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Shashi Tharoor’s Word of the Week: Panglossian

The Congress leader who’s had all of us reaching for our dictionaries now has a column in HT, committed to helping you expand your vocabulary. Find out where this week’s word came from.

more lifestyle Updated: May 03, 2019 22:26 IST
Shashi Tharoor
Shashi Tharoor
Hindustan Times
Shashi Tharoor,Word of the Week,Panglossian
(HT Illustration: Sudhir Shetty)

PANGLOSSIAN, adjective: foolishly and unrealistically optimistic, especially in the face of unrelieved hardship or adversity

USAGE: Ayushman Bharat is essentially a Panglossian idea, a policy based on wishful thinking.

Panglossian is derived from Pangloss, an optimistic character who was a philosopher and tutor in Voltaire’s 1758 work, Candide, and who famously declared that “all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds”.

It is hard to escape using this word when one reads the Modi government’s embarrassing attempts to positively spin every misfortune currently afflicting our nation. To respond to the health-care crisis confronting the least fortunate sections of Indian society by announcing an insurance scheme that covers the entire population only for the most routine maladies, and budgets a fraction of a percentage of what the scheme will actually cost if all the sick laid claim to benefits under it, is Panglossian in the extreme.

So is suggesting that a “surgical strike” after Uri, which merely repeated an action that had been undertaken six times in the past with no similar publicity, would end cross-border terrorism. As we all know, Pulwama followed.

First Published: May 03, 2019 22:26 IST