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How religious belief disguised as an economic principle

changed the original intent of Ambedkars Constitution

The Challenger space shuttle exploded in 1986, killing all seven crew
members. It occurred because of a design flaw in the rocket boosters of the
spacecraft. The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration
(NASA) had sub-contracted the design of the boosters to an independent
company. The company had noticed that the putty used to seal rings on the
boosters was forming bubbles that caused a heat jet so hot that it could
burn through the rings. The engineers changed the putty. They knew that a
putty erosion could still occur, but with very low probability of a
catastrophic disaster. Unfortunately for the seven who perished, in a series
of small steps NASA deviated from its safety standards and determined
that the erosion of the putty was an acceptable risk of flight.

Later, NASA commissioned many inquiries into the cause of the disaster.
The most insightful report came from Diane Vaughan, then a teacher of
sociology at Boston College, who attributed the disaster to what she called
a normalisation of deviance. The phrase meant that people within the
organisation become so much accustomed to a deviant behaviour that they
don't consider it as deviant, despite the fact that they far exceed their own
rules for the elementary safety.

Today on B.R. Ambedkars 126th birth anniversary, violence over cow

slaughter threatens to rend apart the Republic and his magnificent
Constitution which gave us a secular country with a fundamental right to
life and liberty assured to every citizen. How did the body politic slowly
deviate so much so that a mans choice of meat has become his poison? It
is time to recount Ambedkars normalisation of deviance in the Constituent
Assembly on the question of cow protection. That deviance emboldened
the Supreme Court decades later to take a position that would have been an
abomination to men like Ambedkar.

Political and pragmatic

In 1948 Ambedkar published his book
The Untouchables: Who Were They and Why They Became
Untouchables? He wrote: In the first place, we have the fact that the
Untouchables or the main communities which compose them eat the dead
cow and those who eat the dead cow are tainted with untouchability and
no others. The co-relation between untouchability and the use of the dead
cow is so great and so close that the thesis that it is the root of
untouchability seems to be incontrovertible. In the second place if there is
anything that separates the Untouchables from the Hindus, it is beef-
eating. He went on to say: The reason why Broken Men only became
Untouchables was because in addition to being Buddhists they retained
their habit of beef-eating which gave additional ground for offence to the
Brahmins to carry their new-found love and reverence to the cow to its
logical conclusion.

However, in the Constituent Assembly debates around the same time,

Ambedkar was not as vocal against cow reverers. In February 1948, the
first draft of the Constitution was placed before the Assembly. It contained
no reference to cow slaughter. The cow protection brigade within the
Assembly pushed for an amendment seeking for cow protection as a
fundamental right. Ambedkar and his team of draftsmen came up with a
constitutional compromise.

A directive principle, seemingly based on economic and scientific grounds,

was allowed to be introduced by Pandit Thakurdas Bhargava, a prosperous
Brahmin lawyer from Hisar. It read: The State shall endeavour to organise
agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall,
in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and
prohibiting the slaughter, of cows and calves and other milch and draught

Despite his political stance outside the Constituent Assembly, within it

Ambedkar said nothing substantial in the debates on cow slaughter, only
that he accepted Bhargavas amendment. Bhargava, however, emphasised
his reluctant acceptance of the compromise when he said, for people
like me and those that do not agree with the view of Ambedkar and others,
this entails, in a way, a sort of sacrifice.
Another cow proponent, Seth Govind Das, amplified Ambedkars
lawyerly thinking in the matter. I had then stated that just as the practice
of untouchability was going to be declared an offence so also we should
declare the slaughter of cows to be an offence. But it was said that while
untouchability directly affected human beings, the slaughter of cows
affected the life of animals only and that as fundamental rights were for
human beings, this provision could not be included therein.

The economic backdoor

Thus, though expressed in terms of economic policy, underlying this
agreed amendment was the Assemblys covert yielding, in a limited
measure, to Hindu sentiments of cow protection. Protection ostensibly was
restricted to cows and calves, milch cattle and those cattle capable of
pulling heavy loads.

A bench of five judges of the Supreme Court in the 1959 case

of Mohammed Hanif Quareshi v the State of Bihar strengthened the
compromise when it did not uphold a complete ban on slaughter.
Bhargava, appearing as an amicus in this matter, submitted that the
directive principle of cow protection in Article 48 ought to have primacy
over any fundamental right of the petitioners. Turning him down, the court
said that a harmonious interpretation has to be placed upon the
Constitution and so interpreted it means that the State should certainly
implement the directive principles but it must do so in such a way that its
laws do not take away or abridge the fundamental rights. The court
finally concluded: (i) a total ban on the slaughter of cows of all age and
calves of cows and calves of she-buffaloes, male and female, is quite
reasonable and valid and is in consonance with the directive principles
laid down in Art. 48; (ii) a total ban on the slaughter of she-buffaloes or
breeding bulls or working bullocks (cattle as well as buffaloes) as long as
they are as milch or draught cattle is also reasonable and valid; and (iii) a
total ban on the slaughter of she-buffaloes, bulls and bullocks (cattle or
buffalo) after they cease to be capable of yielding milk or of breeding or
working as draught animals cannot be supported as reasonable in the
interest of the general public.
This formulation held till 2005 when a seven-judge bench was constituted
by Chief Justice R.C. Lahoti with five vegetarian judges on it. The
resultant judgment had the Supreme Court by a 6-1 majority
permitting State governments to impose total bans on cow slaughter. The
reasoning was that Times have changed; so have changed the social and
economic needs there is no escape from the conclusion that the
protection conferred by impugned enactment on cow progeny is needed
in the interest of Nations economy. Justice A.K. Mathur dissented on the
principle of stare decisis that long-settled positions of law should not
be easily reversed adding, There is no material change in ground
realities warranting reversal of earlier decisions.

