Writing forcefully -How to use nuanced words to the best effect

August 31, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Here are sets of words that differ marginally but critically in their meaning and use. Examine them. I will furnish suitable sentences to bring out their differences and illustrate their best use. Watch for my next post.


1. Discover, Invent, Explore
2. Vocal, verbal, Oral
3. Further, Farther
4. Rush (as verb), Speed up, Hasten, Quicken
5. Malign, Run down, Rubbish (as verb), Denigrate, Criticize, Revile, Hate, Excoriate, Deride, Berate, Deride, Admonish
6. Refuse, Decline, Turn down
7. Rich, Affluent, Well-to-do
8. Awash with, No dearth of, Full of , Replete with, Plethora of, Myriad
9. Adore, Admire, Love
10. Administer, Govern
11. Rob, Steal, Fleece
12. Bodily, Physically
13. Mentally, Psychologically
14. Hurt, Harm, Humiliate, Denigrate, Belittle
15. Introspect, Retrospect, Reminisce, Remember, Recollect
16. Sink, Drown, Capsize, Run aground
17. Protest, Remonstrate, Agitate
18. Astronaut, Cosmonaut, Tyconaut
19. Guard, Watch, Maintain vigil, Keep an eye on
20. Praise, Applaud, Appreciate, Exalt


Wait for next post to see the answers.






Vocabulary — How simple adjectives add to clarity

August 31, 2012 at 11:40 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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How poor vocabulary blights your articulation..

These days, school and college going lads feel the need to communicate more, thanks to the cell phone, the internet, the i-pad, the increasing number of girls in the class, the extra pocket money and the increasing need to steal the limelight more through superfluous means than through real substance. Consequently, we get to hear these semi-baked sentences in our family, work place, in parties, over telephone, in interviews and everywhere else.

See how the word ‘great’ is used as ‘one-size-fits-all’ expression.

1. “Oh, the match was great,” the Pakistan cricket captain said. Possibly, he meant, “The match was exciting,’.

2. “The food was great,” the husband tells the wife about the dinner he had in Mr. X’s function. Most likely, he was all praise for the food because it was delicious to the point of being mouthwatering.



Like this, we use / misuse ‘great’ for so many occasions.

3. Question — How is your boss?
Answer — He is great. The boss might be very competent, considerate, full of leadership and drive or knowledgeable.
It is better to specify why you say he is ‘great’.



4. Question – The climate in Bangalore?
Answer — It is great. The right word may be ‘moderate’, ‘salubrious’ or ‘comfortable’

5. How is the book?
It is great. The right word may be any one or more of the following adjectives – Gripping, Absorbing, Full of useful information, Very easy to read, Interesting.

6. How is your girlfriend?
She is great. Possible adjectives can be – Beautiful, Has a beautiful body, Very pleasant and intelligent, Humour-loving or any such attribute.

7. How is the hotel?
It is great. The right adjective may be any one or more of the following – ‘Comfortable’, ‘Spacious’, ‘Has good food and wine’, ‘Has courteous staff’, ‘Offers low tariff’ etc.

8. How is your domestic help?
She / he is great. The person may be any one or more of these –obedient, honest, hardworking, efficient, punctual, caring, respectful etc.




India’s TV channels — How their competition helped 26/11 attackers

August 31, 2012 at 2:59 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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The medium as messenger

(Hindu editorial August 31, 2012)

