Dear Civil Services Aspirant,
To access Resources and have interaction fully, please register yourself as a Free User. It is Free.
Furnish your e-mail id as user id and set your own password. Immediately after the registration is over, you will be sent an email to the registered email address. Please click the link given in the email to activate your account and then have unlimited access with all resources.
Best Wishes, Jeywin Team
When after an earlier failure, Greece was finally allowed into the euro zone in 2001, people cheered. Two thirds of the ten million Greeks enthusiastically welcomed the end of the drachma and the arrival of euro notes and coins. The finance minister at the time said the euro meant stability and symbolized Greece’s full acceptance into the European club.
Now the Greeks don’t know what hit them and they’re already wishing they still had their tattered drachmas. Why? Because if this debt crisis had happened in the 1990s, they could have devalued the drachma and even boosted their major industry—tourism. This is because with devaluation a vacation in the Greek islands would be made cheaper. A deep recession could have been avoided.
But by having the euro the devaluation option is unavailable. The only remedy today is for Greeks to swallow the bitter medicine of austerity. That means wage and pension cuts plus new taxes, those measures which creditors insist upon as the price of the bailout.
Looking back, Greeks didn’t realize back in 2001 that their politicians had cheated to meet the euro’s membership requirements. In a country where tax evasion is a national pastime, citizens assumed that if the bureaucrats in Brussels accepted the official fiscal deficit numbers, they must be correct. Never in their wildest dreams did Greeks imagine that just nine years later they would discover that a financial crisis was the true price of euro zone membership.
What started in the last three months of 2008 came to a climax in the first quarter of 2009. Greece’s economy entered its first recession in 16 years in the first quarter of 2009. The economy has suffered quarterly GDP contractions since the last three months of 2008. Two consecutive quarterly contractions in output mean an economy is in recession. The 250 billion euro economy contracted 0.3 per cent in the third quarter of 2009 after shrinking by a revised 0.1 per cent in the second quarter. The figures show that the Greek economy is going through a very difficult period and, unfortunately, there is no easy way out.
Economists polled by a news agency were expecting the economy to contract at a quarterly 0.8 per cent clip in the third quarter. This was due to the revision of quarterly growth rates, in combination with the revision of the accounts of general government and the evaluation of most recent sectoral indicators, which led to new estimates for the first two quarters of 2009.
Unemployment is rising, credit conditions remain tight, and taxes are going up. All these factors weighed down on consumer expenditure during the remaining of the year.
Moreover, inflation, which had been trending downwards during the first semester of 2009, rose again, which put consumers under further pressure. Larger inflation differentials vis-a-vis other Eurozone countries, the relative strength of the euro will also dampen export growth.
The stock market’s slump reflects a widespread concern among many economists that the European debt crisis could slow the U.S. economic recovery.
Very few people expected the problems in Greece and other European nations such as Portugal and Spain to drag the United States back into recession. But the crisis has increased the uncertainty facing U.S. business leaders.
Today market leaders feel that the perception of risk has just changed in a major way and that there is more risk in the world economy than they did in April 2010. A weaker European economy could reduce demand for U.S. exports, as European consumers cut back their purchases of autos, appliances and other goods. And as the euro declines in value compared to the dollar, U.S. goods become more expensive in the 16 countries that use the European currency.
Michael Mussa, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics said that the impact in Europe will likely be greater. While Greece’s economy isn’t that large, many major European banks hold billions of dollars of its debt. If Greece defaults on or restructures its debt, which many economists expect, those banks — still recovering from the 2008-2009 financial crisis — may cut back lending to conserve cash. That’s even more likely if other highly indebted nations, such as Ireland, Spain, or Portugal also run into problems financing their deficits. Tighter credit would slow Europe’s economy. And efforts by Greece and the others to reduce their deficits, through tax increases and spending cuts, could also worsen their economies.
The growing European debt crisis has sent stock markets on a wild ride.
There are worries that Europe’s debt crisis could tip the 16 countries that use the euro back into a recession. The euro area comprises the second-largest economy in the world, after the United States. And as in the United States, Europe’s economy had been slowly recovering from recession.
The situation reminds one of the collapse of Lehman Brothers in the fall of 2008. The resulting chaos caused banks to clamp down on lending. Nervous consumers stopped spending. Companies facing plummeting sales cut back on production and laid off millions of workers.
Barry Eichengreen, an economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley reports that no one had seen this kind of thing before and that they are questioning the competence of their leaders to deal with it, and rightly so. European consumers may soon cut back on purchases of new cars or appliances.
Economists are skeptical of President Barack Obama’s goal of doubling U.S. exports over the next five years is unlikely to be reached under these conditions. More so if the dollar remains strong and one of the leading economic areas enters a deep recession. A $140 billion rescue package agreed to by the International Monetary Fund and European leaders has failed to resolve concerns in the financial markets that Greece might default on its debts.
Economists feel that the concerns are amplified, because memories of the 2008 crisis are still fresh. Before the recession, many experts, including Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, said the fallout from the subprime housing bust wouldn’t spill over to the broader economy.
As recently as last month April 2010, the Greek economy was expected to decline by 2% in 2010. But with the austerity measures, forecasts have been revised sharply downwards. Now a 4% decline is expected and some economists, like former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund Simon Johnson, believe that number is overly optimistic. He predicts the Greek economy will contract by 12% over the next 18 months, i.e by the end of 2011.
Greece now faces twin problems of solvency and competitiveness. Short-term, the solvency issue was addressed on May 9th, because of the bailout by the I.M.F. and European Union. But to regain competitiveness–absent devaluation– cuts of up to 20% in wages and prices are needed. The Greek government may be unable to deliver this.
Latvia, the former Soviet republic on the Baltic Sea, provides something of a case study for what the Greeks are trying to accomplish. Latvia in 2008 was hit by a financial crisis in which its currency came under speculative attack. But since Latvia–like Greece in 2001–was determined to hold its exchange rate steady in order to be admitted to the euro zone, policy makers rejected the advice that they devalue. Instead, the Latvians slashed wages and government spending by 10 to 20% and deliberately engineered a deep recession in the hopes of getting their budget deficit down to the prescribed levels for euro zone entry. While Latvia has succeeded in holding its exchange rate steady, the ensuing recession has been the deepest in the European Union. In 2009 the Latvian economy contracted by 18% and unemployment rose to 20%. This is the kind of calamity that may be awaiting the Greeks, where unemployment is already 11.3%, a six-year high.
For Greeks to endure the kind of austerity that the Latvians have experienced, there must be some perceived reward for the hard times and sacrifice. For Latvians that is still the hope of membership in the euro zone. But for Greeks who already have the euro, what’s the payoff?
A volatile Eurozone sees Russia with almost no exposure to national debt, but with markets pricing in a wider contagion, Russia would be affected by a return to recession. With the budget woes of Greece now well and truly being implicated in debt markets across the Eurozone, markets are increasingly pricing in the prospect continuing problems, with the PIIGS nations of Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain all seen as financial disaster areas, and sentiment in the northern European nations, such as Germany and the Netherlands, which have some scope for offering assistance, wearing thin.
Russia’s direct exposure to the emerging Euro-contagion is limited according to Andrew Howell, CFA Emerging Markets Strategy at Citigroup.
It is almost certain that the tightening of debt markets and mass investor desertion of government debt from the PIIGs nations will lead to a slowdown in a European economic recovery that has barely come out of the last recession, and in the directly affected nations, hasn’t come out of recession at all. With the EU, the world’s largest single economy, and Russia’s largest trading partner, the implications for Russia – despite it not being a buyer of Euro debt – are enormous.
“Real contagion and that has to do with a direct impact of slower economic growth in Europe on the emerging markets and there you do worry if you’re going to see major downgrades to the European growth. But the losers from that would be those countries which are exposed to the European import markets.”
Europe is the important customer for Russia’s energy and commodity exports. A major downturn in revenues from these will quickly be felt in Russia’s current account and budgetary position. Another key factor is that the EU is a major provider of many products that Russia imports. The devaluation of the Euro against the Rouble – it has dropped from more than 43 to 1, to less than 38 to one in less than 2 months – means that those exports are now more competitive against any domestic producers.
Elina Ribokova, Citigroup Chief Economist says that Russia’s underlying budget and corporate debt environment is particularly sound meaning it is in a good position to weather a downturn if worse comes to worst.
“If you look at balance sheets of different sectors of the economy we see that the sovereign balance sheet is very healthy, the corporate balance sheets have stabilized. And then the final and most important aspect in Russia’s economy balance sheet is the household balance sheet and that one has a particularly healthy debt to GDP ratio of households at less than 10%.”
But even with a sound debt position to help square up to any renewal of a global economic downturn, Russia’s economy and economic leaders, would prefer to avoid it. The country is still barely gaining traction on an economic rebound with the 1Q 2010 GDP figures worse than forecast, and only massive government expenditure warding off major social consequences of the 8.9% contraction of 2009. As the government looks to wean the economy off its expenditure in 2010 and beyond, any further reversal into recession in the EU could leave the Russian economy more exposed, a second time around.
The Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou in May 2010, embarked on a whirlwind tour of western capitals to drum up support for his crisis-stricken country. Beginning with Berlin, where he met the German chancellor Angela Merkel, before travelling on to Paris and Washington DC for talks with presidents Sarkozy and Obama, Papandreou’s diplomatic offensive was supposed to determine whether Greece can secure help from its fellow eurozone members or whether the IMF will eventually be called in. What’s at stake is no longer just Greece’s creditworthiness, but also Europe’s credibility.
If Athens can raise about €22bn (£20bn) to pay off maturing debt in April and May, then the risk of a sovereign debt default spreading to other heavily indebted euro countries will subside. If not, then in the absence of a rescue operation from euroland, the Greek government would have no other option but to beg the IMF for help – further undermining the status of the euro as a credible alternative to the dollar.
Papandreou’s mission comes about a month after a special EU summit in Brussels pledged collective European solidarity in exchange for tough Greek action. By announcing a third round of spending cuts and tax increases to reign in its budget deficit, Athens is fulfilling its part of the agreement. Now it’s the turn of the eurozone to help Greece bring down the cost of borrowing – otherwise the economic reforms could lead to social unrest and bring down the Greek government.
By refusing to provide financial guarantees to state-owned banks buying Greek bonds which would help reduce the interest rate on Greek debt, Berlin is forcing Athens to devote more money to servicing debt and make even deeper cuts to public spending. This lethal mix is pushing Greece back into economic recession, reducing tax revenues, increasing the real value of its debt and requiring yet more savage cuts – a vicious spiral of debt-deflation that could plunge the country into an unprecedented social recession.
Afflicted by soaring youth unemployment and mass public sector lay-offs, not just in Greece but also in Spain, Portugal and Italy, the future of Europe’s “Club Med” is dire. With hindsight, the Brussels agreement looks increasingly like a Faustian pact with the debt devil concluded by the German iron chancellor.
The sale of national assets is almost exactly the advice given by Goldman Sachs to the Greek government to “pay” for euro membership back in 1999. After the collapse of neoliberalism, it is worrying that the current German government prefers fiscal austerity and the pressure of global finance over sound economic judgment and political leadership. But the latter is exactly what the operation of markets requires, otherwise there will be more speculative attacks and irrational herd-like movements against Greece and other vulnerable euro members.
By contrast, France is leading the way in arguing for a rescue operation now to avoid a fully fledged eurozone bailout or an IMF-orchestrated structural adjustment programme and thereby to mitigate Europe’s social recession. With strike action and protest movements spreading across euroland, Merkel’s hardline stance is unnecessarily exacerbating a crisis that could bring down the European common currency – Germany’s main contribution to Europe since reunification.
19th May, 2010
Greece’s industrialists believe that the government has done too little too late to avert a steep economic downturn and urged structural reform to boost the flagging productivity of the economy. The SEB industry federation called on Greece’s conservative government, which has fallen behind in polls over a series of scandals and its handling of the economy, to boost public investment and cut taxes to create jobs and stimulate businesses.
The government’s 28-billion-euro plan to increase liquidity at Greek banks, which have avoided the worst of the credit crisis, provided no guarantee of reviving lending to the slowing real economy.
Despite average growth rates of around 4 percent a year for a decade, Greece has seen the competitiveness of its 240-billion-euro economy decline as high inflation has pushed up labour and manufacturing costs. Surveys consistently rank Greece as one of the euro zone’s most corrupt and difficult places to do business.
Greece’s manufacturing sector shrank at a record pace in November due to a fall in new orders, a monthly survey showed on Monday. The purchasing managers’ index (PMI) fell to 42.3 points from 48.1 in October, reflecting a fall in both domestic and foreign demand.
Economists say the risk of deflation in some of Greece’s main trading partners could harm its competitiveness even further, as inflation differentials widen. The conservative government has forecast Greece’s economic growth rate will fall to 2.7 percent in 2009 from 3.2 percent this year, but many economists say this is too optimistic. The OECD predicts Greek growth will drop to 2.0 percent next year.
Greece has one of Europe’s highest current account deficits, at around 15 percent of GDP, and its stock of sovereign debt equates to almost the whole of its annual economic output.
21st May, 2010
The Greek debt crisis roiling markets worldwide may at most “influence” India, but will have limited “adverse impact” on the country according to the Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee. He signaled the government’s determination to walk the path of fiscal prudence it was forced to abandon during the 2008 global financial meltdown.
India, according to him, had very little direct exposure to European countries at the centre of the crisis, with the country’s banking system having no direct links with them and exports to Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy only 4% of total exports.
Fears of a global contagion from the Greek crisis have cast its shadow on the country’s stock markets, knocking the Sensex 8% down in the last six weeks From April 2010 till mid-May 2010, and also caused volatility in the foreign exchange markets as a battered euro and volatile global currencies raised concerns about capital flows into India.
That crisis tipped much of the developed world into a recession and forced the government to put fiscal prudence on the back burner as it had to launch a series of fiscal stimulus measures to stimulate demand in the economy. But as the global economy recovered from that crisis, the government returned to the path of fiscal prudence and in its budget for 2010-11, spelt out a medium-term plan to cut fiscal deficit.
It has set itself a target of containing the deficit to 5.5% of GDP this year and cut it further to 4.1% in the next financial year. The deficit stood at 6.7% in 2009-10.
The finance minister said good monsoon rains would have a huge “psychological impact” and help tame inflationary expectations. Rising inflation and high prices, especially in the wake of last year’s drought, has been a major problem for the UPA government, leaving it vulnerable to attacks from the opposition and even some of its own coalition partners.
Euro 130 b bailout package for Greece to avert default – 22.02.2012
The total debt of Greece is expected to hit 120.5 per cent of gross domestic product by 2020.
Private creditors accept deeper write down of 53.5 % Profits from ECB bondholdings to be used.
Eurozone finance ministers sealed a 130-billion-euro ($172 billion) bailout for Greece on 21.02.2012 to avert a chaotic default in March, 2011 after persuading private bondholders to take greater losses and Athens to commit to deep cuts.
After 13 hours of talks, ministers finalised measures to cut Greece’s debt to 120.5 per cent of gross domestic product by 2020, a fraction above the target, to secure its second rescue in less than two years and meet a bond repayment next month.
By agreeing that the European Central Bank would distribute its profits from bond buying and private bondholders would take more losses, the ministers reduced the debt to a point that should secure funding from the International Monetary Fund and help shore up the 17-country currency bloc.
But the austerity measures wrought from Greece are widely unpopular among the population and may hold difficulties for a country, which is due to hold an election in April. Further protests could test politicians’ commitment to cuts in wages, pensions and jobs.
Every government in the currency union will also have to approve the package. Northern creditors, such as Germany, had pressed for even tougher measures to be placed on Greece, but Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said he was confident a majority in Parliament would approve the package.
“We have reached a far-reaching agreement on Greece’s new programme and private sector involvement that would lead to a significant debt reduction for Greece … to secure Greece’s future in the euro area,” Jean-Claude Juncker, who chairs the Eurogroup of finance ministers, told a news conference.
The euro gained in Asia after the bailout was agreed.
Some economists say there are still questions over whether Greece can pay off even a reduced debt burden.
A return to economic growth could take as much as a decade, a prospect that brought thousands of Greeks onto the streets to protest on Sunday. The cuts will deepen a recession already in its fifth year, hurting government revenues.
“We sowed the wind, now we reap the whirlwind,” said Vassilis Korkidis, head of the Greek Commerce Confederation. “The new bailout is selling us time and hope at a high price, while it doggedly continues to impose harsh austerity measures that keep us in a long and deep recession.”
A report prepared by experts from the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund said Greece would need extra relief to cut its debts near to the official debt target given the worsening state of its economy.
If Athens did not follow through on economic reforms and savings to make its economy more competitive, its debt could hit 160 per cent by 2020, said the report, obtained by Reuters.
“Given the risks, the Greek programme may, thus, remain accident-prone, with questions about sustainability hanging over it,” the nine-page confidential report said.
The accord will enable Athens to launch a bond swap with private investors to help put it on a more stable financial footing and keep it inside the eurozone.
About euro 100 billion of debt will be written off as banks and insurers swap bonds they hold for longer-dated securities that pay a lower coupon. Private sector holders of Greek debt will take losses of 53.5 per cent on the nominal value of their bonds. They had agreed to a 50 per cent nominal write down, which equated to around a 70 per cent loss on the net present value of the debt. Mr. Juncker said he expected a high participation rate in the deal, but some bondholders might balk at the new terms.
Greece said it would pass legislation that would allow it to enforce losses on bondholders who would not take part. Eurozone central banks will also play their part in reducing the debt.
A Eurogroup statement said the ECB would pass up profits it made from buying Greek bonds over the past two years to national central banks for their governments to pass on to Athens “to further improve the sustainability of Greece’s public debt”.
The ECB has spent about euro 38 billion on Greek government debt that is now worth about euro 50 billion.
The private creditor bond exchange is expected to launch on March 8 and complete three days later, Athens said on Saturday. That means a 14.5-billion-euro bond repayment due on March 20 would be restructured, allowing Greece to avoid default.
The vast majority of the funds in the 130-billion-euro programme will be used to finance the bond swap and ensure Greece’s banking system remains stable.
Heartening news for all IAS and IPS aspirants- Tenacity pays. Two teenagers prove to us that hard work, a never-say-die attitude and a determination to succeed will lead us to our goal within no time.
A 13-year-old American became the youngest climber to ever summit Mount Everest on Saturday May 22 2010, gaining renown for the feat while renewing controversy over a trend of young record-breaking adventurers.
Jordan Romero’s journey was tracked through GPS coordinates on his blog, logging his team’s ascent up Everest, which is 29,028 feet (8,847 meters) above sea level.
Before Jordan, the record was previously held by Ming Kipa of Nepal, who was 15 when she made the climb in 2003 with her brother and sister, and 16-year-old Temba Tsheri of Nepal.
Romero left for the peak from the Chinese side of the mountain after Nepal denied him permission on age grounds. Prior to his starting out, Romero, of Big Bear, California, said he wanted to climb Everest to inspire more young people to get outdoors. He feared that obese children were the future of America, the way things are going. He hoped to change that by doing what he did – climbing and motivational speaking.
He also had a desire to do something big in life, and he has succeeded beyond expectation. Jordan now has climbed six of the seven highest peaks on seven continents, known as the Seven Summits. His father Paul Romero reports that this was not an isolated vacation and that this was a lifestyle.
Romero’s family started tackling the Seven Summits in summer 2005. He was just 9 when they climbed 19,341 feet (5,895 meters) to the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. There is a debate about whether the tallest mountain in Oceania is Kosciuszko in mainland Australia or Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia, so Romero and his family climbed both. The only peak left for him to climb after Everest is the Vinson Massif in Antarctica, which is 16,067 feet (4,897 meters). A trip there is planned for December 2010.
Jordan Romero called his mother, Leigh Anne Drake, 37, from a satellite phone when he reached the peak Saturday along with his father, stepmother and a team of three guides and told her proudly that he was calling from the top of the world.
Jordan decided in the fourth grade that he wanted to climb the tallest mountains on each of the seven continents. His mother and father are avid fans of the outdoors who took their son biking and hiking at an early age, but neither had experience with mountaineering until Jordan made his decision.
When he first wanted to go hiking, his mother and a friend took Jordan for a six-mile hike near their home. He whined and cried the entire time, she recalled, but when they got down, he wanted to keep training. They decided to support him. Jordan climbed the first peak on the list — Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania — when he was 9. He has since then climbed Mt. Kosciusko in Australia, Mt. Elbrus in Russia, Mt. Aconcagua in Argentina and Mt. McKinley in Alaska.
The eighth grader enrolled in independent study this semester to pursue the Everest climb. He took algebra books and writing journals with him.
Brent Bishop, 43, who has climbed to the top of Mt. Everest twice and whose father was on the first American team to reach the summit in 1963, said he was amazed by Jordan’s accomplishment but wary for other young climbers.
