THE HINDU EDITORIAL – September 5, 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.

The last battle: on the Idlib crisis

While there are no easy solutions in Idlib, Damascus must avert a humanitarian crisis

The large-scale mobilisation of troops by the Syrian government and its allies around the northwestern Idlib province, the last major opposition-held enclave, has led to speculation about an imminent attack as well as calls to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe. Russia, the Syrian regime’s main backer, has launched military manoeuvres in the Mediterranean region, while Syrian troops and Iran-trained militias have mobilised in the Idlib region. The government of President Bashar al-Assad says its forces will go “all the way in Idlib” to fight the jihadists. The regime, which had been on the brink of collapse in September 2015, is now firmly in control of most of the territory. Only Idlib and the Kurdish-held eastern region are outside its grasp. The Kurds, however, seek a political solution for autonomy and are not inclined towards an armed rebellion. This essentially makes the fight for Idlib the final battle of the Syrian civil war. But there are no easy solutions to the Idlib crisis. The province is mostly run by jihadists of the Tahrir al-Sham, formerly al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch. There is a high concentration of foreign fighters in Idlib, including an estimated 10,000 terrorists. An all-out attack against these groups inside the province, which is home to about three million people, including a million refugees displaced from war zones elsewhere in Syria, could well trigger another humanitarian crisis.

Abu Mohammad al-Golani, the former al-Qaeda leader who commands Tahrir, has said his group is prepared for war and warned rebels against any surrender deal with the regime. Besides, unlike Aleppo or Eastern Ghouta, territories which the regime recaptured using brute force, Turkey is deeply involved in Idlib. It backs one of the rebel groups and has observers on the ground. Turkey, which fears a massive refugee influx from Idlib in the event of a war, is firmly opposed to an attack. As for Mr. Assad and his Iranian backers, they cannot carry this out without Russia’s help. They want Russia to offer its superior air power as well as fight diplomatic battles on behalf of Damascus. This is something Russia has done in the past. But in Idlib, Russian President Vladimir Putin faces a dilemma — he wants Mr. Assad to win, but he doesn’t want to lose Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The middle path is to exhaust other options before going to war. As the United Nations has suggested, the government troops should first open humanitarian corridors for civilians to move to safer locations. The UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, has offered to mediate between the regime and the rebels. Moscow should give it a chance and also get Turkey involved in the process. The goal should be not just a military victory, but also a political win. After the war, Russia would want the full rehabilitation of the Syrian regime, with political and financial help from other countries. More bloodshed and atrocities against civilians will only complicate that process.

Routes to Afghanistan: on 2+2 talks

The 2+2 talks must take into account U.S. policy as well as India’s own role in the region

A year after U.S. President Donald Trump announced his “South Asia policy” for Afghanistan, senior American officials will be in the region for talks this week. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary James Mattis visit Delhi for the first 2+2 talks on Thursday with their Indian counterparts, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Mr. Mattis is expected to come via Kabul, while Mr. Pompeo and U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, will swing by Islamabad.

A year later

Afghanistan today is by no means how Mr. Trump had envisioned it last August: in terms of the security situation, regional solutions for the peace process as well as economic development. The past few weeks have seen a spike in violence, with the Taliban carrying out a set of coordinated assaults around Afghanistan, rejecting an offer of a three-month ceasefire by President Ashraf Ghani and laying siege to Ghazni city. Before U.S. Special Forces and the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces were able to clear them out, the Taliban had shown up the fragile hold Kabul has on this provincial capital less than 150 km away. The fight against the Taliban took massive U.S. air fire power as well to finally secure Ghazni, with the once bustling city now war-torn. While the Taliban suffered heavy casualties, so did the Afghan Army.

The impact of the Taliban assault in Ghazni and other cities in August, including the deadly bombing of a Kabul school, was three-fold. It cast serious doubt on any U.S. plans to draw down troops as Mr. Trump may have envisaged; it blew to bits the hope that the June Id ceasefire and the meeting between U.S. special envoy Alice Wells and Taliban officials in Doha in July meant that the Taliban was committed to the peace process; and it also showed that despite six months of concerted American punitive actions on Islamabad, the Pakistan establishment is not shutting down support for Taliban fighters. In an emotional public statement, Mr. Ghani accused Pakistan of treating the terrorists in hospitals close to the Afghan-Pakistan border, while his Ministry of Defence said Pakistani fighters, including from the Lashkar-e-Toiba were among the insurgents. Pakistan denied the charges, suggesting that the dead Pakistanis were actually “labourers” working in Ghazni. The violence this year has also put 2018 on course to be the deadliest year for Afghan civilians, with an average of nine people killed every day, according to UN data.

