SECURE SYNOPSIS: 07 July 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.
India’s position on the establishment of the State of Israel was affected by many factors, including India’s own partition on religious lines, and India’s relationship with other nations.
Indian freedom fighter and birth of Israel-
(Some of the views are explained in detail just to impart the conceptual clarity to the students)
- Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi believed the Jews had a good case and a prior claim for Israel, but opposed the creation of Israel on religious or mandated Mahatma Gandhi’s position on the issue was quite clear. He stated “My sympathies are with all the Jews….I came to learn much of their age long persecutions. But my sympathy does not blind me to the requirements of justice. The cry for the national home for the Jews does not make much appeal for me. The sanction for it is sought in the Bible….Why should they not like other peoples of the earth make that country their home where they earn their livelihood? Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French.”
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru-
- Nehru was skeptical of Britain’s non-impartial role in the conflict between Israel and Palestine. With his anti-imperialist and anti-colonial focus, he wrote the ‘Zionist movement was the child of British imperialism’ and in his famous Glimpses of World History, he observed ‘the story of Palestine ever since has been one of conflict between Arabs and Jews, with the British Government siding with one or the other as occasion demanded, but generally supporting the Jews’.
- Jawaherlal Nehru supported the Palestinian cause on moral grounds. His government also voted against the partitioning of the Palestine plan of 1947 and also voted against the Israel’s admission to the UN in 1949.
- At the same time another factor which pushed Nehru to support the Palestinian cause was ‘Arabs’. Less than two weeks after recognizing Israel in 1950, Nehru frankly admitted the Arab factor saying, “We would have done this [recognition of Israel] long ago, because Israel is a fact. We refrained because of our desire not to offend the sentiments of our friends in the Arab countries.”
- Nehru also emphasized the necessity of reconciliation between Israel and Palestine and stressed on the amicable solution between the two through negotiations and dialogue.
India’s Hindu Nationalists-
- Various proponents of Hindu nationalism supported or sympathized with the creation of Israel. Hindu Mahasabha leader Vinayak Damodar Savarkar supported the creation of Israel on both moral and political grounds, and condemned India’s vote at the UN against Israel.
- Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sanghleader Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar admired Jewish nationalism and believed Palestine was the natural territory of the Jewish people, essential to their aspiration for nationhood.
Thus there were both opposition and support among the Indian nationalist for the creation of Israel in the Palestinian region. Ultimately India had to accept the existence of Israel, but the full-fledged diplomatic relations could not be established between the two till 1992. Since then, India has improved and strengthened its relations with Israel by de-hyphenating India’s Israel-Arab policy.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
The co-relation between the underdevelopment and demands for separate states are amply recorded and supported in various parts of the India. The creation of Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand is particularly attributed to this. They were the regions (Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand) which had high natural resources but extensively lacked the development. However the demand for separate may not be always driven by the reason of lack of development. Other factors too play the important role.
Is under-development driving the demand for Gorkhaland as a separate state?
Recent analysis carried out by the newspaper ‘Mint’ with the help of data collected in National Family Health Survey 2015-16 by NSSO, to determine the level of development in Gorkhaland (comprising the districts of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Jalpaiguri).
- Data from the latest round of the National Family Health Survey, conducted in 2015-16, shows that while Gorkhaland districts rank ahead of the rest of the state in certain parameters (such as access to clean fuel), the rest of the state fares better in others (such as access to an improved source of drinking water). Overall, there does not seem to be significant differences between the two regions.
- On most health indicators, such as immunisation, antenatal care and institutional births, Gorkhaland districts compare well to the rest of the state. After Kolkata, Darjeeling district has the highest rate of institutional births (94.5%). The district also recorded the third-highest share of mothers who received full antenatal care (33.6%). The share of under-nourished children is lower in Gorkhaland than in the rest of the state, as the chart below shows.
- Gorkhaland’s relative prosperity is not entirely a new phenomenon. As the chart below shows, even in 2001, Gorkhaland districts fared nearly as well as the rest of the state in terms of household amenities.