The main danger for a young person isn’t the climbing, but the altitude. Bishop feels that the planning and the weather cooperated to make the trip work out but the danger is for someone who is 13 who gets caught up high in bad weather and run out of bottled oxygen. Issues with cerebral impairment might then crop up.
Jordan’s group still has to make the trek down the mountain, a dangerous route that every year claims lives. After that, to complete his goal he has to climb one more mountain: Vinson Massif in Antarctica.
Hero from India
Not to be outdone, a 16-year-old schoolboy from the National Capital Region in India, Arjun Vajpai, became the youngest Indian to successfully climb the world’s highest peak, 8,848-metre-high Mount Everest, via the traditional South Col route in Nepal.
His mother Priya Vajpai is over the moon at her son’s achievement. She reports that she has no words to describe just how proud she was. She knew that he was going to push for the peak on May 22 2010 on a Saturday morning and when at 6.30 a.m., members of the team coordinating the climb phoned to tell them that Arjun had successfully managed to climb Mt. Everest and that he was safe, they all jumped for joy.
They are yet to speak to him and are waiting for him to reach back to his base camp. Admitting that she had been worried about Arjun’s safety when he told them about his decision to join a group trying to conquer the Everest, Ms. Vajpai told that Arjun’s self-motivation and determination was contagious and that they had to trust him about this decision. When she expressed her concern about the risk involved in the climb, he told her to stop worrying.
Arjun is a student of Ryan International School, at Sector 39 in Noida. According to his mother, he has been always been an outdoor person and loves trekking, hiking, football and basket ball. He was introduced to mountaineering only three years ago, but took to it like a fish to water.
Arjun was part of a 12-member expedition team that has a record number of Indian climbers trying their luck individually. His father Sanjiv Vajpai, a former Army officer, said he was initially afraid to let Arjun go on the expedition. But his instructors at the Nehru Mountaineering Institute, where he did two mountaineering courses, said he had both the physical and mental ability to summit Mt. Everest and so his parents decided to let him go.
Arjun equalled the record of a Nepalese Sherpa Temba Tsheri, who also climbed the peak when he was sixteen. Arjun’s team was led by Apa Sherpa, 50, who broke his own record to become the first man to climb the peak for a record 20th time.
The Noida boy also broke the record of Krushnaa Patil, 18, from Maharashtra, who became the youngest Indian to reach the highest peak in 2009.
Along with Arjun, also making it to the top was an Indian woman Mamta Sodha, who reached the summit at 10:24 a.m. The feat of the two was conveyed to PTI on phone by Chunu Shrestha of the Asian Trekkers, who had organised the expedition.
The World Tamil Conferences are a series of occasional conferences held by the government of Tamil Nadu, which aim to unite Tamil people around the world.
The ninth World Tamil Conference (and the first world Classical Tamil Conference) was held in the city of Coimbatore in June 23 to 27, 2010. Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi unveiled the logo at the Secretariat in the presence of Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin, Information Minister Parithi Ellamvazhuthi, scholars V.C. Kulandaiswamy and Iravatham Mahadevan, Chief Secretary K.S. Sripathi, Tamil University Vice-Chancellor M. Rajendran, and Special Officer for the conference K. Allaudin. With Coimbatore getting ready to host the World Classical Tamil Conference in June 2010, industrial associations in Tamil Nadu have sought measures on a war-footing to improve the roads and water bodies in the city.The image of saint-poet Thiruvalluvar’s statue in Kanyakumari, lashed by tsunami waves and encircled by seven icons from the Indus Valley Civilization, forms part of the logo of the World Classical Tamil Conference to be held in Coimbatore in June. The number of icons stresses the importance of ‘seven’ in the lives of Tamils.
The logo emphasizes the ideal of the mankind that it should always be free of narrow walls of race, creed and caste differentiation. The message is found in a palm leaf manuscript at the bottom of the statue and has been declared the motto of the meet.
According to an official release the figures of the Indus Valley Civilization icons, found in the logo, symbolize the Dravidian civilization, which is regarded as one of the four ancient civilizations. Tamil, a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent has an official status in the Indian state of TamilNadu. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore. It is one of the twenty-two scheduled languages of India and the first Indian language to be declared as a classical language by the government of India in 2004. Tamil is also spoken by significant minorities in Malaysia, Mauritius and Réunion as well as many people of Tamil origin around the world.
President of the Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Coimbatore, Mahendra Ramdas, who was part of the delegation reported that the delegation focused primarily on short-term infrastructure development as visitors would be coming from different countries and other parts of the State. The existing roads would not be enough to handle the traffic to and from the CODISSIA Trade Fair Complex, the venue for the conference. In May 2010, Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi launched the website (www.ulakathamizhchemmozhi.org) for the World Classical Tamil Conference to be held in Coimbatore in June 2010.According to news sources the website which is designed in Tamil and English, has various sections relating to the theme of the conference. Announcements made on the meet, the significance of Coimbatore and the historical background of the declaration of Tamil as a classical language. A provision for online registration has also been made on the website.
Also included on the website are links to the Tamil University, Tamil Virtual University, and International Forum for Information Technology in Tamil (INFITT), Thinnai and Project Tamil has been provided in the website.
According to news releases M. Rajendran, Tamil University Vice-Chancellor and coordinator of the Academic Committee for the meet, explained in detail features of the website.
Later, Mr. Karunanidhi told reporters that a massive rally would be taken out on June 27, 2010, the final day of the conference. The meet would begin on June 23, 2010. Several committees are being formed in connection with the meet. The expenses of the conference would be monitored by the Chief Secretary, Finance Secretary, Special Officer and the District Collector. The government would meet whatever requirements indicated by the officials.
The theme song by the renowned music director of international fame A.R.Rahman for the World Classical Tamil Conference, encapsulating the contributions of Tamil culture and literature down the ages, was officially launched by its author and Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi at a function during May 2010.
Mr. Karunanidhi said that it was no mean feat to illustrate in a poem the glory of different classical works written in various periods ranging from the Sang am era to the post-Sangam period, including those of Kamban and Kalamegam.
Explaining the central message of the song, the Chief Minister said all were equal by birth and they should have the feeling that they remained so even later and they should live as one race.
The conference, to be held in Coimbatore in June 2010, would begin with the rendering of the theme song.
Pointing out that the song would popularize the Tamil meet; the Chief Minister said 205 scholars from 27 countries would attend. There would be 53 experts from Sri Lanka, 37 from Singapore, 29 from Malaysia, 22 from the U.S. and 14 from Canada.
He said that for nearly 70 years, he had devoted himself to the promotion of Tamil language. He respected those who worked for the language.
A.R. Rahman is scoring the music for the song. As per the Chief Minister, the music director who is still recovering after a spinal surgery, was an example of how confidence and hard work would make one successful and his life would serve as a role model for youth.
Tamil is a universal language, according to Mr. Rahman who said it should not be confined to a small circle. How would the Coimbatore conference be different from the earlier World Tamil Conferences? The Coimbatore meet would be as special as the Chennai meet that had been held under C.N. Annadurai’s leadership several years ago. The Chief Minister added that infrastructure improvement schemes would be taken up in Coimbatore district. The Conference should be used to foster unity among Tamils, said the Chief Minister and was keen that political parties should transcend their differences on occasions that would reflect Tamil sentiments and promote the language. Participants are a total of 1,244 delegates from various countries.
Click here to cancel reply. There had been a controversy regarding the non-inclusion of the poet Kamban, or his work, Kamba Ramayanam by a few scholars including Indira Parthasarathy. Respecting the sentiments of such scholars, Mr. Karunanidhi had a relook at the song and included a reference to the poet. On May 15 2010, the revised theme song, scored by A.R. Rahman and filmed by Gautham Vasudev Menon, was launched at a function here.
Kamban is an extra-ordinary poet who is hailed as Kavi Chakravarthi. Subramany Bharatiyar identified Kamban, Thiruvalluvar and Ilango Adigal as the trinity of Tamil poets. K.A. Nilakanta Sastri (1892-1975), historian and author of the seminal work, A History of South India, described Kamba Ramayanam as the greatest epic in Tamil literature.
“In the Tamil literary firmament, Kampar shone like a star, inaccessible to others,” M. Varadarajan (1912-1974), known as Mu.Va and widely regarded as an authority in Tamil studies, wrote in A History of Tamil Literature, an English version of which was published by the Sahitya Akademi in 1988.
Both Mu.Va (widely regarded as an authority in Tamil studies) and Nilakanta Sastri did not accord much value to other works of the poet. In fact, Mu. Va wrote that Kamba Ramayanam was the only work that upheld Kamban’s fame as a poet. On the question of the quality of work produced by Kamban, both Mu. Va and Nilakanta Sastri were emphatic in saying that though Valmiki Ramayanam was the basis of the work, Kamba Ramayanam was neither a translation nor a prototype of the original.
He had also recorded the position of some scholars that it was only due to Kamban the cult of Rama spread to the whole of the country. Besides, Kamban’s work is characterised not just by the beauty of the language, magnificent descriptions and embellishments but also the poet’s insight into human nature.
The first World Classical Tamil Conference got off to a rousing start in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu India on 23.10.2010 in the presence of a massive gathering. Distinguished speakers, led by President Pratibha Devisingh Patil, hailed Tamil, which has the oldest literature among the living languages of the world.
Inaugurating the five-day event on 23.06.2010, the President of India Pratibha Patil said that many concepts intrinsic to India’s society and critical to its polity were found in Tamil discourse over the millennia. The message of peace, universality and the spirit of equality was propounded in a Sangam poem more than 2000 years ago, she said, referring to a poem in Purananooru.
She presented the Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi Classical Tamil Award to Asko Parpola, renowned Indologist, for his work on the Dravidian hypothesis in the interpretation of the Indus script. He said Old Tamil was best preserved in Dravidian linguistic traditions.
Presiding over the inauguration, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi said there was a worldwide consensus that Tamil possessed greater merits than the 11 parameters laid down for declaring a language classical. “Tamil is not only an international language; it is like a mother for all the languages of the world,” he said.
Governor Surjit Singh Barnala, who handed over the first copy of the conference souvenir to Ms. Patil, referred to the influence of the Tamil language in several important language families of the world and said the language had been ever-growing.
The first World Classical Tamil Conference, 2010 in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India came to an end on 27.06.2010 with Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi announcing a plan of action for Tamil promotion and development.
Delivering the valedictory address of the five-day conference (23.06.2010 to 27.06.2010), Mr. Karunanidhi said a Rs.100-crore fund would be established for Tamil development. This would be a follow-up to the “good work” done at the meet.
The Chief Minister said efforts would be taken for translating well-known Tamil works into other Indian, Asian and European languages. Significant works of other languages would also be translated to Tamil. The government would create “genetic heritage gardens” in five distinct zones of the State as spelt out in the Sangam poetry.
Noting the presence of Union Ministers for Finance and Home Affairs Pranab Mukherjee and P. Chidambaram on the occasion, the Chief Minister appealed to the Centre to extend financial assistance for a number of initiatives announced by him.
The proposed Tholkappiyar Classical Tamil Sangam at Madurai would take efforts for conducting the World Classical Tamil Conference periodically. Referring to the 15-year long gap in holding a mega Tamil meet, he assured people that this would not recur. On the Sri Lankan Tamils question, Mr. Karunanidhi said no political solution had been found so far. “This is a matter of pain and deep concern to lakhs and lakhs of world Tamils who have gathered at this World Classical Tamil Conference.”
He called for a detailed plan to carry out marine archaeological research on the mythical Kumari continent and Poompuhar. He reiterated his request made earlier to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for locating the proposed Indian National Institute of Epigraphy in Chennai.
Presiding over the function, Mr. Mukherjee expressed the hope that lessons from the conference would inspire many more accomplishments in future.
Describing the Chief Minister as a man of perfection, he commended him and the State government for the successful conduct of the Conference. Referring to the popular response to three exhibitions held as part of the WCTC, he said this was evident in the fact that the duration of the exhibitions was extended by a week.
Mr. Chidambaram wanted Tamil books to be published in different disciplines such as science, law, economics and geology. He suggested that at least 100 titles be published in such disciplines, for which a sum of Rs. 10 lakh would be required by authors and publishers for each title. Totally, Rs. 10 crore would be needed and this was not a big amount for the State government.
The Union Minister requested the Chief Minister to ensure that the amount was set apart. Mr Karunanidhi, in his address, responded to his suggestion positively.
Next World Classical Tamil Conference
The World Classical Tamil Conference (WCTC) will be held in Tamil Nadu State once in five years, according to Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi.
Giving an account of the scale of participation in the conference, he said 913 papers on 55 subjects were presented. Of the total number of papers, 152 were submitted by foreign delegates. There were 2,605 delegates, including 840 foreigners. About 1.7 lakh people visited the general exhibition in the last four days. The WCTC souvenir contained 129 articles and 34 poems.
Around 1.5 lakh people witnessed various events at the conference complex every day. About five lakh people watched the pageantry taken out on the inaugural day on 23.06.2010. The Rs.30-meal was provided to four lakh people.
As for the Tamil Internet Conference (TIC) that was held concurrently, there were 500 participants and 110 papers presented. Over one lakh people visited the Internet Exhibition. The TIC souvenir had 130 articles.
Noting that Rs.68.5 crore was spent on organising the WCTC, the Chief Minister said a sum of Rs.243 crore was set apart for infrastructure development in and around the city of Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.
Three heroic cops and a quick-thinking street vendor stopped a madman from detonating a car bomb in the heart of Times Square in New York, U.S.A on 1 May 2010 Saturday night.
Police sources said that it looked as though someone had tried to detonate it and that they got to it in time. The federal government viewed the incident a “potential terrorist attack,” Cops evacuated and shut down the Times Square May 1 2010, but all streets were reopened by 7:30 a.m. the next day.
The suspect’s vehicle, a dark blue 1993 Nissan Pathfinder sport utility vehicle with dark tinted windows, entered Times Square at approximately 6:28 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on May 1, 2010, as seen on surveillance video The source of the news was a T-shirt vendor – a Vietnam vet – who told Officer Wayne Rhatigan that there was smoke coming from a Nissan SUV on the southwest corner of 45th St. and Broadway at about 6:30 p.m. Rhatigan approached the car, saw the smoke and sprang into action. The officer smelt gunpowder and knew it might blow. He alerted two rookie female cops patrolling the area. Together, they pushed hundreds of people away from the scene as they called for backup. The Fire Department and bomb squad rushed to the scene.
The team found in the rear of the vehicle:
two travel alarm clocks with batteries that apparently were fashioned as triggering devices, connected by electrical wires to
two red full 5-gallon cans of gasoline, sandwiching
40+ consumer-grade M-88 firecrackers inside a 20-ounce metal container (wrapped in duct tape, with its end removed),
three full 20-gallon propane tanks, and
a 55-inch (1,400 mm) x 32-inch (810 mm) green metal gun locker that contained:
a metal pressure cooker pot containing a thicket of wires, that also connected to the alarm clocks;
250 pounds (113 kg) of urea-based fertilizer in 8 plastic bags; and
Police spokesman Paul Browne said cops were investigating a report that someone was seen running from the vehicle at some point and are reviewing security videotapes. Cops began evacuating the Crossroads of the World as the bomb squad used a robot to get inside the car. Tourists rushed out of the Marriott Marquis hotel and several Broadway shows.
Two days after the incident, federal agents arrested Faisal Shahzad, a 30-year-old Pakistan-born resident of Bridgeport, Connecticut, who had become a US citizen in April 2009. He was arrested after he had boarded Emirates Flight 202 to Dubai at John F. Kennedy International Airport, and it had begun to taxi towards the runway, but was called back. He admitted attempting the car bombing and said that he was trained at aPakistani terrorist training camp, according to U.S. officials.
United States Attorney General Eric Holder said that Shahzad’s intent had been “to kill Americans”. Shahzad was charged in federal court in Manhattan on May 4 2010 with “terrorism and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.” More than a dozen people were arrested by Pakistani officials in connection with the plot. Shahzad told interrogators that he was “inspired by” Anwar- al- Awlaki, with whom he was reportedly in internet contact. An initial claim of responsibility by the Pakistani Taliban was dismissed at first; however, Holder later said the Pakistani Taliban directed the attack and may have financed the same. John Brennan, President Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser, said that it’s a group that was closely allied with Al-Qaeda.
Since then, three more people have been arrested on suspicion of supporting the man who has been charged with the failed Times Square bomb plot. The three men are all of Pakistani origin and they are in police custody. Police say they have not yet established if they gave the money towards the failed bomb plot or helped Faisal in some other way.
The men have not yet been charged and police said that the investigations are ongoing to ascertain their exact role in the failed May 1 bomb attack. Faisal Shazhad said that he collected several thousands of dollars from the arrested men in the days leading to the May 1 2010 failed attacks.
Meanwhile US law enforcement authorities say Shazhad has been cooperative with authorities since his arrest aboard an Emirates flight bound for Dubai. Authorities say Shazhad is giving them all the information that they need concerning the connections and links that he has and this has been very helpful for the authorities.
Mr. Shazhad who has told authorities that he learnt how to make bombs in Pakistan, prior to the failed attempt on the New York Times Square is pressing for a speedy trial.
Faisal Shazhad had other targets in mind besides the New York Times Square where his bombing plan failed, according to the investigators. Shazhad who investigators say have confirmed that he worked for the Pakistani Taliban, has been cooperating with investigators after his arrest from a Dubai bound Emirates flight.
Shazhad’s other targets included New York’s Rockefeller Center, the World Financial Center, Grand Central Terminal and Sikorsky in Connecticut. Shazhad had actually gone ahead and done surveillance on these places, according to an official of the counterterrorism unit, who disclosed these details to the media.
Investigators believed the car bomb was actually made up of four separate, individual explosive components — in effect, four bombs comprising one large bomb. The firecrackers would have started the process by setting off triggering devices, attached to the gasoline. That would have created an explosion that would then have in turn set off the propane and the fertilizer. A cell phone and wristwatch recovered from the vehicle may have been intended as separate timing/triggering devices. The maker of the “bomb” incorrectly surmised that the urea/sugar mixture fertilizer would work like the ammonium nitrate-based fertilizer which was used in the Oklahoma City bombing.
The improvised explosive device’s ignition source malfunctioned, however, and failed to set it off as intended. Had it detonated, NYC Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the bomb would have cut the car in half, and “would have caused casualties, a significant fireball.” Police said the bomb would likely also have sprayed shrapnel, and killed or wounded many people.
On 23 may 2010, the Pakistani police detained another man on suspicion of having links with Pakistani- American terror suspect Faisal Shahzad. The man was taken into custody by over two dozen policemen, some in civilian clothes, who raided the posh Kohsar Marke. The man who put up some resistance, was handcuffed and taken in a vehicle to an undisclosed place. According to witnesses, the man in his mid-30s came to the market at about 7 pm on 23 May 2010, and sat in an open area. He kept calling or sending messages on his cell phone, before the raid at about 10:30 pm.
Media reports have said that the ISI is conducting the investigation into Shahzad’s links and contacts in Pakistan. Seven men have either been picked up or gone missing since May 10 2010 in Islamabad, including Suleman Ashraf, the son of the owner of ‘Hanif Rajput Catering Service’, and Ahmed Raza Khan. These men are believed to have been detained by intelligence operatives for alleged links with Shahzad.
Ashraf allegedly provided financial help to Shahzad when he was studying at the University of Houston. He returned to Pakistan from the US in 2001 after getting a bachelor’s degree in computer science. He was last seen by his family when he left for his office at about 11 am on May 10. Ashraf’s wife lodged a complaint on May 19, 2010 with the Supreme Court’s Human Right Cell about his disappearance. Ashraf’s father claims that his son had no relations with Shahzad.
The US embassy in Pakistan has issued a warning to US government personnel and American citizens about terrorist groups forging links with the Hanif Rajput Catering Service.
However, unnamed security officials have been quoted in media reports as saying that Shahzad lived in Ashraf’s house in Islamabad for some time.
Large-scale earthquake that occurred January 12, 2010, on the West Indian island of Hispaniola, comprising the countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Most severely affected was Haiti, occupying the western third of the island. More than 2,00,000 people were killed, and over a million were displaced by the disaster.
The earthquake hit at 4:53 pm some 15 miles (25 km) southwest of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. The initial shock registered a magnitude of 7.0 and was soon followed by two aftershocks of magnitudes 5.9 and 5.5. More aftershocks occurred in the following days, including another one of magnitude 5.9 that struck on January 20 at Petit Goâve, a town some 35 miles (55 km) west of Port-au-Prince. Seismologists asserted that minor tremors would likely persist for months or even years. Haiti had not been hit by an earthquake of such enormity since the 18th century, the closest in force being a 1984 shock of magnitude 6.9. A magnitude-8.0 earthquake had struck the Dominican Republic in 1946.
