SECURE SYNOPSIS: 04 March 2017
NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.
General Studies – 1;
Topic: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues
1) In recent times, Aurangzeb has been the focus of sociopolitical discourse and animated discussions in academic circles. Critically examine the revelations made by academicians in recent studies on Aurangzeb’s life and contributions. (200 Words)
In recent times, Aurangzeb has been the focus of sociopolitical discourse and animated discussions in academic circles. Ranged on the one side are proponents of Hindutva who never tire of reminding destruction of thousands of Hindu and Jain temples on Aurangzeb’s orders. On the other are serious academics and writers who are looking afresh at his regnal years, away from the prism of bigotry and intolerance. Today, Aurangzeb is regarded as an emperor with great accomplishments and obvious flaws. Greys, rather than black and white, describe him better.
Recent studies by historians on Aurangzeb’s life-
- The attempt to show the “untold side” of Aurangzeb started in 2012 when the author-historian William Dalrymple sprang a surprise in his introduction toPrinces and Painters in Mughal Delhi, 1707-1857, by pointing out that Aurangzeb was “a pragmatic ruler who frequently patronised Hindu institutions”. Dalrymple stated that Aurangzeb deserved to be read anew, arguing that some of the measures introduced in his reign, such as the imposition of jizya (military tax on non-Muslims), should be looked at from the prism of exigencies of administration rather than religion. This view gained credence from the fact that no communal riots were reported during Aurangzeb’s time. Also, there were no mass conversions of Hindus by Aurangzeb’s warriors with a sword in one hand and the Quran in the other.
- InPunjab: A History from Aurangzeb to Mountbatten (2013), Rajmohan Gandhi brought out Aurangzeb’s political accomplishments and his gentle, human side. “Diligent in religious observance, Aurangzeb was a tenacious fighter as well. The empire under Aurangzeb’s long rule increased in area. New territories annexed included Little Tibet beyond Kashmir in the north, Chittagong beyond Dhaka in the east, and, in the south, the Muslim kingdoms of Golconda and Bijapur.” Rajmohan Gandhi also hailed Aurangzeb’s simplicity: “Of small stature, with a long nose, a round beard and an olive skin, Aurangzeb, usually wore plain white muslin” and “applied himself assiduously to business”.
- Audrey Truschke, inCulture of Encounters: Sanskrit at the Mughal Court, reasons that the use of Sanskrit declined because of the flowering of Hindi during the reign of Aurangzeb. She says Alamgir (Aurangzeb’s regnal title) in his early years had read the Quran and the Hadith as also Rumi and Saadi and was exposed to Persian translations of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Aurangzeb, she says, even composed in Braj Bhasha.
- Most of the historians have painted that Dara Sikoh, the elder son of Shah Jahan was liberal and tolerant while Aurangzeb was bigot and hardliner Muslim. Professor Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi, a medieval India historian from Aligarh Muslim University, says Empirical data point towards another direction: Aurangzeb, who was supposedly anti-Rajput, won the war of succession with the support he received from Hindus and Rajputs. Shikoh lost as he did not get the support of Rajputs. . This is brought to light by a letter written by Prince Akbar who rebelled against his father [Aurangzeb]. He writes: ‘Have you forgotten why Dara lost and you gained the throne? Dara lost the support of the Rajputs who rallied around you.’” “Had Aurangzeb been what most historians paint him out to be, the majority of Rajputs would not have sided with him,” says Rezavi.
Historians on Aurangzeb’s orthodoxy-
According to new lot of historians revising the Mughal history, Aurangzeb did mix religion with politics, discriminated against certain sections, imposed the jizya tax, yet he was more a practical king than a proselytizing preacher.” What is often forgotten is that he imposed the jizya 21 years after assuming power and at a time when he needed support of Ulemas and Muslim nobles to fight against rebellious Rajputs. What is also brushed aside in this zeal to paint Aurangzeb black is the fact that he was just a monarch who waged wars to extend his territory or to consolidate his empire, just as Shivaji fought for his territory. Neither of them fought for the nation as the concept of nation did not exist then.
Vrindavan documents gives evidences that there were more temple grants under Aurangzeb than under Akbar. Temples were broken but only in areas of recalcitrant nobles or areas of revolt. Aurangzeb was just a shrewd politician. He did what suited him politically. When fighting Bijapur and Golconda, the Shia states in the Deccan, he was anti-Shia; afterwards he was not. Many Shia establishments date back to his period. He was not a bigot, but a shrewd manipulating king. He calculated each and every move of his for political dividends. He presided over the largest ever empire. And that was no mean achievement.”
