27 oct 2015

prepared by ashok sharma

the hindu

Writers returning awards is hypocrisy, says Fadnavis

 Intellectuals and writers returning their awards is nothing but hypocrisy, and they should avoid taking a stand, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has said, in a conversation with The Hindu on the completion of one year of the BJP-led government.

"In India, writers taking a stand will become as big an issue as intolerance. I think it will not be the right thing. I request them not to do it, as we are ready to return all their awards with equal honour," Mr. Fadnavis said, referring to Marathi writers who have returned their awards and prize money to protest the growing intolerance in the country.

"They should create public awakening through intellectual discourse and criticism, whenever necessary. But returning awards is not a right step."

He criticised the writers for blaming Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the growing intolerance. Several incidents, similar to those of the Dadri lynching and the Kalburgi murder, had taken place in the past. "Why didn't anyone return his awards then? It raises suspicion about their motive," he said. None of the writers had answered the same question posed by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. He later said the intellectuals showed hypocrisy in their behaviour. "Yes, certainly. It is exactly what we feel."

Mr. Fadnavis spoke about his year in office, relations with allies and his stand on right-wing organisations. As for the Sanatan Sanstha, a right-wing Hindu organisation one of whose volunteers has been arrested for his alleged involvement in the murder of social activist Govind Pansare, Mr. Fadnavis said his government would go by the evidence.

"To some extent, organisations like the Sanatan Sanstha are a matter of concern for me, as a Chief Minister. They are acting smartly. They are doing things within the framework of law. The day we get enough evidence against them, we will ban the organisations. We are not scared of anyone," he said.

Taking a dig at the Shiv Sena, without naming it or its leaders, Mr. Fadnavis said his party's Hindutva was not for electoral gains. He was answering a question whether the Sena was trying to hijack the BJP's agenda of Hindutva. "No one can hijack any agenda like this. We believe that the nation should be built on the basis of nationalism and Indian culture or Hindu culture. Hinduism is our way of thinking: tolerant, secular and inclusive development," he said.

Referring to the war of words between the two parties, Mr. Fadnavis said the alliance had problems even 25 years ago. "But it survived. I am sure it will survive for the next five years and we will not need anyone's support to retain power," he said. Mr. Fadnavis said the people had given a mandate against the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party. "We are together to honour that mandate. We have to run the show and will do that for the next five years," he said.

Mr. Fadnavis said he was against any alliance with the NCP and was sure the BJP would not require the NCP's support. Asked about the government's failure to act on the allegations of corruption against NCP leaders Ajit Pawar, Chhagan Bhujbal and Sunil Tatkare, he said the government would take these cases to their logical conclusion.




·        in·tel·lec·tu·al

A person possessing a highly developed intellect.


·        hy·poc·ri·sy

The practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one's own behavior does not conform; pretense.


·        in·tol·er·ance

Unwillingness to accept views, beliefs, or behavior that differ from one's own


·        dis·course

Written or spoken communication or debate.


·        lynch

(of a mob) kill (someone), especially by hanging, for an alleged offense with or without a legal trial.


·        man·date

An official order or commission to do something.


·        take a dig at someone and take a jab at someone;

 Fig. to insult or pester someone.

Why did you take a jab at Sam? You're always taking digs at people who think they're your friends. Jane is always taking digs at Bob, but she never really means any harm.


The Hindu: October 27, 2015 01:38 IST

Crises in the Maldives

The dramatic arrest last week of Ahmed Adheeb, the Vice-President of the Maldives, has escalated the political crisis in this young democracy, already fragile. The government says Mr. Adheeb was involved in an explosion on board the presidential boat on September 28, and that it was aimed at assassinating President Abdulla Yameen, as rumours in Male had claimed. He has, therefore, been removed on charges of "high treason". A day after the arrest, President Yameen said his ex-deputy was a "threat to national security". Under the Maldivian Constitution, if the President dies, is incapacitated, or resigns, the Vice-President takes power. But Mr. Adheeb has strongly denied the charges. His lawyer says the government had asked him to stay put when he was in Singapore a day before his arrest, but he still chose to come back to the country "because he's innocent". While there is no doubt that Mr. Adheeb has to be put through due process if he indeed has had any role in the blast, given the power struggles that the Maldives has witnessed over the past three years, there is no telling what is actually happening in this South Asian archipelago that is best known for its luxury tourism.

To start with, President Yameen's election itself was controversial. In the 2013 election, held after the country's first democratically elected President Mohamed Nasheed resigned amid protests, the Supreme Court annulled the first round of voting, in which Mr. Nasheed was leading. The re-vote was delayed by the authorities, allowing enough time for Mr. Yameen, a half-brother of former dictator Abdul Gayoom, to make his moves. The Yameen Presidency has been criticised widely for its intolerance of dissent and crackdown on the opposition. Mr. Nasheed was jailed for 13 years this year on terrorism charges. A United Nations panel had ruled the jailing illegal and called for his immediate release, a call the government rejected. Opposition protests demanding Mr. Nasheed's release were tackled with a heavy hand. The arrest of Mr. Adheeb, who was picked by the President three months ago to replace his impeached running mate Mohamed Jameel, comes close on the heels of the sacking of Defence Minister Moosa Ali Jaleel. All these point to a growing sense of instability surrounding the Yameen regime. The obvious question that Mr. Adheeb's arrest raises is whether it is part of a larger power game, or whether the government has credible evidence linking him to the blast. If the government's claims are true, it should be ready to try Mr. Adheeb in a transparent and impartial process. Meanwhile, Mr. Yameen should be ready to change his authoritarian ways, respect the democratic rights of his people, allow the opposition to operate freely and thereby strengthen the foundations of the young democracy. Only then can he offer a stable government to his people and save the Maldives from this state of flux.


·        dra·mat·ic

Of or relating to drama or the performance or study of drama.


·        es·ca·late

Increase rapidly.


·        frag·ile

(of an object) easily broken or damaged.


·        trea·son

The crime of betraying one's country, especially by attempting to kill the sovereign or overthrow the government


·        in·ca·pac·i·tat·ed

Deprived of strength or power; debilitated.


·        ar·chi·pel·a·go

A group of islands.


·        stay put

phrase of stay


remain somewhere without moving or being moved.

"she told Clarissa to stay put"


·        an·nul

Declare invalid (an official agreement, decision, or result).


·        dis·sent

Hold or express opinions that are at variance with those previously, commonly, or officially expressed.


·        tack·le

Make determined efforts to deal with (a problem or difficult task)


·        im·peach

Call into question the integrity or validity of (a practice


·        flux

The action or process of flowing or flowing out.


·        heavy–handed

: dealing with people or problems in a severe or harsh way : too strict or controlling


Business Standard

Pre-1991 thinking

The government has issued a draft of a "national capital goods policy" for India, which has reportedly been piloted by the Department of Heavy Industry at the Centre. As the policy draft itself points out, growth in the sector over the past three years has been only 0.3 per cent annually. An essential problem, as the policy sees it, is one of "low self-reliance": 40-45 per cent of India's demand for capital goods is met by imports, although domestic capacity utilisation across its sub-sectors is only around 60-70 per cent. This is, according to the paper, a consequence of several problems: public procurement policy provides insufficient incentives for domestic capital-goods producers; "limited positive bias is provided for domestic value-addition"; and duties on imports are too low. This is of course besides the familiar complaints about delays in project implementation. As an explanation for poor technological capability in the sector, the policy points not just to poor patenting and skilling infrastructure but also to "inadequate fiscal incentives". Finally, there are understandable worries about an "inverted duty structure", in which import duties on finished products are lower than those on certain inputs into those products.

Given this diagnosis of the problems, it is unsurprising that the policy recommendations in this draft lean heavily towards state intervention. Certainly, few could argue with an overall aim to introduce a stable and uniform goods and services tax competitive with import duties, and parity between import and domestic production taxes. What is unfortunate, however, is that the real answers that are suggested for each sub-sector basically focus on intervention through various government schemes. Tinkering with the duty structure is dangerous; government should move away from discretionary tax rates and a specific exemptions regime. Various fiscal incentives are also considered by the policy to be crucial, such as an increase in the tax incentives on capital incentives by 10 percentage points, and interest subsidies to small and medium-scale enterprises. Similarly, the policy envisages that the government's public procurement of goods should focus on 30-40 per cent domestic value-addition in each sub-sector and a "minimum domestic value addition" should be prescribed for high-technology and high-value imports, along with mandatory "technology transfer".

If these measures do not inspire hope, that is because they are but variations of policies that India has seen for many decades - forget about new thinking, they predate the 1991 reforms in their essentials. The import-substitution mindset they typify is more than just outdated - it never worked in India. The government seems to have ignored the biggest lesson of Indian economic history since 1947. What is left out is as revealing as what is put in: At no point are easier regulations suggested; in fact, further regulatory hurdles on the private sector are proposed, with "stricter laws to regulate import of second-hand equipment", and "creation of regulations to stop usage of spurious spare parts which reduce equipment life". Much additional power has been demanded by bureaucrats - for example, the right to "define specific Indian standards and local certification for foreign players to participate in Indian bids".

The main thrust of this draft policy is backward. It ignores the need for the domestic capital goods industry to become part of global supply chains, which needs easy imports as well as exports. What is needed is clear, simple and competitive taxes, as well as the skilling of the workforce. This is, of course, the province of other government departments. If this is the state of government thinking on such subjects, it could be that the best possible boost to the capital-goods sector would come from the elimination of the department of heavy industry.


·        in·vert

Put upside down or in the opposite position, order, or arrangement.


·        tin·ker

Attempt to repair or improve something in a casual or desultory way, often to no useful effect.


·        dis·cre·tion·ar·y

Available for use at the discretion of the user.


·        dis·cre·tion

The quality of behaving or speaking in such a way as to avoid causing offense or revealing private information.


·        en·vis·age

Contemplate or conceive of as a possibility or a desirable future event


·        spu·ri·ous

Not being what it purports to be; false or fake.


·        thrust

Push (something or someone) suddenly or violently in the specified direction


Indian Express

Raja-Mandala: Between talk and action

The focus of India's ambitious African outreach this week is rightly on deepening economic and political partnerships. Security cooperation, whether it is in the maritime domain or counter-terrorism, is also expected to figure on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's summit agenda. Facing a multitude of threats, the African nations are eager to expand defence and security cooperation with India. But the supply-side challenges in New Delhi have not been easy to overcome.

During the UPA years, Delhi often proclaimed itself as a "net security provider" in the Indian Ocean and beyond. Modi has certainly put security cooperation at the very heart of his regional diplomacy. But the institutional framework in Delhi for such cooperation remains to be developed. Meanwhile, the strategic salience of Africa has rapidly grown. North Africa, as part of the volatile Middle East, has always been an important part of international security concerns. Over the last decade and more, it has become difficult to ignore the geopolitics of sub-Saharan Africa.

The continent's expanding economic weight, the growing significance of its natural resources and the spread of violent extremism feeding on endemic conflict have drawn more intensive military attention from the major powers, especially France, the United States and China. A majority of UN peacekeeping operations — nine out of 16 — are in Africa. France has long been a major force in providing regional security. The US set up the Africa Command in 2008 as part of its global war on terror. If America's focus has been on countering al-Qaeda and other extremist groups in Africa, China is developing a more comprehensive approach to African security.

