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THE HINDU EDITORIAL – November 14, 2018, is one of the must-read section for the competitive exams like  IBPS Clerk 2018, Indian Bank PO & LIC HFL 2018. These topics are widely expected to be asked in the reading comprehension, Cloze Test or Error Detection in the forthcoming exams. So gear up your Exam preparation and learn new words daily.

A) Changing trends?: on the global petroleum market

A meeting of OPEC and its allies in December will decide the future course of oil prices

The fickle nature of the global petroleum market has been on display over the last few days as prices reacted to statements and counter-statements by producers and consumers. Over the weekend, Saudi Arabia signalled its discomfort with the falling prices and hinted at a fresh cut of one million barrels a day. The benchmark Brent crude, which slipped below the $70 a barrel mark last Friday, reacted sharply on Monday, rising to above $72. That prompted a tweet from U.S. President Donald Trump asking for lower prices, and so, on Tuesday prices again fell to below $69! The price of Brent crude, which had risen over the $85 mark in early October, is down by about 20% from its October peak. Interestingly, Saudi Arabia’s latest call to cut output comes just months after the OPEC cartel decided to increase its output. In their June meeting, OPEC members decided to ramp up supply after apprehensions over Iranian supplies in the wake of economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. Since then, the U.S. has granted a temporary waiver to eight countries, including major buyers India and China, to continue importing oil from Iran for at least the next six months. The way prices have responded to OPEC’s output decision, however, suggests that it may still be too early to dream about higher prices in the near future. A crucial meeting between the cartel and its allies in the first week of December will decide the 2019 output level. That might well set the trend for oil prices in the new year.

Even after OPEC’s sudden change in its supply outlook, oil surprisingly continued its longest losing streak on record, perhaps owing to expectations that the production cut would not raise prices significantly. In fact, technically speaking the oil market is yet to break its short-term downtrend that began after the fall from its peak in October. Oil prices were down on Tuesday as well. This price action suggests that markets could probably still be worried about the risks of any kind of sustained rise in oil prices. For one, strong U.S. opposition to higher oil prices could be making investors feel jittery. Mr. Trump’s tweet on Monday, for instance, negated the bullish influence of OPEC’s announcement almost immediately. The increasing output of shale is another significant threat to oil prices.The U.S. Energy Information Administration last week predicted that American crude output would increase at a higher pace than expected and lead to lower prices next year. This is not at all surprising because U.S. shale producers have traditionally increased their output in response to higher oil prices. Also, producers like Russia have been non-committal on any significant production cut. Any slowdown in global economic growth is another risk factor that may weigh down oil.

B) See Sri Lanka’s national crisis for what it is

The Sirisena-Rajapaksa alliance has to be challenged on principles of democracy and pluralism

Over the past fortnight, Sri Lanka has witnessed an escalating political crisis, with a standoff between President Maithripala Sirisena and the Parliament. After the shocking and undemocratic appointment of Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister, the suspension of Parliament, and then its dissolution on November 9, Mr. Sirisena announced snap elections.

The court’s intervention

Significantly, the Supreme Court on Tuesday suspended the dissolution of Parliament until December 7. While the power struggle will continue, it is to the credit of the democratic regime change in January 2015, ironically led by Mr. Sirisena, that Sri Lanka’s governing institutions have resisted the authoritarian power inherent in the executive presidency.

Looking back, Sri Lanka’s liberal democratic turn in January 2015 was too good to be true, particularly when authoritarian populist regimes were steadily rising the world over. Mr. Rajapaksa, who further entrenched the executive presidency including by removing its two-term limit and later manoeuvred the impeachment of a Supreme Court Chief Justice, was dislodged by a broad array of political forces. That major democratic victory for Sri Lanka, in turn for the West, India and Japan, was met with relief over the removal of the China-leaning Rajapaksa and the normalisation of foreign relations.

In this context, Mr. Sirisena re-joining Mr. Rajapaksa has once again sparked the reductive analysis of power play over Sri Lanka involving China, India and the U.S. in the Indian Ocean. Such lazy analysis fails to consider the political consequences of prolonged and flawed neoliberal policies and political-economic changes. Moreover, feeding into the frenzy of the international media seeing developments through a hollow geopolitical lens, the Sirisena-Rajapksa camp claims that the sale of Sri Lanka’s assets to China and India and the Free Trade Agreement with Singapore over the last few years by the United National Party (UNP) led by ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe have undermined sovereignty and triggered an economic crisis.

