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Difficult Word/ PhraseContextual Sense
Paradigm shift a complete and important change in the usual or accepted way of doing or thinking about somebody/something
Guerrilla A member of an irregular armed force that fights a stronger force by sabotage and harassment
Sweep across to spread or pass rapidly across, through, or along (a region, area, etc.)
Overhaul to look at something carefully and change or repair it if necessary
Break into manage to have some success
Script Write 
Devastating damaging
Psyche human mind or soul
Lay down stop fighting a battle or war and make peace
Vow Make a solemn pledge or promise
Inimical Not friendly
Strike a chord Create an emotional response
Cartel an association of similar businesses that have grouped together in order to prevent competition and to control prices
Outsize Larger than normal for its kind
Bloc A group of voters or politicians who have common objectives
Idly Not in action or at work
Brace Prepare (oneself) for something unpleasant or difficult
Emanate to come out from a source
Pulverize Destroy completely

Paradigm shift (a complete and important change in the usual or accepted way of doing or thinking about somebody/something): On Colombia’s first leftist President

Under a new President, Colombia has an opportunity for stable growth after years of drug wars

The victory of Gustavo Petro, a former guerrilla (A member of an irregular armed force that fights a stronger force by sabotage and harassment), in Colombia’s presidential election is one of the most decisive shifts in the South American country’s modern history. At war with leftist guerrillas for decades until a few years ago, Colombia had never voted a leftist to power in the past. Even when a wave of leftist victories was sweeping across (to spread or pass rapidly across, through, or along (a region, area, etc.)) South America in the early 2000s, it remained a fort of centrist and conservative politics. But Mr. Petro, armed with his promises of overhauling (to look at something carefully and change or repair it if necessary) the country’s economy and governance, broke into (manage to have some success) this fort and captured power. He won 50.4% votes in Sunday’s election against his rival Rodolfo Hernández’s 47.3%. A host of factors, including internal political changes and economic challenges, helped him script (write) history. In Colombia, where a decades-long civil war between the state and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) had had a devastating (damaging) impact on the public psyche (human mind or soul), even mainstream leftist politicians had struggled to win popular support. But FARC’s decision to lay down (stop fighting a battle or war and make peace) arms and join the political mainstream as part of the 2016 peace agreement widened the scope for leftist politics in the country. Mr. Petro was quick to mobilise this newly created momentum with an economic programme that broke from the Bogota consensus. He vowed (Make a solemn pledge or promise) to “democratise land”, renegotiate free trade agreements that were inimical (Not friendly) to the interests of Colombian farmers, expand the country’s social security measures, tax the rich more and reduce Colombia’s reliance on fossil fuel.

In a country where annual inflation is 10%, the youth unemployment rate is 20% and the poverty rate is 40%, Mr. Petro’s promises of change helped him strike a chord (Create an emotional response) with voters. Colombia, despite high economic growth, has one of the highest inequality rates in Latin America. While the civil war has come to an end, drug cartels (an association of similar businesses that have grouped together in order to prevent competition and to control prices) continue to pose serious security challenges. The way ahead is not going to be easy for Mr. Petro. True, he has the presidency, but the Colombian right, which has ruled for decades, has an outsize (Larger than normal for its kind) influence over the state and Congress. Mr. Petro’s leftist bloc (A group of voters or politicians who have common objectives) has only 25 seats in the 188-member lower House. His promise to reduce the country’s reliance on fossil fuels and shift to renewable energy could trigger opposition from the powerful oil industry, besides economic impacts. His move to hold talks with the drug cartels and end the drug wars could attract strong opposition from the U.S. Washington would not sit idly (Not in action or at work) if Mr. Petro takes Colombia, the cornerstone of the U.S.’s Latin American policy, towards the left. So, he should brace (Prepare (oneself) for something unpleasant or difficult) for challenges emanating (to come out from a source) not just from his right-wing opponents but also from the world’s most powerful country. Mr. Petro, however, should stay focused on the issues at hand and seek to unite the country that has been pulverised (Destroy completely) by civil conflict, drug wars and economic inequality.

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