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Crack of Dawn

by:Siddaarth

National Anti-Terrorism Day is remembered on the 21st of May and gives us all a chance to stand together as one united front against the evil force of terrorism and tells us to salute every single life. It is also a day where we remember all those soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the protection of the Nation. 

The message of humanity and harmony must be spread widely and the Indian Government took this initiative to spread these messages across the people to emphasize the importance of combating terrorist activities. The objective of the  National Anti-Terrorism Day is to help spread the feeling of harmony, peace and unity amongst the people.

The National Anti-Terrorism Day is remembered on the 21st of May to commemorate the assassination of India’s former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi that occurred on the 21st of May 1991 at an election rally in Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu. During the campaign, a lady who was a suicide bomber and was a part of the terrorist organization Liberation of Tamil Tigers Eelam (LTTE), had approached him. The lady had explosives under her clothes and approached Rajiv Gandhi with a garland and then touched his feet. She denoted the bomb as soon as she approached him and touched his feet. Around 25 people were killed along with the youngest Prime Minister in Indian history was assassinated on this day. Ever since then, the National Anti-Terrorism Day is commemorated every year to ensure that no innocent soul would be killed from any sort of terrorist activities. 

Even after the tragic assassination of Mr Rajiv Gandhi, many terrorists have tried to attack India, its various sights and its people. But we as Indians have always shown a sense of pride, belonging and a feeling of bouncing back from any sort of difficult situation. After the 1991 assassination, India faced many such acts of terrorism on its soil like the 1993 blasts in Bombay in which 13 locations across Bombay were bombed and around 260 people were killed. The terrorist groups known as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed attacked the Indian Parliament building on the 13th of November 2001 in which many police officers and parliament workers were killed. Three other terrorist attacks have occurred after these, namely the blasts on the Mumbai suburban railways, the 26/11 attacks and the Pulwama attack. 

Even after this, India has truly bounced back from these heavy scars on our nation. Though India follows the policy of forgiving but not forgetting, though in the case of terrorism India would never forgive the perpetrators and would never forget about the wounds. To conclude, I would want to quote the Indian Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi who stated the following: 

So many nations have suffered due to terrorism. Terrorism is not a challenge to a nation, it’s a challenge to humanity.

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The Black bird of social media

by:Anshuman

Now this is going to be a long one, bear with me. Twitter, one of the most popular social media sites out there, having an enormous user base, has its fair share of problems. It’s often regarded these days as a “toxic” place and such a label isn’t unwarranted in the slightest, in my opinion of course. 

Let’s go right to the root of the problem, it’s character limit. With 280 being the maximum character limit, there isn’t much scope for an actual substantial discussion in the first place. Twitter is at its best when the user base makes use of the character limit to come up with creative jokes, sharing stories or thoughts that may cross their mind, with people responding to it in a fun healthy discourse. The main problem arises when people use the site to address significant and debatable issues because usually the character limit isn’t enough to give it justice or credence, especially when in a discourse with someone else. The ideals behind the original point become muddied when you don’t have enough space to actually explain the nuances of your statements and put it forward in a more precise and detailed manner. Such an issue becomes abhorrent when combined with the major issue that is performative activism and virtue signalling, which Twitter loves to participate in. 

Sharing posts about issues going around in the world isn’t wrong in the slightest, it helps bring attention to them and could actually cause pressure for the concerned authorities to take action and rectify the issues to the best of their capabilities. The problem is when it’s used as a tool to promote themselves. In many instances you see internet celebrities dodging criticism by putting out a tweet speaking vaguely about how they respect and support oppressed communities and see them as equals, literally the bare minimum, to earn praise and virtue points. They don’t care about hopefully bringing attention to the issue at hand. They do it to save face, earn praise for doing the bare minimum, increase their following and earn more clout and internet points. It becomes a selfish desire rather than a selfless act. These people use the plight of oppressed communites such as other races, people of different sexualities, transgender and non binary people, people with disabilities etc. for their own gain and clout by treating them with the barest minimum of respect. These less privileged people’s lives aren’t made for one’s own inspiration story!  They are normal people as well! One isn’t a superhero for treating them as such and shouldn’t be rewarded with undying love and loyalty for doing the bare minimum. You might be wondering that even though one may have scummy ideals, atleast they are doing a good act and inadvertently helping, so why do I care so much. The reason I do ties into the next problem I have which is the “Stan” culture. 

