Stay-ahead-in-English 24 — Many uses of ‘Age’ and ‘Edge’

November 30, 2013 at 6:51 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Stay-ahead-in-English 24 — Many uses of ‘age’ and ‘edge’

Age ….

a. Philips was talking to his mother about the new mathematics teacher Mr. Agnew who had joined the school. When asked about his mother about his experience, Phillip replied, “I don’t know, but he must be 40 years of age, same as our dad.”

Philips continued, “Mr. Agnew says he completed his graduation when he was at the age of 21. He looks so sprightly compared to his age. He does not seem to have aged at all.”

2. His mother was a scientist at the biology department of the local college. She told Philip, “In this age of phenomenal scientific progress, drugs have been invented to slow down the process of ageing. However, the age-old wisdom says that physical exercise and simple balanced food help to prevent age-related deterioration of muscles and bones. This is the truth that has prevailed through the ages.”

His mother continued, “Your elder sister has come of age. But what worries me to see that at times she, at 19, does not act her age. Legally, she is of an age to marry. How will she manage a family if she gets married?”

——————————-..——————–

Edge…

William Wordsworth used to roam around at the edge of the river Wye. That is when he wrote the poem Tintern Abbey. This poem gave him an edge over other nature-loving poets. Due to some differences, his marriage with his French wife was on edge during those days. Finally, she edged away from him. The marriage ended in separation. It was an event that dragged Wordsworth to the edge of a complete emotional break down. He returned to river Wye for solace. Wye did not disappoint him. The tranquility and the serene surroundings of the woods and the river took the edge off his mental turmoil.
When he returned to the city, the intense din and bustle there set his teeth on edge. He began to reminisce about his visits to the river.

—————Exercise and answer in the next post ——————–
————————————–END———————————-

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Answers for Word-use exercise 1&2 of Where Angels Fear to Tread

November 29, 2013 at 10:43 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Word-use exercise 1 –Where Angels Fear to Tread …..

A proposal was mooted in the village high school to take the final year and pre-final year students to the museum situated in Hyderabad in south India. The museum is famous for its collection of rare antiquities. On hearing this, the students were agog with excitement. However, the mood among the teachers was subdued. This is because almost all of them had seen it at least a dozen times. This apart, escorting a big group of boys and girls to a museum was an arduous job. Many of them were appallingly ignorant of history. Finally, it was decided by the Principal and Vice-Principal that the two lady history teachers will be given the responsibility. Hearing this, the two flurried teachers made a dash to the Principal’s chamber to express their indignation over the decision. They argued that it was a jobs for the male teachers. ‘They could not escape their responsibility, pushing us to the fore,’ they protested.

The Principal made his case saying that museum was an edifice of national importance. It would be an injustice for the students to pass out of the school without seeing the museum. The senior of the two lady teachers was a bit pliant in nature. She ceded first and agreed to take the responsibility. Seeing this, the junior teacher acquiesced.

[Words …. Acquiesce, Flurried, Antiquities, Appallingly, Pliant, Subdued, Edifice]

————————————————————.——————–

Exercise 2 ..

On the day of the journey, the students gathered at the school office building. The bus arrived exactly in time. The two teachers bustled the students into the bus. When asked how long it would take to reach the museum, the driver shrugged off the question saying that he was going there for the first time. Curiously, he began to expound the great educational value of the museum. He surprised the teachers and students saying that he had worked as a part time stores assistant in the museum for nearly a year. His job was to curate the hundreds of new pieces that came to the museum each year. On the last day of his job, a quaint copper vessel had come from one of the excavation sites close to the Sun Temple oat Konark. A few pieces of small gold coins were there inside the vessel. After he said all this, he sang an epigram about the person who might have departed from this world leaving this collection of items. It was a satire dealing the futility of life and the worthlessness of material possessions.

[Words for insertion … Epigram, Bustled, Curate, Expound, Quaint]

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Where Angels Fear to Tread – Word exercises 2 Chapter 1

November 28, 2013 at 10:43 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Word exercise 2 based on Chapter 1 of Where Angels Fear to Tread

Fill in the blanks of the following paragraph selecting the right word from the list given at its end.
————————-.————————-

On the day of the journey, the students gathered at the school office building. The bus arrived exactly in time. The two teachers ———- the students into the bus. When asked how long it would take to reach the museum, the driver shrugged off the question saying that he was going there for the first time. Curiously, he began to ———– the great educational value of the museum. He surprised the teachers and students saying that he had worked as a part time stores assistant in the museum for nearly a year. His job was to ————- the hundreds of new pieces that came to the museum each year. On the last day of his job a ———- copper vessel had come from one of the excavation sites close to the Sun Temple oat Konark. A few pieces of small gold coins were there inside the vessel. After he said all this, he sang an ———— about the person who might have departed from this world leaving this collection of items. It was a satire dealing the futility of life and the worthlessness of material possessions.

