a) Deep-sea dive

Reliance Industries’ and BP’s joint investment of ₹40,000 crore in the KG-D6 gas block has important implications for the oil, gas and renewable energy sectors in terms of technological development, supply line infrastructure and pricing policy. The investment assumes a projected gas yield of 30 to 35 million cubic metres a day from the fields, and accompanies an overall partnership between the two companies in low-carbon and renewable energy, as well as in fuel retailing. With the last big investment in the sector being BP’s purchase of a 30% stake in some of RIL’s oil and gas production-sharing contracts in 2011, this pact signals a growing comfort with and acceptance of the Centre’s new gas pricing policy, which includes a mechanism for higher rates for gas from deep and ultra-deep wells. The proposed investment also brings into sharp focus the 2014 arbitration case the companies had filed against the government regarding gas pricing. Given the Centre’s current stance, the partners will not be able to derive benefit from the new gas pricing formula till the legal spat is resolved. The RIL-BP partnership also seeks to build capabilities across the entire oil and gas value chain. Thursday’s announcement that the two partners would explore opportunities in fuel retailing too was significant, coming as it did a day before the country moved to a dynamic pricing policy involving daily price revisions. Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan had invited the two companies to invest in fuel retailing, and their agreement suggests optimism over the outlook for the pricing regime. Conventional energy companies worldwide are realising that traditional markets are diminishing, and sources of conventional energy such as coal mines and gas fields becoming more expensive to operate. The RIL-BP plans to explore opportunities in renewable energy should be viewed against that backdrop. The two companies, in their search for new sources of conventional energy, have developed expertise that could be applied in the renewable energy space. BP has been operating deep and ultra-deep wells for years and has the infrastructure and technology to operate in high-risk, difficult locations. One possible opportunity for the companies is to exploit this know-how and develop offshore wind installations across the KG-D6 block. A company used to drilling at ultra-deep locations should not find it difficult to set up the foundations for offshore windmills at these sites. And it is not that big a jump to get electricity supply lines running alongside pre-existing oil and gas pipelines. With offshore wind installations virtually non-existent in India, the area offers an untapped market that the government would be keen to see exploited. While details of the investment plan have not been presented, the scale of the funds involved, coupled with attractive pricing and FDI policies, may well help draw more global oil and gas majors to the Indian market, upstream and downstream.

b) Book of jobs

The government has begun field work to compile a new Periodic Labour Force Survey to track employment trends more swiftly, in order to generate quarterly reports on the urban labour market situation and annual dossiers on the overall employment scene. With well over 80% of the workforce employed informally (with no contractual rights), Statistics and Programme Implementation Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda’s assertion that the Survey will also attempt to capture such workers’ employment status is welcome. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is now expected to meet officials, including Niti Aayog Vice-Chairperson Arvind Panagariya, to discuss issues related to job creation and the recommendations of a task force set up to officially capture the employment status of India’s workforce more effectively. The task force had been constituted amid a growing sense of concern, even within industry, about the lack of adequate jobs created and fresh talk of ‘jobless growth’. The only official job data available, based on surveys conducted by the Labour Bureau since late 2008, have painted a gloomy picture on new jobs for the world’s youngest workforce in the first two years of the Narendra Modi government. India’s employment data are far from robust and not timely enough to enable meaningful policy responses for emerging job market realities. Government officials too have questioned the reliability of the Labour Bureau exercise that covers only a few sectors in select States. Niti Aayog member Bibek Debroy, for instance, has said that existing jobs data can be used to claim both ‘growth-less jobs’ and jobless growth, given India’s largely informal economy. The task force is considering the use of proxy measures such as car sales to incorporate informal employment generation into the official narrative. How the recommendations of the task force will be incorporated into the new labour force survey, for which work began in April, needs to be seen. While it is never too late to spruce up statistical systems, the timing of this exercise is odd. Chief Statistician T.C.A. Anant expects the results of the first Survey, awaiting approval for more than a year, to be released by December 2018. The most comprehensive existing employment survey conducted quinquennially by the National Sample Survey Office has not been done since 2011-12. The UPA government had commissioned an out-of-turn survey then as the 2009-10 survey presented an overtly gloomy job market in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. In contrast, the NDA government will go to the next Lok Sabha polls having released just one comprehensive labour force survey, close to the end of its term. Importantly, given the new coordinates, the Survey may not be strictly comparable with past data.

