Old friends: on India-Iran bilateral ties
India must maintain its steady course of strengthening ties with Iran
In purely bilateral terms, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to India was pitch perfect in content and optics. After his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India and Iran signed agreements and memorandums of understanding on a wide variety of issues. Among the announcements was the decision to award India the contract to operate the Chabahar Shahid Beheshti port terminal after the project is completed. While no announcement was made on the Farzad-B gas field that India has expressed an interest in, the joint statement indicates that positive deliberations (समझ बूझ) may follow. There were discussions on enhancing trade and investment and ease of doing business between India and Iran, including a double taxation avoidance agreement and an expert group to recommend “trade remedy measures”. Just before Mr. Rouhani’s visit, India announced it would allow Indian investment in Iran to be done in rupee terms. The concession, which has so far been extended only to Bhutan and Nepal, allows money lying in Indian banks as payment for imports from Iran, mostly oil, to be repatriated (स्वदेश भेजना). Till now these funds have been blocked because international banks and insurance companies refuse to facilitate trade to Iran fearing further U.S. sanctions on Iranian entities. In turn, Iran is understood to have reversed last year’s decision to slash (काटना) the credit period for oil payments from India, and issue more generous (उदारचेता) guidelines.
Mr. Modi and Mr. Rouhani also drew broad strokes highlighting the importance of bilateral ties between the two countries, stressing the strategic imperative (अनिवार्यता) for their growth. Mr. Modi called the talks “substantive (विशेष्य) and productive”, while thanking Mr. Rouhani for his leadership on regional connectivity. Mr. Rouhani endorsed India’s bid for a permanent seat at the UN Security Council with the veto, and praised India as a “living museum of religious diversity”. The joint statement issued contained tough language on the “sanctuaries for terrorism”, an issue important to both countries. But there is a broader global context to Mr. Rouhani’s visit and the red carpet rolled out by the Modi government. The visit came amid (मध्य में) uncertainty over the U.S.’s next move on Iran, given the Trump administration’s line on the Iran nuclear deal. On the very day Mr. Modi and Mr. Rouhani met, U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster asked countries to track their investments in Iran as these might be supporting terrorism and “murder across the Middle East”. It will be important to see what, if any, implications (अनुमान) the Indian overtures (संबंध बढ़ाने का इशारा) would have on India’s ties with the U.S. and its recently upgraded relations with Israel. However, it is crucial that India maintain a steady course on its strategic interests with Iran, a key source of energy, and as Mr. Modi put it, a “golden gateway” to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
- Deliberations: a careful weighing of the reasons for or against something
Synonyms: account, advisement, debate, consideration, reflection, study, thought
Antonyms: short shrift
- Repatriated: Send (someone) back to their own country.
Synonyms: expulsion, expelling, banishment, banishing, exile, exiling, transportation, transporting, extradition, extraditing, expatriation, expatriating, repatriation, repatriating, refoulement
- Slash: Reduce (a price, quantity, etc.) greatly.
Synonyms: reduce, cut, drop, bring down, mark down, lower, put down
- Generous: giving or sharing in abundance and without hesitation
Synonyms: bighearted, bounteous, bountiful, charitable, free, freehanded, freehearted, fulsome, liberal, munificent, open, openhanded, unselfish, unsparing, unstinting
Antonyms: cheap, close, closefisted, costive, illiberal [archaic], mingy, miserly, niggardly, parsimonious, penurious, selfish, stingy, stinting, tight, tightfisted, uncharitable, ungenerous
- Imperative: forcing one’s compliance or participation by or as if by law
Synonyms: compulsory, forced, mandatory, incumbent, involuntary, necessary, nonelective, obligatory, peremptory, required
Antonyms: elective, optional, voluntary
- Substantive: sufficiently large in size, amount, or number to merit attention
Synonyms: biggish, good, goodly, handsome, healthy, largish, major, respectable, significant, sizable (or sizeable), substantial, considerable, tidy
Antonyms: inconsequential, inconsiderable, insignificant, insubstantial, negligible, nominal
- Amid: in or into the middle of
Synonyms: among (or amidst), mid, midst, through
Antonyms: from, out of
- Implications: The conclusion that can be drawn from something although it is not explicitly stated.
