English Vocab

The new oil game
Imperial Britain, over whose empire the sun never set, gerrymandered (to divide (an area) into political units to give special advantages to one group) the politics of tribal Middle East in the early part of the 20th century to secure its requirements of oil. America, the dominant power in the second half of the century, sidestepped its liberal principles and cosied up (to move close to someone for warmth or love) to monarchs and unabashed (not embarrassed, disconcerted, or ashamed.) despots, also to ensure it never ran out of oil. History is an imperfect guide but often it is
the only one we have. So the question should now be asked. What will China, the “mighty power” of the 21st century, do to mitigate its dependence on oil supplies from the Middle East? And what might be the consequences for India of such actions?
In 1911, the First Lord of the Admiralty (the cabinet member responsible for the navy), Winston Churchill, persuaded his cabinet colleagues to support the recommendation to substitute oil for coal as the fuel for the British Navy. The cabinet was, at first, reluctant because Britain had an abundance of coal and no domestic oil. The switch would expose the navy to the vagaries (an unexpected and inexplicable change in a situation) of international oil supplies. Churchill allayed these concerns with a combination of economic and geopolitical logic. He argued the switch would increase ship speed; it would allow for refuelling at sea and as coal was bulkier than oil, it would release storage space that could then be configured to increase the ships’ firepower. He added, Britain would secure oil supplies from the Middle East through a combination of hard power and political guile (sly or cunning intelligence.). This, he managed through the vehicle of an Anglo-Persian company which in 1935 was renamed Anglo-Iranian Oil company and in 1954 British Petroleum Company. Churchill’s decision marked the beginning of the “oil era” and the start of the Great Game of oil politics that over the years has convulsed (throw (a country) into violent social or political upheaval.) the region.
Post World War II, America emerged as the dominant global political, economic and military power. Security of oil supplies were a crucial ingredient of this development. To safeguard this security and in contradistinction to its avowed (that has been asserted, admitted, or stated publicly.) commitment to democracy and freedom, America offered the region’s autocrats an “implicit” guarantee of protection. And at times, towards fulfillment of this guarantee, they intervened “explicitly”. Former US President George W. Bush may one day tell us why, despite lack of any substantive evidence to confirm that Iraq was developing “weapons of mass destruction” he approved the bombing of the country but until then, the predominant view will be, it was to secure control over Iraq’s oil resources. Today, the Middle East is driven by sectarian tension, civil conflict and fundamentalism, in no small part due to the fiasco(failure) of this “explicit” intervention.
So, how will China the emergent power of the 21st century protect its energy interests? How will it use its political and economic muscle to secure its oil supplies? These questions have heightened relevance in light of the signals conveyed at the recently concluded 19th People’s Party Congress of the Communist Party. The Chinese leadership declared at the Congress that China will no longer hide its “light under a bushel” and “bide its time” — this was with reference to former president Deng Xiaoping’s advice that the country not display its strength prematurely — that the country was at a “historic juncture” a “mighty force” and ready to occupy “centre stage” in the world.
The chink (a weak spot that may leave one vulnerable) in the global aspirations of China, just as it was a chink in imperial Britain and superpower America’s ambitions, is dependency on oil imports. China consumes approximately 13 million barrels of oil a day (mbd). Of that, 60 per cent is imported of which 50 per cent (approximately 4 mbd) is sourced from the Middle East — mainly Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia — through the Straits of Hormuz, the Straits of Malacca and the conflictual South China seas. The Chinese leadership are fully aware of this chink and have for years sought to mitigate the risk by investing in non-oil sources of energy. They have, for instance, committed $340 billion over the next four years to solar and wind. This is more than any other country in the world. They are operating 34 nuclear reactors and another 20 are under construction. And they have invested in long-term gas supply deals with Russia, Central Asia and Australia. Notwithstanding all this, they have not managed to close the import gap. The reason is the surging demand for diesel/gasoline-fueled vehicles. Twenty-one million of them hit the road in 2016 alone. China is the largest importer of crude oil in the world today and will remain so for the foreseeable future.
China has, for years, adopted a low profile in the Middle East. It has proffered economic support but it has not been an active participant in traditional great power politics. Recently, however, it upped the ante with a slew of ideologically agnostic (having a doubtful or non-committal attitude towards something.) initiatives. It cast its lot with Iran in support of President Bashar-al-Assad of Syria and carried out a small-scale naval exercise with the Iranian Navy in the Straits of Hormuz. Separately, it welcomed Iran’s arch (chief; principal.) enemy, King Salman of Saudi Arabia, to Beijing in March 2016 and signed an agreement in April 2017 to manufacture Chinese drones in the kingdom. There has also been speculation that China is interested in picking up a stake in the Saudi national oil company, Aramco, at a valuation that will obviate the need for it to face the regulatory and disclosure hassles of a public listing on the London or New York Stock Exchange. Why this heightened interest? Perhaps to fill the space left behind by America. More likely, to secure its oil supplies.
India has major strategic interests in the Middle East. Aside from its dependence on the region for oil, it has eight million citizens who remit approximately $70 billion annually. A convulsion (a violent social or political upheaval.) in the region would give India a massive logistic and financial headache. This could, however, sharpen into a severe migraine if China were in pole strategic position at that time. China plays a long game. We must track its moves
assiduously (with great care and perseverance.).



