THE HINDU EDITORIAL – September 18, 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) 2+2 is less than the sum of its parts?

India risks going down the ‘slippery slope’ of becoming a U.S. acolyte in conflicts not of its choosing

The much heralded 2+2 Dialogue between the U.S. and India finally fructified on September 6. The 2+2 format, involving the Defence and Foreign Ministers of the two countries, unconventional though it may be from an Indian standpoint, is a familiar tactic employed by the U.S., intended to align the military, strategic and diplomatic policies of the involved countries. It is often intended to signify a ‘special relationship’ between the U.S. and the concerned nation, even as it seeks to underscore the U.S. dictated ‘rules-based global order’.

In the past, India was chary of endorsing the 2+2 formula, considering it alien to traditional diplomatic and strategic intercourse between nations. However, the U.S. has been persistent, and exploiting the current state of ‘special relations’ between the U.S. and India, it succeeded in overcoming the inhibitions of India’s political, diplomatic and strategic community. It went out of its way to assuage many of India’s concerns in the run-up to the talks and there was, hence, a great deal of expectation about possible outcomes.

Lop-sided outcome

Some forward movement has taken place, but it would seem that the U.S. has been the main beneficiary. With this Dialogue, the U.S. also seems to have succeeded in co-opting India into the U.S. strategic framework aimed at the containment of China. The moot question for India is whether in the 21st century it wishes to play such a role, notwithstanding the obvious advantages stemming from access to state-of-the-art U.S. defence and security technologies.

The principal takeaway from the 2+2 Dialogue was the signing of the Communications, Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) that is expected to facilitate India’s access to advanced U.S. defence systems, and “enable India to optimally utilise existing U.S. origin platforms”. It is also expected to help the armed forces of both countries to enhance interoperability.

COMCASA is part of four foundational agreements the U.S. believes are critical to establish a foolproof security relationship. It has for years persisted in its efforts to get India to sign the four agreements. So far, it has succeeded in getting India to accede to three. The General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) was signed in 2002. The Logistic Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) was signed in 2016. COMCASA has now been finalised, and the deal has been sweetened by the U.S. offering to transfer specialised equipment for encrypted communications for U.S. origin platforms like C-17, C-130 and P-8I aircraft.

COMCASA tipping point

Far more than the other two foundational agreements, COMCASA entails greater integration with the U.S. military. The implications of this can be far-reaching. Having been earlier accorded the status of a major defence partner, and with COMCASA now affording access to advanced defence systems and U.S. origin platforms — that involve obligations to share operational intelligence in real time — India risks going down the ‘slippery slope’ of becoming a U.S. acolyte in conflicts not of its choosing.

Among the more important advanced defence systems and platforms that India hopes to secure are: state-of-the-art items such as the Weaponised Sea Guardian (a high altitude long endurance Drone), the Armed Predator-B, and cutting edge military and encrypted communication technologies. These can be expected to tie India firmly into the U.S.-driven military-security-intelligence grid.

As part of the exercise to integrate India with its objectives, the U.S. once again reiterated the importance and significance of India as a ‘strategic partner and a major and independent stakeholder in world affairs’. This is further sweetened by implicit references to the role of Pakistan as an incubator of terrorism. There is also a mention of further expansion of bilateral India-U.S. counter-terrorism cooperation. A new offer on display is of facilitating closer relations between the U.S.’s Defence Innovation Unit and India’s Defence Innovation Organisation, intended to progress joint projects for co-production and co-development under the aegis of the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative.

It is not clear at this time whether all this would earn India a reprieve from U.S. sanctions directed at countries trading with Russia and Iran. India is interpreting U.S. affirmations that it would not be sanctioned for its ‘legacy platforms’, to mean that the purchase of the S-400 Missile Defence Systems from Russia would not be affected. New purchases would, however, come under the purview of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). Vis-à-vis Iran, there are even less signs of a ‘give’ in the U.S. stance. Meanwhile, it is certain that India will come under further pressure from the U.S. to sign the fourth foundational agreement — Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA).

What benefit does India derive from this 2+2 exercise? By its offer of a string of state-of-the-art defence items under ‘controlled conditions’, the U.S. is seeking to reinforce its claims to becoming the principal defence supplier to India, and in the process displace Russia from this perch. This is hardly an unmixed blessing. Russia has been steadfast in its defence commitments to India, and is not likely to take kindly to its displacement as India’s No.1 defence supplier. Any counter moves by Russia, such as seeking out Pakistan as an outlet for its defence items, will not be to India’s benefit.

