a) Revisit AFSPA

The Centre’s decision to revoke the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in Meghalaya and reduce its ambit in Arunachal Pradesh is welcome insofar as it signifies a willingness to reconsider the use of the special law as and when the ground situation improves. The extent of ‘disturbed areas’ in Meghalaya was earlier limited to within 20 km of its border with Assam. The whole of Nagaland, most of Assam, and Manipur excluding the areas falling under seven Assembly constituencies in Imphal, continue to be under the law, which provides protection to the point of total immunity from prosecution for the security forces operating in the notified areas. In Arunachal, the areas under AFSPA have been reduced to the limits of eight police stations, instead of the previous 16, in three districts bordering Assam. It was only last month that the Act was extended for six months in Assam, even though the Union Home Ministry has said the situation has improved considerably. AFSPA was extended in Nagaland by six months from January. There is no sign that the vigour of the law will be diluted, but the area of its use may be progressively curtailed over time. It was withdrawn in Tripura in 2015. Assam has been empowered to decide on how long it needs the cover of AFSPA. Even though there is ample evidence that the law has created a sense of impunity among the security forces wherever it has been invoked, the Centre is still far from abrogating the Act, mainly because the Army favours its continuance. Manipur had borne the brunt of Army excesses over the years. In a rare intervention in a matter concerning internal security, in 2016 the Supreme Court had ruled that the armed forces cannot escape investigation for excesses committed in the discharge of their duties even in ‘disturbed areas’. It ordered a probe into specific cases. In other words, accountability for human rights violations is sacrosanct and the legal protection offered by AFSPA cannot be absolute. During the Budget session, Union Minister of State for Home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir informed the Lok Sabha in a written reply that the government was considering a proposal to make AFSPA more “operationally effective and humane”. In 2005, a committee headed by former Supreme Court judge B.P. Jeevan Reddy was tasked by the then United Progressive Alliance government with suggesting amendments to AFSPA. The committee recommended that the law be repealed altogether, and that the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act be amended in a manner that would enable insurgency and conflict to be tackled legally. Now that there is some degree of official recognition that special laws for protecting armed forces personnel from the legal consequences of their operations and excesses need not continue indefinitely, it is time for the Centre to revisit the Jeevan Reddy committee report and find ways of humanising AFSPA, if not revoking it altogether.

b) After the Castros: on Cuban politics

As Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez assumes charge as Cuba’s first ‘non-Castro’ leader in decades, Havana-watchers will look for cues of change or continuity in a country that once symbolised global anti-imperialist revolution. With Latin America’s socialist upsurge of the last decade in retreat and Cuba’s economy in anything but robust health, the answers should be evident. Mr. Díaz-Canel is a veteran Communist Party apparatchik, who served as Vice President during Raúl Castro’s second five-year term since 2013. It will be no easy task for the former education minister, handpicked by Mr. Castro, to stamp his authority over a rigid bureaucratic and party apparatus. But Mr. Díaz-Canel can count on Mr. Castro’s political backing as the latter is expected to continue as head of the party and the armed forces for some more years. Sustaining Cuba’s education and health-care services will be a formidable challenge for the President. In the absence of the handsome bailouts of the Venezuelan oil boom time or the Soviet-era subsidies, the government should prioritise attention to these basic services. Another challenge is to reform the economy to attract more investment to major industry sectors and to boost growth and jobs. Mr. Díaz-Canel is the country’s first high-ranking politician to be elevated from among those outside the young guerrillas who fought in the Cuban revolution. It may therefore be reasonable to expect a more pragmatic stance on Havana’s part towards its ideological opponents, notwithstanding the pre-eminence of the Communist Party — even if the détente between the U.S. and Cuba that began during Barack Obama’s presidency has been in something of a limbo under Donald Trump. The spotlight in recent days has inevitably shone on the transition after the long Castro legacy in Latin America. In this process, an important aspect about the beginning of a new chapter should not be overlooked. Mr. Díaz-Canel’s ascent bucks the regional trend where leaders routinely seek recourse to constitutional meddling to secure extensions of presidential tenures. The succession plan was more or less scripted by Mr. Castro at the commencement of his second term in 2013, when he spoke of age and term limits for high office. It would be cynical to dismiss the development as no more than a cosmetic change within the larger framework of Cuba’s one-party rule. But then, there are countries across the world where many populists and strongmen have tinkered with the constitution to extend their terms in office, reducing competitive party politics to a charade. Mr. Díaz-Canel’s is a leadership change that Cuba should make the most of, in order to refresh its domestic and foreign policies.


1) Revoke

Meaning: Officially cancel (a decree, decision, or promise).

Example: “the men appealed and the sentence was revoked”

Synonyms: Cancel, Repeal

Antonyms: Introduce, Enact

2) Ambit

Meaning: The scope, extent, or bounds of something.

Example: “a full discussion of this complex issue was beyond the ambit of one book”

3) Immunity

Meaning: Protection or exemption from something, especially an obligation or penalty.

Example: “the rebels were given immunity from prosecution”

Synonyms: Exemption, Exception

4) Prosecution

Meaning: The institution and conducting of legal proceedings against someone in respect of a criminal charge.

Example: “the organizers are facing prosecution for noise nuisance”

5) Bordering

Meaning: (of a country or area) be adjacent to (another country or area).

Example: “regions bordering Azerbaijan”

Synonyms: Adjoin, Neighbour

6) Diluted

Meaning: Make (something) weaker in force, content, or value by modification or the addition of other elements.

Example: “the reforms have been diluted”

Synonyms: Diminish, Reduce

Antonyms: Intensify

7) Curtailed

Meaning: Reduce in extent or quantity; impose a restriction on.

