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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 25 OCTOBER 2017


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 25 OCTOBER 2017


NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.


General Studies – 1;


Topic:   Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues 

1) Multiple dialogue processes in Kashmir lack consistency, continuity, and comprehensiveness. Comment. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

 

Introduction:

 

  • India has off-late witnessed a surge in insurgency related incidents in the Kashmir Valley. The military response has been swift and the counter-insurgency campaign has gone full throttle. 
  • The magnitude of local support for the insurgency has increased tremendously in the last couple of years. Though the authorities have been providing the youth with skill training and vocational opportunities, and engaging the populace through various welfare programs, they view the functional state apparatus only in the gun-toting uniformed men. 
  • However in September 2017, 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”. 
  • Also Dineshwar Sharma has been 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” 

 

Lack of political outreach

 

  • In Kashmir, the conflict cycle operates like a sine or cosine wave; there is always limited time for a congenial environment under which reconciliation efforts can take place. 
  • The lack of a political initiative that complements the tactical military effort is a consistent feature in India’s handling of the conflict. 

 

  1. Compassion
  • 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 that advocated and pursued a security-oriented approach.

     2.Communication

  • Communication has been missing. 
  • The line of communication has been not kept open for all
  • 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.

     3.Coexistence

  • 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.

     4.Confidence building 

  • 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. 
  • 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. 

    5.Consistency

  • Consistency is the only requirement in dealing with an issue like Kashmir. 
  • No matter what happens, foreign policy has to be consistent.

 

Need for military

  • The security environment within Jammu and Kashmir has largely improved on account of India’s information asymmetry with respect to the militants. Security forces are successfully locating and initiating encounters against militants. 

 

Way forward

  • Not acknowledging or addressing the issue of local support ensures that there is a recurring security cost for India, regional deterrence stability is cyclically impacted and external actors both state and non-state view the insurgency as a feasible enterprise.
  • The nature of local support for the Kashmir insurgency is changing and the lack of other approaches barring the military one ensure that insurgency as an enterprise is feasible and the recurring cost of violence is borne by India

 

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

2) “Robert Clive founded the British Raj, Lord Macaulay sowed the seeds of its end.” Critically comment. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

 

Robert Clive was largely responsible for the EIC getting the control of Bengal thus leading to whole of India later on. He has been called “Conqueror of India”. This is because he helped win the first major battle – The Battle of Plassey. In 1757 Robert Clive led the Company’s army against Sirajuddaulah. 

Robert Clive has bribed on the commander’s of Sirajuddaulah not to fight which was a significant factor contributing to the EIC’s victory. Clive became the first Governor of Bengal and started his dual system of Governance.

 

Later in 1832, when British government wanted to spend 1 lakh rupees on the Education of Indians & the British officials were divided over the point of envisaging Indian or English education. 

Lord Macaulay was given the authority to decide upon the dispute on the position of law and education in India so that to create New Penal Code and Educational System. Lord Macaulay suggested enriching other languages so that they became vehicles of European Scientific and literary expression. This led to English being introduced as a medium of education form class 6th onwards.

 

Though the main aim behind MACAULAY’S MINUTE presented in 1835 was to produce Indian clerks through educating them in English  which would consolidate the British Empire and westernisation of Indian culture by “producing the Indians looking Indian in physical features but British in thinking, behaviour & mind”.

 

But 

 

  • Macaulay’s educational scheme proved to be the cause of end of British Raj as the Indians became aware after getting Western Education and understood the value of modern political values and Science and Technology
  • English education encouraged nationalism amongst the people of India in leaps and bounds. From the social reformation alongside cultural rejuvenation, the establishment of Congress in 1885 to its widening mass base under Gandhiji can be attributed to English education.
  • Access to English, opened door for Indians to learn modern ideas of freedom, democracy and liberty. The social and political injustices of the British were recognized, the developments around the world were absorbed and the need for better institutions as found in the developed world was felt. This awakening ultimately led to the demise of the British Raj.

 

Though Macaulay is said to sow the seed of End of British Raj in India, but this “seed” grew because of the water supplied by the use of truth, non-violence, Satyagraha of Gandhi and the sacrifice of many others.

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.  

3) The Election Commissioners are equal on appointment but unequal on removal. Critically analyse the composition of the Election Commission and how can it be made better. (200 Words)

The Hindu

 

Introduction:

 

Election Commision is mandated to conduct the elections for President, Vice-President, Loksabha, Rajya Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies. Article 324-329 of Indian Constitution deal with the constitution, power, functions and removal of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and Election Commissioners (EC).

 

Composition of Election Commission

  • One CEC and two ECs are appointed by President of India. All of them have equal pay, equal tenure (6 years or age of 65, whichever is earliest) and equal rules for appointment. It provides them opportunity to work freely and with equal dignity. 
  • In case of any conflict in the opinion of CEC and ECs, the decision is taken on the basis of majority which shows democratic functioning of the institution.