Our tilt towards the U.S. is also taking place at a time when the world sees the U.S. as a ‘declining power’. This is not 1991, when the Soviet Union had collapsed, China was not a dominant economic power, the U.S. had just demonstrated its unassailable military strength in Iraq, etc. Exhausted by a succession of past interventions, the U.S. is currently seen, in Asia at least, as largely in retreat.

On the other hand, the world today confronts a post-Cold War situation. This features China as the second biggest world power and possibly among the biggest military powers. Considerable parts of Asia are already tilting in its favour. There is also the phenomenon of the re-emergence of Russia. At the same time, everything points to a weakened Europe.

The U.S. image in Asia further stands tarnished thanks to some of its ‘strategic retreats’ in the recent period, viz., the failure of the ‘pivot to Asia’ and U.S. President Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ policy. The U.S. threat to use force to impose its diktats has again lost much of its meaning due to its inability to rein in China’s aggressive postures in the East and South China Seas. It has also been unable to effectively contain China’s ambitions to emerge as a key naval entity in the Indo-Pacific region. At this time, for India to be tagged with the label of an U.S. acolyte is hardly the best, or the next best, option.

Strategic integrity

India has struggled for long to maintain its strategic integrity, apart from its strategic autonomy and independence. There were several occasions in the past for it to be strategically aligned with the U.S., but India was not willing to accept the terms of such alignment. China is a matter of concern, but not an imminent threat as far as India is concerned. The entire 2+2 Dialogue, on the other hand, seemed to centre on the threat posed by China and the need to contain Chinese aggression through force, or display of force, under a U.S. umbrella. Pakistan is the more immediate threat for India, and not solely on account of incubating terrorism. We have real concerns about Pakistan’s emergence as a nuclear threat, engaged in increasing the numbers of its nuclear warheads, developing several new delivery systems, creating new plutonium production and uranium enrichment facilities, etc. Pakistan’s threat to build new short-range nuclear capable weapon systems is again a real danger. None of this seems to fall within U.S. purview at present.

U.S. blandishments should not, hence, blind us to current realities. There has to be a limit to what we seek from other nations in terms of arms. In any case, there can never be any compromise with our strategic autonomy or the strategic direction that we have chosen to follow all these years.

B) Himalayan divide: on the drift in India-Nepal ties

India must fix its lines of communication with Nepal and arrest the drift in ties

Despite several attempts at a reset, ties between India and Nepal continue to be a cause for concern. The disconnect between the two governments was most visible at the seven-nation Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation military exercises that concluded on Sunday. After confirming its participation in the exercises in June, the Nepalese Army was made to withdraw its contingent due to a “political decision”; it sent only an observer mission at the last hour. Officials in Prime Minister K.P. Oli’s office said that they were upset with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “unilateral” announcement of the multilateral exercises during the BIMSTEC summit on August 30-31, without having formally proposed it to the hosts. India’s explanation that it had broached the issue with BIMSTEC members directly did not cut much ice with Kathmandu; even the contingent from Thailand did not join the counter-terror exercises because of lack of adequate notice. Nepal’s decision to join China for a 12-day Mt Everest Friendship Exercise in Sichuan province, also focussed on anti-terrorism drills, drives the wedge in further. New Delhi and Kathmandu must put an end to the unseemly controversy by renewing diplomatic efforts over the issue. India and Nepal don’t just share an open border; they have shared the deepest military links, with both countries traditionally awarding each other’s Army chiefs the honorary rank of General. Such unique ties must not be undermined due to lack of communication.

The larger geopolitical context of the discord over the military exercises must not be ignored. In his current term as Nepal’s Prime Minister, since February, Mr. Oli has said he will not be guided by India on several matters. Despite New Delhi signalling its discomfiture with the volume of Chinese investment in hydropower and infrastructure and transport projects, Nepal went ahead recently and finalised an ambitious connectivity proposal that will eventually link Kathmandu to Shigatse by rail; this will give Nepali goods access to Chinese sea-ports at Tianjin, Shenzhen, Lianyungang and Zhanjiang, and land ports in Lanzhou, Lhasa and Shigatse. Much of Mr. Oli’s rancour draws from the past. India is still blamed for the 2015 economic blockade against Nepal. It is also held responsible for attempts to destabilise Mr. Oli’s previous tenure as Prime Minister during 2015-2016. New Delhi cannot turn a blind eye to the rebuffs, and must address them. At such a time, the Army chief, General Bipin Rawat’s statement on BIMSTEC, that “geography” will ensure that countries like Bhutan and Nepal “cannot delink themselves” from India, could have been avoided; such comments unnerve India’s smaller neighbours and are misleading. Modern technology and connectivity projects could well take away geography’s role as a guarantor of good relations.


