad. What is without doubt is that opposition unity has suffered a setback. The Mahagathbandhan was perceived as the template for taking on the BJP nationally — what’s more, there were many people who hoped, and once again naively, that Mr. Kumar would be at the heart of it.

b) A crisis of trust

              During the past week, it became evident that U.S. President Donald Trump takes a dim view of his Attorney General, Je Sessions, a man whose appointment to that key role he fought resolutely for in the face of serious objections. This is not a clash of egos, but another instance of Mr. Trump’s disdain for constitutional propriety regarding conflicts of interest and the murky issue of Russia’s influence on the 2016 presidential election. The current episode dates back four months, to when Mr. Sessions recused himself from the FBI’s inquiry into whether Moscow had interfered in the election. Although Mr. Trump at the time dismissed the notion that such action was called for, Mr. Sessions’s recusal was consistent with settled norms and with his own reassurances on Capitol Hill that he would consider being removed from any process where he thought his “impartiality might reasonably be questioned”. The President’s anger at the FBI investigation then swelled, leading to the abrupt firing of the Bureau’s Director James Comey in May. Mr. Comey had previously told the House of Representatives’ Intelligence Committee that the FBI was investigating whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia during the election. Since July 24, Mr. Trump has stepped up his public attacks on Mr. Sessions, describing the recusal as “very unfair”, and suggesting that Mr. Sessions showed bias in favour of Democratic election rival Hillary Clinton by not probing her emails as he should have. Observers are not surprised that Mr. Trump, a man of his own making, has shown himself to be comfortable with a casual approach toward conflicts of interest. Yet what they may not have anticipated is the extent to which his desire to protect the personal interests of his family and the business interests of the Trump Organization could eventually lead to a chasm between the White House and the Republican Party. After all, many among the party’s traditional conservatives believe firmly in the established traditions of checks and balances within the government system and would view the suspected Russian meddling through the lens of fierce patriotism. The clearest indication that trust is fraying between the Oval Office and Capitol Hill is the fact that Representatives this week passed a tough sanctions bill with proposed measures targeting Moscow, by an overwhelming 419-3 vote. This would hamper Mr. Trump’s strategy of extending the hand of friendship to Vladimir Putin. Mr. Trump can ill afford such a trust de- cit, especially when his own officials appear to be uncertain over their boss plans. This would apply, for instance, to Defence Secretary James Mattis, who was on vacation when Mr. Trump unexpectedly announced a ban on transgender persons in the military.


1) Impending

Meaning: Be about to happen.

Example: My impending departure.

Synonyms: Imminent, Forthcoming

2) Speculation

Meaning: The forming of a theory or conjecture without firm evidence.

Example: There has been widespread speculation that he plans to quit.

Synonyms: Conjecture, Theorizing

3) Swiftness

Meaning: Lack of delay; promptness.

Example: Researchers were impressed with the swiftness of responses.

Synonyms: Suddenness, Abruptness

Antonyms: Lateness, Tardiness

4) 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

Antonyms: Distance, Separation

5) Proffered

Meaning: Hold out or put forward (something) to someone for acceptance.

Example: She proffered a glass of wine.

Synonyms: Offer, Tender

Antonyms: Refuse, Withdraw

6) Expediency

Meaning: The quality of being convenient and practical despite possibly being improper or immoral; convenience.

Example: An act of political expediency.

Synonyms: Convenience, Advantage

Antonyms: Disadvantage

7) Naive

Meaning: (Of a person or action) showing a lack of experience, wisdom, or judgement.

Example: The rather naive young man had been totally misled.

Synonyms: Innocent, Unsophisticated

Antonyms: Experienced, Worldly

8) 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, Partnership

9) Aversion

Meaning: A strong dislike or disinclination.

Example: They made plain their aversion to the use of force.

Synonyms: Disinclination, Abhorrence

Antonyms: Liking, Inclination, Desire

10) Fodder

Meaning: Food, especially dried hay or straw, for cattle and other livestock.

Example: Young people ending up as factory fodder.

11) Scam

Meaning: A dishonest scheme; a fraud.

Example: An insurance scam.

Synonyms: Fraud, Swindle

12) Rallying

Meaning: The action or process of coming together to support a person or cause.

Example: The rallying of ethnic minorities to form a new opposition party.

13) Patch up

Meaning: To try to improve a relationship after there have been problems.

Example: Jackie and Bill are still trying to patch up their marriage.

14) Attorney

Meaning: A person, typically a lawyer, appointed to act for another in business or legal matters.

Example: She’s an attorney who advises companies about mergers and takeovers.

Synonyms: Lawyer, Legal practitioner

15) Resolutely

Meaning: In an admirably purposeful, determined, and unwavering manner.

Example: She resolutely refused to be bullied by those around her.

16) Disdain

Meaning: The feeling that someone or something is unworthy of one’s consideration or respect.

Example: Her upper lip curled in disdain.

Synonyms: Contempt, Scorn

Antonyms: Admiration, Respect

17) Propriety

Meaning: Conformity to conventionally accepted standards of behaviour or morals.

Example: He always behaved with the utmost propriety.

Synonyms: Decorum, Decency

Antonyms: Impropriety, Indecorum

18) Murky

Meaning: Dark and gloomy, especially due to thick mist.

Example: The sky was murky and a thin drizzle was falling.

Synonyms: Dark, Grey

Antonyms: Bright, Sunny

19) Recused

Meaning: Challenge (a judge or juror) as unqualified to perform legal duties because of a potential conflict of interest or lack of impartiality.

Example: He was recused when he referred to the corporation as ‘a bunch of villains.

20) Capitol

Meaning: A building in which a US state government meets.

Example: The Oklahoma State Capitol.

21) Swelled

Meaning: Become or make greater in intensity, number, amount, or volume.

Example: The low murmur swelled to a roar.

Synonyms: Increase, Enlarge

Antonyms: Decrease, Wane

22) Abrupt

Meaning: Sudden and unexpected.

Example: I was surprised by the abrupt change of subject.

Synonyms: Sudden, Immediate

Antonyms: Gradual, Unhurried

23) Probing

Meaning: Explore or examine (something), especially with the hands or an instrument.

Example: Hands probed his body from top to bottom.

Synonyms: Examine, Poke

24) Anticipated

Meaning: Regard as probable; expect or predict.

Example: She anticipated scorn on her return to the theatre.

Synonyms: Expect, Foresee

Antonyms: Dread

25) Chasm

Meaning: A deep fissure in the earth’s surface.

Example: A chasm a mile long.

Synonyms: Gorge, Canyon

26) Fierce

Meaning: Having or displaying a violent or ferocious aggressiveness.

Example: Fierce fighting continued throughout the day.

Synonyms: Ferocious, Savage

Antonyms: Tame, Mild

27) Fraying

Meaning: (Of a fabric, rope, or cord) unravel or become worn at the edge, typically through constant rubbing.

Example: cheap fabric soon frays.

Synonyms: Unravel, Wear

28) Overwhelming

Meaning: Very great in amount.

Example: His party won overwhelming support.

Synonyms: Very large, Profuse

Antonyms: Small

 THE HINDU EDITORIAL : 27, July – 2017