Best answer to Current Affairs Round-up (1)

January 31, 2014 at 1:08 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Best answer to Current Affairs Round-up (1)

Fast-track Current Affairs / English improvement exercises  
                                                         by Sheethal Govindaraju

1. What is the difference in meaning between ‘fall-out’ and ‘fall out’?

Ans: Fall Out:

Meaning 1: Become detached and drop out.
Sentences … The girl frequently changed her hair oil. This had an adverse impact on her hair. Gradually, her hair fell out.

Meaning 2: Have an argument.
Sentences … a. The Congress, and its principal opposition, the BJP fell out over  issues relating to Kashmir.
b. The family members had fallen out over the property issues.

c. The young man fell out with his girl friend over the latter’s lavish spending habits.

Meaning 1: side effects; secondary consequences.
Emotional fall-out from a divorce.

Sentences … a. The fall-out of the Ugandan women incident in Delhi has been very inconvenient for the AAP.

b. The fall-out of the seizure of drugs in a Pakistani truck in Kashmir has proved to be costly for the traders on either side.

2. What is ‘fracking’?
Fracking is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well.

3. What items India imports from China and what it exports to China?

List of items India imports from China are as follows
• Crude petroleum
• Electronic Goods
• Machinery, except electronics
• Organic chemicals
• Project Goods
• Iron and Steel
• Other commodities
• Electrical machinery
• Transport Equipment
• Medicinal and pharma products
• Textile, yarn and fabrics

The list of items which India exports to China are as follows
• Iron Ore
• Cotton raw, including waste
• Other ores and minerals
• Non-ferrous metals
• Plastic and linoleum products
• Gems and jewelry
• Machinery and instruments
• Ferro Alloys
• Electronic goods
• Marine products

4. What is the difference between coal and coke?

Ans: Coal is a combustible black or brownish rock made from of carbon. Coke is the solid material derived from destructive distillation of bituminous coal. Basically coke is derived from coal after some chemicals have been removed by heating coal in the absence of oxygen. Coke has higher calorific value than coal and emits much less gas during burning. It is an essential ingredient for blast furnaces where iron is made out of iron ore. For most industrial burning processes including thermal power plants, coke is the preferred fuel.

5. Despite India having the third largest coal deposits in the world, it spent some $23 billion on coal imports. Why did it happen this way?

Answer: There were many irregularities in coal block allocation scheme. Consequently, the Supreme Court of India cancelled the license granted to many coal companies. This was a major setback to the mining industry. The licenses have not yet been revived or given to other parties. The ongoing court cases have virtually tied up the government’s hands in doing some tangible in the matter. Hence, despite having abundant coal resources India ended up importing coal worth whopping $23 billion.

6. Name the different coal mining companies that come under the holding company Coal India.

Answer: Coal India is a holding company with seven wholly owned coal producing subsidiary companies and one mine planning & Consultancy Company.

The producing companies are as follows
• Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL), Sanctoria, West Bengal
• Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL), Dhanbad, Jharkhand
• Central Coalfields Limited (CCL), Ranchi, Jharkhand
• South Eastern Coalfields Limited (SECL), Bilaspur, Chattisgarh
• Western Coalfields Limited (WCL), Nagpur, Maharashtra
• Northern Coalfields Limited (NCL), Singrauli, Madhya Pradesh
• Mahanadi Coalfields Limtied (MCL), Sambalpur, Orissa
• Coal India Africana Limitada, Mozambique
• The consultancy company is Central Mine Planning and Design Institute Limited (CMPDIL), Ranchi, Jharkhand.

7. What is the difference in meaning and use between the two words ‘spar’ and ‘spat’? Make sentences to illustrate your answer.

Spar: argue with someone without marked hostility:
Sentences .. A few leaders from different political spectrum spar regularly over developmental works in the state.

Spat: a quarrel about an unimportant matter:
  Sentences .. A little child stumbled while crossing the road, and eventually fell down. The two-wheeler, who was riding with caution, slowed down his vehicle. But, the people in the road mistakenly thought rider had hit the little child. They had a violent spat with the hapless two-wheeler driver.

