SECURE SYNOPSIS: 17 April 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: Changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.
The Siachen conflict, sometimes referred to as the Siachen War, is a military conflict between India and Pakistan over the disputed Siachen Glacier region in Kashmir. A cease-fire went into effect in 2003.The contentious area is about 900 square miles (2,300 km2) to nearly 1,000 square miles (2,600 km2) of territory. The conflict began in 1984 with India’s successful Operation Meghdoot during which it gained control over all of the Siachen Glacier (unoccupied and undemarcated area). India has established control over all of the 70 kilometres (43 mi) long Siachen Glacier and all of its tributary glaciers, as well as the three main passes of the Saltoro Ridge immediately west of the glacier—Sia La, Bilafond La, and Gyong La. Pakistan controls the glacial valleys immediately west of the Saltoro Ridge.
Impact of global warming:-
- The research studies have revealed the impact of global warming on the Siachen glacier that the mouth of it has been receded backwards by 800 meters in last one decade.
- A report released in 2015 by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has indicated that an increasing frequency of glacier retreats leading to snow avalanches is the worst outcome of global warming witnessed in the Himalayan region, which also covers Siachen glacier.
- Also, a researcher in the Snow and Avalanche Studies Establishment of India’s defense ministry had explained that the frequency of avalanches had been going up steadily since 1984 and that the maximum and minimum winter temperatures on the glacier had been rising upwards steadily.
While India and Pakistan have been unable to resolve the Siachen dispute, the new enemy is global warming.It is impacting the glacier and forcing Indo-Pak military to find new ways for survival and even to explore the options like demilitarizing the Siachen:-
- An increase in the temperature due to continuous global warming is gradually having an adverse impact on it, which is exacerbating the precarious situation soldiers face from unfavourable weather conditions. An increase in the global warming is melting the snow at an accelerating rate, resulting in dangerous avalanches.
- Avalanches are becoming increasingly unpredictable owing to an accelerating impact of global warming. These are maiming and killing the soldiers more than active fighting. In 2012, a massive avalanche claimed lives of 130 Pakistani soldiers in lower Siachen.
- The impact of the global warming on Siachen glacier is further confirmed by the fact that rain had been a rare phenomenon in the past few decades but at present light drizzling is frequently witnessed. This has resulted in the plantation and greenery on even at 15,000 feet height whereas previously it was not even possible at 12,000 feet height.
- Such visible impact of global warming especially the glacier retreat is attributed to the fact that there is an increase in the pollution owing to an increased deployment of army in the region. The construction of Army posts and camps, dumping of non-biodegradable waste material like ammunition shells, plastic waste and the consistent usage of arms and ammunition has adversely affected the ecosystem of the Siachen glacier.
The aforementioned environmental hazards created by the Siachen glacier are a direct outcome of global warming. This calls for the development of a stringent workable mechanism directed at environment cleaning to clear up the mess created due to the 25 years of military occupation of the area. Both Pakistan and India should talk and develop an effective strategy to manage the hazardous impacts of global warming on Siachen glacier. India and Pakistan need to allocate adequate resources and make a timetable for immediately cleaning the Siachen region. The active involvement of the youth and the environmental pressure groups should be highly encouraged to help in the issue.
Topic: Urbanization – problems and remedies
Air pollution in India is quite a serious issue with the major sources being fuelwood and biomass burning, fuel adulteration, vehicle emission and traffic congestion. The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act was passed in 1981 to regulate air pollution and there have been some measurable improvements. However, the 2016 Environmental Performance Index ranked India 141 out of 180 countries.
In 2015, Government of India, together with IIT Kanpur launched the National Air Quality Index
Some of the innovative ways to tackle the air pollution are:-
- Two way cycle lane to encourage cycling and dedicated policy support for it like in Smart city project
- Subsidizing Electric Vehicles, incentivising the purchase of energy efficient vehicles,Imposing congestion tax.
- Steps to reduce the AT&C losses through HVDC transmission lines and further employing newer technologies to reduce the industrial pollution.
