Winter cheer: on politics around the 2018 Winter Olympics
There is as much politics around the Winter Olympics as enthusiasm about sport
The Russian doping scandal continues to cast a long shadow over international sport as the 2018 Winter Olympics begin in PyeongChang, South Korea, on February 9. In December, the International Olympic Committee banned Russia from competing in the Games following investigation into an alleged state-sponsored doping (अपमिश्रण) programme at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The decision to ban Russia came after the IOC’s Disciplinary Commission, headed by former president of the Swiss Confederation Samuel Schmid, confirmed “systemic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system in Russia”. The IOC had stated, however, that clean Russian athletes would be allowed to compete as neutrals and last month invited 169 of them — each to be known as Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR) — to participate in the PyeongChang Games. The announcement did not go down well outside Russia, even though the IOC declared that “more than 80%” of those athletes had not competed in Sochi and had been carefully vetted (भली प्रकार जाँच करना). That the OAR will form one of the largest contingents (सैन्यदल) at the Games, although there will be no place for the Russian flag and anthem, makes the ‘ban’ seem a bit of a farce (तमाशा). Further, Russian athletes could be allowed to march under their own flag at the closing ceremony if they comply with the IOC’s conditions during the Games. There is a sense that the IOC is not able to punish a sporting superpower like Russia.
Last week, there was more outrage after the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned lifetime bans on 28 Russian athletes sanctioned by the IOC following the investigation into Sochi 2014. The IOC expressed its own frustration at the decision, noting that it “may have a serious impact on the future fight against doping”. Proceedings in PyeongChang over the next fortnight will be watched keenly (अति उत्सुकता से) also for other reasons. The little-known host city, which sits some 80 km from the border with North Korea, will bear witness to on-field displays of bonhomie (मिलनसारिता) between the neighbours. The two nations will march together at the opening ceremony under a flag representing a unified Korea, and will field a combined women’s ice hockey team. The joint team lost to Sweden in a practice game this week and there are questions over how the two sets of players will get along, but with supporters of both countries cheering their side on together in a time of escalating political tensions, scorecards seem immaterial. North Korea has agreed to field 22 athletes in three sports and five disciplines and is expected to send hundreds of delegates and cheerleaders across the border. India, meanwhile, will be represented by luger Shiva Keshavan, competing in his sixth and probably last Olympics, and skier Jagdish Singh, taking part in his first. Keshavan has been the torch-bearer for winter sports in India for a long time; he will hope for a happy Olympic swansong (अंतिम प्रयास).
- Doping: A drug taken illegally for recreational purposes, especially cannabis.
Synonyms: drugs, narcotics, addictive drugs, recreational drugs, illegal drugs
- Vetted: Make a careful and critical examination of (something)
Synonyms: screen, assess, evaluate, appraise, weigh up, examine, look over, review, consider, scrutinize, study, inspect
Antonyms: ignore, forget, prospect, look over, probe, appraise
- Contingents: a body of persons chosen as representatives of a larger group
Synonyms: delegacy, delegation
- Farce: a poor, insincere, or insulting imitation of something
Synonyms: caricature, cartoon, mockery, joke, parody, sham, travesty
Antonyms: homage, tribute
- Keenly: In an eager or enthusiastic manner.
Synonyms: agog, antsy, anxious, ardent, athirst, avid, crazy, desirous, enthused, enthusiastic, excited, geeked [slang], great, greedy, gung ho, hepped up, hopped-up, hot, hungry, impatient
Antonyms: apathetic, indifferent, uneager, unenthusiastic
- Bonhomie: Cheerful friendliness; geniality.
Synonyms: geniality, congeniality, conviviality, cordiality, affability, amiability, sociability, friendliness, warmth, warm-heartedness, good nature, good humour, joviality, cheerfulness, good cheer, cheeriness, jollity, happiness
- Swansong: The final performance or activity of a person’s career.
