The Hindu Editorial Vocabulary– December 6, 2023; Day 505
Sign Up on PracticeMock for Free Tests, General Awareness, Current Affairs, Exam Notifications and Updates
Difficult Word/ PhraseContextual Sense
Apportion Give out as one’s portion or share
Pummel to hit someone or something repeatedly
Proclamation A formal public statement
Singularity Strangeness by virtue of being remarkable or unusual
Topple Fall down, as if collapsing
Stagnate Stand still
Redux Brought back
Naive deficient in relevant experience
Defiance Act of boldly resisting authority or an opposing force
Preclude Keep from happening or arising

Shared blame: On Chennai and Cyclone Michaung

Cyclone Michaung alone was not responsible for Chennai’s troubles 

Apportioning (Give out as one’s portion or share) blame for calamity after a natural disaster is almost impossible, but Indian cities have often tried to ease this decision, and Chennai on December 4 was no exception. Late on December 3, rains began to pummel (to hit someone or something repeatedly) Chennai as Cyclone Michaung, soon to intensify into a super-cyclonic storm, parked itself roughly 100 km east of the city. By the next morning, most areas had recorded more than 120 mm of rain, with a few recording more than 250 mm. The figures represent a breathtaking volume of water to be delivered in a single day — and which Tamil Nadu Minister for Municipal Administration K.N. Nehru echoed when he said the city had not received as much rain in seven decades. But that is not the full story. The narratives built around disasters influence the responses to them, and proclamations (A formal public statement) that attribute a singularity (Strangeness by virtue of being remarkable or unusual) to a natural calamity often feed an unfair line of reasoning in which nature shoulders all the blame. Just as the rain intensified over Chennai on December 4 morning, the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited shut off power in the city as a precaution, presumably to prevent loose cables from electrocuting pedestrians in dirty water. That such a precaution was required at all speaks volumes about the state of the power infrastructure. There are no quick fixes or short cuts in addressing years of inadequate investment in maintenance and repair. Several trees were toppled (Fall down, as if collapsing), water stagnated (Stand still) on almost all roads, overhead cables flew loose, and storm water drains were choked with plastic trash. Many trains were cancelled, the airport had to be closed, and there were reports of people being stranded at many locations. Yet, that 2023 was not 2015 redux (Brought back) is to the city’s as well as to the storm’s credit: the former because of the warnings and preparation, more resilient civilian infrastructure, and people’s memories of 2015; the latter because it dumped less water than the 2015 torrent did in a single day.

The extent to which climate change ‘boosted’ Cyclone Michaung is for attribution science to say, although it would be naive (deficient in relevant experience) to wait for any verdict other than that warmer seas are feeding stronger cyclones. But the city’s ability to respond to such storms has been compromised by decades of unplanned construction, defiance (Act of boldly resisting authority or an opposing force) of zoning, and some forms of public indiscipline, especially littering. Expecting the resulting problems to be resolved overnight, or even by a single government, is unreasonable, yet the progress needs to be much faster than it is at present, if only to preclude (Keep from happening or arising) the need for drastic, even oxymoronic, measures such as cutting power supply to guarantee safety. Finally in Michaung’s wake, Chennai can start by doing something it failed to in 2015: treating its sanitation workers — mostly Dalits and Adivasis — better.

Want to improve your vocabulary further? Download the Lists of Word-Meanings of Previous Months here.

    Free Mock Tests for the Upcoming Exams

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *