The Hindu Editorial with Vocabulary (For honour’s sake) 28 January 2019
For honour’s sake: on the Bharat Ratna awards
It is in the nature of our polity to use any opportunity possible for political signalling, and the Bharat Ratna, the nation’s highest civilian honour, has not been spared from this propensity. Over the years, ideological considerations have influenced the choices. While the Narendra Modi government’s decision to confer the Bharat Ratna on the late Assamese singer Bhupen Hazarika (who contested on the BJP ticket in the 2004 Lok Sabha election) and the late Nanaji Deshmukh (a Bharatiya Jan Sangh leader and social activist) evoked little surprise, the choice of former President Pranab Mukherjee seemed to have caught everyone off guard and triggered fevered speculation. Prime Minister Narendra Modi described him as “an outstanding statesman of our times”. While Mr. Mukherjee’s seniority and contribution to the polity are not in doubt, the fact that he agreed to speak at an RSS event last year to the bemused disapproval of the Congress party was held out as a reason. And more unsympathetically, could the award have been a part of the BJP’s strategy of embracing old Congress leaders such as Vallabhbhai Patel to highlight that its real opposition is to the Nehru-Gandhi family? It is no secret that Mr. Mukherjee’s political ambitions were thwarted at one point by his inability to break the hold of dynastic politics in the Congress.
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Whether or not someone deserves a particular honour is not an easy question to resolve. Idolised leaders are integral to the imagination of a community, and arguably, for nation-building. Such secular rites of veneration set an ideal that the community celebrates and strives for. This is of course different from the pursuit of partisan political interests. Unfortunately, competitive politics has overshadowed the majesty of the Bharat Ratna. The honour to M.G. Ramachandran in 1988 was widely seen as a cynical political move ahead of an election in Tamil Nadu. A promise to confer the Bharat Ratna to Madan Mohan Malaviya was made by Mr. Modi during the 2014 campaign, and he fulfilled it soon after coming to power. Claims and counterclaims for the honour have become part of assertions of power by various groups. The emergence of new political elites is often accompanied by a clamour for greater acceptance for their leaders in the national roll of honour. A democratic, plural community must resolve these demands with respect and sensitivity. But this must not lead to a devaluation of the honour. Transparency is not easy to achieve, and fairness is difficult to establish, given the contradictory demands of representation and majesty. But a good place to start is to discontinue posthumous awards. It is a slippery slope of arbitrariness. Idols and ideals unite diversities in a community, and Bharat Ratnas must be selected with this in mind. On this count at least, the Modi government’s list will be contested.
The Hindu Editorial Vocabulary Wordlist
1) PROPENSITY (Noun) = Inclination, ( प्रवृत्ति )
Synonyms = Disposition, Leaning.
Antonyms = Hate, Dislike.
2) Evoked (Verb) = Arouse, ( पैदा की )
Synonyms = Induce, Stimulate.
Antonyms = Calm, Ignore.
3) SPECULATION (Noun) = Theory, ( अनुमान )
Synonyms = Belief, Opinion.
Antonyms = reality, Truth.
4) BEMUSED (Adj) = Distracted, ( संभ्रमित )
Synonyms = Absent-Minded, Lost.
Antonyms = Board, Existing
5) UNSYMPATHETICALLY (Adv) = Unfavorably, ( असहानुभूतिपूर्ण ढंग से )
Synonyms = Negatively, Skeptically.
Antonyms = Mutually , Positively.
6) VENERATION (Noun) = Reverence, ( श्रद्धा )
Synonyms = Adoration, Esteem.
Antonyms = Dishonor, Disrespect.
7 ) CONTRADICTORY (Adj) = Antagonistic, ( अन्तर्विरोधी )
Synonyms = Conflicting, Contrary.
Antonyms = Consonant, Harmonious.
8) POSTHUMOUS (Adj) = After Death, ( मरणोपरांत )
Synonyms = Post-Morterm, Post-obit.
Antonyms = Antemortem.
9) ARBITRARINESS (Noun) = Flightiness, ( मनमानी )
Synonyms = Whimsy, Tyranny.
Antonyms = Democracy.
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