8. There are few disputed islands which bear different names – one Japanese, and the other Chinese. Name them.
Senkaku islands in Japan
Diaoyu islands in China

9. India was caught up in this conflict in the recent past. Why was China upset with India on this matter?

Salman Khurshid, External Affairs Minister of India, last year visited the Philippines to enhance Indo-Filipino bilateral relationships. In a joint statement Khurshid referred to the disputed South China Sea as the “West Philippines Sea”. This rattled China which lay potential claims to the South China Sea.

Also, after entering into an agreement with the government of Vietnam, India started off-shore oil exploration in that part of the South China Sea which China claims as its own. This upset China very much.

The writer is a Civil Service aspirant, now in final year engineering at the R. V. College of Engineering, Bangalore.



Letter writing exercise for school and college students

January 31, 2014 at 6:05 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Write a letter ..

a. Congratulating India’s Aam Admi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal on his astounding impact on the putrefied political system of the country. Touch upon his background, and the many ways other political parties are trying to emulate AAP.

b. Congratulating Satya Nadella on his possible elevation to the top post in Microsoft. Touch upon his education, career growth and the qualities he has that could land him in this prized post.

———————-Model answers in a week——————–

Hydrogen fuel cars — Now ready for you

January 30, 2014 at 3:03 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Advent of Hydrogen cars …

We know cars that run on petrol, diesel and batteries. We have some knowledge about hybrid cars that run on both gasoline and electric power from batteries housed inside the car. Just as petrol / diesel is replenished from a filling station, car batteries are recharged either at home or at recharging stations.

Switching to such battery-driven ‘electric cars’ serves an important purpose. The obnoxious emissions are zero for an electric car and minimal for a hybrid car.

All the big car-making companies like Ford, General Motors (GM), Chrysler, Toyota, and Honda have poured millions of dollars to the development of such hybrid cars. The focus is on making batteries that will have more power, need less space, are quickly rechargeable, last long and most importantly, are cheap.

Now, some of these companies offer cars that are big in size, have fast pick-up, and can travel up to 160 kilometers in a single charge.
Americans, always environment conscious and innovative, have began buying these cars. However, as on today, only 1% of the total number of cars on American roads are battery-driven. This might appear discouraging, but the sales trend shows that the growth of hybrid cars is going rise very quickly in the coming years. To cope with this demand, more and more recharging centers are being set up across America and Europe.

But, Hydrogen cars have stolen the thunder from the hybrid cars.
How does a Hydrogen car run? .. The process is simple, but the technology is complex. Inside the car’s engine, there are fuel cells. Hydrogen drawn from on-board Hydrogen tanks is made to burn in contact with Oxygen. The combustion yields enough electric power to drive the car. The end product is not black, obnoxious, polluting gas, but drops of water that drip out of the exhaust pipe.

It is a fantastic gift to mother earth, and a great thing to rejoice for the environmentalists. But, the route to hydrogen cars has been mind-bogglingly expensive, tortuous and riddled with many failures. The reason is the problem of storing compressed hydrogen safely inside a moving car. The chances of gas leak and resultant explosion always daunted the engineers. The car had to be safe – as safe as the ordinary gasoline driven car. Special materials had to be developed for making the Hydrogen tank, the fuel cells and the piping.

However, the engineers working in the Research and Development centers of GM, Toyota, Ford, Honda and Hyundai have finally managed to overcome the hydrogen storage and controlled burning problem.
In the last Washington Motor Show, Toyota proudly unveiled its Hydrogen fuel car that can travel up to 500 kilometers before needing recharging. It has created a buzz among auto enthusiasts. It is learnt that other auto makers will soon offer their models for sale.
This shows, possibly, the technology to store hydrogen has been perfected to exacting standards of public safety. But, the other problem remains. How to set up the hydrogen refilling stations in sufficiently large numbers across a country like the United States, Japan or the EU countries? These refilling stations are very expensive, costing in excess of a million each. To be viable, each station must get at least 500 customers a day.

So, here a classic chicken- first-or-egg-first story is developing. Unless convenient refilling stations are available, customers will not buy hydrogen cars, and unless sufficient numbers of hydrogen cars are there to come for recharging, no one will set up a million dollar cost hydrogen refilling station. Auto makers do not want to come in, saying it is the government’s job to entice investors to put money in such ‘Hydrogen infrastructure’. The government appears lukewarm to the idea of mobilizing investors to this area. So, a bit of a stalemate continues in America and elsewhere where the Hydrogen cars are most likely to hit the road first.

