Mauritius Oil Spill 2020

A Japanese owned ship, MV Wakashio hit a coral reef, Pointe d’Esny in Mauritius on 25th July 2020. Reports say that the ship was carrying 4000 tonnes of fuel oil.

Although most of the oil was pumped out from the ship prior to its wreckage, it is said that at least 1000 tonnes of oil leaked into the sea causing huge damage to the ecosystem. 

Noriaki Sakaguchi, from the Japan International Cooperation Agency explained that ”the oil leak from the stranded ship has caused severe damage to the people of Mauritius, the economy of which largely relies on tourism and the beautiful ocean. I am terribly distressed. I would like to assess the situation and provide professional advice so that our contribution as an expert team will meet the demands of local people and the government.”

BBC has brought to light the fact that the operation to stabilize the situation has not been that successful yet as it has been severely challenged by low tides, but it should progress as the water deepens.

Moreover, ships Captain, 58-year-old Sunil Kumar Nandeshwar, has been arrested as a result of the incident. “Mr Nandeshwar, an Indian national, was arrested alongside the chief officer of the ship, Tilak Ratna Subodh, a Sri Lankan.

The two were taken into police custody legislation again in court on Aug. 25, Ilshad Mansoor, Mr Nandeshwar’s lawyer, said in a phone interview” reported The New York Times.

Members of the crew and the police officers have alleged that there might have been a birthday party on the day the ship ran aground. A theory that has been going around was that the ship might have navigated so close to the shore to pick up Wi-Fi signal.

With anger mounting over the oil spill, islanders have joined together in an effort to contain the fuel oil that leaked into the waters surrounding the picturesque nation. Media has reported that locals have been seen making “absorbent barriers of straw-stuffed into fabric sacks” to attempt to contain the spill.

Whereas others created tubes and some cleaned up the beaches. Environmental activist Ashok Subron informed a news agency that “people have realized that they need to take things into their hands. We are here to protect our fauna and flora.”

Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth soon confirmed that it was a state of emergency and requested for help. France, from its nearby island, Réunion, sent a military aircraft with pollution control equipment.

Japan announced that it would send a six-member team to assist the French efforts. UNCTAD tweeted, “The Mauritius oil spill is a tragic reminder of the environmental threats posed by maritime transport and the urgent need for all countries to adopt the international conventions that govern our seas.”

You must be wondering then what action has been taken regarding the spill as it seems to be quite serious…

Although there are several legislation regarding such hazardous situations in the sea, not all are used and ratified by each and every nation. “As the MV Wakashio spill falls under the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage, compensation for economic losses and environmental damage would be less than if the vessel had been an oil tanker. 

While the Bunker Convention would provide for maximum compensation of around $65.17 million, the payout would be four times higher, or $286 million, under the applicable International Oil Pollution” explains an article by UNCTAD.

The effect of the oil spill is still unclear. Nevertheless, warnings have come from several environmental groups regarding the spillage and the potential it holds to wreak the ecology.

Another area of concern is that Mauritians are now breathing air mixed with oil in it. Although compensation has been guaranteed by the company and fines have been imposed along with investigation in place, uniquely biodiversity-rich marine ecosystem is under severe threat.

It seems, for now, there is not much we can do rather than follow the protocols in place. However, these countries can take notes as to how necessary it is to put in place the legislation regarding such situations that would invariably protect the environment.

By Sagarika Mukhopadhyay

TO UNRAVEL THE TRUTH BEHIND SUSHANT SINGH RAJPUT’S UNTIMELY DEATH

It is been over a month still people could not forget his contagious smile.

His tragic demise made his fans shattered.

Social media is flooded with posters of his last film, Dil Bechara which is premiered on Disney+hotstar on 24th July.

The saddest part is nobody could refrain from shedding tears while watching the movie, seeing their favorite actor for the last time on the screen.

Sushant Singh Rajput, a well-known Bollywood actor was found hanging from the ceiling fan in his apartment in suburban Bandra in Mumbai on 14th June.

Although mental exhaustion is thought to be the cause of suicide, many more causes are inferred to be hidden and everybody wanted to know the actual reason which made the brilliant actor take away his own life too soon.

Was it suicide or a pre-planned murder? Were some names mixed up behind his death?

A storm of controversy has already taken place in social media. Some celebrity also opened up their mouth regarding the unnatural death.

Nepotism was being blamed from the beginning as the cause of his mental depression. However, the new twist and turn have come after some days of his passing.