[Words for insertion … Epigram, Bustled, Curate, Expound, Quaint]
—————————-Answers to be posted tomorrow——————-
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Where Angels Fear to Tread by E. M. Forster –Chapter 1 – analysis

November 28, 2013 at 8:35 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Explanatory notes on
E. M. Forster’s Where Angels Fear to Tread

Chapter 1 …

The characters

Lilia .. The widow, the main character of the novel. She is the only daughter of Mrs. Theobald.

Charles .. Son of Mrs. Herriton who died long back. He is the dead husband of Lilia.

Imra .. Lilia’s young daughter

Mrs. Herriton .. The mother-in-law of Lilia and mother of Charles

Philip .. The son of Mrs. Herriton. He is the brother-in-law of Lilia

Harriet .. The younger sister of Philips. She is the daughter of Mrs. Herriton.

Mrs. Theobald .. She is the mother of Lilia. She is weighed down by her age. She lives in Witby, Yorkshire.

Mr. Kingcroft … The man whom Lilia loves possibly out of her boredom as a widow. He makes a brief appearance in the novel.

Signor Carella (Gino) ..The young Italian whom Lilia marries. It leads to her miserable and untimely death.

Miss Caroline Abbot .. The young neighbourhood girl who accompanies Lilia to Italy

Mr. Abbot .. Miss Caroline Abbot’s father

Ms. PerfettaSignor Carella’s maid servant
——————————-.———————–.—————

The story …
Ms. Lilia is bored with her life as a widow. She wants a break to get a respite from her dull monotonous life in Sawston where she lives with her daughter Imra in a house bought for her by her husband’s money.

She is encouraged by her brother-in-law Philips to choose Italy as her destination. Philips is enamoured of the rich architecture, culture and scenic landscapes of Italy. He sings the praise of Italy vociferously before Lilia and other family members. On his recommendation, Lilia chooses Italy for her extended holiday. She needs a companion to go with her. Miss Abbnot, a girl much younger than her, agrees to accompany her to Italy.

Thus, the plan for the journey is worked out.

To garner resources for the long journey and the holiday, Lilia sells off her house along with half its furniture. She leaves the rest half along with her only daughter Imra and sets out for the fateful journey. Miss Abbot accompanies her as planned.

The journey started from their small home town Sawston, not very far from London. They caught the train at Chairing Cross rail station in central London for their trip to Italy. The whole family has come to the Chairing Cross railway station to see off Lilia and Miss Abbot. Among these people are Mrs. Herriton, Phillip, Harriet, Imra, Mrs. Theobald and Mr. Kingcroft.

Kingcroft has accompanied the ageing Mrs. Theobald to the station. His motive was to have a parting look at Lilia, the widow he loved.
The fact that Lilia and Kingcroft love one another is known to Mrs. Herriton and Phillips. Both disapprove of such relationship. Mrs. Herriton thinks that Kingcroft is a good-for- nothing fellow.

As soon as Mrs. Theobald reached the station, she asked Kingcroft to get the departing Lilia foot-warmers. He hurried to get it, but managed to bring it only seconds after the train left. Lilia (Mrs. Charles) had to go without it.

Before the train began to leave, Phillip continued his advices to Lilia about the different places they must go to in Italy. In a way, he became the energetic promoter of Italy’s attractions. Among the places he recommends are Gubbio, Pienza, Cortona, San Gemignano, Monteriano.

As the time for departure draws near, Lilia kisses her daughter Irma good bye and gives her some parting advice to behave well in her absence.

The train begins to move and the see-off party wave a frenzied good-bye to the Abbot-Lilia duo.

Kingcroft escorted back Mrs. Theobald to her home, and Mrs. Herriton, Phillipd and Harriet return home. At home they indulge in some light talk about the intention of Kingcroft going there to the station. They say he is too imbecile and gauche to be ever accepted by Lilia. They speak about Lilia.

too rather disapprovingly for her wish to proceed to Italy with a much younger girl as escort.

