SECURE SYNOPSIS: 12 June 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: History of the world
Six-day war was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967 by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. It resulted into decisive victory for Israel and changes the future course of events in west Asia forever.
Reasons for the Six-day war-
- The very creation of Israel in the year 1948, out of the British”protectorate”of Palestine.
- The forging of a kind of pan-Arab nationalism, with its main target being Israel.
- In January 1964 an Arab League summit, claimed that the diversion of the Jordan waters by Israel (for its national carrier program) multiplies the dangers to Arab existence and decided to deprive Israel of 35% of the National Water Carrier capacity, by a diversion of the Jordan River headwaters to the Yarmouk River. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) attacked the diversion works in Syria in March, May, and August 1965, perpetuating a prolonged chain of border violence that linked directly to the events leading to war.
- On 23 May 1967, Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran in defiance of the guarantees given by the “maritime Powers” in 1956. In effect this operated as a blockade against all Israel shipping to the East. Israel used this as the justified cause for declaring war on the Arab alliance.
- Increased tensions and skirmishes along Israel’s northern border with Syria were the immediate cause of the third Arab-Israeli war.
- During May 1967, Israel came to know about a plot being hatched against it by Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, and hence it decided to initiate an attack against them from before-hand.
Consequences of the war-
- Israel came into possession of the Sinai desert up to the Suez Canal, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, East Jerusalem including the Old City, and the Golan Heights.
- Israel announced an official policy of “territories for peace” i.e. withdrawal to secure borders to be negotiated, in exchange for “full peace” and recognition.
- Long term-
- The war has drawn permanent wage in the Arab world and Israel. It further strengthened anti-Israel sentiments among the Arab countries, and is considered by many historians as the reason for the growth of Palestinian nationalism, and the creation of PLO.
- Though there were anti-Israel sentiments an all Arab countries, Arab countries could never stand up to Israel together after the Six-Day War. Egypt, the strongest of them all, would take years to recover from the humiliation it suffered. Nasser died in three years, and with him died the idea of pan-Arabism.
- The war reinforced Israel’s military might in the region. No Arab country but Egypt would dare attack Israel directly after the June War.
- It turned Israel into an American asset in West Asia. The United States realized the true strategic potential of Israel only after the June War.
- The war led to the beginning of the up-gradation of the military apparatus and technological stature of Israel, for the purpose of its defense.
Israel made peace with Egypt following the Camp David Accords of 1978 and completed a staged withdrawal from the Sinai in 1982. However, the position of the other occupied territories has been a long-standing and bitter cause of conflict for decades between Israel and the Palestinians, and the Arab world in general.
Jordan and Egypt eventually withdrew their claims to sovereignty over the West Bank and Gaza, respectively. Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty in 1994.
After the Israeli conquest of these newly acquired ‘territories’, it launched a large settlement effort in these areas to secure a permanent foothold. There are now hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers in the West Bank. They are a matter of controversy within Israel, both among the general population and within different political administrations, supporting them to varying degrees. Palestinians consider them a provocation. The Israeli settlements in Gaza were evacuated and destroyed in August 2005 as a part of Israel’s unilateral disengagement plan of that time.
Are their repercussions of the even today?
- Territory over peace-
Policy of favoring territory over peace is continued by Israel, making the region extremely volatile. Despite international efforts like Oslo Accord for recognition of Palestinian state, Israel continued its advancement to East Jerusalem, West Bank. According to report of UNHRC, Israel aggressively violated human rights in the region.
The region west Asia is full of instability and part of the reason can be attributed to the six-day war that pushed Israel into dominant position vis-à-vis Arab states.
- Persistent hostility-
There has been no conclusive peace agreement and no efforts from either side to establish peace among all the countries. Hence the both the parties view each other with skepticism and hostility.