However, it is certain that in the coming years, we will see increasing numbers of hybrid and hydrogen cars.


Detroit’s Green Shoots — The city is rising again

January 30, 2014 at 1:45 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Detroit’s rise … How real?

A city that once symbolized the triumph of American capitalism and integration of the impoverished African Americans to mainstream economy began its downward journey by the late 1940s. As factories closed, workers lost their jobs and left the city for good, no one gave Detroit a chance. Almost everyone believed the city is doomed to remain a sign of neglect, decay and defeat.

But, the America’s indomitable spirit never dies. Its energy and resilience often results in miraculous resurgence and triumph in instances where defeat was virtually written in stone.

Some such thing is happening in the ‘dead’ city Detroit. We see ‘green shoots’ of recovery. The city has begun to attract businesses and entrepreneurs.

Shinola, the well-known brand for shoe polish, has set up a luxury watch making facility here. Although some parts for the watches are imported from Europe and China, Shinola has its feet firmly in Detroit. It makes the other components, assembles them and sells them in luxury show rooms in America and Europe. The venture capital fund, Bedrock, has come in to support this enterprise. CEO Steve Buck is upbeat with the strides Shinola has made so far as a luxury watch. Now, demand for the watches, priced between $500 to $1000 a piece, is soaring. Steve is agog with excitement.

Watch buyers notice the ‘Made in Detroit, United States’ sign on the dial and instantly relate themselves to the lost glory of the city. They feel, by buying Shinola watch, they are contributing to the rebuilding Detroit.

Shinola’s factory is housed in the Argonaut building that once was General Motors’ first research and design studio. Detroit’s cheap rents for factory and warehouse spaces make it a selling point for the city.

Let us take the case of GalaxE.Solutions — a healthcare IT company based in New Jersey. It has recently recruited 150 employees for its Detroit facility. It has capitalized on the sentiment of most Americans about rebuilding the manufacturing might of their country.

The company spearheaded the “Outsource to Detroit” campaign to motivate others to do things in Detroit using fellow countrymen rather than outsourcing their jobs overseas. CEO Tim Bryan is quite vocal about this idea. He proudly proclaims, “The excitement around the renaissance of Detroit is a national phenomenon.”

According to Tim Calkins, marketing professor at the Kellogg School of Management, “If you associate yourself with Detroit, you’re associating yourself with a struggle, with managing through difficult times,” he says.
Your brand “becomes a brand you want to root for, and a brand you hope will be successful”.

That businesses are returning to Detroit is unmistakable. This trickle might turn to be a torrent in a decade’s time. Detroit will smile again holding aloft its flag of triumph.


Green shoots in Detroit???– The riches to rags to riches story

January 27, 2014 at 12:32 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Detroit’s rise, fall, and rise (??)

Where is Detroit? …. It is a city in the state of Michigan in the United States of America.

When it began to rise? …. Detroit is the legendary automobile capital of America and the world. It is the headquarter of the three biggest names in auto industry —General Motors (GM), Chrysler and Ford. These three iconic companies, known as ‘The Big Three’ form the bedrock of Detroit’s existence, growth and prosperity. It is because of these three names, Detroit is known all over the world as the nerve-centre of everything big, great and new in the auto sector.

Detroit began to rise after the First World War. Its growth accelerated and continued till the early 1920s. It all happened because people in the United States, Europe and elsewhere realized the immense benefit and comfort of motorized transport. Customers bought cars, trucks and buses in thousands. American cars and trucks made in Detroit were exported all over the world. If you compare this phenomenon to today’s scenario, Detroit was the Silicon Valley of America of that era. The most innovative, spectacular, cutting-edge products, designs and processes were born in the huge design and auto manufacturing hub of Detroit.

Prosperity in the area grew by leaps and bounds riding on this fast-flourishing industrial complex. Hundreds and thousands of semi-educated black Americans with an able body and bubbling spirit poured into Detroit to man the positions in the production line of the cars, vans and trucks. Some of these black Americans had not even completed their Matriculation education. From the wages they earned, they could buy cars, homes, insurances and lead an upper middle class life. The money the industry generated for Detroit in the form of taxes and duties was humungous. There was joy, hope and new energy all around. This was around the 1920s.