Being a fan of something/someone is completely normal and human. When I talk about Stan culture, I talk about the obsessive fan culture that not only significantly harms the mental health of the person who they are obsessing over, but even themselves. To get too obsessed towards a certain thing is never healthy, especially when the Stan culture is over a person. This leads to the dangerous phenomena of parasocial relationships as well where the fan convinces themself they actually have a relationship with this person who they know nothing about, all they know is the online persona a person has created. This can severely impact the mental health of both parties involved. The major problem with this is that most of the time it’s minors who get involved in such stuff. This leads to predators with a significant fan following having a platform to be able to groom their minor fans thanks to parasocial relationships, preying on them and taking advantage of them in disgusting ways. Stan culture is an obsessive thing that is very prevalent on Twitter, trending everyday in some sort of hashtag. Such fan culture shouldn’t be promoted. By allowing stans of a person to exist, who elevate a person to such a superior status for doing the bare minimum, we strip away the concept of accountability from them. 

On the other end of the spectrum however, is the issue of “cancel” culture. The funniest thing to me about this is that people in fiction love redemption stories, stories where people realize their mistakes and improve on them slowly and gradually to become a better version of themselves. However when it comes to real life, Twitter for some reason forgoes the concept of redemption. Any mistake a person has ever made is held against them throughout their lives, even when they have shown regret for that mistake, apologized for it and have improved themselves and changed their behaviour. It’s good to hold people accountable for bad stuff they might do, but it’s obnoxious to never give them an opportunity to change, to approach them with hate instead of trying to educate them. No one is perfect, all of us have made mistakes we regret in our lifespan. Not everyone should be “cancelled” and have everything taken away from them for a mistake they made in the past, especially when they have shown progress and change. Forgiveness is a trait that’s completely forgotten when it comes to Twitter. 

Another major issue is that dissenting opinions are seen distastefully. It’s like people there want a collective hivemind of thoughts and emotions and any differing opinion must be silenced and banished. People there have a problem of treating their opinions as facts and facts as opinions. Differing views and ideals should be encouraged to force an open dialogue and discussions. People with differing opinions are just blocked. For the record, blocking someone isn’t a sign of weakness or something you should avoid if they are actually troubling you and spamming you. But when you start blocking people with a differing opinion than you, even on harmless topics, you’re just creating an echo chamber for yourself which is detrimental to discussions and debates as a whole. To combat bigotry, there needs to be a dialogue. To reconcile and unite, there needs to be an acceptance of differing thoughts and ideals and finding a common ground should be encouraged. Battling hate with hate is a recipe for disaster. Being mean and rude for no reason shouldn’t be celebrated as a positive trait. Some people would prefer to be praised as a villain rather than be obscure. This is just harmful and detrimental on every front.

To conclude, I do not in any way mean to generalise every user there as having these problems. But there is a big audience which causes these issues. A large part of Twitter has these problems which makes the atmosphere overall “toxic”. This piece is for addressing those parts of Twitter.

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World Press Freedom Day

by:Vrushali

It is World Press Freedom Day and what better country to talk about it than India? Instead of how we usually talk about what Indian journalism is (and the degrading quality), let’s talk about what Indian journalism is allowed to be. India has managed to remain at the 142nd position out of 180 countries in terms of the Press Index by being one of the highest scorers in terms of press abuse. It reflects the degree of freedom that Indian journalists, print media and news channels, and netizens on social media have. This rhetoric compels me to imagine the rank of India if the index accounted for human rights violations and the quality of our journalism. I’d rather refrain from thinking anymore. 

Not that it concerns anyone anymore but let’s talk about the Indian Press and freedom of speech and expression. 

With the insurmountable Covid-19 crisis in India, the Indian government has been widely criticized for its desperate attempts in trying to filter India’s global image. It is more concerned about what the world hears about the Covid-19 outbreak anywhere across the 7 continents than actually looking out for its citizens. Well, people shall come and go, the government remains stable!?

Last week, the Modi government sent notices to take down around 100 “misleading” posts and block the accounts of people who were discussing the second outbreak of the pandemic and the mismanagement from Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. On April 23, at the behest of the Indian government, Twitter acted on the protocol and blocked over 50 tweets from celebrities, MPs, MLAs of opposition parties, journalists, and others criticizing the mishandling of the pandemic by the government. The tweets that were taken down simply mentioned the upsurge in cases and deaths, the shortage of medicines and medical equipment, accompanied by photos of Modi’s election rallies even as the Covid wave became uncontrollable. The posts also mentioned undercounting of cases, images of mass funeral pyres, patients struggling outside hospitals, and basically criticized Mr. Prime Minister. And one cannot deny that all these claims are accurate (speaking from personal experience).