After over a month of Sushant Singh Rajput’s untimely death, his father K.K Singh lodged an FIR against the late actor’s girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty. He claimed that she controlled his son’s life and threatened to finish his career if he did not abide by her words.

Though Bollywood actor Rhea Chakraborty has alleged before the Supreme Court that Sushant’s father using “his influence” to pull her in that case.

Meanwhile, Ankita Lokhande, Rajput’s ex-girlfriend said in an interview that she suspected foul play in his death.

He can’t die for his career, there has to be a different reason or something else for which this has happened“- Ankita Lokhande.

Some days ago Sushant Singh Rajput’s sister Sweta Singh Kirti penned to PM Modi and urges an urgent scan of the whole case. She also mentioned that his brother had no godfather in the film industry. “We believe in India’s judicial system and expect justice at any cost“- she tweeted.

Amid demanding CBI probe into the death of the actor, Bihar DGP Gupteshwar Pandey said on Saturday “State police are competent enough to deal with it.

An IPS officer can be sent to Mumbai to lead the investigation if needed.” Bihar police also demand postmortem reports, forensic data, and CCTV footage to facilitate the probe.

The Mumbai police were also enquiring about his neighbors into Rajput’s death under section 174.

The mysterious death like him is not a new thing in the Bollywood industry. Generally, people get upset for a few days then everything fades away but surprisingly his news is still in the headline for six weeks after his demise.

In addition to being an amazing actor, he was an extraordinary student. He had ranked 7th in the DCE Entrance examination in Delhi.

He was also a National Olympiad winner in Physics. Moreover, he was fascinated by outer space and owned a most advanced telescope. The sudden death of such a talented person like Sushant is not only agonizing for everyone across India, but also a huge loss of industry.

His last movie, Dil Bechara was based on John Green’s book “The Fault In Our Stars”, somewhere tells a story about falling a star-like Sushant Singh Rajput.

By:- Saswati Chattopadhyay

Sino-Vietnamese War of 1979: A Brief Overview

A border war between China and Vietnam in the early time period of the year of 1979 is most famously known as the Sino-Vietnamese War.

“On February 17, 1979, hundreds of thousands of Chinese troops crossed Vietnam’s northern border to invade the country, waging a bloody strike along the 600-kilometre border that the two nations share.

From the standpoint of historians, China’s month-long invasion of Vietnam is understood to as a response to what China considered to be a collection of provocative actions and policies undertaken by Hanoi,” writes an article in The Diplomat. However, an offensive approach was launched by China in response to Vietnam’s occupation of Cambodia in the year of 1978.

Moreover, this also saw the end of the rule of Khmer Rouge, a name that was popularly given to members of the Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK) who ruled Cambodia between 1975 and 1979. 

History will reveal that China supported Hanoi (capital of Vietnam) during the Vietnam War. But this relationship was strained when Hanoi decided to build a commendatory relationship with Soviet Union.

“But their comradeship swiftly began to deteriorate in the mid-1970s, especially when Vietnam joined the Soviet-dominated Council for Mutual Economic Cooperation (Comecon) and signed the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation with the Soviet Union (USSR) – then China’s greatest rival – in 1978.

China called the treaty a military alliance and branded Vietnam the ‘Cuba of the East,’ pursuing hegemonistic ‘imperial dreams’ in Southeast Asia,” explains The Diplomat.

Pieces of evidence suggest that Chinese troops captured cities of Vietnam near the borders. On March 6, 1979, it was declared by China that the gate to Hanoi was open.

As a result of this, their mission is successful.

However, as Vietnamese troops remained in Cambodia till 1989, it can be said that the main intention of Chinese troops, faltered as they could not dissuade Vietnam from being involved with Cambodia till 1989. Nevertheless, it did make clear how Soviet Union is incapable of helping its ally, Vietnam.

Post severe bloodshed from both the sides, China suddenly declared that it was done teaching Vietnam a “lesson” and soon began to withdraw completely by March 16th, 1979.

The Diplomat states that the campaign regarding the dispute was not over yet as right after this, China launched a series of border incidents which was less than a limited scale war.

“On  one hand, the PLA maintained a level of steady harassment through artillery fire, intrusions by infantry patrols, naval intrusions, and mine planting both at sea and in inland waterways.

On the other hand, China pursued psychological warfare operations to sabotage Vietnam’s attempts to restore its war-torn border economic centers by igniting anti-Vietnamese sentiments among the border ethnic minorities and encouraging them to engage illicit activities like smuggling,” further explains the article.