Another wave of growth and prosperity arrived in the late 1940s and early 1950s. These were the Second World War years. The war needed motorized transport in great many numbers. Soldiers needed trucks and jeeps. Officers needed cars. It fell on America’s Detroit to meet this demand. Factories began to run round the clock. They expanded their capacities, put up new plants, yet the demand for autos remained insatiable. Manpower requirement rose sharply to run such new capacity created. Detroit beckoned the black impoverished youth from the south of the country.

Tens of thousands of blacks migrated from the South seeking jobs on the assembly line converged on the factory gates and were readily absorbed. From the crime-ridden, poverty stricken life in the ghettos, they became well-to-do middle class citizens in matter of weeks. The black Americans had a reason to smile after decades of neglect and ignominy.

By 1950, Detroit’s population had reached 1.8 million, making it the America’s fifth-largest city. The transformation was spectacular.
But, good times are seldom permanent.

How Detroit declined?……. Detroit’s decline started. American car industry was buffeted by aggressive competition from Japanese car makers. Detroit’s companies were plagued by belligerent short-sighted labour unions who could not see the threat coming from overseas where labour cost was a fraction of their wages.

The nation’s economy changed gears and began to shift away from manufacturing. Good-paying assembly line jobs dried up as factories that made the cars and supplied the steel closed their doors. To make matters worse, the relation between white-skinned and black-skinned workers deteriorated. The stand-off was nasty. Riots happened. The white survivors of the decline fled the cities to earn their livelihood elsewhere.

The Second World War was drawing to a close. The battle field needs of American cars, Trucks and jeeps fell sharply. Suddenly, dark times descended on Detroit. In panic, factories began retrenching workers. Thus began the six-decade long wrenching pain that ate away the body and soul of Detroit. The city’s revenues fell even sharper. The city corporation ran out of cash. Detroit’s singular reliance on an auto industry, its worsening race-relations and overseas competition, all combined to sing the death song of Detroit.

So devastating was the decline that between 1947 and 1963, Detroit’s auto companies retrenched 1, 40, 000 manufacturing workers. Staggering under the load of $20 billion debts and no cash in the bank, the once proud Detroit surrendered, filing for the single largest municipal bankruptcy in American history.

Detroit’s inexorable decline can’t be ascribed solely to the city’s reliance on one single industry that itself buckled. Experts point to the city’s escapist political leadership which never bothered about the corrective actions need to reverse the decline and restore the industrial backbone of the city. It postponed tough decisions, on wage curt and rationalization. Till the day of reckoning arrived, everyone in the labour union headquarters had a nice sleep.

The migration of blacks into Detroit, which had driven its growth and rise to the pinnacle of economic success was soon replaced by an exodus of white residents for the suburbs. In the last decade alone — from 2000 to 2010 — Detroit has lost about a quarter-million residents. Detroit, presently, has just 7, 00, 000 residents. It looks like a cremation ground or a grave yard.

——End of Part one. In the next concluding part, resurgence of Detroit ————

Nachiketa Mor report on banking services expansion

January 26, 2014 at 2:58 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Tags: ,

Going Bold on Banking …

Nachiketa Mor prescribes ‘Bullet Train’ growth of banking services

a. It is common knowledge that among the G-20 countries, India is perhaps the most under-banked countries.

b. ‘Inclusive growth’, the catch phrase used by Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi is a grand idea, but access to banking is one of the planks of this fascinating idea. How do we improve the lot of the village cobbler, the blacksmith, the street vendor, the marginal farmer, the cycle repair shop owner, the small poultry farmer etc., if they do not know where to keep their money safely and where to go for their small loan needs of just about Rs. 10, 000 to Rs. 20,000?

