TOPIC OF THE DAY:-“Improbable hopes”

“Style is art,” Susan Sontag said, questioning the distinction often made between style and substance, between form and content. Mr. Rajinikanth’s art, if the word can be associated with him, is his style. Sontag also warned against interpretation, calling it the “revenge of the intellect upon art”. As the leading figure in the Tamil celluloid world takes the plunge into politics, it may be too early to interpret the actor’s politics and political intentions. Looking for substance or a political vision can wait. It is, for now, as futile as looking for deeper meanings and hidden subtexts in his fast-moving films with improbable fight sequences. Questions are being raised: whether his entry will worsen the cult of hero worship and charisma-driven politics in Tamil Nadu; whether he is laying the ground for right-wing politics to take root in what was until now inhospitable terrain for it; whether he is self-driven or being pushed by other forces. All these concerns are no doubt valid and require answers. However, in the immediate social and political context of present-day Tamil Nadu, other questions have to be raised first. Why does Mr. Rajinikanth want to enter politics? He says the present system is not right and needs to be changed; that there is political degradation in Tamil Nadu; that the State has become a laughing stock; that rulers have become looters; and that if he did nothing to stem the rot even at this stage, he would be wracked by guilt till his death. It may appear that the situation he describes does prevail in Tamil Nadu after the demise of Jayalalithaa and the inability of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) president M. Karunanidhi to remain active in politics for health reasons. The present All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) regime in Tamil Nadu is quite unpopular by all accounts. However, are the rest of the claims of the politician-to-be true? Politics did not suddenly degrade in the last one year and corruption is not a recent phenomenon. If something causes great shame and embarrassment to the people of Tamil Nadu, it is the ease with which film personalities, both the famous and the also-rans, enter public life and are seen as natural political leaders. Most parties are led by those who do not create or tolerate a second-rung leadership and are virtually clubs run by individuals. Film stars have been floating political outfits based on individual popularity and converting their fan clubs into local units. There is little doubt that what Mr. Rajinikanth is planning is just one more party on this list. A party of one followed by numberless zeroes. Endemic corruption has been punished by the electorate in the past. The verdicts of 1996 and 2011 in the State Assembly elections were clear mandates against the misdeeds of the AIADMK and the DMK regimes of the day. The State has a few core issues on which its interests are seen to be under threat, and parties, willy-nilly, have to take a position on these matters. It is difficult to avoid an issue-based agenda in the State. It is true that the two main parties have done their bit to render elections devoid of issues by their election-time promises of freebies and, in recent years, rampant voter bribery. The mere absence of a tall leader capable of helming the State now cannot be used to make a claim that it has no ideological moorings or that Tamil Nadu is a ‘night-foundered skiff’ that can find safe harbour only in a new leader who does not have the trappings and baggage of its present political class. The truth is that Tamil Nadu voters are not so bereft of political options as some observers say.


1) Foray

Meaning: A sudden attack or incursion into enemy territory, especially to obtain something; a raid.

Example: “The garrison made a foray against Richard’s camp”

Synonyms: Raid, Attack

2) Intellect

Meaning: The faculty of reasoning and understanding objectively, especially with regard to abstract matters.

Example: “He was a man of action rather than of intellect”

Synonyms: Mind, Intelligence

Antonyms: Emotion

3) Plunge

Meaning: Jump or dive quickly and energetically.

Example: “Our little daughters whooped as they plunged into the sea”

Synonyms: Jump, Dive

4) Futile

Meaning: Incapable of producing any useful result; pointless.

Example: “A futile attempt to keep fans from mounting the stage”

Synonyms: Fruitless, Vain

Antonyms: Useful, Fruitful

5) Cult

Meaning: A relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or as imposing excessive control over members.

Example: “A network of Satan-worshipping cults”

Synonyms: Sect, Religious group, Denomination

6) Right-wing

Meaning: Conservative or reactionary.