The mother and son think Lilia is a stupid, immature person who was languishing at Sawston. They agreed the trip to Italy would give Lilia a refreshing break from the boredom she was enduring at Sawston.

Some ten years ago, when Charles and Lilia fell in love, Mrs. Herriton, the mother of Charles, had gone to great lengths to see that their romance did not lead to marriage. But, things did not work out the way Mrs. Herriton wanted. Lilia came in as the daughter-in-law of the house.

After her becoming Mrs. Charles from Miss Theobald, Mrs. Herriton set out to transform her so that she shed her rough and uncouth manners and became a polished aristocratic woman under her training. Charles and Harriet joined their mother in grooming Lilia.

When Irma was born, Mrs. Theobald tried to come over to see her grand daughter, but Mrs. Herriton discouraged the contacts between Irma and her maternal grandmother, Mrs. Theobald. Soon, Mrs. Theobald became too frail to leave her home at Whitby in Yorkshire. Her visits stopped and Irma was firmly integrated to Charles’s family.

Charles died, and it brought some complications. Lilia began to request Mrs. Herriton to let her go to see her frail mother. On many occasions she went. A house was taken for her at Sawston where she lived independently with her daughter Irma for three years.

During this time she came in contact with Mr. Kingcroft and fell in love with him. The news reached Mr. Herriton’s ears making her very upset. She wrote a letter to her daughter-in-law Lilia demanding to know what was going on between her and Kingcroft. She said, if Lilia indeed loved Kingcroft, she must get engaged to him officially instead of allowing gossips to emerge. That would disgrace the family of Mrs. Herriton. The letter hit Lilia emotionally. From that time, Lilia became distraught.

Lilia’s nature became querulous. She lost interest in her household chores. There were frequent quarrels. Her mother-in-law, Mrs. Herrriton had to intervene frequently to mediate and end the bickering.

Lilia became increasing rebellious and freedom-seeking. On one occasion, she fell from her bicycle. Phillip gave her a dressing down which hurt her very much.

Lilia’s first letter from Italy arrives. It seems Miss Abbot and she are enjoying Italy.
——————————-Read and understand the rest————-

Word exercise to learn important words from Chapter 1 …

Fill in the blanks of the following paragraph selecting the right word from the list given at its end.
————————-.————————-

A proposal was mooted in the village high school to take the final year and pre-final year students to the museum situated in Hyderabad in south India. The museum is famous for its collection of rare ————-. On hearing this the students were agog with excitement. However, the mood among the teachers was ————. This is because almost all of them had seen it at least a dozen times. This apart, escorting a big group of boys and girls to a museum was an arduous job. Many of them were ——– ignorant of history. Finally, it was decided by the Principal and Vice-Principal that the two lady history teachers will be given the responsibility. Hearing this, the two ———– teachers made a dash to the Principal’s chamber to express their indignation over the decision. They argued that it was a jobst for the male teachers. ‘They could not escape their responsibility, pushing us to the fore,’ they protested.

The Principal made his case saying that museum was an ——- of national importance. It would be an injustice for the students to pass out of the school without seeing the museum. The senior of the two lady teachers was a bit —— in nature. She ceded first and agreed to take the responsibility. Seeing this, the junior teacher ————.

[Words …. Acquiesce, Flurried, Antiquities, Appallingly, Pliant, Subdued, Edifice]
—————————– MORE TO FOLLOW SOON———————–

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India weighed down by its gold imports — many ideas

November 24, 2013 at 2:33 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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India, weighed down by its gold imports …..

Indians adore gold more than the people of any other country. This explains why Indians’ buying of gold can not stop. Unfortunately, India does not produce any gold. The last gold mines in Kolar and Hutti in the state of Karnataka have nearly exhausted their wealth. Mining the gold still left has become too expensive.

No bride, however poor, leaves her paternal home without at least a trinket of gold. For the rich and the super-rich, the bride is given enough gold to weigh her down. Marriages are finalized, annulled, postponed or solemnized on this transaction of gold. Arranging gold for their daughter often drives the parents to penury. Such is the centrality of the gold’s role in Indian society.

