Inside Track: Post-Modi diplomacy
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not meet Rahul or Sonia Gandhi during his recent trip to India although it is customary in diplomacy for visiting heads of states to also speak to the leader of Opposition.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not meet Rahul or Sonia Gandhi during his recent trip to India although it is customary (प्रचलित) in diplomacy for visiting heads of states to also speak to the leader of Opposition. This was the accepted practice until Narendra Modi came to power. As PM, Modi decreed (आज्ञप्ति) that a meeting with the Opposition leader should not be included in the official protocol by the Ministry of External Affairs. When the Congress protested that this was against accepted democratic tradition, the government took shelter under the fig (निरर्थक वस्तु) leaf that the Congress did not have 10 per cent of the strength of the Lok Sabha to be officially recognised as the main opposition party. In the past, many important foreign dignitaries, including Barack Obama, Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, have requested, through their diplomatic channels, for an interaction with the Gandhis, despite such meetings being unofficial.
Press association eviction
The Press Association, the representative body for all accredited (मान्यता-प्राप्त) print news persons in Delhi, was formed back in the 1960’s and some of the greatest names in the profession have been members at some point. For decades, the association was allotted a small room in Shastri Bhavan, the headquarters of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry. With the construction of the spacious (आलीशान) Media Centre building on Raisina Road two years ago, the Association office shifted to the new Press Information Bureau headquarters. A week ago, the Association was served a curt (संक्षिप्त) notice by the Ministry, asking it to move out in five days. The Association was puzzled by the sudden notice since it had not been asked to vacate even during the Emergency. It moved the Delhi High Court. Last Monday, the judge granted a stay till May 9 and asked the government’s standing counsel as to what would have been his reaction if the Bar Council was asked to vacate its office premises in the court building. The judge also expressed scepticism (संशयात्मकता) over the argument that the small 10×10-ft room was required urgently for other purposes. In fact, the rather opulent Media Centre still looks half unoccupied.
Staying home and making a point
Many BJP leaders, both in the government and the party, are often overseas on work. For instance, apart from Narendra Modi, a large number of his ministers flew to Davos recently. However, one man who has never left the country since Modi became Prime Minister is Amit Shah. His point is that there are no voters outside the country whom he has to meet. Shah, incidentally, has his own characteristic style to refute (झूठा ठहराना) rumours about himself without opening his mouth. There was a report that he had not gone to Madhya Pradesh because he slipped in the bathroom and hurt his leg. While speaking informally to journalists in Delhi, Shah pointedly stretched his legs in all directions to make it clear that his limbs were healthy and unhurt.
Marking weekly attendance
New Congress president Rahul Gandhi has announced that he will visit the party office at 24, Akbar Road, twice a week, preferably on Tuesdays and Fridays. Which means that all other office-bearers will also have to show up on those days. As vice-president, Rahul rarely visited the party headquarters, and Sonia, who was Congress president for 19 years, seldom (कभी कभार) went to her office even though it was next door to her residence. In fact, every time Sonia showed up at her office, the SPG would put a seal, with the date on it, on the door after she left. This was embarrassing as the media got an instant reminder of just how rarely Sonia visited the place. Eventually, the SPG decided it was more discreet (चतुर) to put a seal without any date. Congress persons are not convinced that the president’s visits to the party office will make a difference. Those who come to 24, Akbar Road, and squat on the lawn are usually non-serious workers who loiter around with time on their hands. Confidential matters are always discussed at the homes of leaders.
- Customary: According to the customs or usual practices associated with a particular society, place, or set of circumstances.
Synonyms: usual, traditional, normal, conventional
Antonyms: nonstandard, unconventional, unpopular, unusual
- Decreed: An official order that has the force of law.
Synonyms: order, edict, command, commandment, mandate, proclamation, dictum, fiat, promulgation, precept
Antonyms: appeal, entreaty, petition, plea, urging, proposal, recommendation, suggestion
- Fig: the smallest amount or part imaginable
Synonyms: beans, bubkes (also bupkes or bupkus), continental, damn, darn (also durn), diddly [slang], diddly-squat [slang], doodley-squat (or doodly-squat), jot, ghost, hoot, iota
- Accredited: (of a person, organization, or course of study) officially recognized or authorized.
Synonyms: credit, ascribe, attribute, chalk up, impute, lay, put down
Antonyms: ban, bar, block, constrain, deny, disallow, disbar, discourage, disenfranchise, disfranchise, exclude, hinder, hold back, impede, inhibit, obstruct, prevent, shut out, stop
- Curt: Rudely brief.
Synonyms: terse, brusque, abrupt, clipped, blunt, short, monosyllabic, summary, snappy, snappish, sharp, crisp, tart
Antonyms: circuitous, mealymouthed, civil, considerate, courteous, diplomatic, gracious, polite, politic, smooth, suave, tactful
- Scepticism: A sceptical attitude; doubt as to the truth of something.
Synonyms: doubt, doubtfulness, dubiousness, a pinch of salt, lack of conviction
- Refute: Prove (a statement or theory) to be wrong or false; disprove.
Synonyms: disprove, prove false, prove wrong, prove to be false, prove to be wrong, show to be false, show to be wrong, rebut, confute, give the lie to, demolish, explode, debunk, drive a coach and horses through, discredit, invalidate
Antonyms: acknowledge, admit, allow, avow, concede, confirm, own
- Seldom: Not often; rarely.
Synonyms: rarely, infrequently, on rare occasions, hardly ever, scarcely ever, hardly, scarcely, almost never, once in a while, every once in a while, only now and then, not often, only occasionally, sporadically
Antonyms: frequently, oft, often, oftentimes (or ofttimes), customarily, generally, habitually, ordinarily, routinely, usually
- Discreet: Careful and prudent in one’s speech or actions, especially in order to keep something confidential or to avoid embarrassment.
Synonyms: careful, circumspect, cautious, wary, chary, guarded, close-lipped, close-mouthed
Antonyms: imprudent, indiscreet, injudicious, careless, heedless, incautious, rash