Ideological gains

For some time the Rajapaksa loyalists have been stoking fears of international intervention — this xenophobia has been mobilised to consolidate power. In 2015, Mr. Sirisena claimed his major achievement was rebuilding global relations severed by Mr. Rajapaksa’s 10-year tenure. Today, Mr. Sirisena is loudly echoing strident nationalists, over protecting Sri Lanka from international agendas.

The UNP claims to have a monopoly on Western friendship and bringing in foreign investors. It paints a picture of international isolation and a Western aid strike if Mr. Rajapaksa returns, but does not reflect on how its own policies have led the country here.

This trend plays out differently within Tamil politics. Narrow Tamil nationalists in Jaffna and the Tamil diaspora see the emergence of an anti-West government as an opportunity to mobilise international opprobrium. They continue to dream of international intervention, ignoring local realities and political dynamics.

These fears of external intervention and trust in international support are more for ideological manoeuvring. In reality, it is national politics, power consolidation and negotiations with external actors which have determined Sri Lanka’s international relations.

Sri Lanka’s tensions with external powers — except for the Indian debacle in the 1980s — have rarely led to punitive measures and damaging sanctions. Nevertheless, confrontational rhetoric has helped nationalist governments mobilise popular support.

International pressures

The country’s decade-long contentious engagement, on war-time abuses, at the UN Human Rights Council is a case in point. While the U.S. mobilised resolutions to rein in Mr. Rajapaksa, who was tilting towards China and Iran, he politically gained from the condemnation in Geneva, projecting himself as a defender of war heroes from international bullies.

Sri Lanka’s deteriorating balance of payments and external debt problems are also pertinent. While there is much talk of the debt trap by China, in reality, only 10% of Sri Lanka’s foreign loans are from China.

Close to 40% of external debt is from the international markets, including sovereign bonds, of which an unprecedented $4.2 billion in debt payments are due next year. Here the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) vocal position in relation to its agreement with Sri Lanka from June 2016, and the rating agencies’ projections on Sri Lanka are crucial to roll over loans. Ultimately, the flows of such capital have little do with diplomatic relations, but depend on national stability and strength, including the political will to ensure budget cuts and debt repayment.

During his earlier stint in power, Mr. Rajapaksa called the bluff of international economic isolation after a most horrendous war. Despite Western opposition, with authoritarian stability, he had few problems mobilising loans from the global markets and international agencies such as the World Bank, and for that matter an IMF Stand-By Arrangement.

Neoliberal crisis

Sri Lanka’s economy is not immune from global forces. However, changes to the global economic order, rather than the instrumental moves of any one global power, are what trouble the island nation.

Declining global trade with increasing protectionism has foreclosed possibilities of export-led development. And that reality has completely escaped Sri Lanka’s neoliberal policymakers, whether from the UNP, or earlier under Mr. Rajapaksa.

Next, while the U.S. Federal Reserve for some years has been preparing to increase interest rates resulting in Western capital from emerging markets flowing back to the metropolis, measures to contain capital flight were not taken.

It is no coincidence that the political troubles escalated with the deteriorating economic situation a few months ago. It is only after the mounting balance of payments problems that restricting imports — taboo for Sri Lanka’s economic establishment — became a reality, and even ideas of restricting capital flows were considered. The economic crisis, once acknowledged by the government, brought to the fore long-simmering concerns over neglect of the rural economy, particularly in the context of a protracted drought. The political fallout of restricting fertiliser subsidies to farmers, policies of market pricing of fuel and the rising cost of living delegitimised the government.

Authoritarian populism

The backlash against neoliberalism coming to the fore with the global economic crisis of 2008, and the emergence of authoritarian populist regimes shaping global politics were bound to affect Sri Lanka. The dangerous rise of a strongman leader such as Mr. Rajapaksa has little to do with the manoeuvres of external powers. Rather, the political ground of Mr. Rajapaksa’s popular appeal is shaped by the systematic dispossession of people with cycles of neoliberal crises.

While many of Sri Lanka’s neoliberal policies, including trade liberalisation, privatising medical education, sale of sovereign bonds and the controversial port city-cum-international financial centre in Colombo, were products of the Rajapaksa government, today the Rajapaksa camp claims to guard Sri Lanka from a neoliberal attack on sovereignty. While Mr. Wickremesinghe was shameless in promoting free markets and finance capital, the economic vision of Mr. Rajapaksa is of a populist variety with the same substance.