Six-day war was one of the most important war fought in the history that had monumental effects. Israel has emerged as the strongest power in the region after the war. However her occupation of Arab and Palestine territories have resulted into long stand-off between Arabs and Israel and millions of Palestinians are living a life of hell. Israel could diffuse the situation if it decides to come to negotiations with the Arabs and make respectful place for the Palestinians.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education
Council for Indian school certificate examinations (CISCE) is a private board to conduct Indian certificate for school examination and Indian school certificate examinations. The board has introduced two new compulsory board examinations at the fifth and eight standards. The decision has led to debate whether the students need more exams or they should learn in environment free from the stress of exams.
- Such tests would enable children to take the board examinations in their stride in future and as they are application based they would help students in applying the knowledge to the real life.
- It ensures regular monitoring of quality of education at the junior and sub-junior school levels which may compel the schools into the timely completion of syllabus that is needed to be learn by student.
- The board can gauge the success of the prescribed syllabus which is being conformed to in schools and work ahead from such results to improve education.
- Home and school exams don’t assess the true potential of a student. They are not taken seriously by faculty members, parents and by students.
- Boards would create a healthy environment of competition and would flourish a culture of excellence among students.
- Present education system needs to focus on improving the current standard of education in schools by introducing a more rigorous and thorough teacher’s training, incorporating audio-visual aids in academics, conducting more school education trips and similar activities so that it leads to better learning system. However the current step is regressive on that would force students for rote-learning and memorization than understanding.
- Our current board examinations have many shortcomings. Examiners follow the marking scheme rigidly and many bright students have suffered because they have expressed themselves differently.
- It would further tense the parents and haunt the students for obtaining good marks in the exams. It boosts exam-oriented education culture of India which is not a true tester of capabilities of students.
- Boards themselves are alleged of discrepancies prevailing in checking of answer sheets and awarding of marks.
- Proposed board exams are said to be mandatory but they would not have any effect on promotion to the further class. This very provision seems illogical and reduces the seriousness attached with board exams.
- Piling additional pressure on such young students can hamper their natural learning curve since not all students develop intellectually to learn same things at the same pace and time.
CISCE board is admired for the freedom it provides to the schools for designing their curriculum, notebooks and evaluation system. And It’s “student friendly” policies are well recognized but this new step is in contrast of these two.
The council’s main objective in introducing these new tests, according to various dailies, is to assess the standard of teaching and thus keep schools on track. However, examination results can never indicate the quality of school teaching accurately; the focus should be on teacher training and teacher development. External assessment of schools for benchmarking and self-evaluation is required but certainly not in the form of periodic board exams.
Topic: Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries
Dr. B R Ambedkar had announced in the constitution assembly that Indian constitution has placed at the head of the Indian Union a functionary known as President. He further stated that the title of the head of union resembles the President of the United States. However, beyond a name there are not many similarities between the two. The head of the Indian state resembles more British king considering the powers and position given to them.
Correlation between office of President of India with that of King under the English constitution-
The statement by Dr B R Ambedkar stating that office of President of India and British King are similar is because of similarity of powers and positions enjoyed by the two.
- The constitution of India has provided for a parliamentary form of government. Consequently, the President has been made only a nominal executive like that of British king.
- Both are the Heads of State but not of the executive. They represent the nation but do not rule the nation. They are the symbol of the nation. Their place in the administration is that of a ceremonial device of a seal by which the nation’s decisions are made known.
- They are bound by the advice of their ministers and hence can do nothing contrary to their advice nor can do anything without their advice. Both the President of India and British King, have no powers to dismiss the council of ministers or any public functionary, so long as Prime Minister enjoy the majority support in Parliament.
- Both the functionary enjoys the pardoning powers of the state. Albeit, these powers are to be exercised with the aid and advice of the council of Minister headed by Prime Minister.
- Both are Commander Chief of the Armed forces and declare war and conclude peace but on the advice of council of ministers.
- Both Indian President and British King have some situational discretion to serve the needs and requirements of those offices. For eg. Calling a leader of largest party or alliance to form government when there is no clear majority to single party or to alliance of parties.
However there are some differences of the powers between the two.