Facebook restored the  #ResignModi hashtag after blocking it for several hours and stated that it was a “slip-up and “not because the Indian government asked to block it.” The error was apparently caused by an algorithm or a human. It is only fair for people to not buy the story. 

While the possibility of such slip-ups cannot be entirely ruled out, the Modi government has a history of shutting down critics. In my opinion, this is truly worrisome. 

The government’s explanation for removing these posts is that it is controlling the spread of misinformation to curb panic while in the eyes of people it seems to be suppression and intimidation.

In the face of failures and criticism, a leader can deal with them in two ways- either by taking down the failure or taking down the criticism. Modi government is adept at doing the latter. Instructing Twitter to remove tweets that are against the government is easier than ensuring oxygen supply throughout the country, right?

Even in the past, the government was seen tightening its grips on social media by clamping down on criticism about the farmers’ protest, the Citizen Amendment Act, the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir, and more. Not to forget, the internet was down in Kashmir for several months to contain information which also made ground reporting extremely difficult. It has also threatened social media platforms by stating the IT laws and policies, leaving no options for them.

Although Twitter has given certain clarification, a glance at Twitter’s relationship with the Modi government proves the two are constantly in a tug of war.

In February, Twitter’s officials faced the threat of jail time for not taking down specific tweets and handles related to the farmer’s protest. Several prominent leaders endorsed Koo app—India’s Parler— in protest. Perhaps fearing loss of business, Twitter later restricted the visibility of some hashtags and penalized 500 accounts. Similarly, In 2019, Twitter faced similar threats for objectionable content but the definition of this “objectionable” content….who knows?

Facebook has earlier been accused of pandering to the Modi government, followed by the stepping down of the public policy head Ankhi Das and the allegations of being biased for BJP. Forget Press freedom, do we even have the freedom of speech?

The goal here, I suppose, is to take control of the public narrative, and consequentially, the quality of Indian journalism is dying because it is scared of being advertised as anti-national. 

Indian Press has failed/ is scared to report other observations too.

For instance, in the US, the Biden government set targets, met the targets, and still stated that it is not enough. In India, the message has always been that we have constrained the virus, be it the second wave or be it the shortage of medical equipment, medical and paramedical staff, drugs, hospital beds, oxygen cylinders, or vaccines. Earlier this year, the Indian government spread the message that it had beaten the virus. New cases dropped to 11,000 by mid-February, vaccines were being exported and in March the health minister said India was “in the endgame” of the pandemic. How are you contradicting yourself so audaciously, dear sir?

Opinion-based tweets are being withheld. As a matter of fact, BJP Government’s grip on the mainstream media has always been this tight. Social media was acting like a boon in these times of crisis where individuals and volunteers were putting up their needs and available items for those in need, to access info and express their opinions and concerns which is dead in the mainstream mass media. When it couldn’t get any worse, UP CM Yogi Adityanath went on to say that hospitals are spreading fake info about the unavailability of hospital beds and cylinders and action must be taken against them. In an interview, Home Minister Amit Shah said that we have produced enough medical equipment, completely ignoring the shortages.  It is important to know that Mr. Shah dodged the question of Kumbh Mela and election rallies running in a full-fledged manner despite skyrocketing cases.

What happens when the journalists questioning the central government leaders remind them that they are not only contesting for power in the states but also represent the centre? They are dumbed down or tagged anti-national.

Let me take a moment to put forward my rant about the government here.  Let me exercise my right to speech in the face of dying media and journalism. The central government has had a series of distractions that a normal or rather a sensible government would not have had while they were facing multiple warnings of such a major calamity possibility in the country. From January last year, they were warned about the pandemic coming in, and even by the end of January and mid-February, they were too concerned about Delhi elections and riots. Where Mr. Prime Minister was busy in Namaste Trump rallies welcoming Trump and toppling the Madhya Pradesh government, the government also delayed the lockdowns without preparing for the consequences or impacts on the migrant labourers. Despite this, they had enough time after the first wave but the farmers’ bill proved to be a better distraction instead of preparing for the much expected second wave and improving the healthcare. Holding onto power has always been more important than their primary duty of protecting citizens’ lives. The first mutant was first discovered in October 2020. Britain set up genome sequencing labs in April 2020 while India set up these labs in January 2021 and the funding came in March 2021. This is not a scientifically rational response and we are paying a really cruel price for this. The response seems like an Ostrich’s head in the sand with no respect for science. A majority of statistical models predict that the peak would arrive during mid-May but we cannot even trust the data that is being allegedly underreported by at least 15 times in terms of cases and deaths. Is this the failure of democratic institutions or the populism or knee-jerk reactions?