Questions for our Republic

The questions that today haunt our Republic are would the country not
have been safer and better off had Ambedkar stuck to his first draft, which
had no reference to cow slaughter at all? Did he allow a normalisation of
deviance from the constitutional norm of secularism when he allowed a
religious belief to be disguised as an economic principle? Has the Supreme
Court done justice to the original intent of Ambedkars magnificent
Constitution by reversing itself to keep up with political fashions of the
day? A Challenger need not explode for us to realise that deviance into
vigilantism cant always be normalised.

1. court (verb) seek, pursue, strive for.
2. disguise (verb) camouflage, conceal, hide.
3. putty (noun) a mouldable soft substance/material used for sealing.
4. catastrophic (adjective) destructive, ruinous, disastrous.
5. insightful (adjective) intuitive, thoughtful, profound.
6. normalisation of deviance (phrase) it means that people within the
organisation become so much accustomed to a deviant behaviour that they dont
consider it as deviant, despite the fact that they far exceed their own rules for the
elementary safety.
7. accustom (verb) (be) used to, adapt, adjust.
8. embolden (verb) give courage, make brave, encourage.
9. abomination (noun) disgrace, outrage, evil/bane.
10. pragmatic (adjective) empirical, real/realistic, actual/practical.
11. taint (verb) damage, harm, tarnish.
12. incontrovertible (adjective) indisputable, undeniable, unquestionable.
13. cow reverer (noun) a person who respects someone/something.
14. brigade (noun) group, team, section.
15. compromise (noun) agreement, settlement, terms.
16. milch cow (noun) milk giving cow.
17. draught animal (noun) load pulling animal.
18. entail (verb) cause/produce, generate, prompt.
19. proponent (noun) supporter, advocate, upholder.
20. underlie (verb) be fundamental, basic, primary.
21. covert (adjective) secret, furtive, hidden.
22. yielding (noun) surrender, submission, giving in.
23. uphold (verb) confirm, endorse, validate.
24. amicus (noun) a neutral adviser to a court of law.
25. primacy (adjective) priority, preference, superiority.
26. harmonious (adjective) friendly, peaceable/agreeable, cooperative.
27. abridge (verb) curtail; lessen, reduce/decrease.
28. consonance (noun) agreement, concord, accordance.
29. impugn (verb) challenge, question, dispute.
30. progeny (noun) offspring, family; descendants.
31. haunt (verb) disturb, trouble, torment/torture.
32. dissent (verb) differ, disagree/demur, diverge
33. stare decisis (phrase) Latin phrase means to stand by things decided. The
court to follow the principles established by decisions in earlier/precedent cases.
34.Rend apart- 1 to tear with violent force or to be torn in this way; rip
2 tr to tear or pull (one's clothes, etc.), esp. as a manifestation of rage or grief
3 tr (of a noise or cry) to disturb (the air, silence, etc.) with a shrill or piercing tone
4 tr to pain or distress (the heart, conscience, etc.)

35. ostensibly- apparent; seeming

2 pretended


Adjusting fuel prices daily at petrol stations is a long overdue

Hiking fuel prices at petrol pumps is such a politically fraught exercise
that there is even a hesitation to decrease prices so as to safeguard against
a possible spike in global petroleum rates in the future. It is worth
watching, therefore, how the proposed pilot project by the three public
sector oil marketing companies Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and
Hindustan Petroleum proceeds as an effort to reform the pricing
mechanism. Starting next month, in select cities fuel prices at the pump
point will be reset daily in tandem with global oil price movements. Till
the projects outcomes are assessed, the rest of the country will continue
with the existing system, under which petrol and diesel prices are
calibrated generally on a fortnightly basis. If one considers the latest price
change effected by oil companies (a 3.77 reduction per litre in the price
of petrol accompanied by a 2.91 cut for diesel on March 31), the case for
a daily price reset makes eminent sense. Apart from the fact that it is
illogical for an economy integrated with the global financial and
commodity markets to keep fuel prices unchanged for as much as a
fortnight, aligning prices daily and spreading out the degree of change will
lessen the impact on consumers, on both the upside and the downside.
Marginal changes in the daily price of fuel will not make or break
consumer confidence or fuel inflationary expectations, at least because of
oil costs, as it currently does.

A more gradual ascent or descent in fuel prices, rather than abrupt shifts
over randomly selected intervals, makes good sense, given how closely
our fiscal outlook is tied to oil price movements. The United Progressive
Alliance government had freed the regulation of petrol prices in late 2010,
and the National Democratic Alliance government followed through by
liberating diesel prices within six months of assuming office in 2014. Such
dismantling was necessary as previous attempts at abandoning the
administered price mechanism for Indias largely import-dependent
consumption of petroleum products never really took off, even as subsidies
distorted the system further. The fortnightly system of price resets for both
fuels has been followed over the last three years. The latest price cuts came
after more than two months of no change, overlapping with the Assembly
elections in five States. A transparently formulated and dynamic pricing
regime would hopefully prevent such distortionary coincidences in the
future. It would also allow private companies to compete with the PSU oil
marketers, which today control 95% of fuel outlets. The government, on its
part, must start winding down the extremely high petroleum product taxes
imposed since June 2014, when oil prices began to fall, along with its
energy subsidy liabilities.

1. glide path (noun) a serious of actions performed steadily to achieve a result.