 

But

  • Article 324(5) deals with the removal of CEC and ECs but there is ambiguity. The provision says that CEC can be removed by the President with no clear provision for the removal of ECs is given. CEC can be removed from office only by the order of the President, just like a judge of the Supreme Court. 
  • ECs can not be removed except the permission of CEC, according to the above article. It keeps ECs vulnerable and does not provide as much safeguards as CEC has. Clearly,the ambiguity on the removal procedure of the Election Commissioners might affect the functional independence of the EC as it affects the panel’s autonomy.

 

Way forward

  • Bring amendment in the article in order to bring clarity and equality in the removal procedure of ECs and CEC
  • Election Commission needs more tooth so that it can take strong action against the deterrents in order to cut use of money and muscle power in the elections
  • More safeguards to be provided to the CEC and ECs so that they can have more autonomy.

 

To conduct free & fair elections in a democracy ike India, it is necessary that the Election Commission has enough power & autonomy. For this its composition needs an overhaul.

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic: Indian economy – growth and development; mobilization of resources, 

4) Public Sector Banks (PSBs) are the front runners for financial inclusion and need to be financed well themselves. Comment. (200 Words)

The Hindu

 

 

Public sector banks are the backbone of the bank sector. They play a critical rule as front runners in the following ways – 

 

  1. Reach in rural areas
  • Bank branches of public sector are located in rural areas.

     2.Access for needy people

  • They provide easily credit facilities to needy people

     3.Encourage savings among the poor

  • They encourage small savings among the poor people.

     4.Effect government schemes

  • They trickle down effect of government schemes through PMJDY, DBT etc.

 

Need for financing of the bank

 

  1. Rising NPAs
  • The rising NPA of banks [ around 9 lakh crore] deems adequate financing of the bank.

     2.Twin balance sheet problem

  • The twin balance sheet problem has slowed down economic activities. 
  • The corporate sector is in the debt and thus is not in the position to invest, while the banks are facing NPAs and thus cannot lend to the corporate.
  • It has lead to standstill in private investment due to impact of demonatization 

 

Way forward

  • More autonomy to banks 
  • Implement recommendation of Viral Acharya committee on bad loans
  • Banks itself should raise capital from markets
  • Effective implement insolvency and bankruptcy code

Topic:  Infrastructure: Energy

5) Targeted universal electrification through Saubhagya still does not solve the paying capacity of end users to clear bills despite access. Comment. (200 Words)

The Hindu

 

Introduction:

  • Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana, or Saubhagya scheme, was announced 
  • Even after 70 years of Independence, there are more than four crore households which do not have an electricity connection. There are 25 crore households in India and four crore of this would mean nearly 20 per cent. 
  • More than 125 years have passed since the great scientist Thomas Alva Edison invented the bulb. While exhibiting his invention, Edison had said, ‘We will make electricity so cheap that only the rich will burn candles.’ 

 

Details

  • Under the Saubhagya scheme, the government will provide free electricity connections to all poor rural and urban households across the country irrespective of whether the household is in a slum or in some inaccessible area. 
  • The poor households without electricity would be exempted from paying installation charges for electricity connections and that government officials would themselves visit these households to provide the connection. 
  • The government would incur an expenditure of around Rs.16,000 crore in implementing the scheme.

 

Focus on households than village

  • It has emerged that the latest scheme is a slightly reworked version of the Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DUGJY), launched in July 2015, which itself was an upgraded version of the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana, launched by the United Progressive Alliance government in 2005.
  • Under these two schemes, targets were set for villages while the Saubhagya scheme focusses on covering all households
  • As per law, even if 10 per cent of the households in a village have electricity connections, the village is considered to be electrified. So, technically, even if all the villages are electrified, it may not imply that all the households have power connections.

 

Criticism

 

  1. Inability to pay bills later
  • Free electricity connection to all willing Below Poverty Line households and to all others on a payment of ₹500 (which shall be recovered by the power distribution companies/power departments in 10 instalments along with electricity bills), it expects the poor to pay the bills without providing any subsidy to ease their burden. 
  • Even to the best of their abilities the poor would often not be in a position to pay regular electricity bills, which in turn could result in disconnection. 
  • The government has conveniently overlooked the fact that for the poor in some States, the inability to pay an electricity bill is a big impediment.

     2.Power shortage for the nation and consequently households

  • Even if the programme is successful, hypothetically, and all households are provided a connection, there would still be the problem of regular supply. 
  • Industry estimates suggest that this scheme would potentially require an additional 28,000 MW and additional energy of about 80,000 million units per annum, which is roughly 7% of India’s current installed power capacity. 
  • There is a power shortage even at this moment leading to scheduled and unscheduled load shedding, often up to 10 hours or more. The problem is graver still in interior rural India. 

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

6) What are bitcoins? How are they beneficial in financial services? Can they be sustainable as an idea? Discuss. (200 Words)

The Hindu

 

What is bitcoin?