The Supreme Court’s blunt rebuke of television channels which went into a careless and competitive feeding frenzy while covering the Mumbai 26/11 terror attack is almost entirely justified. However, its concluding remark that “the mainstream electronic media has done much harm to the argument that any regulatory mechanism … must come only from within” is misplaced. First, the reprimand. There is no doubt that the live coverage of 26/11 set a low in TV journalism with the most basic of norms — objectivity, verification, dispassion — making way for a heated, overzealous and inconsiderate jumble of words and images as channels fought each other to ‘break news’ and gather eyeballs. Worse, there is evidence that at times the frenzied coverage risked the lives of people trapped in the two Mumbai hotels and endangered the security forces. Transcripts of phone conversations between the terrorists and their Pakistani handlers clearly establish that the latter were issuing instructions on the basis of what they were watching. For instance, the terrorists in Taj Mahal Palace were told the dome of the hotel had caught fire; those holed up at The Oberoi were informed that the security forces were strengthening their positions on the roof.
The Supreme Court is right that, insofar as it risked violating the right to life of others, such TV coverage cannot be justified under the right to free expression. However, it is one thing to criticise over-the-top coverage and quite another to say something that could be interpreted as tacit endorsement of an external regulatory framework. Despite the occasional excesses, self-regulation of the broadcast media is the best way of striking a balance between preserving freedom of expression from state interference and preventing the abuse of its immense power. News broadcasters are not unaware of their obligations and the reasonable restrictions on their freedom to report events. The setting up of the News Broadcasters Association, comprising 45 news and current affairs channels, with its Code of Ethics and its Redressal Authority to address complaints from those aggrieved, is a significant step in the right direction. Stung by the criticism of the coverage of 26/11, the NBA has issued guidelines for reporting in emergency situations, which mandate, among other things, that no information be “given of pending rescue operations or regarding the number of security personnel involved or methods employed by them.” As TV coverage of subsequent incidents has shown, self-regulation is working reasonably well and there is no reason for external control.


Reining in the hyper-active T.V channels .. (My view)

When the dust settled down on the 26/11 terror attacks on the dastardly Mumbai attack, the security agencies were horrified to discover that the ‘Control Room’ of the terror campaign located in Pakistan had immensely benefited from the ‘real-time’ reporting of the events by the TV channels in India. The Control Room could guide their operatives to take evasive action or go in the offensive depending upon the way the Indian security forces were being deployed in and around the Taj Mahal Hotel and the Jewish enclave. Thus, the effectiveness of the anti-terror operation was compromised, and some more civilian lives were lost.

One needs to recall the intensely competitive TV coverage of the events during those fateful days. The graphic details aside, there were bizarre captions, innuendoes, incendiary comments and everything else that took away objectivity from the reporting the gullible viewers saw day in and day out in their TV screens.

In the race to capture eyeballs, the TV reporters and the backend editorial staff in the studios threw all the three cardinal principles of media reporting to the air. Objectivity, verification and dispassion, the three principles which form the bedrock of balanced reporting were given the go by. Instead what came through was jingoistic commentaries, untrue accounts and exaggerated claims. Thus, what the TV viewers got to watch was not factual balanced account of the unfolding events, but some frenzied cocktail of footages, grotesque inferences and fully untrue accounts. A few intrepid reporters of some channels broke the security cordons to reach the spot where the military operations were taking place.

The Supreme Court has come down rather heavily on such ‘over-the-board’ reporting by TV channels. It has noted with concern that such saturated reporting of the events did provide crucial inputs to the terror control centre operating from Pakistan. By such unbridled reporting, the TV media undermined the argument that the editorial control of the outputs of the TV channels must come from within their organizations, and not through an externally- imposed Regulatory body.



The Supreme Court has pointed out that the Constitution-mandated principle of freedom of expression of the TV channels must not be extended to ludicrous limits where they begin to imperil the state’s security interests and the right of the citizens to live in a threat-free environment. However, a line has to be drawn here. The past irresponsible behaviour of the electronic media can not justify strangulation of their editorial freedom by an externally appointed regulator. Despite, all their failings, it is a safe to conclude that the TV channels are aware of their responsibilities to the society with regard to dissemination of factual news. So, the regulation of their conduct is best done by themselves. If this achieved, tt will be a healthy and mature step.



In this regard, one must welcome the coming into being of the National Broadcasting Association (NBA) with all the 45 TV channels under its supervisory umbrella. NBA has adopted its Code of Ethics and has a Redressal Authority to delve into and decide upon complaints relating to transgression by any Channel. This is a very desirable outcome.
The aberrations in the conduct of the TV channels during 26/11 attacks have spurred NBA to tighten the norms for reporting in crisis situations where the security forces battle an external enemy inside our territory. This seems to have salutary effects on the TV channels who appear to have brought their repotting in line with the newly-enforced ethics. TV reporting in the past few months bears this out.

We, therefore, can conclude that ‘self regulation’ is finally yielding results.



