The Hindu Editorial : March 16,2019


A) A fresh warning: what GEO-6 means for India

India must recognise the human cost of poorly enforced environment laws

The sixth edition of the Global Environment Outlook from the UN Environment Programme has come as another stark warning: the world is unsustainably extracting resources and producing unmanageable quantities of waste. The linear model of economic growth depends on the extraction of ever-higher quantities of materials, leading to chemicals flowing into air, water and land. This causes ill-health and premature mortality, and affects the quality of life, particularly for those unable to insulate themselves from these effects. The UN report, GEO-6, on the theme “Healthy Planet, Healthy People,” has some sharp pointers for India. It notes that East and South Asia have the highest number of deaths due to air pollution; by one estimate, it killed about 1.24 million in India in 2017. As India’s population grows, it must worry that agricultural yields are coming under stress due to increase in average temperature and erratic monsoons. The implications of these forecasts for food security and health are all too evident, more so for the 148 million people living in severe weather ‘hotspots’. Evidently, the task before India is to recognise the human cost of poorly enforced environment laws and demonstrate the political will necessary to end business-as-usual policies. That would mean curbing the use of fossil fuels and toxic chemicals across the spectrum of economic activity.

There are some targeted interventions that only require the resolve to reduce air and water pollution, and which in turn promise early population-level benefits. Aggressive monitoring of air quality in cities through scaled-up facilities would bring about a consensus on cutting emissions of greenhouse gases, and provide the impetus to shift to cleaner sources of energy. It is significant that GEO-6 estimates that the top 10% of populations globally, in terms of wealth, are responsible for 45% of GHG emissions, and the bottom 50% for only 13%. Pollution impacts are, however, borne more by the poorer citizens. Combating air pollution would, therefore, require all older coal-based power plants in India to conform to emission norms at the earliest, or to be shut down in favour of renewable energy sources. Transport emissions are a growing source of urban pollution, and a quick transition to green mobility is needed. In the case of water, the imperative is to stop the contamination of surface supplies by chemicals, sewage and municipal waste. As the leading extractor of groundwater, India needs to make water part of a circular economy in which it is treated as a resource that is recovered, treated and reused. But water protection gets low priority, and State governments show no urgency in augmenting rainwater harvesting. New storage areas act as a supply source when monsoons fail, and help manage floods when there is excess rainfall.

B) Softer, slower: on Brexit vote

Parliamentary votes give the British PM hope that a hard Brexit can be avoided

With the overwhelming vote on Thursday to seek a delay to the exit from the EU, Britain’s Parliament might have actually given Prime Minister Theresa May another chance to push her existing deal for Brexit. A day earlier, a majority of the MPs decided to rule out, under all circumstances, Britain’s crashing out of the EU without an agreement. With the catastrophic consequences of a hard Brexit option thus foreclosed, from Britain’s perspective at least, there is good reason to think that the worst is over for the U.K., although there is no clue yet to the direction of the exit. Both these proposals had been rejected as part of earlier amendments to the draft withdrawal bill, and the votes this week reflect a significant shift in Parliament’s stance. Yet, a delay to the March 29 deadline to leave the EU can only bring a temporary respite from uncertainty. For one thing, Ms. May’s controversial withdrawal agreement was on Tuesday emphatically rejected by the House of Commons for the second time in as many months. But a silver lining for her, despite the setback, was the smaller margin of defeat this time. Some die-hard Brexiters who voted down her deal in January have since grown increasingly concerned about the prospect of a delayed Brexit or no Brexit at all, and chose to endorse it this week. The shift has encouraged Ms. May to seek a third vote on her deal next week. The calculation in Downing Street is that with the hardliners’ preferred option of a ‘no deal’ Brexit virtually eliminated and a looming indefinite delay, more Tories will rally behind her proposals. The group to especially watch is Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, which props up Ms. May’s minority government.

Should Ms. May’s gambit next week succeed, the government intends to seek from Brussels an extension, until June, to complete the exit formalities. Conversely, another failure would risk a delay in the U.K.’s ultimate withdrawal by months. The U.K. would then have to hold polls in May to elect new Members of the European Parliament. For EU leaders, the duration of the extension is less of a concern than the potential for a concrete outcome, given the differences within and between the main U.K. parties. Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, is on record that he would recommend a longer extension, to the other 27 heads of EU governments when they meet next week. Developments this week have dealt a huge blow to hardline eurosceptics in the U.K., whose narrow nationalist delusions have made them impervious to the economic cost of disengagement from the world’s largest single market. The harm they have already inflicted on the polity and society must be contained. It would be unwise of them to impede the efforts to avoid a hard Brexit.