Kabul’s security structure has seen a dramatic series of sackings and resignations in the aftermath. National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar has been replaced by Afghanistan’s Ambassador to the U.S., Hamdullah Mohib. The Defence Minister, Interior Minister, head of the National Directorate of Security and deputy chief of the National Security Council all tendered their resignations, reportedly over differences with Mr. Ghani’s working; he hasn’t accepted them. The developments, along with the faltering peace process, will make the task of holding parliamentary elections due in October, as well as presidential elections in April 2019, much more challenging.

If the U.S.’s efforts inside Afghanistan have fared badly this past year, its strategy in the region, particularly with reference to Russia, China and Iran, has been even more perplexing. Last week, Russia put off multi-nation talks in Moscow scheduled for September 4, which would have also brought a Taliban delegation to the table, after Mr. Ghani, ostensibly under U.S. pressure, pulled out. However, the U.S. has itself entered into direct engagement with the same delegation led by “political chief” Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, a UN-sanctioned former Minister in the Taliban government, when Ms. Wells went to Qatar, making U.S. disavowal of the Moscow process seem more churlish than principled.

The Iran angle

The Trump administration’s collision course with Iran is another hurdle to realising its South Asia policy. Iran is a neighbour to both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and any action against Tehran will have consequences on the region. Second, the new American push to sanction and isolate Iran by November will undoubtedly shift the focus from the task of resolving the situation in Afghanistan. This mirrors earlier U.S. offensive actions — in Iraq in 2003, Libya in 2011, Syria in 2014 — each of which took its eye off the ball in Afghanistan. Finally, Iran is also an alternative route for landlocked Afghanistan’s trade routes to the sea, which ties in with India’s desire to circumvent Pakistan by developing the Chabahar port. In fact, if Washington wasn’t at odds with Tehran, it may have benefited from access to the alternative supply lines to U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Insisting instead on India cutting off ties with Iran, as successive U.S. delegations have done in the past few months, will only jeopardise this route, and affect Iran’s desire to assist with the access.

As a result, India, which Mr. Trump named as a “critical part” of his South Asia strategy last year, has to balance its many bilateral and regional commitments to Afghanistan, while discussing the next steps at the 2+2 talks. To begin with, it is necessary that the Narendra Modi government spells out clearly its policy towards talks with the Taliban. Before Afghanistan pulled out of the Moscow talks, for example, the government had given Russia the impression that it would be willing to participate in the talks. If that is the case, India would also have to become party, hypothetically, to any future agreement that brings the Taliban into a power-sharing arrangement in Kabul, and the government must carefully study the implications of that departure from past policy.

Next, India must focus on assisting Afghanistan in every manner possible to ensure that the country’s elections are as peaceful and participative as possible. India’s development assistance has been the source of its considerable influence and goodwill among Afghan citizens, and this is not the time to make cuts. The outlay for 2017-18 at ₹365.96 crore was far lower than its commitment in 2015-2016 at ₹880.44 crore, according to figures tabled in Parliament. Officials say this is because major projects, such as the Salma Dam and Parliament building in Kabul, that began in 2008-09, have now been completed. But this begs the question, why are more ambitious projects not being planned? While the current crop of Small Development Projects launched in 2016, encompassing drinking water plans for several cities including Kabul, supply of buses, construction of low-cost housing, and assistance in health and education are important, India’s regional status demands more.

Time to be double-quick

On the military front as well, India must move quickly to provide helicopters as well as engineering/tech support for Afghan hardware. India’s plans at Chabahar are equally important to its efforts at keeping its lines to Afghanistan independent of other considerations, and Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale’s visit to Kabul next week for a trilateral India-Afghanistan-Iran meeting will be important to take them forward.

Lastly, the government must realise that its consistent undermining of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) because of problems with Pakistan is also weakening Afghanistan’s engagement with the subcontinent, which India had worked hard to foster. The conversations at the 2+2 meet on Thursday must take into account not just India’s role in Mr. Trump’s South Asia policy but its own role in its neighbourhood.