Research clarifies it that the armed conflicts that flared in the subsequent years resulted in heavy losses of both the sides in terms of man power and depletion of economy.

Though neither China nor Vietnam made it public, Western think tanks have estimated that 28,000 Chinese have died whereas 43,000 wounded; the number for the Vietnamese soldiers were estimated at or under 10,000.

Late 1991, however, saw the relationship between Vietnam and China to return to a normalcy. Although victory had been claimed by both Hanoi and Beijing, the media on both the sides have decided to stay mum regarding this controversial issue.

Moreover, it has been pointed out that China since the war has been teaching how it was the Chinese side that won the war.

This point has been refuted by several scholars as it stands in complete opposition to what the evidence actually suggests.

Scholars like Gerald Segal, Bruce Elleman, and Carlyle Thayer explained how China’s 1979 war was a complete failure.

Firstly, Chinese forces failed to move the Vietnamese soldiers from Cambodia and thereby relieve the pressure on the Khmer Rouge.

Secondly, Beijing involved its main forces while fighting Vietnamese troops on the border whereas Vietnam used its militia and local forces to fight.

Thereby, preserving its main forces. Thirdly, China failed to draw the United States into a coalition against the Soviet Union.

However, certain actions have made it clear that both the nations are in favour of confining their period of a tussle to the past.

In order to deepen their bilateral relations, China and Vietnam signed a treaty to settle their border disputes once and for all.

The year 1999 saw the ratification of a historic treaty between the two nations, namely, Treaty of Land Border. The same year leaders of both the nations agreed on   the “16-golden-word motto” to guide their relation into long term stability and cooperation.

By:- Sagarika Mukhopadhyay

PRIVATIZATION OF INDIAN RAILWAYS

At the beginning of July 2020, The Ministry Of Railways has set in motion its plan of privatization of Railways by flagging off the Tejas Express running on the route between Lucknow and Delhi.

The Ministry of Railways invited an RFQ (request for qualification) application from interested parties for the operation of the private trains across the Country.

Around 151 modern-day trains are to be introduced and 109 pairs of routes are to be identified. In a press statement, the Indian Railways said that each train will have a minimum of 16 coaches. The project is set to bring an investment of Rs. 30,000 Crore from the private sector.

These modern-day trains will be high speed designed for a maximum speed of 160 km/h resulting in a decrement of Journey time.

The Railway Board in a statement said, “the objective of the initiative was to introduce modern technology rolling stock with reduced maintenance, reduced transit time, boost job creation, provide enhanced safety, provide world-class travel experience to passengers, and also reduce the demand-supply deficit in the passenger transportation sector.”

It has also been mentioned that the majority of these trains shall be manufactured in India under the “Make in India” project.

The Ministry also announced that the Private establishments will pay energy charges according to consumption, and fixed haulage charges, and a share in gross revenue determined through a transparent bidding process. These entities shall be responsible for financing, procuring operations, and maintenance of the trains.

In an Interview with the Print, Railway Board Chairman V.K. Yadav had said, “Private players will not get operations — driver, guard, safety certification, infrastructure will remain with railways.”

He further stated, “Private players will only get on-board services — entertainment, food, cleanliness, passenger amenities, fare collection.”

Many believe that this privatization of railways will harm the common man, as it will lead to split responsibility and dual control, and eventually higher fares.

The Indian Railways has already mentioned in its project information memorandum that the private entities will be allowed to decide the fares that are to be charged from the passengers.

The Railways in a statement said, “Gross revenue will include the amount from preferred seat options, baggage/luggage, cargo/parcel (if not included in the ticket fare), amount from on-board services such as catering, bedroll, content on-demand, Wi-Fi (if not included in the ticket fare) and any amount accruing to the concessionaire on account of advertising, branding and naming rights pursuant to the concession agreement.

The calculation of revenue shall exclude station user fees collected from the users, and all statutory applicable indirect taxes and levies which the concessionaire is bound to pay.

Countries like The UK and Japan have privatized their railway networks not partially, but completely. But most countries have refrained from doing so, for public convenience.

However, in a tweet on 9th July, Railway Minister, Piyush Goyal, refuted these accusations and asserted on the fact that these additional services will not affect the functioning of other trains in any way, but will only create more employment opportunities for this country.

But experts think differently, Former Railway Board Member, Ajay Shukla remarked that Tejas Express saw very low occupancy due to high fares. In the discussion, Shukla said, “My question is very simple, what does the common passenger have to gain out of this?”