Peasants store their pitiful savings in miniature gold ornaments procured from village goldsmiths. Members of the political class flaunt thick gold necklaces around their neck to make a statement about their clout. Devotees donate gold to temples generously to invoke the deity’s blessings. The Tirupati Temple in South India possibly gets the highest gold donations — only to be locked in the temple’s vaults.

Indians do not heed their leaders’ calls not to keep their savings in gold, because by doing so, they boost the demand for bullion, which the country finds hard to import because of its limited foreign exchange reserves. India buys nearly 1,000 tonnes, or a fifth of global annual supply. That is the same as Switzerland’s total gold holding.
Why do Indians love gold so much?

Love for gold is rooted in the Indian tradition. But, the craze for buying it rose exponentially in the last three decades making India the largest importer of bullion in the world.

India’s consumption of gold in 1982 was a meager 65 tonnes. Importing the yellow metal has always been a big burden for this poor country. Various restrictions on gold buying have been put in place by different governments from time to time. Until 1990, gold imports were almost banned.

To meet its domestic demand, bullion was smuggled in by many ingenuous means, through the sea and air routes. In many Bollywood movies, the villain was invariably portrayed as a gold smuggler making deals in smoke-filled underground rooms. As a result of such restrictions clamped by the government, its domestic price was 50% higher than the price in the international market.

The typical buyers were the low middle class and middle class families, farmers and businessmen. For these people, gold was the ‘real’ currency with liquidity at par with cash, but having a time-tested shield against inflation. It was an asset a needy man could use to tide over hard times.

As India’s economy, rebounded, government lifted the controls on gold import. Overnight, the scourge of smuggling vanished. But, the decontrol resulted in some un-intended consequences. People were soured to buy more and more gold, diverting their savings from bank deposits to gold ornaments.

The profile of the gold buyer also changed with time. Today bullion is bought by cunning investors, the super rich class and speculators looking for some quick profits.

Smugglers no longer bring in the gold. It comes in through regular transparent and legal channels. Often, banks sell gold coins of different values. They also liberally accept gold as mortgage for giving hassles-free cash loans. The age-old pawn brokers compete with banks to stay in business.

Gold buyers, big and small, do some hard calculations. They think the economy and its financial system is unfair to honest earners of wealth. The reason—the creeping inflation eats away their hard-earned money. This perception, largely justified, drives them away from keeping their money in banks. They flock to the jewellery shops instead. The fast-rising prices of the yellow metal bolster their argument.

India, as a country is conspicuously under-banked. Only one third of Indians have bank accounts. This is another reason why Indians living in un-banked pockets put their money in gold. Added to that, there is the glaring mis-match between the fixed deposit interest offered by banks and the galloping inflation the average Indian has to contend with. The banks have to lend to the government at low rates making it impractical for them to pay more interest to their depositors. Such cheap funds encourage imprudent government spending.

The share market has looked pallid in recent years. Returns from shares are low. Faced with few alternatives, people with investible surpluses buy gold. The price of gold rose every year between 2002 and 2011. The second reason why gold is popular is that it allows you to buy it without having to fill up umpteen forms, returns and the vexing paraphernalia. To treat wealth and the wealthy with suspicion and envy is peculiar Indian trait. It is entrenched in the bureaucracy. Glorifying poverty is a part of Indian culture. Although it is a lofty idea, stifling the wealthy in modern times is a regressive policy.

Buying, keeping and selling of gold needs little paper work. So, there is much less snooping by the government inspectors. For tax evaders, gold is the safest and easiest conduit. The burgeoning political corruption in India generates humungous black money for which gold is the safest haven.

Such trend to freeze huge amounts of cash in gold plays havoc with the country’s economy. Import of bullion has drained India’s hard currency reserves. Gold import bill touched $54 billion in the year 2013. This contributed to India’s current-account deficit ballooning to 4.8% of GDP. Gold contributed to half of it. More importantly, funds locked in gold are not available for the country’s development plans. Thus, despite having high overall savings rate on par with those of Asia’s fast-developing economies, India struggles to mobilize funds for its development activities.

The position is worsening, giving a sense of doom. The solution lies in luring people to the country’s formal financial system. Raising interest rates on deposits can be a possible step. Both these measures may take time.

In the short term, following a period of unseen currency volatility in the past months, the government resorted to the time-tested measures like hiking taxes and imposing quotas on gold imports. This had some salutary effects. Gold imports have come down to just $1-2 billion in October.