2. fraught (adjective) agitated, distressed/distracted, desperate.
3. pilot (adjective) experimental, trial/test, sample.
4. in tandem (phrase) along side each other.
5. calibrate (verb) modify, alter, regulate.
6. fortnight (noun) a period of two weeks.
7. eminent sense (adjective) obvious, clear, marked.
8. inflationary (adjective) tending to cause monetary inflation. inflation (noun)
increase of price level of goods & services & vice versa decrease of currency
9. ascent (noun) incline, rise, upward gradient.
10. descent (noun) decline, fall, drop.
11. fiscal outlook (noun) prospects/expectancy of the financial situation of a
organisation/country during an upcoming quarter, year or other time period.
12. dismantle (verb) deconstruct, disassemble, take apart.
13. take off (phrasal verb) succeed, progress, prosper/flourish.
14. distort (verb) misrepresent, twist, falsify/misreport.
15. overlap (verb) partly coincide in time.
16. regime (noun) system, arrangement, scheme.
17. coincidence (noun) co-occurrence, coexistence, simultaneousness.
18. wind down (phrasal verb) diminish, lessen, dwindle/decline.
19. liability (noun) financial obligation, debt, indebtedness.

Motor Vehicles (Amendment)


Bill: In a safer lane

States should start preparing to implement the changes in the Motor
Vehicles Act

The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill passed by the Lok Sabha this week
will take a little more time to come into force, since it has not cleared the
Rajya Sabha in the Budget session. But the changes that it proposes to the
Motor Vehicles (MV) Act of 1988 are significant. The Centre assumes a
direct role in the reforms, since it will introduce guidelines that bind State
governments in several areas, notably in creating a framework for taxicab
aggregators, financing insurance to treat the injured and to compensate
families of the dead in hit-and-run cases, prescribing standards for
electronically monitoring highways and urban roads for enforcement and
modernising driver licensing. There is a dire need to have clear rules and
transparent processes in all these areas, since transport bureaucracies have
remained unresponsive to the needs of a growing economy that is
witnessing a steady rise in motorisation. The bottleneck created by their
lack of capacity has stifled regulatory reform in the transport sector and
only encouraged corruption. There is some concern that the move to
amend the MV Act overly emphasises the concurrent jurisdiction of the
Centre at the cost of State powers, but the proposed changes come after a
long consultation exercise. A group of State Transport Ministers went into
the reform question last year, while the comprehensive recommendations
of the Sundar Committee on road safety have been left on the back burner
for nearly a decade.

It may appear counter-intuitive, but research shows that imposing stricter

penalties tends to reduce the level of enforcement of road rules. As the IIT
Delhis Road Safety in India report of 2015 points out, the deterrent effect
of law depends on the severity and swiftness of penalties, but also the
perception that the possibility of being caught for violations is high. The
amendments to the MV Act set enhanced penalties for several offences,
notably drunken driving, speeding, jumping red lights and so on, but
periodic and ineffective enforcement, which is the norm, makes it less
likely that these will be uniformly applied. Without an accountable and
professional police force, the ghastly record of traffic fatalities, which
stood at 1,46,133 in 2015, is unlikely to change. On another front, State
governments must prepare for an early roll-out of administrative reforms
prescribed in the amended law, such as issuing learners licences online,
recording address changes through an online application, and electronic
service delivery with set deadlines. Indeed, to eliminate corruption, all
applications should be accepted by transport departments online, rather
than merely computerising them. Protection from harassment for good
samaritans who help accident victims is something the amended law
provides, and this needs to be in place.


1. bind (verb) unite, join, draw together.

2. framework (noun) structure, system, organization.
3. (taxi) aggregator (noun) it means a person, who owns and manages a web
based software application, and by means of the application and a
communication device, enables a potential customer to connect with persons
providing service of a particular kind under the brand name or trade name of the
aggregator (Examples for Taxi aggregators: Ola, Uber).
4. dire (adjective) serious, urgent, desperate.
5. bureaucracy (noun) a system of government, the systems, authorities,
6. bottleneck (noun) delay, setback, problem/trouble.
7. stifle (verb) hinder, impede, stop.
8. concurrent (adjective) simultaneous, coinciding, synchronous.
9. comprehensive (adjective) thorough/complete, extensive, in-depth.
10. backburner (noun) delayed consideration of an action.
11. counter-intuitive (adjective) opposite to/against common sense expectation.
12. deterrent (adjective) relating to something which is aimed/intended to deter
(stop/prevent) something else.
13. severity (noun) seriousness, severeness, strictness.
14. swiftness (noun) promptness, immediateness, punctuality.
15. perception (noun) understanding/sensitivity; realization, awareness.
16. ghastly (adverb) terrible, frightful, horrible.
17. roll-out (noun) official launch / introduction.
18. samaritan (noun) a person who helps (distressed/troubled) strangers

The monsoon forecast should galvanise the country to make

the most of a good season

The normal monsoon forecast of the India Meteorological Department

brings the promise of a year of growth and good health for Indias
economy and ecology. If correct, India will have a second consecutive year
of normal rainfall, after two years of drought. The prospect that 2017 will
be a good year boosts the prospects of enhanced agricultural output,
healthy reservoir levels, more hydropower and reduced conflicts over
water. It will also test the efficacy of the expensive water management
initiatives launched during 2014 and 2015 by the Centre and the State
governments to harness rainfall and build resilience for future drought
cycles. As the IMDs experience shows, forecasting the all-India summer
monsoon rainfall is fraught with uncertainties and has often gone off the
mark. The dynamic model that it is using this year to make a forecast that
includes an assessment of two phenomena a possible late onset El Nio
in the Pacific Ocean and variations in sea surface temperatures that create
the Indian Ocean Dipole will be keenly watched. Given that El Nio is
expected only in the later part of the year when the monsoon is in its final
stages, the expectation of normal rainfall is reasonable. A confirmation
could come in June.