Naroda Patya verdict –Justice at last — Narendra Modi on notice

August 30, 2012 at 2:58 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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A stunning verdict

(Hindu editorial August 30, 2012)

The conviction by a Gujarat court of BJP legislator Maya Kodnani and Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi along with 30 others for their role in the Naroda Patia massacre is the strongest judicial affirmation yet that large-scale communal violence is almost always a product of pre-meditated political planning and calculation. An estimated 95 Muslims, many of them hapless women and children, were hacked to death in Naroda, a minority neighbourhood in Ahmedabad targeted by armed mobs under the indulgent gaze of the Gujarat government in the wake of the February 27, 2002 Godhra train carnage. The verdict is a landmark one. It is for the first time that an Indian court has convicted a sitting MLA — Ms Kodnani was also a minister in the Narendra Modi government from 2007 to 2009 — for mob aggression against members of a religious community. Secondly, the court has not only upheld the charge of criminal conspiracy against the 32 individuals convicted, it has also found one of them guilty of rape and sexual harassment.
The establishment of conspiracy augurs well for the future of communal violence prosecutions, where the judicial trend so far has been to uphold murder but not conspiracy. It is a victory particularly for the Special Investigation Team that was brought into the picture by the Supreme Court following the failure of the State police to properly prosecute the post-Godhra riots cases. For the families of the Naroda victims, who identified the aggressors braving threats and intimidation and who were able to come forward to some extent because of the protection offered by the apex court, there cannot be a greater vindication than the trial court finding evidence of rape and molestation. It has been their plaintive cry that the violence was orchestrated and targeted against women, who were subjected to gang rape and worse before being slaughtered. Violence against women is a pattern established over and over in anti-minority pogroms, and the judgment has done yeoman service in foregrounding this fact. Needless to say, the conviction is a huge setback to the Gujarat Chief Minister personally. The fact that Ms Kodnani led the Naroda killings was common knowledge, yet Mr. Modi made her a minister, even putting her in charge of ‘women and child development’ as if to thumb his nose at the victims. A bigger worry for Mr. Modi ought to be the establishment of conspiracy. The Chief Minister has maintained all along that the “riots” were a spontaneous act by crowds enraged by Godhra. It stretches credulity that Ms Kodnani could enter into a conspiracy with her co-accused without the government getting a whiff of the group’s criminal intentions and conduct, before, during and after the killing.


A watershed judgment (My views)

For the Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) and the scores of scarred members of the minority community, it must have come as a huge relief to see so many convictions in the Naroda Patya riot case. One of the prominent convict is Maya Kodnani, the sitting lady MLA, who had served as the Women and Child Welfare minister in the Narendra Modi government between 2007 to 2009, three years after her notorious role in the 2004 carnage. That a woman social leader could lead the charge against hapless men, women and children in such a barbaric rampage that involved rape of women and subsequent slaughter causes revulsion in the minds of whoever who listen to the account of those fateful days in 2004. Another person to be convicted is the Bajrang Dal stalwart Babu Bajrangi, on whose shoulders Narendra Modi leaned heavily for propounding aggressive Hindutwa ideology.

The conclusions one draws from the trial is both heartening and disturbing. The Narendra Modi government’s police and prosecution machinery tried, in the initial stages to thwart the course of justice by thinly-disguised attempts. They had vainly tried to frighten the victims not to give witness so that the seriousness of the offences were watered down. This attitude of the Modi government is utterly reprehensible. The Apex Court stepped in and constituted a SIT to conduct the prosecution competently and freely. The assiduous work of the SIT has borne fruit. This is a hopeful sign.

Similarly, the way the victims of the minority community braved the intimidating tactics of some BJP goons is commendable. Of course, the Supreme Court directive to the state government to offer protection to the witnesses must have emboldened them to come to the court and narrate the truth. Nevertheless, their persistence is praiseworthy.

The most important aspect of the trial court’s verdict is the highlighting of the ‘conspiracy’ angle of the pogrom. Perhaps, this is the first time in the history of independent India that a Court has brought the conspiracy angle of a communal incident to the fore. It does not portend well of for Narendra Modi who headed the government then. He has maintained all along that it was a spontaneous Hindu backlash against the Muslims, who were perceived to be behind the Godhra massacre. Now, his theory of non-complicity of the government in the carnag lies in tatters. A systematic massacre like this perpetrated by his erstwhile comrades could not have occurred without careful planning and his tacit approval. Let us hope the trial to fix high-level involvement, now mired in administrative and legal mess, gets expedited hereafter.