However, the scourge of smuggling may rear its head soon. The gold price in India is now 10% above international prices. Such a difference is an incentive for smuggling. Many queer instances of gold smuggling have been detected recently. A Jet Air flight from Bangkok landed in Kolkata with a huge quantity of gold bars tucked in its toilet. So far, it has remained unclaimed.

Thus, we can see that these short term measures are effective only partially. The long term solution lies in increasing the economic growth so that the Current Account Deficit changes to Current Account Surplus. This is a tough call, under prevailing environment.

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Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge tribunal –Curtains coming down

November 23, 2013 at 1:44 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Curtains coming down on Cambodia’s genocide tribunal — An occasion for soul searching

Just in four years — between 1975 to 1979 — 2000,000 Cambodians died, far more were injured and maimed for life, and whole cities were evacuated at gunpoint. Schools, colleges, offices, businesses and banks were ordered to shut down. Countless men, women and children, pulled out of their homes, were herded and marched on to the countryside to work in community farms. All these barbaric atrocities were committed, ostensively for ushering a “golden age” in human civilization, hitherto unknown to anyone on earth! Cambodia bled and bled in full view of the international community. The cry of the enfeebled victims of Pol Pot’s grotesque reformist zeal was not loud enough to reach the U.N headquarters.

Pol Pot, the self-styled messiah was in command. The ‘revolution’ was his brain wave. Execution of his commands was the responsibility of his lieutenants of the Khmer Rouge party that Pol Pot started to implement his programmes.

Reading the accounts of forced starvation, labour, disease, whipping, humiliation, and killing that the Cambodians endured is not for the weak-hearted. But, in retrospect, it appears strange how and why Pol Pot, coming from an affluent Vietnamese-Cambodian family, could turn on his own people with such horrendous brutality. He was educated in Paris, where he must have learnt about the liberal values of western society.

Pol Pot, aided by a handful of his key henchmen carried out the campaign that killed one out of every five Cambodian. At no point of his murderous campaign, did he pause to reflect on what he was doing. The role of countries like America, France, China and others at the United Nations will be debated long after the curtains finally come down on this very sad part of Cambodian history. The United Nations became a toothless tiger, watching, as the debate about a planned intervention rumbled on.

Finally, the Khmer Rouge was thrown out of power. The deliverance from Pol Pot and his murder apparatus Khmer Rouge came through the intervention of Vietnamese army. Pol Pot spent his last days in a lonely forest hide-out. His aides roamed free till a United Nations tribunal was set up to try the perpetrators. Even this belated action came after much wrangling. So shameful has been the response of the international community.

The Khmer Rouge tribunal …

Its name … Its official name is Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

How it was formed … It was done according to an agreement between the Royal Government of Cambodia and the United Nations. The agreement was signed on June 6, 2003.

The agreement was endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly. A total of four trials were planned that would deal entirely with crimes committed by the most senior and most responsible Khmer Rouge officials during the period of Khmer Rouge rule of 1975-1979.

Why the tribunal got bogged down …….A Khmer Rouge Trial Task Force came to be established by the Cambodian government to create a legal and judicial framework to conduct the trial of the remaining leaders for war crimes and other crimes against humanity. However, much to the frustration of the international community and the victims’ survivors, but progress of the judicial process slowed down soon after the beginning. The government cited shortage of funds needed for the tribunal as the main cause. Several countries, including Canada, India and Japan, came forward with extra funds. Still, the available funds fell short of the requirement.

Despite all these problems, the Task Force began its work. In March 2006, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, nominated seven eminent judges for conducting the trial.

The progress so far … The outcome has been far from satisfactory. After six years of strenuous efforts by the judges and the court officials, the court trying the perpetrators of one of the most heinous genocide in world’s history is likely to end up with just three convictions. The question arises – Has the efforts been wasted?

The agonizingly long and tortuous proceedings of the court set up in a military facility near Phnom Penh are coming to a conclusion. This week the erstwhile leaders of Cambodia’s murderous Khmer Rouge attended the court for the penultimate time. The two remaining survivors from the notorious Khmer Rouge regime’s leadership, Nuon Chea (87), and Khieu Samphan (82) made their mandatory closing statements before the court which is formally known as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.

