SECURE SYNOPSIS: 20 DECEMBER 2017

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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 20 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.


General Studies – 1


Topic:  The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country. 

1) It is said that not only revolutionaries, even contribution of their mothers who fought hard for India’s independence is forgotten by historians. Examine contribution of such heroic women who helped revolutionary cause during struggle for independence. (250 Words)

The Wire

 

Introduction:

  • India prides itself on the age-old invocation, ‘the mother and the motherland are more sacred than heaven itself’.
  • In this context, the emotional trauma the mother of the martyers undergo was tremendously outbursting. Besides, thei mothers also had toface the severe financial constraints and often died in and of extreme poverty.
  • But inspite of such gruesome harships, these mothers pushed their sons willingly to sacrifice for the motherland which was in utter despair due to the colonial rule.

 

Ramprasad ‘Bismil’ mother

  • Moolrani, the mother of martyr Ramprasad ‘Bismil’, leader of the historic Kakori conspiracy (August 9, 1925). 
  • Moolrani’s indomitable spirit was such that when she visited her son in prison in Gorakhpur on the eve of his hanging, she did not lose her courage even on seeing the moistness in his eyes. 
  • The harsh poverty that descended upon Bismil’s mother after his departure from the world turned her life into an unending ordeal. 

 

Ashfaqullah Khan mother

  • The family of Kakori martyr Ashfaqullah Khan, who was hanged in Faizabad jail, was counted among the elite, well-to-do families of its time. His mother’s family too was prosperous. 
  • But both families were virtually destroyed by the expenses they incurred in mounting a defence for Khan. Moreover, the British government forcibly took over many of their properties as well.
  • After Khan’s departure, there was no end to the tribulations of his mother Mazhoor-Un-Nisa Begum who encountered the inconsiderate face of relatives and society. Chandrashekhar Azad who went in disguise to Shahjahanpur and helped financially.

 

Chandrasekhar Azad mother

  • Jagrani Devi, the mother of Azad who preferred to let go of his life rather than be captured by the police surrounding him in Alfred Park (now Azad Park) 
  • For a long time Jagrani Devi lived in poverty with nothing but kodu grains to stave off hunger. When Jawaharlal Nehru came to know about her plight, he sent an amount of Rs 500 for her. 

 

Bhagat Singh mother

  • At the time of his birth, on September 28, 1907, in Banga village (now in Pakistan), his father (Sardar Kishan Singh) and uncles (Sardar Ajit Singh and Sardar Swaran Singh) were serving a prison term for taking part in revolutionary activities. 
  • After Bhagat Singh’s martyrdom following the Lahore conspiracy (December 20, 1928) and Central Legislative Assembly bombing case (April 8, 1929), Vidyawati may not have experienced many vicissitudes, but she also did not enjoy, or was deprived of, the status she deserved – as the mother of a martyr of martyrs. 

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic:   Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, 

2) Recently the Karnataka high court quashed the rule mandating 85% pictorial warning on the packaging of tobacco products. Are graphic pictorial health warnings effective strategy to create awareness? Also examine the issues this high court order brings forth regarding fight against tobacco products. (250 Words)

The Wire

 

Introduction:

  • The recent order from the Karnataka high court quashing the rule mandating 85% pictorial warning on the packaging of tobacco products has brought to light several lesser-known issues. 
  • The court is reported to have said that the 85% pictorial warning is unconstitutional.

 

Impact of graphic pictorial health warnings

  • Prior to the 85% rule coming into being, tobacco products in India needed to display pictorial warnings of harms such as cancer on the one side of the product, covering 40% of the area
  • The recent rule by the Indian government to increase this warning to 85% on both sides was part of its commitment towards public health. This meant only 15% of a tobacco product package was available for marketing and promotions of these products. 
  • The intention behind this is simple: make the warnings more clear and reduce the promotions. 
  • We do not need research and scientists to tell us that customers needs to know if they are buying a product which has the potential to kill them. The bigger the warning, the clearer the message and the less attractive the product looks.
  • Graphic pictorial health warnings are a proven and effective strategy to create awareness, especially among the illiterate and children, about the harms of tobacco. 
  • There is an added advantage in India – with the existence of 122 major languages, pictures could speak a thousand words.