  • Bitcoins are “mined” by players by solving complex mathematical puzzles that require combining guesses with running algorithms. Each step creates a block of transactions linked or chained to the puzzle in the previous block—hence the term “blockchain”. When the puzzle is solved the miner is rewarded with an allocation of bitcoins.
  • However, the process of generating new bitcoins is planned and the total volume to be generated is capped. 
  • The cap is 21 million bitcoins and the pace of their generation is adjusted downwards so that the cap is reached only in 2140. As of now, around 16.7 million bitcoins have been released.
  • Launched in 2009, the role of bitcoin has always been in question

 

Arguments in favour

 

  1. Competition to national currencies good
  • Enthusiasts argue that cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are rapidly transforming into mainstream money that will offer serious competition to national currencies issued by central banks.
  • Decentralised management by a community that can ensure integrity through verification of transactions over a “public”, peer-to-peer network

     2.Excellent returns

  • Extraordinary return the digital currency has given investors as its price has witnessed a meteoric rise, from just a few cents in 2010 to hit a lifetime high of over $11,000 last week. In 2017 alone, bitcoin price has increased by over 1000%.
  • Other cryptocurrencies like Ethereum too have shown equally impressive gains and falls, particularly over the last year.
  • Therefore they see bitcoin’s current price rise as merely a reflection of its bright future as a stateless currency.

    3.Protect identity

  • One advantage of the currency is that transactions involving movements of large volumes of money across space and borders can be conducted without revealing the identity of the transactor.

 

Arguments against

 

  1. Financial bubble
  • Sceptics, however, have pointed to the Tulip Bubble of the 17th century and Internet stocks of the late 1990s as cautionary examples.
  • Prices are clearly being driven by speculation, as there is no underlying asset to back them. Further, rising prices will attract more people to start such currencies and invest in them. This will increase the contact of virtual currencies with formal finance, and developments in this market would affect the financial system.

     2.Acceptability low

  • Yet the fundamental value of any currency is based not on its underlying technology but on its general acceptability as money for the purpose of commerce.
  • Bitcoin, or any other cryptocurrency, is nowhere close to widespread use as a medium that helps in the exchange of goods and services.
  • Earlier this year, a Morgan Stanley research note concluded that bitcoin’s acceptance “is virtually zero”.
  • In fact, it found that the acceptance of bitcoin among the top 500 online retailers actually dropped in the last year.
  • In itself there was no reason to expect that bitcoin would emerge as an alternative asset, since there was nothing endowing it with value other than the state of demand relative to the limited quantity being put into the market. 
  • So long as that demand was restricted to those from the “bitcoin community”, the virtual currency had little value in terms of real currency.

    3.Affects investment in areas wherever required

  • An increase in the use of such instruments could also affect financial intermediation, investment and growth. Therefore, it is important for policymakers to carefully evaluate the potential costs and benefits of a possible rise in the use of unregulated cryptocurrencies.

     4.Financial instability

  • If automated risk management, smart contracts, and similar tools are deployed across a network, cascades of rapid and hard-to-control obligations and liquidity flows could propagate across a network
  • This interdependence will likely call for creative organizational thinking to address the need for governance and strong risk management.
  • A central bank manages the supply and cost of money in the system to attain maximum growth with price stability. But in the world of unregulated cryptocurrencies, central banks may find it difficult to manage the level of economic activity.

    5.Financial avenue for criminals due to identity security

  • Criminals of various kinds have been using the currency to transfer funds. 
  • For example, demand for bitcoins initially rose because drug dealers were making payments with the currency on the Silk Road website. Since then there have been many reports about the links between illegal activities and the bitcoin market.

 

Conclusion

  • The blockchain technology may well have some merits, as shown by increasing interest in it even among central banks and other financial institutions. Many have even started offering financial products and services centred around bitcoin.
  • It is also a telling sign of the times where easy monetary policy has pushed investors starved of yield in traditional assets into highly risky assets like bitcoin.
  • A prudential decision should be made by taking all the pros and cons into consideration before the central bank  issues digital currency.

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic:   Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators

8) Power is the real test of a person’s character and ethical values. Comment. (150 Words)

General

Power is the state where a person controls the authority and enjoy influence over the society. This state intersects with the character and ethical values of the person holding power in the following ways – 

 

  • When we are weak we all demand ethical behaviour and expect high moral standards from others. But once we get power, how ardently we follow those same standards of corruption and immorality
  • In power we are subjected to great temptation and how well we manage it depends on our values and character.
  • Famous military general Pittacus says that “The measure of a man is what he does with power.” He can use power for his selfish interest or for the welfare of the society. As soon as Napoleon came to power, he waged a war that engulfed whole Europe.
  • The person can become a despot or an benevolent leader of his people. Gandhiji says that “Only the strong can forgive.”
  • He can focus on inclusive development or may make decisions based on a bias. Ashoka popularised the principle of ‘Dhamma’ throughout his kingdom. He reduced sentences of amny prisoners and gave them chance to reform.

 

Power has a way of bringing out the best and the worse in the people. Hence power should be accompanied with certain responsibilites and accountability as much as possible.