July 13, 2017

a) Sorrowful song: on Assam’s flood situation

Assam’s Bihugeet songs celebrate the many colours of the Brahmaputra and its life-sustaining character, with stirring renditions by Bhupen Hazarika in praise of the grit of its people in their most challenging moment — when the river turns furious during the monsoon and floods the plains. That season is once again upon the State, and the death toll has crossed 40. Lakhs have been put off their normal stride, with tens of thousands displaced from their homes. The deluge has circled vast parts of the Kaziranga National Park, dispersing its wildlife into towns. There are dramatic images of a rhinoceros walking through the streets. A return to normality must now await abatement of the rising waters, and the drafting of a comprehensive relief plan by the Assam government with help from the Centre and the specialised units of the disaster response forces. Yet, short-term measures can have no lasting impact on the Brahmaputra’s course each year, as several factors influence its tendency to overrun its banks in the June-July season. Studies done after the 2012 floods, which affected some 2.3 million people, show that the river’s course from the Himalayan ranges has been bringing lots of sediment, raising its bed above the level of the plains. The Brahmaputra has the second highest sediment transport per unit of drainage area in the world. With aberrant climate and intensive monsoonal flows, flooding poses a major challenge. Assam receives a massive amount of rain every year, and an estimated average of 230 cm is recorded in the Brahmaputra basin. Combined with the characteristics of the river — it enters the State as a single channel but has a wide, braided course later and shrinks near Guwahati before expanding again — such high precipitation produces aggressive floodwaters. Its course has been studied extensively after the 2012 floods, providing insights into how remote sensing can help identify the most vulnerable areas and where remedial measures could work most effectively. Considering that the Assam elections in 2016 were strongly centred on environmental concerns, and the BJP-led government in the State has earlier spoken against big dams, getting a scientific understanding of the flooding phenomenon to inform policy is vital. On the ground, previous attempts at finding solutions appear to suffer from lack of attention to longer-term measures, such as better river management. The focus of civil society has been confined to immediate relief and rehabilitation. The government, on its part, must go beyond the necessary restoration of infrastructure such as embankments, bridges, buildings and communications structures. Relief measures will have to sensitively handle the tensions around identity conflicts between those claiming ethnicity vis-à-vis settled Bengalis. Also, Kaziranga needs better protection. Several wild animals have died in the floods, bringing back memories of the dreadful losses of 2012, when over 500 hog deer, 19 rhinos and 22 sambar perished.

 b) Coach Shastri: a challenging road ahead

Ravi Shastri’sappointment as the Indian cricket team’s head coach was a foregone conclusion ever since the strained equation between skipper Virat Kohli and the then coach, Anil Kumble, forced the latter to resign. Kohli has always had a comfortable working relationship with Shastri, who was the team director from 2014 to mid-2016, a phase during which India emerged as the number one Test team besides qualifying for the 2015 World Cup semi-final in Australia. Yet, the manner in which the latest transition was effected has left much bitterness. It raises the question whether a captain should have such overwhelming influence in picking the team’s coach. There is no doubting that it was Kohli’s view that prevailed on who should be out of the reckoning and who in. This does not reflect well on the three parties involved in picking the coach — the Board of Control for Cricket in India, the Committee of Administrators and the Cricket Advisory Committee featuring eminent former players such as Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and V.V.S. Laxman. With Shastri billed as the favourite, a seemingly token selection procedure was undertaken, with Virender Sehwag being one of the candidates to have been interviewed on Monday. Subsequently it was stated that the CAC would check with Kohli, but the CoA stepped in on Tuesday and ordered an immediate announcement. What started as speculation on the wires, followed by a denial, became a fact when a BCCI mail arrived in the inboxes of cricket correspondents at 10.58 p.m. The manner of Shastri’s appointment does appear odd, but there is no denying his credentials. His commentary stints tend to overshadow his days as a doughty cricketer, when he excelled as a promoted-opener and a tight left-arm spinner. A former India captain, he has Test hundreds across the globe, including one in the West Indies, a mighty force during his playing days in the 1980s. He is an astute thinker of the game and, most importantly, it helps that he has Kohli’s confidence, for now. It is heartening that Shastri has among his support cast Rahul Dravid and Zaheer Khan as batting and bowling consultants, respectively. Dravid is a legend and Zaheer has always been a fine mentor to young bowlers. It is good that the trio got a contract till the 2019 World Cup in England, as it will allow better strategising. India embarks on an overseas season later this month with a tour of Sri Lanka and another of South Africa towards the year-end. Having got his way in the appointment of the coach, there will be immense pressure on Kohli to deliver, both as a player and as the captain. The road ahead is a challenging one — and it is time to end the whisper campaign against Kumble unleashed by sections of the team and the BCCI.