The new imperative of protecting its growing trade and investments in Africa has seen a surge in China's military profile on the continent. Expansive defence exchanges, military assistance, cultivation of special security partnerships and arms sales have become the main themes of China's focus on Africa. China has also begun to take more interest in Africa's wars. Beijing has begun to go beyond its traditional emphasis on "non-intervention" to a more active role in "conflict resolution". It has begun to send combat troops to peacekeeping missions in Africa and to join regional efforts to counter non-traditional threats to security.

China's naval presence in the waters of Africa has become more intensive and sustained. Beijing is said to be negotiating different kinds of access arrangements for its armed forces in Africa. The tiny but strategically located Djibouti has confirmed this summer that it is in talks with Beijing on the development of a base. Djibouti already hosts the military facilities of America, France and Japan.

India's own security engagement with Africa has a longer tradition. During the colonial era, the armies of undivided India helped secure and stabilise the continent against internal and external threats. Underlining independent India's responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, Jawaharlal Nehru chose to insert Indian armed forces for peacekeeping missions in Africa and the Middle East. Nehru also embarked on an expansive defence cooperation programme with some major regional partners. For example, Nehru tried to develop a jet engine and fighter aircraft with Egypt. Although the projects did not go too far, they demonstrated Nehru's commitment to shaping the regional balance of power without aligning with any of the great powers.

As Africa entered the postcolonial phase in the 1960s, many countries in the continent turned to Delhi to build their armed forces. Although India accepted some training missions, Delhi's political will for defence partnerships with Africa steadily eroded.

Over the last decade, though, India has sought to renew its security cooperation with Africa. The Indian navy, in particular began to step up its activities along the east African coast and the western Indian Ocean. But the overall performance of Indian security diplomacy has been


The ministry of defence is not equipped, either intellectually or institutionally, to respond to the growing African demand for military cooperation with India. The ministry of home affairs and the security agencies are even less prepared for purposeful international cooperation. The ministry of finance routinely blocks strategic projects.

The foreign office is focused on winning African support for India's political positions on terrorism. While the collective rhetoric, for example on finalising a global convention on terrorism, might have a bit of diplomatic value, it is of no consequence in accelerating functional counter-terror cooperation between India and its African partners.

In his travels to East Asia, the Indian Ocean littoral and Central Asia, Modi put defence cooperation at the top of his agenda. The Africa summit provides the PM with an opportunity to think more boldly about India's security engagement with Africa. But without structural reforms in India's security sector, the shadow between India's talk and action might only get darker

·        out·reach

The extent or length of reaching out.


·        salience

The state of being salient


·        sa·li·ent

Most noticeable or important.


·        en·dem·ic

(of a disease or condition) regularly found among particular people or in a certain area.


·        im·per·a·tive

Of vital importance; crucial.


·        em·bark

Go on board a ship, aircraft, or other vehicle


·        lit·to·ral

Of, relating to, or situated on the shore of the sea or a lake.


Oct 27 2015 : The Times of India (Ahmedabad) Modi Ki Baat  


 It's a weak PM whose ministers don't heed his message Prime Minister Narendra Modi rightly linked peace and harmo ny to development in his latest Mann Ki Baat radio address. He said shanti, sadbhavna, ekta form the prescription for vikas.This is the latest in a series of PM's messages intended to provide a healing touch against the backdrop of communal tension rising in many parts of India. No one can argue with his clear affirmation that diversity is our "beauty" and in its peaceful continuance lies the formula for India's development as well as the "mantra" for its unity. But by now what has come into question is whether the PM's message is being heeded by his partymen. Union minister of state for micro, small and medium enterprises Giriraj Singh queered the pitch the very same day . Speaking ahead of Modi's arrival at a poll rally on Sunday , he reportedly asked whether Bihar's Hindus would have to eat cow meat if Nitish Kumar forms the government. He is entrusted by BJP to manage its poll campaign in Nitish's home turf of Nalanda. His latest beef barb in the heat and dust of the Bihar poll comes despite his party explicitly asking its leaders not to make contro versially divisive statements. Home minister Rajnath Singh publicly asked party leaders to be "ex tra careful" before saying anything on sensitive issues. BJP president Amit Shah too delivered a similar message of temperance earlier this month. Yet, the party spent most of last week defending controversial speeches by two Union ministers of state: V K Singh and Kiren Rijiju. Both made comments which, even if unintentionally , left scope for misinterpretation and seemed in poor taste. At one level BJP has focussed its Bihar campaign on development. But at another level it has ended up shooting divisive ammunition. The question is being asked whether this is strategic doublespeak. Even if this charge is unjust, there is a clear disconnect between its big-picture messaging and the hate speech of some of its netas on the ground. One of BJP's big claims after forming a majority government last year was that it had restored the dignity of the PM's office, after 10 years of a UPA government in which every minister thought himself supreme. But now it's Modi's turn to prove that he can lay down the law to his ministers.


·        heed

Pay attention to; take notice of.



Grass and the surface layer of earth held together by its roots.


·        Definition of queer someone's pitch in English: British informal Spoil someone's plans or chances of doing something, especially secretly or maliciously


·        am·mu·ni·tion

A supply or quantity of bullets and shells.



Oct 27 2015 : The Economic Times (Mumbai)

Blair's Admission: Implication for Syria

At the heart of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's qualified apology for the 2003 invasion of Iraq is a clear guideline for future. It is not enough to dislodge autocratic and authoritarian dictators. There has to be a viable plan for the day after, and the day after that. This applies to Syria today . It is advisable to go slow on ousting a hateful dictator if the available replacement promises to be worse than the dictator.

