The Hindu Editorial Vocabulary– November 6, 2023; Day 490 (1)
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Difficult Word/ PhraseContextual Sense
Tide over help someone through a difficult period
Inflection point a time of significant change in a situation; a turning point
Recede Move away or backward
Flush out to remove something using a sudden flow of water
Gamut A complete extent or range
Anthropogenic Of or relating to the study of the origins and development of human beings
Commission Charge with a task
Entail Have as a logical consequence
Devolve Grow progressively worse
Stalemate A situation in which no progress can be made or no advancement is possible
Evoke Summon into action
Elide Leave 
Curb hold or keep within limits
Tame Make less strong or intense
Daunting Discouraging through fear

Tiding over (help someone through a difficult period): On north India and its annual air quality inflection point (a time of significant change in a situation; a turning point) in November

India’s States should ensure greater compliance on air pollution 

Delhi and parts of the surrounding States of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh encounter their annual air quality inflection point. This is the time when the southwest monsoon has receded (Move away or backward) and with it, the great drafts in the upper atmosphere that normally flush out (to remove something using a sudden flow of water) pollutants from the gamut (A complete extent or range) of anthropogenic (Of or relating to the study of the origins and development of human beings) activities such as construction, driving, power generation and the burning of agricultural residue. Through the years, there have been studies commissioned (Charge with a task) and executive action initiated to study, acknowledge and address the crisis. The science is also fairly clear on the relative contribution of pollutants and the limits of corrective intervention in the face of adverse meteorology and the disruption to economic life that this can entail (Have as a logical consequence). The consequence of this is that the air pollution crisis has now devolved (Grow progressively worse) into a stalemate (A situation in which no progress can be made or no advancement is possible). The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM), which is tasked with addressing the causes of air pollution in Delhi and the adjoining States, is now a body packed with expertise but whose powers are limited to evoking (Summon into action) and recommending grades of measures depending on the degree of deterioration in air quality.

While the CAQM pointed out, as recently as October 31, that the daily average air quality in Delhi from January to October of this year was the best in the last six years, it elides (leave) the fact that the number of days in November when air quality becomes ‘severe’ (over 450 AQI) has remained roughly the same. Thus, in 2022, the AQI was in the severe category in the first fortnight of November for three days, the same as in 2021, 2020 and 2019. While there is greater awareness and action to curb (hold or keep within limits) the sources of pollution, November, which has in recent years emerged as the critical month for pollution, remains to be tamed (Make less strong or intense). Incidents of stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh this year have been roughly half that when compared to previous years, though the weeks ahead are expected to see more such activity. While the measures earlier have seen an institutionalised response to tackle air pollution, it is now time for a concerted approach to address these challenges of November. Beyond stubble burning, this means addressing the more daunting (Discouraging through fear) challenges of vehicular pollution and construction dust. While urban Delhi could have always blamed the distant farm fires for the pollution crisis, tackling November may mean hard measures and greater inconvenience. Bodies such as the CAQM have to assert their independent credentials and ensure greater coordination and compliance within Delhi and the surrounding States to address the challenge.

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