1) heralded

Meaning : be a sign that (something) is about to happen.

Tamil Meaning : கட்டிய

Synonyms : announce , broadcast

Antonyms : conceal

Example : “the speech heralded a change in policy”

2) fructified

Meaning : make (something) fruitful or productive.

Synonyms : fecundate , impregnate

Antonyms : thaw

Example : “they were sacrificed in order that their blood might fructify the crops”

3) chary

Meaning : cautiously or suspiciously reluctant to do something.

Tamil Meaning : எச்சரிக்கை

Synonyms : calculating , canny

Antonyms : careless

Example : “she had been chary of telling the whole truth”

4) persistent

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

Tamil Meaning : தொடர்ந்து

Synonyms : enduring , insistent

Antonyms : ceasing

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

5) exploiting

Meaning : make full use of and derive benefit from (a resource).

Tamil Meaning : பயன்படுத்தி

Synonyms : apply , employ

Antonyms : misuse

Example : “500 companies sprang up to exploit this new technology”

6) assuage

Meaning : make (an unpleasant feeling) less intense.

Tamil Meaning : மட்டுப்படுத்தலாம்

Synonyms : allay , mitigate

Antonyms : incite

Example : “the letter assuaged the fears of most members”

7) moot

Meaning : having little or no practical relevance.

Tamil Meaning : வாதத்திற்குரிய

Synonyms : debatable , unresolved

Antonyms : definite

Example : “the whole matter is becoming increasingly moot”

8) stemming

Meaning : originate in or be caused by.

Tamil Meaning : தடுக்கப்பட்ட

Synonyms : arise , derive

Antonyms : decrease

Example : “many of the universities’ problems stem from rapid expansion”

9) Compatibility

Meaning : a state in which two things are able to exist or occur together without problems or conflict.

Tamil Meaning : இணக்கம்

Synonyms : unity

Antonyms : discord

Example : “he argues for the compatibility of science and religion”

10) accede

Meaning : agree to a demand, request, or treaty.

Tamil Meaning : இணைவதற்கு

Synonyms : acquiesce , admit

Antonyms : disagree

Example : “the authorities did not accede to the strikers’ demands”

11) entails

Meaning : involve (something) as a necessary or inevitable part or consequence.

Tamil Meaning : இன்றியமையாத

Synonyms : encompass

Antonyms : exclude

Example : “a situation which entails considerable risks”

12) implications

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

Tamil Meaning : தாக்கங்கள்

Synonyms : indication , overtone

Antonyms : proof

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

13) obligations

Meaning : an act or course of action to which a person is morally or legally bound; a duty or commitment.

Tamil Meaning : கடமை

Synonyms : burden , contract

Antonyms : asset

Example : “I have an obligation to look after her”

14) acolyte

Meaning : an assistant or follower.

Tamil Meaning : உதவியாளரான

Synonyms : aid

Antonyms : rival

Example : “she runs the department through a small group of acolytes”

15) reiterated

Meaning : say something again or a number of times, typically for emphasis or clarity.

Tamil Meaning : வலியுறுத்தி

Synonyms : repeat , restate

Antonyms : take back

Example : “she reiterated that the government would remain steadfast in its support”

16) implicit

Meaning : suggested though not directly expressed.

Tamil Meaning :உள்ளார்ந்த

Synonyms : constant contained

Antonyms : disloyal

Example : “comments seen as implicit criticism of the policies”

17) aegis

Meaning : the protection, backing, or support of a particular person or organization.

Synonyms : auspices

Antonyms : attack

Example : “the negotiations were conducted under the aegis of the UN”

18) reprieve

Meaning : cancel or postpone the punishment of (someone, especially someone condemned to death).

Tamil Meaning : இடை ஓய்வு

Synonyms : absolution , clemency

Antonyms : continuation

Example : “under the new regime, prisoners under sentence of death were reprieved”

19) affirmations

Meaning : the action or process of affirming something.

Tamil Meaning : உறுதிச்சான்றுகள்

Synonyms : assertion

Antonyms : denial

Example : “he nodded in affirmation”

20) Adversaries

Meaning : one’s opponent in a contest, conflict, or dispute.

