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A) Wave of lynchings

The events that led up to the brutal assault on Monday of two men in Uttar Pradesh’s Hapur district on the outskirts of New Delhi are unclear — but one of them died and the other sustained injuries. The family of the dead man, Qasim, a 45-year-old cattle trader, says that he had set out when he heard about the possibility of cattle being on sale, and the next thing they heard was that a mob had set itself upon him, killing him. Sameyddin’s relatives say he had been out getting grass for his cattle when he spied the mob attack on Qasim — he tried to run to safety but was beaten up nonetheless. Qasim’s son says his father’s death was the outcome of a conspiracy. Others in the village say locals were on edge following rumours that cow smuggling was afoot. And administration officials say it may all have been a case of road rage. Investigations are on, so what actually transpired is not definitively known yet. But given lynchings across north India by ‘cow protection’ vigilantes, it is not difficult to miss the communal dangers here. Elsewhere, from Tamil Nadu in the south to Assam in the Northeast, men and women have been lynched on suspicion that they were out to kidnap children. To give just a few examples, in May, a homeless man in Pulicat, north of Chennai, was battered to death on such suspicion, as was a car-borne woman pilgrim in Tiruvannamalai district, who offered some sweets to children while seeking directions. This month, in Assam’s Karbi Anglong district, two men from Guwahati were killed by a mob on the same anxiety that they were looking to kidnap children. In many cases — including in Tamil Nadu and Assam — such public concern was created or heightened by warnings that were circulated on social media. Yet, irrespective of whether the lynchings are due to fear of kidnappings or are deliberate acts by cow protection vigilantes, the authorities should not treat the crime of murder and the allegations that enrage a mob with the same equivalence. Murder is murder, but the killing of another human being by a murderous crowd out to enforce mob justice or avert an imagined crime takes an extraordinary toll of the civilities of wider society. The police must make it clear, by word and action, that murder and mob violence will be strictly dealt with. Yet, the administration must also reckon with a new challenge: the use of social media, especially WhatsApp groups and forwards, to spread fear and panic. Responses such as surveillance and Internet shutdowns are not just impossible — in a free society, they are inadvisable. What is needed is an administration that reaches out to local communities to keep them in the loop in order to check trouble-makers — and that conveys sufficient good faith, so individuals will trust it to keep the peace and sift real threats from mischievous rumours.

B) Dangerous spiral: on global trade war

The global trade war is hotting up as major economies continue to impose tariffs on each other. India is the latest to join the tit-for-tat battle by slapping tariffs as high as 50% on a list of 30 goods imported from the U.S. Earlier this week, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that he had ordered his administration to frame new tariffs on $200-billion worth of Chinese imports. This was in retaliation to tariffs on $50- billion worth in American goods imposed by China last week in response to Mr. Trump’s earlier round of tariffs on Chinese goods. The first shot in the spiralling trade war was fired by the U.S. in March when Mr. Trump unveiled tariffs to discourage the import of steel and aluminium into the country. The latest round of tariffs imposed by the U.S. will be the highest in terms of the value of goods. In all, U.S. tariffs will now affect Chinese goods worth $450 billion — to put this in perspective, total Chinese imports into the U.S. last year were worth around $500 billion. The European Union also joined the trade war this month, imposing tariffs on $3.3 billion of American goods. While the India-U.S. tariff tiff could escalate, the amounts being discussed right now are minuscule compared to those under threat in the unfolding U.S.-China situation or even the spat between the U.S. and the EU. India’s notification to the WTO says that U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminium would cost India $241 million, and that the tariffs imposed on the U.S. would bring in a commensurate amount. It has also indicated its preference to deal with the issue through dialogue, and not “measures and counter-measures”. For long, global financial markets largely ignored risks of an all-out trade war among major economies, but things are changing quickly. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by as much as 1.6% on Tuesday, while the Shenzhen Composite Index was down 5.8% for the day. This fresh round of volatility suggests investors may be beginning to take threats of a trade war more seriously. The fact is that all sides engaged in a trade war eventually lose. The longer it goes on, the greater the cost as growth slows down under the increasing burden of taxes. The only gainers in a trade war will be special interest groups, such as the U.S. steel industry, which also happens to be a major vote bank for Mr. Trump. Even retaliatory tariffs aimed at pushing back the U.S. may only perpetuate the vicious negative-sum game instead of bringing the war to an end. Mr. Trump’s rejection of the G-7 communique that endorsed a “rules-based trading system” for the world suggests there may be no offer of truce from his side any time soon. Nevertheless, global powers must try their best to bring an end to the ongoing trade war before it gets out of hand.


1) Brutal

Meaning: Savagely violent.

Example: “a brutal murder”

Synonyms: Savage, Cruel

2) Outskirts

Meaning: The outer parts of a town or city.

Example: “he built a new factory on the outskirts of Birmingham”

Synonyms: Boundary, Suburbia

3) Sustained

Meaning: Continuing for an extended period or without interruption.

Example: “several years of sustained economic growth”

4) Set out

Meaning: Begin a journey.

Example: “he set out early next morning”

Synonyms: Start, Embark

Antonyms: Arrive

5) Spied

Meaning: Discern or make out, especially by careful observation.

Example: “he could spy a figure in the distance”

Synonyms: Notice, Observe

6) Nonetheless

Meaning: In spite of that; nevertheless.

Example: “the rally, which the government had declared illegal, was nonetheless attended by some 6,000”

7) Conspiracy

Meaning: A secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful.

Example: “a conspiracy to destroy the government”

Synonyms: Plan, Deception

8) Smuggling

Meaning: To take things or people to or from a place secretly and often illegally.