1)      Renditions

Meaning: A performance or interpretation, especially of a dramatic role or piece of music.

Example: She ended the concert with a powerful rendition of “I will always be with you”.

Synonyms: Performance, Rendering, Interpretation

2)      Stride

Meaning: An important positive development.

Example: New wealth enabled Britain to stride the world once more.

Synonyms: Pace, Step

3)      Deluge

Meaning: A severe flood.

Example: This may be the worst deluge in living memory.

Synonyms: Flood, Flash Flood, Torrent

Antonyms: Drizzle, Trickle

4)      Dispersing

Meaning: To spread across or move away over a large area, or to make something do this.

Example: When the rain came down the crowds started to disperse.

Synonyms: Break Up, Split Up, Disband

Antonyms: Assemble, Gather

5)      Abatement

Meaning: Ending or subsiding.

Example: The storm still rages with no sign of abatement.

Synonyms: Subsiding, Dying Away, Dying down

Antonyms: Intensification, Increase

6)      Sediment

Meaning: Matter that settles to the bottom of a liquid; dregs.

Example: There is a thick layer of sediment on the bottom.

Synonyms: Dregs, Lees, Deposit, Grounds

7)      Aberrant

Meaning: Different from what is typical or usual, especially in an unacceptable way.

Example: Mrs Casper seems to be responsible for Billy’s aberrant behaviour.

Synonyms: Deviant, Deviating, Divergent

Antonyms: Normal, Typical

8)      Precipitation

Meaning: Water that falls from the clouds towards the ground, especially as rain or snow.

Example: The forecast is for dry, cloudyweather with no precipitation expected.

Synonyms: Frozen Rain, Hailstones, Sleet

9)      Rehabilitation

Meaning: Restore (someone) to former privileges or reputation after a period of disfavour.

Example: With the fall of the government many former dissidents were rehabilitated      .

Synonyms: Reinstate, Reinstall, Restore

10)    Embankments

Meaning: An artificial slope made of earth and/or stones.

Example: The epilogue calls the 1999 floods the inevitable consequence of neglecting the channel and embankments of the main river.

Synonyms: Bank, Mound, Ridge

11)    Ethnicity

Meaning: The fact or state of belonging to a social group that has a common national or cultural tradition.

Example: A wide spectrum of ethnic groups.

Synonyms: Racial, Race-Related, Ethnological

12)    Perished

Meaning: Suffer complete ruin or destruction.

Example: Millions of young British soldiers perished.

Synonyms: Go Bad, Go Off, Spoil

Antonyms: Live, Survive

13)    Strained

Meaning: Showing signs of nervous tension or tiredness.

Example: There was a strained silence.

Synonyms: Awkward, Tense

Antonyms: relaxed, friendly

14)    Emerged

Meaning: Move out of or away from something and become visible.

Example: A policeman emerged from the alley.

Synonyms: Come Out, Appear

Antonyms: Disappear

15)    Prevailed

Meaning: Prove more powerful or superior.

Example: A friendly atmosphere prevailed among members of the team.

Synonyms: Win, Win Out, Win Through

16)    Reckoning

Meaning: A person’s opinion or judgement.

Example: By her reckoning, ‘A good houseguest never arrives empty handed.’

Synonyms: Opinion, View, Judgement, Evaluation

17)    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, Hypothesizing

18)    Stints

Meaning: A fixed or limited period of time spent doing a particular job or activity.

Example: He has just finished a stint of compulsory military service.

Synonyms: Skimp On, Scrimp On, Spell, Stretch

19)    Doughty

Meaning: Brave and persistent.

Example: A doughty fighter for democracy.

Synonyms: Fearless, Dauntless, Determined

Antonyms: Timid

20)    Astute

Meaning: Having or showing an ability to accurately assess situations or people and turn this to one’s advantage.

Example: He had a reputation as an astute businessman.

Synonyms: Shrewd, Sharp

Antonyms: Stupid

21)    Embarks

Meaning: Begin.

Example: she embarked on a new career.

Synonyms: Begin, Start, Commence

Antonyms: Disembark

22)    Unleashed

Meaning: Cause (a strong or violent force) to be released or become unrestrained.

Example: His comment unleashed a storm of protest in India.

Synonyms:  Release, Free, Set Free

Antonyms: Restrain

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THE HINDU EDITORIAL – 10, July – 2017