THE HINDU EDITORIAL : APRIL 7, 2018
THE HINDU EDITORIAL : APRIL 7, 2018
a) Not above the law: On Salman Khan case verdict
The stiff sentence of five years in jail awarded to actor Salman Khan for hunting blackbuck in Rajasthan’s Kankani village in 1998 should send out the message that stardom does not confer impunity. Unlike the average wildlife poaching case, where State forest departments struggle to gather credible evidence, the prosecution in the blackbuck case has been vigorously supported by the local Bishnoi community. What sets the case apart from so many other episodes of poaching and animal trapping in India’s forests is its naked celebration of blood sport. Stars like Khan, who is no stranger to controversy surrounding hunting expeditions, seem to think conservation is not serious business, and the clock can readily be turned back to an era when the wealthy and powerful organised ‘shikar’ parties to hunt for pleasure. That era is over. If the verdict of the Jodhpur court in the blackbuck case survives the appeals process, it would send out the powerful message that the judicial system feels no constraint in exerting the full weight of the law to protect threatened wildlife. Equally, it should bring a feeling of empowerment to forest department personnel and help them resist the intimidation that they routinely face from influential sections in the discharge of their duties. Protecting the blackbuck case verdict — and the witnesses who made it possible — is the challenge they face today.
The Wildlife (Protection) Act, the landmark law from 1972 that shields the diversity of India’s endangered animals mainly in 4% of its land area designated as protected, struggles to be effective and conviction rates are low. Besides restraining ‘VIP’ poachers, forest guards must combat organised hunting gangs that employ traps and snares for a thriving trade in animals, body parts and trophies. Even the population of the tiger, the most protected species, faces erosion due to poaching. At least 136 tigers were killed between 2014 and 2017, according to an estimate by the Wildlife Protection Society of India that includes official data on poaching. What is more, several species protected under the Schedules of the Wildlife Act are often found in areas that lie outside sanctuaries and are commonly hunted. Forest departments must see the need for greater vigilance in such territories, which they can exercise in partnership with local communities. The verdict in the Salman Khan case strikes a blow for these free-ranging animals, sending out the message that hunting of protected species is certain to invite severe penalties. The court makes the important observation that personalities who are capable of influencing the behaviour of others must naturally be conscious of what they do. It is to be hoped that this will convince the high and mighty that bloodsports are grotesquely incongruous in the present day when environmental concerns rule supreme and engaging in them invites deterrent action.
b) Disruptive Mr. Trump
This week has seen rounds of tit-for-tat tariffs between the U.S. and China, set off by U.S. President Donald Trump levying import duties of 25% and 10% on American steel and aluminium imports, respectively, in early March. Mr. Trump, who has repeatedly used the U.S. trade deficit of over $500 billion as a barometer for the country’s lot in the international trade order, has railed against the U.S. being treated “unfairly” by its trading partners, often singling out China. While it is true that China produces approximately half the world’s steel and that the European Union, India and other countries have complained about international steel markets being flooded with Chinese steel, only 3% of U.S. steel is sourced from China. Interestingly, among those exempted from the tariffs are Canada and Mexico, top sources for U.S steel imports. Mr. Trump has linked the threat of tariffs to the North American Free Trade Agreement, a trade deal among the U.S., Canada and Mexico that Mr. Trump has pried open for renegotiation. Earlier this week China retaliated with tariffs that would impact $3 billion worth of American goods. This was followed by the U.S. proposing tariffs on more than $50 billion of Chinese goods, including in the aerospace, robotics and communication industries — the outcome of an investigation of several months into whether Chinese policies were placing unreasonable obligations on U.S. companies to transfer technology and hand over intellectual property while setting up shop in China. Beijing responded with a second round of proposed tariffs impacting a similar value of U.S. imports into China. Mr. Trump has now asked the U.S. Trade Representative to examine if an additional $100 billion worth of goods can be taxed.
Since the proposed tariffs have not kicked off, there may be room for negotiation. The economic ties between the countries are deep; China holds some $1.2 trillion in U.S. debt, and it is in everyone’s interest to avoid escalating matters. However, the larger cause for concern here is that Mr. Trump continues to undermine the World Trade Organisation and the international world trade order, now that it has served the West well and developing countries are in a significantly stronger position than when the WTO came into existence in 1995. Mr. Trump has pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, is pushing changes to NAFTA and has withdrawn from the Paris Agreement to combat climate change. While large-scale protectionism and unilateralism may please some of Mr. Trump’s constituents in the short run, undermining existing rules arbitrarily serves no nation, including the U.S., in the long run. In the current climate, it is therefore especially important for India to be a good steward for responsible globalisation.
Meaning: The state or status of being a very famous or talented entertainer or sports player.
Example: “Her rise to stardom has been meteoric”
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, Indemnity.
Meaning: Illegally hunt or catch (game or fish) on land that is not one’s own or in contravention of official protection.
Example: “20 tigers are thought to have been poached from national parks”
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”
Meaning: In a way that involves physical strength, effort, or energy; strenuously.