Vocabulary building for effective writing

August 30, 2012 at 1:38 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Vocabulary building for effective writing

Baby steps in vocabulary building ..3 ..

a. Mamata Banarjee’s mercurial temper has foxed the cunning back-stage managers of the Congress Party time and again. Before the Presidential election, she spewed fire against Pranab Mukherjee. After his election, she sent a Raakhee to him on Raksha Bandhan day. Congress Party’s veteran trick-masters who are adept in pampering and punishing political personalities at will, have been left guessing about her intentions ever since she came to power in West Bengal. All their ———- to win her over have yielded erratic results. Sometimes these moves succeed, some other time they backfire.
b. The other day Mulayam Singh was seen strutting in the corroders of the Parliament with the ——————  of body guards following him. The Congress M.Ps, when walking past him, were deeply reverential, lest they tread on his toes. With UPA leaning heavily on Mulayam, for his support, this is nothing but expected. Strange are the ways of Indian politics. Even a wrestler-turned-politician like Mulaym, perceived by observers as nothing better than a gadfly, gets so much respect from Congress, as Rahul looks on with ———————.

One needs to recall an incident that happened not long ago. On the eve of the UPA1 coming to power, Sonia hosted a dinner for her allies. Amar Singh, then representing Mulayam’s Samajwadi Party gate-crashed into the dinner meeting, did not even merit a side glance from her.

c. In allaying the fears of the students from the north-east fleeing from Indian cities to the safety of their homes, the role of the ——————— Mary Kom is to be gratefully appreciated. She stepped in just when the country was being torn apart by some cyber crooks who nearly succeeded in spreading mayhem in the country.

(Diminutive, Resignation, Posse, Blandishment)

Send your answers to broadbase.knowkedge@gmail.com


India’s Coalgate scam –How the Congress mishandles it

August 29, 2012 at 3:34 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Waiting for winter

(Hindu editorial August 29, 2012)

When the monsoon session ends, can the winter session be far behind? This seems to be the operating principle of the United Progressive Alliance government as it seeks to weather the storm created by the Bharatiya Janata Party in Parliament over the damning report of the Comptroller and Auditor General on the allocation of coal blocks. Of course, there is no way the UPA could have conceded the Opposition demand for the resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on this issue. But one of the ways for the government to break the logjam would have been to offer to cancel all the coal block allotments and introduce competitive bidding as originally envisioned in 2004. However, from the defence mounted by the Prime Minister — who held the Coal portfolio during the period of allocation — to the combative stance of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, everything points to the government preparing to keep the fight on the political plane. Instead of addressing the growing public perception of corruption in the wake of the CAG report, the Congress seems bent on discrediting the principal Opposition party. The reasoning is that the BJP, whose Chief Ministers in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh opposed competitive bidding, does not have the credibility for a sustained offensive on this issue, and will soon run out of breath. Other than seeking to clarify the points made in the CAG report through the Prime Minister’s statement in Parliament, the Congress is not willing to make any concession to the Opposition.

The government strategy to hold the ground until winter sets in is neither politically prudent nor morally defensible. If one were to accept Finance Minister P. Chidambaram’s argument that there was no loss in the allocation of coal blocks as the coal has not been “taken out of mother earth,” then surely the proper course would be to ensure that the companies which benefited from the discretionary allocation of the blocks are not allowed to profit from the coal that still remains unmined. The problem, of course, is that the government’s defence of the allocation is varied, full of holes, and contradictory. Apart from blaming Opposition-ruled States for the non-introduction of competitive bidding, the Prime Minister has disputed the computation of loss by the CAG, and pointed to the possible earnings for the government through taxation of the gains of the private parties. Thus, one defence of the government is that there is no loss because the coal is not mined; another is that the loss is partly offset by taxation of the mined coal. If only the government were ready to own up past mistakes, it would not have seemed so hurried in the defence of its policies, and so clumsy in its attacks on the Opposition.

Political brinkmanship or political ineptitude .. (My view)

The Congress Party has taken its fingers away from the pulse of the ‘Aam Aadmi’. This is what comes out of the way Sonia was seen gesticulating to her party MPs to confront their BJP adversaries who have disrupted the proceedings of the Parliament from the beginning of the monsoon session. Perhaps, she wants a Congress-driven raucous to counter the BJP-led raucous. This is unfortunate.

