SECURE SYNOPSIS: 20 SEPTEMBER 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.
Topic: Changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.
Linking of river has been the topic under discussion from long time. The possible benefits and risks involved are well calculated and it has been observed that, Cost Benefit ratio is not in favour of this project. Thus, a more comprehensive, decentralised and innovative approach is essential that must focus on region specific needs of water conservation.
- Usually rivers change their course and direction in about 100 years and if this happens after interlinking, then the project will not be feasible for a longer run. This may infact threaten the region with possibilities of floods.
- River being the ecological entity, it must be treated as an independent entity having huge life and cultural value as well. The approach to see water as a mere commodity must be shunned away with.
- People must revive river rather than connecting them. The efforts of Tarun Bharat Sangh in Rajasthan are success story of rejuvenation efforts made.
- The work of river rejuvenation and water management must happen at local level with the principle of subsidiarity.
- The rejuvenation of river will recharge ground water level at local level. The issues of ground water scarcity are not getting required attention as compared to surface water. Increased in ground water level will lead to recharge of local water reservoirs, thus secure the livelihood security by benefitting the Agriculture.
- The people must decide about water in their area. The interlinking of river will take away the decision making power of local panchayat to decide about the water in their own region. The concept of river parliament comes from this very concern.
- Small hydropower projects by localised methods of soil moisture conservation can provide livelihood to people. This does not need large hydro power plants.
- One of the main reasons of agricultural drought is cultivation of cash crops in drought prone region. This lead to mismanagement of available water, many times water becomes available for rich farmers only. Farmers should incentivize to cultivate the crop which is suitable to that particular ecology. This will ensure livelihood security in longer terms.
Controversy over the NRLP ranges from dubious project design, negative environmental impacts such as change in the land-oceans and freshwater-seawater ecosystems, increase in seismic hazards, transfer of river pollution, and loss of forests and biodiversity, huge social and financial cost of about US$120 billion, and available less costly demand management options. Innovative and localised solutions must be implemented in order to solve to issues of livelihood and Agricultural security.
The Indian Rivers Inter-link is a proposed large-scale civil engineering project that aims to link Indian rivers by a network of reservoirs and canals and so reduce persistent floods in some parts and water shortages in other parts of India.
The Inter-link project has been split into three parts:
- A northern Himalayan rivers inter-link component
- A southern peninsular component
- An intrastate rivers linking component.
The project is being managed by India’s National Water Development Agency (NWDA), under its Ministry of Water Resources. NWDA has studied and prepared reports on 14 inter-link projects for Himalayan component, 16 inter-link projects for peninsular component and 37 intrastate river linking projects.
Benefits of river linking project:
India also sees years of excess monsoons and floods, followed by below average or late monsoons with droughts. This geographical and time variance in availability of natural water versus the year round demand for irrigation, drinking and industrial water creates a demand-supply gap, that has been worsening with India’s rising population.
projects claim the answers to India’s water problem is to conserve the abundant monsoon water bounty, store it in reservoirs, and deliver this water – using rivers inter-linking project – to areas and over times when water becomes scarce.
Beyond water security, the project is also seen to offer potential benefits to transport infrastructure through navigation, as well as to broadening income sources in rural areas through fish farming.
Basis for opposition to project:
Cost of the project: The comprehensive proposal to link Himalayan rivers with peninsular rivers for inters basin transfer of water was estimated to cost around Rs 5,60,000 crore in 2001. Land submergence and R&R (relief and rehabilitation) packages would be additional to the cost. There are no firm estimates available for the scheme, such as the cost of power required to lift water.
A study by IIT Madras and IIT Bombay presented evidence to show that rainfall in ‘surplus’ basins was declining while it was increasing in ‘deficient’ basins. It means, the report added, that rainfall was getting uniform, thus negating transfer of the water.
The Shah committee also pointed out that the linking of rivers will affect natural supply of nutrients for agricultural lands through curtailing flooding of downstream areas.
Half a million people are likely to be displaced in the process that will create the huge burden on the government to deal with the issue of rehabilitation of displaced people.
Usually rivers change their course and direction in about 100 years and if this happens after interlinking, then the project will not be feasible for a longer run.
Due to interlinking of rivers, there will be decrease in the amount of fresh water entering seas and this will cause a serious threat to the marine life system and will be a major ecological disaster.
The impact of river linking on wildlife has not studied well as river linkages may damage the animal corridors and natural niches of the wild animal.
There is the possibility that, peninsular component of river linking may lead to the coastal erosion and submergence of coastal areas.
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Medical education in country is very foundation of creating quality human resource in health care industry. Medical council of India being the apex body in regulation and accreditation holds the moral and technical responsibility of maintaining a level of quality education.
The reforms linked with medical council of India and medical education :
- Based on the NITI Aayog Committee drafted the National Medical Commission Bill, 2016 to replace the 1956 Act , there is proposal to include provisions such as providing admission through a common entrance exam for government and private medical colleges, and the introduction of a qualifying exam for doctors when they enter the job market. This will create a common standard for quality assessment.
- Periodic disclosure of ratings by medical colleges should be made mandatory in order to enable students to make informed decisions. This would also aid the colleges in improving their own standards to attract the best students.
- There is need of proper demarcation of role about the types of work to be done in cooperation with MCI.
- There is need of reforms within internal administrative structure of MCI. The more decentralisation must be done with proper demarcation of roles and responsibilities.
- Centralisation of power is leading to high corruption and bribery issues in MCI. Digitilisation of various administrative work and regulation can reduce to bribery tendencies and other corrupt practices.
- In process of accreditation as well, it has become the practice to give more importance to infrastructure and inputs given to accrediting agency than quality of medical education. This practice should be replaced with efficient multilateral method of accreditation.
- Despite anecdotal data indicating that the number of unethical practices has increased in India, only 109 doctors have been blacklisted by the MCI in the period between 1963 and 2009. This indicates the stringent adherence to ethical code of medical practices by doctors as well as regulating agencies such as MCI.
- Formulation of a separate board of medical ethics which could be constituted on the lines of the GMC or the Australian Medical Council and comprise non-doctor members.
- In order to improve overall health care sector of country , teachers, pharmacist, medicine dealers , and hospitals should be accredited, and brought under the ambit of the medical commission.
- Mandated by leading universities across the world, students should assess the teachers rather than an external body.
Proposed reforms by Committee on the Reform of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956
- A proposal has been made to appoint five non-medical members in the commission of 20 people. These five members would be from backgrounds including management, economics, law, consumer or patient rights advocacy, health research, science and technology.
- New regulatory architecture: The Committee recommended that the National Medical Commission (NMC) should be set up to replace the existing Medical Council of India. NMC would be the policy-making body for medical education in India. It would consist of representatives from the Ministries of Health and Family Welfare, Human Resource Development and Department of Pharmaceuticals, among other related subject experts.
- The Committee recommended that independent bodies should be created with clearly demarcated roles, which would be coordinated by the NMC. These bodies would be:
(i) A Medical Assessment and Rating Board for accreditation and assessment of institutions.
(ii) A Board for Medical Registration to maintain a national register of all licensed medical Practitioners.
(iii) Under-Graduate Medical Education Board
(iv) the Post-Graduate Medical Education Board.
- Examinations: The Committee recommended a transparent admissions process based on merit rather than the ability to pay capitation fees. Students would be admitted to medical colleges based on an all-India National Eligibility cum Entrance Test. This would ensure a standardised set of skills for doctors following objective benchmarks to promote uniform outcomes.
- The Committee also recommended a periodic disclosure of ratings by medical colleges, to enable students to make informed decisions. This would also aid the colleges in improving their own standards to attract the best students.
- Passing a common exam would be mandatory to obtain a license and to subsequently apply for post-graduate courses. This exam would also test for skill sets prescribed by the central government keeping with the changing societal requirements of medical competencies.
- Fee Regulation: Despite the current fee regulation, there have been instances of corruption with regard to fees. The Committee recommended that the NMC should not engage in fee regulation of private colleges.
- Since admissions to medical institutions would be based solely on merit, there would be no need for fee regulation except in certain circumstances. The regulation of fees may encourage the formation of an underground economy for medical education, and having a fee cap may discourage the entry of private colleges.