- Between 2001 and 2011, household access to amenities grew at a similar pace across both regions. On some parameters, such as access to cooking gas, Gorkhaland districts overtook the rest of West Bengal, while on some others, such as access to toilets, the region fell behind. Overall though, there was not much difference between the two regions either in 2001 or in 2011.
The analysis suggests that economics cannot explain the rising tide of resentment in the hills.
The prominent reasons for the demand of separate states are said to be as-
- Historical scuffling-
Darjeeling was never supposed to be part of West Bengal. The Gorkhas had captured Sikkim and most parts of the North East including Darjeeling in 1780. But after losing to the British, they surrendered their territories to in the Treaty of Segoulee in 1816. While the British had given Darjeeling to Sikkim, they leased it back in 1835 for strategic and political reasons.
- Issue of identity-
It may be noted that the Nepalese and Lepchas living in Darjeeling and the adjoining areas have a more distinct culture and history than the Bengalis in rest of the state. Historically, they have been sharing cultural and societal values with Sikkim and Nepal since hundreds of years when there were no nation-states the way we interpret at present and no closed boundaries. Thus they have fiercely protected their Nepali language and culture in a broader sense.
- Tendencies of racism-
Despite being part of Indian history from before the British era, the Gorkhas are still looked down as migrants from Nepal, and therefore ‘foreigners’, by many Bengalis and rest of the Indians. The people in the hills feel marginalized as a race.
- Discriminatory treatment-
The Gorkhas have always maintained that they have received the short end of the stick because Bengali-speaking politicians don’t understand or care enough about their needs or issues.
- Imposition of Bengali-
The latest bid by the GJM for a separate Gorkhaland state was triggered by an announcement by the Mamata Banerjee government that Bengali would be made compulsory in schools across the state. While West Bengal is a largely Bengali-speaking state, the northern hilly areas of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong are inhabited by mostly Nepali-speaking people, who, understandably, have a problem with the diktat of the West Bengal government.
The role of development can be issue in some of the part of the Gorkhaland, however it is not as extensive as witnessed in the demands of other states. The issues of identity, maintenance of their unique culture, imposition of Bengali are seen as the major reasons for driving Gorkhas to demand a separate state.
Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
3) The Central government is poised to introduce an amendment to the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958, in Parliament, which would remove the security net that exists around our nationally protected monuments. Critically comment on the implications of this proposed amendment. (200 Words)
Heritage is a significant public good and is recognized as such in the Constitution’s Seventh Schedule. It nurtures our collective memories of places and is a significant constituent in the identity of cities. It has invaluable potential to contribute to our knowledge of not just history and the arts, but also science and technology. Several buildings and sites throughout the country, even entire areas or parts of historic cities, are examples of sustainable development. They demonstrate complex connections of man with nature.
However the proposed amendment in the act has raised the questions about the intentions of the government and the future of the historical monuments in India.
Amendment to section 20A of the given Act, removes the security net of 100 meters and would allow any Department or Office of the Central Government to carry out public works in the prohibited area after obtaining permission from the Central Government.
Existing situation and necessity of security net-
- There are encroachments by government agencies and individuals. The 2013 report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) noted that of the 1,655 monuments whose records were scrutinised and which were physically inspected, 546 of them were encroached.
- In 2010, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) stated on record that its staff strength did not permit the deployment of even a single person on a regular full-time basis at more than 2,500 of its monuments. This meant that more than two-thirds of India’s monuments that the Central government is supposed to protect were poorly guarded.
- There are also numerous instances where politicians have proactively protected those who have illegally occupied the prohibited zone around monuments.
- Monuments are endangered structures and vulnerable to human interference. Zoning around monuments is necessary to prevent monuments from defacement and to prevent the present from displacing the past by marring historical landscapes.
Implications of the proposed amendment-
- Role of Ministry of Culture (MoC)-
Ministry of Culture would approve the projects of the ministry of Road and transport for creating structures. Thus the role of MoC is itself under scrutiny. There are possibilities that the MoC would act as facilitator of projects rather than offering protection to the monuments.
