THE HINDU EDITORIAL – October 4, 2018 is one of the must read section for the competitive exams like IBPS RRB PO, IBPS RRB Office Assistant 2018, RBI Grade “B” 2018 & NIACL Assistant 2018. These topics are widely expected to be asked in the reading comprehension , Cloze Test or Error Detection topics in the forthcoming exams. So gear up your Exam preparation and learn new words daily.

A) No sweeping change — on Swachh Bharat Mission

The Swachh Bharat Mission needs a broader vision of what constitutes cleanliness

India’s Swachh Bharat Mission is receiving global praise for attempting to close the sanitation gap of nearly 60% of the rural population not having access to a toilet at home in 2014. The NDA government invoked Mahatma Gandhi’s vision of a clean and healthy country when it launched the ambitious programme. On the eve of Independence, Gandhi saw the lack of a “sense of national or social sanitation” as the root of all diseases among Indians. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a Swachh movement in 2014 to change that, and four years later the outcomes show that achieving social change is far from easy. For the BJP-led government at the Centre, the SBM enjoys arguably the highest priority, and a ₹16,400-crore fund was raised for it during 2015-17 when a special cess was in force. On Gandhi Jayanti this year, the SBM’s Gramin wing declared it has constructed 86.7 million Individual Household Latrines and raised sanitation access to 94% in rural areas; 5,07,369 villages are now ‘open defecation free’. On the face of it, this is big advance. But there is a need for a close audit of the outcomes. In some States, such as Rajasthan, independent verification shows that the social change that the SBM hopes to achieve remains elusive, and traditionally oppressed communities continue to manually remove filth from dry latrines used by the upper castes. There are reports of a similar situation prevailing in some parts of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh too. What this shows is that the very evil that Gandhi wanted to see changed — of some castes condemned to do such work by others — persists.

Besides making sanitation a movement through the provision of well-designed toilets and behaviour change in rural India, the SBM should have a broader vision of what constitutes cleanliness. The Centre asserts that urban toilet coverage is now 87% of the target, and nearly three-fourths of the wards in the country have door-to-door collection of municipal waste, but the lived experience of the city-dweller, especially in the bigger metros, is different. Waste volumes continue to grow as economic growth spurs consumption. The laws on municipal solid waste, protection of water sources and pollution control are just not being enforced. The official machinery required to enforce legal provisions vigorously, and the infrastructure to manage waste scientifically are inadequate, making it unlikely that there will be significant public health outcomes flowing from high-profile cleaning campaigns. Without full commitment to these aspects of development, there is little chance of meaningfully achieving the Sustainable Development Goals on water and sanitation anytime soon. Besides ending manual scavenging, the Swachh Bharat Mission must ensure that the manual cleaning of septic tanks, which is killing so many workers each year, is stopped and that funds for rehabilitation reach them.

B) The scope of constitutional morality

Abolition of untouchability in all its forms, including scavenging, remains an unrealised constitutional right

“The issue of the rights of sweepers and scavengers has never entered the mainstream legal consciousness in the country,” wrote Upendra Baxi in Law and Poverty: Critical Essays. “Nor have the Bar and the Bench, and the mushrooming legal aid and advice programmes shown any awareness of the exploitative conditions of work imposed upon the scavengers and sweepers under the employment of municipal corporations or related local bodies… [T]he exploitative conditions of work constitute governmental defiance of the law and the Constitution, which can be best summed up as a crucial component of overall governmental lawlessness in the country since Independence.”

Written in 1988, Prof. Baxi’s lines remain disconcertingly relevant today. We struggle against the caricaturing of this extremely stigmatising, violently exploitative and degrading form of forced labour by a government and civil society that showcases empty rhetoric and ceremony around “cleanliness”, while decimating an entire class of citizens through callous neglect with impunity.

There has been a steady rise in deaths of conservancy workers, and a steadier normalisation of the risks to life they bear on a daily basis. Why don’t sewer deaths bring the country to a grinding halt, as they should? Will a general strike of all conservancy workers across the country bring the country to its knees? Because then, it will not be a question of prime-time jingles on a clean India; the focus will shift on each of us to take the moral and physical responsibility of cleaning our own sewers and keeping ourselves free of the risk of toxic death.

Flouting laws

To return to Prof. Baxi’s concerns on the place of law: Article 17 of the Constitution of India states: “Untouchability is abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden. The enforcement of any disability arising out of Untouchability shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law.” This is a fundamental right and therefore justiciable and enforceable by courts, which shall call governments to account.

