SECURE SYNOPSIS: 13 July 2017
Topic: Salient features of Indian society; population and associated issues
1) Which are the important factors one should consider before making any strong conclusions, such as Aryan migration either into India or out of India, related to Indian populations? In the light of recent debate on Aryan migration, critically examine.
Introduction :- The migration of Aryans and their settling in Indian continent is a long debated subject. Indo-European linguists have long held the belief that a band or bands of speakers of an Indo-European language, later to be called Sanskrit, entered India over the northwest passes. The recent genetic research is also confirming the same.
However there are many factors which needs to be taken into account before concluding the debate:-
- Indian population is very complex, diverse in terms of its genetics, biology. The above mentioned study is conducted by a team of 16 co-authors including Martin P. Richards of the University of Huddersfield, which compiled and analysed Y chromosome data mainly from the targeted South Asian populations living in the U.K. and U.S. Such narrow sample can’t be considered basis.
- Under-representation :- the South Asian populations included in the “1000 Genomes Project” under-represent the genomic diversity of the Subcontinent. Tribes are one of the founding populations of India, any conclusion drawn without studying them will fail to capture the complete genetic information of the Subcontinent.
- India is a nation of close to 4,700 ethnic populations, including socially stratified communities, many of which have maintained endogamy (marrying within the community) for thousands of years, and these have been hardly sampled in the Y chromosome analysis led by Marina Silva/Richards et al.
- The Y chromosome phylogeny suffered genetic drift (lineage loss), and thus there is a greater chance to lose less frequent R1a (an indication of the arrival of Bronze Age Indo-European speakers) branches, if one concentrates only on specific populations, keeping in mind the high level of endogamy of the Subcontinent
Conclusion :- With the information currently available, it is difficult to deduce the direction of haplogroup R1a migration either into India or out of India, although the genetic data certainly show that there was migration between the regions. Currently, CSIR-CCMB and Harvard Medical School are investigating a larger number of samples, which will hopefully throw more light on this debate.
Topic: Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.
Introduction :- Amarnath cave is a Hindu shrine located in Jammu and Kashmir, India. Each year, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims make the trek up to the shrine. Kashmir and its people are famous for the ethos of ‘Kashmiriat’, ‘Jamhuriat’ and ‘Insaniyat’. Kashmiris have taken pride in inhabiting a cultural space between Vedic Hinduism and Sufi Islam. The traditional communal harmony in Kashmir enabled the peaceful coexistence of Muslims and Hindus, mutual respect for their places of worship, and an ability to synthesize not just cultural but religious practices as well. A fitting symbol of this syncretic ethos of Kashmir is Lalla-Ded, a figure revered by both the Pandits and Muslims of Kashmir.
How Amarnath yatra symbolizes Kashmir’s old syncretic ethos :-
- According to lore, the cave was discovered by a Muslim shepherd, Buta Malik, in 1850. The family of Buta Malik remained the traditional custodian of the shrine, along with Hindu priests from the Dashnami Akhara and Purohit Sabha Mattan. If it is taken as a truth, this unique ensemble of faiths turned Amarnath into a symbol of Kashmir’s centuries-old communal harmony and composite culture.
- Chhota Amarnath in Bandipore for generations had a chowkidar from a local Muslim family, who were also the neighbours of the Hindu priest’s family.
- Many shrines, both Hindu and Muslim, are revered by both communities.
- The Amarnath pilgrimage has existed in a larger narrative in which Shaivite and Sufi practices were fused together in a composite culture and tradition.
Conclusion :-Though this age-old syncretic ethos received a serious blow by the circumstances that led to the migration of Kashmiri pandits in 1990, the Amarnath Yatra remained a signifier of the Hindu-Muslim bond.