The earthquake was generated by the movement of the Caribbean tectonic plate eastward along the Enriquillo–Plantain Garden strike-slip fault system, a transform boundary that separates the Gonâve microplate—the fragment of the North American Plate upon which Haiti is situated—from the Caribbean Plate. Occurring at a depth of 8.1 miles (13 km), the temblor was fairly shallow, which increased the degree of shaking at the Earth’s surface. The shocks were felt throughout Haiti and the Dominican Republic as well as in parts of nearby Cuba, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico. The densely populated region around Port-au-Prince, located on the Gulf of Gonâve, was among those most heavily affected. Farther south the city of Jacmel also sustained significant damage, and to the west the city of Léogâne, even closer to the epicentre than Port-au-Prince, was essentially leveled.
A country in ruins
The collapsed buildings defining the landscape of the disaster area came as a consequence of Haiti’s lack of building codes. Without adequate reinforcement, the buildings disintegrated under the force of the quake, killing or trapping their occupants. In Port-au-Prince the cathedral and the National Palace were both heavily damaged, as were the United Nations headquarters, national penitentiary, and parliament building. The city, already beset by a strained and inadequate infrastructure and still recovering from the two tropical storms and two hurricanes of August–September 2008, was ill-equipped to deal with such a disaster. Other affected areas of the country—faced with comparable weaknesses—were similarly unprepared.
In the aftermath of the quake, efforts by citizens and international aid organizations to provide medical assistance, food, and water to survivors were hampered by the failure of the electric power system (which already was unreliable), loss of communication lines, and roads blocked with debris. A week after the event, little aid had reached beyond Port-au-Prince; after another week, supplies were being distributed only sporadically to other urban areas. Operations to rescue those trapped under the wreckage—which had freed over 100 people—had mostly ceased two weeks into the crisis, as hope that anyone could have survived for that length of time without food or water began to fade. However, there were still occasional recoveries of people who had managed to survive such confinement for weeks by rationing the meagre supplies available to them.
A people in crisis
It was estimated that some three million people were affected by the quake—nearly one-third of the country’s total population. Of these, over one million were left homeless. In the devastated urban areas, the displaced were forced to squat in ersatz cities composed of found materials and donated tents. Looting—restrained in the early days following the quake—became more prevalent in the absence of sufficient supplies and was exacerbated in the capital by the escape of several thousand prisoners from the damaged penitentiary. In the second week of the aftermath, many urbanites began streaming into outlying areas, either of their own volition or as a result of governmental relocation programs engineered to alleviate crowded and unsanitary conditions. Those who remained were encouraged by aid agencies to construct more-substantial provisional housing using tarpaulins—and, later, donated lumber and sheet metal—in preparation for the rainy season and the hurricane season.
Because many hospitals had been rendered unusable, survivors were forced to wait days for treatment and, with morgues quickly reaching capacity, corpses were stacked in the streets. The onset of decay forced the interment of many bodies in mass graves, and recovery of those buried under the rubble was impeded by a shortage of heavy-lifting equipment, making death tolls difficult to determine. Figures released by Haitian government officials at the end of March placed the death toll at 222,570 people, though there was significant disagreement over the exact figure, and some estimated that nearly a hundred thousand more had perished. Given the difficulty of observing documentation procedures in the rush to dispose of the dead, it was considered unlikely that a definitive total would ever be established.
Further deaths occurred as serious injuries went untreated in the absence of medical staff and supplies. The orphans created by these mass mortalities—as well as those whose parents had died prior to the quake—were left vulnerable to abuse and human trafficking. Though adoptions of Haitian children by foreign nationals—particularly in the United States—were expedited, the process was slowed by the efforts of Haitian and foreign authorities to ensure that the children did not have living relatives, as orphanages had often temporarily accommodated the children of the destitute.
Because the infrastructure of the country’s computer network was largely unaffected, electronic media emerged as a useful mode for connecting those separated by the quake and for coordinating relief efforts. Survivors who were able to access the Internet—and friends and relatives abroad—took to social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook in search of information on those missing in the wake of the catastrophe. Feeds from these sites also assisted aid organizations in constructing maps of the areas affected and in determining where to channel resources. The many Haitians lacking Internet access were able to contribute updates via text messaging on mobile phones.
The general disorder created by the earthquake—combined with the destruction of the country’s electoral headquarters and the death of UN officials working in concert with the Haitian electoral council—prompted Haitian Pres. René Préval to defer legislative elections that had been scheduled for the end of February. Préval’s term in office was set to end the following year.
Humanitarian aid was promised by numerous organizations—spearheaded by the United Nations and the International Red Cross—and many countries in the region and around the world sent doctors, relief workers, and supplies. Former U.S. president Bill Clinton, who had in May 2009 been named the UN special envoy to Haiti, was assigned the task of coordinating the efforts of the disparate aid initiatives. In the months following the disaster, Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive expressed concern that foreign nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)—which were numerous in Haiti even prior to the quake and which bore responsibility for diverse aspects of the recovery—were not sufficiently accounting for the use of their resources, making it challenging for the Haitian government to assess where its own resources could best be deployed. The NGOs, in turn, were hindered by their own unwieldy bureaucratic structures and found interorganizational communication difficult. The U.S. military—though providing considerable initial support in the form of equipment, logistics coordination, and personnel—had withdrawn all but a fraction of its forces by the second week of March, leaving UN peacekeepers and Haitian police to maintain order.
Using a model that had proved successful in Europe after the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, programs were initiated abroad whereby mobile phone users could make donations via text messages. A sizeable portion of the aid gathered in the United States was channeled through mobile phone companies. A celebrity telethon hosted by Haitian American rapper Wyclef Jean in New York City and American actor George Clooney in Los Angeles and featuring numerous other entertainers was broadcast internationally and generated over $60 million.
A significant portion of Haiti’s debt had been cancelled the previous year as part of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, but the country still owed more than $1 billion to a range of creditors. With its economy barely functioning, the country appeared unlikely to meet those obligations. In February the G7 countries forgave the remaining portion of Haiti’s debt to them, and in March the Inter-American Development Bank forgave $447 million and pledged over $30 million in further support. A UN donor conference in New York City in late March generated pledges of $9.9 billion, with $5.3 billion to be used during the first two years of reconstruction efforts. The bulk of the sum was put forth by the United States and the European Union (EU). The donor conference also established the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, a partnership between the Haitian government and foreign donors that, under the chairmanship of Clinton and Préval, would disburse aid funds to a variety of reconstruction efforts. The commission was approved by the Haitian parliament in April, 2010.
Earthquake is the sudden shaking of the ground caused by a disturbance deeper within the crust of the Earth.
Most earthquakes occur when masses of rock straining against one another along fault lines suddenly fracture and slip. The Earth’s major earthquakes occur mainly in belts coinciding with the margins of tectonic plates. These include the Circum-Pacific Belt, which affects New Zealand, New Guinea, Japan, the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, and the western coasts of North and South America; the Alpide Belt, which passes through the Mediterranean region eastward through Asia; oceanic ridges in the Arctic, Atlantic, and western Indian oceans; and the rift valleys of East Africa. The “size,” or magnitude, of earthquakes is usually expressed in terms of the Richter scale, which assigns levels from 1.0 or lower to 8.0 or higher. The largest quake ever recorded (Richter magnitude 9.5) occurred off the coast of Chile in 1960. The “strength” of an earthquake is rated in intensity scales such as the Mercalli scale, which assigns qualitative measures of damage to terrain and structures that range from “not felt” to “damage nearly total.” The most destructive quake of modern times occurred in 1976, when the city of Tangshan, China, was leveled and more than 250,000 people killed.
It is any sudden shaking of the ground caused by the passage of seismic waves through the Earth’s rocks. Seismic waves are produced when some form of energy stored in the Earth’s crust is suddenly released, usually when masses of rock straining against one another suddenly fracture and “slip.” Earthquakes occur most often along geologic faults, narrow zones where rock masses move in relation to one another. The major fault lines of the world are located at the fringes of the huge tectonic plates that make up the Earth’s crust.
Little was understood about earthquakes until the emergence of seismology at the beginning of the 20th century. Seismology, which involves the scientific study of all aspects of earthquakes, has yielded answers to such long-standing questions as why and how earthquakes occur.
About 50,000 earthquakes large enough to be noticed without the aid of instruments occur annually over the entire Earth. Of these, approximately 100 are of sufficient size to produce substantial damage if their centres are near areas of habitation. Very great earthquakes occur on average about once per year. Over the centuries they have been responsible for millions of deaths and an incalculable amount of damage to property (see the table of major historical earthquakes).
Notable earthquakes in history
approximate number of deaths
c. 1500 BCE
Knossos, Crete (Greece)
One of several events that leveled the capital of Minoan civilization, this quake accompanied the explosion of the nearby volcanic island of Thera.
This quake cracked one of the statues known as the Colossi of Memnon, and for almost two centuries the “singing Memnon” emitted musical tones on certain mornings as it was warmed by the Sun’s rays.
Pompeii and Herculaneum (Italy)
These two prosperous Roman cities had not yet recovered from the quake of 62 when they were buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79.
Antioch (Antakya, Turkey)
A centre of Hellenistic and early Christian culture, Antioch suffered many devastating quakes; this one almost killed the visiting Roman emperor Trajan.
Shaanxi province (China)
This may have been the deadliest earthquake ever recorded.
Many of Cuzco’s Baroque monuments date to the rebuilding of the city after this quake.
Port Royal (Jamaica)
Much of this British West Indies port, a notorious haven for buccaneers and slave traders, sank beneath the sea following the quake.
southeastern Sicily (Italy)
Syracuse, Catania, and Ragusa were almost completely destroyed but were rebuilt with a Baroque splendour that still attracts tourists.
The Lisbon earthquake of 1755 was felt as far away as Algiers and caused a tsunami that reached the Caribbean.
This ancient highland city was destroyed and rebuilt, as it had been in 791, 858, 1041, and 1721 and would be again in 1927.
New Madrid, Mo. (U.S.)
8.0 to 8.8
A series of quakes at the New Madrid Fault caused few deaths, but the New Madrid earthquake of 1811–12 rerouted portions of the Mississippi River and was felt from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.
A provincial town in 1812, Caracas recovered and eventually became Venezuela’s capital.
British naturalist Charles Darwin, witnessing this quake, marveled at the power of the Earth to destroy cities and alter landscapes.
Charleston, S.C., U.S.
This was one of the largest quakes ever to hit the eastern United States.
Modern Ljubljana is said to have been born in the rebuilding after this quake.
San Francisco, Calif., U.S.
San Francisco still dates its modern development from the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and the resulting fires.
Messina and Reggio di Calabria, Italy
These two cities on the Strait of Messina were almost completely destroyed in what is said to be Europe’s worst earthquake ever.
Gansu province, China
Many of the deaths in this quake-prone province were caused by huge landslides.
Japan’s capital and its principal port, located on soft alluvial ground, suffered severely from the Tokyo-Yokohama earthquake of 1923.
Hawke Bay, New Zealand
The bayside towns of Napier and Hastings were rebuilt in an Art Deco style that is now a great tourist attraction.
The capital of Balochistan province was severely damaged in the most destructive quake to hit South Asia in the 20th century.
Every year, Turkmenistan commemorates the utter destruction of its capital in this quake.
The largest quake ever recorded in South Asia killed relatively few people in a lightly populated region along the Indo-Chinese border.
Valdivia and Puerto Montt, Chile
The Chile earthquake of 1960, the largest quake ever recorded in the world, produced a tsunami that crossed the Pacific Ocean to Japan, where it killed more than 100 people.
The capital of Macedonia had to be rebuilt almost completely following this quake.
Prince William Sound, Alaska, U.S.
Anchorage, Seward, and Valdez were damaged, but most deaths in the Alaska earthquake of 1964 were caused by tsunamis in Alaska and as far away as California.
Most of the damage and loss of life resulting from the Ancash earthquake was caused by landslides and the collapse of poorly constructed buildings.
The centre of the capital of Nicaragua was almost completely destroyed and has never been rebuilt.
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Rebuilt following a series of devastating quakes in 1917-18, the capital of Guatemala again suffered great destruction.
In the Tangshan earthquake of 1976, this industrial city was almost completely destroyed in the worst earthquake disaster in modern history.
Michoacán state and Mexico City, Mexico
The centre of Mexico City, built largely on the soft subsoil of an ancient lake, suffered great damage in the Mexico City earthquake of 1985.
Spitak and Gyumri, Armenia
This quake destroyed nearly one-third of Armenia’s industrial capacity.
Loma Prieta, Calif., U.S.
The San Francisco-Oakland earthquake, the first sizable movement of the San Andreas Fault since 1906, collapsed a section of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.
Northridge, Calif., U.S.
Centred in the urbanized San Fernando Valley, the Northridge earthquake collapsed freeways and some buildings, but damage was limited by earthquake-resistant construction.
The Great Hanshin Earthquake destroyed or damaged 200,000 buildings and left 300,000 people homeless.
The Izmit earthquake heavily damaged the industrial city of Izmit and the naval base at Golcuk.
Nan-t’ou county, Taiwan
The Taiwan earthquake of 1999, the worst to hit Taiwan since 1935, provided a wealth of digitized data for seismic and engineering studies.
Bhuj, Gujarat state, India
This quake, possibly the deadliest ever to hit India, was felt across India and Pakistan.
This ancient Silk Road fortress city, built mostly of mud brick, was almost completely destroyed.
Aceh province, Sumatra, Indonesia
The deaths resulting from this offshore quake actually were caused by a tsunami originating in the Indian Ocean that, in addition to killing more than 150,000 in Indonesia, killed people as far away as Sri Lanka and Somalia.
Azad Kashmir (Pakistani-administered Kashmir)
The Kashmir earthquake, perhaps the deadliest shock ever to strike South Asia, left hundreds of thousands of people exposed to the coming winter weather.
Sichuan province, China
The Sichuan earthquake of 2008 left over 5 million people homeless across the region, and over half of Beichuan City was destroyed by the initial seismic event and the release of water from a lake formed by nearby landslides.
The Haiti earthquake of 2010 devastated the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince and left an estimated 1.5 million survivors homeless.
The Chile earthquake of 2010 produced widespread damage in Chile’s central region and triggered tsunami warnings throughout the Pacific basin.
The nature of earthquakes
Causes of earthquakes
The Earth’s major earthquakes occur mainly in belts coinciding with the margins of tectonic plates . This has long been apparent from early catalogs of felt earthquakes and is even more readily discernible in modern seismicity maps, which show instrumentally determined epicentres. The most important earthquake belt is the Circum-Pacific Belt, which affects many populated coastal regions around the Pacific Ocean—for example, those of New Zealand, New Guinea, Japan, the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, and the western coasts of North and South America. It is estimated that 80 percent of the energy presently released in earthquakes comes from those whose epicentres are in this belt. The seismic activity is by no means uniform throughout the belt, and there are a number of branches at various points. Because at many places the Circum-Pacific Belt is associated with volcanic activity, it has been popularly dubbed the “Pacific Ring of Fire.”
A second belt, known as the Alpide Belt, passes through the Mediterranean region eastward through Asia and joins the Circum-Pacific Belt in the East Indies. The energy released in earthquakes from this belt is about 15 percent of the world total. There also are striking connected belts of seismic activity, mainly along oceanic ridges—including those in the Arctic Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, and the western Indian Ocean—and along the rift valleys of East Africa. This global seismicity distribution is best understood in terms of its plate tectonic setting.
Earthquakes are caused by the sudden release of energy within some limited region of the rocks of the Earth. The energy can be released by elastic strain, gravity, chemical reactions, or even the motion of massive bodies. Of all these the release of elastic strain is the most important cause, because this form of energy is the only kind that can be stored in sufficient quantity in the Earth to produce major disturbances. Earthquakes associated with this type of energy release are called tectonic earthquakes.
Tectonic earthquakes are explained by the so-called elastic rebound theory, formulated by the American geologist Harry Fielding Reid after the San Andreas Fault ruptured in 1906, generating the great San Francisco earthquake. According to the theory, a tectonic earthquake occurs when strains in rock masses have accumulated to a point where the resulting stresses exceed the strength of the rocks, and sudden fracturing results. The fractures propagate rapidly through the rock, usually tending in the same direction and sometimes extending many kilometres along a local zone of weakness. In 1906, for instance, the San Andreas Fault slipped along a plane 430 km (270 miles) long. Along this line the ground was displaced horizontally as much as 6 metres (20 feet).
As a fault rupture progresses along or up the fault, rock masses are flung in opposite directions and thus spring back to a position where there is less strain. At any one point this movement may take place not at once but rather in irregular steps; these sudden slowings and restartings give rise to the vibrations that propagate as seismic waves. Such irregular properties of fault rupture are now included in the modeling of earthquake sources, both physically and mathematically. Roughnesses along the fault are referred to as asperities, and places where the rupture slows or stops are said to be fault barriers. Fault rupture starts at the earthquake focus, a spot that in many cases is close to 5–15 km under the surface. The rupture propagates in one or both directions over the fault plane until stopped or slowed at a barrier. Sometimes, instead of being stopped at the barrier, the fault rupture recommences on the far side; at other times the stresses in the rocks break the barrier, and the rupture continues.
Earthquakes have different properties depending on the type of fault slip that causes them. The usual fault model has a “strike” (that is, the direction from north taken by a horizontal line in the fault plane) and a “dip” (the angle from the horizontal shown by the steepest slope in the fault). The lower wall of an inclined fault is called the footwall. Lying over the footwall is the hanging wall. When rock masses slip past each other parallel to the strike, the movement is known as strike-slip faulting. Movement parallel to the dip is called dip-slip faulting. Strike-slip faults are right lateral or left lateral, depending on whether the block on the opposite side of the fault from an observer has moved to the right or left. In dip-slip faults, if the hanging-wall block moves downward relative to the footwall block, it is called “normal” faulting; the opposite motion, with the hanging wall moving upward relative to the footwall, produces reverse or thrust faulting.
All known faults are assumed to have been the seat of one or more earthquakes in the past, though tectonic movements along faults are often slow, and most geologically ancient faults are now aseismic (that is, they no longer cause earthquakes). The actual faulting associated with an earthquake may be complex, and it is often not clear whether in a particular earthquake the total energy issues from a single fault plane.
Observed geologic faults sometimes show relative displacements on the order of hundreds of kilometres over geologic time, whereas the sudden slip offsets that produce seismic waves may range from only several centimetres to tens of metres. In the 1976 Tangshan earthquake, for example, a surface strike-slip of about one metre was observed along the causative fault east of Beijing, and in the 1999 Taiwan earthquake the Chelung-pu fault slipped up to eight metres vertically.
A separate type of earthquake is associated with volcanic activity and is called a volcanic earthquake. Yet it is likely that even in such cases the disturbance is the result of a sudden slip of rock masses adjacent to the volcano and the consequent release of elastic strain energy. The stored energy, however, may in part be of hydrodynamic origin due to heat provided by magma moving in reservoirs beneath the volcano or to the release of gas under pressure.
There is a clear correspondence between the geographic distribution of volcanoes and major earthquakes, particularly in the Circum-Pacific Belt and along oceanic ridges. Volcanic vents, however, are generally several hundred kilometres from the epicentres of most major shallow earthquakes, and many earthquake sources occur nowhere near active volcanoes. Even in cases where an earthquake’s focus occurs directly below structures marked by volcanic vents, there is probably no immediate causal connection between the two activities; most likely both are the result of the same tectonic processes.
Earthquakes are sometimes caused by human activities, including the injection of fluids into deep wells, the detonation of large underground nuclear explosions, the excavation of mines, and the filling of large reservoirs. In the case of deep mining, the removal of rock produces changes in the strain around the tunnels. Slip on adjacent, preexisting faults or outward shattering of rock into the new cavities may occur. In fluid injection, the slip is thought to be induced by premature release of elastic strain, as in the case of tectonic earthquakes, after fault surfaces are lubricated by the liquid. Large underground nuclear explosions have been known to produce slip on already strained faults in the vicinity of the test devices.
Of the various earthquake-causing activities cited above, the filling of large reservoirs is among the most important. More than 20 significant cases have been documented in which local seismicity has increased following the impounding of water behind high dams. Often, causality cannot be substantiated, because no data exists to allow comparison of earthquake occurrence before and after the reservoir was filled. Reservoir-induction effects are most marked for reservoirs exceeding 100 metres (330 feet) in depth and 1 cubic km (0.24 cubic mile) in volume. Three sites where such connections have very probably occurred are the Hoover Dam in the United States, the Aswan High Dam in Egypt, and the Kariba Dam on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. The most generally accepted explanation for earthquake occurrence in such cases assumes that rocks near the reservoir are already strained from regional tectonic forces to a point where nearby faults are almost ready to slip. Water in the reservoir adds a pressure perturbation that triggers the fault rupture. The pressure effect is perhaps enhanced by the fact that the rocks along the fault have lower strength because of increased water-pore pressure. These factors notwithstanding, the filling of most large reservoirs has not produced earthquakes large enough to be a hazard.