It was only the second trial, and quite possibly, the last. To watch the historic proceedings, some Buddhist monks, members of the Islamic clergy, local schoolgirls and foreign journalists sat in the gallery.
Mr Nuon Chea (87) was the Khmer Rouge’s chief ideologue. He was known as the “Brother Number Two” to Pol Pot. Pol Pot died without facing trial some years ago. Mr Khieu Samphan (82) was the head of state of Democratic Kampuchea, as the Khmer Rouge named the country. They are both accused of crimes against humanity and genocide.

This part of their trial pertains to their role in the forced evacuation of the capital in 1975. Their trial on the genocide crime is yet to start. Both deny they had anything substantial to do with the killing of a quarter of the population i.e. about two million people between 1975 to 1979. They had ordered

a. Forced labour to forge an agrarian Utopia

b. Torture and extermination of ethnic Vietnamese and the Cham Muslims

c. Elimination of the intellectuals class by shooting and torture (i.e, anyone who wore spectacles)

d. Systematic murder of babies

Quite naively, the two main accused maintained that all these crimes were masterminded and executed by others, and they had only inconsequential role in the massacre.

To get an idea of the dreadful mindset of Nuon Chea, a dour dogmatist, it would suffice to know he had not sulked to push even two of her doctor nieces to the infamous Toul Sleng or S-21 prison. They perished there. Out of the total of 17,000 inmates, only a dozen survived the ordeal. So appalling was the jail that Nuon Chea oversaw.

On October 31, 2013, in course of the trial, Nuon Chea expressed remorse for the suffering under the Khmer Rouge. However, he denied any personal responsibility. He put the blame on ‘deviant and treacherous subordinates’. The Australian prosecuter William Smith had done a thorough work to pin him and his henchmen down. Smith summed up 212 days of hearings, testimony from 92 people, and documentary evidence that included telegrams sent to Pol Pot’s headquarters about the happenings in the many killing centers that dotted the country then. The meticulous work of Smith left no door open for the two accused to escape.

Sentencing is expected in early 2014. The prosecution is demanding incarceration of the two defendants for the rest of their lives.

But even if the two notorious persons remain in jail, many nagging questions on the efficacy of the tribunal will continue to be asked. The court’s investigations into the crimes began in July 2007. The bill has run to a staggering $200m. The first trial, that of Kaing Guek Eav, known as Duch had ended in July 2010 with his conviction. He had admitted to his crimes.

Understandably, many Cambodians question whether the ends of justice have been met after expending so much effort, time and money. Sadly, the Hun Sen government has developed cold feet in matters relating to the trial. His own hands also carry blood as he was a Khmer Rouge battalion commander. Later, he defected to the Vietnamese side in 1977. Vietnam’s subsequent invasion in 1979 ousted Pol Pot, and brought him in to power. Many of the present government’s leaders worked under the Khmer Rouge in various capacities. This explains why they are so lukewarm towards the work of the tribunal. All these factors handicapped the court. It had to limit its trial to only the members of the Khmer Rouge’s standing committee. In 2010, Mr Hun Sen publicly declared his opposition to any more trials, in effect bringing the court’s work to an end.

The court also had another constraint. The Americans feared that a full-scale trial might implicate Henry Kissinger, the then U.S. Secretary of State. It is common knowledge that Kissinger was instrumental in ordering bombing of Cambodia’s border areas by American planes and the other misadventures that pushed the hapless country on a downward spiral. America was wary of being dragged to the court.

For all these reasons, many Cambodians have been cynical about the whole idea of the court. Additionally, the proceedings have not aided the process of reconciliation. The present political stand-off between Mr Hun Sen and the opposition after the disputed election in July brings the un-healed schism to the fore.

Yet, the protagonists of the court have good reasons to support their case. They say, the trial has brought some solace to the victims and their families. It has also helped Cambodians to erase the deep scars in their memory.

—————————–END———————————-

All women’s bank in India — BMB is born.

November 22, 2013 at 6:01 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Bharatiya Mahila Bank (BMB) is born

Prime Minister Dr. Singh inaugurated the first ever all-women public sector bank. It will 29th in the list of public sector banks, which were private banks prior to their nationalization.
It appears to be a bold imaginative step towards financial empowerment of women who form half of our population. This bank’s focus of lending will be women entrepreneurs in tiny, small and medium sectors. Hopefully, it will boost entrepreneurial activity among women who borrow just one fourth of what their male counterparts do. By aggressively targeting women, BMB will try to correct this imbalance.
But, despite its laudable objectives and encouragement from every quarter, BMB will face many daunting challenges, such as ….