General Studies – 2
Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations; Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
3) “Though the U.S. and other Western countries have the intention to contain China through supporting India, they have a wide range of common interests with China. Hence, the West unlikely to unconditionally stand on the side of India”. In the light of the recent border crisis between India and China, critically comment. (200 Words)
As India and China enjoy tremendous economic growth, each country is vying to increase its role on the world stage. The United States will play a critical part in the emergence of these two major powers in Asia. The Concept of string of pearls by China and “rebalancing” strategy and “Pivot to Asia” by United States of America are not very old. The relation between these three countries with involvement of other western countries and their impact on the global geopolitics will evolve as per the time and conditions at global stage.
Issues involved in US China-relationship:
- Influence in Asia:
China’s economic rise has led to some geo-political friction between the US and China in the East Asian region. China and the US have recently led competing efforts to gain influence in Asian trade and development.
It has been suggested that the United States considered the AIIB to be a challenge to the US-backed Asian Development Bank and the World Bank, and sees the Chinese effort as an attempt to set the global economic agenda on terms formulated by the government in Beijing.
- Military spending and planning:
The China’s military budget is often mentioned as a threat by Western powers. The PRC’s investment in its military is growing rapidly. The United States, along with other Western countries, remains convinced that the PRC conceals the real extent of its military spending. The International Institute for Strategic Studies in a 2011 report argued that if spending trends continue China will achieve military equality with the United States in 15–20 years.
- Human rights:
On February 2014 the United States released its China report on human rights practices for 2013 which, described the PRC as an authoritarian state and a place in which repression and coercion were routine.
As per the Western world China still has a long way to go in instituting the kind of fundamental systemic change that will protect the rights and liberties of all its citizens in China.
- Race for military technology:
China and the United States have been described as engaging in a race of military technology. Expansion and development of new weapons by China has been seen as so threatening as to cause planning for withdrawal of US forces from close proximity to China, dispersal of US bases in the region, and development of various new weapon systems.
- Territorial expectations:
The objective of the American rebalance is to respond to the rise of China. China is seeking to rebuild the ‘silk road’ in both Central Asia and along the ancient maritime route connecting China to Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and to Africa. Unlike the United States, China aspires to rebalance in regions beyond maritime Asia, by working to improve relations with Central Asian nations.
China containment policy: A concept
- The China containment policy is a political term referring to a claimed goal of U.S. foreign policy to diminish the economic and political growth of the People’s Republic of China. The term harkens back to the U.S. containment policy against communist countries during the Cold War.
- The theory asserts that the United States needs a weak, divided China to continue its hegemony in Asia. This is accomplished by the United States establishing military, economic, and diplomatic ties with countries adjacent to China’s borders, frustrating China’s own attempts at alliance-building and economic partnership.
Positive aspects of USA-China relationship:
- China-U.S. economic and trade relations is mutually beneficial in nature. It is a critical pillar for China-U.S. relations. As the biggest developing country and the biggest developed country, China and the U.S. enjoy great complementarity in terms of natural and human resources, market, capital and technology.
- Military-to-military relations are an important component of China-U.S. relations. Since 1979, China and the U.S. have had exchanges and cooperation in the military field. The two militaries have established a number of dialogue and consultation mechanisms, such as the Military Maritime Consultative Agreement, the Defense Consultative Talks, and the Defense Policy Coordination Talks.
- China and the U.S. maintain close and effective communication and coordination on major regional and international as well as global issues. Areas of cooperation include regional hotspots such as the situation on the Korean Peninsula, Iranian nuclear issue and South Asia, non-traditional security issues such as counterterrorism, nonproliferation, energy security, public health, disaster prevention and reduction, and global challenges such as global financial crisis and climate change.
- China’s development is directly transforming the lives of one-fifth of the world’s population, and is otherwise influencing billions more. China’s rapid economic growth, expanding regional and global influence, continued military modernization, and uneven human rights record are also shifting the geopolitical terrain and contributing to uncertainty about China’s future course.
The Indian apprehension:
- All these dimension of relation between great powers of contemporary world highlights its complicated nature. The role of India has always been important and needs to be analysed thoroughly in order to understand diplomatic aspects of USA backing India to curb the influence of China in Asia Pacific region.