The specific seismic source mechanisms associated with reservoir induction have been established in a few cases. For the main shock at the Koyna Dam and Reservoir in India (1967), the evidence favours strike-slip faulting motion. At both the Kremasta Dam in Greece (1965) and the Kariba Dam in Zimbabwe-Zambia (1961), the generating mechanism was dip-slip on normal faults. By contrast, thrust mechanisms have been determined for sources of earthquakes at the lake behind Nurek Dam in Tajikistan. More than 1,800 earthquakes occurred during the first nine years after water was impounded in this 317-metre-deep reservoir in 1972, a rate amounting to four times the average number of shocks in the region prior to filling.
Seismology and nuclear explosions
In 1958 representatives from several countries, including the United States and the Soviet Union, met to discuss the technical basis for a nuclear test-ban treaty. Among the matters considered was the feasibility of developing effective means with which to detect underground nuclear explosions and to distinguish them seismically from earthquakes. After that conference, much special research was directed to seismology, leading to major advances in seismic signal detection and analysis.
Recent seismological work on treaty verification has involved using high-resolution seismographs in a worldwide network, estimating the yield of explosions, studying wave attenuation in the Earth, determining wave amplitude and frequency spectra discriminants, and applying seismic arrays. The findings of such research have shown that underground nuclear explosions, compared with natural earthquakes, usually generate seismic waves through the body of the Earth that are of much larger amplitude than the surface waves. This telltale difference along with other types of seismic evidence suggest that an international monitoring network of 270 seismographic stations could detect and locate all seismic events over the globe of magnitude 4 and above (corresponding to an explosive yield of about 100 tons of TNT).
Effects of earthquakes
Earthquakes have varied effects, including changes in geologic features, damage to man-made structures, and impact on human and animal life. Most of these effects occur on solid ground, but, since most earthquake foci are actually located under the ocean bottom, severe effects are often observed along the margins of oceans.
Earthquakes often cause dramatic geomorphological changes, including ground movements—either vertical or horizontal—along geologic fault traces; rising, dropping, and tilting of the ground surface; changes in the flow of groundwater; liquefaction of sandy ground; landslides; and mudflows. The investigation of topographic changes is aided by geodetic measurements, which are made systematically in a number of countries seriously affected by earthquakes.
Earthquakes can do significant damage to buildings, bridges, pipelines, railways, embankments, and other structures. The type and extent of damage inflicted are related to the strength of the ground motions and to the behaviour of the foundation soils. In the most intensely damaged region, called the meizoseismal area, the effects of a severe earthquake are usually complicated and depend on the topography and the nature of the surface materials. They are often more severe on soft alluvium and unconsolidated sediments than on hard rock. At distances of more than 100 km (60 miles) from the source, the main damage is caused by seismic waves traveling along the surface. In mines there is frequently little damage below depths of a few hundred metres even though the ground surface immediately above is considerably affected.
Earthquakes are frequently associated with reports of distinctive sounds and lights. The sounds are generally low-pitched and have been likened to the noise of an underground train passing through a station. The occurrence of such sounds is consistent with the passage of high-frequency seismic waves through the ground. Occasionally, luminous flashes, streamers, and bright balls have been reported in the night sky during earthquakes. These lights have been attributed to electric induction in the air along the earthquake source.
Following certain earthquakes, very long-wavelength water waves in oceans or seas sweep inshore. More properly called seismic sea waves or tsunamis (tsunami is a Japanese word for “harbour wave”), they are commonly referred to as tidal waves, although the attractions of the Moon and Sun play no role in their formation. They sometimes come ashore to great heights—tens of metres above mean tide level—and may be extremely destructive.
The usual immediate cause of a tsunami is sudden displacement in a seabed sufficient to cause the sudden raising or lowering of a large body of water. This deformation may be the fault source of an earthquake, or it may be a submarine landslide arising from an earthquake. Large volcanic eruptions along shorelines, such as those of Thera (c. 1580 bc) and Krakatoa (ad 1883), have also produced notable tsunamis. The most destructive tsunami ever recorded occurred on December 26, 2004, after an earthquake displaced the seabed off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. More than 200,000 people were killed by a series of waves that flooded coasts from Indonesia to Sri Lanka and even washed ashore on the Horn of Africa.
Following the initial disturbance to the sea surface, water waves spread in all directions. Their speed of travel in deep water is given by the formula (√gh), where h is the sea depth and g is the acceleration of gravity. This speed may be considerable—100 metres per second (225 miles per hour) when h is 1,000 metres (3,300 feet). However, the amplitude (that is, the height of disturbance) at the water surface does not exceed a few metres in deep water, and the principal wavelength may be on the order of hundreds of kilometres; correspondingly, the principal wave period—that is, the time interval between arrival of successive crests—may be on the order of tens of minutes. Because of these features, tsunami waves are not noticed by ships far out at sea.
When tsunamis approach shallow water, however, the wave amplitude increases. The waves may occasionally reach a height of 20 to 30 metres above mean sea level in U- and V-shaped harbours and inlets. They characteristically do a great deal of damage in low-lying ground around such inlets. Frequently, the wave front in the inlet is nearly vertical, as in a tidal bore, and the speed of onrush may be on the order of 10 metres per second. In some cases there are several great waves separated by intervals of several minutes or more. The first of these waves is often preceded by an extraordinary recession of water from the shore, which may commence several minutes or even half an hour beforehand.
Organizations, notably in Japan, Siberia, Alaska, and Hawaii, have been set up to provide tsunami warnings. A key development is the Seismic Sea Wave Warning System, an internationally supported system designed to reduce loss of life in the Pacific Ocean. Centred in Honolulu, it issues alerts based on reports of earthquakes from circum-Pacific seismographic stations.
Seiches are rhythmic motions of water in nearly landlocked bays or lakes that are sometimes induced by earthquakes and tsunamis. Oscillations of this sort may last for hours or even for a day or two.
The great Lisbon earthquake of 1755 caused the waters of canals and lakes in regions as far away as Scotland and Sweden to go into observable oscillations. Seiche surges in lakes in Texas, in the southwestern United States, commenced between 30 and 40 minutes after the 1964 Alaska earthquake, produced by seismic surface waves passing through the area.
A related effect is the result of seismic waves from an earthquake passing through the seawater following their refraction through the seafloor. The speed of these waves is about 1.5 km (0.9 mile) per second, the speed of sound in water. If such waves meet a ship with sufficient intensity, they give the impression that the ship has struck a submerged object. This phenomenon is called a seaquake.
Intensity and magnitude of earthquakes
The violence of seismic shaking varies considerably over a single affected area. Because the entire range of observed effects is not capable of simple quantitative definition, the strength of the shaking is commonly estimated by reference to intensity scales that describe the effects in qualitative terms. Intensity scales date from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, before seismographs capable of accurate measurement of ground motion were developed. Since that time, the divisions in these scales have been associated with measurable accelerations of the local ground shaking. Intensity depends, however, in a complicated way not only on ground accelerations but also on the periods and other features of seismic waves, the distance of the measuring point from the source, and the local geologic structure. Furthermore, earthquake intensity, or strength, is distinct from earthquake magnitude, which is a measure of the amplitude, or size, of seismic waves as specified by a seismograph reading. See below Earthquake magnitude.
A number of different intensity scales have been set up during the past century and applied to both current and ancient destructive earthquakes. For many years the most widely used was a 10-point scale devised in 1878 by Michele Stefano de Rossi and Franƈois-Alphonse Forel. The scale now generally employed in North America is the Mercalli scale, as modified by Harry O. Wood and Frank Neumann in 1931, in which intensity is considered to be more suitably graded. A 12-point abridged form of the modified Mercalli scale is provided below. Modified Mercalli intensity VIII is roughly correlated with peak accelerations of about one-quarter that of gravity (g = 9.8 metres, or 32.2 feet, per second squared) and ground velocities of 20 cm (8 inches) per second. Alternative scales have been developed in both Japan and Europe for local conditions. The European (MSK) scale of 12 grades is similar to the abridged version of the Mercalli.
Modified Mercalli scale of earthquake intensity
Not felt. Marginal and long-period effects of large earthquakes.
Felt by persons at rest, on upper floors, or otherwise favourably placed to sense tremors.
Felt indoors. Hanging objects swing. Vibrations are similar to those caused by the passing of light trucks. Duration can be estimated.
Vibrations are similar to those caused by the passing of heavy trucks (or a jolt similar to that caused by a heavy ball striking the walls). Standing automobiles rock. Windows, dishes, doors rattle. Glasses clink, crockery clashes. In the upper range of grade IV, wooden walls and frames creak.
Felt outdoors; direction may be estimated. Sleepers awaken. Liquids are disturbed, some spilled. Small objects are displaced or upset. Doors swing, open, close. Pendulum clocks stop, start, change rate.
Felt by all; many are frightened and run outdoors. Persons walk unsteadily. Pictures fall off walls. Furniture moves or overturns. Weak plaster and masonry cracks. Small bells ring (church, school). Trees, bushes shake.
Difficult to stand. Noticed by drivers of automobiles. Hanging objects quivering. Furniture broken. Damage to weak masonry. Weak chimneys broken at roof line. Fall of plaster, loose bricks, stones, tiles, cornices. Waves on ponds; water turbid with mud. Small slides and caving along sand or gravel banks. Large bells ringing. Concrete irrigation ditches damaged.
Steering of automobiles affected. Damage to masonry; partial collapse. Some damage to reinforced masonry; none to reinforced masonry designed to resist lateral forces. Fall of stucco and some masonry walls. Twisting, fall of chimneys, factory stacks, monuments, towers, elevated tanks. Frame houses moved on foundations if not bolted down; loose panel walls thrown out. Decayed pilings broken off. Branches broken from trees. Changes in flow or temperature of springs and wells. Cracks in wet ground and on steep slopes.
General panic. Weak masonry destroyed; ordinary masonry heavily damaged, sometimes with complete collapse; reinforced masonry seriously damaged. Serious damage to reservoirs. Underground pipes broken. Conspicuous cracks in ground. In alluvial areas, sand and mud ejected; earthquake fountains, sand craters.
Most masonry and frame structures destroyed with their foundations. Some well-built wooden structures and bridges destroyed. Serious damage to dams, dikes, embankments. Large landslides. Water thrown on banks of canals, rivers, lakes, and so on. Sand and mud shifted horizontally on beaches and flat land. Railway rails bent slightly.
Rails bent greatly. Underground pipelines completely out of service.
Damage nearly total. Large rock masses displaced. Lines of sight and level distorted. Objects thrown into air.
With the use of an intensity scale, it is possible to summarize such data for an earthquake by constructing isoseismal curves, which are lines that connect points of equal intensity. If there were complete symmetry about the vertical through the earthquake’s focus, isoseismals would be circles with the epicentre (the point at the surface of the Earth immediately above where the earthquake originated) as the centre. However, because of the many unsymmetrical geologic factors influencing intensity, the curves are often far from circular. The most probable position of the epicentre is often assumed to be at a point inside the area of highest intensity. In some cases, instrumental data verify this calculation, but not infrequently the true epicentre lies outside the area of greatest intensity.
Earthquake magnitude is a measure of the “size,” or amplitude, of the seismic waves generated by an earthquake source and recorded by seismographs. (The types and nature of these waves are described in the section Seismic waves.) Because the size of earthquakes varies enormously, it is necessary for purposes of comparison to compress the range of wave amplitudes measured on seismograms by means of a mathematical device. In 1935 the American seismologist Charles F. Richter set up a magnitude scale of earthquakes as the logarithm to base 10 of the maximum seismic wave amplitude (in thousandths of a millimetre) recorded on a standard seismograph (the Wood-Anderson torsion pendulum seismograph) at a distance of 100 km (60 miles) from the earthquake epicentre. Reduction of amplitudes observed at various distances to the amplitudes expected at the standard distance of 100 km is made on the basis of empirical tables. Richter magnitudes ML are computed on the assumption that the ratio of the maximum wave amplitudes at two given distances is the same for all earthquakes and is independent of azimuth.
Richter first applied his magnitude scale to shallow-focus earthquakes recorded within 600 km of the epicentre in the southern California region. Later, additional empirical tables were set up, whereby observations made at distant stations and on seismographs other than the standard type could be used. Empirical tables were extended to cover earthquakes of all significant focal depths and to enable independent magnitude estimates to be made from body- and surface-wave observations. A current form of the Richter scale is shown in the table.
Richter scale of earthquake magnitude
Earthquakes per year
less than 1.0 to 2.9
generally not felt by people, though recorded on local instruments
more than 100,000
felt by many people; no damage
felt by all; minor breakage of objects
some damage to weak structures
moderate damage in populated areas
serious damage over large areas; loss of life
8.0 and higher
severe destruction and loss of life over large areas
fewer than 3
At the present time a number of different magnitude scales are used by scientists and engineers as a measure of the relative size of an earthquake. The P-wave magnitude (Mb), for one, is defined in terms of the amplitude of the P wave recorded on a standard seismograph. Similarly, the surface-wave magnitude (Ms) is defined in terms of the logarithm of the maximum amplitude of ground motion for surface waves with a wave period of 20 seconds.
As defined, an earthquake magnitude scale has no lower or upper limit. Sensitive seismographs can record earthquakes with magnitudes of negative value and have recorded magnitudes up to about 9.0. (The 1906 San Francisco earthquake, for example, had a Richter magnitude of 8.25.)
A scientific weakness is that there is no direct mechanical basis for magnitude as defined above. Rather, it is an empirical parameter analogous to stellar magnitude assessed by astronomers. In modern practice a more soundly based mechanical measure of earthquake size is used—namely, the seismic moment (M0). Such a parameter is related to the angular leverage of the forces that produce the slip on the causative fault. It can be calculated both from recorded seismic waves and from field measurements of the size of the fault rupture. Consequently, seismic moment provides a more uniform scale of earthquake size based on classical mechanics. This measure allows a more scientific magnitude to be used called moment magnitude (Mw). It is proportional to the logarithm of the seismic moment; values do not differ greatly from Ms values for moderate earthquakes. Given the above definitions, the great Alaska earthquake of 1964, with a Richter magnitude (ML) of 8.3, also had the values Ms = 8.4, M0 = 820 × 1027 dyne centimetres, and Mw = 9.2.
Energy in an earthquake passing a particular surface site can be calculated directly from the recordings of seismic ground motion, given, for example, as ground velocity. Such recordings indicate an energy rate of 105 watts per square metre (9,300 watts per square foot) near a moderate-size earthquake source. The total power output of a rupturing fault in a shallow earthquake is on the order of 1014 watts, compared with the 105 watts generated in rocket motors.
The surface-wave magnitude Ms has also been connected with the surface energy Es of an earthquake by empirical formulas. These give Es = 6.3 × 1011 and 1.4 × 1025 ergs for earthquakes of Ms = 0 and 8.9, respectively. A unit increase in Ms corresponds to approximately a 32-fold increase in energy. Negative magnitudes Ms correspond to the smallest instrumentally recorded earthquakes, a magnitude of 1.5 to the smallest felt earthquakes, and one of 3.0 to any shock felt at a distance of up to 20 km (12 miles). Earthquakes of magnitude 5.0 cause light damage near the epicentre; those of 6.0 are destructive over a restricted area; and those of 7.5 are at the lower limit of major earthquakes.
The total annual energy released in all earthquakes is about 1025 ergs, corresponding to a rate of work between 10 million and 100 million kilowatts. This is approximately one one-thousandth the annual amount of heat escaping from the Earth’s interior. Ninety percent of the total seismic energy comes from earthquakes of magnitude 7.0 and higher—that is, those whose energy is on the order of 1023 ergs or more.
There also are empirical relations for the frequencies of earthquakes of various magnitudes. Suppose N to be the average number of shocks per year for which the magnitude lies in a range about Ms. Thenlog10 N = a − bMs fits the data well both globally and for particular regions; for example, for shallow earthquakes worldwide, a = 6.7 and b = 0.9 when Ms > 6.0. The frequency for larger earthquakes therefore increases by a factor of about 10 when the magnitude is diminished by one unit. The increase in frequency with reduction in Ms falls short, however, of matching the decrease in the energy E. Thus, larger earthquakes are overwhelmingly responsible for most of the total seismic energy release. The number of earthquakes per year with Mb > 4.0 reaches 50,000.
Occurrence of earthquakes
Global seismicity patterns had no strong theoretical explanation until the dynamic model called plate tectonics was developed during the late 1960s. This theory holds that the Earth’s upper shell, or lithosphere, consists of nearly a dozen large, quasi-stable slabs called plates. The thickness of each of these plates is roughly 80 km (50 miles). The plates move horizontally relative to neighbouring plates at a rate of 1 to 10 cm (0.4 to 4 inches) per year over a shell of lesser strength called the asthenosphere. At the plate edges where there is contact between adjoining plates, boundary tectonic forces operate on the rocks, causing physical and chemical changes in them. New lithosphere is created at oceanic ridges by the upwelling and cooling of magma from the Earth’s mantle. The horizontally moving plates are believed to be absorbed at the ocean trenches, where a subduction process carries the lithosphere downward into the Earth’s interior. The total amount of lithospheric material destroyed at these subduction zones equals that generated at the ridges.
Seismological evidence (such as the location of major earthquake belts) is everywhere in agreement with this tectonic model. Earthquake sources are concentrated along the oceanic ridges, which correspond to divergent plate boundaries. At the subduction zones, which are associated with convergent plate boundaries, intermediate- and deep-focus earthquakes mark the location of the upper part of a dipping lithosphere slab. The focal mechanisms indicate that the stresses are aligned with the dip of the lithosphere underneath the adjacent continent or island arc.
Some earthquakes associated with oceanic ridges are confined to strike-slip faults, called transform faults, that offset the ridge crests. The majority of the earthquakes occurring along such horizontal shear faults are characterized by slip motions. Also in agreement with the plate tectonics theory is the high seismicity encountered along the edges of plates where they slide past each other. Plate boundaries of this kind, sometimes called fracture zones, include the San Andreas Fault in California and the North Anatolian fault system in Turkey. Such plate boundaries are the site of interplate earthquakes of shallow focus.
The low seismicity within plates is consistent with the plate tectonic description. Small to large earthquakes do occur in limited regions well within the boundaries of plates; however, such intraplate seismic events can be explained by tectonic mechanisms other than plate boundary motions and their associated phenomena.
Shallow, intermediate, and deep foci
Most parts of the world experience at least occasional shallow earthquakes—those that originate within 60 km (40 miles) of the Earth’s outer surface. In fact, the great majority of earthquake foci are shallow. It should be noted, however, that the geographic distribution of smaller earthquakes is less completely determined than more severe quakes, partly because the availability of relevant data is dependent on the distribution of observatories.
Of the total energy released in earthquakes, 12 percent comes from intermediate earthquakes—that is, quakes with a focal depth ranging from about 60 to 300 km. About 3 percent of total energy comes from deeper earthquakes. The frequency of occurrence falls off rapidly with increasing focal depth in the intermediate range. Below intermediate depth the distribution is fairly uniform until the greatest focal depths, of about 700 km (430 miles), are approached.
The deeper-focus earthquakes commonly occur in patterns called Benioff zones that dip into the Earth, indicating the presence of a subducting slab. Dip angles of these slabs average about 45°, with some shallower and others nearly vertical. Benioff zones coincide with tectonically active island arcs such as Japan, Vanuatu, Tonga, and the Aleutians, and they are normally but not always associated with deep ocean trenches such as those along the South American Andes. Exceptions to this rule include Romania and the Hindu Kush mountain system. In most Benioff zones, intermediate- and deep-earthquake foci lie in a narrow layer, although recent precise hypocentral locations in Japan and elsewhere show two distinct parallel bands of foci 20 km apart.
Aftershocks, foreshocks, and swarms
Usually, a major or even moderate earthquake of shallow focus is followed by many lesser-size earthquakes close to the original source region. This is to be expected if the fault rupture producing a major earthquake does not relieve all the accumulated strain energy at once. In fact, this dislocation is liable to cause an increase in the stress and strain at a number of places in the vicinity of the focal region, bringing crustal rocks at certain points close to the stress at which fracture occurs. In some cases an earthquake may be followed by 1,000 or more aftershocks a day.
Sometimes a large earthquake is followed by a similar one along the same fault source within an hour or perhaps a day. An extreme case of this is multiple earthquakes. In most instances, however, the first principal earthquake of a series is much more severe than the aftershocks. In general, the number of aftershocks per day decreases with time. The aftershock frequency is roughly inversely proportional to the time since the occurrence of the largest earthquake of the series.
Most major earthquakes occur without detectable warning, but some principal earthquakes are preceded by foreshocks. In another common pattern, large numbers of small earthquakes may occur in a region for months without a major earthquake. In the Matsushiro region of Japan, for instance, there occurred between August 1965 and August 1967 a series of hundreds of thousands of earthquakes, some sufficiently strong (up to Richter magnitude 5) to cause property damage but no casualties. The maximum frequency was 6,780 small earthquakes on April 17, 1966. Such series of earthquakes are called earthquake swarms. Earthquakes associated with volcanic activity often occur in swarms, though swarms also have been observed in many nonvolcanic regions.