 

Issues

 

  1. India’s fight against tobacco
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious goal of leading the world’s fight against tobacco also suffered a massive blow. 
  • At 85%, India ranked at No. 3 in the world (in terms of pictorial anti-tobacco warnings). This judgment has pushed India 103 places down in the rankings – tying with Pakistan for the same spot of 106 in the world.

     2.Health impact on poor more

  • The healthcare system in India is largely governed by the private sector (80%), which means a person who embraces these habits eventually ends up spending from his/her own pocket to treat the illnesses it causes. This leads to an increase in the financial burden on him/her and his/her family. 
  • This is a serious concern, since 80% of India’s population resides in villages, and 75% of the population has purchasing power of less than Rs 100 ($2) per day. 

    3.Fiscal revenue affected

  • The government on average earns about Rs 17,000 crore  from taxes and exports on tobacco, but the expenditure on health diseases caused by tobacco is of the order of Rs 1,00,000 crore.

    4.Tobacco farmers hit

  • Another common reason quoted for inaction on this issue is the concern for the well being of our farmers

 

India’s position

  • Annually, India loses around ten lakh patients to tobacco-related diseases.
  • The number of new cases of cancer annually in India (incidence) is 10,44,242
  • Total number of cancer cases at a given time (prevalence) in India is 28,19,457
  • 2,688 persons die annually only because of chewing tobacco in urban and rural areas, according to the Directorate of Economics.

 


Topic:  Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests 

3) Critically evaluate ASEAN’s contribution to regional peace and security. (250 Words)

The Wire

 

Introduction:

  • ASEAN was created with the Declaration of Bangkok in 1967 by its original members Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand
  • It subsequently expanded to include Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam

 

  1.  Success despite cultural diversity
  • The general summary is that four waves of cultural influence shaped Southeast Asia: Indian, Chinese, Muslim and Western – the fact that some of these are civilisational descriptors with a variety of ethnic influences within the larger civilisations is an additional factor of complexity. 

     2.Solved ethnic conflicts

  • Modern Southeast Asia, comprising mainland and maritime countries including Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste and Vietnam, presents an example of varied cultures living together and thriving, despite the region experiencing decades of conflicts.
  • Despite its diversity, ASEAN has created a sense of community and identity which is unique from other regions.

    3.Sustaining globalisation

  • At a time when western internationalism is in retreat and the future of regional organisations have been questioned
  • As the fear of communism faded, the founding leaders opened their markets by embracing a market-oriented economy integrating the entire Southeast Asian region into a larger East Asian region.
  • An open regionalism, in the way of accommodating external powers, has been the most visible manifestations of ASEAN.

 

  1. ASEAN-led processes
  • Through this,  regional and extra-regional multilateral platforms that engages ASEAN with its dialogue partners were created.
  • These include the Annual Ministerial Meeting (AMM), Post-Ministerial Conference (PMC), Asia-Pacific Economic Partnership (APEC) and ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) 
  • Through these multilateral initiatives, ASEAN has maintained stable relations with the great powers in Asia. 

 

Conclusion

  • Ownership of the organization must shift from the governments to the people
  • Change the current stunted and severely limited secretariat into a vibrant institution that will serve ASEAN as well
  • Promote ASEAN as a new beacon of hope for humanity

 

Topic:  Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate. 

4) The WTO has made limited progress over the past two decades on various issues of significance. Do you think WTO as an institution is in decline? Critically comment. (150 Words)

Livemint

 

Introduction:

  • Previous rounds of ministerial meetings have resulted in very little progress. 
  • The last ‘low-hanging fruit’ the WTO was able to garner for its members was the Trade Facilitation Agreement at the Bali ministerial in 2013. While this came as a lifesaver for the WTO in 2013, it had been on the cards since the Doha Development Agenda in the 2001 ministerial. 
  • The 2015 ministerial in Nairobi did nothing much to enhance the WTO’s stature.