When more than half the population is sustained by agricultural

livelihoods, highly efficient water utilisation holds the key to higher farm
productivity. In fact, preparing for drought remains a top priority today, in
spite of a big increase in outlays for irrigation made over successive five-
year plans. Data on five decades of grain output from 1951 show that the
negative impact of drought on productivity is disproportionately higher
than the positive effects of a normal or surplus monsoon. This underscores
the need to help farmers with small holdings to look ahead. As agriculture
scientist M.S. Swaminathan pointed out during the drought a couple of
years ago, the focus has to be on plant protection, water harvesting and
access to post-harvest technologies. The NITI Aayog has also been calling
for ways to cut water use, since India uses two to three times more water
per tonne of grain produced compared to, for example, China, Brazil and
the U.S. The way forward is to create ponds, provide solar power for more
farms, mechanise operations and expand drip irrigation coverage. Aiding
small farmers with the tools and providing them formal financing can
relieve their cyclical distress. The area under drip irrigation, estimated to
be less than 10% of net area sown, can then be expanded. A normal
monsoon will also relieve water stress in the cities if they prepare
catchments and reservoirs to make the most of the season and incentivise
residents to install scientific rainwater harvesting systems.
Word List-1:
1. galvanise (verb) jolt/shock, excite, awaken.
2. drought (noun) dry spell/period, lack of rain, shortage of water.
3. prospect (noun) expectation, anticipation, possibility.
4. reservoir (noun) pool, lake, pond.
5. efficacy (noun) effectiveness, efficiency, power/ability to give estimated
6. harness (verb) use, utilise, make use of.
7. resilience (noun) strength, toughness; flexibility.
8. fraught with (adjective) full of, filled with, charged with/loaded with.
9. off the mark (phrase) inaccurate or incorrect.
10. El Nio (noun) it is a phenomenon during which the relationships between
winds and ocean currents in the Pacific Ocean change, with an impact on weather
conditions around the world (Courtesy: The Earth Observatory, NASA).
11. The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) (noun) it is also known as the Indian Nio,
is an irregular oscillation of sea-surface temperatures in which the western Indian
Ocean becomes alternately warmer and then colder than the eastern part of the
12. sustain (verb) help, assist, support.
13. livelihood (noun) income, source of income, means of support.
14. outlay (noun) expenses, spending, disbursement.
15. underscore (verb) emphasize, call attention to, underline.
16. holdings (noun) possessions, belongings, valuables.
17. irrigation (noun) supply of water to farm land to grow crops & plants.
18. distress (noun) hardship, adversity, difficulty/trouble.
19. sown (verb) past participle of sow; plant, seed.
20. incentivise (verb) encourage, motivate, prompt.

The expert panels recommendation to review the fiscal

responsibility law is timely

The advice of the expert committee to review the Fiscal Responsibility and
Budget Management (FRBM) Act of 2003 requires attention, given Indias
track record. This is all the more so given the born-again political
conviction that promises of random largesse to voters is just fine.
Excessive and unsustainable borrowing by the government is obviously
perverse as it entails a cost on future generations while crowding out
private investment. In the past, fiscal irresponsibility has cost jobs, spiked
inflation, put the currency in a tailspin and even brought the country to the
brink of a default. The possibility of default may have resulted in the
liberalisation of the economy in 1991, but the key trigger was irrational
public spending on borrowed money in the late-1980s. Less than a decade
later, with fiscal discipline faltering and the deficit shooting up to 10% of
GDP, the FRBM law was enacted to limit the governments borrowing
authority under Article 268 of the Constitution. But the target to limit the
fiscal deficit to 3% of GDP (by 2009) was abandoned after the 2008 global
financial crisis as a liberal stimulus reversed the gains in the fiscal space,
creating fresh macro-level instability. The FRBM Acts deficit target is
now only likely to be met next year.

Such damage transmissions from the political economy to the real

economy need to be checked forthwith. The committees proposal to
maintain the 3% target till 2019-20 before aiming for further reduction is
pragmatic, as the extraordinary and unanticipated domestic development
of demonetisation happened during its tenure. Such an event, the
committee has said, could trigger an escape clause from fixed fiscal targets
in its proposed rule-based framework. Instead of focussing purely on the
fiscal and revenue deficit numbers, which should be brought down to 2.5%
and 0.8% of GDP respectively by 2023, the panel has called for paring
Indias cumulative public debt as a proportion to GDP to 60% by 2023
from around 68% at present. The latter, a simpler measure for solvency
purposes, should inspire confidence among rating agencies. Though this
has put paid to the governments hope that a fiscal deficit range could be
targeted instead of absolute numbers, the Finance Minister has committed
to the 3% target for the next two years, from the 3.2% target for 2017-18.
A clear fiscal policy framework in tandem with the monetary policy
framework already adopted could act as a powerful signal of commitment
to macroeconomic stability. The Centre must swiftly take a call on the
panels recommendations including for a new debt and fiscal
responsibility law, and the creation of a Fiscal Council with independent
experts that could sit in judgment on the need for deviations from targets.
It is equally critical that States are brought on board, as the 60% debt
target includes 20% on their account. Their finances are worsening again
even as the clamour for Uttar Pradesh-style loan waivers grows.

