English Vocab

A Stoppable Juggernaut
Voters have sent a loud message in the U.P. by-elections — the Congress has to read it right.
The results of the recent by-elections in eastern Uttar Pradesh have made it clear that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Narendra Modi is not invincible. The electors of Gorakhpur and Phulpur have shown his party the door, signalling that they are neither enamoured by what it has to offer by way of politics nor overawed (impress (someone) so much that they are silent or inhibited) of its grand success in the State Assembly elections of barely a year ago. They have bearded the proverbial lion in his den. It is now no longer inconceivable that the BJP may face the same fate elsewhere in the country in the parliamentary elections in 2019.

Secularism question
However, for this to happen, the advisers of the main Opposition party, the Congress, must read this verdict. They must realise that it would hardly do to merely “promote secularism without giving the BJP the opportunity to label [it] anti-Hindu,” as a writer put it in this newspaper soon after the elections to the Gujarat Assembly. Nor would it help for the party president to become a serial temple-goer as he did temporarily in Gujarat in poll season, a practice that has been hailed as “smart secularism” by pundits dismayed by the supposed innocence of “Nehruvian liberals”. Only a puffed-up intellect could imagine that India’s electorate are so naive as to not sniff fake religiosity from a distance. That Akhilesh Yadav did not go on a temple crawl in the Hindu-majority constituencies of Gorakhpur and Phulpur did not prevent the electors from switching their allegiance (loyalty or commitment to a superior or to a group or cause) to the Samajwadi Party (SP). We know from the vote count that while Opposition unity helped with the victories, there has actually been a swing away from the BJP, even though slight. As for promoting ‘secularism without appearing to be anti-Hindu’, this is odd advice indeed.
First, how can a political party promote secularism when the State, the reins to which it aspires, is constitutionally bound by it? Second, why should any religious group feel threatened by a genuinely secular State for it remains the best bet for the religiously inclined, whatever their faith. Finally, what the electors of U.P. have shown is that the people of India need no lessons in secularism. They have rejected Hindutva politics without any help from the Congress Party. How can we be certain that it is Hindutva that they have rejected? Well we can’t, for it could also be anti-incumbency as the elections were to the Lok Sabha. But if it is anti-incumbency that led to the defeat of the BJP, it is all the more reason for the Opposition parties to focus on the things that voters really care about. Hospitals are very likely among these. Last year Gorakhpur saw over 1,000 child deaths due to a deadly district public hospital in Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s pocket borough.
Vertical presence
Why is it necessary to even consider the Congress when the possibilities for 2019 are being considered? Because even at a miserable 40-plus seats in the Lok Sabha, it is still the largest single Opposition party. And its importance stems from (to be caused by (something or someone) : to come from (something or someone)) more than numbers. In terms of mindset, it is the only party that straddles (to spread out irregularly) the country vertically. With the ending of Chandrababu Naidu’s dalliance (a period of brief or casual involvement with something) with the BJP, the entire south of the country is ruled by non-BJP parties. Assuming that this will continue till May 2019, the historical reach of the Congress party makes it better suited than any other to respond to the aspirations of the people of southern India. The architects of the BJP’s recent defeat in U.P. cannot hope to fill this role. Both the SP and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) are by choice parochial (having a restricted outlook) entities. Neither Lalu Prasad nor Mulayam Singh Yadav has attempted outreach south of the Vindhya. In fact, they seem to revel in the role of regional politicians apart from the unapologetic pitch to their own caste, which practice does not go down as well here.
On the other hand, whatever may be their limitations, the Nehru-Gandhis mix naturally with the populace of this diverse country as if to the manner born. This is a rare valuable gift that they have inherited, but in the upcoming political battle with the BJP, the Congress leadership would need more than social skills. They can learn some of this from the leaders of the SP, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the BSP. The latter bring a heft (importance or influence) to the table which is also present in the style of Mr. Modi. And you can’t hold it against the electorate for rewarding it. After all they are not engaging in a contest for the best person in the room. Electors look for courage of conviction in their leaders; gravitas would be an additional asset.
If the Congress is to lead the country once again, it should offer more than just secularism. If the results in Gujarat and the by-elections in U.P. are anything to go by, the electors need no tutoring on secularism. They are able to evaluate Hindutva politics for what it is. On the other hand, they aspire to better their living conditions and expect politicians to deliver this outcome. The Congress Party’s addiction to approbation from urban intellectuals leaves it incapable of seeing this. Deracinated (uproot (someone) from their natural geographical, social, or cultural environment) in their gated communities, this group is seriously out of touch with the aspirations of ordinary people in this country. Democracy is meant to deliver this better life but in India it fails to do so. On almost every social indicator India lags the global average. Exactly as in the former Soviet Union in the 1980s the people were able to see that the rest of Europe was far ahead of them in living standards, so the people of India today see that we lag behind the rest of Asia. So if the Opposition wants to come to power, it must show solutions for a better life in India. And it must show an appetite for governance, something that Mr. Modi exudes (to openly display an emotion or quality) even if his success in providing it is not so apparent four years into office. Legislating rights as under the United Progressive Alliance II may win praise from the intelligentsia of Delhi but could prove to be insufficient, as the electorate sharply signalled when it voted for Mr. Modi in 2014. Rights are hardly unimportant, but in an environment of acute economic insecurity the electorate wants the latter addressed upfront. This requires maintaining a buoyant economy and providing the services that cannot be purchased from the private sector. Political parties that aspire for power need to recognise this.