It is credible economic alternatives with a democratic vision that will arrest the slide towards authoritarian populism. During this time of crisis, the prevalent discourse of international interests deflects such alternatives. The UNP and its allies should be challenged on their blunders with the economy and failure to find a constitutional-political solution, including the abolition of the executive presidency. The Sirisena-Rajapaksa alliance, which is likely to peddle again the war victory and international conspiracies with Sinhala Buddhist majoritarian mobilisations, has to be challenged on principles of democracy and pluralism. The debate in Sri Lanka limited to personalities, corruption and geopolitics needs to shift with the public putting forward powerful demands of democratisation and economic justice. Otherwise, the thin wall of defence provided by the Parliament and the courts could crumble, and the deepening political and economic crisis may pave the way for authoritarian consolidation.


1) fickle

Meaning : changing frequently, especially as regards one’s loyalties or affections.(adj)

Tamil Meaning : நிலையற்றது

Synonyms : capricious

Antonyms : constant

Example : “celebs trying to appeal to an increasingly fickle public”

2) prompted

Meaning : (of an event or fact) cause or bring about (an action or feeling).(v)

Tamil Meaning : தூண்டியது

Synonyms : arouse

Antonyms : calm

Example : “the violence prompted a wave of refugees to flee the country”

3) cartel

Meaning : an association of manufacturers or suppliers with the purpose of maintaining prices at a high level and restricting competition.(n)

Tamil Meaning : கடத்தும்

Synonyms : consortium

Example : “the Colombian drug cartels”

4) ramp

Meaning : increase the level or amount of (something) sharply.(v)

Tamil Meaning : வலிமையாக்கும்

Synonyms : access

Antonyms : hazard

Example : “the company has moved into new quarters in order to ramp up production”

5) imposed

Meaning : force (an unwelcome decision or ruling) on someone(v).

Tamil Meaning : திணிக்கப்பட்ட

Synonyms : levied

Antonyms : optional

Example : “the decision was theirs and was not imposed on them by others”

6) waiver

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

Tamil Meaning : விலக்கு

Synonyms : renunciation

Antonyms : accept

Example : “their acquiescence could amount to a waiver”

7) streak

Meaning : cover (a surface) with streaks(v).

Tamil Meaning : சாதனை

Synonyms : quality

Antonyms : barrel

Example : “tears streaking her face, Cynthia looked up”

8) sustained

Meaning : continuing for an extended period or without interruption(adj).

Tamil Meaning : நீடித்த

Synonyms : persistent

Antonyms : destroyed

Example : “several years of sustained economic growth”

9) negated

Meaning : make ineffective; nullify.(v)

Tamil Meaning : பயனற்றதாக

Synonyms : denied

Antonyms : good

Example : “alcohol negates the effects of the drug”

10) jittery

Meaning : nervous or unable to relax(adj).

Tamil Meaning : நிலைகுலைந்துள்ள

Synonyms : nervous

Antonyms : confident

Example : “caffeine makes me jittery”

11) bullish

Meaning : aggressively confident and self-assertive.(adj)

Tamil Meaning : நேர்மறை

Synonyms : optimistic

Antonyms : pessimistic

Example : “he has campaigned courageously despite difficulties that would have stopped many more bullish men”

12) prolonged

Meaning : continuing for a long time or longer than usual; lengthy.(adj)

Tamil Meaning : நீண்ட

Synonyms : extended

Antonyms : brief

Example : “the region suffered a prolonged drought”

13) pace

Meaning : a single step taken when walking or running.(n)

Tamil Meaning : வேகம்

Synonyms : step

Antonyms : stay

Example : “Kirov stepped back a pace”

14) escalate

Meaning : increase rapidly.(v)

Tamil Meaning : அதிகரிக்கும்

Synonyms : intensify

Antonyms : diminish

Example : “the price of tickets escalated”

15) snap

Meaning : break suddenly and completely, typically with a sharp cracking sound.(v)

Tamil Meaning : நொடியில்

Synonyms : crack

Antonyms : combine

Example : “guitar strings kept snapping”

16) dissolution

Meaning : the action of formally ending or dismissing an assembly, partnership, or official body.(n)

Tamil Meaning : கலைப்பு

Synonyms : end

Antonyms : collaborate

Example : “the dissolution of their marriage”

17) inherent

Meaning : existing in something as a permanent, essential, or characteristic attribute.(Adj)

Tamil Meaning : உள்ளார்ந்த

Synonyms : innate

Antonyms : acquired

Example :”any form of mountaineering has its inherent dangers”

18) regimes

Meaning : a government, especially an authoritarian one.(n)

Tamil Meaning : ஆட்சிகள்

Synonyms : reigns

Example : “ideological opponents of the regime”

19) entrenched

Meaning : (of an attitude, habit, or belief) firmly established and difficult or unlikely to change; ingrained.(adj)

Tamil Meaning : சூழப்பட்டுள்ள

Synonyms : ingrained

Antonyms : vulnerable

Example : “an entrenched resistance to change”