- Defacement and disfigurement-
With rise in the structure around the monuments and increase in public movement could lead to the vandalism and defacement of the existing structures.
- Reduction in the aesthetics-
The Beauty and Aesthetic looks of the monuments would suffer due to the rise in structures in the immediate vicinity of the monuments.
The rise in structures could hamper the tourism of the ancient monuments as tourist may avoid crowded and noisy monuments.
- Effect on un-protected monuments-
Thousands of other historical monuments are not protected by the ASI or there are no security nets. The proposed amendment would give impetus to the encroachment on such unprotected and vulnerable monuments.
The other side-
- The new amendment is proposed with the view of de-congesting the crowded places and to offer public a better transport and communication facilities.
- ASI and government have always been short on providing funds and resources to the upkeep of monuments. It is argued that the establishment of commercial structures around the monuments could generate the resources for the ASI which could be used in better protection of the monument itself.
India’s monuments form an irreplaceable archive of our civilizational heritage. Our pride in our heritage has always been surplus while caring for that heritage suffers a huge deficit. Surely, India’s archaeological heritage, as diverse and priceless as our natural heritage, seventy years after Independence, deserves better than what has fallen to its lot.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life
Introduction :- A cryptocurrency (or crypto currency) is a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange using cryptography to secure the transactions and to control the creation of additional units of the currency. Cryptocurrencies are a subset of alternative currencies, or specifically of digital currencies.
The first cryptocurrency to capture the public imagination was Bitcoin, which was launched in 2009 by an individual or group known under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. As of September 2015, there were over 14.6 million bitcoins in circulation with a total market value of $3.4 billion. Bitcoin’s success has spawned a number of competing cryptocurrencies, such as Litecoin, Namecoin and PPCoin.
The application of blockchain-based cryptocurrency is not just limited to the financial sector, but also has the potential to galvanise the social development landscape.
- Benefits of cryptocurrency for social development :- They are digital currencies based on blockchain technology which is largely transparent hence can make the government delivery programs more efficient and targeted if used. Generation of fake currency is not easy here hence its more use in economy will help it in reducing black money and there by helping government to channelize economic gains into social welfare more effectively.
- New concepts like DevCoins :- They are known as Social Development Coins . DevCoins can be mined by undertaking social development activities approved by the government. In order to operationalise it, the government can launch a social challenge with a set of quantifiable objectives and outcomes. Upon completion of the desired task and its subsequent evaluation by a monitoring body, the implementing organisation would receive a fixed number of DevCoins from the government, which can then be sold to individuals and corporations who would be looking to make their contribution to such social impact initiatives.
Benefits of DevCoins:-
- DevCoins being based on a “pay for success” model, would lead to the efficient utilisation of social investments and thereby deliver maximum impact.
- It creates an alternate mechanism to channelise private capital in the social impact space.
Global policymakers are incentivising private capital channelisation towards social development.
- The scalability of DevCoins as a citizen-centric initiative can effectively promote social entrepreneurship. They can be used as incentive mechanisms, attracting individual citizens to become entrepreneurs driving social change. The Global Citizen Festival in Mumbai last year was a highlight in promoting this idea.
How Bitcoins helped and promoted social development :-
- I Have Bitcoins, a Bitcoin news site, is helping artisans in rural India sell their paintings to a global market in exchange for Bitcoin, and they take no commission. Instead of selling paintings for next to nothing to exporters who mark up prices dramatically, the artists can benefit from the purchasing wealth of developed nations. With the aid of a smartphone created for developing countries, whichMozilla makes for $25, rural artisans can open their own businesses in the global marketplace.
- Without a bank account allowing for international wire transfers, most people use companies like Western Union to send money to their families abroad. Transferring remittances is generally exploitative, with the poorest countries being charged the highest fees. For example, Western Union charges $95 (9.5%) to send $1,000 to Kenya, which is about the averageinternational remittance fee. BitPesa, a remittance company that uses Bitcoin, is able to charge $30 (3%) for the same transaction, thanks to Bitcoin’s efficiency. Kenyans living abroad send about $1.2 billion home each year. By using more efficient remittance methods built on top of Bitcoin, Kenyans could increase the money in their pockets by $78 million. In a country with a GDP of $55.2 billion, that’s not an insignificant number.