- S.–India relations have come a long way; there are still residual differences and doubts. New Delhi has long regarded U.S.–Pakistani military ties as sustaining Beijing’s strategy to keep India off balance. Disputes over trade barriers and intellectual property, H1Bvisas, and market access hold back business ties. Mitigating the effects of disagreement on such issues to promote bilateral cooperation has not been easy.
- Moreover, USA is used to relationships where it has the dominant voice. But India’s historic quest for strategic autonomy, its self-identity as a great civilization, and great power ambitions of its own mean will decide the diplomatic and geopolitical strategy in coming days.
India would prefer to avoid any formal alignment with Washington partly because of concern that such an alignment will prompt the Chinese to tighten their embrace of India’s smaller neighbors, which, in turn, will exacerbate India’s security dilemma. The worst-case scenario from India’s perspective is the emergence of U.S.–China condominium in which China remains hostile to India and the United States is unavailable as a balancing power.
The U.S.–China–India triangular relationship is a strategic Rubik’s Cube. All three need each other. For China, its economic relationship with the United States is vitally important as its biggest export market. For India, its ties with the United States facilitate its rise as a major power and augment its position in Asia. USA does not want a single power to dominate the Asian continent and its adjoining waters and supports the rise of several powers.
India’s deterrence capabilities are China-centric, while those of China’s are U.S.-centric. The U.S. interests require it to cooperate with China on some issues and with India on others, and sometimes with both. How China and India manage their differences on their border dispute, trade imbalance, Tibet, Pakistan, regional integration, and the UN Security Council reforms will have significant implications on the United States’ place in Asia.
Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
4) What are the geo-political significance of Malabar exercise that is conducted between India – Japan – USA in the Bay of Bengal? Is it time to elevate India-Japan-US triad to strategic status? Comment. (200 Words)
What is Malabar Naval exercise?
Exercise Malabar is a trilateral naval exercise involving the United States, Japan and India as permanent partners. Originally a bilateral exercise between India and the United States, Japan became a permanent partner in 2015. Past non-permanent participants are Australia and Singapore. The annual Malabar series began in 1992 and includes diverse activities, ranging from fighter combat operations from aircraft carriers through Maritime Interdiction Operations Exercises.
Recent incidence: 21st Edition of Malabar exercise
- The 2017 Malabar exercise was the 21st edition of the exercise and conducted from 10 to 17 July 2017. This edition involved navies from India, USA and Japan. The exercise included a harbor phase at Chennai and a sea phase in the Bay of Bengal.
- This edition focused on Aircraft Carrier operations, Air defense, Anti-submarine warfare (ASW), Surface warfare, Visit Board Search and Seizure (VBSS), Search and Rescue (SAR), joint and tactical procedures. There was also joint training between the naval special forces of the Indian and US Navies at INS Karna, Visakhapatnam.
- A total of 16 ships, 2 submarines and 95 aircraft participated in this exercise. It was the first exercise between the three countries which involved three aircraft carriers.
Importance of Malabar Exercise:
- This exercise gives the strong message about the independent nature of Indian foreign policy and how it can reach to strong global players in order to synergise its efforts in sovereign manner.
- The exercise will feature both ashore and at-sea training. While ashore in Chennai, training has given on subject matter on carrier strike group operations, maritime patrol and reconnaissance operations, surface and anti-submarine warfare, medical operations, damage control, explosive ordnance disposal, helicopter operations, and visit, board, search and seizure operations.
- This exercise imparts the smooth interoperability and cooperative activities among the strong navies of the world.
- This exercise has resulted into the better maritime security of the sea waters. The very location of this exercise is such that, the annual naval activities has reduced the various security concerns.
- The Malabar exercise is the remarkable platform for the India and other participants to exchange the technology and skill in order to adopt the best possible technologies available today.