See the possibilities
It would be laziness to see election outcomes as reflecting some deeper social forces including the waxing and waning of Hindutva and conveniently assume that they are unstoppable. Electoral history in U.P. over the past 25 years reveals the folly (an action where wisdom is absent) in such thinking. The BJP was voted out immediately after the demolition under its patronage of the Babri Masjid and remained in the wilderness for much of the quarter century since. Ms. Mayawati came to power four times in this period and the Yadav clan, through father and son separately, has had more than one shot at governance. This parade is not reflective of some grand impersonal churning at work. It is the electorate thrashing complacent political parties which once they come to power fail to govern satisfactorily. Just as even two swallows do not a summer make, the elections in U.P. do not signal the departure of Narendra Modi yet, but they do suggest possibilities.
Courtesy-The Hindu (polity)
1. Overawe (verb) : (Impress (someone) so much that they are silent or inhibited.) (आतंकित करना, रोब जमाना)
Synonyms: Intimidate, Unnerve/Frighten, Discourage, Terrify
Antonyms: Calm, Coax, Comfort, Dauntless
Example: He wasn't overawed by the thought of working with the National team.
Verb forms: Overawe, Overawed, Overawed  
2. Allegiance (noun) : (Loyalty or commitment to a superior or to a group or cause) (निष्ठा, वफ़ादारी)
Synonyms: Loyalty, Faithfulness, Trustiness.
Antonyms: Disloyalty, Treason, Treachery, Betrayal
Example: We took an oath of allegiance upon entering the military, and none of us plan on violating it.
3. Stem from (phrasal verb) : (To be caused by (something or someone) : to come from (something or someone)) (से उत्पन्न होना)
Synonyms: Originate From, Arise From, Come From, Derive From
Antonyms: End, Discontinue, Perish, Expire
Example: Most of her health problems stem from an accident she had when she was younger.
4. Straddle (verb) : (To spread out irregularly) (अनियमित रूप से फैलना)
Synonyms: Be Situated On Both Sides Of, Extend Across
Antonyms: Gather, Contract, Concentrated, Absorb, Lapse
Example: He knew he couldn’t straddle the issue any longer and that he would have to choose sides.
Verb forms: Straddle, Straddled, Straddled
Related words: Straddle, Straddler (noun) Straddlingly (adverb)
5. Dalliance (noun) : (A period of brief or casual involvement with something.) (संक्षिप्त या आकस्मिक भागीदारी की अवधि)
Synonyms: Affair, Attachment, Involvement
Antonyms: Alienation, Dislike, Estrangement, Aversion
Example: When Mitch learned his fiancée had a dalliance with another man, he cancelled the wedding.
6. Parochial (adjective) : (Having a restricted outlook) (संकीर्ण ,संकुचित, संकुचित)
Synonyms: Narrow-Minded, Inward-Looking, Short-Sighted
Antonyms: Broad-Minded, Cosmopolitan, Liberal, Tolerant
Example: John’s view of life is parochial and does not include anything outside of his own happiness.
Related words: Parochially (adverb) Parochialness, (noun)
7. Heft (noun) : (Importance or influence) (महत्व या प्रभाव)
Synonyms: Ability, Influence, Sway, Control
Antonyms: Dissuade, Circumvent, Deject, Foible
Example: The film is very careful to give an accurate accounting of the man and all his intellectual heft.
Verb forms: Heft, Hefted, Hefted
Related words: Heft (verb) Hefter (noun)
8. Deracinate (verb) : (Uproot (someone) from their natural geographical, social, or cultural environment.) (उखाड़ना, निर्मूल करना)
Synonyms: Terminate, Eradicate, Eliminate/Destroy, Extirpate
Antonyms: Employment, Add, Establishment, Collaborate
Example: He is a deracinated writer who has complicated relations with his working-class background.
Verb forms: Deracinate, Deracinated, Deracinated
Related words: Deracination (noun)
9. Exude (verb) : (To openly display an emotion or quality) (भावना को खुले तौर पर प्रदर्शित करना)
Synonyms: Emanate, Discharge, Release (An Emotion Or Quality)
Antonyms: Conceal, Bury, Captivate, Dissipate
Example: Her smile helped to exude an extreme sense of happiness
Verb forms: Exude, Exuded, Exuded
Related words: Unexuded (adjective)
10. Folly (noun) : (An action where wisdom is absent) (मूर्खता, मूढ़ता)
Synonyms: Foolishness, Thoughtlessness, Lack of Foresight, Madness, Lunacy.
Antonyms: Wisdom, Good Sense, Understanding, Prudence, Discernment
Example: Unfortunately, the man’s act of folly in the casino caused him to lose everything he owned.
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