THE HINDU EDITORIAL : APRIL 21, 2018
THE HINDU EDITORIAL : APRIL 21, 2018
a) Mission impossible: On simultaneous elections
The idea of holding simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies appears to have caught the imagination of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been talking about this for some time now. It is not too much of a leap to surmise that he believes that voters are likely to back the same party in both elections, and that in the absence of a national alternative to his candidature at the Centre, such a voting pattern may help the BJP across States too. The Law Commission’s move to seek the opinion of the public, political parties, academicians and other stakeholders, on the proposal appears to be aimed at giving concrete shape to this political viewpoint. The Commission has released a three-page summary of its draft working paper, setting out the amendments that may be required in the Constitution and electoral laws. It proposes to put together a report to forward to the Centre after getting the views of the public. Among its “possible recommendations” is a “constructive vote of no-confidence”: while expressing lack of confidence in one government, members of the legislature will have to repose trust in an alternative. It also suggests that premature dissolution of the House could be avoided if all members sit together and elect a leader. This would entail a temporary waiver of the anti-defection law so that members could help form a stable government without the fear of disqualification. However, these are reforms that can be adopted even if simultaneous elections are not held.
In principle, simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies have the benefits of saving poll expenditure and helping ruling parties focus on governance instead of being constantly in election mode. The flip side is that it is nearly impossible to implement, as it would mean arbitrarily curtailing or extending the term of existing legislatures to bring their election dates in line with the due date for the rest of the country. This would be the most difficult change to execute, as such a measure would undermine federalism as well as representative democracy. The Commission has suggested an alternative: categorise States based on proximity to the next general election and have one round of State Assembly polls with the next Lok Sabha election, and another round for the remaining States 30 months later. This would mean that India would have a set of elections every two and a half years. But governments have been brought down or have collapsed on their own, leading to mid-term polls in different States and even at the Centre in different years. Given the difficulties involved in shifting to simultaneous elections, we may have to live with the reality that some part of the country will go to polls every few months.
b) Conscience call: On Rohingya crisis
The scale of the humanitarian crisis faced by Rohingya refugees was highlighted this month when Myanmar claimed it had repatriated a family of five. About 700,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh from their homes in Myanmar’s Rakhine province since August 2017. Late last year, the two countries had struck an agreement for their return. Bangladesh, however, rejected the claim about the repatriation of the five family members, saying they had not travelled into its territory, so their so-called return did not qualify as repatriation. In fact, in London this week, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina repeated statements by her officials on the repatriation claim, and asked the international community to put more pressure on Myanmar to “take back their own people and ensure their security”. Facing persecution at home in Myanmar, Rohingya have for years been fleeing in the most hazardous of ways, and the UN reckons there were already 200,000 refugees in Bangladesh before the mass flight began in August, with most refugees now concentrated in Cox’s Bazar. Bangladesh has been at the forefront of seeing to the needs of the refugees, and trying to get Myanmar to create the conditions for their eventual safe return to their homes. Aid workers are working to strengthen their shelters and move the more vulnerable to safer ground before the monsoon rain comes.
The world needs to do a lot more — especially India, as a neighbour that has an estimated 40,000 Rohingya refugees living precariously on its territory, and as a regional power that is failing this time round to keep up its legacy of providing succour to those fleeing persecution. At the heart of the human rights problem that confronts the world is that no one is confident that conditions obtain in Myanmar to receive the refugees. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said last week that “conditions in Myanmar are not yet conducive for the voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return of refugees”. It clarified that there needs to be more than physical infrastructure and logistical arrangements for their journey back. It is crucial that there be movement on Rohingya’s legal status and citizenship in Myanmar and their identification with Rakhine. Myanmar refuses to recognise the Rohingya, who are mostly Muslim, as a separate ethnic group and denies them citizenship. It just gives them the option of self-identifying themselves as Bengali, which has its own implications for their rights as inhabitants of the country. Officials do not even use the word Rohingya. It has been rightly termed a case of ethnic cleansing. Pressure on Myanmar, which won plaudits for its recent democratic transition, to recognise the rights of a people who trace their ancestry in Rakhine for generations has so far yielded nothing. As Ms. Hasina suggested this week, it should be reason for the global community to double the pressure.
Meaning: Occurring, operating, or done at the same time.
Example: “A simultaneous withdrawal of troops”
Meaning: Make a sudden rush to do something; act eagerly and suddenly.
Example: “Everybody leapt into action”
Synonyms: Rush, Hurry.
Meaning: Suppose that something is true without having evidence to confirm it.
Example: “He surmised that something must be wrong”
Synonyms: Guess, Conjecture.
Meaning: The fact or condition of standing for a position or status; candidacy.
Example: “She is completing her PhD candidature as a part-time student”
Meaning: Form (something) into a mass; solidify.