The multitude of these faceless Indians must, therefore, know, understand and make use of the banking system of the country. The faster they do, the easier will be the task of ensuring ‘inclusive growth’.

c. Why the existing banking system can’t do this job? The reasons are obvious. Most big banks are urban-centric. Their DNA is to cater to large borrowers and large savers. It results in more visible profit with lesser manpower and infrastructure. They can go maximum up to small towns or large villages in the threshold of graduating to small towns. Their reach stops here. Asking them to open a branch in a remote inaccessible village is like dragging a goat to water.

d. The Gramya banks were opened to bridge this gap. But, their success has been limited, because, being under the administrative umbrella of a large commercial bank, they have, unwittingly, adopted the same high wage, and high overhead culture. This defeats the concept of simple, less expensive, user-friendly banking services a rural customer with his rustic look and mindset can feel comfortable with. They remain under-capitalized, under-staffed and under-utilized.

e. The co-operative banks present a picture of being in perpetual sick bed with an avaricious local politician sucking out its blood through grant of imprudent loans. Banks after banks fail periodically creating a perception that these are truly not trust-worthy institutions.

In September last year, the RBI asked the committee chaired by Nachiket Mor to prepare “a clear and detailed vision document” to lay down a set of “design principles” to guide national frameworks and regulation and to review existing strategies and institutions with a view to removing barriers to inclusion and to the deepening of the financial sector.

Who is Nachiketa Mor? …. Nachiketa Mor is a renounced economist cum banker who had a very successful stint at the ICICI Bank. An alumnus of the IIM, Ahmadabad and a Ph. D from the University of Pennsylvania, Nachiketa Mor is famous for his turbo-charged, highly innovative banking ideas, and his ability to implement them.

In the RBI committee headed by Nachiketa Mor, the other members were

1. Ms. Bindu Ananth, President, IFMR Trust
2. Dr. Prakash Bakshi, Chairman, NABARD
3. Mr. Bharat Doshi, Chairman, Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services
4. Mr. A.P. Hota, Managing Director & CEO, National Payments Corporation of India
5. Mr.Sunil Kaushal, CEO, Standard Chartered Bank India
6. Ms. Roopa Kudva, Managing Director & CEO, CRISIL Limited
7. Ms. Zia Mody, Managing Partner, AZB & Partners
8. Mr. S.S. Mundra, Chairman & Managing Director, Bank of Baroda
9. Dr. Vikram Pandit, former CEO, Citigroup (2007-2012)
10. Mr. Ramesh Ramanathan, Chairman, Janalakshmi Financial Services
11. Ms. Shikha Sharma, Managing Director & CEO, Axis Bank
12. Mr. A. Udgata, Principal Chief General Manager, Reserve Bank of India

The RBI report is out in the public domain now. Quite predictably, it has attracted many hostile comments.

What does the Mor Committee report contain?

Main recommendations

The Nachiket Mor panel draws up an ambitious roadmap for financial inclusion that should be achieved by the end of 2015. The panel also points out the present status of the banking reach.
• Estimates suggest close to 90% of small businesses have no links with formal financial institutions
• About 60% of the rural and urban population do not even have a functional bank account
• Bank-credit to GDP ratio in the country, as a whole, is a modest 70%
• In Bihar, bank-credit to GDP ratio is even lower, at 16%
• Savings as a proportion to GDP has fallen from 36.8% in 2007-08 to 30.8% in 2011-12
• Financial savings of households have declined from 11.6% of GDP in 2007-’08 to 8% in 2011-’12
• Against only 30 million fixed line subscribers, telecommunications companies, now, have over 870 million mobile phone subscribers, of whom over 350 million are based in rural areas
• While the urban number of mobile subscribers stabilised, rural number continues to grow at an annualised rate of 10 per cent

The most controversial part of the Nachiketa Mor is its suggestion that each Indian above the age of 18 years must have a full-service, safe and secure electronic bank account by January 2016. Aadhaar Card issued under the UDAI scheme should be sufficient to open his account. And, he should reach his banking centre within 15 minutes of walk. Those, who know India’s rural hinterland, easily realize how gigantic is this task. Since the deadline is January, 2016, there is just about 23 months to accomplish this target. Clearly, it is an uphill task.

The other suggestion is this. A vertically differentiated banking system will be put in place. There will be Payments Banks for deposits and payments. Additionally, there will be wholesale banks for credit outreach will come up, with few entry barriers. ‘Credit Outreach’ means the whole basket of banking services including insurance.