 

Areas where WTO faltered

 

  1. Nature of the original agreements
  • The original agreements have been one-sided denying full potential of global trade to be realised by the poor countries.

     2.North-South divide

  • As a result, the north-south divide which persisted after the centuries of colonialism could not be bridged.

    3.BRICS emergence as an alternative and lobby

  • Aggression of the BRICS lobby on subsidies, agriculture and food security 

    4.Negotiations became extreme

  • From secret anteroom negotiations and the subtle ways of global diplomacy, today, countries are quick to state their extreme negotiation positions publicly—seemingly more for the benefit of their constituencies at home. 
  • This makes negotiations more cumbersome. 

    5.Dispute settlement mechanism suffering and thus interests of small countries

  • The dispute resolution mechanism, which has been in place since the WTO’s inception in 1995, has served its purpose well. 
  • It has been a great leveller and has enabled smaller countries like Barbados and Antigua to take the US to the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) and prevail. It has been widely hailed as the biggest success of the WTO.
  • WTO dispute settlement mechanism involves consultations, panel proceedings, appellate body proceedings, and implementation and enforcementUS has refused to participate in the appointment of new judges to the appellate body. Members are usually appointed by consensus, and the US is a major participant. 
  • The delays will compel WTO members to look for other solutions, potentially elsewhere
  • Outside the WTO system, weaker countries will be disadvantaged. 

   6.Trump’s America First protectionism

  • US policies will have long-term effects on global trade.  
  • Scrapping the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement
  • Undermining the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement

   7.Weakened EU after Brexit

  • Add to this mix a weakened EU and a Britain with a dire need to either be part of a robust multilateral system or have its own trade agreements. 

 

Way forward

  • Global trade is no longer going to have the leadership from the Western world that it did
  • China, India, Brazil and Russia will have to fill the void. The pendulum of global trade is swinging from the richest nations to the most populous ones

Topic:  Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections

5) Five years after a gangrape in Delhi sparked widespread protests on the issue of sexual assault, stringent laws have not proved to be a deterrent, or created safe spaces for women.  Critically comment. (250 Words)

The Indian Express

 

Introduction:

  • Justice J.S. Verma suggested recommendations which laid the foundations of a new rape law and act as a deterrent against rape incidents in the aftermath of Delhi gangrape.
  • Within two months, the government enacted the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013, which brought in significant changes in the then existing rape laws.
  • A broadened definition of rape and stringent punishment were the key features of the new law.
  • It did not recommend the death penalty but stipulated imprisonment for the remainder of the convict’s life.
  • In cases of repeat offenders, the law stipulated the death penalty.

 

 

Deterrence not effective

  • The crime statistics recently released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) stare us in the face. If they are anything to go by, stringent rape laws have not proved to be a deterrent nor have they created a safe space for women
  • There was an increase of 12.4 per cent in the reported cases of rape from 34,651 cases in 2015 to 38,947 in 2016. The capital city continued to have a major share of reported cases of rape — 13,803, followed by 5,128 cases reported from Mumbai. Delhi has not been able to shed its image as the rape capital of India.
  • There is no evidence that concrete changes in the attitudes of men on the street are taking place either in Delhi or elsewhere.

 

Safe spaces not a reality

  • Worse, they do not feel safe in their homes and in their workplaces.
  • Better street lighting or mobile apps and pepper sprays and encourage young girls to learn martial arts to fight the rapists are not the ultimate solutions.
  • Around 95 per cent of rapes are by known persons — family members, neighbours, lovers, people in authority.