Example: She was caught trying to smuggle 26 kilos of heroin out of/into the country.

Synonyms: Sneak

9) Afoot

Meaning: In preparation or progress; happening or beginning to happen.

Example: “plans are afoot for a festival”

Synonyms: Happening, Around

10) Road rage

Meaning: Anger or violence between drivers, often caused by difficult driving conditions.

Example: Earlier today a man was arrested for attacking a motorist in a road rage incident.

11) Transpired

Meaning: (of a secret or something unknown) come to be known; be revealed.

Example: “it transpired that millions of dollars of debt had been hidden in a complex web of transactions”

Synonyms: Emerge, Materialize

12) Lynched

Meaning: (of a group of people) kill (someone) for an alleged offence without a legal trial, especially by hanging.

Example: “her father had been lynched by whites”

Synonyms: Execute, Hang

13) Battered

Meaning: Injured by repeated blows or punishment.

Example: “he finished the day battered and bruised”

Synonyms: Beaten, Hit

14) Anxiety

Meaning: A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.

Example: “he felt a surge of anxiety”

Synonyms: Worry, Concern

Antonyms: Calmness, Serenity

15) Heightened

Meaning: Make or become more intense.

Example: “the pleasure was heightened by the sense of guilt that accompanied it”

Synonyms: Intensify, Increase

Antonyms: Reduce, Decrease

16) Deliberate

Meaning: Done consciously and intentionally.

Example: “a deliberate attempt to provoke conflict”

Synonyms: Intentional, Calculated

Antonyms: Accidental, Unintentional

17) Enrage

Meaning: Make (someone) very angry.

Example: “the students were enraged at these new rules”

Synonyms: Anger, Infuriate

Antonyms: Placate, Calm

18) Enforce

Meaning: Cause (something) to happen by necessity or force.

Example: “there is no outside agency to enforce cooperation between the players”

Synonyms: Compulsory, Obligatory

Antonyms: Voluntary

19) Reckon with

Meaning: To deal with a difficult or powerful person or thing.

Example: If you harm her, you’re going to have the police to reckon with.

Synonyms: Deal, Action

20) Mischievous

Meaning: (of an action or statement) causing or intended to cause harm or trouble.

Example: “a mischievous allegation for which there is not a shred of evidence”

Synonyms: Malevolent, Hostile

Antonyms: Harmless, Well intentioned

21) Hotting up

Meaning: If an event or situation hots up, it becomes more exciting and more things start to happen.

Example: The competition is really hotting up now.

Synonyms: Intensify, Increase

22) Tit-for-tat

Meaning: The infliction of an injury or insult in return for one that one has suffered.

Example: “the conflict staggered on with tit-for-tat assassinations”

Synonyms: Retaliation, Reprisal

23) Slapping

Meaning: Impose a fine or other penalty on.

Example: “the government had slapped an embargo on imports”

Synonyms: Impose, Levy

24) Retaliation

Meaning: To hurt someone or do something harmful to someone because they have done or said something harmful to you.

Example: If someone insults you, don’t retaliate as it only makes the situation worse.

Synonyms: Revenge, Vengefulness

25) Spiralling

Meaning: Show a continuous and dramatic increase.

Example: “inflation continued to spiral”

Synonyms: Soar, Escalate

Antonyms: Fall

26) Unveiled

Meaning: Show or announce publicly for the first time.

Example: “the Home Secretary has unveiled plans to crack down on crime”

Synonyms: Reveal, Present

27) Imposed

Meaning: Require (a duty, charge, or penalty) to be undertaken or paid.

Example: “a fine may be imposed”

Synonyms: Levy, Charge

28) Perspective

Meaning: A view or prospect.

Example: “a perspective of the whole valley”

Synonyms: View, Vista

29) Minuscule

Meaning: Extremely small; tiny.

Example: “a minuscule fragment of DNA”

Synonyms: Tiny, Minute

Antonyms: Vast, Huge

30) Unfolding

Meaning: (of events or information) gradually develop or be revealed.

Example: “there was a fascinating scene unfolding before me”

Synonyms: Develop, Evolve

31) Commensurate

Meaning: Corresponding in size or degree; in proportion.

Example: “salary will be commensurate with age and experience”

Synonyms: Equivalent, Equal

Antonyms: Disproportionate

32) Volatility

Meaning: Likely to change suddenly and unexpectedly, especially by getting worse.

Example: Food and fuel prices are very volatile in a war situation.

33) Eventually

Meaning: In the end, especially after a long delay, dispute, or series of problems.

Example: “eventually, after midnight, I arrived at the hotel”

Synonyms: Finally, Ultimately

Antonyms: Immediately, Never

34) Retaliatory

Meaning: (of an action) characterized by a desire for revenge.

Example: “fears of a retaliatory attack by the victim’s friends”

35) Pushing back

Meaning: To delay something so that it happens later than planned.

Example: The target date for construction has been pushed back.

Synonyms: Delay, Wasting time

36) Perpetuate

Meaning: Make (something) continue indefinitely.

Example: “the confusion was perpetuated through inadvertence”

Synonyms: Continue, Extend

37) Vicious

Meaning: Deliberately cruel or violent; serious or dangerous.

Example: “a vicious assault”

Synonyms: Brutal, Savage

Antonyms: Gentle, Benevolent

38) Communique

Meaning: An official announcement or statement, especially one made to the media.

Example: “the country’s foreign ministry issued a communique”

Synonyms: Report, Notification

39) Endorsed

Meaning: Declare one’s public approval or support of.

Example: “the report was endorsed by the college”

40) Gets out of hand

Meaning: To avoid doing something that you do not want to do, especially by giving an excuse.

Example: I think her backache was just a way of getting out of the house.

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