Synonyms: suggestion, inference, insinuation, innuendo, hint, intimation, imputation, indication
- Overtures: a performance, activity, or event that precedes and sets the stage for the main event
Synonyms: curtain-raiser, prelude, preamble, preliminary, prologue (also prolog), warm-up
Right behind? on Tripura Assembly election
Voters turn out in large numbers, as Tripura sees a rare challenge to the formidable LF
Voters in Tripura once again came out in large numbers for the Assembly election on Sunday, with initial estimates putting the turnout at almost 90%. This is close to the 91.82% turnout in the previous Assembly election in 2013 and more than the 84.72% for the 2014 Lok Sabha election. One explanation for these high figures is that the electorate is more organisationally mobilised (संघटित करना) than in other States. The CPI(M)-led Left Front has been in power in Tripura since 1993, and until recently another victory for the Left Front would have been regarded as a given. After all, the LF’s popularity had steadily increased in its years in power, peaking in 2013 with a 52.33% vote share and a harvest of 50 of the 60 Assembly seats. Its support base has encompassed (सम्मिलित करना) both tribal and non-tribal regions of the small State. This is largely due to the good work done by the government in improving primary health and education in Tripura; as a result the State has improved its human development indices. Apart from the delivery of essential welfare services, the personal popularity of Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, who has been in office since 1998, has helped the LF retain power. But if pointers from the campaign phase are anything to go by, the Sarkar government seems to be facing a stiff challenge from the BJP, a non-player in the electoral area until now, sensing an opportunity to make good.
Lack of diversification in a largely agrarian and forestry dominated economy and high unemployment levels among the youth have given the opposition some talking points. The BJP sought (तलाशा गया) to tap what it believes is a latent yearning (ललक के साथ) for change, through its slogan, “Chalo Paltai” (let us flip). After its triumph in Assam, the BJP has grown more confident of making serious inroads into the Northeast; its expansion in some of the States has been aided by a weakening of the Congress in the region. In Tripura, the BJP made no secret of attempting to occupy the opposition space by reaching out to traditional Congress voters. The shift of a large number of Congress legislators and candidates to the BJP is a result of the organisational decay in the former. The Congress had traditionally been stronger in the non-tribal regions and aligned with the ethnic (सजातीय) tribal parties such as the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura in its electoral challenges to the LF. The IPFT and other tribal groups have hitched (अड़चन ) their wagon (पहियेदार मेज़) to the BJP this time round. In trying to match the Left in terms of organisational muscle, the BJP banked on the RSS and the larger Parivar to provide it the heft it needed in the campaign. But the fact is that in the 2013 Assembly election, the BJP could win a mere 1.53% of the vote. It will have to register a spectacular increase in vote share to even be a strong opposition, let alone form the government.
- Mobilised: prepare and organize (troops) for active service.
Synonyms: marshal, deploy, muster, rally, call to arms, call up, summon, assemble, mass, organize, make ready, prepare, ready
- Encompassed: to have as part of a whole
Synonyms: carry, comprehend, contain, embrace, include, entail, involve, number, subsume, take in
Antonyms: exclude, leave (out), miss out [British], omit
- Sought: to go in search of
Synonyms: cast about (for), cast around (for), chase (down), forage (for), hunt, look up, pursue, quest, search (for or out), shop (for)
Antonyms: ignore, neglect
- Yearning: a strong wish for something
Synonyms: appetency, appetite, craving, drive, hankering, hunger, itch, jones [slang], letch, longing, lust, passion, pining, thirst, thirstiness, urge, desire, yen
Antonyms: abhorrence, abomination, allergy, averseness, aversion, disfavor, disgust, disinclination, dislike, disliking, distaste, hatred, loathing, nausea, repugnance, repulsion, revulsion
- Ethnic: of, relating to, or reflecting the traits exhibited by a group of people with a common ancestry and culture
Synonyms: racial, ethnical, tribal
- Hitched: a danger or difficulty that is hidden or not easily recognized
Synonyms: booby trap, catch, catch, gimmick, gotcha, pitfall, joker, land mine, snag