20) manoeuvred

Meaning : move skilfully or carefully.(v)

Tamil Meaning : மாற்றம்

Synonyms : intrigued

Example : “the lorry was unable to manoeuvre comfortably in the narrow street”

21) impeachment

Meaning : the action of calling into question the integrity or validity of something.(n)

Tamil Meaning : கண்டனத்தீர்மானத்திற்கு

Synonyms : indictment

Antonyms : rise

Example : “the prosecutor’s detailed impeachment of the character witness”

22) dislodged

Meaning : knock or force out of position.(v)

Tamil Meaning : விலகிவிடும்

Synonyms : displaced

Antonyms : deposited

Example : “the hoofs of their horses dislodged loose stones”

23) frenzy

Meaning : a state or period of uncontrolled excitement or wild behaviour.

Tamil Meaning : வேகமும்

Synonyms : rage

Antonyms : calmness

Example : “Doreen worked herself into a frenzy of rage”

24) xenophobia

Meaning : dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries(n).

Synonyms : discrimination

Antonyms : tolerance

Example : “racism and xenophobia are steadily growing in Europe”

25) strident

Meaning : (of a sound) loud and harsh; grating.(Adj)

Tamil Meaning : கடுமையானதாகவே

Synonyms : harsh

Antonyms : soft

Example : “his voice had become increasingly strident”

26) punitive

Meaning : inflicting or intended as punishment.(adj)

Tamil Meaning : தண்டனை

Synonyms : harsh

Antonyms : rewarding

Example : “he called for punitive measures against the Eastern bloc”

27) debacle

Meaning : a sudden and ignominious failure; a fiasco.(n)

Tamil Meaning : படுவீழ்ச்சி

Synonyms : fiasco

Antonyms : success

Example : “the only man to reach double figures in the second-innings debacle”

28) confront

Meaning : come face to face with (someone) with hostile or argumentative intent.(v)

Tamil Meaning : எதிர்கொள்ள

Synonyms : face

Antonyms : avoid

Example : “300 policemen confronted an equal number of union supporters”

29) rein

Meaning : check or guide (a horse) by pulling on its reins.(v)

Synonyms : control

Antonyms : free

Example : “he reined in his horse and waited”

30) pertinent

Meaning : relevant or applicable to a particular matter; apposite.(adj)

Tamil Meaning : ஏற்புடைய

Synonyms : relevant

Antonyms : extraneous

Example : “she asked me a lot of very pertinent questions”

31) horrendous

Meaning : extremely unpleasant, horrifying, or terrible.

Tamil Meaning : பயங்கரமான

Synonyms : horrible

Antonyms : appealing

Example : “she suffered horrendous injuries”

32) deteriorating

Meaning : become progressively worse.(v)

Tamil Meaning : மோசமடைந்து

Synonyms : degenerating

Antonyms : improving

Example : “relations between the countries had deteriorated sharply”

33) protracted

Meaning : lasting for a long time or longer than expected or usual(adj).

Tamil Meaning : நெடிய

Synonyms : extended

Antonyms : abrupt

Example : “a protracted and bitter dispute”

34) blunders

Meaning : a stupid or careless mistake.(n)

Tamil Meaning : பெருந்தவறு

Synonyms : mistakes

Antonyms : corrects

Example : “she stopped, finally aware of the terrible blunder she had made”

35) prevalent

Meaning : widespread in a particular area or at a particular time(adj).

Tamil Meaning : அதிகமாக

Synonyms : prevailing

Antonyms : rare

Example : “the social ills prevalent in society today”

36) peddle

Meaning : try to sell (something, especially small goods) by going from place to place.(v)

Synonyms : huckster

Antonyms : purchase

Example : “he peddled printing materials around the country”

37) pave

Meaning : cover (a piece of ground) with flat stones or bricks; lay paving over.

Tamil Meaning : வகுக்கும்

Synonyms : cover

Antonyms : strip

Example : “the yard at the front was paved with flagstones”

38) crumble

Meaning : break or fall apart into small fragments, especially as part of a process of deterioration.(V)

Tamil Meaning : கரைக்கும்

Synonyms : decay

Antonyms : improve

Example : “the plaster started to crumble”

39) credible

Meaning : able to be believed; convincing.(adj)

Tamil Meaning : நம்பகமான

Synonyms : believable

Antonyms : improbable

Example : “few people found his story credible”

40) controversial

Meaning : giving rise or likely to give rise to controversy or public disagreement.(Adj)

Tamil Meaning : சர்ச்சைக்குரிய

Synonyms : disputable

Antonyms : agreeable

Example : “years of wrangling over a controversial bypass”


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