With so many MPs fawning over her and Rahul, her political astuteness has been blurred. This is why she feels that the Prime Minister’s laboured explanation of the government’s stand on the Coalgate would convince the citizens that the arbitrary allotment of coal blocks was just an unintentional administrative lapse and not a well-thought fraudulent act as portrayed by the CAG. The work done by the CAG is so meticulous and the observations so damning that no amount of spin can undermine the public rage over the UPA-led government’s frittering away of the national resources. Manmohan Singh’s aura of honesty has faded for good.

The Prime Minister’s explanation had two planks. First, the CAG’s assessment was disputable. Second, the companies who made profits from such arbitrary allocation did pay more tax because of the higher profits they made on getting coal at throw-away prices. Not even a college level student of Economics, least of all an eminent economist like Dr. Singh, should advance such a farcical justification. Unknowingly, Dr. Singh has enraged his countrymen more by stating such a reason.

The Congress Party has assumed that they can wait out the belligerent BJP in this session, and will be back to normal business in the coming winter. They feel that BJP’s hands are equally sullied in the Coalgate scandal, and this will result in BJP faltering in its Coalgate campaign over a period of time. It is nothing but wishful thinking. The nation has been so badly buffeted by the succession of corruption scams that the shear depth of public anger will prod the BJP to continue to be belligerent, causing the Congress much discomfiture and loss of face.

The best way forward for the government to establish its good intentions would be to cancel all the coal bloc allocations en masse and go for competitive bidding instead. Such a drastic step can go someway to mollify the citizens of this country. This step also can take the wind out of the BJP’s sails.

Clearly, Congress Party, under the present leadership, is not ready for it.

The Prime Minister and the Finance Mister jointly hold the key to the nation’s treasury. Safeguarding nation’s resources is a duty more sacrosanct than saving the Party’s face. By not agreeing to re-auction the coal still embedded in mother earth (Chidambaram’s phrase), both the functionaries have abdicated their constitutional and moral responsibility. If the 2G licenses could be cancelled and re-auctioned, why not the coal? The people would like to know.



Vocabulary building for good writing

August 28, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Vocabulary building for effective writing …

Baby steps in vocabulary-building 2

Fill in the blanks selecting appropriate words from the list given below.
a. If you are applying for a job of ‘bouncer’ in a night club, you must be a heavily-built man with a large frame. The mischief makers should find your presence ——-.
b. While walking the streets of Moscow, I was once —— by a Russian. He said he had some dollar notes which he wanted to exchange for the local currency ruble. I was quite surprised at the way he kept pestering me even after being told that I had just enough ruble to buy a Coke. I thought of ways to throw him off my trail.
Luckily for me, a policeman was passing that way. My tormenter vanished on seeing him. Later I understood that the guy was peddling ———- dollars, apparently of North Korean origin.
c. Bihar’s tribal villages have plentiful supply of spurious country liquors. The unsuspecting folks drink it routinely in evenings, often with ghastly consequences. I had the misfortune of seeing a drunk man who had been rushed to the local hospital for emergency care. His face had become ———- with pain and internal spasms.
d. The Headmaster of the local school was revered in the village for his character, dedication and strong moral mooring. On one occasion, his son was caught copying in the school examination. The father was ———- to see this.


(Mortified, Accosted, Counterfeit, Contorted, Intimidating)


——-  ———————END————————————–

India’s cast politics for vote catching – UPA mulls constitution change

August 28, 2012 at 6:13 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Tread carefully

(Hindu editorial August 28, 2012)


The Central government’s decision to amend the Constitution to provide for reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in promotions in government service is a welcome move, though it is fraught with risks if implemented without careful thought and adequate groundwork. The SCs and STs are grossly under-represented in the upper echelons of government — as indeed they are in upper management elsewhere — and every effort must be made to undo this injustice brought about by centuries-old practices of social discrimination. However, this issue was before a constitution bench of the Supreme Court in 2006, which ruled that the state had to “collect quantifiable data showing backwardness of the class and inadequacy of representation of that class in public employment” before providing for reservation in promotions. Thus, even now, there is no bar on reservation in promotions. In the 2006 judgment on the extent to which reservation is permissible, the constitution bench had noted that the ceiling of 50 per cent, a concept of creamy layer and the statement of compelling reasons (backwardness, inadequacy of representation and overall administrative efficiency) were all constitutional requirements “without which the structure of equality of opportunity in Article 16 would collapse.” Any amendment then would have to frontally deal with Article 16 providing for equality of opportunity in matters of public employment. Otherwise, the legislation might fail before a challenge in the Supreme Court, and would come across as little more than a political ploy to win the support of the weaker sections.

