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a) A chance in Srinagar: On Ramzan ceasefire

The Centre’s announcement of a cessation of operations in Jammu and Kashmir during the month of Ramzan is a welcome step. The direction to the security forces not to launch operations in the State during this period, while allowing them to reserve “the right to retaliate if attacked or if it is essential to protect the lives of innocent people”, is aimed at bringing respite to the Valley after two years of escalated violence, since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen ‘commander’ Burhan Wani in July 2016. The decision came days after Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti informed the Centre that an all-party meeting had called for a ceasefire. The quick response will help her recover some equilibrium politically, and get an administrative grip on the street. In this current phase of violence in the Valley, there has been a marked increase in home-grown militancy. All too often, the funeral of a local militant has become the rallying point for anti-state protests, which lead to new recruitment. The ceasefire will limit such occasions. The stone-pelting protests too have taken their toll and deepened alienation. The cessation of cordon-and-search operations is a high-risk initiative — but it is the very riskiness of the gesture that could invite confidence among local groups to consider ways and means to mark an end to the violent couple of years. A series of calibrated complementary steps are required if any lasting contribution to improving the situation on the ground is to be made. Importantly, the announcement came just ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s scheduled visit to Srinagar on Saturday, and his remarks will be closely tracked. The ceasefire has brought back memories of the 2000 Ramzan effort of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. That initiative set in motion a series of developments towards dialogue, despite the still-fresh wounds of the 1999 Kargil conflict. There are parallels between those days and today. In terms of violence, Kashmir is quickly spiralling out of control to the level seen 15 years ago. Even as the security forces have gunned down 64 suspected terrorists in 2018, a large number of young Kashmiris have taken up arms. According to the latest data from the State police, 69 local youth have joined militancy, 35 of them in the wake of the April 1 operations in which 13 locals were killed. But just a temporary halt to security operations in Kashmir is not enough. At best, it can be the first step in a long and difficult road to recovery, and eventually peace. Currently, the 2003 ceasefire on the Pakistan border is in tatters. It must be urgently restored. But most important, a political outreach, possibly unconditional, is required to help Kashmir get back to normal. As Mr. Vajpayee did back then, Mr. Modi must take political ownership of the outreach. Else, the Ramzan ceasefire could remain an isolated outreach.

b) Nine years after: On ninth anniversary of the end of civil war in Sri Lanka

Nine years is perhaps too short a time for deep wounds to heal, but it is enough time to begin to introspect. However, going by the polarised views around the anniversary of the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war, there are few signs of that. For the Tamils who gathered in Mullaitivu district in the Northern Province on Friday, it was a day to remember loved ones killed in those savage final days of the war that ended on May 18, 2009 — according to UN estimates, nearly 40,000 died. The southern Sinhalese political leadership, on the other hand, makes it a point to celebrate “war heroes” around the same time, hailing their efforts to bring peace. Even this year, national leaders, including President Maithripala Sirisena, saluted the soldiers for their sacrifice, while offering nothing but silence to the civilians who were caught in the conflict. The two disparate narratives of trauma and triumph can never meet, and in such a context, the chances for fruitfully negotiating this hard-won peace will remain slim. Time will only make it harder for the two communities to resolve the ethnic division that has outlived the war. The government led by President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe came to power in 2015 promising, among other things, a political solution to Sri Lanka’s national question. It initiated the drafting of a constitution that would potentially devolve more powers to all provinces, including the Tamil-majority north and east. Preoccupied with the persistent tension within the ruling coalition, the leadership has done little to take the exercise forward at a convincing pace, let alone complete it. Even the welcome initiatives of the government in the affected areas, such as the release of military occupied land or efforts to probe cases of enforced disappearance, will have only limited appeal or impact in the absence of a durable political solution. The international community has spared the government of pressure on the accountability front, hoping that it would proactively address other concerns that linger for the Tamil citizens. If initiatives on the political front have been so stalled, efforts to revive the economy do not offer much promise either. Almost every family in the north and east is neck-deep in debt and young people are desperate for employment. To say that time is running out is to state the obvious. Addressing the present challenges is one way of helping a wounded people cope with their troubled past. The memories that haunt them may never die. But some healing may be possible if they have a better future to look forward to. This government, which came to power with the overwhelming support of Tamils, must not let them down. It must not add to the list of missed opportunities.


1) Cessation

Meaning: The fact or process of ending or being brought to an end.

Example: “the cessation of hostilities”

Synonyms: End, Termination

Antonyms: Start, Resumption

2) Retaliate

Meaning: Make an attack in return for a similar attack.

Example: “the blow stung and she retaliated immediately”

Synonyms: Respond, React

3) Respite

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

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

Synonyms: Rest, Break

4) Escalated

Meaning: Make or become more intense or serious.

Example: “the disturbance escalated into a full-scale riot”

Synonyms: Develop, Increase

Antonyms: Shrink

5) Equilibrium

Meaning: A state in which opposing forces or influences are balanced.

Example: “the task is the maintenance of social equilibrium”

Synonyms: Balance, Equality

Antonyms: Imbalance

6) Home-grown

Meaning: Belonging to one’s own particular locality or country.

Example: “home-grown talent”

7) Alienation

Meaning: The state or experience of being alienated.

Example: “a sense of alienation from our environment”

Synonyms: Isolation, Detachment

8) Riskiness

Meaning: The degree to which something is risky.

Example: While the fund’s returns increased, so did its riskiness as an investment.

