THE HINDU EDITORIAL : MAY 11, 2018
THE HINDU EDITORIAL : MAY 11, 2018
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It’s not about the nuclear deal
If — and that’s a big if — the leaders of the U.S., China, South Korea and North Korea succeed in concluding a deal on the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula as well as on a peace treaty formally ending the Korean War, they would be front runners for the Nobel Peace Prize. That deal could appropriately be called a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) if it lays down a detailed blueprint for denuclearisation, with provisions of intrusive inspections. The only thing that could stand in their way is Iran.
There should be little doubt that U.S. President Donald Trump’s real, but of necessity undeclared, objective in withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal is a regime change in Tehran. This goal is even more ardently desired by Israel and Saudi Arabia. Ever since Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made particularly provocative statements about Israel, Israelis of all political persuasions have wanted to get rid of the regime in Iran. The Saudis have openly called for cutting off the head of the (Iranian) snake. Thus, three important and powerful states have a congruence of interests seldom seen in recent times.
There have been frequent and persistent reports in the Western media for several months about large-scale demonstrations and protests by Iranian people against the regime. Living conditions are difficult. Iran did not get the goodies that it expected after signing the JCPOA. Inflation is high. The Iranian rial is trading at 75,000 to the dollar. People are angry with the government. According to the well-researched work Democracy in Iran: Why It Failed and How It Might Succeed by American academic Misagh Parsa, disaffection among the people has manifested itself in several forms. Hundreds of mosques do not have imams and the attendance at Friday prayers has dwindled dramatically. Some are converting to Christianity and, according to Professor Parsa, even to the Baha’i faith, which is the largest non-Muslim community in Iran. Professor Parsa states that there is massive corruption as well as economic inequality in Iran. All in all, he suggests that it is quite likely that there might be a revolutionary upsurge, though he is careful not to indicate any timeline for it.
A different calculation
It is this discontent that Mr. Trump might be counting on tapping. His calculation seems to be that the reimposition of severe sanctions would render life very difficult, almost unbearable, for the populace who might, in the absence of other avenues, take to the streets, as they did in 1979 to overthrow the Shah’s regime which too, like the present one, had strong military and oppressive secret services such as the Savak but which could not defeat public anger, frustration and rage. For these reasons, Mr. Trump is unlikely to listen to voices of reason or to appeals from his Western allies. He is equally not likely to grant exemptions from sanctions to any country engaging in any form of trade and other transactions with Iran. His administration will follow strict interpretation of the guidelines regarding the sanctions regime.
Iran has shown restraint, forsaking knee-jerk reaction. It did not declare that the deal was dead, as it might well have done. It did not announce immediate resumption of uranium enrichment, which it emphasised will be at the industrial level. It has so far not called off International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections. Iran will consult with the other signatories to the JCPOA for several weeks before taking any further action. This shows the maturity of Iranian diplomacy. It remains to be seen how long France and others will stick to their position of continuing to adhere to the deal; they will eventually have to fall in line in some way with the Americans, if not for political then for economic considerations. For Mr. Trump, the Republicans are fully with him and the Democrats will be too eventually.
Will Iran live up to the American calculation? For the present, Mr. Trump’s decision has strengthened the hardliners. President Hassan Rouhani, regarded as a moderate, has no option but to take a defiant stance. The Iranian people, proud as they are of their heritage, will stand behind their regime. But there may come a time when their hardships reach a stage when they might feel compelled to take to the streets.
In the meanwhile, Iran will even more vigorously support the Bashar al-Assad regime in Damascus, in which it will be joined by Russia and Hezbollah, which has done very well in the parliamentary elections in Lebanon this month. The Houthi rebels in Yemen will feel more emboldened to take on the Saudi-led coalition; of course, the Yemeni people will continue to suffer, as will the Syrian people, for years to come. Iran will more directly intervene in Iraq and render the possibility of progress in the non-existent peace effort in Afghanistan even more difficult.
If the regime in Tehran does not collapse, the Washington-Jerusalem-Riyadh axis might look for an alternative course of action, not excluding military. In that case, the Nobel Peace Prize will elude Mr. Trump.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has established special relationship with Israel and its present Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. He has also made efforts to forge intimate relations with the U.S. With both India has the upper hand, since it is they who want to sell expensive military hardware to India. Under the circumstances, India has made a well-drafted two-sentence statement on the Trump decision. The first strikes a balance between Iran’s right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes as also the international community’s concern to ensure that its nuclear programme remains strictly peaceful. The second sentence contains implicit disapproval of the American decision and warns, again implicitly, against any strong military action. For India, the question will also be: can it rely on the U.S. to honour even its written word embodied in international agreements? Mr. Trump wants to annul every single achievement of his predecessor — Obamacare, the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Paris Agreement, and now JCPOA. India will have to remain vigilant in dealing with this administration; it would not be prudent to assume that it is a special case.