- ‘For-profit’ organizations to establish medical colleges: Currently, only ‘not-for-profit’ organizations are permitted to establish medical colleges. The Committee recommended that the sector should be opened to ‘for-profit’ organisations as well to address the supply gaps in medical education. This would also help to deal with the lack of transparency regarding funding sources that currently exists despite a ban on ‘for-profit’ organisations in this sector.
Criticism of proposed draft bill:
The draft Bill of 2016 has been introduced to bring a complete reformation in the structure and the functioning of the medical commission, however, the Bill is not free from flaws, some of which need urgent reconsideration:
- Minimum qualifying marks in the NEET need to be defined.
- Fixing of the fees for a minimum percentage of seats in the private medical institutes instead of the open-ended clause ‘not exceeding 40% seats’
- The ‘not-for-profit’ status of the medical colleges should be retained.
- Replacement of the outdated norms to establish colleges.
- Accreditation of teachers, clinics, pharmacies, chemists, hospitals should be made mandatory.
- Rural service at the primary and community health centers should be made mandatory for the medical students and as part of their curriculum.
- A separate board of medical ethics should be created to investigate and prosecute cases of unethical practices by doctors.
Nevertheless, the Bill contains some positive reforms that are reflected through the complete reformation of the administrative structure of the commission. However, the core objectives of the commission have to be upheld, which include creating and training a medical workforce that can work effectively in our country.
Since the publication of the Kargil Review Committee Report, there has been intense public debate on the nature and scope of Defence Reforms needed in the country. The Group of Ministers in its report of 2001 had made major recommendations. More recently, the Government appointed Naresh Chandra Task Force made further recommendations some of which have reportedly been accepted but the critical ones left out.
A country’s response to external threats and internal security challenges is based on its defence preparedness, advance planning for contingencies and the political will. This is a function of its ability to assess the threats, build military capabilities, plan in advance and synergize all the mechanisms and tools of national power to achieve well defined objectives.
However India’s ministerial administration, defence preparedness and planning is plagued with many problems such as-
- Absence of synergy among the various arms of the state dealing with defence and national security: the armed forces, the MoD, the Ministry of External Affairs and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
- Excessive bureaucratical control over the major decisions regarding defence agreements and deals.
- Lack of domain knowledge and defence expertise of bureaucrats holding important positions in the ministry.
- Lack of cohesion and coordination among the three services of the armed forces.
- High level of corruption in the defence deals and agreements.
- Communication gap between the armed forces and civilian government.
Thus service reforms in the ministry of defence and the armed forces have assumed urgent priority for effective functioning of the defence system of India. In this light following are some of the suggested reforms that can improve the coordination and cohesion between the government and armed forces and within the armed forces themselves.
- Appointment of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS): The appointment of Chief of Defence Staff on the basis of the GoM report of 2001 will be a transformative step towards defence reforms. This will help strengthen the process of defence planning, work out national priorities, develop joint threat and capability assessments, help take a long-term view of equipping the armed forces with due considerations of inter-service priorities.
- Appointment of a Senior Officer for Defence Preparedness: Defence preparedness assume a critical role in the context of prevailing uncertainties in security environment, budget constraints, technological change etc. Many countries have senior officials charged with the responsibility of keeping a continuous watch on country’s defence preparedness. A senior official of Additional Secretary level in the Department of Defence can be assigned the task of monitoring and ensuring defence preparedness at all times.
- The GoM and Chandra committee reports strongly recommended the posting of military officers to important posts in the MoD to improve defence planning.
- Also domain knowledge of the bureaucrats can be increased by encouraging civilian officers to build expertise in strategic affairs and involving the services in strategic decision-making.
- Creating a special cadre of defence specialists is one way to overcome the problem of fulfilling the important positions in the ministry of defence with the specially trained officers.
- While the future of warfare lies in joint planning and operations, the Indian defence establishment has ignored it. Issues that should be addressed jointly by all three services are hardly ever the priority of any of the services. Thus there is need for the creation of tri-service theatre commands which would allow chiefs of three services to come together to promote joint-ness of action.
In times of hostile relations of neighbors with India and concerning volatile situations like Dokalam stand-off, India needs to carry out major service reforms at the earliest. This would enhance the defence preparedness of India and effectiveness of her armed forces.
Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
Social media and online mediums have emerged as powerful platforms in spreading information and even as publicity mediums. Thus they are being increasingly used by filmmaker in promoting the films and other contents. Social media and online mediums hitherto have remained away from the strict censorship of the government and hence have become both boon and bane for the society as a whole.
