SECURE SYNOPSIS: 13 DECEMBER 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: History of the world; World geography
1) How did the Cold War affect space exploration. Also write a note on Outer Space Treaty. (250 Words)
Space exploration dictated by cold war
- In 1957, the launch of Sputnik 1 by the USSR marked the dawn of the space age.
- A space race between the US and USSR followed.
- Space rivalry between the US and USSR was not just a race to outdo one another in terms of science, technology and engineering, but also a matter of national honour and prestige.
- United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) was established in 1959 (shortly after the launch of Sputnik) as an ad hoc committee.
- In 1959, it was formally established by United Nations Resolution 1472.
- The aim of COPUOS was to govern the exploration and use of space for the benefit of all humanity; for peace, security and development.
- Just after Yuri Gagarin became the first human to enter space, the UN General Assembly adopted the “Declaration of Legal Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space”.
- It recognized “the common interest of all mankind in the progress of the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes”.
- Outer Space Treaty was largely based on the aforementioned declaration
Outer Space Treaty – an outcome of Cold War
- The Soviet Union, however, did not separate outer space from other disarmament issues, nor did it agree to restrict outer space to peaceful uses unless U.S. foreign bases at which short-range and medium-range missiles were stationed were eliminated also.
- The Western powers declined to accept the Soviet approach; the linkage, they held, would upset the military balance and weaken the security of the West.”.
- The Soviet position changed when the US signed the Limited Test Ban Treaty in 1963.
- After that, both powers agreed that they had no intention of orbiting weapons of mass destruction, installing them on celestial bodies, or stationing them in outer space.
- Once that happened, the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution on 17 October 1963, welcoming the Soviet and US statements and calling upon all states to refrain from introducing weapons of mass destruction into outer space.
- In 1967, when the Outer Space Treaty was signed, the Cold War was in full swing.
- Both the US and USSR wanted to prevent the expansion of the nuclear arms race into a completely new territory.
- In January 1967, the Outer Space Treaty was opened for signature by the three depository governments—the USSR, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
- Entering into force in October 1967, the treaty provided a basic framework of international space law.
- It states that the exploration and use of outer space shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries, and shall be the province of all mankind.
- It also outlines that states shall not place nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in orbit, or on celestial bodies, or station them in outer space in any other manner.
- Further, the treaty saw astronauts as envoys of all mankind.
- Outer space is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.
- It further cautions that states shall be liable for damage caused by their space objects and dictates that they avoid harmful contamination of space and celestial bodies.
Topic: Functioning of judiciary; Transparency and accountability; RTI
2) Critically examine why India’s higher judiciary has strongly resisted the RTI. Also examine the consequences of such resistance. (150 Words)
- The apex court summarily rejects RTI requests, and insists that applicants exclusively request information under its administrative rules (Supreme Court Rules) framed in 1966, and re-issued with minor changes in 2014.
Supreme Court arguments against RTI
- Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi.
- In May 2011, appearing before the Commission, the Additional Registrar of the Court, Smita Sharma objected only to the use of the RTI
- Supreme Court Rules provide information
- She maintained that the Supreme Court Rules alone governed access to the information sought.
- Rules are primary against RTI
- Claiming that the Rules were consistent with the RTI, she asked Mr. Gandhi to reinstate the primacy of Supreme Court Rules over the RTI, in line with previous Central Information Commission (CIC) rulings.
CIC ruling, 2011 for RTI
- It was held that the Supreme Court Rules are inconsistent with the RTI Act, and that the Registry must respond to applications within the RTI framework alone.
- Supreme Court Rules undermined the RTI.
- No time frame
- Unlike the RTI Act, the Rules do not provide for: a time frame for furnishing information; an appeal mechanism, and penalties for delays or wrongful refusal of information.
- Discretion in providing information
- Rules also make disclosures to citizens contingent upon “good cause shown”.
- In sum, the Rules allowed the Registry to provide information at its unquestionable discretion, violating the text and spirit of the RTI.
Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
3) The twin combination of “bail-in” clause of the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill (FRDI) and the aggressive move towards cashless economy pose a larger threat to the deposits of ordinary citizens. Discuss. (250 Words)
Why bail in introduced?
- The biggest challenge for a government launching a “bail-in” attack on deposits is that depositors can promptly withdraw their money from the bank by demanding cash.
- Such an event can lead to severe bank runs and destabilise the banking system because bank deposits are only fractionally backed by actual cash.
Impact of cashless economy
- Stability of banks
- Such rapid withdrawal of cash deposits, however, may slowly cease to be an option for depositors as the world increasingly turns away from cash and towards digital money.
- When all, or even a predominant share, of money in the world is digital, there is no question of banks having to meet depositors’ demand for cash.
- So a cashless world will, once and for all, free banks from the obligation to meet cash demands from depositors, thus protecting them from any liquidity crisis.
- Tax on depositors
- More importantly, it would also strip depositors of the power to withdraw their deposits in the form of cash to escape any tax or other forms of confiscation by the government.
- Easy credit and thus depositors money at risk
- Banks have been a major source of funding for governments and their economies across the world.
- Most of such lending happens through loans which are not backed by savings but instead through fresh money creation, which in turn leads to economic crises and bank runs led by depositors.
- A cashless world, on the other hand, makes it easier for banks to carry out their business of credit creation without the risk of having to satisfy the demand for cash from depositors. Consequently, it prevents recurrent crises of liquidity that are faced by banks.
- Negative interest rates will erode value for depositors
- Policies like negative interest rates, which would otherwise push depositors to rush out of banks to escape the tax imposed on their deposits, become more feasible under a cashless banking system in which depositors are essentially locked in by banks.
- Depositors in such cases will have no other option but to spend their money to escape a penalty on it.
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health,
4) Neither civilisational ethos nor the mere enshrining of constitutional morality is enough to deliver on basic rights. In your opinion, what else is needed to safeguard basic rights of citizens? Critically comment. (250 Words)
- Human rights existed in India not due to some constitutional morality but because of the DNA of Indian civilisation.
- We have had lesson from Upanishad “Sarve Janaha Sukhino Bhavantu”, loosely translated as “May all be happy”.
- Though the UN’s declaration of human rights is expansive, and also includes social and economic rights.
- It is clear that Indian civilisation has not had much success in ensuring their delivery.
- If any progress has at all been made in the desired direction, it has been after the adoption of a democratic form of governance; an arrangement that is distinctly non-Indian in its origins. In terms of human development, 21st century India is radically different from what it was in the 20th century.
- While “constitutional morality”, a term used by Ambedkar to appropriately reject any role for “societal morality” in the Republic, is of course a useful guide to the courts when it comes to adjudicating between individuals, it is by itself helpless in preventing acts of violence.
- The efficacy of constitutional provisions is entirely dependent on the government machinery entrusted to our elected representatives.
- In too many cases of violence against women, Muslims and Dalits, the Indian state is distinguished by its absence.
Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations.
5) The cultural ecology of Gwadar and Chabahar have the potential to become part of Indian soft-power diplomacy. Analyse. (250 Words)
- The geopolitics around the Indian Ocean has placed Gwadar and Chabahar at the centrestage of an engaging chess game of power. The two ports also have the potential to become part of Indian soft-power diplomacy.
- The cultural ecology of Gwadar and Chabahar, defined by the idea of “Baloch”, make them suitable for such a project.
Baloch Cultural heritage
- The Baloch, a semi-nomadic and pastoral community, carry the collective memory of West, Central and South Asia along with the recollections of their connections to the Greeks, as part of their cultural heritage.
- While they are Muslims, the strains of other beliefs such as Hinduism, Zoroastrianism and Sufism influence various aspects of the Balochi cultural heritage.
- Their language, bardic traditions and traditional knowledge skills comprising linguistics, crafts, performing arts, rituals, and pastoral and agricultural traditions recall a cultural map of different parts of Asia. They encompass an ethos forged through ideas exchanged over centuries through land and sea routes.