The study of earthquakes
Principal types of seismic waves
Seismic waves generated by an earthquake source are commonly classified into three main types. The first two, the P (or primary) and S (or secondary) waves, propagate within the body of the Earth, while the third, consisting of Love and Rayleigh waves, propagates along its surface. (See figure.) The existence of these types of seismic waves was mathematically predicted during the 19th century, and modern comparisons show that there is a close correspondence between such theoretical calculations and actual measurements of the seismic waves.
The P seismic waves travel as elastic motions at the highest speeds. They are longitudinal waves that can be transmitted by both solid and liquid materials in the Earth’s interior. With P waves, the particles of the medium vibrate in a manner similar to sound waves—the transmitting media is alternately compressed and expanded. The slower type of body wave, the S wave, travels only through solid material. With S waves, the particle motion is transverse to the direction of travel and involves a shearing of the transmitting rock.
Because of their greater speed, P waves are the first to reach any point on the Earth’s surface. The first P-wave onset starts from the spot where an earthquake originates. This point, usually at some depth within the Earth, is called the focus, or hypocentre. The point at the surface immediately above the focus is known as the epicentre.
Love and Rayleigh waves are guided by the free surface of the Earth. They follow along after the P and S waves have passed through the body of the planet. Both Love and Rayleigh waves involve horizontal particle motion, but only the latter type has vertical ground displacements. As Love and Rayleigh waves travel, they disperse into long wave trains, and, at substantial distances from the source in alluvial basins, they cause much of the shaking felt during earthquakes.
Properties of seismic waves
At all distances from the focus, mechanical properties of the rocks, such as incompressibility, rigidity, and density, play a role in the speed with which the waves travel and the shape and duration of the wave trains. The layering of the rocks and the physical properties of surface soil also affect wave characteristics. In most cases, elastic behaviour occurs in earthquakes, but strong shaking of surface soils from the incident seismic waves sometimes results in nonelastic behaviour, including slumping (that is, the downward and outward movement of unconsolidated material) and the liquefaction of sandy soil.
When a seismic wave encounters a boundary that separates rocks of different elastic properties, it undergoes reflection and refraction. There is a special complication because conversion between the wave types usually also occurs at such a boundary: an incident P or S wave can yield reflected P and S waves and refracted P and S waves. Boundaries between structural layers also give rise to diffracted and scattered waves. These additional waves are in part responsible for the complications observed in ground motion during earthquakes. Modern research is concerned with computing synthetic records of ground motion that are realistic in comparison with observed ground shaking, using the theory of waves in complex structures.
The frequency range of seismic waves is large, from as high as the audible range (greater than 20 hertz) to as low as the frequencies of the free oscillations of the whole Earth, with the gravest period being 54 minutes (see below Long-period oscillations of the globe). Attenuation of the waves in rock imposes high-frequency limits, and in small to moderate earthquakes the dominant frequencies extend in surface waves from about 1 to 0.1 hertz.
The amplitude range of seismic waves is also great in most earthquakes. Displacement of the ground ranges from 10−10 to 10−1 metre (4−12 to 4 inches). In the greatest earthquakes the ground amplitude of the predominant P waves may be several centimetres at periods of two to five seconds. Very close to the seismic sources of great earthquakes, investigators have measured large wave amplitudes with accelerations of the ground exceeding that of gravity (9.8 metres, or 32.2 feet, per second squared) at high frequencies and ground displacements of 1 metre at low frequencies.
Measurement of seismic waves
Seismographs and accelerometers
Seismographs are used to measure ground motion in both earthquakes and microseisms (small oscillations described below). Most of these instruments are of the pendulum type. Early mechanical seismographs had a pendulum of large mass (up to several tons) and produced seismograms by scratching a line on smoked paper on a rotating drum. In later instruments, seismograms were recorded by means of a ray of light from the mirror of a galvanometer through which passed an electric current generated by electromagnetic induction when the pendulum of the seismograph moved. Technological developments in electronics have given rise to higher-precision pendulum seismometers and sensors of ground motion. In these instruments the electric voltages produced by motions of the pendulum or the equivalent are passed through electronic circuitry to amplify and digitize the ground motion for more exact readings.
Generally speaking, seismographs are divided into three types: short-period, long- (or intermediate-) period, and ultralong-period, or broadband, instruments. Short-period instruments are used to record P and S body waves with high magnification of the ground motion. For this purpose, the seismograph response is shaped to peak at a period of about one second or less. The intermediate-period instruments of the type used by the World-Wide Standardized Seismographic Network (described in the section Earthquake observatories) had a response maximum at about 20 seconds. Recently, in order to provide as much flexibility as possible for research work, the trend has been toward the operation of very broadband seismographs with digital representation of the signals. This is usually accomplished with very long-period pendulums and electronic amplifiers that pass signals in the band between 0.005 and 50 hertz.
When seismic waves close to their source are to be recorded, special design criteria are needed. Instrument sensitivity must ensure that the largest ground movements can be recorded without exceeding the upper scale limit of the device. For most seismological and engineering purposes the wave frequencies that must be recorded are higher than 1 hertz, and so the pendulum or its equivalent can be small. For this reason accelerometers that measure the rate at which the ground velocity is changing have an advantage for strong-motion recording. Integration is then performed to estimate ground velocity and displacement. The ground accelerations to be registered range up to two times that of gravity. Recording such accelerations can be accomplished mechanically with short torsion suspensions or force-balance mass-spring systems.
Because many strong-motion instruments need to be placed at unattended sites in ordinary buildings for periods of months or years before a strong earthquake occurs, they usually record only when a trigger mechanism is actuated with the onset of ground motion. Solid-state memories are now used, particularly with digital recording instruments, making it possible to preserve the first few seconds before the trigger starts the permanent recording and to store digitized signals on magnetic cassette tape or on a memory chip. In past design absolute timing was not provided on strong-motion records but only accurate relative time marks; the present trend, however, is to provide Universal Time (the local mean time of the prime meridian) by means of special radio receivers, small crystal clocks, or GPS (global positioning system) receivers from satellite clocks.
The prediction of strong ground motion and response of engineered structures in earthquakes depends critically on measurements of the spatial variability of earthquake intensities near the seismic wave source. In an effort to secure such measurements, special arrays of strong-motion seismographs have been installed in areas of high seismicity around the world. Large-aperture seismic arrays (linear dimensions on the order of 1 to 10 km, or 0.6 to 6 miles) of strong-motion accelerometers can now be used to improve estimations of speed, direction of propagation, and types of seismic wave components. Particularly important for full understanding of seismic wave patterns at the ground surface is measurement of the variation of wave motion with depth. To aid in this effort, special digitally recording seismometers have been installed in deep boreholes.
Because 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, there is a need for ocean-bottom seismometers to augment the global land-based system of recording stations. Field tests have established the feasibility of extensive long-term recording by instruments on the seafloor. Japan already has a semipermanent seismograph system of this type that was placed on the seafloor off the Pacific coast of central Honshu in 1978 by means of a cable.
Because of the mechanical difficulties of maintaining permanent ocean-bottom instrumentation, different systems have been considered. They all involve placement of instruments on the bottom of the ocean, though they employ various mechanisms for data transmission. Signals may be transmitted to the ocean surface for retransmission by auxiliary apparatus or transmitted via cable to a shore-based station. Another system is designed to release its recording device automatically, allowing it to float to the surface for later recovery.
The use of ocean-bottom seismographs should yield much-improved global coverage of seismic waves and provide new information on the seismicity of oceanic regions. Ocean-bottom seismographs will enable investigators to determine the details of the crustal structure of the seafloor and, because of the relative thinness of the oceanic crust, should make it possible to collect clear seismic information about the upper mantle. Such systems are also expected to provide new data on plate boundaries, on the origin and propagation of microseisms, and on the nature of ocean-continent margins.
Small ground motions known as microseisms are commonly recorded by seismographs. These weak wave motions are not generated by earthquakes, and they complicate accurate recording of the latter. However, they are of scientific interest because their form is related to the Earth’s surface structure.
Some microseisms have local causes—for example, those due to traffic or machinery or due to local wind effects, storms, and the action of rough surf against an extended steep coast. Another class of microseisms exhibits features that are very similar on records traced at earthquake observatories that are widely separated, including approximately simultaneous occurrence of maximum amplitudes and similar wave frequencies. These microseisms may persist for many hours and have more or less regular periods of about five to eight seconds. The largest amplitudes of such microseisms are on the order of 10−3 cm (0.0004 inch) and occur in coastal regions. The amplitudes also depend to some extent on local geologic structure. Some microseisms are produced when large standing water waves are formed far out at sea. The period of this type of microseism is half that of the standing wave.
Observation of earthquakes
Worldwide during the late 1950s, there were only about 700 seismographic stations, which were equipped with seismographs of various types and frequency responses. Few instruments were calibrated; actual ground motions could not be measured, and timing errors of several seconds were common. The World-Wide Standardized Seismographic Network (WWSSN), the first modern worldwide standardized system, was established to help remedy this situation. Each station of the WWSSN had six seismographs—three short-period and three long-period seismographs. Timing and accuracy were maintained by crystal clocks, and a calibration pulse was placed daily on each record. By 1967 the WWSSN consisted of about 120 stations distributed over 60 countries. The resulting data provided the basis for significant advances in research on earthquake mechanisms, global tectonics, and the structure of the Earth’s interior.
By the 1980s a further upgrading of permanent seismographic stations began with the installation of digital equipment by a number of organizations. Among the global networks of digital seismographic stations now in operation are the Seismic Research Observatories in boreholes 100 metres (330 feet) deep and modified high-gain, long-period surface observatories. The Global Digital Seismographic Network in particular has remarkable capability, recording all motions from Earth tides to microscopic ground motions at the level of local ground noise. At present there are about 128 sites. With this system the long-term seismological goal will have been accomplished to equip global observatories with seismographs that can record every small earthquake anywhere over a broad band of frequencies.
Locating earthquake epicentres
Many observatories make provisional estimates of the epicentres of important earthquakes. These estimates provide preliminary information locally about particular earthquakes and serve as first approximations for the calculations subsequently made by large coordinating centres.
If an earthquake’s epicentre is less than 105° away from an observatory, the epicentre’s position can often be estimated from the readings of three seismograms recording perpendicular components of the ground motion. For a shallow earthquake the epicentral distance is indicated by the interval between the arrival times of P and S waves; the azimuth and angle of wave emergence at the surface are indicated by a comparison of the sizes and directions of the first movements shown in the seismograms and by the relative sizes of later waves, particularly surface waves. It should be noted, however, that in certain regions the first wave movement at a station arrives from a direction differing from the azimuth toward the epicentre. This anomaly is usually explained by strong variations in geologic structures.
When data from more than one observatory are available, an earthquake’s epicentre may be estimated from the times of travel of the P and S waves from source to recorder. In many seismically active regions, networks of seismographs with telemetry transmission and centralized timing and recording are common. Whether analog or digital recording is used, such integrated systems greatly simplify observatory work: multichannel signal displays make identification and timing of phase onsets easier and more reliable. Moreover, online microprocessors can be programmed to pick automatically, with some degree of confidence, the onset of a significant common phase, such as P, by correlation of waveforms from parallel network channels. With the aid of specially designed computer programs, seismologists can then locate distant earthquakes to within about 10 km (6 miles) and the epicentre of a local earthquake to within a few kilometres.
Catalogs of earthquakes felt by humans and of earthquake observations have appeared intermittently for many centuries. The earliest known list of instrumentally recorded earthquakes with computed times of origin and epicentres is for the period 1899–1903. In subsequent years, cataloging of earthquakes has become more uniform and complete. Especially valuable is the service provided by the International Seismological Centre (ISC) at Newbury, Eng. Each month it receives more than 1,000,000 readings from more than 2,000 stations worldwide and preliminary estimates of the locations of approximately 1,600 earthquakes from national and regional agencies and observatories. The ISC publishes a monthly bulletin—with about a two-year delay—that provides all available information on each of more than 5,000 earthquakes.
Various national and regional centres control networks of stations and act as intermediaries between individual stations and the international organizations. Examples of long-standing national centres include the Japan Meteorological Agency and United States National Earthquake Information Center in Colorado (a subdivision of the United States Geological Survey). These centres normally make estimates of the magnitudes, epicentres, origin times, and focal depths of local earthquakes. On the Internet, data on global seismicity is continually accessible through the Web site of the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS).
An important research technique is to infer the character of faulting in an earthquake from the recorded seismograms. For example, observed distributions of the directions of the first onsets in waves arriving at the Earth’s surface have been effectively used. Onsets are called “compressional” or “dilatational” according to whether the direction is away from or toward the focus, respectively. A polarity pattern becomes recognizable when the directions of the P-wave onsets are plotted on a map—there are broad areas in which the first onsets are predominantly compressions, separated from predominantly dilatational areas by nodal curves near which the P-wave amplitudes are abnormally small.
In 1926 the American geophysicist Perry E. Byerly used patterns of P onsets over the entire globe to infer the orientation of the fault plane in a large earthquake. The polarity method yields two P-nodal curves at the Earth’s surface; one curve is in the plane containing the assumed fault, and the other is in the plane (called the auxiliary plane) that passes through the focus and is perpendicular to the forces of the plane. The recent availability of worldwide broad-based digital recording has enabled computer programs to be written that estimate the fault mechanism and seismic moment from the complete pattern of seismic wave arrivals. Given a well-determined pattern at a number of earthquake observatories, it is possible to locate two planes, one of which is the plane containing the fault.
Observation and interpretation of precursory phenomena
The search for periodic cycles in earthquake occurrence is an old one. Generally, periodicities in time and space for major earthquakes have not been widely detected or accepted. One problem is that long-term earthquake catalogs are not homogeneous in their selection and reporting. The most extensive catalog of this kind comes from China and begins about 700 bc. The catalog contains some information on about 1,000 destructive earthquakes. The sizes of these earthquakes have been assessed from the reports of damage, intensity, and shaking.
Another approach to the statistical occurrence of earthquakes involves the postulation of trigger forces that initiate the rupture. Such forces have been attributed to severe weather conditions, volcanic activity, and tidal forces, for example. Usually correlations are made between the physical phenomena assumed to provide the trigger and the repetition of earthquakes. Inquiry must always be made to discover whether a causative link is actually present, but in no cases to the present has a trigger mechanism, at least for moderate to large earthquakes, been unequivocally found that satisfies the various necessary criteria.
Statistical methods also have been tried with populations of regional earthquakes. It has been suggested, but never established generally, that the slope b of the regression line between the logarithm of the number of earthquakes and the magnitude for a region may change characteristically with time. Specifically, the claim is that the b value for the population of foreshocks of a major earthquake may be significantly smaller than the mean b value for the region averaged over a long interval of time.
The elastic rebound theory of earthquake sources allows rough prediction of the occurrence of large shallow earthquakes. Harry F. Reid gave, for example, a crude forecast of the next great earthquake near San Francisco. (The theory also predicted, of course, that the place would be along the San Andreas or an associated fault.) The geodetic data indicated that during an interval of 50 years relative displacements of 3.2 metres (10.5 feet) had occurred at distant points across the fault. The maximum elastic-rebound offset along the fault in the 1906 earthquake was 6.5 metres. Therefore, (6.5 ÷ 3.2) × 50, or about 100, years would again elapse before sufficient strain accumulated for the occurrence of an earthquake comparable to that of 1906. The premises are that the regional strain will grow uniformly and that various constraints have not been altered by the great 1906 rupture itself (such as by the onset of slow fault slip). Such strain rates are now being more adequately measured along a number of active faults such as the San Andreas, using networks of GPS sensors.
For many years prediction research has been influenced by the basic argument that strain accumulates in the rock masses in the vicinity of a fault and results in crustal deformation. Deformations have been measured in the horizontal direction along active faults (by trilateration and triangulation) and in the vertical direction by precise leveling and tiltmeters. Some investigators believe that changes in groundwater level occur prior to earthquakes; variations of this sort have been reported mainly from China. Because water levels in wells respond to a complex array of factors such as rainfall, such factors will have to be removed if changes in water level are to be studied in relation to earthquakes.
The theory of dilatancy (that is, an increase in volume) of rock prior to rupture once occupied a central position in discussions of premonitory phenomena of earthquakes, but it now receives less support. It is based on the observation that many solids exhibit dilatancy during deformation. For earthquake prediction the significance of dilatancy, if real, is in its effects on various measurable quantities of the Earth’s crust, such as seismic velocities, electric resistivity, and ground and water levels.
The best-studied consequence is the effect on seismic velocities. The influence of internal cracks and pores on the elastic properties of rocks can be clearly demonstrated in laboratory measurements of those properties as a function of hydrostatic pressure. In the case of saturated rocks, experiments predict—for shallow earthquakes—that dilatancy occurs as a portion of the crust is stressed to failure, causing a decrease in the velocities of seismic waves. Recovery of velocity is brought about by subsequent rise of the pore pressure of water, which also has the effect of weakening the rock and enhancing fault slip.
Strain buildup in the focal region may have measurable effects on other observable properties, including electrical conductivity and gas concentration. Because the electrical conductivity of rocks depends largely on interconnected water channels within the rocks, resistivity may increase before the cracks become saturated. As pore fluid is expelled from the closing cracks, the local water table would rise and concentrations of gases such as radioactive radon would increase. No unequivocal confirming measurements have yet been published.
Geologic methods of extending the seismicity record back from the present also are being explored. Field studies indicate that the sequence of surface ruptures along major active faults associated with large earthquakes can sometimes be constructed. An example is the series of large earthquakes in Turkey in the 20th century, which were caused mainly by successive westward ruptures of the North Anatolian Fault. Liquefaction effects preserved in beds of sand and peat have provided evidence—when radiometric dating methods are used—for large paleoearthquakes extending back for more than 1,000 years in many seismically active zones, including the Pacific Northwest coast of the United States.
Less well-grounded precursory phenomena, particularly earthquake lights and animal behaviour, sometimes draw more public attention than the precursors discussed above. Many reports of unusual lights in the sky and abnormal animal behaviour preceding earthquakes are known to seismologists, mostly in anecdotal form. Both these phenomena are usually explained in terms of a release of gases prior to earthquakes and electric and acoustic stimuli of various types. At present there is no definitive experimental evidence to support claims that animals sometimes sense the coming of an earthquake.
Methods of reducing earthquake hazards
Considerable work has been done in seismology to explain the characteristics of the recorded ground motions in earthquakes. Such knowledge is needed to predict ground motions in future earthquakes so that earthquake-resistant structures can be designed. Although earthquakes cause death and destruction through such secondary effects as landslides, tsunamis, fires, and fault rupture, the greatest losses—both of lives and of property—result from the collapse of man-made structures during the violent shaking of the ground. Accordingly, the most effective way to mitigate the damage of earthquakes from an engineering standpoint is to design and construct structures capable of withstanding strong ground motions.
Interpreting recorded ground motions
Most elastic waves recorded close to an extended fault source are complicated and difficult to interpret uniquely. Understanding such near-source motion can be viewed as a three-part problem. The first part stems from the generation of elastic waves by the slipping fault as the moving rupture sweeps out an area of slip along the fault plane within a given time. The pattern of waves produced is dependent on several parameters, such as fault dimension and rupture velocity. Elastic waves of various types radiate from the vicinity of the moving rupture in all directions. The geometry and frictional properties of the fault critically affect the pattern of radiation from it.
The second part of the problem concerns the passage of the waves through the intervening rocks to the site and the effect of geologic conditions. The third part involves the conditions at the recording site itself, such as topography and highly attenuating soils. All these questions must be considered when estimating likely earthquake effects at a site of any proposed structure.
Experience has shown that the ground strong-motion recordings have a variable pattern in detail but predictable regular shapes in general (except in the case of strong multiple earthquakes). In a strong horizontal shaking of the ground near the fault source, there is an initial segment of motion made up mainly of P waves, which frequently manifest themselves strongly in the vertical motion. This is followed by the onset of S waves, often associated with a longer-period pulse of ground velocity and displacement related to the near-site fault slip or fling. This pulse is often enhanced in the direction of the fault rupture and normal to it. After the S onset there is shaking that consists of a mixture of S and P waves, but the S motions become dominant as the duration increases. Later, in the horizontal component, surface waves dominate, mixed with some S body waves. Depending on the distance of the site from the fault and the structure of the intervening rocks and soils, surface waves are spread out into long trains.
Constructing seismic hazard maps
In many regions, seismic expectancy maps or hazard maps are now available for planning purposes. The anticipated intensity of ground shaking is represented by a number called the peak acceleration or the peak velocity.
To avoid weaknesses found in earlier earthquake hazard maps, the following general principles are usually adopted today:
The map should take into account not only the size but also the frequency of earthquakes.
The broad regionalization pattern should use historical seismicity as a database, including the following factors: major tectonic trends, acceleration attenuation curves, and intensity reports.
