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a) Historic handshake — on Trump-Kim summit

The historic summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore is an affirmation of the power of diplomacy. Until a few months ago, the two countries had been trading nuclear threats, as the North raced along with its nuclear weapons programme. Now, as Mr. Trump shook hands with Mr. Kim, who had once said the U.S. President was “mentally deranged”, it was a reminder of Richard Nixon’s ground-breaking 1972 visit to Beijing. Through the day, both Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim were keen on casting the “comprehensive” meet in a positive light. The two whimsical leaders deserve full credit for this thaw in relations, given the decades of hostility and the quick diplomacy that pulled the Korean peninsula back from the brink of war. It all began with the new South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s expansive outreach to the North. Mr. Kim reciprocated by sending athletes to the Winter Olympics in South Korea in February. As the relationship between the Koreas improved rapidly, Mr. Kim invited the U.S. President for a meeting. Mr. Trump accepted at once, surprising America’s allies and rivals. However, it was not certain whether the meet would take place. Mr. Trump once called it off after threats and counter-threats escalated. But the appetite for rapprochement was clearly greater on both sides, and the rendezvous was back on track. In the brief joint statement after their meeting, Mr. Kim iterated his “firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearisation” of the Korean Peninsula, while Mr. Trump offered security guarantees to the North. Mr. Kim had earlier promised to denuclearise the peninsula in return for security assurances, while Mr. Trump had promised that the North would be welcomed into the international community as a respectable member and be allowed to prosper economically. The two leaders have put these demands and promises into a document that could guide future diplomatic engagement. Mr. Trump also announced that he would end the regular American “war games” with South Korea, a concession to the North. While the summit itself was a big success given the distance both countries covered in a relatively short span of time, it is too early to say whether Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim can pull off a Nixon-Mao type breakthrough. The joint statement provided few specifics on how denuclearisation can take place or how North Korea’s steps to dismantle its arsenal will be monitored. There are no deadlines mentioned. There is no reference to China, North Korea’s only ally. There has been no word on whether the two will establish formal diplomatic ties. Besides, being unpredictable and impulsive, Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim must also stare down hardline elements in their respective administrations. This bold beginning must not be wasted.

b) Ethics first — on TN organ transplant allocations

Transplantation of human organs is today a mature programme in many States, making it possible for people with kidney, liver, heart and lung failure to extend their lives. Heart and lung transplants are expensive and less widely available, compared with kidney and liver procedures. State governments, which have responsibility for health care provision, are expected to ensure that the organs that are altruistically donated by families of brain-dead people are given to recipients ethically, and as mandated by law. Priority for citizens enrolled in the State and national waiting lists over foreign nationals is laid down in the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Rules. When the law is clear, it is extraordinary that seemingly preferential allotment of hearts and lungs has been made to foreign patients in Tamil Nadu — in 2017, foreigners accounted for 25% of heart transplants and 33% of lung transplants. The State is a pioneer in orderly and transparent allocation of deceased-donor organs and has worked consistently to eliminate commerce in kidneys procured from poor living donors. The Transplant Authority of Tamil Nadu has served as a model for other States that now have their own programmes. Every effort must be made to ensure that it retains this high reputation, and organs go to the most suitable recipients on the rule-based parameters of domicile, citizenship, Indian origin and foreign nationality, in that order. Organ transplants display a maturity curve over time, with a rise in the number of procedures improving outcomes and reducing costs. Heart and lung transplants are complicated procedures. Few Indian patients are willing to opt for one, compared to kidney and liver. Kidney and liver programmes have reached a high level of maturity, resulting in rising demand. Most of these organs go to citizens. Tamil Nadu offers a subsidy for poor patients for a liver transplant. Any inquiry into the allocation of hearts and lungs to foreigners should, therefore, shed light on the factors that led to the decisions, including whether registered citizens were overlooked. It should cover such issues as the capacity of district-level hospitals to perform transplants, and arrangements to air-lift organs, since domestic patients are unable to afford flight facilities. Such measures will make it possible to utilise more hearts and lungs and offer them to domestic recipients. Enrolling all domestic patients through State registries should be the priority for the National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation, set up by the Centre with that mandate. Nothing should be done to erode the confidence of the kin of brain-dead people who donate organs with no expectation of gain. Hospitals and professionals who engage in commerce or unethical behaviour should have no place in the system.


1) Affirmation

Meaning: The action or process of affirming something.

Example: “He nodded in affirmation”

Synonyms: Assertion, Declaration.

2) Diplomacy

Meaning: The art of dealing with people in a sensitive and tactful way.

Example: “With perfect diplomacy, he divided his attention between Meryl and Anthea”

Synonyms: Tact, Tactfulness.

3) Deranged

Meaning: Mad; insane.

Example: “A deranged gunman”

4) Keen

Meaning: Having or showing eagerness or enthusiasm.

Example: “A keen gardener”

Synonyms: Eager, Anxious.

5) Casting

Meaning: Cause to be associated with something.

Example: “Journalists cast doubt on the government’s version of events”

6) Comprehensive

Meaning: Including or dealing with all or nearly all elements or aspects of something.

Example: “A comprehensive list of sources”

7) Whimsical

Meaning: Acting or behaving in a capricious manner.