It is unclear if the Nachiketa Mor committee weighed the huge costs involved in opening the branches, creating the physical infrastructure and training and deployment of human resources. Information Technology and broadband connectivity will help, but not enough.
Considering the above challenges, two of the Committee members wanted to push the deadline till 2018. But, their opinion was overruled.
Despite the criticism against the Nachiketa Mor, it is a very bold proposal which, when implemented, will give a huge horizontal spread to the population in the bottom of India’s economic pyramid.


Creative writing exercises …..

January 25, 2014 at 9:18 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Creative writing exercises …

a. An old man had come to a party of middle-aged IT professionals. One of the young women came up to him, and inquisitively stared at his face. Before she could shoot her question, the old man opened up. “I am Kalimulla Hussain. I am a 70-year-old young man. I came to see if some of you would like to hear me out about my work to reclaim the three large dying water bodies of our town.”
Question a … Imagine the personality of this person, who, apparently, has come to the gathering un-invited. What type of person he could be? Sketch his nature, traits, and passions.

b. You get into a city bus, and ask the conductor for a ticket that costs Rs. 15. You give a 50-rupee note to him because you do not have the change. He blurts out, “Give me the exact change or I can’t give you a ticket.”
Question b  ... Describe the nature and temperament of the conductor.
c. You are a low middle-class man. You take your ailing wife to a nearby private hospital. The doctor sees all her reports, does some routine checks on her and says, “I am afraid this hospital is not equipped to treat her disease.” Seeing my quizzical look, he replies, “Why don’t you take her to the government general hospital?”
Question c …. Why did the doctor say so? What could be his motive in refusing treatment to your wife? Imagine and write your answer.
——————————–Model answers will be posted Jan. 30————————-


South China Sea –China’s shadow lengthens

January 23, 2014 at 4:12 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

China’s maritime disputes

                                                          Written by Sheethal Govindaraju

Natural resources, although spread across the world, have historically proves to be the potential ground for territorial disputes, because these are not evenly spread. In the past as well in the present, there have been many instances of fights for natural resources. Some natural resources like hydrocarbons and natural gas are critical for modern economy which amount to trillions of dollars of global trade. The resource-rich regions become flash points as the surrounding territories lay claim to their wealth either wholly or partly. In this way, territories get embroiled in conflicts by an intense desire of their neighbours who stridently lay claim for ownership rights of the resources.

The South China Sea [SCS] is now the contentious swathe of ocean that has created a lot of bad blood amongst its littoral countries. This includes China, the front runner, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei. The South China Sea consists of two island groups namely, Spartly’s and Paracel. These six countries lay overlapping claims on different portions of the South China Sea. The SCS comprises of hundreds of islets. Every emerging nation in the area in now trying to aggressively increase its maritime presence. This has led to a protracted low-intense squabble over the SCS between the rival countries. But, a recent upsurge in their animosity demonstrates the severity of the issue, and its ramifications.

Historical Context of SCS

The fight for SCS has a complex chronology of events in Southeast Asian history. China’s maritime disputes, in particular, are a century-old conflict. It all started with the Sino-Japanese war over the Diaoyu/Senkakus in the East China Sea, dating back to the nineteenth century. In 1937, there was a major flare-up caused by the Japanese invasion of China. Japan invaded the Hainan Islands. Since then Japan claims exclusive rights over several SCS archipelagoes. Not able to accept the humiliation caused by the defeat in the hands of Japan, China returned with a vengeance, and regained the lost possessions from Japan. After this, China, under the leadership of the nationalist Kuomintag Party, demarcated its territorial claims by redrawing the map of the SCS.

The then Chinese government constituted the Land and Water Maps Inspection Committee. The committee, after having several rounds of discussions with the ministry of internal affairs, published the Map of Chinese Islands in the SCS. A 11-dotted line was used on the map to show that the Pratas Islands, the Paracel Islands, the Macclesfield Bank, and the Spartly Islands belonged to China. Later, in 1953, the two-dotted line portion in the Gulf of Tonkin was deleted. The subsequently published maps in 1953 have shown the nine-dotted lines in the SCS. This historic demarcation drew several contrasting political and legal opinions.

The demarcation by China sent strong signals to the international community in general, and to the littoral countries of SCS, in particular. The Philippines, knew which side their bread was buttered, and it initiated an extensive oil exploration programme in the disputed islands. In the following year, the country’s first oil company, the Philippine Cities Service, launched commercial production which yielded 8.8 million barrels of crude oil. China was, clearly, infuriated by this move of the Philippines.