Word List-2:
1. equity (noun) value, net worth; owned capital.
2. debt (noun) liability, financial obligation, borrowed capital.
3. fiscal responsibility (noun) the act of creating, optimizing and maintaining a
balanced budget.
4. timely (adverb) opportune, well timed, at the right time.
5. born-again (adjective) relating to returning to a newly proposed idea/belief
with dedication.
6. conviction (noun) belief, opinion, view.
7. largesse (noun) generosity, liberality, bountifulness.
8. unsustainable (adjective) undefendable, insupportable, unjustified.
9. perverse (adjective) awkward, contrary; illogical, irrational.
10. entail (verb) cause/produce, generate, prompt.
11. crowd out (phrasal verb) oust, overthrow, remove.
12. inflation (noun) increase of price level of goods & services & vice versa
decrease of currency value.
13. tailspin (noun) increasing chaos, disruption, panic.
14. brink (noun) verge, edge, crucial/critical point (beyond which something
else (good/bad) will happen).
15. default (noun) non-payment, failure to pay, non-remittance.
16. liberalisation (noun) removal or loosening of restrictions on something,
typically an economic or political system.
17. fiscal deficit (noun) the difference between total expenditure and total
income of the government.
18. fiscal stimulus (noun) Government measures, normally involving increased
public spending and lower taxation, aimed at giving a positive jolt to economic
activity (Courtesy: Financial Times).
19. fiscal space (noun) it is the flexibility of a government in its spending
choices, and, more generally, to the financial well-being of a government
(Courtesy: Wikipedia).
20. forthwith (adverb) immediately, right away; without delay.
21. pragmatic (adjective) empirical, real/realistic, actual/practical.
22. unanticipated (adjective) unforeseen, unpredicted, out of the blue.
23. pare (verb) reduce, lower, decrease.
24. cumulative (adjective) increasing, accumulative; collective, aggregate.
25. solvency (noun) ability to pay ones debts.
26. put paid to ( phrasal verb) stop/destroy, forestall, thwart.
27. in tandem (phrase) along side each other.
28. macroeconomic stability (noun) it describes a national economy that has
minimized vulnerability to external shocks, which in turn increases its prospects
for sustained growth (Courtesy: The Ruet Institute).
29. swiftly (adverb) quickly, rapidly, fast.
30. sit in (phrasal verb) observe, watch, attend.
31. clamour (noun) demands, calls; protests.
32. loan waiver (noun) it is the waiving of the real or potential liability of the
person or party who has taken out a loan through the voluntary action of the
person or party who has made the loan (Courtesy: Wikipedia).

The inclusion of paper audit trails to the EVMs is costly but perhaps

In the face of extreme and unreasonable complaints against Electronic

Voting Machines by a number of political parties, the Election
Commission perhaps had no choice but to have the working of the
machines corroborated by a paper audit trail. To have such a facility ready
for all constituencies by the 2019 Lok Sabha election is expensive (an
estimated 3,174 crore) and also unnecessary (paper trails are at best
required in a few constituencies to corroborate results). Its request to the
Law Ministry to release funds for the procurement of voter-verifiable
paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines for the 2019 Lok Sabha election
should be interpreted in this context. As many as 16 lakh VVPAT machines
will be required and only an urgent release of funds will allow the
machines to be ready in time for 2019. It was possible for the EC to brush
off the complaints from the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Aam Aadmi
Party following their defeat in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab respectively, but it
clearly became increasingly difficult for it to ignore the clutch of parties
that joined the chorus, some demanding a return to paper ballots.

The EC has repeatedly assured voters that there are enough procedural and
technical safeguards to prevent large-scale tampering or manipulation of
EVMs. Since 2006, elections have witnessed the use of upgraded EVMs
Model 2 machines, with security features such as dynamic coding of
key codes on ballot units and their transfer as messages to the control unit
in an encrypted manner. EVMs feature encoded software that is burnt one-
time on to programmable chips, enabling them to be used as stand-alone
machines rather than computer-connected units, thus preventing any
hacking by remote devices. Model 3 machines produced after 2013 have
additional features such as tamper detection. The EC has laid down
procedural rules of locking and storing EVMs before and after polling,
besides functional checks and tests in the presence of representatives of
political parties. The addition of the VVPAT machine to the process is to
allow for cross-checking of EVM results through a paper audit, completing
another layer of accountability to the indigenously produced machines
(only the microchip is manufactured outside the country with the machine
language embedded on it). Contrary to glib claims about tampering,
studies show the introduction of EVMs has resulted in a drastic reduction
in electoral fraud (rigging, stuffing of ballot boxes, etc.) and allowed for
greater voter participation. Since reverting to the older paper ballot system
will be regressive, the only option in the face of the protests is to have a
back-up in the form of a paper trail something that will hopefully put a
quietus to the controversy.

Word List-1:
1. line of defence (phrase) way of defending.
2. in the face of (phrase) in spite of, notwithstanding, despite.
3. corroborate (verb) confirm, verify, validate.
4. audit trail (noun) audit log; a series of paper, electronic files, and other such
records that show how transactions are dealt with by an organization from
beginning to end.
5. Voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) it is a method of providing
feedback to voters using a ballot-less voting system. it consists of physical paper
records of voter ballots as voters have cast them on an electronic voting system.
6. interpret (verb) understand, construe, see.
7. context (noun) circumstances, conditions, surroundings.
8. brush off (phrasal verb) rebuff, dismiss, reject.
9. clutch (noun) group, set, collection.
10. tamper (verb) interfere, meddle (to cause damage to something).
11. manipulation (noun) plot, trick/tactic, intrigue/stratagem.
12. encrypt (verb) convert data/information into code; encode.
13. burnt (past participle of burn) produce (a disc/chip) by copying original.
14. standalone (adjective) separate, unconnected.
15. lay down (phrasal verb) formulate, stipulate; prescribe.
16. accountability (noun) responsibility, liability, answerability.
17. indigenously (adverb) in an indigenous (originating from native/local)
manner, something is produced in a particular region/country.
18. embed (verb) design and build (a microchip) as an integral part of a
19. glib (adjective) plausible, slick, thoughtless/superficial.
20. rigging (noun) an act of manipulating/intriguing/conduct fraudulently,
particularly elections.
21. stuffing (noun) an act of placing bogus (fake) votes in (a ballot box).
22. revert (verb) return, go back, regress.
23. regressive (adjective) retrograde/unprogressive, negative, unwelcome.
24. quietus (noun) something that calms/quiets/soothes.