1) Comfort

Meaning: Something that makes your life easy and pleasant.

Example: After the trip, it was nice getting back to a few home comforts.

Synonyms: Ease

Antonyms: Discomfort

2) Spat

Meaning: A short argument, usually about something that is not important.

Example: People expected him and his wife to spat continually.

Synonyms: Quarrel, Disagree

3) Resolved

Meaning: Decide firmly on a course of action.

Example: She resolved to ring Dana as soon as she got home.

Synonyms: Determine, Decide

4) Optimism

Meaning: Hopefulness and confidence about the future or the success of something.

Example: The talks had been amicable and there were grounds for optimism.

Synonyms: Hope, Confidence

Antonyms: Pessimism

5) Outlook

Meaning: A view; The likely future situation.

Example: The deteriorating economic outlook.

Synonyms: Prospects, Expectancy

6) Regime

Meaning: A system or ordered way of doing things.

Example: Detention centres with a very tough physical regime.

Synonyms: System, Arrangement

7) Expertise

Meaning: A high level of knowledge or skill.

Example: She has considerable expertise in French history.

Synonyms: Skill, Expertness

Antonyms: Incompetence

8) Exploit

Meaning: To use something in a way that helps you; Make full use of and derive benefit from (a resource).

Example: 500 companies sprang up to exploit this new technology

Synonyms: Utilize, Make use of

9) Offshore

Meaning: Move (some of a company’s processes or services) overseas.

Example: He predicts that 750,000 UK jobs will be off shored in the next 10 years

10) Upstream

Meaning: At a stage in the process of gas or oil extraction and production before the raw material is ready for refining.

Example: The Company’s upstream business includes oil exploration and production.

11) Downstream

Meaning: At a stage in the process of gas or oil extraction and production after the raw material is ready for refining.

Example: We may make gains with respect to oil and gas and downstream energy products

12) Dossiers

Meaning: A collection of documents about a particular person, event, or subject.

Example: We have a dossier on him.

Synonyms: File, Report

13) Assertion

Meaning: A statement that you strongly believe is true.

Example: I certainly don’t agree with his assertion that men are better drivers than women.

Synonyms: Contention, Declaration

14) Amid

Meaning: Surrounded by; in the middle of.

Example: Our dream home, set amid magnificent rolling countryside.

Synonyms: Among

15) Concern

Meaning: To be important to someone or to involve someone directly; A cause of anxiety or worry.

Example: Matters of pollution and the environment concern us all.

Synonyms: Involve, Affair

16) Gloomy

Meaning: Dark or poorly lit, especially so as to appear depressing or frightening.

Example: gloomy forecasts about the economy.

Synonyms: Not hopeful, Despondent, Downcast

Antonyms: Optimistic

17) Reliability

Meaning: The quality of being trustworthy or of performing consistently well.

Example: The car’s background gives me every confidence in its reliability.

18) Spruce

Meaning: Make someone or something smarter or tidier.

Example: The fund will be used to spruce up historic buildings.

Synonyms: Smarten up

19) Quinquennially

Meaning: Recurring every five years.

Example: They conducted quinquennial reviews.

20) Out-of-turn

Meaning: To say something that you should not have said.

Example: I’m sorry if I spoke out of turn, but I thought you already knew.

21) Aftermath

Meaning: The period that follows an unpleasant event or accident, and the effects that it causes.

Example: Many more people died in the aftermath of the explosion.

Synonyms: Outcomes and consequences