1) enclave

Meaning : a portion of territory surrounded by a larger territory whose inhabitants are culturally or ethnically distinct.

Tamil Meaning : உறைவிடமான

Synonyms : isle , reef

Antonyms : outside

Example : “the besieged Muslim enclave of Srebrenica”

2) speculation

Meaning : the forming of a theory or conjecture without firm evidence.

Tamil Meaning : ஊகம்

Synonyms : belief , opinion

Antonyms : reality

Example : “there has been widespread speculation that he plans to quit”

3) imminent

Meaning : about to happen.

Tamil Meaning : உடனடி

Synonyms : immediate , looming

Antonyms : distant

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

4) catastrophe

Meaning : an event causing great and usually sudden damage or suffering; a disaster.

Tamil Meaning : பேரழிவை

Synonyms : accident , adversity

Antonyms : advantage

Example : “an environmental catastrophe”

5) manoeuvres

Meaning : a movement or series of moves requiring skill and care.

Tamil Meaning : சூழ்ச்சி

Synonyms : operation

Example : “snowboarders performed daring manoeuvres on precipitous slopes”

6) brink

Meaning : the extreme edge of land before a steep slope or a body or water.

Tamil Meaning : விளிம்பில்

Synonyms : periphery , threshold

Antonyms : center

Example : “the brink of the cliffs”

7) autonomy

Meaning : the right or condition of self-government.

Tamil Meaning : தன்னாட்சி

Synonyms : freedom

Antonyms : dependence

Example : “between the First and Second World Wars, Canada gained greater autonomy from Britain”

8) inclined

Meaning : be favourably disposed towards or willing to do something.

Synonyms : prone , apt

Antonyms : unwilling

Example : “he was inclined to accept the offer”

9) rebellion

Meaning : an act of armed resistance to an established government or leader.

Tamil Meaning : கிளர்ச்சி

Synonyms : dissent

Antonyms : obedience

Example : “the authorities put down a rebellion by landless colonials”

10) displaced

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

Tamil Meaning : இடம்பெயர்ந்த

Synonyms : deranged

Antonyms : reinstated

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

11) influx

Meaning : an arrival or entry of large numbers of people or things.

Tamil Meaning : உட்புகுதல்

Synonyms : arrival

Antonyms : retreat

Example : “a massive influx of tourists”

12) diplomatic

Meaning : of or concerning diplomacy.

Tamil Meaning : தூதரக

Synonyms : conciliatory

Antonyms : strategic

Example : “diplomatic relations with Britain were broken”

13) envoy

Meaning : a messenger or representative, especially one on a diplomatic mission.

Tamil Meaning : தூதுவர்

Synonyms : delegate , diplomat

Antonyms : receiver

Example : “the UN special envoy to Yugoslavia”

14) atrocities

Meaning : an extremely wicked or cruel act, typically one involving physical violence or injury.

Synonyms : barbarity

Antonyms : kindness

Example : “a textbook which detailed war atrocities”

15) counterparts

Meaning : a person or thing that corresponds to or has the same function as another person or thing in a different place or situation.

Tamil Meaning : வகையறாக்களை

Synonyms : complement

Antonyms : original

Example : “the minister held talks with his French counterpart”

16) swing

Meaning : move or cause to move back and forth or from side to side while suspended or on an axis.

Synonyms : fluctuation , stroke

Antonyms : stillness

Example : “her long black skirt swung about her legs”

17) envisioned

Meaning : imagine as a future possibility; visualize.

Tamil Meaning : காணப்பட்டது

Synonyms : anticipate , conceive

Antonyms : ignore

Example : “she envisioned the admiring glances of guests seeing her home”

18) spike

Meaning : impale on or pierce with a sharp point.

Synonyms : impale

Antonyms : detach

Example : “she spiked another oyster”

19) assaults

Meaning : make a physical attack on.

Tamil Meaning : தாக்குதல்கள்

Synonyms : aggression

Antonyms : retreat

Example : “he pleaded guilty to assaulting a police officer”

20) siege

Meaning : a military operation in which enemy forces surround a town or building.