The Malabar exercise is another assertion of India’s self-confidence to conduct its foreign policy on its own terms, undeterred by the dispositions by other powers. The independent foreign policy is a legacy that India has succeeded in carrying on despite the changes in governments as well as policy prescriptions.
The Possibility of USA India Japan triad can be analysed as:
- US-India Strategic Embrace: The massive Malabar naval exercise is the most visible sign of this partnership. As it is, the US is now one of the top three arms suppliers to India.
- Japan’s entry: While India has cast aside Australia’s entreaties, it has had no hesitation in embracing Japan for two reasons: first, Japan has been also in an adversarial relationship with China and would be a strategic Asian ally of India in the eventuality of any maritime conflict in the region. Secondly, the USA has been pushing the case of Japan to build an India-Japan strategic relationship to counter the Chinese designs.
- Containing China: Though not mentioned specifically from any of the stakeholder, the Malabar exercise is a way to contain rising Chinese influence in Indian Ocean through “One Belt One Road initiative”.
- The triad can establish a peaceful coexistence and sustainable oil extraction from South China sea Region.
As the involved three countries have good bilateral relations with each other, the possibility of formation of triad cannot be nullified. Such a trilateral cooperation in terms of not just military sphere but also in economic sphere holds potential to bring prosperity to member countries.
The formation of India USA Japan triad has to be seen through the other possibilities that may take concrete shape as its result. The member countries have their own friends and foes and thus it is not always that simple at International level to tilt towards particular group of countries. There are some basic differences between India on one side and Japan and USA on other. Such existing contradictions are limiting factors for the development of triad in near future.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth
5) It is argued that selling only a part of the government’s holding will not free Air India of the ills of public ownership. Do you agree? Discuss critically how should government go about privatising national airlines. (200 Words)
India’s national Airline carrier is suffering from issues like inefficiency, high debt burden and uncompetitive functioning. Indian government is mulling over a plan to disinvest/sell the stakes of Air India partially or entirely. It has been argued that government rather selling only a part and keeping its management to itself should divest majority share or sell it entirely to private players to reform the functioning of Air India.
Why selling only a part of the government’s holding will not free Air India of the ills of public ownership?
- Selling only a part would not transfer the management functions to private players. That means the private partner would not be in position to take decisive decisions in reforming the functioning of the air line. This would defeat the very purpose of divestment.
- Government may not find enough players for the bidding considering its rigid stand on holding management. This may fetch less price in the auction/bidding process.
- Government’s hold over the management may discourage the foreign players, those could provide critical resources and better practices, from participating the bidding process.
- Government has visibly failed to run the airline as a successful commercial entity. In fact it has become burden for the tax-payers of India. Thus there is no rationale for government to still hold on its control over the management of airline.
- Government’s control over the airline has also resulted into accusations of large-scale corruption. This would question the wisdom and integrity of the government if it decides to keep majority stake and management to itself.
In the past too, government had tried to divest minority shares to private player by keeping its management to itself. The bidding failed as no player turned up to buy the stakes in airline that had no chances of improvement.
How should government go about privatizing national airline?
- Government should either sell majority of stakes with the transfer of management or sell it entirely so that new player could start freshly with radical measures to reform the airline.
- The sale’s purpose should be to compensate taxpayers for shouldering the burden of keeping the national carrier afloat. Air India’s disinvestment could deliver this if it results in reduced government interference and increased competition.
- Indian private airlines have successfully lobbied in the past to keep foreign players away from the competition. Thus government should provide level playing field to both domestic and foreign players so that it ultimately benefits customers through increase in competition.
- One of the ways also could be that Civil Aviation Ministry makes case for the sale of non-core assets first to pay off existing creditors, so that the airline becomes more attractive to private buyers.
Selling only a part of the government’s holding will not free Air India of the ills of public ownership. The government will have to exit the airline cleanly and completely. The reform demands political courage, economic wisdom and business-like shrewdness.
Topic: Disaster management
Brahmaputra has been the life-line for the states like Assam for centuries. At the same time, monsoon flooding of the river has caused heavy destruction of the area. The recent flooding in Assam has already taken high toll. Thus there is need for the comprehensive solution to deal with the recurring problem.