Example: “The whimsical arbitrariness of autocracy”

Synonyms: Volatile, Capricious.

8) Thaw

Meaning: Make or become friendlier or more cordial.

Example: “She thawed out sufficiently to allow a smile to appear”

Synonyms: Become friendlier, Become more genial.

9) Hostility

Meaning: Hostile behaviour; unfriendliness or opposition.

Example: “Their hostility to all outsiders”

Synonyms: Antagonism, Unfriendliness.

10) Brink

Meaning: A point at which something, typically something unwelcome, is about to happen; the verge.

Example: “The country was on the brink of a constitutional crisis”

Synonyms: Verge, Edge.

11) Outreach

Meaning: The extent or length of reaching out.

Example: “The loving outreach of God to the world”

12) Allies

Meaning: A state formally cooperating with another for a military or other purpose.

Example: “Debate continued among NATO allies”

13) Rivals

Meaning: A person or thing competing with another for the same objective or for superiority in the same field of activity.

Example: “He has no serious rival for the job”

Synonyms: Competitor, Opponent.

14) Call off

Meaning: To cancel or abandon.

Example: “The game was called off because of rain”

15) Escalate

Meaning: Increase rapidly.

Example: “The price of tickets escalated”

Synonyms: Increase rapidly, Soar.

16) Appetite

Meaning: A strong desire or liking for something.

Example: “Her appetite for life”

Synonyms: Craving, Longing.

17) Rapprochement

Meaning: (Especially in international affairs) an establishment or resumption of harmonious relations.

Example: “There were signs of a growing rapprochement between the two countries”

18) Rendezvous

Meaning: A meeting at an agreed time and place.

Example: “Edward turned up late for their rendezvous”

Synonyms: Meeting, Appointment.

19) Concession

Meaning: A thing that is granted, especially in response to demands.

Example: “The government was unwilling to make any further concessions”

Synonyms: Compromise, Adjustment.

20) Pull off

Meaning: To succeed in doing something difficult or unexpected:

Example: “The central bank has pulled off one of the biggest financial rescues of recent years”

21) Dismantle

Meaning: Take (a machine or structure) to pieces.

Example: “The engines were dismantled, and the bits piled into a heap”

Synonyms: Take apart, Take to pieces.

22) Arsenal

Meaning: A collection of weapons and military equipment.

Example: “Britain’s nuclear arsenal”

Synonyms: Weapons, Weaponry.

23) Unpredictable

Meaning: Not able to be predicted; changeable.

Example: “The unpredictable weather of the Scottish islands”

Synonyms: Unforeseeable, Undividable.

24) Impulsive

Meaning: Acting or done without forethought.

Example: “They’d married as impulsive teenagers”

Synonyms: Impetuous, Spontaneous.

25) Stare Down

Meaning: A situation in which two individuals stare at each other, typically in a hostile or intimidating way, until one is no longer able to maintain eye contact and feels forced to look away.

Example: “He won his stare down with Matt”

26) Ensure

Meaning: Make certain that (something) will occur or be the case.

Example: “The client must ensure that accurate records are kept”

Synonyms: Make sure, Make certain.

27) Altruistically

Meaning: Showing a disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others; unselfish.

Example: “It was an entirely altruistic act”

Synonyms: Unselfish, Selfless.

28) Ethically

Meaning: In a way that relates to moral principles.

Example: “To be spiritual may be interpreted both ethically and religiously”

29) Mandated

Meaning: Give (someone) authority to act in a certain way.

Example: “The rightful king was mandated and sanctioned by God”

30) Transplantation

Meaning: The process of taking an organ or living tissue and implanting it in another part of the body or in another body.

Example: “Patients undergoing lung transplantation”

31) Pioneer

Meaning: A person who is among the first to explore or settle a new country or area.


Example: “The pioneers of the Wild West”

Synonyms: Settler, Colonist. Antonyms:

32) Consistently

Meaning: In every case or on every occasion; invariably.

Example: “The vehicle consistently outperforms some of the best competitors”

33) Procured

Meaning: Obtain (something), especially with care or effort.

Example: “Food procured for the rebels”

Synonyms: Obtain, Acquire.

34) Opt

Meaning: Make a choice from a range of possibilities.

Example: “Consumers will opt for low-priced goods”

Synonyms: Choose, Select.

35) Subsidy

Meaning: A sum of money granted by the state or a public body to help an industry or business keep the price of a commodity or service low.

Example: “A farm subsidy”

36) Overlooked

Meaning: Have a view of from above.

Example: “The chateau overlooks fields of corn and olive trees”

Synonyms: Have a view of, Afford a view of.

37) Afford

Meaning: Provide or supply (an opportunity or facility).

Example: “The rooftop terrace affords beautiful views”

Synonyms: Provide, Supply.

38) Enrolling

Meaning: Officially register as a member of an institution or a student on a course.

Example: “He enrolled in drama school”

Synonyms: Register, Sign on.

39) Erode

Meaning: (Of wind, water, or other natural agents) gradually wear away (soil, rock, or land).

Example: “The cliffs on this coast have been eroded by the sea”

40) Kin

Meaning: One’s family and relations.

Example: “Many elderly people have no kin to turn to for assistance”

Synonyms: Relatives, Relations.

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