- Levy tax on all pollution causing activities to augment ‘Clean Energy Fund’and make use of it for cleaner technology such as Tech. converting carbon dioxide into baking soda,urea etc
- Changing ‘Buying Habits’: using more of raw products as well as bio-degradable products
- Exploring new method to capture and reduce atmospheric carbon like carbon sequestration
- Installing Air Purifiers :-One solution could lie in the form of advanced air purifiers. While this wouldn’t clean the air up outside, they could at least limit our exposure to the pollutants when indoors.
- Home pollution detector:-Monitoring and controlling pollution in the home may well be a regular aspect of home life in the future. Birdi is a device in development that appears similar in style to a traditional smoke detector, but also monitors the air quality in a room
- Electronic tree:-One piece of technology that might help is the Peruvian Super Tree. This device, manufactured by Tierra Nuestra (our Earth), uses a water filtration system to remove carbon dioxide and bacteria from the air.
- Building air tight dome:-One school in Beijing has taken matters into hand with an inflatable airtight dome used to cover its sports field. The Sports Dome, at Dulwich College Beijing covers around four badminton courts and enables students to carry on playing sports without suffering the city’s pollution.
- Air Quality Egg is a neat response to pollution. It takes readings of different air pollutants and posts them automatically online: Of course, that doesn’t fight pollution directly, but it can help get people more involved in understanding air pollution.
- Cool-roofs: Use of special paints can reduces the heating. This requires lower usage of cooling system which are a major cause of air pollution. It is believed that if all the people around the world use this, it can push back global warming by 20 more years.
- Develop HOT – High Occupancy Toll lanes where vehicles with multiple occupancy are given special lanes to move faster and single occupancy vehicles are thereby by dis-incentivised. A differential in toll charges for HOT vehicles viz.a.viz single occupancy vehicle should also be implemented.
Topic: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues
Indian nationalism and Hindu nationalism are two different things. While the former is unconcerned with a person’s religious or cultural identity, the latter imagines the nation as an exclusive community of Hindus.
The differences can be seen as :-
- Indian nationalism is an umbrella term, inclusive of all sects,religions,races etc., contrasting with hindu nationalism as exclusive to hindus.
- Indian nationalism is secular in nature considering religion is of no importance to nationalism, while hindu nationalism sees nation through hindu prism.
- Welfare for all is the agenda for Indian nationalism and hindu nationalism propagates, welfare only if hindu.
- Hindu nationalism contradicts the basic tenets of ‘nationalism’ by forgetting the shared history, that the country was built multiple sects who resided India.
- Indian nationalism sees India as melting point of ideologies, while Hindu nationalism views it as quam, i.e., individuals of different community residing India.
- Hindu nationalism will require a Ram Temple; Indian nationalism requires schools, universities and factories for employing the youth.
- Hindu nationalism is exclusive and divisive, Indian Nationalism is inclusive; rooted in the issues of this world, and not the identity related ones.
Unfortunately Hindu nationalists have been raising the pitch around identity issues.Hindu Nationalism is expression of political and cultural thought based on the native spiritual and cultural traditions of historical Indian subcontinent. So Hindu-Nationalism per se in not wrong until it is anti-minority.But recent trends do bring apprehension among minorities which needs To be addressed and curbed.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.
4) Briefly outline the structure and mandate of the European Union (EU), the European Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament. In the light of changing political landscape in Europe, examine what role should these institutions play to safeguard European unity and integrity. (200 Words)
The concept of European unity is being questioned after the Brexit and growth of Anti-EU parties across the Europe.
The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe. It has an area of 4,475,757 km2 (1,728,099 sq mi), and an estimated population of over 510 million. The EU has developed an internal single market through a standardized system of laws that apply in all member states. EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services, and capital within the internal market, enact legislation in justice and home affairs, and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries, and regional development..
The organizational structure of European Union is made up of
- The executive commission,
- The council of ministers,
- The European parliament,
- The court of justice,
- The economic and social committee, and
- The monetary committee.