Example: “civil liberties were further curtailed”

Synonyms: Reduce, Cut

Antonyms: Increase, Lengthen

8) Ample

Meaning: Enough or more than enough; plentiful.

Example: “there is ample time for discussion”

Synonyms: Enough, Sufficient

Antonyms: Meagre, Insufficient

9) Impunity

Meaning: Exemption from punishment or freedom from the injurious consequences of an action.

Example: “the impunity enjoyed by military officers implicated in civilian killings”

Synonyms: Immunity, Exemption

Antonyms: Liability, Responsibility

10) Invoked

Meaning: Cite or appeal to (someone or something) as an authority for an action or in support of an argument.

Example: “the antiquated defence of insanity is rarely invoked in England”

Synonyms: Cite, Adduce

Antonyms: Waive

11) Abrogating

Meaning: Repeal or do away with (a law, right, or formal agreement).

Example: “a proposal to abrogate temporarily the right to strike”

Synonyms: Revoke, Repudiate

Antonyms: Introduce, Institute

12) Continuance

Meaning: The state of remaining in existence or operation.

Example: “his interests encouraged him to favour the continuance of war”

Synonyms: Continuation, Protraction

13) Brunt

Meaning: The worst part or chief impact of a specified action.

Example: “education will bear the brunt of the cuts”

Synonyms: Force, Impact

14) Sacrosanct

Meaning: (especially of a principle, place, or routine) regarded as too important or valuable to be interfered with.

Example: “the individual’s right to work has been upheld as sacrosanct”

Synonyms: Inviolate, Invulnerable

15) Tasked

Meaning: To give someone a task:

Example: We have been tasked with setting up camps for refugees.

16) Insurgency

Meaning: An active revolt or uprising.

Example: “rebels are waging an armed insurgency to topple the monarchy”

17) Recognition

Meaning: Agreement that something is true or legal.

Example: It’s a new country, hoping for diplomatic recognition from the international community.

Synonyms: Acknowledgement, Acceptance

18) Humanising

Meaning: To make something less unpleasant and more suitable for people:

Example: Steps are being taken to humanize the prison.

19) Symbolised

Meaning: To represent something.

Example: The lighting of the Olympic torch symbolizes peace and friendship among the nations of the world.

Synonyms: Represent, Exemplify

20) Imperialist

Meaning: Supporting or relating to imperialism.

Example: An imperialist power.

21) Upsurge

Meaning: An upward surge in the strength or quantity of something; an increase.

Example: “an upsurge in vandalism and violent crime”

22) Retreat

Meaning: The act of going away from a person or place because you are unwilling to fight any more or are frightened.

Example: Rebel soldiers were in (full) retreat.

Synonyms: Withdrawal, Flight

23) Robust

Meaning: Strong and healthy; vigorous.

Example: “the Caplan family are a robust lot”

Synonyms: Strong, Powerful

Antonyms: Weak, Frail

24) Apparatchik

Meaning: A loyal and senior member of a political party, especially the Communist Party in the former USSR.

Example: A former apparatchik in the Communist Party, she became a diplomat.

25) Handpicked

Meaning: Select carefully with a particular purpose in mind.

Example: “a small hand-picked group of MPs”

Synonyms: Choice, Elite

Antonyms: Random

26) Apparatus

Meaning: The complex structure of a particular organization or system.

Example: “the apparatus of government”

Synonyms: Structure, System

27) Formidable

Meaning: Inspiring fear or respect through being impressively large, powerful, intense, or capable.

Example: “a formidable opponent”

Synonyms: Daunting, Alarming

Antonyms: Easy, Weak

28) Bailouts

Meaning: The process of saving a company, plan, or other thing from failing by providing lots of money.

Example: The government mounted a massive bailout of troubled savings and loan institutions.

29) Boom

Meaning: A period of sudden economic growth, especially one that results in a lot of money being made.

Example: The insurance business suffered from a vicious cycle of boom and bust.

30) Pragmatic

Meaning: Dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations.

Example: “a pragmatic approach to politics”

31) Détente

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

Example: “his policy of arms control and detente with the Soviet Union”

32) Limbo

Meaning: An uncertain period of awaiting a decision or resolution; an intermediate state or condition.

Example: “the legal battle could leave the club in limbo until next year”

Synonyms: Unfinished, Incomplete

Antonyms: Underway

33) Spotlight

Meaning: (of a person) receiving a lot of public attention:

Example: The senator has been in the spotlight recently since the revelation of his tax frauds.

34) Inevitably

Meaning: As is certain to happen; unavoidably.

Example: “inevitably some details are already out of date”

Synonyms: Naturally, Automatically

35) Legacy

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: Inheritance, Heritage

36) Overlooked

Meaning: To fail to notice or consider something or someone.

Example: I think there is one key fact that you have overlooked.

37) Recourse

Meaning: A source of help in a difficult situation.

Example: “surgery may be the only recourse”

Synonyms: Option, Alternative

38) Meddling

Meaning: Interfere in something that is not one’s concern.

Example: “I don’t want him meddling in our affairs”

Synonyms: Interfere, Intrude

39) Cynical

Meaning: Doubtful as to whether something will happen or whether it is worthwhile.

Example: “most residents are cynical about efforts to clean mobsters out of their city”

Synonyms: Doubtful, Suspicious

Antonyms: Optimistic, Credulous

40) Tinkered

Meaning: Attempt to repair or improve something in a casual or desultory way.

Example: “he spent hours tinkering with the car”

Synonyms: Correcting, Mending


Want to learn more, Check the Previous Day of THE HINDU EDITORIAL which was published in our Bankersdaily and learn new words to enhance your Vocabulary.


Aspirants can also check the previous month THE HINDU EDITORIAL and can improve the vocabulary list & can ace the exams. Learning the language is easy and this will make the process simple.