Fallout for India
The impact on India will be severe. The price of crude is already close to $80. Energy imports from Iran will become difficult and expensive. Fuel prices will go up. The Reserve Bank of India might have to increase interest rates to contain inflation and step in to check the fall in the rupee’s value. All this might have a direct bearing on politics, given the fact that the government was the beneficiary of low crude price for the first four years but may have to face consequences of inflation and attendant factors in its fifth.
Online retail flip: on the Walmart-Flipkart deal
India’s e-commerce market, which accounts for less than a tenth of its overall retail opportunity, has just got a significant thumbs-up from American supermarket giant Walmart. It has announced a plan to buy a controlling stake of around 77% in home-grown e-commerce firm Flipkart for a sum of $16 billion. In the process, Walmart has pipped rival Amazon, which is just behind Flipkart when it comes to its share of the Indian e-commerce pie and has independently been vying to acquire the Bengaluru-based company. China’s Alibaba, with its investment in Paytm Mall, is vying to compete in the space as well, along with the likes of Snapdeal, which around this time last year was being linked to a much-speculated merger plan with Flipkart. But the big battle for Indians’ e-tail space, for now, will play out between two of America’s biggest companies. Not surprisingly, traditional retail players have responded with willingness to adapt to this paradigm shift and consider strategic alliances with online rivals. Interestingly, Walmart investors have voted against what they saw as an expensive bet, with the firm losing about $8 billion in value on the bourses after the deal was finalised. Though e-tail may have changed shopping habits among swathes of Indians, it remains heavily dependent on discount-peddling. Flipkart, in particular, has reported accumulated losses of ₹24,000 crore.
Walmart is betting on the future growth it can unlock from this full-frontal entry into a market that has proved difficult despite its best attempts for over a decade. The company had entered India in 2007 but exited the joint venture with the Bharti group and restricted its operations to cash-and-carry stores, in the face of strict curbs on foreign direct investment (FDI) in the multi-brand retail sector. These restrictions, ostensibly to protect smaller retailers, have remained in place under the NDA government, belying expectations of a reset. Facing heat at home from Amazon, which is now moving from online-only to a brick-and-mortar plus e-tail model, this is a vital time for Walmart to get into India’s business-to-consumer segment. That this deal doesn’t ruffle extant policy restrictions, in fact, reveals the inefficacy of India’s approach to retail FDI in a rapidly changing global marketplace. Local trade lobbies as well as swadeshi advocates are determined to resist the deal, while analysts are wondering how Walmart will turn around Flipkart’s cash burn rates. However, for India’s policymakers, neither of these should matter. It is important to assess if, and how, the U.S. firm will integrate Indian suppliers into its international operations. Most importantly, it is time to nuance the debates that have dominated India’s retail FDI policy — big versus small, local versus foreign — to create a truly level playing field where all can compete, without artificial safeguards that can be overcome via such deals.
Meaning: To remove nuclear weapons from a place.
Example: “The documents detailing proposals for denuclearizing the region were leaked to the press”
2) Lays down
Meaning: To officially establish a rule, or to officially state the way in which something should be done.
Example: “New managers tend to lay down the law and demand total compliance with their wishes”
Meaning: Affecting someone in a way that annoys them and makes them feel uncomfortable.
Example: “Intrusive questioning”
Meaning: Very enthusiastically or passionately.
Example: “Both men ardently supported the war”
Meaning: Causing anger or another strong reaction, especially deliberately.
Example: “A provocative article”
Synonyms: Annoying, Irritating
Antonyms: Soothing, Calming
Meaning: Agreement or harmony; compatibility.
Example: “The results show quite good congruence with recent studies”
Synonyms: Compatibility, Conformity
Meaning: Not often; rarely.
Example: “Islay is seldom visited by tourists”
Synonyms: Rarely, Infrequently
Antonyms: Often, Frequently
Meaning: Diminish gradually in size, amount, or strength.
Example: “Traffic has dwindled to a trickle”
Synonyms: Diminish, Decrease
Antonyms: Increase, Flourish
Meaning: An upward surge in the strength or quantity of something; an increase.
Example: “An upsurge in vandalism and violent crime”
Meaning: Exploit or draw a supply from (a resource).
Example: “Clients from industry seeking to tap Edinburgh’s resources of expertise”
Synonyms: Use, Utilize
Meaning: The action of imposing something, especially a law or regulation, again after a lapse.
Example: ‘Any reimposition of sanctions will doom talks’
Meaning: Cause to be or become; make.