Tamil Meaning : விரோதி

Synonyms : attacker , enemy

Antonyms : friend

Example : “Davis beat his old adversary in the quarter-finals”

21) reinforce

Meaning : strengthen or support (an object or substance), especially with additional material.

Tamil Meaning : வலுப்படுத்தும்

Synonyms : buttress , enlarge

Antonyms : decrease

Example : “the helmet has been reinforced with a double layer of cork”

22) displace

Meaning : take over the place, position, or role of.

Tamil Meaning : இடமாற்றம்

Synonyms : evict , uproot

Antonyms : admit

Example : “he believes that books may be displaced by the electronic word”

23) steadfast

Meaning : resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering.

Tamil Meaning : உறுதியான

Synonyms : abiding , inflexible

Antonyms : dishonest

Example : “steadfast loyalty”

24) Soviet

Meaning : of or concerning the former Soviet Union.

Synonyms : assembly , diet

Example : “the Soviet leader”

25) unassailable

Meaning : unable to be attacked, questioned, or defeated.

Tamil Meaning : தாக்குதலுக்குட்படாத

Synonyms : absolute , conclusive

Antonyms : disputable

Example : “an unassailable lead”

26) tarnished

Meaning : lose or cause to lose lustre, especially as a result of exposure to air or moisture.

Tamil Meaning : களங்கம்

Synonyms : damage

Antonyms : assist

Example : “silver tarnishes too easily”

27) rein

Meaning : check or guide (a horse) by pulling on its reins.

Tamil Meaning : லகான்

Synonyms : curb

Antonyms : release

Example : “he reined in his horse and waited”

28) postures

Meaning : the position in which someone holds their body when standing or sitting.

Tamil Meaning : தோரணைகள்

Synonyms : aspect attitude

Antonyms : Softly

Example : “I got out of the car in an alert posture”

29) imminent

Meaning : about to happen.

Tamil Meaning : உடனடி

Synonyms : forthcoming

Antonyms : distant

Example : “they were in imminent danger of being swept away”

30) enrichment

Meaning : the action of improving or enhancing the quality or value of something.

Tamil Meaning : செறிவூட்டல்

Synonyms : enhancement

Antonyms : injury

Example : “enrichment of the soil for more plant growth”

31) confirming

Meaning : establish the truth or correctness of (something previously believed or suspected to be the case).

Tamil Meaning : உறுதி

Synonyms : approve , sign

Antonyms : Contradict

Example : “if these fears are confirmed, the outlook for the economy will be dire”

32) contingent

Meaning : subject to chance.

Synonyms : unforeseen , probable

Antonyms : designed

Example : “the contingent nature of the job”

33) wedge

Meaning : a piece of wood, metal, etc. having one thick end and tapering to a thin edge, that is driven between two objects or parts of an object to secure or separate them.

Tamil Meaning : ஆப்பு

Synonyms : chunk

Antonyms : whole

Example : “the door was secured by a wedge”

34) discomfiture

Meaning : a feeling of unease or embarrassment; awkwardness.

Tamil Meaning : அறிவேன்

Synonyms : agitation , beating

Antonyms : attainment

Example : “many MPs are secretly enjoying his discomfiture”

35) tenure

Meaning : the holding of an office.

Tamil Meaning : பதவி

Synonyms : ownership , regime

Antonyms : release

Example : “his tenure of the premiership would be threatened”

36) controversy

Meaning : prolonged public disagreement or heated discussion.

Tamil Meaning : சர்ச்சை

Synonyms : argument , fuss

Antonyms : agreement

Example : “the design of the building has caused controversy”

37) guarantor

Meaning : a person or thing that gives or acts as a guarantee.

Tamil Meaning : உத்தரவாதமளிப்போரும்

Synonyms : backer , underwriter

Antonyms : hesitation

Example : “the role of the police as guarantors of public order”

38) discord

Meaning : disagreement between people.

Tamil Meaning : கூறின

Synonyms : disharmony

Antonyms : accord

Example : “a prosperous family who showed no signs of discord”

39) honorary

Meaning : conferred as an honour, without the usual requirements or functions.

Tamil Meaning : கெளரவ

Synonyms : titular

Antonyms : disgraceful

Example : “an honorary doctorate”

40) diplomatic

Meaning : of or concerning diplomacy.

Tamil Meaning : தூதரக

Synonyms : conciliatory

Antonyms : rude

Example : “diplomatic relations with Britain were broken”


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