- Social media and online mediums have become easy targets to exploit the divisive tendencies of the society and to spread hatred among the different communities (eg. violence against people from the North-East region in 2014). The very nature of the social media makes it vulnerable to rapid spread of sensitive and even morphed information among the people. There are no channels to verify the authenticity and originality of the online content. This also leads to duplication of the original work and to spread it under someone else’s name.
- Also there have been attempts to incite the crowd and mobs against the State and administration (eg. Kashmir violence) making social media a great threat to law and order.
- Further social media has been actively used by terrorist organizations and anti-social elements for brain-washing the young people and inciting them to indulge into wrong activities (eg. ISIS propaganda).
Thus it has become imperative on the part of the government to regulate the social media and even censor the online content at times. However quest for safety and security through censorship has also another dimension.
- The frequent recourse to the censorship can also be used to suppress the free and independent thinking. In a diverse country like India, free and independent thinking is hallmark of the vibrancy of the democracy. It is basic pre-condition for the creativity and novelty in art and literature. In the environment of blind censorship of the online content, it could hamper the creativity, innovation and originality.
- Further government can use the power to censor the online content to spread the particular ideology and muzzle the other ideologies detrimental to their interests. Through censorship government can acquire draconian powers to inhibit the growth of the unorthodox views particularly through the films and documentaries.
- Right to disagree and right to dissent are fundamental pillars of any evolving democracy like India. Government can resort to easy way of suppressing any dissent and disagreements through regulation of the online content.
Hence censorship of the social media and online content is two edged sword. Though it is necessary at the times of national security and maintaining stability, it should not be used to restrain and hinder the creativity. Thus there is need of informed and aware citizens which would understand usefulness of the social media for the benefit of the society and at the same time keeps the control on the authoritarian tendencies of the government through periodic elections.
Topic: Issues relating to intellectual property rights
Safeguarding intellectual property has driven the numerous innovations and inventions and thereby industrial and technological growth in the recent times. Intellectual property has become fulcrum for any future innovation and investment into research and development. Thus nations have particularly developed ones have committed themselves for the strong regime for safeguarding intellectual property.
However the ruthless face of strong IPR regime is coming forward in the recent years where strong IPR regime is been used by large MNCs and corporate houses to maintain their monopoly in the business and to kill the infant players in the market.
- Absolute protection to patents have led to excessive protection of private investor interests through bilateral trade agreements, often at the expense of wider public interests. Corporate libertarians, riding high on increased market power, continue to lobby their governments for absolute protection of intellectual property (IP) rights of corporations.
- For years now, while patent protection is getting stronger in all sectors in a large number of countries, the conditions for its grant are becoming greatly relaxed.
- Not only do such lax patenting requirements allow companies to claim patents more broadly or consecutively, with little show of original effort as in the case of evergreening but also patents can be claimed on all possible inventions (and discoveries) that are of relevance to the present, and even to the future.
- The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)’s recent Trade and Development Report calls for stronger measures to protect domestic sectors against the undue domination of large companies, particularly in high-profit sectors such as pharmaceuticals, media and information and communications technology (ICT), where foreign companies still account for most of the transfer of profits across borders.
For India, the fate of its pharmaceutical and software sectors swings in the balance, and guaranteeing fair and unfettered competition will be critical to ensure that we do not lose more ground to global companies abroad and at home.
What India needs right now is a clear and tough stance on intellectual property both in domestic policy and at the multilateral level. At home, support for innovation has to be accompanied with instruments that guard against the misuse of market power, coercive bargaining and aggressive merger and acquisition strategies if local firms should survive and flourish.
Thus it has become imperative for the developing countries like India to regulate absolute protection guaranteed to intellectual property as demanded by developed nations. Supporting IP standards that simply follow a ‘winner takes all’ ideology without emphasis on technological advancement and competitive markets will be a regrettable mistake.
For global trade to sustain and flourish it is very important that all the players are subjected to fair and non-discriminatory treatment. Though safeguarding intellectual property is important, it should not create monopoly of the few and become hindrance for other small players to compete in the market.
