SECURE SYNOPSIS: 12 OCTOBER 2019
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: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or
affecting India’s interests
Turkey has launched a military operation called Operation Peace Spring against the Syrian Kurdish militia (YPG) in Northeast Syria just days after U.S. troops pulled back from the area. The operation could reshape the map of the Syrian conflict once again, dealing a blow to Kurdish-led forces that have battled Islamic State while widening Turkey’s territorial control at the border.
- Turkey has two main goals in northeast Syria: to drive the Kurdish YPG militia which it deems a security threat away from its border, and to create a space inside Syria where 2 million Syria refugees currently hosted in Turkey can be settled.
- It had been pushing the United States to jointly establish a “safe zone” extending 20 miles (32 km) into Syrian territory, but repeatedly warned it could take unilateral military action after accusing Washington of dragging its feet.
- The north-eastern border region, currently controlled by Kurdish-led forces, stretches 480 km (300 miles) from the Euphrates River in the west to the Iraq border to the east.
- The immediate focus of Turkey’s military plans appears to be around a section of the border between the towns of Ras al-Ain and Tel Abyad, which are about 100 km apart.
- If the US pulls out all its troops from northeast Syria, the Damascus government – backed by Russia – may try to retake control of much of the region not seized by Turkey.
Global effects of Turkish attacks on Syria:
- The SDF-affiliated Syrian Democratic Council said an attack would trigger a new wave of mass displacement.
- A full U.S. withdrawal would expose the area to the risk of more Turkish advances, an Islamic State revival, or attempts by Iranian- and Russian-backed government forces to gain ground.
- Russia and Iran, the other two major foreign powers in Syria, strongly support President Bashar al-Assad – unlike Turkey and the United States which both called for him to stand down and supported rebels fighting to overthrow him. This could lead to revival of the cold-war.
- There has been no public support from Turkey’s Western allies for its plan to settle 2 million Syrians – more than half of the refugees it currently hosts – in northeast Syria.
- Erdogan threatened to send refugees to Europe if the European Union did not back his assault, prompting a furious response from the EU.
- The main Western concerns are that an influx of Sunni Arab Syrians into the largely Kurdish northeast would change the demographics of the region.
- Chaos could present Islamic State with an opportunity to stage a revival and the SDF has been conducting operations against IS sleeper cells since capturing its final territorial foothold earlier this year.
- Syrian Kurdish leaders have long warned that the SDF may not be able to continue holding IS prisoners if the situation was destabilised by a Turkish invasion.
- The SDF is still holding 5,000 IS fighters of Syrian and Iraqi nationality and a further 1,000 foreigners from more than 55 other states, according to the foreign relations department of the Kurdish-led administration in northern Syria.
India’s stand on the Turkish offensive:
- India issued a strong statement expressing “deep regret” over Turkey’s military action in Syria and called it unilateral and offensive.
- India has called upon Turkey to exercise restraint and to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Syria.
- The diplomatic exchanges between Turkey and India have intensified in recent weeks following India’s decision to end the special status of Kashmir.
- Turkey supported Pakistan’s stance for reversal of the scrapping of Article 370.
- The European Union should have a dialogue with Turkey despite Ankara’s offensive against the Kurds, in order to avoid a fresh wave of migrants coming to Europe.
- Russia, the main international backer of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, said it planned to push for dialogue between the Syrian and Turkish governments following the incursion.
World powers fear the action could open a new chapter in Syria’s war and worsen the regional turmoil. International criticism has not had the impact to curb down the offensive of Turkey.
Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations.
2) Experts and analysts agree that it is a good idea to make Informal Summits such as Wuhan as a regular feature of diplomatic exchanges between India and other countries. Discuss the impact of such meets highlighting importance.(250 words)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping met for an ‘informal summit’ at Wuhan in 2018, the two sides agreed on steps to reset bilateral relations derailed by the Doklam crisis. The process of rapprochement apparently set in motion at this summit, which came to be described as the ‘Wuhan spirit’, was expected to guide their relations. At the Wuhan Summit, a decision was made to hold more such summits, aimed at ensuring “higher levels of strategic communications.” The second informal summit between the leaders of India and China is scheduled to take place in the second week of October in Mamallapuram in India.
Importance of informal summits:
- Informal Summits act as supplementary exchanges to annual Summits and other formal exchanges such as the G20 Summit, EU-India Summit and the BRICS Summit among others, and allow for “direct, free and candid exchange of views” between countries.