Blair says that he does not regret Saddam Hussein's ouster, but accepts those who removed Saddam bear some responsibility for the situation in 2015, for the rise of Islamic State. The Arab lands are not homogenous entities but conglomerates of competing tribes and religious factions, often held together tenuously by an authoritarian regime.And while democracy is desirable, it takes time for institutions to grow roots. But power abhors a vacuum, and a forced-out authoritarian figure is often replaced by radical, oppressive groups worse than the dictators they replaced. That prospect stares the world in its face in Syria. As the West and Russia face off over the future of Syria, Blair's admission should drive home one clear message: both parties are half-correct. It would be a mistake to oust Syria's President Bashar al-Assad at this point, with the ISIS emerging as powerful entity . At the same time to allow Assad to continue and hold elections only when the terrorists are defeated is a mistake. The West, Russia, the Arab world and Iran must work together to make Assad appreciate that the price for continued existence at the helm is the political inclusion of Sunnis and Kurds via dialogue -an inclusion that must be brought about through dialogue, and not force. The world cannot let the loss of life and displacement ensuing from the post-2003 humanitarian crisis in the Middle East go in vain.


·        vi·a·ble

Capable of working successfully; feasible.


·        oust·er

Dismissal or expulsion from a position.


·        con·glom·er·ate

A number of different things or parts that are put or grouped together to form a whole but remain distinct entities.


·        ten·u·ous

Very weak or slight.


·        'Nature abhors a vacuum'

This idiom is used to express the idea that empty or unfilled spaces are unnatural as they go against the laws of nature and physics.


·        en·sue

Happen or occur afterward or as a result.


·        at the helm. In charge, in command, as in With Charles at the helm, the company is bound to prosper. This phrase transfers the idea of steering a ship to directing other enterprises. [ Early 1500s ] Also see: the synonym at the wheel.

·        Vain. This is an adjective which means 'not achieving the desired outcome', 'futile', 'unsuccessful', 'lacking substance or worth', 'hollow' and 'fruitless'. As an adjective, it also means 'showing undue pride and preoccupation in your own appearance'. It is also used in the idiomatic phrase 'to do something in vain'.


The Dawn (pakisan)

NSA appointment

IN the appointment of recently retired army general Nasser Khan Janjua as the country's new national security adviser are two stories.


The first story is the military's attempt to wrest away seemingly any space from the civilian government in the national security and foreign policy domains. In capturing the NSA slot, there are several advantages to the military.


The NSA is an important job and offers direct access to the civilian side of key foreign countries, which only awkwardly have been able to officially liaise with the military thus far. As NSA, Sartaj Aziz played a frontline role in reaching out to Afghanistan and India — and did so in a manner that reflected the civilian government's priorities.

Arguably, in the case of India, that was what led to the debacle that was Ufa; it is difficult to imagine Mr Janjua being at Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's side and an Ufa-type declaration being approved by the Pakistani side.


Moreover, if talks do go ahead between the Indian and Pakistani NSAs, they are now likely to have a very different tone and tenor than if a PML-N appointee were to lead those talks.

Furthermore, when security dialogues with the US, Afghanistan and key allies of Pakistan take place, the military will have direct and immediate input in that process.


The other story, however, is the failings of the civilians. It was Prime Minister Sharif's decision at the time of the cabinet formation in 2013 to retain the foreign and defence ministry portfolios for himself that set in motion a chain of events that have led to the present sorry state of affairs.

Compounding that original mistake, Mr Aziz was made both special adviser on foreign affairs and NSA — merging foreign policy with national security to no obvious benefit and allowing both the Foreign Office and the NSA position to suffer.


Then, it was the listless foreign policy performance of the government that created the opportunity for deep military intrusion.


The government is bereft of foreign policy ideas, as demonstrated once again by the White House meeting with US President Barack Obama last week.
Even on India, the only foreign policy issue the prime minister has shown sustained interest in, there have been a series of errors, culminating with Ufa, which has virtually eliminated any possibility of civilian initiatives on India.


If the military has eagerly grabbed space for itself, it is partly because a three-term prime minister and his veteran advisers have proved utterly inept in the foreign policy and national security domains.

The question now is, what new domestic repercussions will there be with Mr Janjua's appointment.


Coming straight as the recently retired general is from Balochistan, how much influence will he exert on government policy and indeed its approach to the troubled province? Worryingly, the government may find itself further squeezed out, even domestically.


·        To wrest is to forcefully grab or take something away.


·        li·aise

Establish a working relationship, typically in order to cooperate on a matter of mutual concern.


·        de·ba·cle

A sudden and ignominious failure; a fiasco


·        ten·or

The general meaning, sense, or content of something.


·        in·tru·sion

The action of intruding.


·        cul·mi·nate

Reach a climax or point of highest development.


·        in·ept

Having or showing no skill; clumsy.


·        re·per·cus·sion

An unintended consequence occurring some time after an event or action, especially an unwelcome one.


·        ex·ert

Apply or bring to bear (a force, influence, or quality).