Experts say that increasing passenger trains will badly impact freight trains when the latter accounts for 67% of the earnings of the Indian Railways.

VN Mathur, Former Railway Board Member said that freight trains may get affected since the country has limited lines on which we will see a higher number of trains running.

As it now seems, this project is set to benefit the Railways more than the common man, since according to its estimate the Indian Railways would require a funding of Rs. 50 Lakh Crore for the next 12 years of operations.

Besides this, there is also the issue with railway lines not supporting speed up to 160 km/h. The existing routes are speed limited to 110 km/h, and very few permit speeds of 120-130 km/h.

For this project to be successful, there has to be track strengthening, curves elimination, strengthening of bridges, and leveling of crossing gates.

Track fencing needs to be done in densely populated areas for safety.

None of these issues, even come close to the fact that the people who will be able to afford a seat on these trains, might consider flying to the destination a more feasible choice.

The most important part of a new project is always the execution and not the planning. And the present government has to see to the fact that this project does not end up like many of its previous reforms.

Aanandita Singh

THE TIME TO CARE FOR THE PANDEMIC FRONTLINERS WHO CARE FOR US

“It is the good fortune of all of us that we are witnessing several such people around us who are working round the clock to serve others, to nurse the sick, to feed the hungry, to clean a hospital, to maintain law and orders on roads. To India and outside of it, every such person is worthy of praise, worthy of a salute.”- The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi said, on the occasion of Buddha Purnima.

Our usual busy lives have been massively disrupted due to vigorous exposure to SARS-CoV-2. “Work from home” is a new normal for all workers globally.

On the other hand, the graph of affected people is going up rapidly. Hospitals are running out of beds, PPE for health workers, and other essentials.

Amidst surging this crisis, getting into a battle with Covid-19 is very dicey for the frontline workers like doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other caregivers.

Yet they have sacrificed their comfort without worrying about anything and have been working all day and night.

Social media is flooded with pictures of burnt-out faces of doctors and nurses. Pharmacists are always being ready at our service despite facing all the challenges. The cleaning staff is keeping the entire territory sterile and aseptic.

In India, there is an old saying that doctors are second to god on this earth. Faced with this epidemic, this statement proved to be true once again.

Joginder Chaudhary, a junior resident doctor at Baba Saheb Ambedkar hospital in Delhi, defeated the month-long battle with novel corona virus and went to rest forever.

The disaster is nothing new in this pandemic. The pathogen has claimed almost 100 doctors and 10 nurses, according to the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

The head of its Kochi chapter, R. Jayadevan has composed a report, “100 doctors’ death in India during the times of COVID-19”, which raises the toll at 108.

More than 55% of the doctors who have lost their lives at the battle against the virus are less than 60. The average age of nurses who have died in COVID-19 is below 50 years of age.

Reports have indicated distinctly lack of proper treatment, insufficient protective gears like PPE kit, and unexpected contamination, which made cause fear to every health worker, especially to doctors and nurses.

The coronavirus is no longer confined to the metro cities only. The areas where allopathic doctors are not always at hand are also victims of their rapid spread.

However, despite such difficulties, Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers are spreading awareness and conducting house to house visit in the rural areas even in this pandemic. The way they are providing their service towards the nation and society is truly commendable.

Frontline health workers are more susceptible to coronavirus but unfortunately, India has no policy on regular quarantine or testing in healthcare workers including doctors, nurses, and paramedical staff.

Initially, hospitals sent their staffs who have worked in covid19 wards into 14 days home isolation but when the rising caseload caused a deficit of health workers, the quarantine period was trimmed to as less as 3-4 days.

Regular test will improve our health care workers confidence level,” said Francis of the United Nurses Association.

Although the Indian government had taken a step to protect those on duty and an insurance cover of 50,00,000 Indian rupees had been provided to those on the front at the battle of Covid19. The two-minute tribute is scheduled to take place globally on Thursday 11 June 2020.

Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi said there was a need to focus on “humanity- centric development” in the arena of COVID-19 pandemic.

But are these enough to protect a soldier without a uniform? Government policies are important but this is the time we need to think beyond that.

However, it is the right time to take a look beyond the fatality report.

Not only the government needs to be more proactive in providing care to our caregivers but also every citizen should give away the mob mentality to the healthcare workers.

We need to keep our saviors alive and well for the worldwide betterment. That could be the very first step towards a healthy nation.

-Saswati Chattopadhyay