Topic Of The Day:-“Uncertain Times: On India’s Oil Imports”

India needs to diversify its oil supplier base and increase domestic sources of energy

The oil market is in ferment once again with a great deal of uncertainty over supplies. On Monday the United States announced that it would not extend beyond May 1 the 180-day waiver it had granted to eight countries, including India, to purchase oil from Iran. This caused the price of Brent crude oil to witness a sudden jump to more than $75, from last week’s close of $71.97, as traders expected the withdrawal of the waivers to adversely affect the supply of oil in the market. The price of Brent crude, it is worth noting, has been rising steadily in the last few months, and has increased by almost 50% since it hit a low of about $50 in December, as a result of the decision of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to restrict their output to boost prices. India imports more than 10% of its crude oil from Iran, so the government faces the immediate challenge of having to find alternative suppliers to meet its huge energy needs. Even more worrying is the likely negative impact higher oil prices will have on India’s current account deficitfiscal deficit and inflation in the wider economy. The current account deficit, which narrowed to 2.5% of GDP in the December quarter thanks to lower oil prices, will likely worsen going forward. The fiscal deficit, which has been widening in advance of the elections, is also likely to get increasingly out of control. While inflation is relatively benign at the moment, any further acceleration in price gainswill tie the hands of the Reserve Bank of India.

It may, however, be hard to say for sure that the jump in the price of oil this week, and over the last few months, marks a secular rise in the price of the commodity. The entry of U.S. shale producers into the oil market has put a lid on the price of oil as freely competing shale suppliers have been happy to increase their output whenever oil prices rise significantly. Even this week, the oil market has been torn between the news of the end to the waivers granted to oil imports from Iran and competing news of the increased supply of oil pouring into the market from the U.S. Higher oil prices also make it lucrative each time for members of OPEC to cheat on their commitments to restrict supply. If India is to protect its interests in the ever-volatile global oil market, the government will need to take steps to diversify its supplier base and also work towards increasing domestic sources of energy supplies. Opening up the renewable energy sector for more investments will also help avoid over-dependence on oil from the global market to meet the country’s ever-increasing energy needs.


  1. Ferment

Meaning: agitation and excitement among a group of people, typically concerning major change and leading to trouble or violence.

Synonyms: fever, furore, frenzy

Antonyms: Calm, Happiness

Example Sentence: “a period of political and religious ferment”

  1. uncertainty

Meaning: the state of being uncertain.

Synonyms: unpredictability, unreliability, riskiness

Antonyms: certainty, predictability, confidence

Example Sentence: “times of uncertainty and danger”

  1. extend

Meaning: cause to cover a wider area; make larger.

Synonyms: expand, enlarge, increase

Antonyms: reduce, shrink, narrow

Example Sentence: “the car park has been extended”

  1. witness

Meaning: a person who sees an event, typically a crime or accident, take place.

Synonyms: observer, onlooker, looker-on

Example Sentence: “police are appealing for witnesses to the accident”

  1. withdrawal

Meaning: the action of withdrawing something.

Synonyms: removal, taking away; abolition

Antonyms: introduction

Example Sentence: “the withdrawal of state subsidies”

  1. waivers

Meaning: an act or instance of waiving a right or claim.

Synonyms: renunciation, surrender, repudiation, rejection

Example Sentence: “their acquiescence could amount to a waiver”

  1. adversely

Meaning: in a way that prevents success or development; harmfully or unfavourably.

Synonyms: Negatively, resentfully

Example Sentence: “his self-confidence was adversely affected for years to come”

  1. restrict

Meaning: put a limit on; keep under control.

Synonyms: limit, set/impose limits on

Antonyms: Aid, Allow, Assist

Example Sentence: “a busy working life restricted his leisure activities”

  1. alternative

Meaning: (of one or more things) available as another possibility or choice.

Synonyms: different, other, another

Example Sentence: “an alternative route”

  1. impact

Meaning: a marked effect or influence.

Synonyms: effect, influence, impression, footprint

Antonyms: Failure, Loss, Avoidance

Example Sentence: “our regional measures have had a significant impact on unemployment”

  1. deficit

Meaning: the amount by which something, especially a sum of money, is too small.

Synonyms: shortfall, deficiency, shortage

Antonyms: surplus, profit

Example Sentence: “an annual operating deficit”

  1. worsen

Meaning: make or become worse.

Synonyms: aggravate, exacerbate

Antonyms: improve, ameliorate, recover

Example Sentence: “her condition worsened on the flight”

  1. benign

Meaning: gentle and kind.

Tamil Meaning:

Synonyms: kindly, kind, warm-hearted

Antonyms: Harsh, Unkind, Rough

Example Sentence: “his benign but firm manner”

  1. acceleration

Meaning: increase in speed or rate.

Synonyms: hastening, speeding up, quickening, stepping up, advancement

Antonyms: Slowing, Deferral, Deceleration

Example Sentence: “the acceleration of the industrialization process”

  1. gains

Meaning: an increase in wealth or resources.

Synonyms: profit, earnings, income

Antonyms: loss

Example Sentence: “the pursuit of personal gain”

  1. secular

Meaning: (of a fluctuation or trend) occurring or persisting over an indefinitely long period.

Synonyms: Lay, earthly

Example Sentence: over the last few months, marks a secular rise in the price of the commodity.

  1. shale

Meaning: soft finely stratified sedimentary rock that formed from consolidated mud or clay and can be split easily into fragile plates.

  1. torn between

Meaning: be in a state of uncertainty between two conflicting options or parties.

Synonyms: torment, torture, rack, harrow

Example Sentence: “he was torn between his duty and his better instincts”

  1. lucrative

Meaning: producing a great deal of profit.

Synonyms: profitable, profit-making, gainful

Antonyms: unprofitable

Example Sentence: “a lucrative career as a stand-up comedian”

  1. diversify

Meaning: enlarge or vary the range of products or the field of operation of (a business).

Synonyms: branch out, vary output, expand

Antonyms: Continue, Keep, Remain

Example Sentence: “we’re confident that the new owners will grow and diversify the company globally”