·        squeeze out - force out; "Some employees were squeezed out by the recent budget cuts"

give notice, give the axe, give the sack, sack, send away, can, force out, displace, fire, dismiss, terminate - terminate the employment of; discharge from an office or position; "The boss fired his secretary today"; "The company terminated 25% of its workers"

·        2. squeeze out - make by laborious and precarious means; "He eked out a living as a painter"


The Guardian

view on the Polish and Portuguese election results: less Eurosceptic than they seem

It is tempting to use Europe's crowded electoral calendar as a way of reading the runes about the continent's future and, in particular, about the future of the European Union. The outcome of elections this month in countries at the opposite ends of the union, Poland and Portugal, does tell us something about the balance between pro-EU and anti-EU forces across the continent, which is that, marginally at least, the latter are becoming somewhat stronger. Inevitably, but incorrectly, this change is understood by some in Britain as relevant to the UK's coming referendum. But Euroscepticism is a loose label for a lot of things, not a movementIn Poland, a party more Eurosceptical than its predecessor will take power, either on its own if a final count gives it an absolute majority, or in partnership with a smaller party. In Portugal, a diminished centre-right coalition is trying to form a government but may well be displaced by a group of parties led by the Socialists but including two junior partners that have in the past advocated withdrawal from the union and from Nato, although they dropped these demands in order to work together to seek power.

But, as we get more used to Euroscepticism – it has become to some degree the default condition of all members of the EU – these broad reckonings seem less important than they used to, for three main reasons. The first is that national politics often uses a pro- and anti-European vocabulary readily (and sometimes recklessly) to discuss issues that are essentially domestic. The second is that the lines between wanting to be out of Europe and wanting a different Europe are very blurred. The third is that Eurosceptics tend to grow less sceptical as they approach, and particularly when they take, power.

In the Polish election campaign, the EU in the formal sense was far from being the main issue, in spite of British coverage implying that it was, but one related to the position of Poland in the larger European and western family of economies was probably critical. Poland's younger generation, who voted for the Law and Justice party in unprecedented numbers, see themselves as victims. While their elders coast along with stable pensions and communist-era housing, the young struggle to get decent jobs, or have to go abroad for work, and mortgages are hard to get and too expensive. Poland has the largest proportion in the EU of working people on precarious contracts, around 30%.And yet this is in the country with the best growth record of any in Europe in the post-crash period. The obvious conclusion is that the happiness and the prospects of young people are being sacrificed so that the companies, both local and international, investing in the country can make bigger profits. The promises of the Law and Justice party to do something about this must have had a great deal to do with its success.

Young people may have been as important in Portugal's election as they were in Poland's, although in this case it is lack of jobs rather than precarious jobs that is the main question. Portugal has record unemployment and youth unemployment rates, with tens of thousands of its citizens emigrating to find work. That the lack of decent jobs or of any jobs at all for young people is important in elections is hardly a jaw-dropping surprise.

The problem, of which most European politicians are well aware, even if they avoid enunciating it, is that both national governments and the European institutions are not dealing effectively with the challenges our societies face. Renationalisation – dissolving or diluting the union – would leave even the stronger states less able to look after themselves in a tough world, but increased centralisation in the EU is a difficult option because member states are not ready to hand over more powers to Brussels – or, as some of them see it, to Germany – or to incur the wrath of their electorates by doing all the unpalatable things that Brussels decrees. The agonised effort to achieve some agreement and coherence over Middle Eastern migrants is proof enough of that.

Yet, in spite of leaders such as Slovenia's Miro Cerar saying that unless Europe finds a solution to the migrant crisis "it is the end of the EU as such", it is clear that an imperfect EU is better than none at all. It may be that electorates and politicians, "Eurosceptics" included, are at the point where they understand better than they did that the EU is a constraining and sometimes infuriating framework, but one without which the world would be even scarier than it is now.

·        rune

A letter of an ancient Germanic alphabet, related to the Roman alphabet.


·        reck·on·ing

The action or process of calculating or estimating something.


·        pre·car·i·ous

Not securely held or in position; dangerously likely to fall or collapse.


·        e·nun·ci·ate

Say or pronounce clearly.


·        wrath

Extreme anger (chiefly used for humorous or rhetorical effect)



The Newyork Times

 Jimmy Carter: A Five-Nation Plan to End the Syrian Crisis


I HAVE known Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, since he was a college student in London, and have spent many hours negotiating with him since he has been in office. This has often been at the request of the United States government during those many times when our ambassadors have been withdrawn from Damascus because of diplomatic disputes.

Bashar and his father, Hafez, had a policy of not speaking to anyone at the American Embassy during those periods of estrangement, but they would talk to me. I noticed that Bashar never referred to a subordinate for advice or information. His most persistent characteristic was stubbornness; it was almost psychologically impossible for him to change his mind — and certainly not when under pressure.

Before the revolution began in March 2011, Syria set a good example of harmonious relations among its many different ethnic and religious groups, including Arabs, Kurds, Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians who were Christians, Jews, Sunnis, Alawites and Shiites. The Assad family had ruled the country since 1970, and was very proud of this relative harmony among these diverse groups.

When protesters in Syria demanded long overdue reforms in the political system, President Assad saw this as an illegal revolutionary effort to overthrow his "legitimate" regime and erroneously decided to stamp it out by using unnecessary force. Because of many complex reasons, he was supported by his military forces, most Christians, Jews, Shiite Muslims, Alawites and others who feared a takeover by radical Sunni Muslims. The prospect for his overthrow was remote.

The Carter Center had been deeply involved in Syria since the early 1980s, and we shared our insights with top officials in Washington, seeking to preserve an opportunity for a political solution to the rapidly growing conflict. Despite our persistent but confidential protests, the early American position was that the first step in resolving the dispute had to be the removal of Mr. Assad from office. Those who knew him saw this as a fruitless demand, but it has been maintained for more than four years. In effect, our prerequisite for peace efforts has been an impossibility.

Kofi Annan, the former United Nations secretary general, and Lakhdar Brahimi, a former Algerian foreign minister, tried to end the conflict as special representatives of the United Nations, but abandoned the effort as fruitless because of incompatibilities among America, Russia and other nations regarding the status of Mr. Assad during a peace process.