Some of the steps that governments can take are keeping strong watch on evergreening of the patents, using the tools like compulsory licensing during the times in emergency and even for larger public interests (eg case of nexavar) and creating institutional framework to govern the intellectual property rights that would take into account interest of both, the innovator and public at large.
Topic: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
Introduction :- The energy policy of India is largely defined by the country’s expanding energy deficit and increased focus on developing alternative sources of energy, particularly nuclear, solar and wind energy. India ranks 81 position in overall energy self-sufficiency at 66% in 2014.
The 2017 National Energy Policy (NEP), drafted by the NITI Aayog, takes the baton forward from the 2006 Integrated Energy Policy (IEP) in setting the trajectory of growth for the energy sector in India. The value proposition of the NEP is to present a broad framework for the overall energy sector, taking into account the multiple technology and fuel options. Niti Aayog’s latest draft National Energy Policy is an ambitious vision statement as it exhorts de-carbonization, energy efficiency and renewable energy. However, it is also fraught with contradictions and omissions it seeks to keep India’s economy heavily reliant on fossil fuels even in 2040.
Such a scenario is in direct conflict with the declared twin goals of sustainability and security and comes ironically at a time when solar and wind tariffs appear to be reaching historic new lows. What is needed in India’s energy sector is two pronged approach
Twin pillars : why Incentivizing and restructuring
- The Economic Survey talks about the social cost of renewable energy in comparison to that of coal-based power generation. Besides other cost parameters, including health and environmental costs, the survey includes “the opportunity cost of stranded conventional power assets” as one of the components of the social cost. Hence its incentivization becomes crucial.
- Restructuring :-
- Organizational restructuring :- Presently, there is, by and large/ State monopoly in the form of SEBS/ based on the feature of economies of scale and the natural monopoly argument. So, we have to be careful in adopting an Orissa type privatization in hiving off generation, transmission and distribution to different parties.
- Central sector institutions performance is much better than state sectors hence more share must be diverted towards them through SEB restructuring.
- Finance :- In spite of opening up the coal deposits, offering very attractive rates of return, and covering even normal business risks by way of assured plant load factor, there is not much response from foreign companies hence few measures must be adopted :-
- Fuller utilization of domestic funds and markets
- Easing the foreign investment with measures like ease of doing business and addressing their key concerns
Conclusion :- As India’s importance and role in the global energy markets continues to grow, it needs to be strategic in its energy planning. To build on the successes of the recent past, such as record low tariffs, increased investment flows into the energy sector, successful introduction of auction-based bidding for renewable energy projects and others, it cannot afford to lose momentum with policy uncertainty and unclear energy pathways.
Additional in formation :-
Potential of NEP :-
- The opening up of the entire power sector value chain to private investment in order to create an efficient electricity market is a visionary step.
- The proposed reform could further be extended to recommend the creation of a separate capacity market and ancillary market for thermal power.
- This would encourage the supply of flexible power to supplement intermittent power from renewable sources, in a cost-effective manner.
- To pursue pathways to improve air quality, the NEP contains specific recommendations for efficiency improvements in various sectors such as transport, power and urban households.
However, the NEP fails to provide an adequate framework for a number of issues that have arisen and intensified over the course of India’s ongoing energy transition, which is still in its nascent stage.
Lacunas in NEP :-
- On the renewable energy front, the NEP disappoints by failing to address the rampant uncertainties, specifically on issues around renewable purchase obligations (RPO) and renewable energy certificates (REC). The only half-hearted consolation on offer is targeted at the distribution companies who have been assured government support for implementation of RPO and REC obligations.
- As renewable power becomes more commercially viable, states could be left to decide how, when and what source of power to integrate into their system, as no clear measures are being adopted to provide the much-needed enforcement of the obligations.
- Policy uncertainty is further highlighted in the NEP’s focus on utilising coal powered thermal plants for securing the base load requirement to meet rising energy demand.
- Currently, a number of the existing coal plants are running at low efficiencies, or have been retired early, in line with the Ministry of Power’s strategy for reducing the carbon footprint of the sector.
- However, despite this market reality, the NEP’s reliance on thermal power fuels scepticism about India’s commitment to clean energy, and could distort investor confidence in the renewables sector.
- The NEP makes broad recommendations on how India should work towards developing and acquiring technology needed for advancing the energy sector. However, the policy does not recommend consistent and strong policy and budgetary support for technology development, as in China.