A picture of the globe under the hood of a cobra was a familiar symbol of
the precarious state of international security till recently. Accidental or deliberate
pressing of the nuclear button was the nightmare that haunted humanity. At the same
time, using the nuclear genie and harnessing it for prosperity was the best dream.
Today, both the nightmare and the dream have become jaded (bored or lacking
enthusiasm, typically after having had too much of something.). Nuclear
weapons have ceased to be viable as instruments of war because of the
unpredictability of the consequences of a nuclear war. No one can trust even the use
of tactical nuclear weapons without collateral damage for the user. Today, nations
can be destroyed with mobile phones and laptops without killing a single human
being, making the humaneness of cyberwarfare the biggest danger.

The theories of deterrence of nuclear stockpiles have also been discredited after
9/11 brought the most formidable nuclear power to its knees. Non-proliferation today,
if any, is not on account of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), but on account of
the futility of building nuclear arsenals. The threat of terrorism looms larger than the
threat of nuclear weapons. After Fukushima, nuclear power too isreceding as a
sensible component of the energy mix. One clean-up operation after an accident can
demolish many years of technological advancement and hopes of having cheap
power. The sun shines as a source of energy, not the glittering nuclear reactors
which seem to emit mushroom clouds.
Still a flourishing industry

Old habits die hard, however, and there is constant activity on the weapons and the
power fronts. The nuclear and disarmament industry still flourish. Former U.S.
President Barack Obamas Prague speech had ignited cautious optimism that
nuclear weapons would cease to be the anchor of security, though not during his
presidency, not even in his lifetime. Rajiv Gandhis United Nations Plan of Action for
total elimination of nuclear weapons came out of the dusty archives The Global
Zero movement gained momentum, even as nuclear weapon powers continued
investment in developing delivery systems and weapons.

U.S. President Donald Trump had once said that proliferation was good for American
allies, but more recently, he said: It would be wonderful, a dream would be that no
country would have nukes, but if countries are going to have nukes, were going to
be at the top of the pack. He even hinted at the use of nuclear weapons in extreme
circumstances. The hope raised by four old cold warriors, George P. Shultz, William
J. Perry, Henry A. Kissinger and Sam Nunn, by setting the goal of a world free of
nuclear weapons and working on the actions required to achieve that goal finally
receded, and in desperation, the world turned to the good old UN machinery to
create illusions of progress.

Emphasizing non-proliferation

NPT enthusiasts have been disappointed of late that out of the three pillars of the
treaty non-proliferation, disarmament and nuclear energy for peaceful purposes
the first, non-proliferation, has got watered down and disarmament has become
the priority. They also worry that dangerous technologies like enrichment are within
the reach of the non-weapon states. In the context of Japan and South Korea
debating acquisition of nuclear weapons, they feel that non-proliferation should be
brought back to be the first priority of the NPT. The promotional function of the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is also a concern for them. The IAEA has
already shifted its focus from nuclear power to nuclear security, as a result. In 1995,
the NPT was made a perpetual treaty with no possibility of amendment, but
its votaries now advocate that non-proliferation should be emphasised to the
exclusion of disarmament and nuclear energy promotion.

The UN General Assembly, with its unlimited agenda, readily jumped into the first UN
conference in more than 20 years on a global nuclear weapons ban, though the
nuclear weapon powers did not join. More than 120 nations in October 2016 voted
on a UN General Assembly resolution to convene (meet) the conference to
negotiate a legally binding treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading to their total
elimination. Britain, France, Russia and the U.S. voted no, while China, India and
Pakistan abstained. Though India had recommended the convening of such a
conference, it abstained on the resolution as it was not convinced that the
conference could accomplish much at this time. India said that it supported the
commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on a
comprehensive Nuclear Weapons Convention, which in addition to prohibition and
elimination also includes verification. The U.S. and others wanted to accept the
reality that such conferences would serve no purpose. The conference has failed
even before it commenced.
In the midst of this ferment a debate has begun in India about a review of its no-first
use doctrine. Experts seem to think that Indias doctrine is flexible enough to deal
with any eventuality, but others feel that we should enter more caveats (a warning
or proviso of specific stipulations, conditions, or limitations.) to safeguard our
interests. Perhaps, it is best to let the sleeping dogs lie.

On nuclear power production

On the nuclear power front, the efforts to increase nuclear power production suffered
a setback as a result of Fukushima. Many countries that had lined up before the
IAEA for nuclear technology for peaceful purposes quietly switched to other sources
of energy. The much-expected nuclear renaissance (a revival of or renewed
interest in something.) withered away. Except for China, India and Russia, most
nations have shied away from building nuclear reactors or importing them. Indias
liability law deterred U.S. companies from exporting reactors to India. The financial
problems of Westinghouse, which had agreed to build six reactors in Andhra
Pradesh, postponed, if not cancelled, the venture. But India has not fundamentally
changed its three-stage nuclear power development, though the thorium
stage eludes it.