The Election commission is equally to be blamed for this outbreak. EC is supposed to be neutral but was seen siding with BJP this time. All the parties except BJP pleaded to scrunch the elections in 1 day instead of 7 days and multiple phases and to stop campaigning but it refused to do so.  Even Madras High Court last week remarked that the EC should be “booked for murder” for continuing with the political rallies during the Covid emergency. 

I can still go on if allowed to. But the crux of the matter is that the media has every right to report the facts in the public interest. We need criticism in good faith, opinions, true data, contents of court hearings and to stop dramatizing and politicizing social issues.

It is the fourth pillar of democracy. A morally obligated free-flowing dialogue is what India needs. The media is responsible for formulating and expressing a collective opinion of the public and so restricting it simply means not caring about the public at all.

This world press freedom day, we don’t need anything more than FREEDOM.

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A dream on line

by:Rithika

I will let you know in the starting itself that this piece isn’t going to be a professional writing about the World Press Day, neither is it well researched. It’s just going to be about what I think the press is and how it affected me. 

Not being much of a newspaper enthusiast, I’ve never watched or read about politics. But the idea of journalism always piqued me. Even when I was little, sometimes glancing accidentally at the TV when news was on, I very much stared at the people who were in the scene, holding a camera or a microphone. But later on, I knew what drew me were their words. The actual journalists who were behind the picture. 

I used to make up scenarios of accidents or robberies and used to report those incidents to my family. My Dad seemed very impressed, just like any other father. But I did not know that he would take it for real and ask me to take up journalism in later years. I didn’t hash out the idea, nope. I started reading much about how the press works and what exactly journalism meant. 

It wasn’t that complicated, at least to me. But is the job difficult? Incredibly. I didn’t know that before. Being emotionally stable and summoning all your strength not to be shook because of the events you would be reporting, or clicking pictures of, is physically and mentally challenging and tiring. It isn’t as simple as we think it is. Mustering up words uses up a lot of brain juice. 

Is the press all about talking on TV? Not at all. From reaching the scene of coverage on time to be able to portray everything perfectly to the public, there is sweat and blood. But I was unsure. Still am. Because fame doesn’t fuel me, respect does. And the press members, taken from the directors to the people who cover the scene of crime nowadays are very rarely respected or in fact, are acutely safe. 

I’ve read so many times that any member from the whole of the press family who has taken up a serious issue and has written/covered/reported about it, their story hasn’t ended well. I hated the fact that they’re asked to mask the specifics most of the time. If the press is about showing the truth, then what’s happening? I hoped that what I’d read about the murders, killings, kidnappings, holding ransom, and whatnot of the journalists, reporters who’ve exposed the truth and nothing else to be my nightmares, but life was cruel. My interest in the press area descended into fear and I tried to stop giving a second, third or even the thousandth thought about it.

But one choice which I so strongly loved didn’t fade away that easily. I’ve always known that the press is very powerful. That it’s the thing which keeps us on par and in tune with the world. But when the society can’t support their freedom, I hadn’t wanted to be a part of that community where I have to worry about death with every article I’ve written, with every crime I’ve covered, with every report I’ve ead out to the public, and with any work I’d contributed to the world of press. My dream ultimately shattered. I didn’t fight with my parents that I’d still wanted to do some good through the camera. BBut what defense did I have to prove my point? 

I rested my case because the one question that ate at me is that: Is my passion worth my life? 

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International Day for Multilateralism and Peace

by:Janani

“It is not enough to proclaim the virtues of multilateralism and diplomacy; we must continue to show its added value. International cooperation must adapt to changing times.

Let us strive as one to realize the founders’ vision of a healthy, equitable, peaceful and more sustainable future for all.”- Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations

Throughout history, mankind has always been broiled in conflict. Numerous cultures and societies, constantly battling for a plethora of reasons. From the Romans to the Mongols, the Mughals, and the British Empire- has there ever been a moment of peace? Empires rise and fall, cities are sacked, societies are burned, people are enslaved, and there is bloodshed.