Topic: Awareness in biotechnology
5) What are the myths and realities associated with GM food? Do you think India should maintain its still-rich genetic diversity for the future of our agriculture instead of going for GM crops? Critically comment. (200 Words)
Introduction :- Genetically modified crops (GMCs, GM crops, or biotech crops) are plants used in agriculture, the DNA of which has been modified using genetic engineering methods. In most cases, the aim is to introduce a new trait to the plant which does not occur naturally in the species. Examples in food crops include resistance to certain pests, diseases, or environmental conditions, reduction of spoilage, or resistance to chemical treatments (e.g. resistance to a herbicide), or improving the nutrient profile of the crop. Examples in non-food crops include production of pharmaceutical agents, biofuels, and other industrially useful goods, as well as for bioremediation.
Myths and realities associated with GM food :-
- GM is just haphazard, imprecise cross-breeding :- In genetic engineering, scientists can very precisely select genes and introduce them into their target species. For example, genes that produce insulin for medical use have been introduced into bacteria. Genes from bacteria have been introduced into corn or cotton to dramatically reduce insect damage.
· GM is a cure-all for more efficient land use and food security :- It is important to remember GM technologies are just one of the tools that may be useful. Other important contributions to land use and food security come from traditional breeding, agronomy, land management and sustainability research.
- GM is harmful to the environment :- In fact, there have been many environmental benefits from GM. GM technologies have massively reduced pesticide use in all circumstances where pests have been targeted. For example, the GM cotton varieties bred by CSIRO that are insect resistant reduce pesticide use by up to 80%.
- GM means creating Frankenfoods :- Far from creating radical changes to plants, GM produces defined improvements to existing crop plants that meet a recognised need, such as food quality, increased yield or pest resistance. Strong regulatory systems ensure that GM crops meet stringent standards. The reality is that scientists experiment with purpose and for beneficial outcomes. There is no use breeding a crop with no market need.
· The GM research agenda is run by big multinationals :- GM research has contributed greatly to our understanding of how plants function and this has delivered tremendous benefits to both traditional breeding and to opportunities for GM crops. However, commercial introductions are extremely costly due to the extensive regulatory processes required by different territories before GM crops can either be grown or utilised for feed and food purposes. The public sector, through institutions such as CSIRO, also expends considerable research dollars on GM research. Regardless of this, GM products will not be adopted by growers if they negatively impact their farming operations or they do not capture value in their farm products. It is largely up to farmers which GM varieties they grow and market. More importantly, if consumers do not accept them, then they will not be grown.
What should India do genetic diversity or Genetically modified crops :-
GM crops in India:
The Indian GM crops saga is a convoluted one. Currently, it has the world’s fourth largest GM crop acreage on the strength of Bt cotton, the only genetically modified crop allowed in the country. But the introduction of Bt cotton has been both highly successful and controversial. Cotton yield more than doubled in the first decade since its introduction in 2002, according to the Economic Survey 2011-12—by which point it accounted for 90% of cotton acreage. But it was also shadowed by controversy, with a tangle of pricing and intellectual property rights (IPR) issues followed by government price interventions and litigation.
GM food crops have fared worse. An agreement to develop Bt brinjal was signed in 2005 between Mahyco—American agricultural biotech giant Monsanto’s Indian Bt cotton partner—and two Indian agricultural universities. Following the study of biosafety data and field trials by two expert committees, Bt brinjal was cleared for commercialization by India’s top biotech regulator, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee, in 2009. But nothing came of it, with moratoriums imposed by then Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh and his successor Jayanthi Natarajan following opposition from civil society groups and brinjal-growing states.
Now the issue of Gm Mustard is being discussed.
India should think of genetic diversity :-
- Genetic diversity is crucial for adapting to new environments, as more variation in genes leads to more individuals of a population having favourable traits to withstand harsh conditions.