Regionalization should be defined by means of contour lines with design parameters referred to ordered numbers on neighbouring contour lines (this procedure minimizes sensitivity concerning the exact location of boundary lines between separate zones).
The map should be simple and not attempt to microzone the region.
The mapped contoured surface should not contain discontinuities, so that the level of hazard progresses gradually and in order across any profile drawn on the map.
Developing resistant structures
Developing engineered structural designs that are able to resist the forces generated by seismic waves can be achieved either by following building codes based on hazard maps or by appropriate methods of analysis. Many countries reserve theoretical structural analyses for the larger, more costly, or critical buildings to be constructed in the most seismically active regions, while simply requiring that ordinary structures conform to local building codes. Economic realities usually determine the goal, not of preventing all damage in all earthquakes but of minimizing damage in moderate, more common earthquakes and ensuring no major collapse at the strongest intensities. An essential part of what goes into engineering decisions on design and into the development and revision of earthquake-resistant design codes is therefore seismological, involving measurement of strong seismic waves, field studies of intensity and damage, and the probability of earthquake occurrence.
Earthquake risk can also be reduced by rapid post-earthquake response. Strong-motion accelerographs have been connected in some urban areas, such as Los Angeles, Tokyo, and Mexico City, to interactive computers. The recorded waves are correlated with seismic intensity scales and rapidly displayed graphically on regional maps via the World Wide Web.
Exploration of the Earth’s interior with seismic waves
Seismological data on the Earth’s deep structure come from several sources. These include P and S waves in earthquakes and nuclear explosions, the dispersion of surface waves from distant earthquakes, and vibrations of the whole Earth from large earthquakes.
One of the major aims of seismology is to infer the minimum set of properties of the Earth’s interior that will explain recorded seismic wave trains in detail. Notwithstanding the tremendous progress made in the exploration of the Earth’s deep structure during the first half of the 20th century, realization of this goal was severely limited until the 1960s because of the laborious effort required to evaluate theoretical models and to process the large amounts of earthquake data recorded. The application of high-speed computers with their enormous storage and rapid retrieval capabilities opened the way for major advances in both theoretical work and data handling.
Since the mid-1970s, researchers have studied realistic models of the Earth’s structure that include continental and oceanic boundaries, mountains, and river valleys rather than simple structures such as those involving variation only with depth. In addition, various technical developments have benefited observational seismology. For example, the implications of seismic exploratory techniques developed by the petroleum industry (such as seismic reflection) have been recognized and the procedures adopted. Equally significant has been the application of three-dimensional imaging methods to the exploration of the Earth’s deep structure. This has been made possible by the development of very fast microprocessors and computers with peripheral display equipment.
The major method for determining the structure of the Earth’s deep interior is the detailed analysis of seismograms of seismic waves. (Such earthquake readings also provide estimates of wave velocities, density, and elastic and inelastic parameters in the Earth.) The primary procedure is to measure the travel times of various wave types, such as P and S, from their source to the recording seismograph. First, however, identification of each wave type with its ray path through the Earth must be made.
An especially important class of rays is associated with a discontinuity surface separating the central core of the Earth from the mantle at a depth of about 2,900 km (1,800 miles) below the outer surface. The symbol c is used to indicate an upward reflection at this discontinuity. Thus, if a P wave travels down from a focus to the discontinuity surface in question, the upward reflection into an S wave is recorded at an observing station as the ray PcS and similarly with PcP, ScS, and ScP. The symbol K is used to denote the part (of P type) of the path of a wave that passes through the liquid central core. Thus, the ray SKS corresponds to a wave that starts as an S wave, is refracted into the central core as a P wave, and is refracted back into the mantle, wherein it finally emerges as an S wave. Such rays as SKKS correspond to waves that have suffered an internal reflection at the boundary of the central core.
The discovery of the existence of an inner core in 1936 by the Danish seismologist Inge Lehmann made it necessary to introduce additional basic symbols. For paths of waves inside the central core, the symbols i and I are used analogously to c and K for the whole Earth; therefore, i indicates reflection upward at the boundary between the outer and inner portions of the central core, and I corresponds to the part (of P type) of the path of a wave that lies inside the inner portion. Thus, for instance, discrimination needs to be made between the rays PKP, PKiKP, and PKIKP. The first of these corresponds to a wave that has entered the outer part of the central core but has not reached the inner core, the second to one that has been reflected upward at the inner core boundary, and the third to one that has penetrated into the inner portion.
By combining the symbols p, s, P, S, c, K, i, and I in various ways, notation is developed for all the main rays associated with body earthquake waves. The symbol J has been introduced to correspond to S waves in the inner core, should evidence ever be found for such waves.
Finally, the use of times of travel along rays to infer hidden structure is analogous to the use of X-rays in medical tomography. The method involves reconstructing an image of internal anomalies from measurements made at the outer surface. Nowadays, hundreds of thousands of travel times of P and S waves are available in earthquake catalogs for the tomographic imaging of the Earth’s interior and the mapping of internal structure.
Structure of the Earth’s interior
Studies with earthquake recordings have given a picture inside the Earth of a solid but layered and flow-patterned mantle about 2,900 km (1,800 miles) thick, which in places lies within 10 km (6 miles) of the surface under the oceans.
The thin surface rock layer surrounding the mantle is the crust, whose lower boundary is called the Mohorovičić discontinuity. In normal continental regions the crust is about 30 to 40 km thick; there is usually a superficial low-velocity sedimentary layer underlain by a zone in which seismic velocity increases with depth. Beneath this zone there is a layer in which P-wave velocities in some places fall from 6 to 5.6 km per second. The middle part of the crust is characterized by a heterogeneous zone with P velocities of nearly 6 to 6.3 km per second. The lowest layer of the crust (about 10 km thick) has significantly higher P velocities, ranging up to nearly 7 km per second.
In the deep ocean there is a sedimentary layer that is about 1 km thick. Underneath is the lower layer of the oceanic crust, which is about 4 km thick. This layer is inferred to consist of basalt that formed where extrusions of basaltic magma at oceanic ridges have been added to the upper part of lithospheric plates as they spread away from the ridge crests. This crustal layer cools as it moves away from the ridge crest, and its seismic velocities increase correspondingly.
Below the mantle lies a shell that is 2,255 km thick, which seismic waves show to have the properties of a liquid. At the very centre of the planet is a separate solid core with a radius of 1,216 km. Recent work with observed seismic waves has revealed three-dimensional structural details inside the Earth, especially in the crust and lithosphere, under the subduction zones, at the base of the mantle, and in the inner core. These regional variations are important in explaining the dynamic history of the planet.
Long-period oscillations of the globe
Sometimes earthquakes are large enough to cause the whole Earth to ring like a bell. The deepest tone of vibration of the planet is one with a period (the length of time between the arrival of successive crests in a wave train) of 54 minutes. Knowledge of these vibrations has come from a remarkable extension in the range of periods of ground movements that can be recorded by modern digital long-period seismographs that span the entire allowable spectrum of earthquake wave periods: from ordinary P waves with periods of tenths of seconds to vibrations with periods on the order of 12 and 24 hours such as those that occur in Earth tidal movements.
The measurements of vibrations of the whole Earth provide important information on the properties of the interior of the planet. It should be emphasized that these free vibrations are set up by the energy release of the earthquake source but continue for many hours and sometimes even days. For an elastic sphere such as the Earth, two types of vibrations are known to be possible. In one type, called S modes, or spheroidal vibrations, the motions of the elements of the sphere have components along the radius as well as along the tangent. In the second type, which are designated as T modes, or torsional vibrations, there is shear but no radial displacements. The nomenclature is nSl and nTl, where the letters n and l are related to the surfaces in the vibration at which there is zero motion.
Several hundred types of S and T vibrations have been identified and the associated periods measured. The amplitudes of the ground motion in the vibrations have been determined for particular earthquakes, and, more important, the attenuation of each component vibration has been measured. The dimensionless measure of this decay constant is called the quality factor Q. The greater the value of Q, the less the wave or vibration damping. Typically, for oS10 and oT10, the Q values are about 250.
The rate of decay of the vibrations of the whole Earth with the passage of time, where they appear superimposed for 20 hours of the 12-hour tidal deformations of the Earth. At the bottom of the figure these vibrations have been split up into a series of peaks, each with a definite frequency, similar to that of the spectrum of light. Such a spectrum indicates the relative amplitude of each harmonic present in the free oscillations. If the physical properties of the Earth’s interior were known, all these individual peaks could be calculated directly. Instead, the internal structure must be estimated from the observed peaks.
Recent research has shown that observations of long-period oscillations of the Earth discriminate fairly finely between different Earth models. In applying the observations to improve the resolution and precision of such representations of the planet’s internal structure, a considerable number of Earth models are set up, and all the periods of their free oscillations are computed and checked against the observations. Models can then be successively eliminated until only a small range remains. In practice, the work starts with existing models; efforts are made to amend them by sequential steps until full compatibility with the observations is achieved, within the uncertainties of the observations. Even so, the resulting computed Earth structure is not a unique solution to the problem.
Extraterrestrial seismic phenomena
Space vehicles have carried equipment to the surface of the Moon and Mars with which to record seismic waves, and seismologists on Earth have received telemetered signals from seismic events in both cases.
By 1969, seismographs had been placed at six sites on the Moon during the U.S. Apollo missions. Recording of seismic data ceased in September 1977. The instruments detected between 600 and 3,000 moonquakes during each year of their operation, though most of these seismic events were very small. The ground noise on the lunar surface is low compared with that of the Earth, so that the seismographs could be operated at very high magnifications. Because there was more than one station on the Moon, it was possible to use the arrival times of P and S waves at the lunar stations from the moonquakes to determine foci in the same way as is done on the Earth.
Moonquakes are of three types. First, there are the events caused by the impact of lunar modules, booster rockets, and meteorites. The lunar seismograph stations were able to detect meteorites hitting the Moon’s surface more than 1,000 km (600 miles) away. The two other types of moonquakes had natural sources in the Moon’s interior: they presumably resulted from rock fracturing, as on Earth. The most common type of natural moonquake had deep foci, at depths of 600 to 1,000 km; the less common variety had shallow focal depths.
Seismological research on Mars has been less successful. Only one of the seismometers carried to the Martian surface by the U.S. Viking landers during the mid-1970s remained operational, and only one potential marsquake was detected in 546 Martian days.
According to news sources April, 2010, the government’s unique identity project aiming to give a 16-digit number to all citizens of the country renamed ‘AADHAAR’ and its new logo was unveiled. The UID Authority of India will issue the first identity numbers linked to a person’s demographic and biometric information between August and February 2010, and issue about 600 million such IDs over the next five years to help in citizen verification in a timely and inexpensive manner. This is a big advantage to the government and companies. The first set of identity numbers as per the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) will be issued in February 2011.
It would give thousands of Indians the ability to open bank accounts, buy cell phones, and access welfare services easily, while saving companies and government agencies the expensive and time-consuming process of verifying and establishing identities. The Unique Identification Number project of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) ‘AADHAAR’ (foundation) is part of the efforts to reach out to the common man. The chairman for this venture is Nandan Niketan who expressed that he wanted to name this project so that it could effectively communicate its transformational potential and promise to Indian citizens. AADHAR had a national appeal and is easy recognisable and remembered throughout the nation. It’s logo is designed with a sun that has a finger-print in the centre. The logo, selected after a nationwide competition, was unveiled by Dhaneshwar Ram, a resident of Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh, who was invited by the UIDAI to speak on the hardships faced by the common man in getting an identity at present. The creator of this logo was Atul Sudhakar Rao Pande a designer from Mumbai who was paid a sum of one lakh rupees after his design was selected over 2000 entries.According to journalists he said that he deigned it so even rural people would be able to recognize the sun and the fingerprint.
The project was aimed at the under privileged and the poor who are left out of the government’s social schemes because they lack proof of identity.
UIDAI Director General R S Sharma said the first 16 digit number would be rolled out by February next year 2011.The authority was established by an act of Parliament last year in 2009. The proposed law will give authority to the UID to collect identity information, such as name, gender, date of birth, parents’ name, address and finger prints, from people voluntarily seeking a unique identity number. Previous governments have also considered creating unique ID numbers. The Congress government, which has always been leaning left, with its focus on inclusive growth, has shown innovation by setting up the UIDAI office and allocating $444 million to the UID project.
Challenges of the project:
According to news sources, India gets ready to launch the largest biometric database in the world with the idea of providing most of its 1.2 billion citizens a Unique Identification (UID). The biggest challenge that is faced is smudged fingerprints. The project, which had attracted mobile services firms and technology giants including Tata Consultancy Services, Google, and Microsoft, is expected to address and reduction of waste in India’s multi-billion dollar welfare schemes that include pensions.
According to Samiran Chakraborty research head at Standard Chartered “Aadhar,” is estimated to cost some $2.2-$4.4 billion to implement, but will bring in an equal amount in savings annually from the elimination of duplicate and false identities. He expects the program might have a significantly positive impact on the fiscal and general growth of India.
An estimated 75 million people are homeless and millions others traversing the country as migrant workers with little or no documentation, ensures that the UIDAI has its work cut out.
UIDAI is working with Census 2011 survey, as well as local government bodies and NGOs to reach millions, including an estimated 410 million people living on less than $1.25 a day, an impediment to India’s otherwise staggering growth story. Nandan Nilakeni observed that while it boils down to a lack of proper identity the exclusion can be detrimental.
The average Indian citizen typically has multiple identity cards, including a voter ID, a tax ID, a ration card, passport, driving license and others.Because there is no central database, it has created phantoms on voter lists and welfare schemes. Adding to the complication is the issue of fake ID’s and the fact that the poor have no IDs at all.
Nilekani, Infosys software firm’s former chief was selected by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to spearhead UIDAI after he wrote volubly on the need for a unique ID in his book, ‘Imagining India’, published in 2008.
Nilakeni said that acknowledging the existence of every single citizen automatically compels the state to improve the quality of services, and immediately gives the citizen a fairer, more equitable access to services. He further stated that this recognition can create a better awareness of rights and duties.
Beyond developing the ID cards, the challenge is to make the back-end infrastructure secure and scalable, ensuring privacy and integrating agents who issue the numbers, said Nilekani.Among the biggest challenges is securing clean fingerprints as part of the biometric identification that will also include an image of the face and of the two irises, in rural India. Sreeni Tripuraneni who is chief executive of 4G Identity Solutions which are conducting pilot studies in Andhra Pradesh has said that frequent power failures are another hurdle to the smooth functioning of this venture. Dust is a reason for smudged fingerprints.Generators is required for power.
Operators have also been trained to deal with laborers with deeply calloused hands, for example, or women wearing burqas, according to Tripuraneni, who calls the UID the mother of all databases.
The Aadhaar, earlier known as Unique Identification Number, will be issued after collecting imprints of all ten fingers, iris and face.
This collaboration might pave the way for the delayed biometric PAN cards, an initiative proposed by the then Finance Minister P Chidambaram in 2006 to counter the problem of duplicate PAN cards which were uncovered during IT searches and raids by police and other enforcement agencies.
The IT department had agreed for UID based PAN cards, according to news spources who spoke for Nilekani. The Aadhaar number is expected to come out by February, 2011. Officials are hoping that if the UID is made mandatory for issuing PAN cards in the future, the present cases of certain people having more than one PAN card would be curbed. According to news sources UID will provide lots of benefits to TCS in the form of fiscal remuneration. Extensive consultations with various stake holders-Union& State governments, public sector units, industry and civil society organizations have already been held. Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) with Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Union territory of Andaman and Nicobar have been signed and more states have expressed their interest in having similar MoUs. B.B.Nanawati who is the Deputy Director of UIDAI observed that non-identity of the poor was the highest barrier which prevents them from accessing benefits and services provided by the government.
According to reputed sources the government’s UIDAI project would be similar to Social Security Number (SSN) in US and it would serve as identity for each and every individual. Former Infosys chairman Nandan Nilekani is heading the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) project since the last few years on personal request from Dr. Manmohan Singh in the rank of a cabinet minister.
To understand the similarities between the two acts, a brief look at the history of Social Security in the US shows that during the Great Depression in the 1930’s when poverty increased among senior citizens President Roosevelt drafted along with other members of the Congress in the US the Social Security Act.. The act was an attempt to limit what were seen as dangers in the modern American life, including old age, poverty, unemployment, and the burdens of widows and fatherless children. By signing this act on August 14, 1935, President Roosevelt became the first president to advocate the protection of the elderly.
2010, Social Security numbers in the US:
A side effect of the Social Security program in the United States has been the near-universal adaptation of the program’s identification number, SSN (Social Security number) as the national identification number in the United States, and currently a multitude of U.S. entities use the Social Security number as a personal identifier. These include government agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service, the military to identify personnel as well as private agencies such as banks, colleges and universities, health insurance companies, and employers.
The UIDAI projects, according to news sources attempts to create identity verification .There are many advantages but a prime disadvantage could be identity theft. In the US identity theft is a major concern, causing people whose IDs are stolen to have their lives impacted very badly. Protection of governmental agencies against this kind of danger could be helpful towards successful implementation of UIDAI.
Civil society representatives want safeguards against misuse
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) will finalise the draft legislation on the UID project by the end of the May, 2010 and make it available for public comment. Several civil society representatives are demanding that adequate safeguards against misuse be built into the legislation.
The UIDAI, recently renamed ‘Aadhar,’ invited a group of civil society representatives to a consultation with chairman Nandan Nilekani and his team on 6.5.2010, in part of a series of interactions. Shekhar Singh, founder member of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information, who chaired one of the discussions at the meeting, said social, economic and technical concerns were voiced.
“There were a lot of concerns about possible misuse, the possibility of using it for racial or religious profiling… [misuse] by commercial interests,” Mr. Singh said. “Then there were those who were worried about privacy, about Big Brother watching.”
Some activists brought up issues of human rights, the threat to privacy and the dangers of “surveillance,” human rights lawyer Vrinda Grover said. “We also asked ‘Where is the legal structure for all this?’” she said.
Mr. Nilekani and his team said the draft legislation was in the process of being finalised and promised that it would be released by the end of May, 2010.
“They said it would be put up for public debate and that an internet discussion group would also be set up,” said Mr. Singh. “There were lots of suggestions about what it should contain, including safeguards against misuse.”
In a meeting of the Empowered Group of Ministers on November 4, 2008, it was decided that the UIDAI would initially be notified as an executive authority, and that “investing it with statutory authority could be taken up for consideration later at an appropriate time.” Subsequently, at a meeting of the Prime Minister’s Council of the UID Authority on August 12, 2009, it was decided that there was a “need for a legislative framework.”
Among the other issues brought up were the technical feasibility of the scheme, the economic costs and actual usefulness in minimising corruption, the overstating of benefits, the need to prevent exclusion of marginal groups, the lack of adequate transparency to prevent manipulation, and the lack of an opt-out mechanism.
Ms. Grover felt that Mr. Nilekani and his team seemed to trivialise the human rights and privacy concerns, dismissing it as a “conspiracy theory.”
Mr. Singh said Mr. Nilekani initially seemed to shrug off responsibility about misuse, saying that the UIDAI was only concerned with providing the number, leaving the applications to others.“I think there needs to be checks and balances,” Mr. Singh added. “I do feel racial profiling and such misuses should be avoided… but I am not that sensitive to privacy issues,” he said, pointing out that India as a society was not very privacy-conscious. However, he also felt that the economic viability of the project and the justification of spending Rs.2,500 crore on a project which may not be successful in preventing corruption should be vigorously debated. “No other country has implemented such a system. There should have been a discussion with the people before it was set up,” Mr. Singh said.
The UIDAI promised to send a detailed response to the concerns raised at the meeting and accepted the suggestion that groups be set up to follow up on technical and economic issues.
Chidambaram takes UID turf war to Manmohan Singh
Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram has taken on Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) boss Nandan Nilekani and Planning Commission Deputy Chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia over the controversy-ridden project to give every Indian resident a unique ID number.
On 19.01.2012, Mr. Chidambaram wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, asking him to “instruct” the Planning Commission to bring a note to the Cabinet on the status of the UIDAI, so that there is “clarity” on which agency – the Registrar-General of India (RGI) or the UIDAI – will carry on with the task of capturing the biometric data of the population, as the latter has sought to have its mandate extended.
The UIDAI comes under the nodal authority of the Planning Commission while the RGI functions under the Home Ministry.
The terse one-page letter comes not just in the wake of a Standing Committee of Parliament rejecting the UIDAI Bill, but two articles in the media attacking Mr. Chidambaram for obstructing the progress of the scheme; indeed, in his letter to the Prime Minister, the Home Minister has said: “Some inspired stories have appeared in the media painting the MHA black and presenting distorted facts. I enclose two extracts – one from the Economist and the other from theHindustan Times.”
The work of the RGI, which had been asked to collect biometric data of all usual residents in the country and then send that data to the UIDAI for de-duplication and generation of Aadhar numbers, the Home Minister says in his letter, was “proceeding well and is expected to be completed by mid-2013.” Meanwhile, the UIDAI, Mr. Chidambaram writes, was “also” authorised to collect biometric data first for 100 million people, and subsequently, of up to 200 million people.