- They help in something that may not be possible to do through formal bilateral and multilateral meetings that are agenda driven, where specific issues are discussed, and outcomes are more concretely defined.
- Informal Summits may not take place on a fixed annual or biennial schedule; they are impromptu in the sense that they take place when a need for them is perceived by the concerned nations.
- For instance, the intergovernmental organisation ASEAN held four Informal Summits in the years 1996, 1997, 1999, and 2000. And in November 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the ASEAN-India Informal Breakfast Summit in Singapore.
- Informal Summits allow discussion on wide-ranging issues, they are not particularly purpose-specific, and are sometimes considered to play bigger roles in diplomatic dialogue than formal exchanges.
- They tend to be more in-depth, and relatively flexible in intent and the scope of discussion.
- For instance, in Wuhan, Prime Minister Modi and President Xi discussed a range of subjects, including the India-China boundary question, bilateral trade and investment, terrorism, economic development and global peace, and reached a “broad consensus”.
Impacts of informal summits:
- It emphasises the need to carry out “in-depth practical cooperation”.
- It helps promote people and cultural exchanges “in a more mature manner”.
- Readjustment: The Wuhan Summit achieved a “re-set” of the Sino-Indian relationship after the two-month long border standoff at the India-China-Bhutan trijunction in Doklam.
- Confidence building measures: Significantly, at Wuhan, the two leaders decided to give “strategic guidance” to their military, so that issues did not escalate as in the case of the Doklam standoff.
- Reset of old blocking points: Informal summits provide an opportunity to “push forward the realisation of better and faster development of bilateral relations at a new starting point”.
- The “institutionalisation” of such Summits would help in strengthening the “strategic communication” between the countries, irrespective of the political party in power.
- The Bishkek meeting was preceded by one in Qingdao (2018), where India and China signed two bilateral agreements, enabling China to release hydrological data to India, which are crucial to preventing flooding in the Northeast.
Japan and Russia are the only two countries with which India has annual Summits at present. The informal summits strengthen the “Closer Developmental Partnership” and is an indication of greater understanding between the two nations.
Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-
technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) brings in a host of real-world applications which had earlier merely been a subject of science fiction novels or movies. The breakthroughs such as the Weather Company’s to be launched, the GRAF model capable of predicting a thunderstorm virtually anywhere on the planet every hour and other such applications are useful. AI has made inroads to automation and decision support systems to complement or augment human abilities.
AI is being widely used today as shown below
- AI enhances the ability of computer systems to learn from their experiences over time, makes them capable of reasoning, perceiving relationships and analogies, helps solve problems, as well as respond in natural languages and adapt to new conditions.
- AI allows machines to sense and comprehend their surroundings and act according to their own intelligence or learning.
- As India is poised for reforms in governance, AI can actually help with process optimization and cost savings for the government, in addition to solving some strategic problems or assisting in decision making.
- Economic growth is vital for development, and the next generation of economic growth is anticipated to be fuelled by technologies relating to big data, block chain, quantum computing and AI. These game changing technologies will spur innovation, create value for the investors, generate specialized job domains and as a result, propel economic growth.
- Issues such as tax evasion, money laundering etc can be easily addressed using AI.
- 68% of Indian business decision-makers believe AI will help their business in various ways such as boosting productivity, generating growth and addressing societal issues
- India has one of the world’s largest automotive industries, with a significant production and consumption base. AI applications have vast scope in the automotive sector, ranging from enhancing fuel efficiency to passenger safety to the concept of self-driving vehicles.
- Healthcare sector in India is burgeoning with innovation and demand, having business models unique to the Indian requirements and spending power.
- AI can augment the potential of government and private sector to deliver healthcare services and products with improved drug safety, better diagnosis and analysis of clinical reports for preventive and accurate treatment.
- More advanced applications of AI extend to the domains of foreign, defence and security policies. Deep learning in AI can unravel futuristic functions by augmenting decision making ability of the humans with access to the information derived from large data sets.
- AI has many peace time applications as well. It can be used to train soldiers and pilots, simulate war-game, synthesize information from surveillance systems and address critical problems in optimizing logistics, fleet management and maintenance
- Vision and Voice systems to interpret and comprehend visual inputs such as images, clinical diagnosis and facial recognition or voice inputs to recognize the source of the sound.
- Law enforcement or internal security requirements for detecting and recognizing individuals or criminals, with multitudes of data streaming from police databases or the network of surveillance cameras.