1) unsustainably

Meaning : not able to be maintained at the current rate or level.

Synonyms : unfeasible

Antonyms : suitable

Example : “macroeconomic instability led to an unsustainable boom”

2) extracting

Meaning : remove or take out, especially by effort or force(v).

Synonyms : exact

Antonyms : disperse

Example : “the fossils are extracted from the chalk”

3) insulate

Meaning : protect (something) by interposing material that prevents the loss of heat or the intrusion of sound.

Synonyms : isolate

Antonyms : mingle

Example : “insulate and draught-proof your home”

4) estimate

Meaning : roughly calculate or judge the value, number, quantity, or extent of.

Tamil Meaning : மதிப்பீடு

Synonyms : estimation

Antonyms : ignorance

Example : “the aim is to estimate the effects of macroeconomic policy on the economy”

5) implications

Meaning : the conclusion that can be drawn from something although it is not explicitly stated(n).

Synonyms : conclusion

Antonyms : proof

Example : “the implication is that no one person at the bank is responsible”

6) evident

Meaning : clearly seen or understood; obvious.

Tamil Meaning : தெளிவாக

Synonyms : indisputable

Antonyms : concealed

Example : “she ate the biscuits with evident enjoyment”

7) recognise

Meaning : identify (someone or something) from having encountered them before; know again.

Synonyms : discern

Antonyms : ignore

Example : “I recognized her when her wig fell off”

8) enforced

Meaning : caused by necessity or force; compulsory.

Synonyms : imposed

Example : “a period of enforced idleness”

9) curbing

Meaning : restrain or keep in check.

Synonyms : contain

Antonyms : advance

Example : “she promised she would curb her temper”

10) resolve

Meaning : settle or find a solution to (a problem or contentious matter)(v).

Synonyms : courage

Antonyms : fear

Example : “the firm aims to resolve problems within 30 days”

11) impetus

Meaning : the force or energy with which a body moves.

Tamil Meaning : உத்வேகம்

Synonyms : impulse

Antonyms : hindrance

Example : “hit the booster coil before the flywheel loses all its impetus”

12) impacts

Meaning : the action of one object coming forcibly into contact with another.

Tamil Meaning : தாக்கங்கள்

Synonyms : bang

Antonyms : failure

Example : “there was the sound of a third impact”

13) Combating

Meaning : take action to reduce or prevent (something bad or undesirable).

Synonyms : cope

Antonyms : yield

Example : “an effort to combat drug trafficking”

14) augmenting

Meaning : make (something) greater by adding to it; increase.

Synonyms : develop

Antonyms : abridge

Example : “he augmented his summer income by painting houses”

15) seek

Meaning : attempt to find (something).

Synonyms : pursue

Antonyms : ignore

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

16) perspective

Meaning : the art of representing three-dimensional objects on a two-dimensional surface so as to give the right impression of their height, width, depth, and position in relation to each other.

Tamil Meaning : முன்னோக்கு

Synonyms : angle

Example : “the theory and practice of perspective”

17) respite

Meaning : a short period of rest or relief from something difficult or unpleasant.

Tamil Meaning : ஓய்வுக்கான

Synonyms : recess

Antonyms : continuation

Example : “the refugee encampments will provide some respite from the suffering”

18) controversial

Meaning : giving rise or likely to give rise to controversy or public disagreement.

Tamil Meaning : சர்ச்சைக்குரிய

Synonyms : dubious

Antonyms : certain

Example : “years of wrangling over a controversial bypass”

19) emphatically

Meaning : in a forceful way.

Synonyms : assuredly

Antonyms : doubtfully

Example : “she closed the door behind her emphatically”

20) despite

Meaning : contemptuous treatment or behaviour; outrage.

Tamil Meaning : போதிலும்

Synonyms : against

Example : “the despite done by him to the holy relics”

21) concern

Meaning : relate to; be about.

Synonyms : matter

Antonyms : pastime

Example : “the story concerns a friend of mine”

22) endorse

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

Tamil Meaning : ஆதரவளிக்காது

Synonyms : advocate

Antonyms : attack

Example : “the report was endorsed by the college”

23) gambit

Meaning : an act or remark that is calculated to gain an advantage, especially at the outset of a situation.

Synonyms : artifice

Antonyms : frankness

Example : “his resignation was a tactical gambit”

24) intends

Meaning : have (a course of action) as one’s purpose or intention; plan.

Synonyms : designate

Antonyms : disbelieve

Example : “the company intends to cut 400 jobs”

25) impervious

Meaning : not allowing fluid to pass through.

Tamil Meaning : பாதிக்கப்படாதவர்

Synonyms : impassable

Antonyms :

Example : “an impervious layer of basaltic clay”


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