 

Way forward

  • We need to move beyond the theory of stringent punishment as a deterrent.
  • The nation’s collective protest in one isolated case is not going to bring in necessary changes.
  • We need to address the issue at the mundane level to counter the culture of violence against women in society.

General Studies – 3


Topic:  Basics of cyber security;

6) Increasingly, India is being seen as a pioneer in digital technologies. This rapid pace of transformation has raised larger questions around inclusion, data protection and privacy. Discuss these larger questions and their solutions. (250 Words)

The Indian Express

 

Introduction:

  • Committee on Data Protection led by Justice B.N. Srikrishna was set up.
  • The objective is to ensure growth of the digital economy while keeping personal data of citizens secure and protected
  • Technology will evolve rapidly and the law will need to keep pace with changes
  • But the overall vision of empowering the individual should be at the heart of all legislation.

 

Why privacy protection is important in regulation of digital world

  • It is important for the Committee to state that privacy is not just a right or a moral obligation, but it has value to the economy
  • It enhances trust and increases voluntary participation in the digital economy. 
  • There is a fundamental link between privacy and innovation. No one will innovate in a surveillance-oriented environment or in a place where an individual’s personal information is compromised.

 

Why data protection is important in regulation of digital world

  •  The ultimate control of data must reside with the individuals who generate it; they should be enabled to use, restrict or monetise it as they wish. 
  • Therefore, laws should enable the right kind of innovation — one that is user-centric and privacy-protecting
  • The building a data protection framework should be for the individual, the entrepreneur and the government.

 

How to achieve the desired goals?

 

Effective body for data protection

  • Committee has proposed the creation of a strong Data Protection Authority (DPA). 
  • Some of the recommendations, such as applying the law to both government and private data collectors, fines against violators and direct compensation to complainants, are progressive. 
  • But for the DPA to be effective, it must have the authority to impose penalties.

 

Conclusion

  • There are several practical constraints in the implementation of many of the rights
  • Challenges arises from the different ways data is currently stored, the burden of meeting privacy rights, the need for exemptions, etc. 
  • For this law to be successful, recognising and addressing these constraints is important.

 


Topic:  Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

7) Examine the purpose and utility of the introduction of the e-way bill system under the GST regime.  (150 Words)

The Hindu

 

Introduction:

In October, the GST Council had decided to introduce e-way bills.

  • Starting February 1, all inter-State movement of goods worth over Rs. 50,000 will be tracked with the introduction of the e-way bill system under the GST regime
  • All consignments moving more than 10 km from their origin will require prior registration and generation of an e-way bill through the GST Network, which will be valid for varying durations depending on the distance travelled. 

 

Purpose of tackling tax evasion 

  • With States claiming a revenue shortfall of about Rs. 40,000 crore so far under the GST, the Centre, which has to fill that gap, e-way bills and matching of invoices, will make tax evasion difficult and bump up collections. 

 

Issues

 

  1. Cooperation between states needed
  • This poses an interim headache for firms operating across States, as they will now face differing compliance requirements for inter-State trade and intra-State trade, depending on when individual States launch their own e-way bill systems
  • To be fair, inter-State movement of goods was also tracked under the VAT (value-added tax) regime, but intra-State transactions were not

    2.Exempt articles to be checked manually and thus annoyance

  • Over 150 items of common use, including LPG cylinders, vegetables, foodgrain and jewellery, will be exempt from such transport permits, which can be checked by designated tax officials by intercepting a transporting vehicle. 
  • Goods moved on non-motorised conveyance, such as carts, have been left out.

 

Way forward

  • Given industry’s nervousness, the government must simplify the onerous rules proposed for e-way bills (a one-day validity for distances up to 100 km, for instance)

 

  1. Ensure that the IT backbone is robust

     2.Make inspections the exception, not the norm.

 


Topic:   Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, 

8) What is Long Short-Term Memory in Artificial Intelligence (AI)? Will AI rule humans? Examine. (250 Words)

The Hindu

 

What is Long Short-Term Memory?