In 2009, the Delhi High Court, in Naz Foundation v. NCT of Delhi, invoked Babasaheb Ambedkar’s delineation of constitutional morality in asserting the urgency of decriminalising consensual sexual relations proscribed by Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. The court cited a second provision as well: Article 15(2) which prohibits any form of horizontal discrimination drawing again from the experience of untouchability that obstructed the universal use of public places, restaurants, water sources, etc. We witnessed last month a triumphal return of constitutional morality as a guiding principle for constitutional interpretation. A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India, in Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India, deployed this framework to reaffirm the rights of LGBTQ and all gender non-conforming people to their dignity, life, liberty, and identity.

The genealogy of Ambedkar’s signposting of constitutional morality may be traced to the strength of anti-caste resistance and the abolition of untouchability. It is from this context that constitutional wisdom was applied to analogous situations of oppressions based on sexuality. It is time to call the government to account through a recursive method that takes us to the original constitutional proscription of untouchability, armed with the wisdom of the Navtej Singh Johar case.

Judicial empathy

The first aspect is the importance of judicial empathy. In a violently exclusionary society, the application of the Constitution to lives as lived is an extremely emotional moment. We have people from India’s most oppressed castes dying painful deaths without dignity in the sewers of the same city where the court sits. There is neither accountability nor due diligence on the part of the state. The time for the expression of judicial empathy is now. Justice Indu Malhotra’s lines in Johar are apposite: “History owes an apology to the members of this community and their families, for the delay in providing redressal for the ignominy and ostracism that they have suffered through the centuries.”

Given the urgency, with people dying daily despite constitutional and statutory protections, how do we right these historical wrongs, or at least “set the course for the future”? We are all agreed that the de minimis approach is bad law — rule by law rather than rule of law, as it should be, to echo Justice D.Y. Chandrachud. The fact that it is still possible for people to be sent into sewers without protection, and to be forced to perform degrading labour is enough for us to sit up and take note. Outgoing Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra set out four cardinal corners of the Constitution: Individual autonomy and liberty; equality sans discrimination; recognition of identity with dignity; right to privacy. He also underscored the centrality of fraternity to the constitutional value system. These signposts require us to contemplate and act on the meanings and expressions of “intrinsic dignity” for conservancy workers and safai karamcharis.

If “self-determination and the realisation of one’s own abilities” lie at the core of personhood, how would forced, unsafe and degrading labour, and persistent untouchability figure in this new constitutional imaginary? In the case of safai karamcharis, we are today witness to the “violation of fundamental rights that strikes at the root of their existence” (Justice Misra), and there are no visible pathways to freedom in this virulent caste society. Lest we forget, untouchability is a crime under the Constitution.

Principle of non-retrogression

Important for citizen consideration today is the fact that the Supreme Court, in deciding on the unconstitutionality of Section 377, recognised that the four corners of the Constitution rest on a social reality steeped in prejudice, stereotypes, parochialism, bigotry, social exclusion, and segregation. If decriminalising “unnatural” sex is one of the “necessary steps on the road to democracy”, abolition of untouchability in all its forms remains an unrealised constitutional right.

The lesson on the importance of intersections in constitutional reasoning today is brought home to us in this case in yet another way. There is recognition by the court that majoritarian governments/sections work hard to keep oppressive structures in place, and that it is the duty of the court to place questions of liberty, equality, and dignity out of the reach of majoritarian impulses. The sanction for manual scavenging lies at the heart of majoritarian mindsets and structures. It is part of an ideological framework that permeates the institutional apparatus of government. If, as Justice Misra observes, “the sustenance of fundamental rights does not require majoritarian sanction”, can we call for some constitutional-procedural deliberation on the “progressive realisation of rights” in this instance? The principle of non-retrogression in the matter of fundamental rights has now been unequivocally stated. But on our streets, we only observe it in the breach especially in the case of manual scavengers.

To end with Ambedkar: “We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment or else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy.”


1) invoked

Meaning : cite or appeal to (someone or something) as an authority for an action or in support of an argument.

Tamil Meaning : செயல்படுத்தப்படுகின்றது

Synonyms : conjure , appeal to

Antonyms : answer

Example : “the antiquated defence of insanity is rarely invoked in England”

2) ambitious

Meaning : having or showing a strong desire and determination to succeed.