- Banking and financial services for fraud detection using advanced algorithms to identify patterns in transactions and consumer behaviours which are risk prone.
- AI is also helping insurance providers arrive at better risk assessment.
- Countries such as India can benefit a lot from the use of AI by focusing on sectors such agriculture, manufacturing, infrastructure etc.
Concerns and Risks:
- The armed forces of US and China have already invested billions of dollars to develop LAWS, intending to gain strategic and tactical advantage over each other. This runs the risks of an arms race.
- There is no clearly stated policy document or vision statement for AI development.
- AI has to meet the first and foremost challenge of acceptability with the users from the government, public sector and the armed forces, or even the private sector.
- As users of AI, their interest in the technology augmenting their own ability, and not posing a threat, is quite pertinent.
- Technical competence in this fast-paced sector, primarily in the case of government, could be a road block.
- AI can better adapt to the goals and expectations of the Indian decision makers, if the technology development is indigenous. Foreign dependence in this case would be detrimental and unproductive.
- AI has set off an economic and technological competition, which will further intensify.
- LAWs operate without human intervention, and there is formidable challenge in distinguishing between combatants and non-combatants, which is a subject of human judgment.
- Al powered bots have also been used to influence humans perceptions, views and opinions. Such activities are rampantly being promoted through social media platforms for various ulterior purposes using fake news, unethical advertisements, etc which then have huge negative consequences.
- AI based weapons are fast gaining currency. Since humans can be replaced by such machines, declaring war would become more convenient. These machines can wreck havoc if uncontrolled endangering the human race itself.
- AI is being used for extensive surveillance as in China which violates right to privacy. Such intelligence can be even used to selectively target and eliminate opponents which instil deep fear among people who would like to raise voice against injustice.
- Humans can pass on their limitations to robots. E.g.: biases, prejudices, discrimination, etc. A recent report in USA revealed that robot can be racist.
“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge” was what Stephen Hawking said. The transformative capability of AI in India is huge, and must be rooted in an egalitarian ethical basis. Any institutional framework for AI should have a multidisciplinary and multi-stakeholder approach, and have an explicit focus on the ethical basis.
TOPIC: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
4) “Prevention is better than cure”. Appreciate the statement in the context of fighting disasters. Also, discuss the role that the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure can play in addressing this aspect.(250 words)
The Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), as proposed by Indian Prime Minister, will act as a convening body that will pool best practices and resources from around the world for reshaping construction, transportation, energy, telecommunication and water, so that building in these core infrastructure sectors factors in natural catastrophes.
Need for CDRI:
- According to Sendai framework, every $1 spent in disaster risk reduction leads to gain of $7. But developing countries face the dilemma of balancing economic investment for development vs disaster resilient infrastructure.
- CDRI could fill this gap of funds and technology and help developing countries to build disaster-resilient Infrastructure.
- Suppose a disaster strikes a country, the affected nation could approach CDRI for technical and financial help, thus shielding it from excessive damage and devastation.
- Post-calamity resuscitation and reconstruction to strengthen local infrastructure and soften the blow of the next disaster, is a farsighted approach.
- It can only work if there is domestic political will, which is reinforced at the multilateral level through CDRI.
- CDRI is an attempt to bring countries together to share and learn from the experiences of one another to protect their key infrastructure — highways, railways, power stations, communication lines, water channels, even housing — against disasters.
Role of CDRI:
- To make entire networks of modern infrastructure resilient is the main thought behind the Indian initiative of CDRI.
- The platform is not meant to plan or execute infrastructure projects. Nor is it an agency that will finance infrastructure projects in member countries. Instead, CDRI will seek to identify and promote best practices, provide access to capacity building, and work towards standardisation of designs, processes and regulations relating to infrastructure creation and management.
- It would also attempt to identify and estimate the risks to, and from, large infrastructure in the event of different kinds of disasters in member countries.
- CDRI hopes to have as its members not just countries, but organisations like UN bodies, financial institutions, and other groups working on disaster management.
- It seeks to help member countries integrate disaster management policies in all their activities, set up institutions and regulatory provisions to ensure creation of resilient infrastructure, and identify and use affordable finance and technology.
Significance of CDRI:
- CDRI will benefit all sections of society.
- Economically weaker sections of society, women and children, are the most vulnerable to the impacts of disasters and hence, will be benefitted from the improvement of knowledge and practice in creating disaster resilient infrastructure.