The above mentioned views of historians demarcate that Aurangzeb was not bigot king as portrayed by traditional historians and his history should be seen through the prism of political expediencies faced by him as a ruler of vast sub-continent.
General Studies – 2
Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations
Recently China invited Indian officials to hold talks on the prospects of stability and mutual cooperation in fighting against terrorism in Afghanistan. In the wake of removal of NATO forces this move is seen as important phase in improving relations between India and China.
Why China is seeking India’s support in Afghanistan-
- This development comes against a backdrop of the growing threat of the Islamic State (IS) to China. The IS has released a video of Chinese Uighur Muslims vowing to return home and “shed blood like rivers”. This has caused uneasiness in China which is determined to prevent the spread of Islamic fundamentalism in Xinxiang region.
- It is worried about the spillover effect of continuing instability in Afghanistan. The impact of Afghanistan’s destabilization will be felt in Xinjiang where the East Turkistan Islamic Movement is active.
- Moreover, China’s mega investment plans in Pakistan are predicated on a measure of regional stability. China is considered to invest 45 billion dollar in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Also stability in Xinxiang region and in Afghanistan is very vital for success of China’s One Belt One Road initiative.
- With the Donald Trump administration yet to clarify its position on Afghanistan, and with it looking unlikely to add more American troops to the depleting reserves of Western forces in the country, it is not surprising that China is keen to engage India, the one country that has built a reservoir of goodwill in Afghanistan and has demonstrated some ability to deliver concrete results on the ground.
Benefits of joint action in Afghanistan by India and China-
- Recent talks between India and China holds greater significance. The previous year had seen rise in tensions between India and China due to incidences like blocking India’s entry into NSG, putting hold on inclusion of Masood Azhar in global terrorist’s list etc. Also India and China witnessed tensions over border issues. However recent talks are seen as outlet to this increase in tensions. Moreover these talks can enhance the ties between two countries.
- Instable Afghanistan is cause of concern not only to Xinxiang province but also to Kashmir. Both regions are witnessing rise in the Islamic fundamentalism due to rise in ISIS.
- Both India and China have their strategic interests in bringing stability in Afghanistan. India has built road connectivity from Chabahar port in Iran to interiors of Afghanistan. It gives India much needed access to resource rich but land-locked central Asia bypassing Pakistan. Similarly for China Afghanistan is vital link for the One Belt One Road project.
- Pakistan has remains perpetual clog in improving relations between the two Asian giants. The initiative taken by China seeking India’s cooperation in Afghanistan may dwarf the Pakistan’s effort to keep India away from Afghanistan.
But there remain some fundamental divergences in Sino-Indian positions on Afghanistan and broader counter-terrorism postures.
- For China, Pakistan is an important asset in its South Asia policy and an all-weather friend. China continued to emphasize that its relationship with Pakistan was far more important than a regional approach on terrorism with India.
- According to Indian foreign secretary, China still holds the view that there exists some element in Taliban which are ready to work with international community and they can be differentiated from the extreme elements Taliban. However India has always opposed such differentiation of Taliban.
- China’s intention to fight terrorism however good, are not accompanied by concrete actions. In fact some of the China’s steps like putting hold on inclusion of JeM chief Masood Azhar in UN’s list of global terrorist have given regressive indications.
Cooperation between India and China is required not only for the stability in Afghanistan but for the diffusing tension in whole of Asia. Afghanistan is perfect opportunity to settle the internal differences and to work towards peaceful and prosperous Asia.
Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
3) Recently a Taiwanese delegation which included three parliamentarians among others visited India in February 2017. How did China react to this and what was India’s response to China’s reaction? Also comment on significance of India’s growing proximity to Taiwan. (200 Words)
The bilateral relations between India and Taiwan have improved since the 1990s despite both nations not maintaining official diplomatic relations. India recognises only the People’s Republic of China (in mainland China) and not the Republic of China’s claims of being the legitimate government of Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau – a conflict that emerged after the Chinese Civil War (1945–49). However, India’s economic & Commercial links as well as people-to-people contacts with Taiwan have expanded in recent years.
However the chinese are driven by the One China principle that insists both Taiwan and mainland China are inalienable parts of a single “China”.
The recent Taiwanese delegation visit by three parliamentarians to India resulted in sharp reaction by chinese authorities. China pointed out that it hopes that India respect the one china principle. Such reaction by Peoples Republic of China is unprecented.
Significance of India’s proximity towards Taiwan
1)This may act as our counter to China-Pakistan friendship.
2)As a sovereign country we have the right to make certain decisions and maintain relations benefiting us.