Tamil Meaning : மூர்க்கமான

Synonyms : earnest , energetic

Antonyms : lethargic

Example : “a ruthlessly ambitious woman”

3) elusive

Meaning : difficult to find, catch, or achieve.

Tamil Meaning : மழுப்பலாக

Synonyms : fleeting , slippery

Antonyms : definite

Example : “success will become ever more elusive”

4) latrines

Meaning :

Tamil Meaning :

Synonyms :

Antonyms :

Example :

5) prevailing

Meaning : existing at a particular time; current.

Tamil Meaning : நிலவும்

Synonyms : prevalent

Antonyms : uncommon

Example : “the unfavourable prevailing economic conditions”

6) evil

Meaning : profound immorality and wickedness, especially when regarded as a supernatural force.

Tamil Meaning : தீய

Synonyms : corrupt , hateful

Antonyms : attractive

Example : “his struggle against the forces of evil”

7) asserts

Meaning : state a fact or belief confidently and forcefully.

Tamil Meaning : வலியுறுத்துகிறது

Synonyms : allege , argue

Antonyms : conceal

Example : “the company asserts that the cuts will not affect development”

8) wards

Meaning : a separate room in a hospital, typically one allocated to a particular type of patient.

Tamil Meaning : வார்டுகள்

Synonyms : avert , block

Antonyms : open

Example : “a children’s ward”

9) spurs

Meaning : a thing that prompts or encourages someone; an incentive.

Tamil Meaning : துருத்த

Synonyms : activation , actuation

Antonyms : hindrance

Example : “wars act as a spur to practical invention”

10) exploitative

Meaning : making use of a situation or treating others unfairly in order to gain an advantage or benefit.

Tamil Meaning : சுரண்டலை

Synonyms : corrupt , crafty

Antonyms : frank

Example : “an exploitative form of labour”

11) scavengers

Meaning : an animal that feeds on carrion, dead plant material, or refuse.

Tamil Meaning : பரந்து விரிந்து

Synonyms : hunter , scrounger

Antonyms : contaminator

Example : “carcasses are usually quickly disposed of by scavengers”

12) disconcertingly

Meaning : disturb the composure of; unsettle.

Tamil Meaning : கெடு

Synonyms : agitate , perplex

Antonyms : assist

Example : “the abrupt change of subject disconcerted her”

13) caricaturing

Meaning : make or give a caricature of.

Tamil Meaning : கேலிச்சித்திர

Synonyms : mock , parody

Antonyms : applaud

Example : “he was famous enough to be caricatured by Private Eye

14) decimating

Meaning : kill, destroy, or remove a large proportion of.

Tamil Meaning : அழிவு

Synonyms : annihilate , slaughter

Antonyms : bear

Example : “the inhabitants of the country had been decimated”

15) callous

Meaning : showing or having an insensitive and cruel disregard for others.

Tamil Meaning : இரக்கமற்ற

Synonyms : careless , insensitive

Antonyms : concerned

Example : “his callous comments about the murder made me shiver”

16) impunity

Meaning : exemption from punishment or freedom from the injurious consequences of an action.

Tamil Meaning : தண்டனை

Synonyms : immunity , exemption

Antonyms : denial

Example : “the impunity enjoyed by military officers implicated in civilian killings”

17) conservancy

Meaning : a body concerned with the preservation of natural resources.

Tamil Meaning : பாதுகாக்கும் முறை

Synonyms : preservation , protection

Antonyms : certification

Example : “the Nature Conservancy”

18) offence

Meaning : a breach of a law or rule; an illegal act.

Tamil Meaning : குற்றம்

Synonyms : breach , infraction

Antonyms : behavior

Example : “the new offence of obtaining property by deception”

19) enforceable

Meaning :compel observance of or compliance with (a law, rule, or obligation).

Tamil Meaning : அமல்படுத்தப்பட

Synonyms : accomplish , administer

Antonyms : cease

Example :”the role of the police is to enforce the law”

20) discrimination

Meaning : recognition and understanding of the difference between one thing and another.

Tamil Meaning : பாகுபாடு

Synonyms : bigotry , hatred

Antonyms : equity

Example : “discrimination between right and wrong”

21) triumphal

Meaning : made, carried out, or used in celebration of a great victory or achievement.