The need for reduction of greenhouse gases was an incentive to increase nuclear
power production, but President Trumps challenge of the whole concept of climate
change as a hoax and the consequent reduction of allocation of funds to protect the
environment will further reduce the accent on nuclear power. The Kudankulam
project is set to move along with Russian collaboration, but its progress has been
slow. The nuclear liability law, the Westinghouse bankruptcy and the protests by local
people have combined to delay the expansion of nuclear power in India.

Like everything else in international affairs, the nuclear pot is also being stirred on
account of the uncertainties of the U.S. government and changing threat
perceptions. Nobody thinks any more that peace and amity will break out between
the U.S. and Russia, making nuclear weapons redundant. But no one is certain that
the nuclear genie will not take new incarnations as a result of the ferment.


1. Precarious(adjective):Characterized by a lack of security or stability that

threatens with danger/ not securely held or in position. (/)

Synonyms: Uncertain, Insecure, Unreliable, Unsure, Unpredictable, Risky.

Antonyms: Certain, Secure, Protected, Stable.

Example: Gripping with a lack of shelter, homeless people live

in precarious conditions.

2. Jaded(adjective):Bored or lacking enthusiasm, typically after having had too

much of something. ( )

Synonyms: Satiated, Sated, Surfeited, Glutted, Cloyed, Wearied.

Antonyms: Activated, Fresh, Joyful.

Example: James was jaded with love after having his heart broken countless times

3. Futility(noun): The quality or state of being incapable of producing any

results. ( / )

Synonyms: Pointlessness, Uselessness, Fruitlessness, Vanity, Ineffectuality,

Inefficacy, Unproductiveness.

Antonyms: Usefulness, Fruitfulness.

Example: The losing team made a valiant but futile effort to catch up to their

4. Recede(verb):Go or move back or further away from a previous position/

slope backwards/ gradually diminish. ( / )

Synonyms: Ebb, Go Back, Retreat, Shrink, Subside,

Antonyms: Develop, Increase, Grow, Forward, Strengthen.

Example: When the storm quiets, the waters will recede from the beach.

5. Archive(noun): A place in which public records or historical materials (such

as documents) are preserved / a repository or collection especially of
information. ( / )

Synonyms: Record Store, Annals, Chronicle, Dossier.

Example: She archived her personal e-mail messages in a folder on her hard drive.

6. Perpetual(adjective):Never ending or changing/ occurring repeatedly/so

frequent as to seem endless and uninterrupted. (/)

Synonyms: Everlasting, Eternal, Permanent, Interminable, Incessant, Ceaseless.

Antonyms: Discontinuous, Intermittent, Interrupted.

Example: Currently it seems that Syria is in a state of perpetual war.

7. Votary(noun): A devoted follower, adherent, or advocate of someone or

something. ( /)

Synonyms: Adherent, Devotee, Follower, Acolyte,

Antonyms: Critic, Detractor, Enemy, Opponent.

Example: The votaries of the Buddhism spread their religion across the world.
8. Ferment(noun): Agitation and excitement among a group of people, typically
concerning major change and leading to trouble or violence. (/ )

Synonyms: Furore, Frenzy, Tumult, Brouhaha, Stir, Ruckus, Turmoil, Upheaval.

Antonyms: Calm, Contentedness, Happiness, Peace.

Example: The media tried to ferment public unrest by repeatedly publishing articles
about the crooked police officer.

9. Elude(verb):To avoid adroitly/ escape from or avoid (a danger, enemy, or

pursuer), typically in a skilful or cunning way. ( )

Synonyms: Evade, Avoid, Get Away From, Dodge, Flee, Escape (From).

Antonyms: Face, Confront, Encounter.

Example: The criminal was able to elude the police in the crowded mall.

10. Amity(noun):A supportive relationship between people or countries/ friendly

relations. ( /)

Synonyms: Friendliness, Harmony, Concord, Cooperation, Amicableness.

Antonyms: Discord, Hostility, Ill Will, Dislike.

Example: The purpose of the treaty is to help the two countries develop amity so
they can live in cooperation instead of in war.

Trumpism Could Outlive Trump

How quickly will President Donald Trump `settle down and fill the gaps in his
administration? That remains a big question. In India, it is leading to hesitation in
making firm assessments of the Trump presidency. For example, details of his
approach to Afghanistan or the Indian Ocean region how he hopes to balance a
muscular military policy with absence of enthusiasm for liberal trade are awaited.
Nevertheless for India and in this one incorporates the government, Indians with
business stakes in the US, and those of Indian origin who live in America some
issues are being clarified. There is transactionalism and a hard mood in the US that
was captured by Trump but which has outgrown his election.Trumpism, if one may
put it thus, is likely to outlive Trump, even if some of its manifestations are peculiar to

This does not mean India cannot find common ground with the Trump administration
or the new America.That is very possible. Yet, tactical tweaks(a fine adjustment to
a mechanism or system.) will have to be made and the interface with Americas
polity and society will need to be redesigned. For a start, a `transactional Trump
administration has more than one connotation ( / ). There is a sense
that some in the presidents inner circle are susceptible to `chequebook diplomacy
the ability of international partners to leverage( )( use (something) to
maximum advantage.) business deals for political influence. This is always a
phenomenon in Washington, but appears to be acquiring greater salience with
the closely-knit(bound together by strong relationships and common
interests.) Trump team. If so it will give countries such as Saudi Arabia and China,
which are used to cultivating constituencies in such a manner, enormous flexibility .
India will be at a relative disadvantage.