Synonyms: afterword, postscript, ps, coda, codicil, appendix, tailpiece, supplement, addendum, postlude, rider, back matter
Friends: on BJP and its disgruntled allies
With three disgruntled allies, the BJP is struggling to hold its partners together
Alliances are needed most in wartime, even if they are best made in peacetime. The Bharatiya Janata Party does not depend on the numerical strength of any alliance partner for its survival in government at the Centre, but it could well need all the help it can get in 2019 for the next Lok Sabha election. In the south, where it requires electoral partners the most, the BJP counts only on the Telugu Desam Party in Andhra Pradesh, but the strains (तनाव) are beginning to show on this long-standing friendship. Suddenly, the BJP finds itself having to deal with a belligerent (मनुष्य या दल) TDP, which is under some political pressure to demonstrate to its support base that it is doing all it can to get the best deal for the State from the Centre. Also, the glue that bound these two parties earlier — that of anti-Congressism — is wearing somewhat thin now. After the founding of Telangana, the Congress is no longer the TDP’s principal rival in Andhra Pradesh, with the YSRCP under the leadership of Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy having emerged as a powerful political player. The TDP is painfully aware that the old relationship notwithstanding, the BJP may see the YSRCP as a potential ally, a party that it can do business with if the circumstances so demand. As things stand, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu is reluctant (अनिच्छुक) to snap the tie. But it will be no surprise if he continues to ramp up pressure on a BJP that has been put on the defensive thanks to the mauling (आलोचना करना) in the Rajasthan by-elections and the growing disaffection among a couple of its other allies.
In Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena has been on a confrontation (आमना-सामना) course for some time now, and in Punjab the Shiromani Akali Dal has recently turned just short of hostile. The reasons for the strain in each of the three States are of course very different. In Maharashtra, the BJP and the Shiv Sena court a similar political constituency and to a large extent each can grow only at the expense of the other. This contradiction between being an ally at one level and a rival at another level is a source of perennial (बहुऋतुजीवी) strain, which is why both parties prefer a post-electoral tie-up, as they did after the Assembly election of 2014, to a pre-election alliance. In Punjab, the BJP and the Akali Dal occupy different political spaces. While the former is no threat to the latter, the Akali Dal is chafing (क्रोध करना) at what it sees as step-motherly treatment meted (सीमा) out to it. If in Andhra Pradesh the BJP has a choice of allies and if it is better off without one in Maharashtra, the situation in Punjab is different inasmuch as the Akali Dal remains its best bet. The BJP may not need to rethink all its alliances, but it must rework its relationships with its allies if it wants to head a strong coalition of forces in 2019.
- Strains: a rhythmic series of musical tones arranged to give a pleasing effect
Synonyms: air, lay, song, strain, tune, warble
- Belligerent: feeling or displaying eagerness to fight
Synonyms: aggressive, agonistic, argumentative, assaultive, bellicose, brawly, chippy, combative, confrontational, contentious, discordant, disputatious, feisty, gladiatorial, militant, pugnacious, quarrelsome, scrappy, truculent, warlike
Antonyms: nonaggressive, nonbelligerent, pacific, peaceable, peaceful, unbelligerent, uncombative, uncontentious
- Reluctant: slow to begin or proceed with a course of action because of doubts or uncertainty
Synonyms: cagey (also cagy), disinclined, dubious, indisposed, loath (also loth or loathe), hesitant, reticent
Antonyms: disposed, inclined, certain, decided, determined, resolute, sure, unquestioning
- Mauling: to abuse physically
Synonyms: maltreat, manhandle, mishandle, rough (up)
Antonyms: coddle, mollycoddle, pamper, care (for), foster, nurture
- Confrontation: an earnest effort for superiority or victory over another
Synonyms: ball game, battle, combat, competition, conflict, contest, contention, dogfight, duel, face-off, grapple, match, rivalry, strife, struggle, sweepstakes (also sweep-stake), tug-of-war, war, warfare
Antonyms: concord, harmony, peace
- Perennial: having an existence or validity that does not change or diminish
Synonyms: ageless, continuing, dateless, enduring, eternal, everlasting, immortal, imperishable, lasting, ongoing, abiding, perpetual, timeless, undying
Antonyms: antiquated, archaic, dated, obsolete, outdated, outmoded, out-of-date, outworn
- Chafing: causing annoyance
Synonyms: abrasive, aggravating, bothersome, carking, annoying, disturbing, exasperating, frustrating, galling, irksome, irritating, maddening, nettlesome, nettling, peeving, pesky, pestiferous, pestilent, pestilential, pesty, plaguey (also plaguy), rankling, rebarbative, riling, vexatious, vexing
Antonyms: delightful, pleasing
- Meted: A boundary or boundary stone.