THE HINDU EDITORIAL  – 29, May – 2017

a) All animals are equal

The Centre’s move to notify new rules to regulate livestock markets under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 (PCA) is either extremely poorly thought out or much too clever for its own good. In a way, both. On the surface, the notification, which spans eight pages, reads like a general document on the regulation of the sale of all kinds of live stock bought and sold in animal markets, with some welcome prohibitions on the cruelty inflicted in the transport and treatment of animals. But parse the rules, and it is evident that cattle — a category that includes cows, buffaloes, bulls and camels — come under a slew of special restrictions which, when effected, could have an extremely serious impact on the meat and livestock industry, not to mention the livelihoods and dietary choices of millions of people. Surprisingly, only the purchase or sale of cattle for slaughter in animal markets has been prohibited. This raises suspicions that the Centre has attempted to conceal, or at least soften perceptions about, an extremely controversial provision, in the guise of passing a seemingly inoffensive, even enlightened, body of rules relating to animal cruelty. The rules framed for the sale of cattle are so cumbersome for instance, buyers must verify they are agriculturists, and sellers must furnish photo identity proof and written declarations stating that the cattle are not brought to the animal market for slaughter — that one wonders whether the objective is to surreptitiously throttle the entire cattle trade in an elaborate ream of red tape. Is the ban on the sale of cattle for slaughter in animal markets intended to act indirectly as an absolute ban? Is the notification, stripped of its generalities and niceties, really about the BJP government’s pet concern, cows? Such questions are bound to be raised given the way the rules were notified. If the main subject of the notification was the regulation of livestock markets, why was it issued by the Ministry of Environment and not the Animal Husbandry Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, which deals directly with this issue? Moreover, on what ground can the slaughter of any animal for food be prevented under the PCA, when it explicitly recognises that animals may constitute “food for mankind”? What the Act prohibits is only the “infliction of unnecessary pain and suffering” when animals are consumed as food. Such legal infirmities are bound to be challenge in court, but meanwhile the economic costs of this decision will merit a close watch. If estimates that 90% of slaughtered buffaloes are bought and sold in animal markets are correct, then the trade will be crippled. The Centre must address the concerns of the trade as well as of those who suspect the notification is a part of a Machiavellian plot to influence and curb food choices. While there is a case to retain most of the rules prohibiting the cruel treatment of animals, the ban on the sale of cattle for slaughter in animal markets must go.

b) Temer in trouble

Ever since the unpopular Michel Temer took over as President of Brazil after the controversial impeachment of Dilma Roussef, clearly it was only a matter of time before another corruption scandal surfaced in the country. Mr. Temer formally succeeded Ms. Roussef in August 2016 by virtue of being the vice-president and leading the centre-right Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), a crucial part of the ruling coalition when it came to power in 2014. While the impeachment motion brought Ms. Roussef down, many leaders in the PMDB were already embroiled in cases of corruption, including the then House Speaker, Eduardo Cunha, who led the motion. Mr. Cunha was indicted in the “Operation Car Wash” scandal in May 2016 involving the state-owned oil company Petrobras, and later suspended as Speaker by the Supreme Court over allegations ranging from intimidation of members of the legislature and obstruction of investigations against himself. Five months later, he was arrested for hiding money received from bribes in offshore accounts. When audio tapes surfaced this month showing Mr. Temer, who was already under investigation for corruption, discussing the payment of bribes with Mr. Cunha, it was hardly a shock. It led to street protests seeking Mr. Temer’s resignation. Predictably, he has refused to resign and instead used force to quell the agitation. The Brazilian political class, including the ruling PMDB and the Workers Party (PT) that was in power from 2003 to 2016, has been severely discredited over the past few years. Ms. Roussef’s ouster is clearly a case of the ruling elite finding a scapegoat to escape further investigation into mass graft. The PT had successfully engendered a social democratic regime that combined free market policies during the commodities boom with welfare measures that helped raise many Brazilians out of poverty. Schemes such as Bolsa Familia, former President Lula da Silva’s signature welfare plan had helped Ms. Roussef win successive elections. But following the global economic downturn and drop in commodity prices the model unravelled, resulting in a contraction in the economy. The lid over what was a wide-ranging corruption racket involving Petrobras and ruling politicians was also blown, implicating even Mr. Lula. With the discredited Mr. Temer now in power, the PT in crisis and the lack of a clean opposition alternative, public confidence in the government and institutions is at a new low. The hope is that the judiciary and police officials who have taken on the onerous task of prosecuting cases against powerful ruling officials will not give up. If they do, the credibility of Brazil’s institutions will suffer further, and a cynical electorate could well opt for a populist outside the political system, an increasingly visible trend seen in the Americas.