There was a pressing need for some sort of external intervention to resolve this complex escalating conflict. It was around this time the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea [UNCLOS] was established in 1982. It is an international tribunal for framing the Law of Sea aimed at minimizing maritime disputes. Its headquarters are located in Hamburg in Germany. The tribunal has clearly defined the rights and responsibilities of the nations in the use of their surrounding waters. After prolonged discussion by international experts, the rights of nations were formulated on the basis of exclusive economic zones and continental shelves.

After a brief spell of relative calm in the SCS, China and Vietnam clashed on the Johnson Reef. This marked China’s first armed retaliation against its perceived foes who had dared to usurp its maritime rights. This was the first most serious confrontation where the Chinese navy sank three Vietnamese ships killing 74 sailors on board. This marked the beginning of Chinese assertiveness in the area. China went a step further. It deployed forces on the Fiery Cross Reef in the Spartlys in January 1987. The Vietnamese were not to be intimidated. As a retaliatory measure, Vietnam occupied several reefs to closely monitor China’s moves.

In what appeared to be a major political move by China, it unilaterally passed a law on the territorial sea and the contiguous zone. Accordingly, it laid claim to the entire SCS. It said it had historical rights to the area dating from the Xia dynasty.

For the second time in a row, China got involved in a military confrontation with the Philippine navy. However, efforts were made by both the countries to retrace their paths and restore normalcy. To maintain friendly relation with the ASEAN members, the duo signed a non-binding code of conduct. It called for confidence building measures between the two countries.

ASEAN and China Code of Conduct

China has made many efforts towards entering into bilateral agreements to foster enduring ties with its allies. As a result of this effort, after protracted negotiations among the surrounding nations, a “Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the SCS” was established. For the first time China entered into a multilateral approach to resolve disputes.

In May 2009, Vietnam and Malaysia filed a joint submission to the UN Commission to extend their continental shelves beyond the standard 200 nautical miles. Quite predictably, China objected to the submission. Asserting its rights aggressively, China claimed SCS to be under its “indisputable sovereignty”.

Alarmed at such belligerence by China, Vietnam strongly wanted to bring SCS issue to an international forum.

On July 23, 2010, Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of State attended the U.S.-ASEAN ministerial meeting. The U.S. took a neutral stand on the sovereignty of SCS, but affirmed its interest in the open access to Asia’s maritime commons. Understandably, China did not want any third party intervention in this issue. Vietnam, which was trying to internationalize the issue, stood to gain by the U.S involvement.

Quantitative estimate of SCS’s hidden treasure

• A massive $5.3 trillion total trade passes through SCS every year.
• 11 billion barrels of oil in the SCS.
• 190 cubic feet of natural gas in the SCS.
• 90% of the Middle Eastern fossil fuel exports are projected to go to Asia by 2035.

Policy Options

The escalating tensions between the littoral countries for the ‘Apple of Discord’ will only worsen if adequate measures are not taken. A crisis management system should be put in place.

• Resource Sharing: To mitigate frequent skirmishes, it would be appropriate for claimants to cooperate on the area of collaborative resource development. Each claimant can, then, demand and get its share of the resource. Fisheries, petroleum, and gas should be shared. Additionally, collaboration measures, bilateral patrolling mechanisms should be enforced.

• Building a multilateral framework: Conflict resolution could be largely achieved by arriving at consensus. For this, platforms like the ASEAN are necessary. Despite, the existence of binding code of conduct between China and ASEAN countries, none of them have been adhered to.

• Military-to-Military Communication: Periodic and regular dialogues between military forces of the claimants could ease the risk of conflict escalation. Joint Naval exercises would prove to be successful in this regard.

• International Arbitration: The International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea are presently the two forums in existence for crisis management.

The writer is a Civil Service aspirant, now in final year engineering at the R. V. College of Engineering, Bangalore.


Repudiation of Hindu editorial ‘The antics of a Chief Minister’

January 22, 2014 at 10:18 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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A repudiation of the Hindu editorial “The antic of a Chief Minister” dated January 22, 2014.