Tamil Meaning : முற்றுகை

Synonyms : closure

Antonyms : opening

Example : “Verdun had withstood a siege of ten weeks”

21) fragile

Meaning : (of an object) easily broken or damaged.

Tamil Meaning : உடையக்கூடிய

Synonyms : delicate

Antonyms : able

Example : “fragile items such as glass and china”

22) provincial

Meaning : an inhabitant of the regions outside the capital city of a country

Tamil Meaning : மாகாண

Synonyms : local , rural

Antonyms : broad

Example : “a town populated by money-grubbers, philistines, and self-satisfied provincials”

23) bombing

Meaning : an act or instance of dropping or detonating a bomb somewhere.

Synonyms : shelling

Antonyms :Example : “a series of terrorist bombings”

24) assistance

Meaning : the action of helping someone by sharing work.

Tamil Meaning : உதவி

Synonyms : benefit

Antonyms : damage

Example : “the work was completed with the assistance of carpenters”

25) punitive

Meaning : inflicting or intended as punishment.

Tamil Meaning : தண்டனை

Synonyms : penal , vindictive

Antonyms : beneficial

Example : “he called for punitive measures against the Eastern bloc”

26) insurgents.

Meaning : a person fighting against a government or invading force; a rebel or revolutionary.

Tamil Meaning : கிளர்ச்சியாளர்கள்.

Synonyms : mutineer

Example : “an attack by armed insurgents”

27) denied

Meaning : state that one refuses to admit the truth or existence of.

Tamil Meaning : மறுத்தார்

Synonyms : ban , reject

Antonyms : accept

Example : “both firms deny any responsibility for the tragedy”

28) sackings

Meaning : an act of dismissing someone from employment.

Tamil Meaning : வேலைநீக்கங்களை

Synonyms : mischief

Antonyms : hired

Example : “the offence merited a written warning that could lead to a sacking”

29) aftermath.

Meaning : the consequences or after-effects of a significant unpleasant event.

Tamil Meaning : பின்னர்.

Synonyms : impact

Antonyms : cause

Example : “food prices soared in the aftermath of the drought”

30) tendered

Meaning : offer or present (something) formally.

Tamil Meaning : ஒப்பந்த பத்திரங்களை

Synonyms : offered

Antonyms : exacted

Example : “he tendered his resignation as leader”

31) perplexing

Meaning : completely baffling; very puzzling.

Tamil Meaning : பதற

Synonyms : complicated

Antonyms : clear

Example : “a perplexing problem”

32) delegation

Meaning : a body of delegates or representatives; a deputation.

Tamil Meaning : குழு

Synonyms : apportioning

Antonyms : keeping

Example : “a delegation of teachers”

33) ostensibly

Meaning : as appears or is stated to be true, though not necessarily so; apparently.

Tamil Meaning : மேம்போக்காக

Synonyms : seemingly

Antonyms : improbably

Example : “the party secretary resigned, ostensibly from ill health”

34) disavowal

Meaning : the denial of any responsibility or support for something; repudiation.

Tamil Meaning : கைதுறப்பாய்

Synonyms : antithesis , repudiation

Antonyms : allowance

Example : “his disavowal of his previous writings”

35) churlish

Meaning : rude in a mean-spirited and surly way.

Tamil Meaning : காட்டு மிராண்டித்தனமான

Synonyms : ornery , sullen

Antonyms : nice

Example : “it seems churlish to complain”

36) circumvent

Meaning : find a way around (an obstacle).

Tamil Meaning : மீறும்

Synonyms : prevent

Antonyms : assist

Example : “if you come to an obstruction in a road you can seek to circumvent it”

37) impression

Meaning : an idea, feeling, or opinion about something or someone

Tamil Meaning : உணர்வை

Synonyms : consequence

Antonyms : cause

Example : “his first impressions of Manchester were very positive”

38) implications

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

Tamil Meaning : தாக்கங்கள்

Synonyms : indication

Antonyms : proof

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

39) encompassing

Meaning : cause to take place.

Tamil Meaning : சூழ்ந்திருக்கிறது

Synonyms : beset

Antonyms : release

Example : “an act designed to encompass the death of the king”

40) undermining

Meaning : erode the base or foundation of (a rock formation).

Tamil Meaning : வலுவிழக்க

Synonyms : subversion

Antonyms : backing

Example : “the flow of water had undermined pillars supporting the roof”


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