- Indian President has wide range of powers which are not enjoy by Monarchy of England like Emergency Powers, Appointment Powers etc. Further President of India also looks after the federal characters of the nation and has responsibility to look after the interests of the states. Thus, accordingly President can establish inter-state council to effect coordination between center and states (art 263).
- Similarly King of England enjoys power like Control of Passports – the issuing and withdrawal of passports are within the Royal Prerogative – this is often used by ministers on behalf of The Queen.
Certainly Makers of Indian Constitution of India created office of President of India by keeping in mind powers enjoy by King/ Queen of England. But due the diverse nature of Indian Society and prevailing social evils, they adopted India as a Republic Democracy where head of state is indirectly elected and envisioned President of India as the most dignified and great figurehead which will take the oath to protect and defend the Constitution of India.
Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability
The usual contractor-engineer-politician troika was always in command of highway projects since the very inception of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). It bloomed when the construction of the Golden Quadrilateral commenced in 2000.
While this initiative drew much applause in the initial years, it was soon overtaken by delays, cost over-runs and gold-plating as the contractual framework remained archaic and PWD-style.
Given the limitations of government funding, public private partnership (PPP) was introduced for ramping up investment from 2005 onwards.
But, soon the following problems emerged because of the above said troika –
CRONY CAPITALISM –
Crony capitalism soon took over. Soon after the initial PPP projects were rolled out, the NHAI demolished the international best practice of short-listing five bidders to ensure healthy and sustainable competition. As a result, all foreign investors (American, British, French, Italian, etc.) withdrew. The aggressive domestic bidders invented ingenious ways of making a killing even before operationalising their projects.
BLOATING OF COSTS BY BIDDERS AGAINST NHAI’S APPROVED COSTS –
The bidders manipulate and get the banks to approve a highly bloated cost. This not only funds the entire project cost, including the promoter’s equity, but also enable siphoning of large sums of surplus cash while relieving the concessionaire of all financial risk.
OVERESTIMATION OF COSTS BY DEVELOPERS and ADVANTAGE DUE TO DELAYS OF PROJECTS –
The contractors and engineers form nexus to overestimate project values from time to time and get help from politicians to approve the loans from banks.
BUBBLE CREATED BY BANKS –
Banks caused a bubble, failed to do due diligence and lent more than what was warranted to developers, and this has led to the high Non-Performing Assets (NPA) arising out of the road sector. They allowed funding to happen to the projects which were not yet ready for construction, and also agreed to costs and TPCs [total project cost] much higher than what NHAI had assessed. This excess lending implied criminal conspiracy, as it meant fraudulent diversion and misuse of very large sums of public money. Since the highly inflated loans could never have been repaid from toll revenues, several projects have predictably turned into NPAs, which, in turn, has contributed to a steep decline in the health of banks.
Thus , not just the troika of contractor-engineer-politician but also the banks which lent unnecessary sums of money to them without due diligence are responsible for the misuse of public money and rising NPAs.
WAY FORWARD –
NPA’s is one of the biggest problem affecting banks which is impacting the growth in other sectors and overall growth of the economy. Investors are not able to fund new projects since there is a weakening of credit system in the country.
Road sector was responsible for the second highest amount of NPAs, after the steel sector.
Following measures implemented properly can be helpful to reduce the NPAs in road sector –
- The rejuvenation of the NHAI and the banks is critical for mobilising new capital and entrepreneurs.
- Scrutiny of project costs- assessment of project costs by third parties, The use of technology in traffic assessment to assess losses to the developers due to low traffic.
- Rational lending to road projects – abiding to the NHAI’s approved project costs, etc.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Agriculture issues
Demonetization had an overwhelming effect on nearly all the sectors of Indian economy, agriculture being the backbone of our country took the hardest hit. The agrarian economy of India is technologically challenged and mostly cash based. This sector is highly informal. Almost all transactions occur in cash.
Due to lack of monsoon in two consecutive years i.e. 2014 & 2015, farmers were facing cash crunch and huge burden of loan. Further even after last year’s good monsoon, it was demonetization which caused them to resent. Because of the good monsoon last year agricultural production was good but demonetization caused deflationary effect on farm produce causing current unrest among farmers.