In May 2015, a group of global leaders known as the Elders visited Moscow, where we had detailed discussions with the American ambassador, former President Mikhail S. Gorbachev, former Prime Minister Yevgeny M. Primakov, Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov and representatives of international think tanks, including the Moscow branch of the Carnegie Center.

They pointed out the longstanding partnership between Russia and the Assad regime and the great threat of the Islamic State to Russia, where an estimated 14 percent of its population are Sunni Muslims. Later, I questioned President Putin about his support for Mr. Assad, and about his two sessions that year with representatives of factions from Syria. He replied that little progress had been made, and he thought that the only real chance of ending the conflict was for the United States and Russia to be joined by Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia in preparing a comprehensive peace proposal. He believed that all factions in Syria, except the Islamic State, would accept almost any plan endorsed strongly by these five, with Iran and Russia supporting Mr. Assad and the other three backing the opposition. With his approval, I relayed this suggestion to Washington.

For the past three years, the Carter Center has been working with Syrians across political divides, armed opposition group leaders and diplomats from the United Nations and Europe to find a political path for ending the conflict. This effort has been based on data-driven research about the Syrian catastrophe that the center has conducted, which reveals the location of different factions and clearly shows that neither side in Syria can prevail militarily.

The recent decision by Russia to support the Assad regime with airstrikes and other military forces has intensified the fighting, raised the level of armaments and may increase the flow of refugees to neighboring countries and Europe. At the same time, it has helped to clarify the choice between a political process in which the Assad regime assumes a role and more war in which the Islamic State becomes an even greater threat to world peace. With these clear alternatives, the five nations mentioned above could formulate a unanimous proposal. Unfortunately, differences among them persist.

Iran outlined a general four-point sequence several months ago, consisting of a cease-fire, formation of a unity government, constitutional reforms and elections. Working through the United Nations Security Council and utilizing a five-nation proposal, some mechanism could be found to implement these goals.

The involvement of Russia and Iran is essential. Mr. Assad's only concession in four years of war was giving up chemical weapons, and he did so only under pressure from Russia and Iran. Similarly, he will not end the war by accepting concessions imposed by the West, but is likely to do so if urged by his allies.

Mr. Assad's governing authority could then be ended in an orderly process, an acceptable government established in Syria, and a concerted effort could then be made to stamp out the threat of the Islamic State.

The needed concessions are not from the combatants in Syria, but from the proud nations that claim to want peace but refuse to cooperate with one another.


·        es·trange·ment

The fact of no longer being on friendly terms or part of a social group


·        pre·req·ui·site

A thing that is required as a prior condition for something else to happen or exist.


·        ar·ma·ment

Military weapons and equipment.


·        u·nan·i·mous

(of two or more people) fully in agreement.


·        stamp something out

phrasal verb of stamp


extinguish a fire by stamping on it.

"he stamped out the flames before they could grow"


suppress or put an end to something by taking decisive action.

"urgent action is required to stamp out corruption"



The moscow TImes(Russia)

Putin's World Is Far Removed From Reality (Op-Ed)

Once a year, the Kremlin organizes a very interesting "tour" for a select group of foreigners whom it brings together under the banner of the Valdai International Discussion Club. It is an excursion into another world, one that, according to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Vladimir Putin inhabits all alone. The latest "Valdai odyssey" took place recently. What did participants learn?

They learned that, first and foremost, Putin continues to profess a very primitive version of Realpolitik. "Periods of peace in both European and world history have always been based on securing and maintaining the existing balance of powers," he said. He is convinced that the same thing is happening now.

And, of course, he believes that the United States is the main source of problems in the world and that nobody has been able to restrain Washington since the collapse of the Soviet Union. That is why Putin still uses every opportunity to harp on the fact that the U.S. withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty 15 years ago. This time he recalled when U.S. Ambassador Jack Matlock risked recommending that Moscow and Washington continue their talks on strategic arms. At the same time, Putin continually complained that U.S. actions were "devaluing" nuclear deterrence.

In making these comments, Putin shows a certain disregard for elementary logic. At some point, he seems to have completely forgotten that Washington's withdrawal from the ABM Treaty did not prevent Russia and the U.S. from signing not one, but even two treaties on reducing strategic nuclear weapons — and not on Moscow's terms, but on Washington's.

In particular, Moscow's chief negotiator and now Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov — a true-blue Russian patriot — agreed to count each aircraft in Washington's far superior force of strategic bombers as if it were a single nuclear warhead, when in fact each carries multiple cruise missiles. That alone greatly strengthened U.S. dominance which, if to believe Putin, Washington is already reinforcing with its missile defense program.

Of course, Putin's complaint is not with the nuclear balance per se. Putin probably does not seriously believe that the U.S. would take advantage of its military superiority to deliver a swift first strike against Russia. No, he seems to think that Washington created its missile defense system in order to diminish the threat posed by Russia's nuclear arsenal — the only thing that enables Russia to maintain at least a semblance of superpower status.

Moscow also uses regional wars as a means for inflating its importance in international affairs. Not long ago, Putin proved his right to sit at a modern-day "Yalta conference" by waging a hybrid war in Ukraine. Today he is waging a war in Syria. In the most sensational statement to emerge from his Valdai speech, Putin said: "Certainly, the Syrian government must establish working contact with those opposition forces that are ready for dialogue. I understood from my meeting with President Bashar Assad the day before that he is ready for such dialogue." In this way, Moscow assumes the role of a major player in the Middle East.

Putin devoted a significant part of his presentation to denouncing Washington for attempting to differentiate between "moderate" and "immoderate" terrorists. That means everyone who is warring with Assad is a terrorist and a legitimate target for Russian aircraft. In this case, which opposition groups do Assad and his Russian patron define as "correct" and "patriotic," as suitable negotiating partners? Obviously, only those that are willing to cooperate with Assad. Well, good luck finding such a group in the chaos of Syria's sprawling civil war.

Putin made no secret of his intentions. "For all the drama of its current situation, Syria can become a model for partnership in the name of common interests, resolving problems that affect everyone, and developing an effective risk management system," he said.

It is obvious that Putin embarked on his foray in faraway Syria to force the West to accept Russia as a partner. And when that does not work as planned, Putin slips effortlessly into wishful thinking: "We are also close to starting an exchange of information with our Western colleagues on militants' positions and movements," he said.

However, I have seen nothing to suggest that the West is preparing to share intelligence on Syria with Russia. Just the opposite is true. For example, The New York Times reported that White House officials recently met to discuss the establishment of a no-fly zone over Syria. That hardly looks like a prelude to closer cooperation with Moscow.

The world that Putin inhabits is far removed from reality. But that is what makes it so interesting for the foreigners invited on this "otherworldly" excursion. Who could fail to feel enthralled when a leader who single-handedly decides the fate of his country and his citizens recounts a lesson from childhood with such pleasure? "Fifty years ago, I learned one rule in the streets of Leningrad," he said. "If the fight is inevitable, be the first to strike." Otherwise, Putin implies, the West might really attack Russia.


·        ex·cur·sion

A short journey or trip, especially one engaged in as a leisure activity.


·        odyssey

A long wandering and eventful journey


·        sem·blance

The outward appearance or apparent form of something, especially when the reality is differen


·        harp on (about sth)

› to talk or complain about something many times:

He's always harping on about lack of discipline.


·        sprawl

Sit, lie, or fall with one's arms and legs spread out in an ungainly or awkward way.


·        em·bark

Go on board a ship, aircraft, or other vehicle.


·        for·ay

A sudden attack or incursion into enemy territory, especially to obtain something; a raid.


·        prel·ude

An action or event serving as an introduction to something more important.



The Harvard business review

 How to Turn a Bad Day Around

Let's face it. Life can be full of frustrations—an argument with your teenager over breakfast, a missed train, or even just a spilled coffee can make you wish you could crawl back into bed. How can you change your mood when you've started your day off on the wrong foot? How do you stop annoyances from dragging you down and killing your productivity?

What the Experts Say

The good news is you can turn a bad day into a good one. "Happiness is a choice," says Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage. Even when something objectively negative happens—your star employee gives notice or you're late to an important meeting with the CEO—it's important to focus on the positive things that are also happening. "Studies show that when you're positive, you're 31% more productive, you're 40% more likely to receive a promotion, you have 23% fewer health-related effects from stress, and your creativity rates triple," he explains. Discontent is also contagious, adds Annie McKee, founder of the Teleos Leadership Institute and coauthor of Primal Leadership. "Your negative emotions spread like wildfire," she explains. "It's worth changing your mood, not just to make your day more pleasant and productive but to spare those around you." So what can you do when you're in a downward spiral? Here are some ideas:

Pinpoint the problem

The earlier you catch your bad mood, the easier it will be to do something about it. "We have to have early warning signals that tell us that our resilience is dwindling," says McKee. She recommends pausing regularly to check your emotional state. "Perhaps you're being snappy with people, you're not smiling as much, or you have a headache," she says. It's also important to pinpoint and name what's going on. It's better to say, "I'm upset because I'm behind on an important project and traffic was terrible today," rather than the over-simplified, "I feel awful," McKee says. Having a concrete reason for your unhappiness gives you something to work on.

Take a moment to be grateful

One of the simplest ways to focus on the positive is to think about what you're grateful for, whether it's your job, your kids, or the clothes on your back. "There are neuroimaging studies that show it's almost impossible to be in a depressed state and grateful at the same time," explains Achor. McKee agrees that gratitude is "a powerful antidote to the urgent feeling of stress and lack of control." So as soon as you start to feel negative, short circuit your mood by asking yourself, What are three good things that are going on right now? Consider saying them out loud or writing them down. This will help you get some perspective on the bad day. Sure, you may have had a fender bender or missed an appointment, but there are other, perhaps more important, things in your life that are going well.

Take action

Another way to stop yourself from "trending negative" is to "take a single concrete action," Achor says. Send that email that you've been meaning to get to or make a phone call you've been dreading. Even choosing a healthier snack, a piece of fruit over a candy bar, can create a positive "mental avalanche" for the rest of the day. "Your brain records a victory," Achor explains. The effect is even stronger if the action you take benefits someone else. You might be buried in your inbox, but if you take two minutes to send an email praising or thanking someone else, you'll actually feel like you've gained time.

Change your routine

If you're feeling miserable, don't hunker down at your desk for the rest of the day. A change of scenery often helps signal to your brain that the current mood doesn't need to be sustained. "Drive around, take a walk, or just go to a different floor. The key is to put yourself in a different physical location," McKee advises. And once you're there, take a few deep breaths. "If you're heading for or already in an amygdala hijack, you have to do something to get control of your frontal lobe and breathing does that physiologically," she explains.

You can also do something you enjoy, like listening to music or a podcast or catching up on news. Just be careful about the content you choose! A recent study by Achor in partnership with Arianna Huffington showed that just a few minutes of consuming negative news can cause a bad day. "Try to find a news outlet that focuses on solutions. Or at least create a different ratio. If you're going to read a negative piece, read two positive ones as well, about medical breakthroughs or someone helping others," says Achor.