  • It’s a technique in speech recognition and translation that many major companies — Facebook, Amazon, Samsung — are using
  • It’s a recurrent network, a little bit like in the brain. The brain has a hundred billion neurons and each is connected to 10,000 others. That’s a million-billion connections.
  • There are feedback connections that make it (the network) like a general-purpose computer and one can feed in videos through the input neurons, acoustics through microphones, tactile information through sensors, and some are output neurons that control finger muscles. 
  • A ‘feed-forward’ network is used. There are layers of neural networks arranged to mimic neurons in the brain
  • The programe makes decisions based on how information moves up these layers. If there are no feedback layers and they cannot ‘learn’ sequences. 

 

How is long short term memory developed in a machine?

  • Initially all connections are random and the network, perceiving all this, outputs rubbish
  • There’s a difference between the rubbish that comes out and the translated sentence that should have come out. 
  • We measure the difference and translate it into a change of all these connection strengths so that they become ‘better connections’ and learn through the Long Short-Term Memory algorithm to adjust internal connections to understand the structure of, say, Polish, and learn to translate between them.

 

AI vs Humans 

  • They won’t really rule us. 
  • They will be very interested in us — ‘artificial curiosity’ as the term goes. 
  • As long as they don’t understand life and civilisation, they will be super interested in us and their origins
  • In the long run, they will be much more interested in others of their kind and it will expand to wherever there are resources. There’s a billion times more sunlight in space than here. They will emigrate and be far away from humans. 

General Studies – 4


 

Topic:  Quality of service delivery, 

Introduction:

  • The Sakala scheme, unveiled in 2011 to cut red tape and ensure timely delivery of government services.
  • The Siddaramaiah government is now set to re-launch the scheme with stronger penal clauses for erring officials and a commission for its implementation
  • Among its key features will be a steep hike in penalty for delay in delivery of service from the present Rs. 20 to Rs. 250 per day, with the total sum going up to Rs. 50,000. 
  • The existing Sakala Mission has been given only supervisory position, without powers to collect penalty. 
  • More than 725 services are covered under the Sakala Act.

 

Significance of service delivery

 

  1. Inclusive growth
  • Service delivery touch millions

    2.Sustainable socio-economic development  

    3.Achieve growth oriented governance

 

Nature of service delivery

  1. Citizen centricity
  2. Transparency and accountabilty
  3. Efficiency

 

Challenges

  • Rajiv Gandhi recognised the problems
  • Frustration among citizens

 

  1. Focus has been convenience of service providers
  • Against citizen centricity approach

     2.Complex structures

  • Complex regulations, complicated forms
  • Lack of info
  • Lack of accountability
  • Absence of performance standards
  • Corruption
  • Inefficient

 

Potential solutions

 

  1. Improve service delivery at grassroots 
  • At Panchayat level

     2.Cutting edge level officers improvement

  • Patwari, Thanedar, Forest Guard should be improved in their functioning

     3.Treat people as participants, not beneficiaries

  • Enable alternate choices

    4.Easy and accessible interface

  • One stop
  • Single window
  • Cut Red tape
  • Automated service delivery outlets
  • Common civic service centres

    5.Create incentives for public servants

  • Minimum tenure
  • Stable and conducive environment
  • Penalise erring like in

    6.Explore other mechanisms for cost effectiveness

  • Outsourcing
  • Public private public partnership

    7.Post implementation evaluation

  • Develop cost,time and quality benchmarks for outcomes
  • Citizen report cards
  • Performance measurement and management systems
  • Undertake third party appraisal – independent professional institutions, citizens’ committee etc

    8.Decentralisation of powers

  • Strengthen rural and urban local bodies
  • Capacity building of the local levels

    9.Participatory mechanisms

  • Involve people, Civil society, community organisations, NGOs, SHGs
  • Involve in all stages like service planning, budgeting, delivery, monitoring, feedback, quality benchmarking, social audit etc

   10.Consumer protection

  • for ensuring service standards