Tamil Meaning : ராஜாவைப் போல

Synonyms : arrived , champion

Antonyms : dejected

Example : “a vast triumphal arch”

22) deployed

Meaning : move (troops or equipment) into position for military action.

Tamil Meaning : நிறுத்தி

Synonyms : expand , open

Antonyms : conclude

Example : “forces were deployed at strategic locations”

23) oppressions

Meaning : prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or exercise of authority.

Tamil Meaning : இடுக்கண்

Synonyms : abuse , brutality

Antonyms : niceness

Example : “a region shattered by oppression and killing”

24) proscription

Meaning : condemnation or denunciation of something.

Tamil Meaning : தடைநீக்கம்

Synonyms : ban , constraint

Antonyms : allowance

Example : “he plays a the priest whose moral proscriptions lead only to catastrophe”

25) diligence

Meaning : careful and persistent work or effort.

Tamil Meaning : விடாமுயற்சி

Synonyms : alertness , intensity

Antonyms : inactivity

Example : “few party members challenge his diligence as an MP”

26) apposite

Meaning : apt in the circumstances or in relation to something.

Tamil Meaning : தகுதியான

Synonyms : germane , relevant

Antonyms : inappropriate

Example : “an apposite quotation”

27) ignominy

Meaning : public shame or disgrace.

Tamil Meaning : இழிவு

Synonyms : baseness , lowness

Antonyms : honor

Example : “the ignominy of being imprisoned”

28) recognition

Meaning : identification of a thing or person from previous encounters or knowledge.

Tamil Meaning : அங்கீகாரம்

Synonyms : acceptance , admission

Antonyms : denial

Example : “she saw him pass by without a sign of recognition”

29) fraternity

Meaning : a group of people sharing a common profession or interests.

Tamil Meaning : சகோதரத்துவம்

Synonyms : camaraderie , guild

Antonyms : sorority

Example : “members of the hunting fraternity”

30) contemplate

Meaning : look thoughtfully for a long time at.

Tamil Meaning : சிந்திக்க

Synonyms : aim , consider

Antonyms : forget

Example : “he contemplated his image in the mirrors”

31) virulent

Meaning : (of a disease or poison) extremely severe or harmful in its effects.

Tamil Meaning : சிந்திக்க

Synonyms : venomous

Antonyms : kind

Example : “a virulent strain of influenza”

32) steep

Meaning : soak (food or tea) in water or other liquid so as to extract its flavour or to soften it.

Tamil Meaning : செங்குத்தான

Synonyms : abrupt , lofty

Antonyms : calm

Example : “the chillies are steeped in olive oil”

33) scavenging

Meaning : search for and collect (anything usable) from discarded waste.

Tamil Meaning : தேடுவர்

Synonyms : lurk , stroll

Antonyms : ignore

Example : “people sell junk scavenged from the garbage”

34) sustenance

Meaning : food and drink regarded as a source of strength; nourishment.

Tamil Meaning : வாழ்வாதாரம்

Synonyms : livelihood , nutrition

Antonyms : deprivation

Example : “poor rural economies turned to potatoes for sustenance”

35) unequivocally

Meaning : in a way that leaves no doubt.

Tamil Meaning : ஐயத்திற்கு இடமின்றி

Synonyms : certainly , easily

Antonyms : doubtfully

Example : “we unequivocally condemn any violence in the protest”

36) breach

Meaning : an act of breaking or failing to observe a law, agreement, or code of conduct.

Tamil Meaning : மீறினால்

Synonyms : crack , rift

Antonyms : closing

Example : “a breach of confidence”

37) contradiction

Meaning : a combination of statements, ideas, or features which are opposed to one another.

Tamil Meaning : முரண்பாடு

Synonyms : conflict , difference

Antonyms : accord

Example : “the proposed new system suffers from a set of internal contradictions”

38) permeates

Meaning : spread throughout (something); pervade.

Tamil Meaning : ஊடுருவி

Synonyms : imbue , pervade

Antonyms : dry

Example : “the aroma of soup permeated the air”

39) impulses

Meaning : a sudden strong and unreflective urge or desire to act.

Tamil Meaning : தூண்டுதலின்

Synonyms : desire , feeling

Antonyms : concrete

Example : “I had an almost irresistible impulse to giggle”

40) despite

Meaning : without being affected by; in spite of.

Tamil Meaning : போதிலும்

Synonyms : against , although

Antonyms : exalt

Example : “he remains a great leader despite age and infirmity”


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