Now that the UIDAI wants its mandate extended, the Home Minister has sought clarity on its status: “Since there is no clarity on who will capture the biometric data — the RGI or the UIDAI — a few months ago, I had requested the Planning Commission to bring a paper to the Cabinet or the appropriate Cabinet committee and obtain a decision in the matter,” he has written, adding that he himself had spoken to Mr. Ahluwalia several times on this.
The problem, government sources said, had arisen because the Home Ministry felt that the data collected by the UIDAI was not secure, and had not been verified by a government servant. While the RGI has actually visited households, the UIDAI has invited people to come to designated centres, where the data collection has been done by hired organisations.
Mr. Chidambaram has, therefore, sought “clarity on the issue so that the work of capturing biometrics can go forward.” He ends his letter to the Prime Minister saying: “In my respectful submission, it would not be in the interest of the government to allow the controversy to be played out in the media.”
The problem, sources say, is that the logical order of the UID project has been back to front. First came the assurance of a unique identity, then fund allocation, then feasibility study and the Bill to govern it, which has been rejected by the Standing Committee. And this, after Rs. 672 crores has been spent by the UIDAI till November 2011.
The Supreme Court of India on 07.05.2010 held that a Governor cannot be removed on the ground that he/ she is out of sync with the policies and ideologies of the Union government or the party in power at the Centre. Nor can he/ she be removed on the ground that the Union government has lost confidence in him/ her.
A five- judge Constitution Benchof the Supreme Court of India, comprising Chief Justice K. G. Balakrishnan and Justices S. H. Kapadia, R. V. Raveendran, B. Sudershan Reddy and P. Sathasivam was disposing of a petition filed by the former Member of Parliament, B. P. Singhal.
The Bench said that as a Governor was neither an employee nor agent of the Union government, it was rejecting the contention that a Governor could be removed if the Union government or the party in power lost ‘ confidence’ in him.
It held that a change in government at the Centre was not a ground for removal of Governors to make way for others favoured by the new government.
Writing the judgment, Justice Raveendran said, “ What Article 156 ( 1) of the Constitution [ under which a Governor holds office during the pleasure of the President] dispenses with is the need to assign reasons or the need to give notice, but the need to act fairly and reasonably cannot be dispensed with by Article 156( 1).”
The Bench said: “ The President, in exercising power under Article 156 ( 1), should act in a manner that is not arbitrary or unreasonable. In the event of challenge of withdrawal of the pleasure, the court will necessarily assume that it is for compelling reasons. Consequently, where the aggrieved person is not able to establish a prima facie instance of arbitrariness or mala fides in his removal, the court will refuse to interfere.
“ However, where a prima facie case of arbitrariness or mala fides is made out, the court can require the Union government to produce records/ material to satisfy itself that the withdrawal of pleasure was for good and compelling reasons. What constitutes good and compelling reasons would depend upon the facts of the case. Having regard to the nature of functions of the Governor in maintaining Centre- State relations, and the flexibility available to the government in such matters, it is needless to say that there will be no interference unless a very strong case is made out.”
The court said if the aggrieved person was able to demonstrate prima facie that his or her removal was arbitrary, mala fide, capricious or whimsical, it would call upon the Union government to disclose to it the material upon which the President took the decision to withdraw the pleasure.
If the government did not disclose any reason, or if the reasons disclosed were found to be irrelevant, arbitrary, whimsical, or mala fide, it would interfere in such a decision.
The Bench said: “ In the early days of Indian democracy, the same political party was in power both at the Centre and the States. The position has changed with passage of time. Now different political parties, some national and some regional, are in power in the States. Further one single party may not be in power either in the Centre or in the State. Different parties with distinct ideologies may constitute a front, to form a government.
“ On account of emergence of coalition politics, many regional parties have started sharing power in the Centre. Many a time there may not even be a common programme, manifesto or agenda among the parties sharing power. As a result, the agenda or ideology of a political party in power in the State may not be in sync with the agenda or ideology of the political parties in the ruling coalition at the Centre, or may not be in sync with the agenda or ideology of some of the political parties in the ruling coalition at the Centre, but may be in sync with some other political parties forming part of the ruling coalition at the Centre.
“ Further, the compulsions of coalition politics may require the parties sharing power to frequently change their policies and agendas. In such a scenario of myriad policies, ideologies, agendas in the shifting sands of political coalitions, there is no question of the Union government having Governors who are in sync with its mandate and policies. Governors are not expected or required to implement the policies of the government or popular mandates. Their constitutional role is clearly defined and bears very limited political overtones.
“ Reputed elder statesmen, able administrators and eminent personalities, with maturity and experience are expected to be appointed as Governors. While some of them may come from a political background, once they are appointed as Governors, they owe their allegiance and loyalty to the Constitution and not to any political party and are required to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.
“ We, therefore, reject the contention of the respondents that Governors should be in “ sync” with the policies of the Union government or should subscribe to the ideology of the party in power at the Centre. As the Governor is neither the employee nor the agent of the Union government, we also reject the contention that a Governor can be removed if the Union government or party in power loses ‘ confidence’ in him.”
The Bench noted that persons of calibre, experience, and distinction “ are chosen to fill these posts. Such persons are chosen not to enable them to earn their livelihood but to serve society. It is wrong to assume that such persons having been chosen on account of their stature, maturity and experience will be demoralised or be in constant fear of removal, unless there is security of tenure. The doctrine of pleasure is not a licence to act with unfettered discretionto act arbitrarily, whimsically, or capriciously.”
Before his meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Brazil, on April 14, 2010 in Washington DC, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said India and China were working hard to find a pragmatic solution to the border issue and were working closely on a variety of global issues, including climate change. There have been stressful relations between the two countries last year over a variety of issues that included an increase in Chinese intrusion into India’s borders.
China’s rising assertion over its claims to Arunachal Pradesh and Beijing’s opposition to a development loan from the Asian Development Bank on grounds that a part of it was meant for Arunachal Pradesh have been causes for dissention between the two Asian countries.
Since then, both Asian countries have been working hard, trying to repair and strengthen their ties, and observed the 60th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations with each other. Manmohan Singh told journalists at the conclusion of his four day visit to the US that India and China are working hard to resolve the existing border issue and find a pragmatic solution and added that it will take time to find a resolution.
The Prime minister stressed that both sides have decided to maintain peace and tranquility along the Line of Control while waiting for the resolution of the border dispute.
Manmohan Singh and Hu met at the 47-nation Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, but have decided to hold their bilateral talks on the sidelines of BRIC summit of Brazil, India, Russia and China.Manmohan Singh very positively expressed that on the economic front the relationship between India and China has progressed.
The McMahon Line boundary argument has always been the reason of disagreement between China and India. Due to historical reasons China has land and sea boundary issues with 14 neighbors. The Chinese laid territorial claims on land that India considers as its own. Of them one is in the western sector, Aksai Chin situated in the northeastern section of Ladakh District in Jammu and Kashmir. The other claim is in the eastern sector over a region included in the British-designated North-East Frontier Agency, the disputed part of which India renamed Arunachal Pradesh and made into a state. During a fight over these territories in 1962, the efficient and well equipped troops of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army overpowered the Indian troops, who were not only poorly equipped but were also in adept at fighting at high altitudes.
Britain tried to advance its line of control and established buffer zones around its colony in South Asia during the early 20th century. In the year 1913-1914 representatives of China, Tibet and Britain negotiated the Simla Convention. Sir Henry McMahon, the foreign secretary of British India at the time, drew up the 550 mile (890 km) McMahon Line as the border between British India and Tibet during the Simla Conference. The McMahon Line separated the former unclaimed and undefined borders between Britain and Tibet. and moved British control to the north. The Tibetan and British representatives at the conference concurred upon the line, which allowed Tawang and other Tibetan areas to the imperial British Empire. The Chinese representative rejected the line and Peking claimed territory in the north down to the border of the Assam plain the land is mostly rugged and mountainous terrain with the Himalayas along the northern borders, cutting across with mountain ranges running north-south. This terrain splits the state into five river valleys: the Kameng, the Subansiri, the Siang, the Lohit and the Tirap. Steep mountains and dense forests have prevented interaction between tribes living in the various river valleys. Geographical isolation thus imposed has led different tribes to develop their own dialects and grow with their individual identities. A slow forward move towards the McMahon Line was begun on the ground, to establish a new de facto boundary. The McMahon Line took a backseat and was forgotten until about 1935 when the British government decided to publish the documents in the 1937 edition of Aitchison’s Collection of Treaties. The NEFA (North East Frontier Agency) was created in 1954. On 7 November 1959, Chou En-lai proposed that both sides should withdraw their troops twenty kilometers from the McMahon line. During the decade of cordial Sino-Indian relations, the issue was silent but erupted again during the Sino-Indian War of 1962 and during the war in 1962, the PRC captured most of the NEFA. China soon declared victory and voluntarily withdrew back to the McMahon Line.
China is in occupation of approximately 38,000 sq. kms of Indian territory in Jammu and Kashmir. In addition, under the so-called China-Pakistan “Boundary Agreement” of 1963, Pakistan allowed 5,180 sq. kms of Indian territory in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir to China. China claims approximately 90,000 sq. kms. of Indian territory in Arunachal Pradesh and about 2000 sq. kms in the Middle Sector of the India-China boundary though Beijing has stated that it does not recognize Arunachal Pradesh.
The border between China and India has never been officially demarcated, and so China’s position on the eastern part of the border between the two countries has been consistent. Chinese government does not recognize the McMahon Line’s illegality. As far as China is concerned, the McMahon Line stands as a symbol of imperialist aggression on the country. The so-called “Arunachal Pradesh” dispute is China’s most intractable border issue. Because the gap between the positions of China and India is wide, it is difficult for both nations to reach agreement. The area of this disputed region is three times larger than Taiwan, six times that of Beijing and ten times that of the Malvenas islands, which are not agreeable for Britain and Argentina. It is flat and rich in resources like water and forests.
Arunachal Pradesh is the single issue which has a potential for conflict between India and China .In the probability of war between India and China, this issue could be a reason. India considers repeated Sino-Indian border clashes a potential red flag to its security. Since the war, each side continuously improved its military and logistics capabilities in the disputed regions. China has continued its occupation of the Aksai Chin area, through which it built a strategic highway linking Xizang and Xinjiang .China had a vital military interest in maintaining control over this region, whereas India’s primary interest lay in Arunachal Pradesh, its state in the northeast bordering Xizang Autonomous Region.
An armed attack at Nathu La in eastern Sikkim in 1967 barring, the border between India and China (Tibet) and the vaguely defined Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh/Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh – had been free of any major incidents through the 1970s and the early 1980s. While relations between the two countries remained not very cordial official statements from Beijing and New Delhi professed a desire to solve the border tangle peacefully through mutual consultations. In December 1981, officials from both countries held yearly talks on the border issue.
With improving logistics from the Indian side, the Indian Army sought to reinforce and strengthen forward areas in Arunachal Pradesh in the early 1980s. Patrols resumed in 1981 and by the summer of 1984 India had established an observation post on the bank of the Sumdorong Chu, according to Chinese media. By September-October 1986, a group of the Indian Army 5 Mountain Division was lifted by helicopters to Zimithang, a helipad very close to the S-C valley. Referred to as Operation Falcon, this involved the occupation of ridges overlooking the S-C valley, including Langrola and the Hathung La ridge .This was followed by reports of large-scale troop movements on both sides of the border in early 1987, and serious concerns about a possible military clash over the border were felt.
In February 1987, India established the so-called Arunachal Pradesh in its Chinese-claimed territories south of the McMahon Line. After these events, and India’s conversion of Arunachal Pradesh from union territory to state, tensions between China and India have risen significantly. Both nations moved to reinforce their capabilities in the area, but neither ruled out further negotiations of their fights.
China, has a large military presence in Tibet, and moved in 20,000 troops from the 53rd Army Corps in Chengdu and the 13th Army in Lanzhou by early 1987, with the aid of heavy artillery and helicopters. By early April, it had moved 8 divisions to eastern Tibet as a prelude to possible belligerent action. India’s Operation Falcon massive air-land exercise in 1986 involved 10 Divisions of the Indian Army and several squadrons of the IAF. The Indian Army moved 3 divisions to positions around Wangdung, where they were supplied solely by air. These reinforcements were over and above the 50,000 troops already present across Arunachal Pradesh.
Although India enjoyed air superiority in 1987, between the two military forces, which had a combined total of nearly 400,000 troops near the border parity on the ground existed. The Indian Army positioned eleven divisions in the region, backed by paramilitary forces, whereas the PLA had available fifteen divisions for operations on the border. It is believed that the mountainous terrain, high-altitude climate, and logistic difficulties made it unlikely that a protracted conflict would erupt on the Sino-Indian border.
Citing an example of cordial neighborly relations Sino-Indian border has not suffered any major disturbances since 1986, as compared to the continuous firing incidents and infiltration on the Indo-Pak borders. In December 1988, Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi visited China and the Prime Ministers of the two countries agreed to settle the boundary questions through the guiding principle of “Mutual Understanding and Accommodation and Mutual Adjustment”. They mutually agreed that while seeking for the mutually acceptable resolution to the boundary questions, the two countries should develop their relations in other fields in efforts to create conducive atmosphere with respect to the settlement of the boundary questions. The two countries decided to establish a Joint Working Group (JWG) regarding the boundary questions at the Vice-Foreign Ministerial level.
On 7 September 1993 an Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas was signed. After more than three decades of border tension, high-level bilateral talks were held in New Delhi starting in February 1994 to develop confidence-building measures between the defense forces of India and China. This gave birth to a new period of better relations. In November 1995, the two sides dismantled the guard posts in close proximity to each other along the borderline in Wangdong area, stabilizing the border .In a move to build better relationship of trust during President Jiang Zemin’s visit to India at the end of November 1996, the Governments of China and India signed the Agreement on Confidence Building Measures in the Military Field along the Line of Actual Control in the China-India Border Areas. These Agreements provide an institutional framework for the maintenance of peace and tranquility in the border areas.
Despite a lot of efforts that have been done during the Sino-Indian official border talks, the border issue remains bogged down in various bilateral and domestic contradictions on both sides. Border ‘encounters’ between India and China do happen occasionally and arise from the very real disagreements that exist between the two sides in demarcating the LCA on the ground. Such incidents have usually been handled, by the two sides discreetly withdrawing to their earlier positions and without involving the media’s attention.
According to news sources the two sides withdrew sentries along the eastern section that were considered close to each other. During early 1990s, India unilaterally withdrew about 35,000 troops from its eastern sector. On the other hand, the PLA maintains a force between 180,000 and 300,000 soldiers and has directly ruled Tibet from 1950 to 1976, and indirectly thereafter. Tibet today is connected to other military regions through four-lane highways and strategic roads. And Beijing’s capability to airlift troops from its other neighboring military regions has developed extensively from its former inability to implement air force in 1962.
During the Indian Prime Minister’s visit to China in June 2003 India and China signed a Memorandum on Expanding Border Trade, which adds Nathula as another pass on the India-China border for conducting trade along the border .India has agreed to designate Changgu of Sikkim state as the venue for border trade market, while the Chinese side has agreed to designate Renqinggang of the Tibet Autonomous Region as the venue for border trade market.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to India in April 2005, and during this visit the two sides signed an agreement on political settlement of the boundary issue while setting guidelines and principles. As part of the agreement, China and India affirmed their readiness to seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution to the boundary issue through friendly negotiations.
To rectify the situation arising out of poor road connectivity which has hampered the operational capability of the Border Guarding Forces deployed along the India-China border, the Government has decided to undertake phase-wise construction of 27 road links totaling 608 Km in the border areas along the India-China border in the States of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh at an estimated cost of Rs.912.00 crores. The construction of two roads in Arunachal Pradesh has started. The construction of these roads was expected to start during 2008-09.
The two nations perceive differently the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the India-China border areas and do patrolling activity in the India-China border areas. LAC incursions and issues are taken up through diplomatic channels and at Border Personnel Meetings/Flag Meetings. According to news sources India and China resolve to seek reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement of the boundary question through amicable talks. According to news sources good economic growth in China and India is under severe threat because of the global financial crisis, and both countries have more pressing concerns than a border dispute. But despite the unresolved border issues, the two countries are trying to foster greater cooperation. It cannot be denied that the two are also major rivals.
SAARC was established on Dec. 8, 1985 and at present comprises of eight countries in the region namely Nepal, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Afghanistan and Bhutan.
SAARC provides a platform for the peoples of South Asia to work together in a spirit of friendship, trust and understanding. Its goal is to accelerate the process of economic and social development in member states. The 16th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit has been scheduled from April 28-29 in the capital of Bhutan, Thimphu. Bhutan is also referred to as the land of the thunderbolt.
Climate change will be a burning issue in the Summit that has this year’s theme as ‘Towards a green and happy South Asia’. Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal on Tuesday (27th April 2010) left for Bhutan to attend the 16th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit to be held in Thimpu on April 28 and 29th 2010.
The Prime minister of Nepal before departing to the Bhutanat Tribhuvan International Airport said that climate change will be a big topic of discussion.
The Prime Minister, his wife Gayatri Nepal, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala, National Planning Commission member Dinesh Devkota, advisors to the prime minister and foreign minister, the Chief of Protocol, two security personnel of the prime minister, foreign ministry officials and journalists are part of the delegation team. The Cabinet has endorsed three agreements — SAARC Agreement on Disaster Response Mechanism, SAARC Convention on Cooperation on Environment and Climate Change and Agreement on Trade in Services — to be forwarded to all member states and which will be the outcome of the SAARC summit.
Bhutan has completed preparations to host the summit, which will mark the 25th year of establishment of the regional body. The summit as planned will commence on April 28 followed by a meeting of the 38th session of the Programming Committee on April 29. Eight member nations will be joined by observers from China, Japan, the European Union, Republic of Korea, the US, Australia, Mauritius and Iran. The other issues that will be discussed will be energy, food crisis and effective implementation of the SAARC development fund. Regional issues like terrorism, extremism, early implementation of South Asian Free Trade Agreement and expansion of tourism across the region will also figure in the summit.
Another key agenda will be the appointment of a SAARC Development Fund secretary in the secretariat, which will be established in Thimpu.
Every area of cooperation under SAARC has a direct impact on the lives and livelihoods of the people in that region. Our leaders have aptly identified the focus of SAARC as being development oriented, according to foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao.
She claims that in this 25th year of SAARC, we can take satisfaction from the fact that SAARC has evolved into a service provider for the economic and development needs of the people of the region. She praised Bhutan, which is the chair and host of the 16th SAARC summit, for taking the lead to put climate change at the centre of the SAARC agenda. Bhutan has led the way among all in enshrining respect and sensitivity for environmental concerns and the preservation of our precious environmental space. She stated that at the summit, India will focus on improving regional connectivity through the development of new trade, transport and telecommunication links.
SAARC University in New Delhi
As part of an enterprising move SAARC University is set to start functioning in New Delhi in the next three months. India has asserted that there will be no discrimination of visa issue against any students from any country, including those from Pakistan although police reporting would be deemed mandatory.
Bhutan, in the past had refused thrice to host the summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), but now has shown enthusiasm for the 16th summit commencing on April 27, 2010.
There is trepidation, according to news sources, in the air about the imminent meeting between the Indian and Pakistan Prime Ministers. Officials are working out the final document that intends to demonstrate the efficacy of the eight-member grouping after nearly two decades of inaction. A point to note is that only at the 14th summit in Delhi did the SAARC resolved to move beyond the declaratory to implementation.
India: A Driving force
The current summit is expected to reveal two agreements: one on the environmental issues and the other on trade in services. The pact on environment is likely to see announcements on a regional institutional architecture to deal with climate change, and the setting up of 50 weather stations to provide storm warning in member countries, like Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.
The climate change deal is aimed at evolving a fresh SAARC position as per the Bali Action Plan and the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. The agreement on trade in services is meant to give a boost to regional trade which, as several studies have shown, is the poorest among all regional trading blocs in the world.
India is taking a stand for agreements on motor vehicles and railways and rapid response to natural disasters. Officials report that a few countries, including Pakistan, have inhibitions about the prospects of a “combined rapid response” force and are seeking clarity.
But, with India taking the lead, the vision of a region-wide physical connectivity unveiled by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is being implemented bilaterally and among three countries, as in the case of Nepal-India-Bangladesh and Bhutan-India-Bangladesh.
This meeting, which was to have been held in Kathmandu earlier this month, was postponed at Pakistan’s request. Similarly the movement on anti-terrorism has stalled, with Nepal having sought postponement of a meeting of the SAARC Home Ministers scheduled in Islamabad for earlier this year to give an impetus to the SAARC Ministerial Declaration on Cooperation in Combating Terrorism. However, a basic structure that shares unclassified information on terrorism and drug-related cases is already functioning.
