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11.6.21 Editorials

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s call for cooperation among non-NDA counterparts in other States to support farmers agitating against three controversial laws made in June 2020 seems part of a larger political project. It is meant to go beyond aiding the farmers, who fear that these laws could make them more vulnerable to market fluctuations. But the focus on farm laws, which the Government says would make farming more competitive and remunerative, is an important start. While the Government reiterated this week that MSP for various crops would continue, the fact remains that regardless of the merits of these laws, they were made without adequate consultations with parties, States and the stakeholders. After a meeting with farmer leaders from Uttar Pradesh, Ms. Banerjee said she accepted their request to speak to other Chief Ministers who are not in the NDA. While reiterating her demand to repeal the three laws, she has proposed a virtual conference of CMs with the farmers and a joint letter to the Centre on the issue. Many CMs are likely to agree with her, despite political rivalries among them. At least two other CMs who were elected along with her in the recent Assembly elections share her position on the farm laws — Kerala’s Pinarayi Vijayan and Tamil Nadu’s M.K. Stalin. In Kerala, the previous Assembly had in December 2020 passed a unanimous resolution seeking the repeal of these laws.

That said, all non-NDA CMs may not be willing to be part of a joint platform because of their individual calculations and expediency, and the fear of retribution by the Centre. Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal, for instance, had sought the support of other CMs against unilateral actions by the Centre that curtailed the powers of his government. Ms. Banerjee had vociferously supported him, but Mr. Kejriwal was not reciprocative when she raised concerns of overreach by the Centre. The recent joint efforts by some CMs to persuade the Centre to withdraw its previous vaccination policy did not get wholehearted support from others. The CMs of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, Naveen Patnaik and Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, have sought to keep the Centre in good humour. Nevertheless, the joint efforts by CMs did lead to a change in the vaccination policy. Joint strategy on farm laws could be more difficult as their impact is uneven across States. But a broader point raised by Ms. Banerjee, about the Centre’s tendency to ignore the States while formulating policy, is salient. She has also called for a continuing mechanism for CMs to cooperate on issues of Centre-State relations. Turning this into a combative platform could do more harm than good, but it is a suggestion worth pursuing. Cooperative federalism, a concept that Prime Minister Narendra Modi advocates, can be pursued more meaningfully through continuous and harmonious communication with CMs. A conversation on farm laws could be a good beginning.

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1.Call For (Phrasal Verb)-publicly ask for or demand something.

2.Remunerative (Adj)-profitable, lucrative, worthwhile, viable, beneficial. लाभकारी

3.Repeal (V)-to cancel (a law) officially. निरस्त करना

4.Retribution (N)-punishment or vengeance for evil deeds.

5.Curtailed (V)-to reduce or limit something. कम करना

6.Vociferously (Adv)-in a loud and forceful manner.

7.Combative (Adj)-ready or eager to fight or argue.

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The massacre of at least 160 people in a border village in Burkina Faso over the weekend is a grim reminder of the threat the Sahel region faces from Islamist terrorism. Nobody has claimed responsibility, but Burkinabe authorities have named the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), which has carried out hundreds of terror strikes in recent years. The security situation in Burkina Faso, which saw its first major Islamist terrorist attack in 2015, has deteriorated steadily, especially along the borders with Niger and Mali. This has been the case with much of the Sahel region, a 5,900-km-long semi-arid territory. It has seen terrorist groups expanding their networks and stepping up attacks on civilians and soldiers. The Burkina Faso attack occurred after 137 people were killed by jihadists in Niger, in March. In Nigeria, Islamists control swathes of territories and have carried out abductions and attacks, including gunning down 27 people in a village on Sunday. Mali has been fighting terror groups since 2013.

Four main terror outfits operate in the region — the ISGS, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), the Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin, the local al-Qaeda branch in Mali, and Boko Haram. Of these, the ISGS and Jama’at Nasr are reportedly in alliance to expand their influence in the Burkina-Mali-Niger border region, where they shoot down anyone who does not declare their loyalty to the jihadists. Boko Haram and the ISWAP are fighting each other but control territories in northeastern Nigeria. France has deployed troops in the region for counter-insurgency operations and is helped by the U.S., which has a drone base in Niger. The regime change policies of the U.S. and France are partly to be blamed for the problems the Sahel countries are facing today. When a NATO invasion removed Muammar Gaddafi from power in Libya in 2011, the region lost a stable bulwark against militias and jihadists. Libya, having fallen into anarchy and civil war, became a jihadist breeding ground. When trouble spread to Mali, France made a military intervention in 2013. But it did not defeat the insurgency, which spread beyond Mali’s borders. Now, jihadists find safe havens in the lawless deserts of the Sahel. When the IS-militant infrastructure was destroyed in Iraq and Syria, their foot soldiers fled to Africa, regrouping themselves in the region. The recent attacks should serve as a warning to all stakeholders. Major global powers, which worked together with regional players to defeat the IS in West Asia, should not stay away from the growing threat from Africa. They should, along with the UN, help the Sahel countries build capacity and institutions, offer stable governance and adopt sustainable counter-insurgency strategies.

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1.Massacre (N)-an act of killing a lot of people.

2.Grim (Adj)-very serious or gloomy. भयानक

3.Deteriorated (V)-to become worse.

4.Swathes (N)-a large area of land.

5.Territories (N)-an area of land under the jurisdiction of a ruler or state. क्षेत्र, इलाका

6.Abductions (N)-the act of taking someone away by force or cunning; kidnapping. अपहरण

7.Gunning Down (Phrasal Verb)- to shoot (someone) with a gun.

8.Outfits (N)-an organization or group. संगठनों

9.Bulwark (N)-anything that provides protection.

10.Anarchy (N)-general lawlessness and disorder. अराजकता

11.Breeding Ground (N)-a place where something develops easily, especially something unpleasant.

12.Intervention (N)-interference by a state in another's affairs. हस्तक्षेप

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