The Hindu Editorial Vocabulary– Feb 4, 2022; Day 228
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Difficult Word/ PhraseContextual Sense
Boycott refuse to do business with
Lone Being the only one
Regrettable that you should feel sorry or sad about
Stand-off a situation in which an agreement is not possible and neither side can win or get an advantage
Calculus the mathematical study of continually changing values
Denounce Announce the termination of, as of treaties
Albeit Even though
Burnish Polish and make shiny
Laudable Worthy of high praise
On and off Not regularly
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Winter is here: On India’s diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

The games in China have taken on political significance, domestically and globally

On the eve of the opening of the Winter Olympics in Beijing on Friday, India announced a diplomatic boycott (refuse to do business with) of the games. The MEA said no Indian official will be present at the opening or closing ceremonies of the games, which run from February 4 to 20. The decision for an official boycott of the games — a lone (Being the only one) Indian athlete who qualified, skier Arif Khan, will still take part in both the games and in the opening ceremony along with support staff — followed China’s move this week to choose a PLA commander as one of the participants of the traditional torch relay. The commander was involved in the June 15, 2020 clash in Galwan Valley. He was subsequently given military honours by Beijing. The MEA said the commander’s participation in the torch relay was “regrettable (that you should feel sorry or sad about)”. Until this week, New Delhi was considering having its top diplomat in Beijing attend the games. Only in November, India joined Russia in expressing support for the games, following a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Russia, India and China. If India, dealing with its own long list of problems with China and a continuing stand-off (a situation in which an agreement is not possible and neither side can win or get an advantage) along the Line of Actual Control, had initially planned to not involve itself in the politics surrounding the games, Beijing’s torch relay changed that calculus (the mathematical study of continually changing values). The broader context of the selection of the PLA commander is an on-going campaign by China to publicise Galwan and highlight the “bravery” of PLA troops.

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India’s statement of support for the games in November had come amid the U.S. and its allies announcing a diplomatic boycott because of rights violations in Xinjiang, where minority Uighurs have been sent to “reeducation” camps. China first denied the existence of the camps, but later said they were for “vocational training”. China denounced (Announce the termination of, as of treaties) the diplomatic boycott by around a dozen countries — which India has now joined albeit (Even though) for different reasons — as “politicising” the games. It is another matter that Olympic Games, through history, have been inherently political events. For host nations, holding a successful games carries the promise of burnishing (Polish and make shiny) the legitimacy of the government of the day. The games within China have certainly taken on particular political significance domestically, in the context of the country’s battle against COVID-19. Last month, President Xi Jinping noted that the 2022 Olympics would be “the first international multi-sport event to be held as scheduled since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic”. The underlying message is that the successful holding of the games amid the pandemic is another example of the superiority of the Chinese political model, which has been highlighted as a sharp contrast especially with how the U.S. handled the pandemic. Last year, the IOA added the word “together” to the official Olympic motto of “faster, higher, stronger”. If that is certainly a laudable aspiration, it is clear that as far as the Olympics are concerned, the politics is never far away. That will certainly be the case in Beijing as the latest games, both on and off (Not regularly) the ski slopes, begin.

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