Reset realistic expectations

"Expectations can have a huge impact on mood," says Achor. "If I expect my flight to be canceled and it's only three hours delayed, then I'm going to be thrilled. But if I expect it to be on time and then it's delayed, then I'm going to be upset." A lot of bad days start when you have unrealistic expectations about what you can accomplish. If your mood is deteriorating because it's after lunch and you feel behind, don't despair. "You can rewrite the narrative on the day," he says. Highlight what progress you have made. "Write down two or three things you've already done. You woke up, you had breakfast with your kid, you drove to work, you even wrote a checklist. That way you're starting at 25% progress." And then make a list of "short, attainable goals" for the rest of the day.

Learn from your bad days to prevent future ones

When you do have a bad day, it's important to reflect on them before you put them behind you. By taking note of what went wrong—and then right—you can "learn what your triggers are so you stay away from those particular stimuli or at least know how you're likely to react if you're triggered," McKee says. If you've tried the above strategies, make a note of what works for you and what doesn't, and "be more precise in the future in how you turn things around." And definitely pay attention when bad days pile up. Is there something bigger going on that you need to address? Is there some broader action you need to take? "We're seeing a movement toward higher workloads and longer work hours and there's lots of research that shows that when people work more than 55 hours a week, engagement and happiness levels plummet," says Achor. Consider whether you need to fundamentally rethink the way you do your job or balance your work and family life.

Principles to Remember


Think of three things that you're grateful for

Consider what you've already accomplished even if it's minor

Reflect on what triggers your bad days and which tactics help to turn them around


Believe that you are a victim of your circumstances—you choose whether to be negative or positive

Hunker down at your desk—change scenery and take a few deep breaths

Set unrealistic expectations for your day

Case study #1: Focus on opportunities not problems

Kate Hanley, a mindset coach and the author of A Year of Daily Calm, often helps her clients develop strategies to get out of their bad days. "People come to me because they're feeling stuck and they've tried everything they know how to try," she says.

She usually starts by asking them what triggered their negative mood. "I try to get them to pinpoint where it started to go bad," she says. "Naming it can be really helpful."

Then she advises her clients to "get curious" and ask a lot of questions about what is going on. Is this a one-time event or an ongoing trend? Have I felt like this before? What caused it last time? "We've evolved to scan for danger so once you're in a bad mood, it can be hard to get out," she says.

She also tries to get people to reframe problems as opportunities. If an important client meeting gets canceled, what can you do with that free hour? If a direct report doesn't do a good job on a presentation, how can you help her learn from the situation?

Kate uses these same tactics when she's having her own bad days. A few weeks back, she noticed she was in an awful mood around lunchtime and quickly identified the cause: two clients had canceled on her that morning. "I don't like when my appointments get moved a lot because it screws up the rhythm of my day," she says.

"My mind quickly made a trend out of it but I pulled back and asked myself, 'Do clients cancel a lot or is it just today?'" With that perspective, she was able to think more positively. She also took a few moments to get out of the office and do something she enjoys—listen to music. "If you ever see me driving around in my car listening to classical, you know it's been a crazy day."

Case study #2: Remember it's just one day

Darin Freitag, who manages residential and commercial projects at the general contractor RYAN Associates says that he can usually tell early on in a day when things are going wrong. "It starts when I receive a phone call from an angry client or I realize that an important project isn't going to be done on time," he says. Then "I'm distracted so I'm not thinking clearly and I make more mistakes, like speeding into work and getting a ticket or even backing my car into something."

That's when he takes a step back. "I tell myself, 'OK, something's going on here. I'm just not in a place where I'm going to win today." To get himself back into the right frame of mind, his first step is to get some perspective. "I think about how this is just one day in the long haul of a career, or a project, or the business," he explains.

He reminds himself that it's normal to have a rough patch here and there and that he can't solve every problem. "Like many people, I often have this grandiose idea that I'm so important that I can fix anything. But that's just not true. And if I try to fix it all, it's just going to get worse," he says. So he temporarily resets his expectations for the day. "Sometimes I need to lower my standards and be more realistic," he says.

He remembers one day when he had to give a presentation. Not only did he feel unprepared but there were also technical problems with the projector. But instead of getting frustrated, he took a deep breath and told himself, "OK, this is not going to go as well as I hoped or planned."

Over time, he's learned that, while he can't stop bad things from happening, he can control how he responds to them. "I know I'm going to be miserable until I change my perspective, or accept the situation," he explains. "I can wallow for a while but it's not fun and it just leads to depression. I eventually realize that I'm swimming upstream and that I need to stop swimming and just float. And then usually it doesn't take long for the situation to change."

·        crawl

(of a person) move forward on the hands and knees or by dragging the body close to the ground.


·        re·sil·ience

The ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.


·        dwin·dle

Diminish gradually in size, amount, or strength.


·        snap·py

Irritable and inclined to speak sharply; snappish.


·        aw·ful

Very bad or unpleasant.


·        hend·er

A thing used to keep something off or prevent a collision, in particular.


·        bend·er

An object or person that bends something else.


·        dread

Anticipate with great apprehension or fear.


·        av·a·lanche

A mass of snow, ice, and rocks falling rapidly down a mountainside.


·        lobe

A roundish and flattish part of something, typically each of two or more such parts divided by a fissure, and often projecting or hanging.


·        Hunker down gets a nice exposition by our friends at World Wide Words, where they explain: The Oxford English Dictionary has a fine description of how to hunker: "squat, with the haunches, knees, and ankles acutely bent, so as to bring the hams near the heels, and throw the whole weight upon the fore part of the feet".


·        Wal·low

(chiefly of large mammals) roll about or lie relaxed in mud or water, especially to keep cool, avoid biting insects, or spread scent.



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