3)China remain as a hurdle in securing our NSG membership, banning Masood Azhar of Jaish-e-mohammad in UNSC. Our relation with Taiwan can be used as an hostage to achieve such needs.
4)Apart from this Taiwan’s rapid industrialization(called Taiwan’s miracle),High skilled labor, high HDI offers us a lot of learnings in terms of effective social, economic and developmental models.
5)In the present world scenario of protectionism such relation and good will between countries should be encouraged as a wave for globalization against protectionism.
6) Delegation head shown interest to invest in india’s Make in india Progg and Smart City initiave .
7)New southbound policy of Taiwan government focuses not only on people to people contact but on raising the level of ties with ASEAN, India, Australia and New Zealand.
8) India Signed two MOU – Air Services Agreement and MOU for agriculture and Allied Sector Cooperation
1)China may become aggressive and this may put the peace of the region into question.
2)Our act may bolster US where the US president already commented against “one china policy” this will disturb world peace.
Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
4) Russia’s decision to side with the Taliban and Islamabad has fundamentally changed the peace building efforts in Afghanistan. Examine why it has sided with Taliban and Pakistan, and what implications will it have on India. (200 Words)
Russian intervention in matters of Afganistan is not a new issue. Recently for the second time in the last few months, Russia hosted a Conference on Afghanistan in Moscow on February 15, 2017, this time with an expanded representation of six countries – Russia itself, Iran, China, India, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In fact, the reasons for this kind of change in Russia’s approach, are as follows:
1. The belief that Pakistan is responsible for the exercising of ultimate control over the Taliban.
2. The growing vacuum in Afghanistan due to the withdrawal of USA from the politics of the region, has made Russia think about acquiring the strategic opportunity available at the earliest.
3. Its own plans concerning investment, and exploitation of the resources in Afghanistan might have made it change its approach.
4. Russia might actually be desiring a consensus solution with regard to Afghanistan, which it feels should be acceptable to all the stakeholders in the region.
5.Russia fears that there may be rise of Islamic State forces in war torn Afganistan.
6.Russia wants to exclude the USA from the peace building process.
At the same time, the implications of this changed approach by Russia, on India, are:
1. Pakistan might be further emboldened to stand up to Indian influence in Afghanistan.
2. The Taliban, supported by the Pakistan, can potentially derail any developmental plans India has with respect to the region.
3. With China fully supporting Pakistan in its strategic policy moves, India might be constrained to push back, and protect its existing interests and ventures in Afghanistan, in a more pro-active manner.
The changed policy of Russia might look like a pragmatic move, in the context of an embattled Afghanistan, that is in desperate need of peace. but the cost that certain regional powers, such as India, might have to bear in return for this, might actually prove to be counter-productive for Afghanistan, in the long-run.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate
“If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or is a Gurkha”- said by former field marshal Sam Manekshaw is a whole hearted tribute to these brave warriors.
The recruitment of Gurkhas into Indian armed forces started at the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh when he first commissioned Gurkhas in his Sikh Army in 1809 and later by British Army in 1819. Britishers understood their importance in the defence forces and we still continue to recruit these warriors from Nepal into our army.
Contributions of Gorkhas in Indian army:
1) About 7 regiments of Gorkha rifles exist today.
2) They served us in various wars like India -Pak war of 1971, India – China conflicts and are a part of various peace keeping missions around the world like Sudan, Lebanon, etc.
3)They provide security to Indian embassy in Nepal.
4)They are specialised in steep hill climbing which makes them strategically important from India’s point of view.
So, Gorkhas are handy in providing security to the vast and high Himalayan ranges and glaciers like Siachen.
5)The President of Gurkha regiment is always the most senior officer among all the regiments and present Chief of Army staff is also from Gurkha regiment.
1)Around 1 lakh gurkha pensioners from Nepal depend on India. Remittances to soldiers,pensions and other benefits to ex-servicemen and pensioners residing in Nepal are from Indian state exchequer. The total annual budget of these welfare schemes is approximately INR 5.5 to 6 crore. At the same time many welfare projects, for example – recent extension of the Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) to private hospitals in Nepal as also the extension of canteen facilities to pensioners in Nepal; are run for these people have further concreted the Indo-Nepal relations.
2)Lack of job opportunities and other infrastructure in Nepal prompts its youth to take up job in Indian Army providing them dual opportunity.
3)it has lead to improved people to people and cultural ties between two countries.
4)No country in the world has opened its armed forces to a neighbour in this manner besides the other aspects of this special relationship like the open border.