1. Guile (noun): (Sly or cunning intelligence.) (धूर्तता/छल)
Synonyms: Cunning, Craftiness, Artifice, Wiliness, Slyness, Deviousness, Canniness.
Antonyms: Forthrightness, Truthfulness, Trustworthiness.
Example: A priest is an honest man who does not use guile to deceive others.
Related words:
Guileless (adjective) - निष्कपट
Guilelessly (adverb) - निष्कपटतापूर्वक

2. Agnostic (adjective): (Having a doubtful or non-committal attitude towards something.) संशयवादी
Synonyms: Skeptic, Doubter, Questioner, Doubting Thomas, Unbeliever
Antonyms: Believer, Adherent of, Disciple of.
Example: As a priest, my Uncle William has never had an agnostic experience that caused him to question his faith.
Related words:
Agnosticism (noun) - अज्ञेयवाद  
Origin:  from Greek a(not) + gnōstos ‘known’ 
3. Arch (prefix): (Chief; principal.)  (प्रधान/मुख्य )
Synonyms: Foremost, Leading, Main, Pre-Eminent, Cardinal, Major, Prime, Premier.
Antonyms: Auxiliary, Insignificant, Secondary, Subordinate.
Example: In cricket India and Pakistan arch rivals. 
Origin: From Greek arkhos ‘chief’.
4. Convulsion (noun): (A violent social or political upheaval) (खलबली /कंप)
Synonyms: Upheaval, Eruption, Turmoil, Turbulence, Unrest, Disorder
Antonyms: Harmony, Peace, order .
Example: After resignation from President, The country was convulsed by political war.
Verb forms: Convulse, Convulsed, Convulsed
Related words:
Convulse (verb) - Throw (a country) into violent social or political upheaval.
5. Cosy up (phrasal verb): (To move close to someone for warmth or love or comfort)  (आरामदायक या आश्वासन की स्थिति में पहुंचना )
Synonyms: Snuggle Up, Move To Comfort, Position Comfortably.
Example: When the captain scored a double century, the team cosied up towards a good score.
Verb forms: Cosy up, Cosied up, Cosied up.
6. Unabashed (adjective): (Fig. firm on stand (taken or decided) / Literal - Not embarrassed, disconcerted, or ashamed) (अविचलित/अटल)
Synonyms: Audacious, Firm, Unyielding, Unfaltering, Unswerving
Antonyms: Infirm, Movable, Faltering
Example: The management was unabashed on its decision of not hiking the salary.   
Verb forms: Abash, Abashed, Abashed
Related words:
Abash (verb) - Make (someone) feel embarrassed, disconcerted, or ashamed.
7. Gerrymander (verb): (To divide (an area) into political units to give special advantages to one group/ achieve (a result) by gerrymandering.अनुचित लाभ की नियत से क्षेत्रों का निर्धारण करना
Synonyms: Fiddle, Falsify, Tamper With, Juggle.
Antonyms: Be Fair, Be Honest.
Example: The political party hoped to gerrymander by changing the geographical borders of the voting areas.
Verb forms: Gerrymander, Gerrymandered, Gerrymandered.
8. Assiduously (adverb): (With great care and perseverance.).  (लगन से/परिश्रम से)
Synonyms: Diligently, Carefully, Laboriously, Arduously, Indefatigably
Antonyms: Idly, Inactively, sluggishly.
Example: With your assiduous attempt at learning Spanish, I think you will master the language in no time.
Related words:
Assiduous (adjective) – परिश्रमी
Origin: : from Latin assidere ‘be engaged in doing’.
9. Chink (noun): (A weak spot that may leave one vulnerable)  अरक्षितता/कमजोरी
Synonyms: Vulnerability, Weak Point, Achilles Heel, Soft Spot.
Antonyms: Strength, Tenacity, Firmness.
Example: Retirement of Dhoni from cricket may create a chink as there is no viable option available for the team.
10. Fiasco (noun):  (A complete failure, especially a ludicrous or humiliating one.) (असफलता)
Synonyms: Failure, Catastrophe, Debacle, Shambles, Ruination
Antonyms: Accomplishment, Achievement, Success, Triumph, Win
Example: When the team did not perform well and lost the match by an innings and 280 runs, it was a fiasco.
Origin:  from Italian, literally ‘bottle, flask’, literally ‘make a bottle’, figuratively ‘fail in a performance’:

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