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a) Act of intimidation: on Shujaat Bukhari murder

The death of Shujaat Bukhari in a terrorist attack at close range in Srinagar has taken away a journalist who held bold and independent opinions on the conflict in Kashmir and how it should be resolved. In the choice of target and the timing of the murder, the attack sends out a chilling message: that on the eve of Id-ul-Fitr and in the closing days of the government’s Ramzan ceasefire against militants, there are forces determined to gut the emerging consensus for extending the cease-ops and preparing the ground for dialogue. Bukhari, given the credibility he had painstakingly built with reportage that conveyed the complex reality of life in the Valley, was a prominent advocate of the ceasefire and the need to extend it. Whichever terrorist group chose to kill him would have been aware of the consequences of his death. This has been a dark week in Jammu and Kashmir. Two security personnel with Bukhari were killed in the attack in Srinagar’s Press Colony. On Thursday too, the body of Aurangzeb, a jawan with the 44 Rashtriya Rifles who had been kidnapped while on his way home for the Id holiday, was found in Pulwama district riddled with bullets. In Bandipora, two militants and an Army jawan were killed. Days earlier, terrorists killed two policemen in Pulwama. It is easy to spot the insistence to pull Kashmir back into the cycle of violence that was sought to be broken by the ceasefire. It is a challenge that the governments at the Centre and the State, as well as the security forces, would have been prepared for, and they must not allow these provocations to dim the case for a more humane outreach. J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti must not be rendered a lonely voice for truce and dialogue. Bukhari’s killing highlights the dangers that reporters and editors face in the country — his death draws a direct line to the attacks on countless journalists, including the murders last year of Gauri Lankesh in Karnataka and Santanu Bhowmik in Tripura. Bukhari himself has been abducted before, in 2006. He survived that ordeal, but had to work thereafter with security cover, something no reporter would envy. That his guards died with him on Thursday underlines the vulnerability of both those who are guarded and those who guard. It also underscores the irreplaceable role of the journalist in Kashmir, where daily lives are negotiated amid conflicting narratives, ideologies and affinities. To reconcile these, the reporter needs to have in his tool kit an open heart, the persistence to tease out stories and connect all dots, no matter how they may disturb nationalist or separatist sentiments. Without information, reconciliation is impossible. Over the decades, Bukhari enlightened readers even as he mentored journalists as the editor and founder of Rising Kashmir, and earlier as The Hindu’s correspondent.

b) Sweet nothing: on bailout scheme for sugarcane farmers

A little over a month after the Centre proposed a special cess under the GST to help alleviate distress among sugarcane farmers, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved a ₹7,000- crore package for the sugar sector last week. This package, with a mix of assured minimum pricing and special incentives for increasing molasses and ethanol production to gainfully mop up the glut of sugar in the country, is independent of the cess proposal that was expected to raise ₹6,700 crore. To put this in perspective, sugar mills’ dues to farmers stand at ₹22,000 crore. Under the proposed bailout scheme, the government will procure sugar from mills at a fixed minimum price to help them clear dues to farmers, and also offer them other financial assistance. Only about ₹1,175 crore, however, will be used towards procurement of refined sugar from mills to create a buffer stock of 30 lakh tonnes. This is a fraction of the 63.5 million tonnes output expected in the two sugar seasons from October 2017 to September 2019. With the record output, sugar prices have dropped from an average of ₹37 a kg in the previous season to ₹26 in the current season. The bailout plan promises to pay ₹29 a kg. Sugar mills say this is below their production cost of ₹35 a kg, though it may dissipate their immediate liquidity problems to an extent. Rating agency Crisil reckons that the fixed price for sugar at mill gates and the buffer stock will at best help mitigate about 40% of the outstanding arrears to sugarcane farmers. And as production will rise again in the coming season, so will the extent of arrears. The rest of the package will take time to materialise, with ₹4,440 crore of loans and ₹1,332 crore of interest subsidies for greenfield and brownfield distillery capacities. Over time, this could help to use excess sugar for the manufacture of alcohol or ethanol, but it will not be soon enough to address the present crisis. All said and done, the Centre’s sweetener for the sector does little to address structural problems and sticks to old-style pricing and stock-holding interventions instead of signalling a shift to market-driven cropping decisions. The political compulsions driving the bailout are obvious, given that the sugarcane crisis was a rallying cry in the by-election in Kairana in Uttar Pradesh, which the BJP lost. But that is no excuse for not thinking the package through. Perpetuating the complex web of state controls in a politically-sensitive sector is no solution. The best way to address the problem of excess supply in the long run is to ensure some linkage between the price paid for sugarcane and the end-products it is used for; and encouraging the feedback from market prices to inform farmers’ future cropping decisions. The current sops-driven solution could distort the agriculture sector further.


1) Conflict

Meaning: A serious disagreement or argument, typically a protracted one.

Example: “The eternal conflict between the sexes”

Synonyms: Dispute, Quarrel.

2) Resolved

Meaning: Firmly determined to do something.

Example: “Constance was resolved not to cry”

Synonyms: Determined to, Bent on.

3) Consensus

Meaning: A general agreement.

Example: “There is a growing consensus that the current regime has failed”

Synonyms: Agreement, Harmony.

4) Credibility

Meaning: The quality of being trusted and believed in.

Example: “The government’s loss of credibility”

Synonyms: Trustworthiness, Reliability.