The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Economic Community (EEC), formed by the Inner Six countries in 1951 and 1958, respectively. Next the treaty of Rome of 1957 created the European Community made up of the six core countries of Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany. The decades following many new members joined them while at the same time integration of economic, cultural, judicial and so forth would then deepen the relationships distinct European entity. The community and its successors have grown in size by the accession of new member states and in power by the addition of policy areas to its remit. The Maastricht Treaty established the European Union in 1993 and introduced European citizenship. The latest major amendment to the constitutional basis of the EU, the Treaty of Lisbon, came into force in 2009.
The European Council charged with defining the EU’s overall political direction and priorities, is the institution of the European Union (EU) that comprises the heads of state or government of the member states, along with the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy also takes part in its meetings. Established as an informal summit in 1975, the European Council was formalised as an institution in 2009 upon the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon.
Since the institution is composed of national leaders, it gathers the executive power of the member states and has thus a great influence in high-profile policy areas as for example foreign policy. It also exercises powers of appointment, such as appointment of its own President, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the President of the European Central Bank. It proposes, to the European Parliament, a candidate for President of the European Commission.
The European Commission (EC) is an institution of the European Union, responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the EU treaties and managing the day-to-day business of the EU. Commissioners swear an oath at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, pledging to respect the treaties and to be completely independent in carrying out their duties during their mandate.
The Commission was set up from the start to act as an independent supranational authority separate from governments; it has been described as “the only body paid to think European”. The members are proposed by their member state governments, one from each. However, they are bound to act independently – neutral from other influences such as those governments which appointed them. This is in contrast to the Council, which represents governments, the Parliament, which represents citizens, the Economic and Social Committee, which represents organized civil society, and the Committee of the Regions, which represents local and regional authorities.
The European Parliament (EP) is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union (EU). Together with the Council of the European Union (the Council) and the European Commission, it exercises the legislative function of the EU. The Parliament is composed of 751 members, who represent the second-largest democratic electorate in the world (after the Parliament of India) and the largest trans-national democratic electorate in the world (375 million eligible voters in 2009).
It has been directly elected every five years by universal suffrage since 1979. However, voter turnout at European Parliament elections has fallen consecutively at each election since that date, and has been under 50% since 1999. Voter turnout in 2014 stood at 42.54% of all European voters
The Parliament is the “first institution” of the EU (mentioned first in the treaties, having ceremonial precedence over all authority at European level), and shares equal legislative and budgetary powers with the Council (except in a few areas where the special legislative procedures apply). It likewise has equal control over the EU budget. Finally, the European Commission, the executive body of the EU, is accountable to Parliament. In particular, Parliament elects the President of the Commission, and approves (or rejects) the appointment of the Commission as a whole. It can subsequently force the Commission as a body to resign by adopting a motion of censure.
Since the global recession of 2008, EU is being looked as burden rather than strength by many European political leaders. There is no consensus over the issues like inward migration from West Asia and North Africa, Climate change etc. Anti-EU sentiments are getting stronger as unemployment is rising, sovereign debt of some nation is forcing them for austerity measures. Thus European institutions are placed at critical situation to help out Europe out of crisis.
What role should these institutions play to safeguard European unity and integrity?
- All these institutions need to work in tandem to set the house in the order. Europe needs political transparency, executive accountability and efficient governance from these institutions.
- European institutions need to find “common solutions” to current challenges and to improve communication between the EU and its citizens
- Member countries of EU have different stance on the issues like migration crisis; countering terrorism; strengthening EU security and defense cooperation; and improving economic opportunities, especially for young people. European institutions have tough challenges to find consensus on these issues.
- Some countries in Europe are demanding closer integration while some others are opposing such plans. In this such scenario, EU could become a two-speed entity, consisting of a strongly integrated group of “core” countries and a group of “periphery” countries more free to pick and choose those EU policies in which they wish to participate. In this scenario European institutions will have uphill task in managing the multispeed Europe.
- Market integration is the bedrock principle of the European unity. Further these institutions need to explore markets for European goods in other regions like India, China etc. Once the economy of Europe is revived, the concept of European unity would be strengthened further.
