Topic of the day:- In An Oil Slick: On Iran Sanctions

“India Is Testing Its Traditional Ties With Iran By Giving In To U.S. Bullying”

Faced with the U.S.’s intransigent demand that all countries put a full stop to oil imports from Iran or face sanctions, the Indian government has indicated it will ‘zero out’ oil imports after the May 2 deadline. Statements from the Petroleum and External Affairs Ministries suggest the government’s focus is now on finding alternative sources of energy and minimising the impact on the Indian market. At last count, India was importing about 10% of its oil needs from Iran, although it had considerably reduced its intake over the last few months. The U.S. has made it clear that Indian companies that continue to import oil from Iran would face severe secondary sanctions, including being taken out of the SWIFT international banking system and a freeze on dollar transactions and U.S. assets. In response, Indian importers, including the oil PSUs, have decided that sourcing oil from Iran is unviable at present. As a result, the government is seeking to explain the decision as a pragmatic one, taken in India’s best interests. Officials point to the six-month reprieve, from November 2018 to May 2019, that they received from the U.S. in the form of sanctions waivers to import Iranian oil, and the exemption to continue developing the Chabahar port, as positive outcomes of the negotiations over the past year. Such arguments are, however, not very convincing. India has, in effect, now decided to cave in to U.S. pressure on the issue less than a year after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that India would recognise only UN sanctions, not “unilateral” ones. In fact, last February Prime Minister Narendra Modi vowed in Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s presence in Delhi to increase India’s oil intake from Iran. There are other real costs attached to the U.S. ultimatum that India may have to bear. The price of oil has already shot up above the $70 mark in April. In addition, Iran has threatened to shut down the Strait of Hormuz, a key channel for global oil shipments, which would further lead to inflationary trends, not just for oil but other commodities too. Any direct backlash from Iran for its decision will also jeopardise India’s other interests in the country, including its considerable investment in the Chabahar port, which India is building as an alternative route for trade to Central Asia. In the larger picture, India isn’t just testing its traditional ties with Iran, but also giving in to President Donald Trump’s blatant bullying after his administration withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal. Instead of engaging in what appear to have been fruitless negotiations with the U.S. over the past year, India, China, the EU and other affected entities could have spent their time more productively in building a counter with an alternative financial architecture, immune to the U.S.’s arbitrary moves.


  1. intransigent

Meaning: unwilling or refusing to change one’s views or to agree about something.

Synonyms:     uncompromising, inflexible, unbending, unyielding

Antonyms: Flexible, Soft, Willing

Example: “her father had tried persuasion, but she was intransigent”

  1. indicated

Meaning: be a sign of; strongly suggest/ mention indirectly or briefly.

Synonyms: demonstrate, show, state, declare

Example: “sales indicate a growing market for such art”

  1. intake

Meaning: the action of taking something in.

Synonyms: Absorb, Admission

Antonyms: Release

Example: “facilities for the intake of grain by road”

  1. unviable

Meaning: not capable of working successfully; not feasible.

Example: “the commission found the plan to be financially unviable”

  1. pragmatic

Meaning: dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations.

Synonyms: practical, matter-of-fact, realistic

Antonyms: impractical, unrealistic, idealistic

Example: “a pragmatic approach to politics”

  1. reprieve

Meaning: abandon or postpone plans to close or abolish (something).

Synonyms: save, rescue, grant a stay of execution to

Antonyms: Continuation

Example: “the threatened pits could be reprieved”

  1. waivers

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

Synonyms: renunciation, surrender, repudiation, rejection

Antonyms: Sanction, Accept, Approval

Example: “their acquiescence could amount to a waiver”

  1. exemption

Meaning: the action of freeing or state of being free from an obligation or liability imposed on others.

Synonyms: immunity, exception, dispensation

Antonyms: liability

Example: “vehicles that may qualify for exemption from tax”

9. unilateral

Meaning: (of an action or decision) performed by or affecting only one person, group, or country involved in a situation, without the agreement of another or the others.

Synonyms: One sided, Independent

Antonyms: Bilateral, Many-Sided, Multilateral

Example: “unilateral nuclear disarmament”

  1. vowed

Meaning: solemnly promise to do a specified thing.

Synonyms: Swear, swear/state under oath

Antonyms: Deny, Break, Misuse, Disvow

Example: “the rebels vowed to continue fighting”

  1. ultimatum

Meaning: a final demand or statement of terms, the rejection of which will result in retaliation or a breakdown in relations.

Synonyms: Warning, Conditions, Demand

Example: “their employers issued an ultimatum demanding an immediate return to work”

  1. threatened

Meaning: state one’s intention to take hostile action against (someone) in retribution for something done or not done / cause (someone or something) to be vulnerable or at risk; endanger.

Synonyms: menace, intimidate, browbeat, bully, cow

Antonyms: Guarded, Protected, Safe

Example: “how dare you threaten me?”

  1. inflationary


Example: “the Prime Minister came close to accusing the Chancellor of starting the inflationary spiral”

  1. backlash

Meaning: a strong negative reaction by a large number of people, especially to a social or political development.

Synonyms: adverse reaction/response, counteraction, counterblast

Antonyms: Cause,Question

Example: “a public backlash against racism”

  1. jeopardise

Meaning: put (someone or something) into a situation in which there is a danger of loss, harm, or failure.

Synonyms: threaten, endanger, imperil, menace

Antonyms: safeguard

Example: “a devaluation of the dollar would jeopardize New York’s position as a financial centre”

  1. blatant

Meaning: (of bad behaviour) done openly and unashamedly.

Synonyms: flagrant, glaring, obvious

Antonyms: inconspicuous, subtle

Example: “blatant lies”

  1. bullying

Meaning: seek to harm, intimidate, or coerce (someone perceived as vulnerable).

Synonyms:     persecute, oppress, tyrannize, torment, browbeat

Example: “her 11- year-old son has been constantly bullied at school”

  1. withdrew

Meaning: remove or take away (something) from a particular place or position.

Synonyms: remove, extract, draw out

Antonyms: insert

Example: “Ruth withdrew her hand from his”

  1. immune

Meaning: resistant to a particular infection or toxin owing to the presence of specific antibodies or sensitized white blood cells / not affected or influenced by something.

Synonyms: resistant, not subject, not liable

Antonyms: susceptible

Example: “no one is immune to his immense charm”

  1. arbitrary

Meaning: based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system.

Synonyms: capricious, whimsical, random, chance

Antonyms: rational, reasoned

Example: “an arbitrary decision”