5)The Indian Ex-servicemen Welfare Organisation in Nepal (IEWON) is an independent organisation chaired by the Ambassador of India with representation from senior officials from the Governments of Nepal and India. It functions under the aegis of the Defence Wing of the Embassy and is responsible for the welfare of the Nepal-domiciled pensioners of the Government of India. In an exceptional decision, the Government of India chose to execute its social welfare activities through its ex-servicemen residing in Nepal, most of which are drinking water projects in remote hilly areas where drinking water is an acute problem. This has not only empowered these ex-servicemen and enhanced their status in society but also created more than one lakh ambassadors for Brand India and the values that it stands for. The IEWON also carries out other welfare activities including the provision of educational scholarships and vocational training for the wards of pensioners.
Gurkhas form a very assuring core of India-Nepal friendship and no amount of monetary and material benefits can repay the debt India owes to Nepal for its brave and benevolent sons who laid their lives in service of their neighbour.
In the time of growing protectionism around the world and irrespective of the noise and clutter that surrounds Indo-Nepal relationship, both governments need to nurture this core and build on the foundation it offers so that the association contributes to the Comprehensive National Security of both nations.
6) In Astaranga, 60 km east of Puri in Odisha, a community led initiative has provided the endangered Olive Ridley turtles a new nesting ground. Examine how local communities have been instrumental in protecting these endangered species and how the same model can be replicated to save other endangered species. (200 Words)
Our planet is in the midst of the sixth mass extinction, with an estimated loss of 0.1% of the total species going extinct annually. Despite several international conservation mechanisms in place, the role of local communities in conservation activities cannot be underscored. Worldwide, the most successful conservation efforts have been those where local communities were made active stakeholders in conservation programmes.
In Astaranga, 60 km east of Puri in Odisha, a community led initiative has provided the endangered Olive Ridley turtles a new nesting ground. In 2016, the Forest and Environment Department of Odisha counted more than 87,000 Olive Ridley turtle eggs between February and October [highest in 10 yrs.]
The turtle nesting at Astaranga is significant as turtle deaths have occurred with alarming regularity in Odisha. For instance, in 2003, nearly 6,000 Olive Ridleys were found dead, of which more than 4,600 died outside the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary, about 114 km from Astaranga.
The record nesting of turtle eggs at Astaranga is due to the efforts of Green Light Rural Association (GLRA), a non-profit based in Astaranga. Though the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary has traditionally been the most preferred nesting site for turtles, the nesting at Astaranga has opened new vistas to secure Olive Ridley numbers.
Role of local community in conservation of Olive Ridley turtles –
How GLRA implemented its conservation strategy –
Formed in 1993 by a group of 13 teenagers, GLRA’s activities are focused in the region around the mouth of the river Devi, which is a distributary of the Mahanadi. Devi was designated as a rookery or a mass breeding ground in 1981. At a time when everyone was suspicious of the fishing community involved in the illegal trade of turtles, they have set an example of community-driven conservation.
- GLRA undertook a seven-month-long tour to document the factors leading to turtle deaths
- Through their project, Turtle Friends, they generated awareness among fishing communities
- To stop fisherfolk from fishing during the nesting period, they trained them to start alternative sources of income generation and Support to local community- setting up SHGs for part time business; training in hygenic preparation of dried fish; distribution of fruit trees like mango, coconut etc as a means of alternate source of livelihood
- GLRA members started a programme to control the population of stray dogs, which used to consume the turtle eggs
- Local community knowledge- GLRA built an artificial reef with the help of fishing communities and funding support. This artificial reef of concrete blocks stopped net fishing and helped create new fishing areas. Fisherfolk were encouraged to catch fish only by the hook technique, instead of using trawlers or boats.
- GLRA members are also worried about the ports being planned along Odisha’s co-astline. Even minor ports, such as the proposed Astaranga Port, which was announced by the state government in 2010, could endanger turtle nesting.
Conservation of other endangered species –
1) Respect for local traditions- sacred groves by local and tribal communities such as in Chamoli in Uttarakhand, Bishnois in Rajasthan etc.
2) Alternate means of livelihood- such as the one used by GLRA in Odisha.
3) Community patrolling- check on illegal poaching, trawlers etc.
4) Appreciation for conservative efforts- awards for best conservation practices at district/state/national level
5) Private sector- compel them to make up for ecological loss caused by setting up industries in sensitive areas.
India has been the ground zero for multiple successful conservation movements by local communities such as the Chipko Movement, Hargila conservation movement etc. which reveals the tremendous potential that our people have in biodiversity conservation which can be tapped.