BUMPER PRODUCTION OF 2016 –
In 2016, good monsoon and high production brought down the prices for Kharif crops. Also government didn’t revise MSP for Kharif crops compelling farmers to sell their produce at low rates.
CASH CRUNCH AFFECTING SUPPLY CHAINS –
Cash crunch during the demonetization led disruptions, decreased liquidity in farm Mandis, breaks in supply chains and wastage of perishables caused revenue losses for farmers.
CASH CRUNCH AFFECTING FARMERS –
Cash crunch led to farmers borrowing money on the account of returning it on a later date. But with the farm produce unable to fetch them expected returns, they got into debt trap.
CASH CRUNCH AFFECTING DEMAND –
Cash Crunch lowers the consumption of goods like fruits, green vegetables and other high value consumables. This decreases their prices and increases losses for farmers.
PRECIPITATING FACTORS –
- Rural Infrastructure in India is not yet suitable for Digital transfers. Indian agriculturalist mainly depends on weak rural infrastructure.
- Government concentrates more on urban areas by neglecting rural economy. So, as compared to major cities, second tire cities and rural areas were greatly impacted by cash crunch.
The current unrest is the outcome of the deflationary effects of above sighted factors. The FALLING PRICES of produce and DEBT CYCLE are making the farmers helpless and causing them to resent. Demonetization will surely benefit the farmers in long run through easy credit for farmers, elimination of middle men and increase transparency in various subsidies by decreasing the leakages. But now their situation must be sorted and policies ought to be made to alleviate their current position of despair.
Topic: Infrastructure – energy
6) Electric vehicles (EVs) seem to be gaining in prominence as part of the renewable energy movement. What challenges will India face in mainstreaming electric vehicles and how these challenges can be overcome? Examine. (200 Words)
According to the Niti Aayog report, switching to EVs as part of the larger “shared, electric, and connected” mobility paradigm will cut India’s energy demand (from the road sector for passenger mobility) by 64%, its carbon emissions by 37%, and save the country $60 billion in energy bills by 2030. Environment-friendly EVs will reduce air pollution, lower India’s dependence on imported oil, and contribute to the fight against climate change.
Govt. is aggressively promoting EVs – Govt officials and agencies to use only EVs, public buses to become ‘electric’ AND a National EV Policy is in the offering.
Benefits of EVs –
- environment sustainability – emissions reduction will contribute to India’s share against climate change, 37% CO2 emissions reduction (passenger transport sector)
- reduce air pollution – deaths and diseases due to air pollution have risen to alarming proportions in recent years.
- Imported energy bill – lower demand for hydrocarbons will shrink India’s oil-import bill AND save India $60 Bn by 2030.
- Electricity generation – SHOULD BE INCREASED and should come from clean sources if the goal of “sustainability” is to be met.
- Infrastructure – charging stations and other transport infrastructure.
- Other alternatives are being ignored – like hydrogen-powered fuel cells and CNG vehicles, which can prove more efficient and less costly.
- Govt is intervening in free-play of market forces – the market should decide the winning technology, not the Govt.
WAY FORWARD –
- Niti Aayog recommends that to push EVs, the government must subsidize the EV industry while penalizing conventional cars. It calls for lowering taxes and interest rates for loans on EVs while limiting the sale and registration of conventional cars, and using taxes from diesel and petrol car sales to create electric charging stations.
- It also suggests the government open a battery plant by the end of 2018.
- Infrastructure strengthening – charging stations, electricity generation.
- The government will have to ensure that it doesn’t put all its eggs in one basket ignoring other options , which can prove detrimental.
Govt’s move to promote EVs is a good step towards achieving renewable energy targets . But instead of trying to pick winners, the government should focus on building an enabling business environment that supports research and innovation. Thus, instead of pumping money into one project or firm, it should support clean energy research in general. That way, the government does its part in steering the policy ship towards clean energy while still being technology-agnostic.