1. Branch number and location .. For a bank to be viable, it has to have a minimum number of branches in strategic locations. BMB, as it appears, will open a few branches in cities initially. It may later on expand to rural areas. Opening of new branches draws heavily on a bank’s resources, both in respect of capital and manpower. BMB, being a start-up, is weak on both counts.

2. Manpower .. BMB will need managers to manage key management functions. This is a problem that bedevils the large PSU banks presently. How BMB will pool its manpower from the junior to the most senior level remains to be seen. All new staff would want postings in urban centres. When BMB opens its rural branches, getting the staff to move to these centers will be difficult.

3. Social sector lending ….Ideally, to fulfill its social objectives, BMB must lend to the very poor rural women to set up their mini businesses. These are low value businesses prone to default. Collateral will also not be forthcoming from the borrowers. Maintaining commercial viability with a portfolio of such micro lending will be a challenge.

4. Short gestation period … BMB will be expected to turn around within two years of its inception. Otherwise staff morale will plummet and government might develop cold feet over extending support to it. So, BMB will be hard-pressed to perform fast.

In view of all these factors, the question arises as to the very soundness of this decision to open an all-woman bank. Perhaps, the existing banks, with their resources and expertise could have done it with less ado. But, such a view does not stand scrutiny.

Most rural women do not have title deeds of property in their names. It is the male members of a family who monopolize the official ownership of property. In such a case, going for conventional mode of lending pivoted on collateral will perpetually keep the women out of banks’ lending activities. This means that women entrepreneurship in this country will never get the boost it deserves.

This is the precise reason for which the Shri Mahila Sewa Sahakari Bank Ltd. was formed. Making the women socially responsible and empowered necessitates bold thinking and radical action. BMB is one such step.
————————————END————————————–

Answers to Stay-ahead-in-English 23 —Use of adverbs

November 22, 2013 at 12:10 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Answers for …..
Stay-ahead-in-English 23

Learning to use adverbs …

Fill in the blanks with the right adverb.

a. The burglars had entered the house late in the night to loot. But despite brandishing their dagger and getting the key of the vault from the owner’s wife, they got very little. The vault was nearly empty. Frustrated, they turned to the 3-year-old, and decided to take her away. They could demand some ransom later.
After one of the burglars lifted the toddler, she began to giggle due to some inexplicable reason. The burglars were utterly amused by the child’s disarmingly sweet smile. They left as they had a change of heart.

b. Compared to the armed might of the United States of America, North Vietnam had infinitesimally small military strength. Yet, Vietnam defeated in the war that was fought over a period over a decade.

c. Skin rashes, if left untreated, can be potentially dangerous. In fact, they may be early signs of leprosy which the doctors often ignore, wrongly.

d. Conditions in Somalia are abysmally bad now. The country is unable to come out of its prolonged period of internal strife.

e. The first half of the football match saw the visiting rivals scoring four goals in quick succession. For the home side, the position has become irreversibly hopeless.

[irretrievably, infinitesimally, disarmingly, potentially, abysmally]
—————————–.—————

Set 2 ..

Fill in the blanks with the right adverb.

a. The peace deal with the Taliban can not be negotiated quickly enough partly, because they are a medieval organization having no diplomatic experience. This makes them oppose stubbornly, anything the Americans propose.

b. It is strange to see active and positive Russian engagement with the West over the Syrian chemicals weapon issue. They have wholeheartedly supported United Nations initiatives to destroy the stockpile.

c. The son had come to his father to atone for his hideous conduct and seek forgiveness. His hands moved quiveringly to touch his father’s feet as he rumbled a few words admitting his wicked deeds.

d. The 6-foot frame of the soldier shook mirthfully as he described the victory of his army over the rebels.

e. When the school boy returned with a huge shield in his hand, everyone in his family looked at him quizzically.

[stubbornly, quizzically, mirthfully, quiveringly, wholeheartedly]

——————————–END——————————————-

Civil Service -International Relations – Political instability in Bangladesh –Ill winds are blowing again.

November 21, 2013 at 10:57 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Bangladesh’s curse – its feuding politicians

A tiresome political stand-off stares Bangladesh in its face again. As ever, its two major political parties –the Awami Party and the Bangladesh National Party (BNP) — appear set to drag the country to the edge of a ruinous confrontation.