5) Painstakingly

Meaning: With great care and thoroughness.

Example: “The property has been painstakingly restored by its current owners”

6) Reportage

Meaning: The reporting of news by the press and the broadcasting media.

Example: “Extensive reportage of elections”

7) Conveyed

Meaning: Transport or carry to a place.

Example: “Pipes were laid to convey water to the house”

Synonyms: Transport, Carry.

8) Prominent

Meaning: Important; famous.

Example: “She was a prominent member of the city council”

Synonyms: Important, Well known.

9) Riddle

Meaning: Solve or explain (a riddle) to (someone).

Example: “Riddle me this then”

10) Insistence

Meaning: The fact or quality of insisting that something is the case or should be done.

Example: “Alison’s insistence on doing the washing-up straight after the meal”

Synonyms: Demand, Bidding.

11) Sought

Meaning: Attempt to find (something).

Example: “They came here to seek shelter from biting winter winds”

Synonyms: Search for, Try to find.

12) Provocation

Meaning: Action or speech that makes someone angry, especially deliberately.

Example: “You should remain calm and not respond to provocation”

Synonyms: Goading, Prodding.

13) Dim

Meaning: (Of a situation) not giving cause for hope or optimism.

Example: “Their prospects for the future looked fairly dim”

Synonyms: Gloomy, Sombre.

14) Render

Meaning: Provide or give (a service, help, etc.).

Example: “Money serves as a reward for services rendered”

Synonyms: Give, Provide.

15) Lonely

Meaning: Sad because one has no friends or company.

Example: “Lonely old people whose families do not care for them”

Synonyms: Isolated, Alone.

16) Truce

Meaning: An agreement between enemies or opponents to stop fighting or arguing for a certain time.

Example: “The guerrillas called a three-day truce”

Synonyms: Ceasefire, Armistice.

17) Abducted

Meaning: Take (someone) away illegally by force or deception; kidnap.

Example: “The millionaire who disappeared may have been abducted”

18) Survived

Meaning: Continue to live or exist, especially in spite of danger or hardship.

Example: “Against all odds the child survived”

Synonyms: Remain alive, Live.

19) Ordeal

Meaning: A very unpleasant and prolonged experience.

Example: “The ordeal of having to give evidence”

Synonyms: Painful/unpleasant experience, Trial.

20) Vulnerability

Meaning: The quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.

Example: “Conservation authorities have realized the vulnerability of the local population”

21) Underscores

Meaning: To emphasize the importance something:

Example: “The need for fire detectors in cargo bays was underscored by some accidents in the 1980s”

22) Affinities

Meaning: A natural liking for and understanding of someone or something.

Example: “He had a special affinity with horses”

Synonyms: Empathy, Rapport.

23) Reconcile

Meaning: Restore friendly relations between.

Example: “The king and the archbishop were publicly reconciled”

24) Persistence

Meaning: The fact of continuing in an opinion or course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.

Example: “Cardiff’s persistence was rewarded with a try”

Synonyms: Perseverance, Tenacity.

25) Tease out

Meaning: To obtain by or as if by disentangling or freeing with a pointed instrument.

26) Enlightened

Meaning: Having or showing a rational, modern, and well-informed outlook.

Example: “The more enlightened employers offer better terms”

Synonyms: Informed, Aware.

27) Cess

Meaning: (In Scotland, Ireland, and India) a tax or levy.

28) Alleviate

Meaning: Make (suffering, deficiency, or a problem) less severe.

Example: “He couldn’t prevent her pain, only alleviate it”

Synonyms: Reduce, Ease.

29) Mop up

Meaning: Complete the military conquest of an area by capturing or killing remaining enemy troops.

Example: “Troops mopped up the last pockets of resistance”

Synonyms: Finish off, Deal with.

30) Glut

Meaning: An excessively abundant supply of something.

Example: “There is a glut of cars on the market”

Synonyms: Surplus, Excess.

31) Bailout

Meaning: To stop doing or being involved with something:

Example: “The actor has bailed out of the film after only three weeks’ shooting”

32) Procure

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

Example: “Food procured for the rebels”

Synonyms: Obtain, Acquire.

33) Dissipate

Meaning: (With reference to a feeling or emotion) disappear or cause to disappear.

Example: “The concern she’d felt for him had wholly dissipated”

Synonyms: Disappear, Vanish.

34) Reckons

Meaning: Establish by calculation.

Example: “His debts were reckoned at £300,000”

Synonyms: Calculate, Compute.

35) Mitigate

Meaning: Make (something bad) less severe, serious, or painful.

Example: “Drainage schemes have helped to mitigate this problem”

Synonyms: Alleviate, Reduce.

36) Crisis

Meaning: A time of intense difficulty or danger.

Example: “The current economic crisis”

Synonyms: Catastrophe, Calamity.

37) Interventions

Meaning: The action or process of intervening.

Example: “A high degree of state intervention in the economy”

38) Obvious

Meaning: Easily perceived or understood; clear, self-evident, or apparent.

Example: “Unemployment has been the most obvious cost of the recession”

Synonyms: Clear, Plain.

39) Rallying

Meaning: The action or process of coming together to support a person or cause.

Example: “The rallying of ethnic minorities to form a new opposition party”

40) Perpetuating

Meaning: Make (something) continue indefinitely.

Example :”The confusion was perpetuated through inadvertence”

synonyms: Keep alive, Keep going.

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