Causes of the recurring floods in Brahmaputra valley-
- Studies done after the 2012 floods, which affected some 2.3 million people, show that the river’s course from the Himalayan ranges has been bringing lots of sediment, raising its bed above the level of the plains. The Brahmaputra has the second highest sediment transport per unit of drainage area in the world. With aberrant climate and intensive monsoonal flows, flooding poses a major challenge.
- The physiology of the region is still young and the lesser Himalaya regions are still in the process of forming. The soft rocks, in the absence of green top cover, easily gives way to gushing waters.
- Assam receives a massive amount of rain every year, and an estimated average of 230 cm is recorded in the Brahmaputra basin. Combined with the characteristics of the river — it enters the State as a single channel but has a wide, braided course later and shrinks near Guwahati before expanding again — such high precipitation produces aggressive floodwaters.
- The problem is further compounded by human settlements along the river and its various tributaries, thereby restricting the flow to follow its natural spread in times of flood.
Long term measures that should be taken to manage and mitigate disaster causes by river Brahmaputra’s annual flooding-
There has been excess emphasis for investing in structural solutions like building of embankments and little focus on natural flood control mechanisms based on local topography. Till date, close to 5,000 km of embankments have been built at various points along the Brahmaputra and its tributaries. This has resulted in restricting the flow of river during peak monsoons and caused increased pressure on embankments in vulnerable areas leading to embankments being breached at several places. While people living along the rivers have traditionally developed their own means of surviving the raging waters, those living around the safer areas next to embankments have often been caught by surprise.
Thus long term measures needed are-
- Channelisation of Rivers-
Some of the scholars are proposing channelisation of river, at least in certain reaches, in the context of tackling the extensive meandering problems of the rivers, activating navigational channels and training these rivers into their original courses. While venturing to channelise river, thought must be given in allowing the river certain freedom to flow and right of way to pass its flood waters and silt load within its natural waterway. The dynamic nature of the river should be appreciated and preventive measures planned accordingly instead of pinning down the river by channelising.
- Diversion of Flood Waters-
Diversion of flood waters takes a part of the flood discharge to another basin or to the same basin downstream of the problem area or to a depression where it could be stored for subsequent release. This measure can be used to manage unusual floods around cities.
Building reservoirs can moderate the intensity and timing of the incoming flood. They store the water during periods of high discharges in the river and release it after the critical high flow condition is over, so as to be ready to receive the next wave. Their effectiveness in moderating floods would depend on the reservoir capacity available at that time for absorbing the flood runoff and their proximity to the likely damage centre.
- Watershed Management-
The watershed management measures include developing and conserving the vegetative and soil covers and also to undertake structural works like check-dams, detention basins, diversion channels, etc. In the watershed management of upper catchment, land treatment through afforestation and grass land development practices should be supplemented by structural works for retarding the water velocity and arresting silt.
Dredging is a measure to dig out sediments from the river bed and is usually used for clearing river mouths or narrow constrictions. Dredging, it is believed, will increase the water retention capacity of the river, with the result that the pressure on the bank would be reduced. Dredging of the Brahmaputra could yield multiple benefits. It is possible that erosion would be reduced as the depth of the river bed will increase and the force of the water would be less on the banks.
- The administrative methods endeavour to mitigate the flood damages by;
- Facilitating timely evacuation of the people and shifting of their movable property to safer grounds by having advance warning of incoming flood i.e. flood forecasting, flood warning in case of threatened inundation.
- Discouraging creation of valuable assets/settlement of the people in the areas subject to frequent flooding i.e. enforcing flood plain zoning regulation.
- Flood Plain Zoning-
Flood-plain zoning is a concept central to flood plain management. This concept recognises the basic fact that the flood plain of a river is essentially its domain and any intrusion into or developmental activity therein must recognise the river’s ‘right of way’. Flood-plain zoning measures aim at demarcating zones or areas likely to be affected by floods of different magnitudes or frequencies and probability levels, and specify the types of permissible developments in these zones, so that whenever floods actually occur, the damage can be minimised, if not avoided.