- There is a concern that GMOs will cause reduced genetic diversity of organisms in the wild. Maintaining genetic diversity is important for the environment and agriculture because increased variability in DNA will provide a better opportunity for organisms to adapt to a changing environment.
- GMOs can also affect genetic diversity through uncontrolled growth. If GMOs have advantageous genes, they may outcompete their wild relatives.
- GMOs are self-replicating organisms and genetic contamination of the environment, of non-GM crops and wild species through gene flow is certain: it cannot be contained, reversed, remedied or quantified.
- Our seed stock will also be contaminated at the molecular level if GM crops allowed to grow indiscriminately. Any toxicity that there is will remain in perpetuity.
Case Study :- One example of when a lack of genetic diversity contributed to a major agricultural problem is the potato famine that afflicted Ireland in the mid 1800s. At this time, Ireland was heavily dependent on potatoes for nutrition, and the type of potatoes they cultivated were not grown from seeds. Instead, they planted sections from a parent potato. In this way, all potatoes were clones of their parents and contained identical genetic information. The lack of genetic variability in these potato crops proved detrimental when an invasive pathogen, P. infestans, wiped out the entire population . Because all potatoes had nearly identical genes, there were no populations of potatoes with favorable traits that allowed them to evade P. infestans. Had Ireland grown different varieties of potato crops with more genetic diversity, it would have been more likely for a population of potatoes to contain genes that provide resistance to the pathogen. If a large enough percentage of potato crops in Ireland were resistant to P. infestans, perhaps this famine would not have been so catastrophic.
However India has to go for cultivation of GM crops owing to following realities and necessities :-
- Situation in agriculture :- Indian agriculture is monsoon dependent and is increasingly facing problems of distress, drought, low yield etc. Farmers in the country currently lose some Rs50,000 crore ($5 billion)every year to pests and diseases. Droughts, coupled with a lack of irrigation facilities, are exacerbating the problem. Yield maximisation, for example, is hit by climate change — whether in terms of more pests or too much drought, degraded soil conditions. Genetically modified crops are the best answer to mitigate some of these yield related issues. The modified crops could survive in much higher concentrations of salt water. The opportunities are endless and as the case of GM mustard and Bt Brinjal.
- Increasing population :-Our country’s population, currently at 1.2 billion, will reach 1.8 billion by 2050. There’s a food crisis looming over India. India could also look at China as an example. Both countries face similar food security challenges with exponential population growth. China, though, has been using GM crops for the last two decades(pdf). Today, with just 7% of the global arable land, China feeds 22% of the world’s population. Such a boost is needed in India.
Conclusion :- The negatives of GM crops outweighs its benefits at present time as the technology is not widely adapted and controversies, fears regarding it is not completely addressed. It is also true that dependence on GM crops is a risky proposition. We cant also ignore the hard realities about condition of Indian agriculture and population. Hence, India needs to tap the potential of other technologies. As pointed out by a parliamentary committee India has better options for increasing productivity, like molecular breeding and integrated pest management, that can serve it in good stead for the time being. It will help in preserving our rich agricultural biodiversity as well.
Topic: Indian economy – growth, planning
Introduction :- The Asian financial crisis was a period of financial crisis that gripped much of East Asia beginning in July 1997 and raised fears of a worldwide economic meltdown due to financial contagion.
The crisis started in Thailand with the financial collapse of the Thai baht after the Thai government was forced to float the baht due to lack of foreign currency to support its currency peg to the U.S. dollar. At the time, Thailand had acquired a burden of foreign debt that made the country effectively bankrupt even before the collapse of its currency. As the crisis spread, most of Southeast Asia and Japan saw slumping currencies, devalued stock markets and other asset prices, and a precipitous rise in private debt.
Causes of 1997 Asian crisis :-
- Thailand’s economy developed into an economic bubble fuelled by hot money. More and more was required as the size of the bubble grew. The same type of situation happened in Malaysia, and Indonesia, which had the added complication of what was called “crony capitalism”. The short-term capital flow was expensive and often highly conditioned for quick profit. Development money went in a largely uncontrolled manner to certain people only, not particularly the best suited or most efficient, but those closest to the centres of power.