European unity has been the novel and fairly successful experiment in the history of Europe and world as well. Economic integration is the strongest bond that could help nations together. Thus European institutions have major task of reviving the economy of Europe to preserve and maintain the glory of Europe.
Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations
5) In the light of Kulbhushan Jadhav episode, critically comment how should India and Pakistan resolve this issue. Do you think India’s perception of Pakistan being weak and isolated state is correct? Comment. (200 Words)
Kulbhushan Jadhav was arrested by Pakistan in March 2016 , allegedly in Balochistan, for espionage and abetting terror. Pakistani military court has sentenced capital punishment to him on charges of spying and espionage. India has maintained that Kulbhushan Jadhav has been arrested from Iran where he was involved in business activities. Pakistan has consistently denied India the consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav leading to rise in tension between the two.
How India and Pakistan should resolve the issue?
- Bilateral talks- hostility between India and Pakistan would result into no gains for either. Both being nuclear capable countries cannot risk the war and its consequences. So the best way for both the countries is to negotiate the issue bilaterally and find out amicable solution.
- Joint investigation- India and Pakistan should set up joint team with equal representation from both the countries who should conduct a fair and time bound investigation to verify charges levlled against Kulbhushan.
- International Court of Justice- India could put forward its case in ICJ as Pakistan is violating the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. India and Pakistan are both the signatory of this convention.
India’s perception of Pakistan being weak and isolated-
Points in favor-
- The boycott of recent SAARC summit in Islamabad by India and other countries was a successful attempt by India towards isolating Pakistan. Bangladesh openly backed India’s stand on various issues against Pakistan (though it had its own reasons for withdrawing from SAARC) and Afghan President denounced Pakistan’s interference at the Heart of Asia summit. Thus India has by and large succeeded in isolating Pakistan in South Asia.
- After the Uri attack India mounted diplomatic and international pressure on Pakistan to which many countries supported India’s stand.
- India conducted cross-border surgical strikes in retaliation to the Uri attack to which India could successfully present at international forum as India’s right to defend its sovereignty.
- China-Pakistan share strong political and security ties and China is considered as all-weather friend of Pakistan. Despite India’s consistent opposition to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, China has made it integral part of OBOR.
- Recently Russia has improved its relations with the Pakistan and the duo conducted military exercise for the first time signaling change in their bilateral relations.
- Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE and institutions like Organizations of Islamic Countries share strong bond with the Pakistan.
- Pakistan being strategically located, major western powers have traditionally kept good relations with the Pakistan.
Further according to western think-tanks Pakistan possesses about 80-100 nuclear war heads. Also China is helping Pakistan to develop its military. So it would be wrong to think that Pakistan is weak and isolated.
India and Pakistan have witnessed rise in tension in the recent time. Unless and until both countries resume bilateral negotiations, there are no solutions to these issues. As far as issue of Kulbhushan Jadhav is concerned, India needs to seek remedy at ICJ if Pakistan fails to give consular access to India. India and Pakistan are moving into unchartered territory and need to act cautiously so that tensions do not result into actual conflict.
Topic: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these
6) What’s the difference between laws and rules? It is said that in India, rulemaking to implement laws suffers from certain problems. What are these problems? In the light of these problems, discuss if rulemaking process needs overhauling. (200 Words)
Difference between laws and rules-
- Laws are ideas and the details of their implementation come through rules. It is the implementation of the law that tests its effectiveness in addressing problems on the ground. Poor implementation will make even the greatest law ineffective.
- Rules framed by the government are used to operationalize laws. These rules provide the nuts and bolts of the law and prescribe how people engage with it on a daily basis. The rules made by the government are therefore as important as the law enacted by Parliament.
Law making by Parliament is the first step in addressing gaps in our legal system. However, rulemaking to implement laws suffers from following problems.
- A law made by Parliament cannot be administered if the government does not frame the rules. The recent example of this is the Benami Transactions Act. Enacted in 1988, this law gave the government power to confiscate benami properties. For more than 25 years, such properties were immune from seizure in the absence of framing of relevant rules under the law by the government. Even today, there is no information about the complete, partial, or zero implementation of a law in the absence of rules being framed.