For the up-coming national elections in January, 2014, Seikh Hasina has agreed to form an all-party government. BNP opposes the idea and threatens another bout of highly disruptive street agitations. This has left the all-party government as an Awami Party government, thus defeating Sikh Hasina’s initiative before it was tried.

Such obstructionist attitude of BNP is very much due to what its adversary, the Awami Party did in 2011. Then the Seikh Hasina government abolished the care-taker model through an amendment to the Constitution. This system had been in force from 1990. Its objective was to give the country a non-partisan government during election periods to preempt allegations of misuse of government machinery. The reason for such an amendment had looked justified then.

A group of technocrats, who had been given the reins of the government for a brief period of three months in 2006, hung on for two long years. The military had backed this team of technocrats in overstaying their welcome.

When the amendment to abolish the provision for care-taker government on the election eve was being debated in the parliament, BNP had opposed it seeing some sinister motive of the Awami Party in bringing it for adoption. BNP had boycotted the voting.

Since then, the political landscape of Bangladesh has been punctuated by much chauvinistic posturing by both parties. It has resulted in the schism in the country’s polity getting wider and wider. The trial of the people, who were complicit with the Pakistani forces in the stifling of Bangladesh’s struggle for independence, inflamed passions giving rise to endless violent protests.

The blame lies equally with the two leading ladies of Bangladesh politics. If Begum Khalida Zia can be blamed for unnecessary intransigence, Seikh Hasina can be accused of being to unyielding in ceding any political space for her rival.

Last year’s ban on Jammat-e-Islami, an ally of BNP, sullied the democratic image of Sikh Hasina. The fact that BNP’s sweeping gains in the Municipal elections did nothing to stop Seikh Hasina in her autocratic tracks.

Now, the time has come for burying the hatchet and usher in a process of reconciliation and accommodation. This is the need of the hour. BNP’s threatened call for an election boycott will be a regressive step, that will hurt the nation badly. With BNP out of the fray, an Awami League victory will look lacking in sanctity. The nation will see start of another round of acrimonious debate and utterly destructive confrontation.

It is in the interests of the neighbours to see a stable Bangladesh. To this end, India is trying, in a subtle manner, to coax the two parties to eschew rabid antagonism. India must play its cards well, otherwise, given Awami government’s pro-India tilt, any well-meaning move by Delhi to bring BNP on board might backfire.

In the past, BNP has mischievously used the non-conclusion of any land border or Teesta water sharing treaty with India as a result of the Awami government tilting too much backward to please India. The real reasons, rooted in the domestic politics of India, are conveniently ignored by BNP. India must be able to dispel such doubts in the minds of Bangladeshis.

—————————————–END————————————–

Answers for Stay-ahead-in-English 22 –Using adverbs correctly

November 21, 2013 at 6:54 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Answers for Stay-ahead-in-English 22 –Using adverbs correctly
Set 1 ..

 

a. The batsman began thinking of his girlfriend when he was tantalizingly close to his maiden century, and lost his concentration to fall to a full toss delivery.

b. The baby slipped off her mother’s arms and fell from the 12th floor apartment, but his pant got stuck on a protruding steel rod. She was perched there precariously till the fire brigade people came and brought her to safety.

c. Dark clouds appeared in the sky and wind began to blow at great speed. Frightened birds scampered to their nests ominously.

d. As soon as the band played playing a cheap Bollywood, a few skimpily-clad girls began gyrating on the stage salaciously.

e. As soon as Abraham Lincoln’s name was read out by the pastor, Americans in the audience bowed their heads reverentially.

[salaciously, reverentially, precariously, tantalizingly, ominously]
—————————-.—————

Set 2 …

a. The conduct of the Chinese government with regard to human rights falls short of western standards conspicuously.

b. The atmosphere inside Saddam Hussain’s torture chambers, where his men snuffed the life of countless Shia victims, was so depressingly morbid.

c. The AIDS patient is now suffering from multiple infections. He is slipping dangerously. Even the most potent medicines have failed to reverse the situation. He is clutching to his life tenuously.

d. The idol in the temple was made out of gold and some very rare stones. The thieves had eyed it for long. This morning, the priest opened the door to find that the idol was missing mysteriously.

e. The Geneva Convention is very clear about the way the victors should treat the prisoners of war (POW). It wants them to be treated humanely.
[mysteriously, humanely, conspicuously, tenuously, depressingly]
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