- While the association of Balochistan with economics, security and other areas of hard diplomacy is well-known, its shared cultural heritage with communities in India makes it amenable to soft power diplomacy.
- Besides being a part of road and ocean routes, Balochistan can also be a part of a skill corridor. The creation of such a corridor — facilitated by shared cultural ecology and traditional knowledge systems — could lead sustainable skill programmes that draw on people-to-people contact at the grass roots level.
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health,
6) A National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) has proposed that a vaccine against the human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer, be introduced in India’s Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP). Discuss the issues involved in introduction of HPV vaccine. (250 Words)
- A National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) has proposed that a vaccine against the human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer, be introduced in India’s Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP).
- NTAGIs are a “technical resource providing guidance to national policymakers and programme managers to enable them to make evidence-based immunisation-related policy and programme decisions”.
- Globally, cervical cancer is the fourth most frequent cancer in women; among Indian women, it is the second most frequent, according to the WHO.
- India accounted for a third of all global cervical cancer deaths, with 1.32 lakh new cases diagnosed annually, mostly in advanced stages.
- While India has seen a fall in the incidence of cervical cancer over the last three decades, the number of cases remains high in rural areas, and where sanitation and hygiene are low.
Arguments against HPV introduction
- In India, the primary concern is cost, given the huge population and stretched healthcare budgets.
- A single shot of Gardasil costs approximately Rs 3,000 and Cervarix, about Rs 2,000. Each girl requires three shots.
- At present, no data suggests that either Gardasil or Cervarix can prevent invasive cervical cancer as the testing period is too short to evaluate the long-term benefits of HPV vaccination.
- India is already witnessing a declining trend in cervical cancer due to better hygiene, changing reproductive patterns, improved nutrition and water supply.
- Immunity not complete
- Further, there are over 100 HPV sub-types against which the vaccine does not provide immunity.
- Side effects
- Vaccine can even cause rare side-effects such as regional pain syndrome.
- It’s better that we strengthen the reasons behind this trend rather than expose the entire population to the vaccine.
Arguments for introduction
- No safety issue
- A WHO position paper published in May 2017 noted that the “WHO Global Advisory Committee for Vaccine Safety (GACVS), which regularly reviews the evidence on the safety of HPV vaccines” had concluded in January 2016 that the “available evidence did not suggest any safety concern”.
- Globally accepted
- Globally 71 countries (37%) had introduced HPV vaccine in their national immunisation programme for girls, and 11 countries (6%) also for boys”.
- Australia, which was the first country to introduce HPV vaccination in its school programme now has one of the lowest rates of cervical cancer in the world.
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health,
7) What are the basic tenets of regulating private healthcare? In the light of controversies surrounding regulation of private healthcare in India, examine global models which can be emulated in India. (250 Words)
Basic tenets of regulating private healthcare
- The basic tenets of regulating private healthcare remain largely the same the world over
- no payment at the point of service,
- governments as the primary spenders in healthcare,
- robust primary care system,
- regulation of prices of drugs and diagnostics, and
- some health cover for every citizen.
- In the best working global models of regulation of the private sector, governments regulate essentially through control of the purse strings.
- In India, this is probably the highest barrier currently — public spending on health is less than 1% of GDP, and per capita public health spend is about $15, less than in Bhutan, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.
Swedish Model (Competitive Bidding)
- Private and public health facilities compete for government funding and the right to provide healthcare to citizens.
- There are incentives for providing the quickest and cheapest treatment.
- Sweden has allowed the nine private, fee-for-service hospitals to open for business, with little handwringing.
- But the largest role for private medicine is in the public sector, where the privately run facilities receive public funding to provide citizens much the same services they would at government hospitals.
- Within that system, citizens in government-funded clinics are charged user fees that account for about 5% of overall health funding, while the government contributes the rest.