Earlier, on the question of reservation for Muslims in Andhra Pradesh, the failure to back up the move with concrete data on backwardness and inadequacy of representation led to the effort being thrown out by the courts. The Union government must not repeat this mistake. Nor should it ignore complications like the sharp narrowing of the pyramid from the level of joint secretary upwards in the Indian Administrative Service. This is where actual data on the under-representation of SCs and STs in senior posts is essential. On the other hand, any quota for promotions should not end up becoming a ceiling for deserving SC and ST officers. There are no simple solutions, but if the government is sincere about making its offices truly representative, all obstacles can be overcome. However, if the government produces a hastily drafted amendment with the sole intention of political posturing, the entire effort would be struck down by the courts.


Political brinkmanship or genuine desire to lift the lower casts and tribes — Ponder before taking the plunge (My views)

That the country has miles to go before it completely undoes the injustice and humiliation heaped on the lower casts and tribes for centuries is undeniable. Therefore, the deprived classes’ clamour for higher reservation quota for longer periods deserves urgent attention. But, the haste with which the UPA government intends to promulgate an ordnance to amend the Constitution to provide for reservations for Scheduled Casts and Scheduled Tribes is likely to be a still-born baby.

A Constitution Bench of the Apex Court had delved into the matter and concluded in its judgment in 2006 that concrete and quantifiable data about the overall population of the SCs and STs, the extent of backwardness and their representation in the civil service and other managerial jobs in the government must be gathered before the government sits down to fix the quota limits. So far, this has not been done. This is the reason why one such initiative by the Andhra government fixing additional quotas for the Muslim minorities was struck down by the Andhra High Court.

In the 2006 judgment, the Supreme Court had clearly stated that the 50% quota limit, the concept of ‘creamy layer’ and the statement of compelling reasons that included backwardness, inadequacy of representation and over-all administrative efficiency were in tune with the Article 16 of the Constitution. These measures, the Court had felt, went a long way to ensure equality of opportunity mentioned in the Article 16 of the Constitution.
Clearly, the backwardness data sought by the Supreme Court has not been coalesced so far. So, to bring in another amendment through an ordnance or through voting in the Parliament will invite challenge in the Supreme Court again. Logically, the Court will again strike it down.

If the UPA is indeed sincere in alleviating the distress of the under-privileged classes, let it go about it in a manner where the legislations stand the scrutiny of the highest judiciary. Otherwise, it would be perceived as a PR gesture, with eye on the vote bank. The SCs and STs will easily see through this cosmetic exercise and punish the UPA for its indulgence in cast politics.



Vocabulary building 1 –For those whose mother tongue is not English

August 28, 2012 at 2:47 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Baby steps in vocabulary-building 1

Fill in the blanks selecting appropriate words from the list given below.

Sunita had planned to go on a picnic with her friends. It was an outing which was planned a month in advance. She was to leave in the morning. But, an old family friend arrived the night before. Sunita’s mother urged her to stay back to take the guest to the temple next morning.

Sunita’s hopes of having some free time to freak out in the midst of her friends —————-. She became ——– for a while. Her eyes began to well up. She struggled to hold back her tears, but she did not like to let the guest know how she resented this disruption of her planned outing. After a while she regained her ———–, and proceeded to call her friends to tell them she was not coming for the picnic. She met with loud howls and growls.

With her next morning’s plans ———–, she ate her dinner hurriedly and slumped on her bed. Reconciling to the twist of events was hard for her.


Composure, Lay in tatters, Glum, Derailed, Aborted, Despondent


India’s Coalgate scam –Another sordid chapter in UPA’s misrule

August 27, 2012 at 2:41 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Beyond the reprieve

(Hindu editorial August 25, 2012)


There are crimes, and there are mistakes. There is criminal conspiracy, and there is political mismanagement. But no matter what courts say, there is always a political price to pay for poor governance. Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram deservedly obtained a reprieve from the Supreme Court in the case filed by Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy seeking to make him an accused in the 2G spectrum case, but the United Progressive Alliance government can have no great cause for cheer on this issue. Irrespective of how the case relating to the underselling of valuable spectrum turns out, the UPA still has a lot to answer for. The national exchequer suffered a huge loss on account of the manner in which it allowed spectrum to be sold in 2008 by A. Raja, who was Communications Minister at the time. The scam was made possible by two decisions: foregoing an auction and then cherry-picking the lucky allottees. The first element flowed from naïveté, inertia or devious intent and led to a revenue loss; the second from a criminal conspiracy and led to private gain for individual players. This element is the subject of a criminal trial. But the first is subject to political judgment. And the jury will have its say in 2014.