- It will also benefit all areas with high disaster risk.
- In India, the north-eastern and Himalayan regions are prone to earthquakes, coastal areas to cyclones and tsunamis and central peninsular region to droughts.
- The CDRI secretariat too would be based in New Delhi. While it is not envisioned to take the shape of a treaty-based organisation, CDRI can be seen as complementing International Solar Alliance’s efforts.
- ISA is about climate change mitigation — deployment of more solar energy would bring down the reliance on fossil fuels, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions. CDRI, on the other hand, is about adapting to climate change, a need that is inevitable.
- Japan is prone to recurrent killer earthquakes, tsunamis and typhoons, but it has overcome these liabilities through improved building rules, stricter zoning laws and regulations since the 1980s, making it the world’s safest and most disaster-resilient country.
- In Latin America, Chile has similarly learnt lessons from past catastrophes and drastically cut down casualties and losses from disasters through well-regulated building standards.
Each time a natural disaster occurs anywhere in the world, countries try to provide immediate relief, but there is no focus on building disaster-resilient Infrastructure. CDRI would help fill this gap and India can play a crucial role in setting a global example. With ISA and CDRI, India is seeking to obtain a leadership role, globally, in matters related to climate change.
TOPIC: Linkages between development and spread of extremism.
Community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) is a people-centered approach to the integration of conservation of the natural resource base (water, soil, trees and local biodiversity) and development to overcome poverty, hunger and disease. CBNRM was affirmed by the 1980 World Conservation Strategy of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the Earth Summit’s 1992 Statement of Forest Principles and the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Significance of CBNRM:
- Multi-stakeholder collaboration that involves all participants, from communities, to government, to NGOs, and promotes coordination among them.
- Conflict management mechanisms support processes to manage natural resource conflicts among stakeholders.
- Participatory action research collaborative fact-finding and analysis generates a mutually agreed upon perspective for action.
- Strong local organizations, such as forest-farmer groups and inter-village networks are built from the bottom-up.
- Livelihood improvement and environmental services work to sustain environmental conservation by linking it to farm and community enterprises.
- Provide opportunities for reinvestment by linking upland environmental services to lowland and urban communities.
- Policy support and law enforcement are essential to curbing illegal encroachment leading to ecosystem degradation.
- Collaborative management plans – build shared responsibilities and decision-making among all stakeholders through joint management plans of natural resources. This leads to healthy communities and ecosystems.
- Participatory monitoring and evaluation – promote learning, trust and accountability through monitoring of the natural resource base and application of the management plan.
- Gender and social justice in access to, and control of, natural resources is the ultimate measure of the sustainability of community-based natural resource management efforts.
CBNRM and provisioning of ecological services of a region:
- Most community-based natural resource management programmes may have only limited success at achieving both conservation and human development goals.
- But the concept appears to be the best opportunity for countries like India to achieve these two outcomes of conservation and human development goals.
- The most important part of the approach is that user rights are transferred from central government to local communities.
- The model is being increasingly promoted as a conservation tool and has become the dominant approach in natural resource conservation worldwide.
- It can help the country retain its place as one of the most famous and profitable wildlife tourism destinations in the world. And it can also contribute to other economic sectors and alleviate rural poverty.
- Awareness on environmental degradation, effects of climate change and possible peoples’ collective actions to address these imminent challenges will be crucial, especially for the young generation in schools and colleges.
- Valuing local people’s indigenous knowledge systems and practices will be the first step to prepare local hill communities for collective actions to restore and manage the already degraded and fragile hill ecosystems.
- Massive plantation drives ensuring new plantations of grass, shrubs and trees species suitable to the local agro-ecology and funded by the forest department, power companies and other development actors like NGOs/donor agencies.
- Revival and strengthening of village institutions like Van Panchayats, Youth clubs, Women’s Groups/Collectives, Farmers’ Collectives etc, will be important to ensure the decentralised conservation and management of common property resources and forest.
- Conscious and sustainable use and management of land, water and forest resources by local hill communities, ensuring natural regeneration processes, participatory planning, management and maintenance of natural resources will be crucial. Community level rules/bye-laws and enforcement mechanisms for sustainable management of natural resources will be useful in the long run.
- More collaborations and partnerships will be required among local communities, local self-governance bodies, government, academicians, universities, non-profits, Corporate Social responsibility Foundations, Himalayan Mountain Forum, social movements and networks and the larger civil society are needed to ensure community-based natural resource management and better provisioning of ecological services for the hill communities.