India is also hoping on some pact that will bring down non-tariff barriers to give a boost to trade. The summit will be a test for India’s move to establish its own Monroe Doctrine, particularly in relation to its biggest neighbor, China, who is an observer nation at the 16th SAARC summit. India which is the largest country in South East Asia uses the 19th Century Monroe Doctrine of then-US president James Monroe to justify intervention in trouble areas around the Indian periphery.
The Indian security establishment believes that the United States’ operation in Afghanistan and Pakistan cannot succeed without India’s active co-operation, at least when it comes to nation-building in Afghanistan. Likewise, India wants actively participle in Washington’s nuclear talks with Iran and any overtures to Myanmar. Iran is an observer nation in SAARC. Afghanistan became a SAARC member in 2007.
Hope of Refugees:
Several thousands of Bhutanese refugees, who were forcefully thrown out of their homes for almost twenty years, are hoping to return to Bhutan at the end of the summit. Nepal is the homeland of the largest number of Bhutanese refugees who amount to nearly a sixth of the Buddhist kingdom’s population.
Evicted from Bhutan due to their ethnic roots and adherence to non-Buddhist religions, the younger refugees began to opt for a new life in western countries after Thimphu government refused to take them back.
Now nearly 30 percent of the refugees have already exited Nepal for a fresh start in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark and Norway and more are expected to follow in the days to come.
Bhutan’s refugee leaders are now convincing the heads of the eight member states to start multilateral talks for their return to Bhutan. Nepal and Bhutan held 15 rounds of talks to repatriate the refugees from Nepal but the talks abated and have not been resumed.
The summit is the first biggest international event being held in the country which is predominantly Buddhist in culture.
The 60-km long mountanious route from Paro Airport to Thimpu was lined by thousands of schoolchildren, dressed in traditional robes — kira for girls and goh for boys who vigorously waved the flags of the eight nations.
Roads in the city are decorated with colourful banners which welcome foreign delegates and the weather is pleasant.
In accordance with Bhutan’s climate protection policy – Bhutan is one of the world’s greenest nations with nearly 70 percent forest cover- a joint declaration ‘Towards a Green and Happy South Asia’ is expected to be an outcome of the summit.
April 28th 2010
The 16th SAARC summit began in Thimpu on April 28, 2010 with heads of eight South Asian countries seeking a joint initiative to tackle climate change threats and also to boost trade and regional cooperation among SAARC nations.
The conference got under way in this serene and pollution-free capital city of Bhutan the summit’s key theme “Towards a Green and Happy South Asia” seems only apt.
Seeking a fresh approach to global climate talks the SAARC leaders would pitch for observer status to the bloc at the Mexico conference on global warming later this year. This would enable the eight South Asian nations – Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Maldives and Bhutan besides India – to expressive their concerns collectively and effectively, according to news sources.Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs of United States of America , Robert O Blake, Jr. led the US observer delegation to the 16th SAARC Summit that held in Thimphu, Bhutan on April 28-29 and held bilateral meetings with the regional leaders on the margins of the summit according to press releases.
Prior to reaching Bhutan, Mr. Blake paid a two-day visit to Nepal on April 25-26, during which he met with political leaders, several government officials and civil society to discuss the continuation of the peace process, the next steps in the drafting of the constitution, and economic development.
The 16th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit concluded in Thimphu (Bhutan) with a ‘joint declaration’ and a statement on climate change, and a promise for planting ten million trees in the region to mitigate deforestation. Also, Afghanistan included, the leaders of eight SAARC countries agreed to establish an inter-governmental expert group on climate change to monitor regional policy implementations. Collectively the leaders vowed to continue the fight against terrorist activities and expressed concern over the threat which jeopardizes ‘peace, security and economic stability’ of the region.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh led the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) leaders on April 28 2010, and spoke in detail to the other members on the progress made by the eight-member regional association in its 25 years of existence. In the opening statement made by the Prime Minister of India, he said that though all the AARC member nations had created institutions for regional cooperation, they have not been empowered to be more proactive. On the positive side, new era of cooperation such as a development fund, food bank, free trade agreement and a university were poised to growing maturity.
While maintaining that declarations did not amount to regional cooperation, the Prime Minister said the SAARC’s potential would be met only when freer movement of people, goods, services and ideas took place. “In other words, the region must be better connected, empowered, fed and educated.” Manmohan Singh met his Pakistan counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani during the summit where they decided to keep the channels of dialogue open in a joint to restore “trust and confidence”. He also met leaders from SriLanka,Nepal and Bangladesh and discussed bilateral issues. India and Pakistan should compartmentalize their disputes to allow the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) reach its potential in terms of regional connectivity, trade and people-to-people contacts. The discussion between the leaders suggested that India and Pakistan should compartmentalize their disputes to allow the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) reach its potential in terms of regional connectivity, trade and people-to-people contacts.
Many leaders of the SAARC countries had passed on the suggestion to Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani during their bilateral meetings with him that specifically, Pakistan should address India’s concerns, especially with respect to the prosecution of all the Mumbai terror attack masterminds, highly placed sources disclosed to a major news source. While pointing out that all eight SAARC leaders were democratically elected, they expressed puzzlement as to why disputes could not be resolved by sitting across the table and addressing each other’s concerns.
Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have a similarity of views with Bhutan, Nepal and Maldives with regards to India. They all wanted Pakistan to stop procrastinating on the prosecution of the persons involved in the Mumbai attacks and eliminating the threat to India from non-state actors based on its soil.
Besides conveying these sentiments to Pakistan, some leaders also made a reference to the India-Pakistan dispute, directly or obliquely, in their opening speeches at the summit.
“I hope neighbours can find ways to compartmentalize their differences while I am, of course, referring to India and Pakistan. I hope the summit will lead to greater dialogue between them,” President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed told news people.
The leaders acknowledged that more than the two countries, it was the media that raised the prospects of an India-Pakistan summit meeting to a feverish pitch. The Prime Minister of Pakistan Gilani extended an invitation to Manmohan Singh to visit Pakistan and the Indian leader responded by saying that he would love to visit Pakistan.
During the two day summit on April 28-29, 2010 Mr. Singh held bilateral talks with his Bhutanese counterpart Jigmi Thinley during which the two countries signed implementation agreements for Punatsangchhu-II and Mangdechhu hydroelectric project that have a combined capacity of 1710 MW.These agreements were signed in the presence of the two Prime ministers by External affairs minister S.M.Krishna and his Bhutanese counterpart Khandu Wangchuk. The Prime Minister of Pakistan Gilani extended an invitation to Manmohan Singh to visit Pakistan and the Indian leader responded by saying that he would love to do that. Discussions of various issues between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Prime minister of Pakistan changed the climate between the two countries, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said in Thimphu on Thursday.
Manmohan Singh took the India-Bhutan ties a step further, when he laid the foundation stone of a state-of-the-art medical college and launched a project that would make half of the population computer literate in the next five years. Singh and Thinley unveiled the foundation stones of the Bhutan Institute of Medical Sciences and that of the two hydroelectric projects.
Singh also met with fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck and shared views on the just-concluded SAARC Summit and paid compliments to the excellent hospitality extended by Bhutan.
Two significant statements of the Summit:
1- Thimphu Silver Jubilee Declaration titled “Towards a Green and Happy South Asia.”
2- Thimphu statement on climate change.
The members of eight SAARC countries agreed to have an inter-governmental expert group with respect to climate change, who would meet twice a year at least, to develop and monitor regional policy implementations. The leaders had also made the decision to plant ten million trees in the next five years in all the member states as part of a regional aforestation and reforestation move.
Concerned about climate changes’ effect on 1.6 billion people of South Asia, the leaders also showed determination to promote the use of green and low-carbon technology.
The ‘Thimphu statement of climate change’ according to SAARC member states, faces the double challenge of addressing the negative impacts of climate change while trying to bring about socio-economic development. The leaders have told the SAARC secretary general to commission a study on ‘Climate risks in the regions: Ways to comprehensively address the related social, economic and environmental challenges’, to be presented at the next SAARC summit.
According to media sources in his closing remarks Prime Minister Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y Thinley, remarked that the ‘Thimphu statement on climate change’ would be a strong impetus to collaborative efforts in addressing issues of climate change, at many levels like national, regional and international. He said that the talks of the two days of April 28-29 2010 had been most educational and productive and added that everybody there were able to have detailed discussions on one of the most challenging issues of our times.
The secretary general was also instructed to commission a study aimed at accreditation of SAARC with the Kyoto Protocol’s adaptation fund as a regional entity for undertaking adaptation projects in South Asia.
Member states agreed to review the implementation of the Dhaka Declaration and SAARC action plan on climate change, in order to ensure implementation in a timely manner.
The 16th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit concluded in Thimphu (Bhutan) with a ‘joint declaration’ and a statement on climate change, and a promise for planting ten million trees in the region to mitigate deforestation. Also, Afghanistan included, the leaders of eight SAARC countries agreed to establish an inter-governmental expert group on climate change to monitor regional policy implementations. Collectively the leaders vowed to continue the fight against terrorist activities and expressed concern over the threat which jeopardizes ‘peace, security and economic stability’ of the region.
The Maldives would be the next venue for the next 17th SAARC Summit scheduled in 2011.
According to Chinese news sources a powerful earthquake in northwest China killed at least 300 people, injured 8,000 and left many others buried under debris. The quake, at a magnitude of 7.1 occurred at 7:49 a.m. in Qinghai Province according to China’s earthquake administration. The earth quake, which struck at 7:49 a.m. in Qinghai Province, was reportedly described as having a magnitude of 7.1 by China’s earthquake administration. The United States Geological Survey recorded it as 6.9. According to Xinhua, the earthquake struck 240 miles southeast of Golmud, a town of about 130,000 on the Tibetan plateau best known as the site of the world’s largest salt lake.
The earthquake in southern Qinghai Province occurred as a result of strike-slip faulting in the tectonically complex region of the eastern Tibetan Plateau. This earthquake occurred several hundred kilometers north of the convergent India-Eurasia plate boundary, where the Indian Plate is moving northwards to Eurasia at a rate of approximately 46 mm/yr.
This convergence is the cause of the uplift of the Himalaya Mountains, at a rate of approximately 10 mm/yr, and the Tibetan Plateau, which is an extremely broad region of thickened and uplifted crust. The Tibetan Plateau is extending and translating east-southeastward within a larger zone of generally north-south convergence. Based on the location, depth, and moment tensor of the event, the Qinghai Province earthquake most likely reflects the interaction between these major tectonic forces, dominated in this location by southeastward translation along the Yushu fault, a strand of the larger Xianshuihe fault system. This fault accommodates approximately 9-12 mm/yr of motion, approximately one third of the overall eastward motion of Tibet.
The April 14, 2010 earthquake is one of the largest known historic earthquakes within several hundred kilometers of its location. In 1738, a nearby earthquake of approximately magnitude 6.5 caused over 300 fatalities. In the past ruptures on the Xianshuihe fault system further to the southeast includes:
Magnitude of the Earthquake
Last August, 2009, Golmud was hit by a 6.2 magnitude earthquake that destroyed dozens of homes but caused no deaths. Qinghai is an ethnic melting pot of Tibetans, Mongols and Han Chinese. It is adjacent to Sichuan Province, where at least 87,000 people died in a powerful earthquake in 2008.
China Earthquake Networks Center, reported to media that the April 14th earthquake struck in Yushu County, which is a remote and mountainous area sparsely populated by farmers and herders, most of them ethnic Tibetans. The region is pocked with copper, tin and coal mines and rich in natural gas. A government Web site said the county’s population was around 80,000. Radio bulletins reported said that more than 80 percent of the homes in the area had collapsed but that schools and government buildings had largely remained standing. It was also reported that the road to the airport was impassable and that soldiers were digging out people from collapsed homes manually. Local officials said that phone service was limited and that rescue efforts were stymied by a lack of heavy equipment. Medical supplies and tents, they added, were in short supply. There was concern that the number of injuries and deaths may be increasing.
State news media reported that 700 paramilitary officers were already working in the quake zone and that another 3,000 troops would be sent to the area to assist in search and rescue efforts. The civil affairs ministry said it would also send 5,000 tents and 50,000 blankets to help the troops.
JIEGU, China14, April 2010
When this small town in remote western China was hit by an earthquake, a 14year-old boy Sangqiuyixi was sweeping the floor of his classroom at Yushu No.2 Ethnic High School. He broke the window and managed to escape. The earthquake struck at around 8 a.m. local time, when most students were already in school. Like Sangqiuyixi, every student who survived now has a story to tell.
Located in the southern part of Qinghai Province, Jiegu is the seat of Yushu County. It is close to the provincial border with Tibet Autonomous Region, and more than 90 per cent of its population of about 100,000 is ethnic Tibetans.
The magnitude-7.1 earthquake took a heavy toll on schools. Local authorities estimate that 80 per cent of primary schools and half of secondary school buildings in the county were severely damaged.
Attention focused on several schools in Jiegu, where 66 students and 10 teachers died. Chinese media published images of three young children in blue school uniforms lying dead on the pavement – a grim picture of the high casualty rate at poorly constructed schools in Sichuan in 2008, when a bigger quake killed 87,000 people. Local officials said that phone service was limited and that rescue efforts were stymied by a lack of heavy equipment and also observed that there was a shortage of tents and medical supplies. Military trucks have been deployed to the remote area, 480 miles away from the provincial capital, Xining, to aid rescue and relief efforts. Witnesses reported the collapse of many brick and wood buildings, with people rushing through the debris to free those trapped inside.
Half the buildings at the Yushu vocational school are said to have collapsed. Though 600 rescuers from the paramilitary force had come to help in the rescue mission there was a shortage of equipment and disaster relief gear. The need for such items far exceeds the supply. They needed tents, temporary housing, and power generators mobile kitchens among other things.
Power and water supplies have been cut although some early reports suggested larger buildings had stood firm. The population is relatively scattered, making it hard to assess damage.
The earth quake, which struck at 7:49 a.m. in Qinghai Province, was reportedly described as having a magnitude of 7.1 by China’s earthquake administration. The United States Geological Survey recorded it as 6.9.
According to Xinhua, the earthquake struck 240 miles southeast of Golmud, a town of about 130,000 on the Tibetan plateau best known as the site of the world’s largest salt lake.
Dr David Rothery, of the Open University’s department of earth & environmental sciences, said that like the Haiti quake, it happened when the ground either side of a fault slipped sideways. He cited that in this case it was a consequence of India’s northward collision into Asia, which for millions of years has slowly been forcing the Tibetan plateau out towards the east.
But the Qinghai quake was at a slightly more shallow depth than that which struck Haiti, said Rothery. When quakes are shallow, the shaking of the ground is more. Earthquakes are common in this region, but there has not been anything so big within 200 km of the current epicentre since at least 1900.
With more than 300 people missing in Yushu prefecture, Qinghai province, the authorities sent canine teams and heavy lifting equipment to help rescue workers search for people trapped in the rubble left by yesterday’s 7.1 magnitude quake.
H.H. the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader conducted prayers for victims and survivors of the earthquake in the Quighan province of China and a Long Life Offering for His Holiness .Both ceremonies were conducted at the Main Tibetan Temple in Dharamsala, India. He was joined at the ceremonies by H.H. the 17th Karmapa as both leaders continued the cultural trend of Buddhist leaders offering compassion and support wherever it is needed.
The Dalai Lama has already petitioned the Chinese government to allow him to travel to the earthquake site in order to comfort those who are suffering. This is a particularly significant request as he was born in that area.
He reportedly said in a statement, that to fulfill the wishes of many of the people there, he was eager to go there him to offer them comfort, but because of the physical distance, at present he was unable to comfort those directly affected, but he would like them to know he was praying for them .Although most of the region’s people are Tibetan, there has been no response from the Chinese government. According to news sources Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama of encouraging separatism in Tibetan areas, an allegation he has denied. According to the venerable Dalai Lama,”May the people affected by this earthquake and all natural disasters find peace and comfort as they move forward with their lives. And may we all awaken to the reality that such events can happen anywhere on Earth.”
On March 15.2010 in Mumbai, the cabinet approved a bill that would allow foreign universities to set up campuses in the country, a major turn around with a former policy in which outside institutions were considered a threat to the education system. Indian government has approved a plan to allow foreign universities to set up campuses and offer degrees in India. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s cabinet approved the proposals, which will be debated by parliament this month.
Nearly one in three of India’s 1.15 billion people are under the age of 14, and the Prime Minister has said that improving educational standards is crucial to rapid economic development. Private and foreign corporate investment may soon start to flow into Indian higher education with the government considering a move to reform the policy that hinders such financing. India is reforming its higher education system after listening to concerns that it faces a dearth of qualified graduates.
Every year, many English-speaking Indians head to countries such as the US and Australia to pursue higher education. Though India has a wealth of top notch educational institutions, she is unable to meet the demands for quality education, according to news sources.
Some analysts project that India’s growing economy will face a shortfall of half a million qualified graduates over the next five years.
Union Education Minister Kapil Sibal described the bill as a milestone which will enhance choices, and increase competition and benchmark quality.
As of now, it is not possible for non-profit companies under Article 25 of the Companies Registration Act like industry associations to start up an institution and get university status and recognition from the University Grants Commission.
Educational institutions in India can be set up only by trusts, societies and charitable companies, but the profits cannot be taken out of the institution and be re-invested .This restriction hinders expansion, and simultaneously encourages promoters to resort to creative accounting practices to take out profits from the institutions. According to news sources the United Progressive Alliance government has to provide evidence to clarify this clause.
There is concern in the country that the largely public higher education system will be incapable of coping with the increasing demand for college degrees from a large population of young people, and the bill, is still subject to a decision by Parliament. Sibal has said that in the next 10 years, more than 40 million children will be going to college and thus infrastructure for them has to be provided. Though the government has begun investing more in education, most public universities, like grade schools, have been starved for resources. Private institutions have taken up some of the slack, but a corrupt and tortuous bureaucracy makes obtaining permits difficult. Many private institutions are run by politicians or their families.
The bill would require universities to invest a minimum of about $11 million and would prohibit them from repatriating profits, a possible deterrent that could limit the appeal of an Indian campus to those universities that view overseas programs as money-churning ventures. The bill also eliminates a provision in the current law that does not allow a foreign institution from conferring degrees in India. That law has limited foreign universities to discrete programs, usually in collaboration with Indian institutions.
Georgia Institute of Technology and many similar American universities have expressed interest in starting campuses in India, partly because the country sends about 100,000 students to the United States every year, compared to other countries. The Institute of International education last month, invited and brought together presidents and senior officials from 13 American universities to India for meetings with Indian educators and policy makers.
The bill would also attract universities from Britain, Australia and Canada, which draw many Indian students.
The effort to bring foreign institutions to the country could also thwarted in Parliament, where opposition parties have been adamantly thwarting the will of the coalition government led by the Congress Party. Recently according to news sources, the government was forced to withdraw a controversial bill that would have limited the liability of American nuclear power companies that came to India under the civilian nuclear deal. Many Indian educators are against allowing foreign universities to step in to Indian soil because they are anxious about losing faculty members and students. Moreover, foreign institutions will not have to comply with the admission quotas for minorities that local universities face. In February of this year Mrs.Pratibha Patil said that the Central Government would bring in legislation for a move to allow foreign universities to offer joint degrees in association with Indian institutes, an idea that was strongly supported by Mr.Sibal, the Human Resources Development minister.
On March 16,2010 higher educational institutions, like the prestigious IITs and IIMs, applauded the government’s go-ahead for a bill to allow entry of foreign providers of education in India and sought to lay to rest any threat posed by the institutions from abroad. The director of IIM Lucknow Prof Devi Singh said it is a good move and will help bring internationally reputed education providers to India. Devi Singh said that it is important that the foreign institutions entering India offer the same degrees and diplomas that they are offering in their own countries as this will help to ensure that the certification that they provide in India will have the same value internationally as their current qualification. Foreign universities like Yale have welcomed the Indian government’s move.
For many years the country’s cleverest and most privileged students have migrated to foreign lands to complete their higher education and never looked back.
Many Indian leaders have studied at Cambridge or Oxford in Britain, including the country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, and the current Prime minister, Mr.Manmohan Singh. About 100,000 Indians study at universities in the United States and 60,000 in other countries, according to the New York-based Institute of International Education. The bill if passed in parliament would be good for India’s economic and social well being, according to Ajit Motwani the institutes’ Indian representative. The bars of standards would be raised in colleges.
Lisa Lapin, Stanford’s assistant vice president, told the Hindustan Times that learning centres and research partnerships had proved valuable in India for the university’s current students and would probably be expanded.
The bill, which stipulates foreign institutes would have to deposit a start-up fund of $11 million, is expected to have difficult passage in parliament. The BJP is not too happy with the current form of the bill and many communist law makers are expected to oppose it, according to news sources. According to them the bill has advantages for only the rich section of society and ignores the weaker sections.
This is a very exciting time for India in developing its higher education structure.