Example: “The rains rendered his escape impossible”
Synonyms: Make, Leave
Meaning: Inflicting harsh and authoritarian treatment.
Example: “An oppressive dictatorship”
Synonyms: Harsh, Cruel
Antonyms: Lenient, Humane
Meaning: The feeling of being upset or annoyed as a result of being unable to change or achieve something.
Example: “Tears of frustration rolled down her cheeks”
Synonyms: Exasperation, Annoyance
Meaning: The action of freeing or state of being free from an obligation or liability imposed on others.
Example: “Vehicles that may qualify for exemption from tax”
Synonyms: Immunity, Exception
Meaning: A measure or condition that keeps someone or something under control.
Example: “Decisions are made within the financial restraints of the budget”
Meaning: (Of a response) automatic and unthinking.
Example: “A knee-jerk reaction”
Meaning: The action of beginning something again after a pause or interruption.
Example: “With peace came the resumption of foreign imports”
Synonyms: Restart, Recommencement
Antonyms: Suspension, Abandonment
Meaning: The action of improving or enhancing the quality or value of something.
Example: “Enrichment of the soil for more plant growth”
Meaning: Give special importance or value to (something) in speaking or writing.
Example: “They emphasize the need for daily, one-to-one contact between parent and child”
Synonyms: Spotlight, Highlight
Antonyms: Understate, Play down
Meaning: Showing defiance.
Example: “A defiant gesture”
Synonyms: Intransigent, Resistant
Antonyms: Apologetic, Cooperative
Meaning: Give (someone) the courage or confidence to do something.
Example: “Emboldened by the claret, he pressed his knee against hers”
Synonyms: Encourage, Hearten
Antonyms: Dishearten, Discourage
Meaning: A temporary alliance for combined action, especially of political parties forming a government.
Example: “A coalition between Liberals and Conservatives”
Synonyms: Alliance, Union
Meaning: Take part in something so as to prevent or alter a result or course of events.
Example: “He acted outside his authority when he intervened in the dispute”
Synonyms: Intercede, Mediate
Meaning: Escape from or avoid (a danger, enemy, or pursuer), typically in a skilful or cunning way.
Example: “He tried to elude the security men by sneaking through a back door”
Synonyms: Evade, Avoid
Meaning: Suggested though not directly expressed.
Example: “Comments seen as implicit criticism of the policies”
Synonyms: Implied, Indirect
Antonyms: Explicit, direct
Meaning: Keeping careful watch for possible danger or difficulties.
Example: “The burglar was spotted by vigilant neighbours”
Synonyms: Watchful, Observed
Antonyms: Negligent, Inattentive
Meaning: Acting with or showing care and thought for the future.
Example: “No prudent money manager would authorize a loan without first knowing its purpose”
Synonyms: Wise, Judicious
Antonyms: Unwise, Imprudent
29) Bearing on
Meaning: To be connected or related to something.
Example: “I don’t see how that information bears on this case”
Meaning: An indication of satisfaction or approval (or of rejection or failure).
Example: “Plans to build a house on the site have been given the thumbs down by the Department of the Environment”
Synonyms: Rejection, Refusal
Antonyms: Approval, Welcome
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
Antonyms: Partner, Ally
Meaning: Compete eagerly with someone in order to do or achieve something.
Example: “The athletes were vying for a place in the British team”
Synonyms: Compete, Contest
Meaning: Invest in stocks, property, or other ventures in the hope of gain but with the risk of loss.
Example: “He didn’t look as though he had the money to speculate in shares”
Synonyms: Gamble, Venture
34) Paradigm shift
Meaning: A fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions.
Example: “Geophysical evidence supporting Wegener’s theory led to a rapid paradigm shift in the earth sciences”
Meaning: A stock market in a non-English-speaking country, especially France.
Meaning: A large part of something that includes several different things.
Example: “These people represent a broad/wide swathe of public opinion”
Meaning: Promote (an idea or view) persistently or widely.
Example: “The giant con that has been peddled in the Conservative press”
Synonyms: Advocate, Suggest
Meaning: As appears or is stated to be true, though not necessarily so; apparently.
Example: “The party secretary resigned, ostensibly from ill health”
Synonyms: Apparently, Seemingly
Antonyms: Genuinely, Really
Meaning: Fail to fulfil or justify (a claim or expectation).
Example: “The quality of the music seems to belie the criticism”
Meaning: Disconcert or upset the composure of (someone).
Example: “Lancaster had been ruffled by her questions”
Synonyms: Annoy, Irritate
Antonyms: Soothe, Calm
Meaning: A subtle difference in or shade of meaning, expression, or sound.
Example: “He was familiar with the nuances of the local dialect”
Synonyms: Shade, Modulation
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