- An alternative view is that weaknesses in Asian financial systems were at the root of the crisis. These weaknesses were caused largely by the lack of incentives for effective risk management created by implicit or explicit government guarantees against failure (Moreno, Pasadilla, and Remolona 1998 and others cited below). The weaknesses of the financial sector were masked by rapid growth and accentuated by large capital inflows, which were partly encouraged by pegged exchange rates.
- Many economists believe that the Asian crisis was created not by market psychology or technology, but by policies that distorted incentives within the lender–borrower relationship. The resulting large quantities of credit that became available generated a highly leveraged economic climate, and pushed up asset prices to an unsustainable level. These asset prices eventually began to collapse, causing individuals and companies to default on debt obligations.
The lessons which India can learn :-
- What happened in Asia in 1991 was that these countries did not fall prey to fiscal profligacy. Their main stress points were in the private sector—too much corporate debt, a credit bubble and lax lending standards to crony capitalists. Similar conditions is arising in India with rising NPAs, twin balance sheet syndrome with Indian characteristics which must force our attention to restructuring major problems in our economy.
- the biggest flaw in the Asian economic strategy was that their central banks were committed to maintaining a fixed exchange rate against the dollar. This meant that both foreign investors buying Asian assets as well as regional companies borrowing in dollars thought they had no foreign exchange risk. The result was a gush of hot money on the one hand and a dangerous build-up of dollar liabilities in corporate balance sheets on the other. Asian central banks quickly ran through their foreign exchange reserves in the attempt to defend fixed exchange rates.
- the Asian crisis showed that financial markets are prone to herd behaviour—and that currency panics can be self-fulfilling. Almost all the affected economies tried to deal with the crisis through massive demand compression, through a combination of higher interest rates and massive budgetary cuts.
- the deeper roots of the Asian crisis could be found in the economic models that took these countries from poverty to prosperity within a few decades. the main driver of economic growth was the more extensive use of inputs such as labour and capital, rather than innovation or productivity. Eventually, wages began to outpace productivity, overheated financial markets led to an sharp increase in private sector debt, and excess domestic demand flowed into the trade account in terms of higher imports.
Conclusion :- The Asian crisis has taught us that economic dislocations can emanate from the private sector rather than the government budget; maintaining fixed exchange rates in a world of free capital flows is almost impossible; currency panics can be self-fulfilling, so capital controls should be used in rare cases as an emergency tool; countries need to think deeply about their economic development models, especially if they have become outdated as they move up the value chain.
General Studies – 4
Topic: Moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion
Introduction :- Sycophancy is flattery that is very obedient, or an indication of deference to another, to an excessive or servile degree. A user of sycophancy is referred to as a sycophant. A sycophant is someone who tries to get what they want, or earn someone’s respect, by using flattery on those people who would be able to influence their goals. The term sycophant has a negative connotation, because the person does not attempt to achieve their goals through hard work or sincerity. or, more commonly, a “yes-man”.
Sycophancy is bad in governance due to following reasons :-
- It undermines and harms many important qualities of a civil servant like impartiality, neutrality, objectiveness, probity and encourages nepotism, favouritism, corruption etc.
- Many a times leaders are often misadvised and misdirected because of sycophants officers present in system. This may lead to arbitrary decision making, impact on policies affecting people and society and even instability in government.
- Presence of sycophancy leads to undermining of institutions present in democratic system, promotion of personality cult, formation of caste power nexus ,undermining of merit, crony capitalism, lobbying etc.
Case Study :- National and regional politics in African countries such as Kenya and Nigeria, for instance, are dominated by tribal loyalties that are both a conduit to power and a means of protection against rival tribal groups. Those loyalties and the patron-client relationships they create result in similar levels of power concentration, sycophancy and corruption. Nigeria is facing this problem and according to thinkers there Nigerian politics is in trouble because the citizens have allowed deception, denial, disinformation, diversion, evasion, exaggeration, indoctrination which are the signs of sycophancy in their politics and governance.