In trying to force the premature delivery of that political judgment through a poorly argued judicial operation, the Opposition has not only given Mr. Chidambaram the satisfaction of obtaining a personal reprieve from the Supreme Court but has also allowed the UPA government to proclaim a wider and wholly unwarranted innocence. In his petition, Dr. Swamy was, in effect, seeking to implicate Mr. Chidambaram for having discussed spectrum pricing with Mr. Raja. If the petition were to have been allowed, all those who are party to policy decisions in which revenue is foregone would have had to be held jointly and individually culpable for any losses despite the absence of criminal intent. This would have disastrous consequences for decision-making at the highest levels. By Dr. Swamy’s logic, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh too could have been arraigned in the 2G case because he too went along with the decision to forego an auction. It is a different matter that Dr. Singh and his Cabinet colleagues have shown themselves to be poor custodians of public funds. They have also learned nothing from the 2G fiasco. The coal is still in the ground so where is the question of a loss, its ministers said on Friday while rubbishing the CAG’s latest report on preferential coal allotments. If the logic sounds familiar, this is because it is something a hoarder of grain might say when he is caught with a bursting godown. “I’m innocent! Look, I haven’t sold a single bushel yet”.

Let off in the law court, but what about the people’s court? (My views) …

It was a day when Chidambaram heaved a sigh of relief. The Supreme Court’s long-awaited verdict absolved him of any involvement in the 2G scam perpetrated by his cabinet colleague Raja. He and his party spokesmen now brazenly assert his innocence in the murky scam which robbed the nation of astronomical sums of revenue, and brought much disrepute to the ruling UPA both inside and outside the country. The nation paid a heavy price, and the government now struggles to close the old chapter and start afresh in telecom licensing. So damaging has been the repercussions of the 2G muddle.
It was a saga that ran for years in full knowledge of all members of the government. Chidambaram, as the Finance Minister looked askance at what his cabinet colleague was doing. He, due to some inexplicable reasons, chose to let matters slide depriving the nation of precious finance. As the Finance Minister, he was supposed to jealously guard the nation’s wealth.

This is the charge the Janata Party President Subramanium Swamy pressed so labouriously in the Supreme Court, but the Court decided to go strictly along rigid laws governing criminal misconduct and gave a clean chit to Chidambaram. Looked from the other way, a ‘guilty’ verdict could have implicated the Prime Minister. That would have been disastrous for the government. So, in a way, the verdict is to be welcomed.

However, Chidambaram and the UPA will face their trial in another court –the people’s court, in 2014. It would be naïve to expect that vast number of Indians, seething in anger at the pervasive atmosphere of corruption, will forget and forgive Chidambaram and his UPA team on the basis of this Supreme Court verdict. The perception that Dr. Singh and his Finance Minister Chidambaram have given scant attention to preserve the nation’s revenue has run deep into the psyche of the common man.

It is an irony that the Coalgate scam, higher than the 2G in revenue loss, continues to attract similar lackadaisical response from the government. Within hours of the pronouncement of the Supreme Court’s ‘not-guilty’ verdict, Chidambaram propounded the same in-famous ‘zero less’ theory in case of Coalgate. His colleague Kapil Sibbal had done it some months earlier trying to cover up Raja’s wrong-doings. That Sibbal had caused much derision among the public then by his insensitive defense of Raja, seems to have faded from Chidambaram’s mind in his celebratory mood after the Apex Court’s verdict.
To say that the coal is still there in tact and so, there is no loss to the government is a farcical claim. It is like a thief asserting his innocence saying the booty is in tact and has not been disposed off yet. Is the Finance minister Chidambaram trying to write a new code of public morality befitting to the changing times? Only the public can stop him in his tracks, in 2014, or earlier, God willing.




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