The defiant Chief Minster emerges a hero…

A visit of an ordinary citizen to a police station for redressal of a grievance is rarely a pleasant one. This is the reason why most people dread an encounter with the police either in the streets, in police stations or anywhere else. This observation holds good for almost the whole of India. Only the degree varies.

Delhi police does some excellent work, no doubt, in nabbing terror elements, narcotic gangs and fugitives from law. It is because the assiduous work of this police force that Delhi has managed to remain relatively free of terror strikes.

However, it can be said with certainty that in the level at which it interacts with aggrieved citizens, ordinary small-business folks on the streets, shop keepers etc., it shows its stark evil face. The men in uniform are very miser with regard to politeness, civility, sympathy and respect for law. One can bend, twist and break the law, settle scores with enemies, and evade prosecution through hefty bribes and political connections.

The condition of people who find themselves in police lock-up is horrifyingly bad. It is like staring at hell. Police routinely beat up these captives with savage force. All these happen daily, and right under the eye of the senior-most officers. No one dares to stand up to these rouge elements in uniform, because hauling them up before a court is a Herculian effort. Only the fool-hardy and the fanatic dare the oppressive police force.

Are all police officers rouges? Not true. There are dutiful, incorruptible and efficient personnel in the police force. Sadly, they are in the minority, not because honest persons do not enter the police force, but because the system is too corrupt to foster honesty and efficiency.
Why do some police personnel break the law with such impunity? The reason is very simple. The bureaucracy crumbles before the political bosses. The elected MLAs, M.Ps and the ministers need the police for two reasons – to subdue their political opponents and, most importantly, give them money – ample money, every month. On the other hand, why do the police need the elected representatives? The answer — to get ‘lucrative’ postings and evade departmental action (very rare) for corruption.

Thus, the cozy relationship is a win-win situation for the two corrupt arms of the government –the police and the elected representatives. So, when they both win, who loses? The answer — It is the common man. He suffers, whines, complains, seethes in anger, but finally succumbs to the brutal corrupt and unaccountable system.

This is the monster the Delhi Chief Minister dared to stand up to. When you confront a hugely powerful foe, you have to use non-conventional weapons. This is the weapon the elected Chief Minister of Delhi used against Delhi’s police force. Why he did not take action against them in the conventional way? The answer — He didn’t because he couldn’t. The law of the land makes the Chief Minister accountable to his electorate on all law and order matters, but gives him no power over the police apparatus. The central government controls the Delhi police. The Chief Minister does not have a single constable under him. This is an anomaly crying for correction.

Why the earlier chief ministers did not complain? The answer –They didn’t care. When a major law and order crisis (like the gang-rape) came, they passed the buck to the central government. Why catch the bull by its horns, and run the risk of being trampled by it? What escapism!!

Arvind Kejriwal dared to challenge this –in a non-violent peaceful way. People called him an ‘anarchist’ and he proudly said, “Yes, I am one.”
In the present case, the Chief Minister wanted just three officers facing judicial enquiry to be transferred from their posts. This is a principle of natural justice. A minister can’t hold his post when an inquiry against his alleged misconduct is on. Same argument applies to a police officer.

The smug, vainglorious Home Minister and the Delhi Police Commissioner did not see the justification for removing the three errant police officers before the judicial inquiry.

It took AAP’s daring protest, deployment of 4000 policemen, cancellation of Metro services, huge inconvenience to Delhites, and, most shamefully, international live coverage of the protests before the central authorities cane forward with a proposal that resulted in the removal of the truant officers by asking them to go on leave.

The media has started a loud rant to deride AAP and its Chief Minister. Why they don’t ask the Home Minister Shindhe a simple question? Why Shindhe didn’t do what he did now? Why he didn’t ask the three police officers to move aside and make way for an honest inquiry?

I am sure, the erudite editors of the TV channels and the newspapers, who now cry hoarse using words like ‘anarchy’, and ‘antic’ to castigate Arvind Kejriwal, will scratch their heads for an answer.

This is the bane of India. Too many conformists, too much expediency, and too little desire to heed the call of conscience. This is why, the corrupt political system needs to be upended by some one daring like Arvind Kejriwal of the AAP.

Arvind won a partial victory; some call it a ‘face-saving’ exit, but he has shaken the system. Full marks to him.


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