Example: “A right-wing Republican senator”

Synonyms: Conservative, Rightist

Antonyms: Left-wing, Radical

7) Terrain

Meaning: A stretch of land, especially with regard to its physical features.

Example: “They were delayed by rough terrain”

Synonyms: Land, Ground

8) Concerns

Meaning: Anxiety; worry.

Example:”Carole gazed at her with concern”

Synonyms: Anxiety, Worry

Antonyms: Serenity, peace of mind, indifference

9) Looting

Meaning: The activity of stealing from shops during a violent event.

Example: There were reports of widespread looting as hooligans stampeded through the city centre.

10) Wracked

Meaning: A trace of something destroyed.

Example: Leaving not a wrack behind.

11) Prevail

Meaning: Persuade (someone) to do something.

Example: “She was prevailed upon to give an account of her work”

Synonyms: Persuade, Induce,

12) Regime

Meaning: A government, especially an authoritarian one.

Example: “Ideological opponents of the regime”

Synonyms: Government, Authorities, Rule

13) Embarrassment

Meaning: A feeling of self-consciousness, shame, or awkwardness.

Example: “I turned red with embarrassment”

Synonyms: Awkwardness, Self-consciousness

Antonyms: Confidence

14) Verdicts

Meaning: A decision on an issue of fact in a civil or criminal case or an inquest.

Example: “The jury returned a verdict of not guilty”

Synonyms: Judgement, Adjudication

15) Misdeeds

Meaning: A wicked or illegal act.

Example: “His past misdeeds were forgiven”

Synonyms: Wrongdoing, Wrong

16) Agenda

Meaning: A plan of things to be done or problems to be addressed.

Example: “He vowed to put jobs at the top of his agenda”

Synonyms: List of items, Schedule

17) Freebies

Meaning: A thing that is provided or given free of charge.

Example: “A freebie to the Himalayas”

18) Rampant

Meaning: (Especially of something unwelcome) flourishing or spreading unchecked.

Example: “Political violence was rampant”

Synonyms: Uncontrolled, Unrestrained

Antonyms: Controlled, Under control

19) Bribery

Meaning: The giving or offering of a bribe.

Example: “His opponent had been guilty of bribery and corruption”

Synonyms: Corruption, Subornation

20) Helming

Meaning: Manage (an organization).

Example: “The magazine he helmed in the late eighties”

21) Moorings

Meaning: The ropes, chains, or anchors by or to which a boat, ship, or buoy is moored.

Example: “The great ship slipped her moorings and slid out into the Atlantic”

22) Skiff

Meaning: A small, light boat for rowing or sailing, usually used by only one person.

23) Trappings

Meaning: The outward signs, features, or objects associated with a particular situation, role, or job.

Example: “I had the trappings of success”

Synonyms: Accessories, Trimmings

24) Bereft

Meaning: Deprived of or lacking (something).

Example: “Her room was stark and bereft of colour”

Synonyms:  Deprived of, Robbed of

25) Alliances

Meaning: A union or association formed for mutual benefit, especially between countries or organizations.

Example: “A defensive alliance between Australia and New Zealand”

Synonyms: Association, Union

26) Coalitions

Meaning: A temporary alliance for combined action, especially of political parties forming a government.

Example: “A coalition between Liberals and Conservatives”

Synonyms: Alliance, Union

27) Messiah

Meaning: A leader regarded as the saviour of a particular country, group, or cause.

Example: “The club’s supporters have been tempted to regard him as a messiah rather than a manager”

28) Sentinels

Meaning: Station a soldier or guard by (a place) to keep watch.

Example: “A wide course had been roped off and sentinelled with police”

29) Exchequer

Meaning: A royal or national treasury.

Example: “An important source of revenue to the sultan’s exchequer”

30) Plunder

Meaning: The violent and dishonest acquisition of property.

Example:”The commander refused to maintain his troops through pillage and plunder”

Synonyms: Looting, Pillaging