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a) Free fall: on TN govt’s attack on press freedom

Any which way one looks at the Puthiya Thalaimurai case, one conclusion is inescapable: it is a direct attack on press freedom. That the Tamil Nadu government could have slapped a case against the Tamil news channel under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code (pertaining to promoting enmity between groups), and other sections of the law, would be laughable if it wasn’t so unspeakably appalling. The cause for the action was certain remarks made by a couple of the TV channel’s guests who had participated in a roundtable discussion on current affairs before an invited audience. Although it was a right-wing section of the audience that was disruptive, first information reports (FIRs) were filed against the two guests — who, from all accounts, said nothing that was inflammatory — as well as the reporter and management of Puthiya Thalaimurai. All the more shocking is the fact that this was done even before the roundtable discussion on the role of protests was aired. Any debate in Tamil Nadu on whether protests such as the protracted and heated anti-Sterlite agitation are politicised is bound to evoke radically divergent views. But it is extraordinary that people have been booked for either hosting such a debate or merely expressing their views in it. If proof was needed that the Tamil Nadu government was acting in a vindictive way, it was provided by another, and even more insidious, attempt to intimidate Puthiya Thalaimurai. On the State government-owned distribution network, the Arasu Cable TV Corporation, the news channel was suddenly pushed from the 124th to the 499th slot, removed in some places from the Tamil cluster of channels and regrouped with those in other languages. As for those subscribers who are linked to Arasu via analogue, the channel has become simply unavailable in many areas. Around 60% of the 1.5 crore homes that have cable television are serviced by Arasu, which was set up to link homes to television through multi-system operators and local cable operators at an affordable cost. As Arasu has grown in influence, private players no longer enjoy the patronage that they did earlier. Lately, there have been apprehensions that the State government is using its domination of the distribution space to bring news coverage by TV channels in line. There have been allegations that access to a couple of other news channels were disrupted as well; some have found themselves pushed back in the slots allotted by the Arasu network. This is why many in the media have been led to believe that the rationale or purpose for coming down on Puthiya Thalaimurai with such a heavy hand is to send a larger message to the rest of the media. The only way the Tamil Nadu government can prove they are wrong is by withdrawing the FIRs registered in this case.

All in the name: on Skopje ending dispute with Athens

Skopje has resolved a festering dispute with Athens over the name of the Balkan nation that emerged following the disintegration of Yugoslavia. The landmark agreement signed with Greece this month, to rechristen Macedonia as the Republic of North Macedonia, opens the doors for its admission, long vetoed by Greece, to the principal Western economic and security blocs. The two governments have locked horns on the issue for nearly 30 years, ever since the independent Slav state proclaimed itself the Republic of Macedonia in 1991. Greece refused to accept this, as one of its own provinces goes by that evocative name. More than 100 countries in the United Nations — including the United States, Russia and China — have recognised the country’s official name. But Greece has so far insisted on referring to its northern neighbour as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), as per a UN-negotiated interim arrangement. According to the agreement signed this month, the Republic of North Macedonia will be the name used in Skopje’s dealings with other countries too. Many attempts to break the deadlock had failed earlier, including a Macedonian offer to change its name in exchange for handsome financial aid and investment. It did not help that Greek apprehensions were heightened when the port city of Thessaloniki, the capital of Greek Macedonia, was depicted on the maps of the new republic. Matters also heated up with the erection of a grand statue closely resembling Alexander the Great in the central district of Skopje, as Greeks resist any signal that the Slav republic may be laying claim to their ancient civilisation. A more diplomatically ticklish issue was Greece’s insistence on a constitutional amendment to clarify that Skopje had no territorial right over the Greek region. Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev held that such changes were in the realm of domestic law, and that in any case these can always be reversed by a future government. Among the concessions the Macedonian government has made in recent months is to change the name of the Alexander the Great airport to Skopje International. It has also renamed a motorway named after Alexander. It has not been easy for Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras either — he survived a vote of no confidence on the issue last week and is still to secure parliamentary ratification without support from his nationalist coalition partner. His counterpart in Skopje similarly faces the awkward prospect of the President rejecting the deal, besides having to win a popular referendum. But none of these hurdles is insurmountable. The resolution of the dispute now clears the way for talks on the Republic of North Macedonia’s membership of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.


1) Inescapable

Meaning: Unable to be avoided or denied.

Example: “Political reform was inescapable”

Synonyms: Unavoidable, Inevitable.

2) Slapped

Meaning: Impose a fine or other penalty on.

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

Synonyms: Impose, Levy.

3) Pertaining

Meaning: Be in effect or existence in a specified place or at a specified time.

Example: “Their economic circumstances are vastly different from those which pertained in their land of origin”

Synonyms: Exist, Be the order of the day.

4) Appalling

Meaning: Causing shock or dismay; horrific.

Example: “The cat suffered appalling injuries during the attack”

Synonyms: Shocking, Horrific.

5) Disruptive

Meaning: Interrupt (an event, activity, or process) by causing a disturbance or problem.

Example: “Flooding disrupted rail services”

Synonyms: Throw into confusion, Throw into disorder.

6) Inflammatory

Meaning: (Especially of speech or writing) arousing or intended to arouse angry or violent feelings.

Example: “Inflammatory remarks”

Synonyms: Provocative, Provoking.