9) Gesture

Meaning: An action performed to convey a feeling or intention.

Example: “Maggie was touched by the kind gesture”

Synonyms: Action, Movement

10) Calibrated

Meaning: Carefully assess, set, or adjust (something abstract).

Example: “the regulators cannot properly calibrate the risks involved”

11) Complementary

Meaning: Combining in such a way as to enhance or emphasize the qualities of each other or another.

Example: “they had different but complementary skills”

Synonyms: Supportive, Compatible

Antonyms: Incompatible

12) Ceasefire

Meaning: A temporary suspension of fighting; a truce.

Example: “the latest ceasefire seems to be holding”

13) Conflict

Meaning: A prolonged armed struggle.

Example: “regional conflicts”

Synonyms: War, Campaign

Antonyms: Peace

14) Gunned down

Meaning: To shoot someone and kill or seriously injure them, often when that person cannot defend himself or herself.

Example: The police officer was gunned down as he took his children to school.

15) Taken up

Meaning: To start doing a particular job or activity.

Example: He’s taken up the position of supervisor.

16) Tatters

Meaning: Irregularly torn pieces of cloth, paper, or other material.

Example: “he was forced to wear rags and tatters a beggar would scorn”

17) Outreach

Meaning: An effort to bring services or information to people where they live or spend time.


Example: The center was awarded a grant for counseling and outreach to the homeless.

18) Isolated

Meaning: Having minimal contact or little in common with others.

Example: “he lived a very isolated existence”

Synonyms: Solitary, Outlying

Antonyms: Accessible

19) Introspect

Meaning: Examine one’s own thoughts or feelings.

Example: “what they don’t do is introspect much about the reasons for their plight”

20) Polarised

Meaning: To cause something, especially something that contains different people or opinions, to divide into two completely opposing groups.

Example: The debate is becoming polarized and there seems to be no middle ground.

21) Savage

Meaning: Extremely violent, wild, or frightening.

Example: a brutal and savage attack.

Synonyms: Attack, Condemn

Antonyms: Praise, Commend

22) Saluted

Meaning: Greet.

Example: “he saluted her with a smile”

Synonyms: Acknowledge, Greet

23) Disparate

Meaning: Essentially different in kind; not able to be compared.

Example: “they inhabit disparate worlds of thought”

Synonyms: Different, Dissimilar

Antonyms: Homogeneous

24) Trauma

Meaning: Emotional shock following a stressful event or a physical injury, which may lead to long-term neurosis.

Example: “the event is relived with all the accompanying trauma”

Synonyms: Shock, Distress

25) Triumph

Meaning: A great victory or achievement.

Example: “a garden built to celebrate Napoleon’s many triumphs”

Synonyms: Victory, Win

Antonyms: Defeat

26) Fruitfully

Meaning: Producing good results.

Example: It was a most fruitful discussion, with both sides agreeing to adopt a common policy.

Synonyms: Good

Antonyms: Worst, Fruitless

27) Slim

Meaning: (of something abstract, especially a chance or margin) very small.

Example: “there was just a slim chance of success”

Synonyms: Slight, Slender

Antonyms: Good, Strong

28) Ethnic

Meaning: Relating to a population subgroup (within a larger or dominant national or cultural group) with a common national or cultural tradition.

Example: “ethnic and cultural rights and traditions”

Synonyms: Racial, Genetic

29) Outlived

Meaning: Survive or last beyond (a specified period or expected lifespan).

Example: “the organization had largely outlived its usefulness”

Synonyms: Outlast, Survive

30) Devolve

Meaning: Transfer or delegate (power) to a lower level, especially from central government to local or regional administration.

Example: “measures to devolve power to a Scottish assembly”

Synonyms: Delegate, Assign

Antonyms: Centralize, Retain

31) Persistent

Meaning: Continuing firmly or obstinately in an opinion or course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.

Example: “one of the government’s most persistent critics”

Synonyms: Tenacious, Determined

Antonyms: Irresolute

32) Coalition

Meaning: A temporary alliance for combined action, especially of political parties forming a government.

Example: “a coalition between Liberals and Conservatives”

Synonyms: Alliance, Union

33) Enforced

Meaning: Caused by necessity or force; compulsory.

Example: “a period of enforced idleness”

34) Spared

Meaning: To prevent someone from having to experience something unpleasant.

Example: Luckily, I was spared the embarrassment of having to sing in front of everyone.

35) Accountability

Meaning: The fact or condition of being accountable; responsibility.

Example: “lack of accountability has corroded public respect for business and political leaders”

Synonyms: Responsibility, Liability

36) Linger

Meaning: To take a long time to leave or disappear.

Example: After the play had finished, we lingered for a while in the bar hoping to catch sight of the actors.

Synonyms: Staying, Remaining

37) Revive

Meaning: Give new strength or energy to.

Example: “the cool, refreshing water revived us all”

Synonyms: Revitalize, Refresh

Antonyms: Torpefy

38) Desperate

Meaning: (of a person) having a great need or desire for something.

Example: “I am desperate for a cigarette”

Synonyms: Craving, Wanting

39) Haunt

Meaning: Be persistently and disturbingly present in (the mind).

Example: “the sight haunted me for years”

Synonyms: Torment, Obsess

40) Overwhelming

Meaning: Very great in amount.

Example: “his party won overwhelming support”

Synonyms: Enormous, Immense

Antonyms: Small


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