Second, as the visits of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (the most successful trip by a
foreign leader to Trumps America) and President Xi Jinping have indicated, astute
interlocutors are beginning to interpret `transactionalism as providing investment and
creating jobs in the US.This will strengthen Trump domestically , and give those
countries clout with him.In time, it could give them the space to structure and sustain
a more normal trade relationship with the president and allow them to retain
access to the American market. Where does India stand here? It is a big player in
services but the accelerated professional visa regime that has been Americas calling
card since the early 1990s is nearing sunset. There is only so much diplomatic
capital India can deploy in protecting H-1B visas. Nimble() Indian companies,
which have benefited from the H-1B system, are already making alternative plans.

These could include greater investment and recruitment within the US itself, to
overcome the possible demise of the H-1B regime. This will allow such companies to
service the US market, albeit at lower margins and with higher costs. However, many
such companies and particularly the IT sector are also using media and public
pressure in India to push New Delhi to make H-1B visas the centrepiece of any
bargain with Washington. There is a limit to how far the Indian government can do
this. It has other fish to fry with the US and cannot be trapped with the H-1B dispute.

This is especially so as Indian companies are, individually and in specific

geographies in the US, creating alliances with local communities, state governors
and politicians to safeguard business interests as the H-1B story tapers. While this
survival instinct ( ) is commendable() and typical of Indian
entrepreneurship, it is not being optimised. It is not allowing India whether the
government or corporate stakeholders to package a multiplicity of investments in
and contributions to Americas economy and local communities. If intelligently
organised, Prime Minster Narendra Modi can travel to the US with an impressive
portfolio of what Indian companies have done for that country. At the very least,
Indian companies in America need to appear on a common platform and set up
a flagship (/) institution to showcase their collective contribution.This is
important for them in terms of perception management. It is also critical for Indian
diplomacy .

If the economy is throwing up challenges, so is society. The browning of America is

a theme of local politics and any elected official will have to be mindful of it in the
foreseeable future. In an extreme case, it may lead to incidents such as the February
killing of tech worker Srinivas Kuchibhotla in Kansas City. Kuchibhotlas death made
headlines.An Indian colleague with him was saved when a good Samaritan, Ian
Grillot, took a bullet from the white supremacistassailant ( ). In
response, the Indian community in Houston raised $1,00,000 for Grillot and the
Indian government thanked him more than once. The harsh truth is such incidents
are likely to recur. While the Indian embassy can provide episodic support, it cannot
ultimately build a niche (/) for the
Indian diaspora (//) within American society .If nothing else, the
Indian community in the US has to get much more involved in local politics and in
providing regular campaign finance and sponsorship to immediate political
representatives and champions.

While some well-heeled Indian Americans do make sizeable campaign contributions;

many Indians dont.Indian community engagement with American politics is neither
widespread nor deep. Most members are content living quiet lives, as a model
minority in a suburbia( ) that is physically in the US but
emotionally in India. In Trumps America, that will not be enough.

Magical Vocabulary from The Times

of India

1. Instinct (noun):A natural or inherent impulse or behavior. / A

natural way of behaving, thinking or feeling that is not learnt. ( )

Synonyms: natural ability, nature, profoundly imbued, inherited tendency

Example: Seeing the baby cry, aroused her all maternal instincts.

1. Commendable (adjective):Something or someone deserving

praise. ()

Synonyms: applauding, praiseworthy, admirable,

Antonyms: unworthy, blameworthy, bad.

Example: The officers were awarded by president for their commendable work in
public sector.

1. Flagship (noun):the best or most important thing owned or produced

by a particular organization.(/)

Synonyms: critical, crucial, most important, vital.

Antonyms: inessential, insignificant, meaningless, miniature.

Example: Having a good relationship with your employees is the flagship to run a
successful business.

1. Assailant (noun):a person who physically attacks another.

( )

Synonyms: attacker, mugger, assaulter,

Antonyms: protector, guard, safeguard, patron, defender, bodyguard.

Example: Before the assailant could steal the womans purse, he was surrounded
by a group of angry bystanders.

1. Niche (noun):a comfortable or suitable position in life or employment./

a place, employment, status, or activity for which a person or thing is best
fitted (/)

Synonyms: ideal position, fitted place, mtier.

Example: After Vivian realized her niche was in culinary arts, she dropped out of
law school.

1. Tweak (noun):(a fine adjustment to a mechanism or system.)

(// )

Synonyms: modification, alteration, change, refinement, improvement.

Antonyms: damage, worsening.

Example: The company decided to tweak the old policies, in order to increase its

1. Connotation (noun):an idea or feeling which a word invokes for a

person in addition to its literal or primary meaning.( / )

Synonyms: implication, hidden meaning, secondary meaning, undertone,

Antonyms: denotation.

Example: While a dictionary may provide a standard definition of a word, it may not
always reveal the usual connotation associated with it.

1. Leverage (verb):use (something) to maximum advantage.)

( (

Synonyms: advantage, gain, avail, utilize or employ to the maximum.

Antonyms: misuse, maltreat, waste, ill treat.

Example: Colin will use his participation in the teams national championship win as
leverage to get a salary increase.

1. close-knit (adjective):(bound together by strong relationships and

common interests.)( )

Synonyms: cliquey, cliquish, clannish, pally.

Antonyms: scattered, divided, un-united.

Example: A company must be close knit in every aspect to mark a successful

1. Nimble (adjective):marked by quick, alert, clever conception/()

Synonyms: alert, brainy, bright, brilliant, clever, intelligent, quick-witted, sharp,


Antonyms: clumsy, inept slow, sluggish, stupid, ,unskilled.

Example: Because Amy is not nimble in math, she often goes to school early to get
extra help from the teacher.