7) Debate

Meaning: A formal discussion on a particular matter in a public meeting or legislative assembly, in which opposing arguments are put forward and which usually ends with a vote.

Example: “Last night’s debate on the Education Bill”

Synonyms: Discussion, Exchange of views.

8) Protracted

Meaning: Lasting for a long time or longer than expected or usual.

Example: “A protracted and bitter dispute”

9) Agitation

Meaning: A state of anxiety or nervous excitement.

Example: “She was wringing her hands in agitation”

Synonyms: Anxiety, Perturbation.

10) Politicised

Meaning: Cause (an activity or event) to become political in character.

Example: “Wage bargaining in the public sector became more politicized”

11) Evoke

Meaning: Bring or recall (a feeling, memory, or image) to the conscious mind.

Example: “The sight evoked pleasant memories of his childhood”

Synonyms: Bring to mind, Call to mind.

12) Divergent

Meaning: Tending to be different or develop in different directions.

Example: “Divergent interpretations”

Synonyms: Differing, Varying.

13) Vindictive

Meaning: Having or showing a strong or unreasoning desire for revenge.

Example: “The criticism was both vindictive and personalized”

Synonyms: Vengeful, Out for revenge.

14) Insidious

Meaning: Proceeding in a gradual, subtle way, but with very harmful effects.

Example: “Sexual harassment is a serious and insidious problem”

Synonyms: Stealthy, Subtle.

15) Affordable

Meaning: Inexpensive; reasonably priced.

Example: “Affordable homes”

16) Patronage

Meaning: The power to control appointments to office or the right to privileges.

Example: “Recruits are selected on merit, not through political patronage”

Synonyms: Power of appointment, Right of appointment.

17) Apprehension

Meaning: Anxiety or fear that something bad or unpleasant will happen.

Example: “He felt sick with apprehension”

Synonyms: Anxiety, Angst.

18) Allegation

Meaning: A claim or assertion that someone has done something illegal or wrong, typically one made without proof.

Example: “He made allegations of corruption against the administration”

Synonyms: Claim, Assertion.

19) Rationale

Meaning: A set of reasons or a logical basis for a course of action or belief.

Example: “He explained the rationale behind the change”

Synonyms: Reason(s), Reasoning.

20) Resolved

Meaning: Firmly determined to do something.

Example: “Constance was resolved not to cry”

Synonyms: Determined to, Bent on.

21) Festering

Meaning: (Of a negative feeling or a problem) become worse or more intense, especially through long-term neglect or indifference.

Example: “Below the surface, the old antagonisms festered”

Synonyms: Rankle, Chafe.

22) Disintegration

Meaning: The process of coming to pieces.

Example: “The disintegration of infected cells”

23) Rechristen

Meaning: Give a new name to.

Example: “The brewery rechristened the pub The Brown Trout”

24) Vetoed

Meaning: Exercise a veto against (a decision or proposal).

Example: “The president vetoed the bill”

Synonyms: Reject, Turn down.

25) Locked Horns

Meaning: Engage in conflict.

Example: “Drug companies are locking horns in a legal battle over patents”

Synonyms: Quarrel, Disagree.

26) Proclaimed

Meaning: Announce officially or publicly.

Example: “The government’s chief scientific adviser proclaimed that the epidemic was under control”

27) Evocative

Meaning: Bringing strong images, memories, or feelings to mind.

Example: “Powerfully evocative lyrics”

Synonyms: Reminiscent, Suggestive.

28) Interim

Meaning: In or for the intervening period; provisional.

Example: “An interim arrangement”

Synonyms: Provisional, Temporary.

29) Heightened

Meaning: Make or become more intense.

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

Synonyms: Intensify, Increase.

30) Depicted

Meaning: Portray in words; describe.

Example: “Youth is depicted as a time of vitality and good health”

Synonyms: Describe, Detail.

31) Heated up

Meaning: If a situation heats up, it becomes more extreme.

Example: “With the political climate heating up, we can expect to hear a lot more from both candidates”

32) Erection

Meaning: The action of erecting a structure or object.

Example: “Fees will be levied for the erection of monuments”

Synonyms: Construction, Building.

33) Ticklish

Meaning: (Of a situation or problem) difficult or tricky and requiring careful handling.

Example: “Her skill in evading ticklish questions”

Synonyms: Problematic, Tricky.

34) 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.

35) Realm

Meaning: A field or domain of activity or interest.

Example: “The realm of applied chemistry”

Synonyms: Domain, Sphere.

36) Concession

Meaning: A preferential allowance or rate given by an organization.

Example: “Tax concessions”

37) Ratification

Meaning: The action of signing or giving formal consent to a treaty, contract, or agreement, making it officially valid.

Example: “Ratification of the treaty raised problems in several member states”

38) Awkward

Meaning: Causing difficulty; hard to do or deal with.

Example: “Some awkward questions”

Synonyms: Difficult, Tricky.

39) Referendum

Meaning: A general vote by the electorate on a single political question which has been referred to them for a direct decision.

Example: “He called for a referendum on the death penalty”

Synonyms: Public vote, Plebiscite.

40) Insurmountable

Meaning: Too great to be overcome.

Example: “An insurmountable problem”

Synonyms: Insuperable, Unconquerable.

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