- Lack of citizen and expert voices in the rulemaking process. Public consultation and feedback can identify potential pitfalls in the implementation of law. However, only a handful of laws made have required inviting of public feedback on rules. The government also does not have a consistent mechanism for soliciting feedback while making rules.
- Severely limited resources of Parliament to scrutinise rulemaking by the government. Last year, approximately 1,200 rules under different laws were made. Parliament has only two committees to examine these rules. Besides the sheer volume of work, their task is further complicated because they have to review technical rules made under various laws.
- Vague and ambiguous rules lead to the poor implementation of the law. Such conditions also give rise to the different interpretations of the same rule and discretionary powers to the concerned authorities.
More than a thousand laws are operational in our country. Our rulemaking process needs overhauling to ensure consistency between the intent of Parliament while making laws, and implementation of these laws through rules by the government. Several recommendations have been made to address issues related to the rulemaking process.
What should be done?
- Parliament has recommended that government should make rules within six months of a law being passed. For the government to adhere to this timeline, it suggested that the process of rulemaking should start in parallel with the drafting of the law. Implementation of these recommendations will ensure that the government cannot bypass the will of Parliament and is forced to implement all laws.
- To ensure scrutiny of rulemaking by Parliament, the government should be required to make regular statements before Parliament regarding the status of framing and operationalizing rules under various laws.
- In 2014, the Committee of Secretaries under the chairmanship of the Cabinet Secretary recommended that all new principal laws should contain a provision for publishing draft rules.
- Parliament has 24 subject-specific committees which scrutinize laws. These committees also oversee the work of different ministries. The rules of Parliament should be updated so that instead of two committees, these 24 committees are empowered to review rules made by the ministries. Given their focus on overseeing specific technical and sectoral matters related to various ministries, such a change will bring much-needed rigour to the scrutiny of rules by Parliament.
The government must recognize that getting a law approved by Parliament is only half the battle won. The law merely provides the framework for a solution. To effectively implement it, the government will have to draft detailed rules.
General Studies – 3
Topic:Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate
7) In the light of reports of Army personnel using a young man as a human shield in Jammu and Kashmir’s Budgam district, do you think such tactics would help army curb terrorism in the valley? Critically comment on use of such methods by armed forces either as defence or tactics in conflict zones. (200 Words)
A video has gone viral showing a Kashmiri youth tied to Army jeep which used him as human shield to get through some of the tense areas of Budgam district. This act of Army commander has created furor not only in Kashmir but also in rest of India.
Do such tactics would help army curb the terrorism in India?
Such tactics do not lead to curbing of terrorism because of the following reasons-
- Terrorist organizations highlight such acts by Army to create unrest among the local people and to radicalize the youths. With the help of such acts they could incite the violence in locals against the government.
- Such acts give fodder to hostile neighbors like Pakistan to accuse India of committing gross human rights violation.
- Most of the terrorist organizations use humans as shield in their operations. But to commit such action by Army would leave no difference between them and terrorist organizations.
- Further it must be taken into account that two wrongs do not make right. Thus using human as shield will only lower the respect and prestige of the Army as an institution.
Evaluating the use of such methods by Army either for defence or tactic in conflict zones-
- The Army commander who used Kashmiri youth as a human shield might have done it as last resort to safeguard the government officials. However these acts set bad precedents and send wrong messages to the local people with whom government is striving to cultivate good relations.
- These tactics only alienate the local people from the civilian and military administration leading to trust deficit between them.
- To use a person as a human shield is to abduct him, to hold him hostage, and to violate his/her fundamental human rights.
- This would make India liable to the attacks from human rights institutions all over the world.
There is no argument that the Army, which is caught in a situation in which terrorists attempt to blend in with the civilian population, is fighting a difficult and unenviable battle. But the difficulties in fighting a hybrid war do not constitute a justification for the use of human shields, which is categorised as a war crime by the Geneva Conventions.