Case study :- Orissa Power restructuring
The power sector in Orissa suffered from high transmission and distribution losses, inadequate accountability for various segments (generation, transmission, and distribution), poor financial performance, poor quality of service and manpower-related issues.
The World Bank agreement for Power Sector restructuring in Orissa consisted of
- Unbundling and corporatizing OSEB
- Privatizing generation, Grid Corporation, and distribution
- Creating competition for new generation capacity
- Establishing a separate regulatory body
- Tariff Reform
At the core of the reform process was envisaging more autonomy for the host utility and involvement of the private sector in power sector development. The role of the government would thereby be more passive and there was a need for the Orissa government to shift from its earlier active role.
Impact of Reforms
Following the power sector reform, the net cash flow for the Government of Orissa improved significantly. The total electrified area in the state increased by 13% over the last decade. Orissa has been consistently registering a YoY increase in GDP of an average of 12% over the last 6 years
Topic: ethical issues in international relations
Introduction :- Surveillance is simply put the observation and/or monitoring of a person. Coming from the French word for looking upon the term encompasses not only visual observation but also the scrutiny of all behavior, speech, and actions. Prominent examples of surveillance include surveillance cameras, wiretaps, GPS tracking, and internet surveillance.
These advances in technology have a profound impact with regards to the ethics of placing individual under surveillance in our modern society. Today many of our actions are observable, recorded, searchable and traceable close surveillance is much more intrusive than it has been in the past.
Surveillance projects in India :-
- Central Monitoring System (CMS): A data collection system similar to the NSA’s PRISM program. It enables the Government of India to listen to phone conversations, intercept e-mails and text messages, monitor posts on social networking service and track searches on Google
- DRDO NETRA: Network that is capable of tracking online communications on a real time basis by harvesting data from various voice-over-IP services, including Skype and Google Talk. It is operated by the Research and Analysis Wing.
- NATGRID: An intelligence grid that links the databases of several departments and ministries of the Government of India.
Ethical issues involved :-
- Violation of privacy :- Surveillance is basically based on this principle as it involves gathering, watching and collecting a person’s information without his/her consent. It is one of the most valued and natural right of human.
- Trust and autonomy :- As the privacy is violated people find it difficult to trust the government for the protection of their rights. It creates a distrust between the rulers and ruled. It encroaches upon the individual’s bodily and emotional autonomy.
- Cause of surveillance :- The purpose of surveillance, or one particular instantiation of surveillance, is probably the most fundamental ethical question that can be asked. Security can be the easiest answers but it has been observed and experienced by all that the surveillance often has unethical usage associated with it.
- Authority :- The justification of surveillance, and particularly the cause of that surveillance, will depend on who it is that is carrying out the surveillance. State security can and should be carried out by state intelligence agencies with assurance of it’s ethical use but surveillance by private agencies for their gains is out rightly unethical.
Middle path :-
- There must be sufficient sustainable cause. Any tendency for the secret world to encroach into areas unjustified by the scale of potential harm to national interests has to be checked.
- There must be integrity of motive. No hidden agendas: the integrity of the whole system throughout the intelligence process must be assured, from collection to analysis and presentation.
- The methods used must be proportionate. Their likely impact must be proportionate to the harm that is sought to prevent
- There must be right and lawful authority. There must be the right level of sign-off on sensitive operations, with accountability up a recognized chain of command to permit effective oversight.
- There must be a reasonable prospect of success. All intelligence operations need careful risk management, and before approval is given there has to be consideration of the likelihood of unintended consequences and the impact if the operation were to be exposed or otherwise go wrong.
- Recourse to secret intelligence must be a last resort. There should be no reasonable alternative way of acquiring the information by non-secret methods.
Justification :- The unconstrained collection of electronic intelligence is destroying civil liberties and creating the conditions for tyranny. Even Edward Snowden thinks on same line. But the continued freedom of our society ultimately rests on the refusal of the rest of us to accept such an extreme position, and on our willingness to recognise that an ethical balancing act is needed. We must respect the work of our intelligence agencies in keeping us safe, and be glad that in our democratic societies they are subject to the rule of law and must also ensure that the process of surveillance is balanced with ethical considerations.