Example: “she shook her head vigorously”
Synonyms: Strenuously, Forcefully.
6) Blood sport
Meaning: A sport involving the hunting, wounding, or killing of animals.
Example: “Blood sports such as dogfighting and cockfighting”
Meaning: Prolonged public disagreement or heated discussion.
Example: “The design of the building has caused controversy”
Synonyms: Disagreement, Dispute.
Meaning: A journey undertaken by a group of people with a particular purpose, especially that of exploration, research, or war.
Example: “An expedition to the jungles of the Orinoco”
Synonyms: Journey, Voyage.
9) Turn back
Meaning: To return the same way that you came instead of continuing on your journey, or to make someone do this.
Example: Bad weather forced them to turn back.
Meaning: An opinion or judgement.
Example: “This seems a fair verdict on the tabloids”
Meaning: A limitation or restriction.
Example: “Time constraints make it impossible to do everything”
Synonyms: Restriction, Limitation.
Meaning: Make a physical or mental effort.
Example: “He needs to exert himself to try to find an answer”
Synonyms: Strive, Endeavour.
Meaning: Authority or power given to someone to do something.
Example: “Individuals are given empowerment to create their own dwellings”
Meaning: Frighten or overawe (someone), especially in order to make them do what one wants.
Example: “The forts are designed to intimidate the nationalist population”
Synonyms: Frighten, Menace.
Meaning: Protect from a danger, risk, or unpleasant experience.
Example: “He pulled the cap lower to shield his eyes from the glare”
Meaning: (Of a species) seriously at risk of extinction.
Example: “Legislation to protect endangered species”
Meaning: Appoint (someone) to a specified office or post.
Example: “He was designated as prime minister”
Synonyms: Appoint, Nominate.
Meaning: A formal declaration by the verdict of a jury or the decision of a judge in a court of law that someone is guilty of a criminal offence.
Example: “She had a previous conviction for a similar offence”
Synonyms: Sentence, judgement.
Meaning: Take action to reduce or prevent (something bad or undesirable).
Example: “An effort to combat drug trafficking”
Synonyms: Tackle, Attack.
Meaning: A trap for catching birds or mammals, typically one having a noose of wire or cord.
Example: “He came upon a hare struggling in an illegal snare”
Synonyms: Trap, Gin.
Meaning: Prosperous and growing; flourishing.
Example: “The thriving business George has built up”
Meaning: The action or state of keeping careful watch for possible danger or difficulties.
Example: “Security duties that demand long hours of vigilance”
Synonyms: Surveillance, Attentiveness.
Meaning: A thing that discourages or is intended to discourage someone from doing something.
Example: “Cameras are a major deterrent to crime”
Synonyms: Disincentive, Discouragement.
24) Tit for tat
Meaning: Actions done intentionally to punish other people because they have done something unpleasant to you.
Example: “I noticed she didn’t send me a card – I think it was tit for tat because I forgot her birthday last year”
25) Set off
Meaning: Begin a journey.
Example: “They set off together in the small car”
Synonyms: Leave, Depart.
Meaning: Impose (a tax, fee, or fine).
Example: “A tax of two per cent was levied on all cargoes”
Synonyms: Impose, Charge.
Meaning: The amount by which something, especially a sum of money, is too small.
Example: “An annual operating deficit”
Synonyms: Shortfall, Deficiency.
Antonyms: Surplus, Profit.
Meaning: Complain or protest strongly and persistently about.
Example: “He railed at human fickleness”
Synonyms: Censure, condemn.
29) Singled out
Meaning: To choose one person or thing from a group for special attention, especially criticism or praise.
Example: “It’s not fair the way my sister is always singled out for special treatment”
Meaning: Fill or suffuse completely.
Example: “she flooded the room with light”
Meaning: Free (a person or organization) from an obligation or liability imposed on others.
Example: “They were exempted from paying the tax”
Synonyms: Free from, Not liable to.
32) Pried open
Meaning: To get, separate, or ferret out with difficulty.
Example: “We finally pried them away from the TV”
Meaning: Negotiation of something again in order to change the original agreed terms.
Example: “They demanded renegotiation of the treaty”
Meaning: Make an attack in return for a similar attack.
Example: “The blow stung, and she retaliated immediately”
Synonyms: Respond, React.
Meaning: An act or course of action to which a person is morally or legally bound; a duty or commitment.
Example: “I have an obligation to look after her”
Synonyms: Duty, Commitment.
36) Kick off
Meaning: Become very angry; suddenly start an argument or fight.
Example: “I don’t want her kicking off at me again”
Meaning: Increase rapidly.
Example: “The price of tickets escalated”
Synonyms: Mount, Surge.
38) Pull out
Meaning: Withdraw from an undertaking.
Example: “He was forced to pull out of the championship because of an injury”
Synonyms: Withdraw, Resign.
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: A person whose responsibility it is to take care of something.
Example: “Farmers pride themselves on being stewards of the countryside”
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