Example: “The juices of the plants are concreted upon the surface”
Meaning: A person’s opinion or point of view.
Example: “I do try to put over our viewpoint”
Synonyms: Point of view, View.
7) Set out
Meaning: To start an activity with a particular aim.
Example: “She set out with the aim of becoming the youngest ever winner of the championship”
Meaning: A minor change or addition designed to improve a text, piece of legislation, etc.
Example: “An amendment to existing bail laws”
Synonyms: Revision, Alteration.
Meaning: The legislative body of a country or state.
Example: “The Nevada state legislature passed a law to prohibit dumping of nuclear waste”
Meaning: Place something, especially one’s confidence or trust, in.
Example: “We have never betrayed the trust that you have reposed in us”
Meaning: Occurring or done before the usual or proper time; too early.
Example: “The sun can cause premature ageing”
Synonyms: Untimely, Early.
Meaning: Involve (something) as a necessary or inevitable part or consequence.
Example: “A situation which entails considerable risks”
Meaning: On the basis of random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system.
Example: “Recurrent infection is arbitrarily defined as three or more infections a year”
Meaning: Reduce in extent or quantity; impose a restriction on.
Example: “Civil liberties were further curtailed”
Synonyms: Reduce, Cut.
Meaning: Lessen the effectiveness, power, or ability of, especially gradually or insidiously.
Example: “This could undermine years of hard work”
Synonyms: Subvert, Sabotage.
Meaning: Nearness in space, time, or relationship.
Example: “Do not operate microphones in close proximity to television sets”
Synonyms: Closeness, Nearness.
Meaning: (Of a structure) suddenly fall down or give way.
Example: “The roof collapsed on top of me”
Meaning: Send (someone) back to their own country.
Example: “The last German POWs were repatriated in November 1948”
Meaning: (Of a thought or idea) come into the mind of (someone) suddenly or unexpectedly.
Example: “A disturbing thought struck Melissa”
Synonyms: Occur to, Come to.
Meaning: Hostility and ill-treatment, especially because of race or political or religious beliefs; oppression.
Example: “Her family fled religious persecution”
Synonyms: Oppression, Victimization.
Meaning: Run away from a place or situation of danger.
Example: “To escape the fighting, his family fled from their village”
Synonyms: Run, Run away.
Meaning: Risky; dangerous.
Example: “We work in hazardous conditions”
Synonyms: Dangerous, Risky.
Meaning: Be of the opinion.
Example: “He reckons that the army should pull out entirely”
Synonyms: Believe, Think.
Meaning: The leading or most important position or place.
Example: “The issue has moved to the forefront of the political agenda”
Synonyms: Front line.
Meaning: Exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.
Example: “We were in a vulnerable position”
Synonyms: Endangered, Unsafe.
Meaning: In a way that is not securely in position and is likely to fall or collapse.
Example: “The homes hung precariously over the edge of a huge crevice”
Meaning: An amount of money or property left to someone in a will.
Example: “My grandmother died and unexpectedly left me a small legacy”
Synonyms: Bequest, Inheritance.
Meaning: Assistance and support in times of hardship and distress.
Example: “The wounded had little chance of succour”
Synonyms: Aid, Help.
Meaning: Come face to face with (someone) with hostile or argumentative intent.
Example: “300 policemen confronted an equal number of union supporters”
Synonyms: Oppose, Resist.
Meaning: Making a certain situation or outcome likely or possible.
Example: “The harsh lights and cameras were hardly conducive to a relaxed atmosphere”
Synonyms: Facilitate, Favour.
Meaning: Having or showing a composed or serious manner that is worthy of respect.
Example: “She maintained a dignified silence”
Synonyms: Stately, Noble.
Meaning: Able to be maintained at a certain rate or level.
Example: “Sustainable economic growth”
Meaning: Decisive or critical, especially in the success or failure of something.
Example: “Negotiations were at a crucial stage”
Synonyms: Pivotal, Critical.
Meaning: State that one refuses to admit the truth or existence of.
Example: “Both firms deny any responsibility for the tragedy”
Synonyms: Contradict, Repudiate.
Meaning: The conclusion that can be drawn from something although it is not explicitly stated.
Example: “The implication is that no one person at the bank is responsible”
Synonyms: Suggestion, Inference.
Meaning: A person or animal that lives in or occupies a place.
Example: “A city of five million inhabitants”
Example: “The network has received plaudits for its sports coverage”
Synonyms: Praise, Acclaim.
Meaning: The process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.
Example: “Students in transition from one programme to another”
Synonyms: Change, Move.
Meaning: Find or discover by investigation.
Example: “Police are trying to trace a white van seen in the area”
Synonyms: Find, Discover.
Meaning: The origin or background of something.
Example: “The book traces the ancestry of women’s poetry”
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