Reflecting on our history matters, because when we look into the past, we can see just how far we’ve come, and how much more we need to progress.

The times we are living in right now are globally one of the most peaceful- held up by the pillars of modern-day diplomacy and multilateralism.

Has there ever been a time where we’ve been more united, and on such an enormous scale?

April 24th is the International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy, established by the United Nations in 2018.  It is meant to acknowledge the use of diplomatic and peaceful means to resolve conflicts between countries- even if it doesn’t always work.

Gone are the days where we siege nations for spices or silk- but now we fight for oil, labor, and more. The world is most certainly not perfect right now, there are so many ongoing issues- The Syrian War and the Israeli- Palestine conflict to name a few.

So how could we have a day celebrating diplomacy and multilateralism when it seems so superficial? When there is so much more to resolve?

But the purpose of the “International Day of Multilateralism and Peace” isn’t simply patting ourselves on the back for a job well done and dusting our hands of any more work.

 We may have achieved a level of peace and diplomacy of historically unprecedented levels- but that doesn’t mean all our work is over. It’s not only about recognizing how far we’ve come- but realizing how much further we have to go.

So much blood was shed to reach this point in history- where the world can unite; where we can stand together; where we can accept each other, and where we can work together.

April 24th is about celebrating a day that is a marker of progress, and a symbol of hope for the future. 

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Current Political Scenario of India

This isn’t a political opinion but a commentary on the current scenario of India. So it should be treated as an account of my observation and not opinion. 

It is no revelation that agriculture is the largest contributor to the Indian economy. Since its inception, the Indian government used to guarantee MSP for certain crops, hence, providing financial security to the farmers. While the new laws claim to give them more freedom to buy and sell directly indicating the privatisation of the whole economy, they are contentious and might leave farmers worse off conversely. So, essentially, a major portion of the vote bank of India is on roads, protesting against these laws since November. Needless to say, protests are never absolutely peaceful amidst the irony of a “democratic” set-up. Negotiations haven’t led the situation anywhere but a deadlock. In fact, the mediation committee formed by the Supreme Court has also faced disappointment and rejection by the unions and parties. On top of that, around 18 parties have boycotted the President’s address to express solidarity with the protesting farmers.

Not long ago, on the occasion of Republic Day, protesters broke barriers, clashed with the police and entered into Delhi. Thousands of tractors driven by protesters thrashed their way into the parade. A group of protesters then marched towards the Red Fort and hoisted a religious flag a few hours after the ceremony. Some unions have been accused of conspiring this whole menace. Handful of leaders have taken responsibility while the others have either accused the other leaders of sabotaging the agitation or have distanced themselves. Tear gas, flashbangs, sticks and fatalities were seen on both sides of the protest. The count of injuries and lawsuits is astonishing. 

Now, the image of the Nishaan Sahib flag fluttering higher than the Tiranga was sacrilege to every Indian irrespective of their economic inclination or political affiliations. I can’t deny that the detour could have been planned and conspired in order to discredit the “peaceful” protest guaranteed by the leaders but the consequences were disastrous. Nonetheless, the protest received a massive blow and lost the citizenry’s support to a great extent. 

My question is- Was it required? And what did it prove? Except insulting the national holiday. 

Sighs

Drastically low in magnitude as compared to the Republic Day incident, still terrible, another controversy has surfaced recently. 

Among the ongoing media uproar, when some “celebrities” decided to step in and give their two cents on the issue, they took Twitter by a storm. The most prominent personality to bear the brunt of constant bashing was pop star icon Rihanna who tweeted about internet shutdowns in Delhi post the riots on 26th January. Well, Human rights violation is incomprehensible except in the Indian context, of course. 

Swedish child environmentalist Greta Thunberg followed the suit by tweeting about the protests and uploading a ‘toolkit’ about how people can join the protests. The document had several resources to mobilise people against farm laws. It also contained a detailed plan about hashtags like #askindiawhy, #farmersprotest, and #worldiswatching with specific dates where they trended and would trend. A lot of people are being seen ridiculing Delhi Police for filing a case against Greta Thunberg which is simply not true. The Police have clarified that they’ve registered a case against the makers of the document and not Greta. While she deleted the tweet later, she responded to the Twitter bashing by saying that she is “still” supporting the farmers and “no amount of threats” will change that. This, however, begs the question as to why Greta deleted the previous tweet at all. Both sides are so strong (weak rather) that one verdict just doesn’t seem plausible enough.