1) Inflicted

Meaning: Cause (something unpleasant or painful) to be suffered by someone or something.

Example: They inflicted serious injuries on three other men.

Synonyms: Administer to, Lay, Impose

Antonyms: Difficulty, Adversity

2) Parse

Meaning: Resolve (a sentence) into its component parts and describe their syntactic roles.

Example: I asked a couple of students to parse these sentences for me.

3) Suspicions

Meaning: A feeling or thought that something is possible, likely, or true.

Example: She had a sneaking suspicion that he was laughing at her.

Synonyms: Intuition, Feeling

Antonyms: Certainty

4) Guise

Meaning: An external form, appearance, or manner of presentation, typically concealing the true nature of something.

Example: He visited in the guise of an inspector.

Synonyms: Likeness, External appearance

Antonyms: Directness, Forthrightness

5) Cumbersome

Meaning: Large or heavy and therefore difficult to carry or use; unwieldy.

Example: Cumbersome diving suits.

Synonyms: Unwieldy, Unmanageable

Antonyms: Manageable, Convenient

6) Surreptitiously

Meaning: In a way that attempts to avoid notice or attention; secretively.

Example: Mary surreptitiously slipped from the room.

Synonyms: Private, Secret

Antonyms: Open, Overt

7) Red tape

Meaning: Excessive bureaucracy or adherence to official rules and formalities.

Example: This law will just create more red tape.

8) Niceties

Meaning: A fine or subtle detail or distinction.

Example: Legal niceties are wasted on him.

Synonyms: Fine point, Subtlety

9) Crippled

Meaning: (Of a person) unable to walk or move properly; disabled.

Example: A crippled old man.

Synonyms: Disable, Paralyse

Antonyms: Boost

10) Machiavellian

Meaning: Cunning, scheming, and unscrupulous, especially in politics.

Example: A whole range of outrageous Machiavellian manoeuvres.

Synonyms: Devious, Cunning

Antonyms: Straightforward, Ingenuous

11) Impeachment

Meaning: The action of calling into question the integrity or validity of something.

Example: The prosecutor’s detailed impeachment of the character witness.

Synonyms: Charge, Criminate

Antonyms: Clear, Absolve

12) 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

13) Embroiled

Meaning: Involve (someone) deeply in an argument, conflict, or difficult situation.

Example: The organization is currently embroiled in running battles with pressure groups.

Synonyms: Involve, Entangle

Antonyms: Free, Liberate

14) Intimidation

Meaning: The action of intimidating someone, or the state of being intimidated.

Example: The intimidation of witnesses and jurors.

Synonyms: Frightening, Menacing

15) Quell

Meaning: Put an end to (a rebellion or other disorder), typically by the use of force.

Example: Extra police were called to quell the disturbance.

Synonyms: Abolish, End

Antonyms: Bring about, Prompt

16) Ouster

Meaning: Ejection from a property, especially wrongful ejection. / Deprivation of an inheritance.

Example: Ouster proceedings to remove the husband from the matrimonial home.

Synonyms: Forcing out, Expulsion

17) Elite

Meaning: A select group that is superior in terms of ability or qualities to the rest of a group or society.

Example: The elite of Britain’s armed forces.

Synonyms: Best, Pick

Antonyms: Dregs

18) Unravelled

Meaning: Investigate and solve or explain (something complicated or puzzling).

Example: They were attempting to unravel the cause of death.

Synonyms: Solve, Untangle

Antonyms: Complicate, Tangle

19) Onerous

Meaning: (Of a task or responsibility) involving a great deal of effort, trouble, or difficulty.

Example: He found his duties increasingly onerous.

Synonyms: Burdensome, Heavy

Antonyms: Easy, Effortless

20) Cynical

Meaning: Believing that people are motivated purely by self-interest. / Distrustful of human sincerity or integrity.

Example: He was brutally cynical and hardened to every sob story under the sun.

Synonyms: Resentful, Pessimistic

Antonyms: Optimistic, Credulous