- Most drug stores were government- owned then, but private pharmacies have opened since. In India, medicines account for 70% of out-of-pocket medical expenditure.
Thailand Model (Capitation Fee)
- Thailand’s Universal Health Coverage covers roughly 75% of the Thai population.
- Other schemes are a compulsory Social Security Scheme for government employees and dependents and the Civil Servant Medical Benefit Scheme for private employees.
- UCS, which is tax-funded, pays annual capitation fees to hospitals based on how many beneficiaries visit them.
- Public and private hospitals are treated on a par, and the beneficiary chooses where she goes.
- This encourages the development of competing provider networks, and the capitation payment approach helps contains costs — capitation means a hospital is paid the same money for heart surgery or for containing diabetes-hypertension before they add up to a cardiac or other event requiring catastrophic expenditure. There is no incentive for a hospital or a doctor to do cardiac surgery.
Canada Model (Fixed Charges, Govt Reimbursement)
- Medicare, which covers all Canadians, is publicly financed and privately run.
- The Canadian Health Act of 1984 allows medical practitioners to only charge fees fixed by governments — something that West Bengal is trying, but without the required level of public financing.
- They are paid from tax revenue either by the federal or the provincial government.
- Governments decide fees of primary care physicians and salaries of health professionals.
- The federal government regulates drugs and diagnostics; provincial governments regulate hospitals, private healthcare professionals and private insurance.
- Dental care, eye care, prescription drugs, ambulance services, medical devices, upgraded hospital rooms and travel insurance are outside Medicare, and these are provided by the private sector. The government reimburses a portion of these costs.
- But delayed payments have seen some big corporate hospitals exit the scheme.
- After government-funded Social Health Insurance (SHI) and private insurance, less than 1% are left uncovered. SHI — operated by more than 200 competing Sickness Funds (SFs), which are self-governing, nonprofit, non-governmental organisations, and funded by compulsory wage-based contributions, matched by employers
- It covers preventive services, in-patient and out-patient hospital care, physician services, mental health and dental care, medical aids, rehabilitation and sick leave compensation.
- The government delegates regulation and governance to the SFs and medical providers’ associations.
- The patient chooses her SF and provider, who cannot refuse her.
- There are 30 quality control indicators that hospitals have to report.
Topic: Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism
8) Critically comment on the objectives and consequences of Indian army’s ‘Operation All Out’ in Kashmir. (150 Words)
Operation All Out of the Army seeks to strangle the terror network in the Kashmir which exists externally or internally through the armed intervention.
- Dineshwar Sharma was appointed “as the Representative of the Government of India to initiate and carry forward a dialogue with the elected representatives, various organisations and concerned individuals in the State of Jammu and Kashmir”
- By denying space for dialogue, the Narendra Modi government has reinforced its policy of a military approach to Kashmir which will only give more opportunities for extremism and violence.
- Home Minister Rajnath Singh spelt out the contours of a plan of engagement in Jammu and Kashmir.
- He said that a permanent solution to the Kashmir problem was based on five Cs, which he would define as “compassion, communication, coexistence, confidence building and consistency”.
- On the political front as had been indicated at the height of the 2016 summer uprising when he tried to reach out to the separatist camp.
- However, the hard-line approach of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government at the Centre seems to have stalled any such move, and Rajnath Singh found himself isolated in view of the strong lobby that advocated and pursued a security-oriented approach.
- Communication has been missing.
- The line of communication has been kept open only with those who do not challenge India’s rule in Kashmir.
- By gathering the pro-India political parties again and again to understand the Kashmir problem, the government has been defeating the idea of communication with the people of Kashmir.
- Shutting the door on those who have been spearheading the resistance against the state has not been helpful in past and the same would be the case with the present and the future.
- By not engaging in a political dialogue with forces such as the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, the Government of India is also giving them an excuse to not do anything.
- Having a line of communication and putting their ability to test would have helped people think about the capacities of the leadership, but that perhaps cannot come without communication that has no precondition.
- There is no coexistence on the ground.
