Sunday, November 16, 2008

International conFLAGration

The other day, there was a heated debate on BBC about oceanic waters and the vast territory that is covered by sea. In school we learnt that over two thirds of the earth is covered by sea and so, the earth is called the blue planet. This debate spoke of an event that happened a year ago, wherein Russia sent two submarines into the Arctic Ocean bed, and planted a titanium flag down there. An official report is here...

Anyway, the panel comprised of people from all countries that border the Arctic Ocean. Everyone conceded that the issue is of great importance, since in the light of the energy crisis, new places for exploration are a necessity. And what better place than an ocean floor, that has remained snow capped for so long!! The Russian representative in the debate was vehement in saying that nothing should be read between the lines in the whole action, since Russia just wanted to show that its subs could go pretty deep down and stay there for a while as well.

So far maritime issues are generally dealt with on the basis of a tacit, implicit agreement of goodwill between all parties involved. But the issue of how to divide unexplored sea bed and the natural treasures it holds, can actually keep simmering and no one would be able to make out when it breaks out into a boil!

The funniest thing however, was the timing of this debate. India had launched Chandrayaan, its moon mission, and had successfully planted the Indian flag-bearing Moon Impact Probe near the Shackleton crater on the Moon's South Pole on 14th November 2008 - India's presence on uncharted territory and here there was a renewed debate on a flag planted on the Arctic sea bed a year ago - Russia's so called claim on uncharted territory. Shakespeare said, " What's in a name"... I ask, " What's in a flag?".... Time will tell, a hundred years later.........

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