Even the former adult film star Mia Khalifa tweeted about the protests, questioning internet shutdowns. As this war continued to rage, The Ministry of External Affairs issued a statement saying, “the temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others, is neither accurate nor responsible”, which makes absolute sense. I wonder if these international celebrities know the ground reality or even the exact reason behind the protests. I am pretty sure that they have no idea about 11 rounds of talks that the government has held with the leaders of the farmers’ unions, along with its decision to suspend the farm laws for 18 months and hold talks with farmers to tweak the laws as per their convenience. But I also wonder as to who gave the authority to the propagandists to question their opinions. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions.

It is surprising how the largest democracy in the world is being desecrated by illusionists and anti-social elements fueling controversies instead of solutions. I do not condone the mindlessness and misinformed opinions on sensitive issues such as this. It seems only logical that people must ascertain the facts properly and try to understand the issue at hand before rushing to make comments.

People have taken “ignorance is bliss” too seriously. The need of the hour is research, negotiation, and settlement, and not publicity stunts. 

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A Slippery Slope

Author: Shweta Sundram

With the Coronavirus pandemic raging across most parts of the world, bringing governments to its knees and exposing and furthering the different inequalities embedded in the society, there is nothing but panic and fear among people. Governments of various countries, including India have imposed nationwide lock downs to mitigate the spread of the virus. This has led to a growing demand of essential goods to stock up, some of whose prices have increased, lest the situation becomes worse.

But there is an unusual case of a commodity, traditionally regarded as essential, whose prices have not only decreased but became negative. The oil prices have crashed to a historic low,being sold at -$40 per barrel, which means that the seller has to pay $40 per barrel to the buyer to sell off the oil! What explains this seemingly illogical situation? Even before the COVID-19 struck the oil industry, crude oil prices were not doing great. At the start of the year, the price was $60 per barrel and $20 by the end of March. This was due to the fact that the supply of crude oil was more than its demand. Therefore, the oil markets globally, and especially in the U.S, were facing a downward trajectory.

Historically, among the OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries), Saudi Arabia has been the leader when it comes to the oil market, catering to 10% of the global crude oil demand. It also meant having the leverage to fix favorable prices for oil. It would do that by bringing down the prices, by increasing oil production, and raising prices by cutting production. Recently, OPEC had formed an alliance with 10 other non-OPEC countries led by Russia called OPEC+. The main objective of this alliance is to manage the volatile oil market by undertaking production cuts. Trouble started brewing in the alliance in the early days of March, when Russia and Saudi Arabia bickered with each other on the issue of production cuts to keep the oil prices stable. This discord led the countries led by Saudi Arabia to start undercutting each other on price though they produced the same quantity of oil. The discord was finally sorted out with pressure coming from the U.S, but alas it was too late. COVID-19 had exacerbated the dwindling prices of crude oil, as lock downs in countries made sure that fewer flights, industries and vehicles, etc. were using oil.

There are three primary benchmarks of crude oil, which serve as reference price for buyers and sellers of crude oil, namely WTI (West Texas Intermediate), Brent and Dubai crude. Though all benchmark prices fell, it was the WTI which registered a negative price. This was due to the fact that rather than direct cash, WTI trades in contracts. The May contract of WTI expired on April 21, leading to desperation among buyers and sellers. With sellers wanting to get rid of their oil at really low prices, rather than choosing the expensive option of shutting down production, and the buyers on the other hand, trying to cope up with the loss in storage facilities of oil, resulted in the prices plummeting below zero.

India was not adversely affected as its crude oil basket does not contain the WTI. But oil being a global commodity, the crash in WTI prices has resulted in falling prices of other crude oil benchmarks, thus indirectly affecting India. Indian oil companies such as Indian Oil Corporation Limited have already begun to bear the brunt, as witnessed by a 53% decline in its value.

Nevertheless, the low oil prices do signal some amount of relief to India’s struggling economy. The government can avail this one-time opportunity to fill up its Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPRs) in the country as well as rent spaces abroad in order to increase the storage facilities. This will ensure that our energy needs are met sufficiently at lesser costs. Having said that, the government should take a long-term view at this issue and should not let India’s commitment towards using and preferring renewable energy taking a backseat while meeting its energy needs. Thus, the government should take a balanced view on this and see this as a silver lining in these testing times.