- Particularly in the past few years, the effort has been to isolate the community.
- New Delhi has defeated the idea of Jammu and Kashmir being an “integral part of India” on the ground by not showing any respect for coexistence.
- Use of military power, that too, indiscriminately against the civilian population, putting them under curfew for 54 days at a stretch, and protecting those who commit human rights violations are some of the hard facts that talk about a different existence.
- Confidence-building measures have been another casualty. Confidence has been shaken for a long time now.
- Deploying more and more forces does not help to build confidence; it dents the very essence of it.
- Confidence comes from measures that are aimed at addressing the concerns that are directly linked to people’s existence, their daily life, and their rights.
- The government’s loss of confidence in the people has dealt a severe blow to any process of reconciliation.
- When institutions fail to deliver justice, there can be no hope of confidence building. By treating the people as the “other”, confidence-building measures can become far-fetched and that is how it has played on the ground.
- The finest example of confidence building vis-a-vis Kashmir was when former Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee took a giant step by extending a hand of friendship to Pakistan from Srinagar on April 18, 2003.
- This gesture was followed by opening the roads between the divided Jammu and Kashmir, starting trade exchanges across the Line of Control (LoC) and allowing people on the borders to live peacefully.
- Consistency is the only requirement in dealing with an issue like Kashmir.
- No matter what happens, foreign policy has to be consistent.
- It is a reasonable expectation that J&K could turn restive at the onset of war. Pakistan has not sustained the insurgency in Kashmir out of a sense of affinity with Kashmiris alone. Its military overlords have national security and the military’s institutional interests at heart.
- Operationally, they wish to undercut India’s conventional military advantage prior to its application on the western front.
- Keeping rear areas insecure helps in interdicting and disrupting the Indian forces en route to the frontline.
- An example is Pakistan’s choice in the late 1990s of the Hill Kaka area in Surankote tehsil as a base for terrorism.
- Not only would the terrorist base prove useful for disrupting India’s defences in Poonch sector from the rear, but would also help sustain the insurgency across the Pir Panjal range in the Kashmir Valley.
- The base was finally evicted in a division-level operation, Operation Sarp Vinash (2003), on the heels of Operation Parakram (2001–02).
Topic: Agriculture issues
9) It is said that to unshackle Indian agriculture, export restrictions, monopoly procurement, Essential Commodities Act restrictions and arbitrary stocking limits must go. Analyse. (250 Words)
- India is the world’s largest producer, consumer and importer of pulses.
- That may sound contradictory, but isn’t, because domestic production is unable to meet the large and growing domestic demand.
- Last year, India’s production was 23 million tonnes (MT), the highest ever, 40% more than the previous year. This was owing to good rains, higher minimum support price (MSP) and higher acreage.
- High production should have meant lower imports.
- Last year’s imports were at an all-time high of 6.6 MT, that too at zero import duty.
- This caused prices to crash, in some places to half of the MSP.
- In its desperation, the government initiated an unprecedented procurement of pulses, and bought 1.6 MT to support prices.
- Future trading
- If futures trading in pulses was allowed, it may have helped in reducing volatility, and garnering some benefits for farmers.
- Stocking limits
- There are arbitrary stock limits for private traders, which can inhibit inter-period smoothening of prices.
- Export restrictions
- For the past 10 years, all exports of pulses have been banned.
- But this export ban has hurt farmers, who couldn’t take advantage of high prices.
- It got worse, because when prices did shoot up, the government panicked and started importing at zero duty.
- Monopolized procurement
- Pulses continue to be in the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act.
- Thus farmers are not free to sell to any buyer they wish but must go through the APMC.
- Pulses were part of the six technology missions created in the 1980s (they were added to the oilseeds mission), to greatly enhance their production, use of technology and processing. But despite the mission-mode approach, India is still not self-sufficient in pulses production.
- In cashew, India’s Kollam used to be the world’s capital, but has lost out to Vietnam due to its failure to adopt technology and due to excessive government control.