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Friday, 4 May 2018

The Hindu Editorial: Into The Brave New Age Of Irrationality

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The Hindu Editorial: Into The Brave New Age Of Irrationality

Title: Into the brave new age of irrationality 

(The assault on rationality is part of a concerted political strategy) 

Context:- For long, India has as a nation proudly claimed to be a society of belief. And Indians like to assert that faith is a ‘way of life’ here. Terms such as modernity, rational thinking and scientific analysis are often frowned upon, and misdiagnosed as disrespect to Indian culture. 

Freshly minted spokesmodel 
In recent years, we have entered a new era. I call it the Era of Irrationality. The new Chief Minister of Tripura, Biplab Kumar Deb, is the freshly minted spokesmodel of this bold, new era. 

There appears to be a relay race among people in public positions, each one making an astonishingly ridiculous claim and then passing on the baton. Mr. Deb’s claim that the Internet existed in the times of the Mahabharata is the latest. But there have been several other persons before that: Ganesh was the first example of plastic surgery. 
Stephen Hawking had said that Vedas have a theory superior to Einstein’s E = mc2. 

Freshly minted spokesmodel 
Such statements have made us the laughing stock of the global scientific community. But more importantly, they also undermine the significant scientific achievements we have made post-Independence. 
We cannot even dismiss these as random remarks by the fringe, the babas and the sadhus. These claims are often made by public officials (it’s another matter that the babas and sadhus are now occupying several public offices). 
The assault on rationality is a consequence of a concerted strategy of political forces. As rational thinking thins, the same political forces fatten. 

Freshly minted spokesmodel 
We Indians have never really adopted the scientific temper, irrespective of our education. It’s evident from our obsession with crackpot sciences such as astrology and palmistry in our daily lives. 

An unscientific society makes the job of an incompetent ruler a lot easier. No questions are asked; not even basic ones. The ruler has to just make a claim and the believers will worship him. Rather than conforming, a truly rational community often questions disparity, exploitation, persecution on the basis of caste, religion or gender.
Hence rationality must be on top of the casualty list followed quickly by the minorities, Dalits, women, liberals. For the ‘Irrationality project’ to succeed, the ruler needs a willing suspension of disbelief on a mass scale. 

Science v. technology 
The vigour with which the government is making an assault on the scientific temper only confirms that it is actually frightened of it. This is the reason why authoritarian regimes are often intolerant of those who champion the spirit of science, but encourage scientists who will launch satellites and develop nuclear weapons — even as they break coconuts, chant hymns and press “Enter” with their fingers laden with auspicious stones. 

The indoctrination against the scientific temper begins very early in our lives. It starts in our families and communities where young minds are aggressively discouraged from questioning authority and asking questions. 

Final Words 
The final step in the ‘Irrationality project’ is to inject with regularity, preposterous, over-the-top claims about the nation’s past. It effectively blurs vision of the present. 
The world is busy studying string theory, the god particle in a cyclotron, quantum mechanics. But we are busy expanding our chest size with claims of a fantastic yore. 

Idioms & Phrases 

1) Catch-22 = A situation in which it’s impossible to succeed because of conflicting rules or conditions 

2) Dodged a bullet = Barely escaped from a dangerous/disastrous situation 

One word Substitution 

1) A rough, violent, troublesome person = Tartar 

2) Drug which causes people to sleep early = Soporific 

Title: Targeting Tehran 

(Israel’s so-called revelations make no case to junk the Iran nuclear deal) 

Context:- The timing of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim that Iran had a robust nuclear weapons programme is not lost on anyone. On Monday, Mr. Netanyahu shared thousands of documents related to Iran’s nuclear programme at a time when U.S. President Donald Trump is considering ripping up the Iran nuclear deal. 

Mr. Trump, who has never hidden his opposition to the deal signed by the Obama administration with Iran and five other countries, is expected to take a decision before May 12. The documents Mr. Netanyahu cited were stolen from Iran by Israeli spies, and suggest that Iran had a robust nuclear weapons programme before the multilateral deal was signed — while Iran had always maintained that its nuclear programme was for civilian purposes. 

Mr. Netanyahu argued that the documents pointed to an act of deceit on Iran’s part, a claim the U.S. immediately backed. 

Mr. Netanyahu’s ‘revelations’ are clearly aimed at setting the stage for, and influencing, Mr. Trump’s big decision on the deal in the coming days. 

Even if the documents are authentic, they suggest that Iran had a nuclear weapons programme. There is no indication that Iran has violated the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the international agreement signed between Iran, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, and Germany. 

So, practically, if Mr. Trump decides to pull out of the Iran deal, it would start the unravelling of an agreement that nobody has violated. 

Final Words 
The U.S. should assess the agreement based on its merit and outcomes, not on narrow geopolitical or ideological calculations. 

Phrasal Verb 

1) Do up = To be able to be fastened 

2) Wrap up = To put warm clothes on 

Vocabulary words: 

Deceit (noun) = The action of deceiving someone by misrepresenting the truth (छल) 

Step up (phrasal verb) = Increase (आगे आना) 

Bolster (verb) = Support, strengthen 

Pact (noun) = Agreement, treaty (संधि) 

Compliance (noun) = The action of complying with a wish or command (अनुपालन) 

Unravel (verb) = Investigate, solve or explain (सुलझाना) 

Irrationality (noun) = The quality of being illogical or unreasonable (तर्कहीनता) 

Concerted (adj) = Joint, collective (सम्मिलित) 

Dawn (verb) = Begin (आरंभ) 

Frown upon (phrasal verb) = To view with disapproval (असहमति प्रकट करना) 

Mint (verb) = Infer, guess (अनुमान करना) 

Palmistry (noun) = Palm-reading (हस्तरेखाशास्र) 

Obsession (noun) = An idea or thought that continually preoccupies on a person’s mind (जुनून) 

Empirical (adj) = Based on observation or experience (प्रयोगसिद्ध) 

Dispensation (noun) = Exemption from a rule or usual requirement 

Devise (verb) = Plan or invent by careful thought 

Devious (adj) = Showing a skillful use of underhand tactics to achieve goals (कपटी) 

Ludicrous (adj) = So foolish, unreasonable (ऊटपटांग) 

Persecution (noun) = Ill-treatment, oppression (उत्पीड़न) 

Whims (noun) = A sudden desire or change of mind (सनक) 

Indoctrination (noun) = Teaching, instruction (समझाना) 

Misogynist (noun) = Woman-hater, anti-feminist 

Preposterous (adj) = Fruitless (निरर्थक) 

Yore (noun) = Long ago, former times


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