Conservation of local areas by promoting the community has been highlighted by various instances such as IUCN’s Policy Statement on Sustainable Use of Wild Living Resources in 2000, and the Convention on Biological Diversity’s 2004 Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines for the Sustainable Use of Biodiversity. Involving communities living in and around natural resource-rich areas in the management and use of these resources is an effective tool of conservation that has been recognised across the world.
Topic: Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers
6) Whether a man accumulates material or moral wealth, he does so only through the help or cooperation of other members of society. Has he then the moral right to use any of it mainly for personal advantage? Discuss in the light of idea of Trusteeship propounded by Mahatma Gandhi.(250 words)
Ethics by Lexicon Publications
Trusteeship is a socio-economic philosophy that was propounded by Mahatma Gandhi. It provides a means by which the wealthy people would be the trustees of trusts that looked after the welfare of the people in general. Gandhi believed that the wealthy people could be persuaded to part with their wealth to help the poor. Trusteeship is not merely a principle not even a philosophy. His idea of trusteeship needs to be revisited in times of growing inequality
Gandhiji viewed that the wealthy people in society holds wealth and property, not by virtue of being owners but by virtue of being trustee of their wealth and properties because all means of production are associated with all the people in the society. This wealth belongs to all and wealthy must use it in such a way that it achieves end (i.e. fulfils the need of all).
The doctrine assumes great relevance nationally as well as internationally keeping in mind the growing inequality, and poverty. E.g. Oxfam report reveals that 1% people in the world owns 50% of world’s total wealth and particularly in India 1% people owns 58% of total wealth in India. This entire picture unearths the socio-economic injustice prevailing in our society intra-state, inter-state and internationally.
Thomas Aquinas viewed that bringing Justice is not only the responsibility of state, but also of individuals by being empathetic, compassionate and charitable (altruistic) person. Trusteeship holds synonymous to this idea. It is the responsibility of rich people to uphold the doctrine of trusteeship by being altruistic and uphold doing more charity.
The philosophy of Trusteeship believes in inherent goodness of human beings. The Gandhian perspective is more relevant today than it was ever before. Gandhi wanted to ensure distributive justice by ensuring that business acts as a trustee to its many stakeholders, and specified that economic activities cannot be separated from humanitarian activities. Economics is part of the way of life which is related to collective values.
TOPIC: Emotional intelligence-concepts, and their utilities and application in administration
Emotional intelligence refers to ‘the ability to identify one’s own emotions and those of others, harness and apply them to tasks, and to regulate and manage them’. Emotional Well-Being is the ability to practice stress-management techniques, be resilient, and generate the emotions that lead to good feelings.
In today’s fast paced world laced with cut-throat competition and materialistic valuation, people are reportedly suffering from psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety and attention disorders due to poor management of emotions.
People with good emotional health:
- Believe that there is a good balance to their life between leisure time, activity, and work
- Feel good about themselves, and don’t suffer from self-esteem issues
- Believe that there is a purpose to their lives
- Are able to accept changes better and just go with the flow
- Enjoy living, and know the value of fun and laughter
- Have less stress, and are better equipped to deal with stress
- Have better relationships with others
- Are contented with their lives
- Good emotional health leads to better physical health, prevents diseases, and makes it possible to enjoy life and be happier.
- Enhanced emotional well-being is seen to contribute to upward spirals in increasing coping ability, self-esteem, performance and productivity at work, and even longevity.
- It helps in managing his/her personal life as well as professional life.
Psychological well-being can be brought about in life by:
- To develop emotional well-being, we need to build emotional skills — skills like positive thinking, emotion regulation, and mindfulness, for example.
- By self-evaluating oneself, one can know one’s emotions and reactions to different situations.
- By observing others, one can comprehend feelings of others.
- By improving one’s expression, one can communicate better.
- By analyzing the impact of one’s action over others, one can fine tune the actions.
- Well-being emerges from your thoughts, actions, and experiences — most of which you have control over.
- For example, when we think positive, we tend to have greater emotional well-being. When we pursue meaningful relationships, we tend to have better social well-being.
Often, we need to build a variety of these skills to cope with the wide variety of situations we encounter in our lives. When we have built these emotional well-being skills, we can better cope with stress, handle our emotions in the face of challenges, and quickly recover from disappointments. As a result, we can enjoy our lives a bit more and pursue our goals a bit more effectively.