- Flood Proofing-
Flood proofing measures adopted in India in the past, consisted in raising a few villages above pre-determined flood levels and connecting them to nearby roads or high lands. The same could be applied to the vulnerable habitats in the flood-plains of the Brahmaputra.
Government should increase the use of remote sensing and availability of real time data particularly in the months of monsoon where there is high probability for flooding. The government, on its part, must go beyond the necessary restoration of infrastructure such as embankments, bridges, buildings and communications structures.
General Studies – 4
Topic: Dimensions of ethics
Introduction :- Ethics is a set of tradition, customs, culture, rules, regulations that are followed by society over a period of time. At its simplest, ethics is a system of moral principles. They affect how people make decisions and lead their lives.
Ethics is concerned with what is good for individuals and society and is also described as moral philosophy.
Various dimensions of ethics can be seen as follows :-
- Metaethics :- The term “meta” means afteror beyond, and, consequently, the notion of metaethics involves a removed, or bird’s eye view of the entire project of ethics. We may define metaethics as the study of the origin and meaning of ethical concepts.
- Normative Ethics :- Normative ethics involves arriving at moral standards that regulate right and wrong conduct. In a sense, it is a search for an ideal litmus test of proper behavior. The Golden Rule is a classic example of a normative principle: We should do to others what we would want others to do to us.
- Applied Ethics :- Applied ethics is the branch of ethics which consists of the analysis of specific, controversial moral issues such as abortion, animal rights, or euthanasia. In recent years applied ethical issues have been subdivided into convenient groups such as medical ethics, business ethics, environmental ethics, and sexual ethics.
The theoretical approach for dimensions can be categorized as :-
- Utilitarian approach :- The Utilitarian Approach assesses an action in terms of its consequences or outcomes; i.e., the net benefits and costs to all stakeholders on an individual level. It strives to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number while creating the least amount of harm or preventing the greatest amount of suffering. It holds that every entity’s interests should be considered equally when making the decision, and this includes those of other species since they also are capable of suffering.
- Virtue Approach :- Virtues are the qualities which enable us to act in accordance with our “higher selves.” Different cultures may value certain virtues more than others but generally virtues refer to such traits as honesty, kindness, patience, civility, compassion, diligence, self-reliance, loyalty, fairness, courage, tolerance, conscientiousness, generosity, temperance, self-control, prudence, etc. This approach causes us to ask whether a given action is reflective of the kind of person we are or want to be. Will it promote the kind of character we value within ourselves and for our community? Does it represent the kind of enterprise my business aspires to be?
- Common Good Approach :- The Common Good Approach regards all individuals as part of a larger community. As such, we share certain common conditions and institutions upon which our welfare depends. For society to thrive, we need to safeguard the sustainability of our community for the good of all, including our weakest and most vulnerable members. Some things that nurture a healthy, functioning community are: stable family life; good schools; affordable nourishment and health care; effective public safety; a just legal system; fair trade and commerce; a safe, well-managed ecosystem; an accessible technological environment; a well-maintained infrastructure; and a peaceful society.
- Rights Approach :- The Rights Approach focuses on respect for human dignity. This approach holds that our dignity is based on our ability to choose freely how we live our lives, and that we have a moral right to respect for our choices as free, equal, and rational people, and a moral duty to respect others in the same way.
- Fairness Approach :- The Fairness Approach focuses on the fair and equitable distribution of good and harm, and/or the social benefits and social costs, across the spectrum of society. It starts with the premise that all equals should be treated equally, and those who are unequal due to relevant differences, should be treated differently in a manner that is fair and proportionate to, or commensurate with, their difference. A classic example would be the payment of a group of employees at different salary levels based on the contribution their work effort makes to the corporation’s profitability.