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[Mission 2024] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 1 November 2023

 

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


General Studies – 1


 

Topic: Diversity of India.

1. India’s regional diversity is a double-edged sword, offering both opportunities and challenges. Analyse. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: The HinduInsights on India

Why the question:

The article calls for a more inclusive and equitable approach in recognizing and respecting the regional diversity within India.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about diversity in India and challenges associated with it and ways to overcome them.

Directive word: 

Analyse – When asked to analyse, you must examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them in a summary.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Start by mentioning how India is a culturally diverse since time immemorial.

Body:

In the first, in detail write about the various aspects of diversity – India’s diverse regions bring a wealth of cultural traditions, languages, and art forms, making the country a vibrant tapestry of customs and practices.

Next, write about the various types of challenges associate with diversity in India and cite examples to substantiate.

Next, write about the ways to counter these challenges and uphold pluralism in the country.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

Introduction

India, a nation of staggering breadth and complexity, stands as a testament to the profound tapestry of human civilization. Its vast expanse encompasses a myriad of languages, religions, cultures, and landscapes, weaving together a mosaic of diversity that is unparalleled. From the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas to the sun-kissed shores of its coastal regions, India’s geographical and cultural landscape is as diverse as it is captivating. This regional diversity is not merely a characteristic of India; it is the very essence that defines the nation, offering both opportunities and challenges that have shaped its history and continue to influence its path forward.

Body

Challenges posed by India’s regional diversity

  • Linguistic Diversity: India is home to over 19,500 languages and dialects. While Hindi and English are the official languages, each state has its own official language(s). This linguistic diversity can sometimes lead to communication barriers and challenges in implementing uniform policies.
  • Religious Pluralism: India is a country with a multitude of religions, including Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, and others. While religious diversity is a source of cultural richness, it can also lead to religious tensions and occasional conflicts.
  • Caste System: The caste system, though officially abolished, continues to have a deep impact on Indian society. Discrimination based on caste still persists, particularly in rural areas, affecting access to education, employment, and social opportunities.
  • Regional Disparities: There are significant economic and developmental disparities between different states and regions. For instance, states like Maharashtra and Karnataka have higher levels of industrialization and economic development compared to states like Bihar and Odisha, which face higher levels of poverty and underdevelopment.
  • Gender Inequality: Gender disparities persist in various forms, including unequal access to education and healthcare, lower workforce participation rates for women, and issues related to violence and harassment against women.
  • Tribal Communities: India has a diverse range of tribal communities with their own distinct cultures and traditions. However, these communities often face marginalization, land rights issues, and struggles for recognition of their unique identities.
  • Political Fragmentation: Political parties often have to navigate complex alliances across states and regions to form a stable government at the national level. Balancing the interests of different states and communities can sometimes lead to political challenges.
  • Environmental and Ecological Variations: India’s diverse geographical and climatic conditions present unique challenges for environmental management and conservation. For instance, regions like the Himalayas face different ecological concerns compared to coastal areas.
  • Healthcare Disparities: Access to quality healthcare varies significantly across different states and rural-urban areas. States in the north-eastern region of India, for instance, face challenges in healthcare infrastructure and access to medical services.
  • Education Disparities: There are disparities in educational opportunities and resources across states. While some states have well-developed education systems, others struggle with issues like a shortage of schools and teachers.

Opportunities to be leveraged with regional diversity

  • Cultural Tourism: Each region in India has its own unique cultural heritage, including historical sites, festivals, and traditions. Promoting cultural tourism can attract visitors from around the world and boost the economy. For instance, the cultural richness of Rajasthan, with its palaces and festivals, is a major tourist attraction. Eg, Tourism circuits, religious tourism etc
  • Economic Specialization: Different regions have specific strengths that can be harnessed for economic growth. For instance, states like Karnataka and Telangana have emerged as technology hubs, while Punjab and Haryana are known for their agricultural productivity.
  • Language Services and Localization: India’s linguistic diversity presents an opportunity for language services, translation, and localization. Companies can tap into this market to offer services that cater to various linguistic groups.
  • Skill Diversification: For Example, different regions have unique skill sets and expertise. For instance, the craftsmanship of artisans in states like Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal can be leveraged for the handicrafts industry, which has both domestic and international markets.
  • Natural Resources and Agriculture: India’s diverse geography allows for a wide range of agricultural practices and the availability of various natural resources. For example, states like Gujarat and Maharashtra are known for their industrial and manufacturing sectors, while states like Kerala and Himachal Pradesh have strong potential for tourism and agriculture.
  • Education and Knowledge Hubs: Some regions have established themselves as educational hubs. For instance, cities like Bangalore, Pune, and Hyderabad are known for their concentration of educational institutions and research centres.
  • Healthcare Specialization: Certain states and cities have developed specialized healthcare services and facilities. For example, cities like Chennai and Delhi have established themselves as medical tourism destinations, attracting patients from around the world.
  • Renewable Energy Potential: India’s diverse climate and geography provide opportunities for different forms of renewable energy production. States like Rajasthan and Gujarat, with their abundant sunlight, have significant potential for solar energy projects.
  • Culinary Tourism: India’s diverse cuisine is a major attraction for food enthusiasts. Each region offers its own unique flavors and dishes, creating opportunities for culinary tourism and food-related businesses.
  • Handicrafts and Artisanal Industries: Different regions have distinct crafts and artisanal traditions. For example, the intricate embroidery of Lucknow, the pottery of Khurja, and the silk sarees of Varanasi are well-known and can be marketed both domestically and internationally.

Conclusion

By recognizing and capitalizing on the strengths of each region, India can unlock its full economic and cultural potential. Encouraging inter-regional collaboration and fostering a sense of unity within diversity can further enhance the benefits of India’s rich regional tapestry.

 

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.

2. A significant shortcoming of the anti-defection law is the insufficient enforcement, particularly regarding the role of the speaker in deciding on the disqualification proceedings. Examine. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: The HinduInsights on India

Why the question:

The editorial discusses the recent developments related to defection issues in Indian politics and the Supreme Court’s deadline for the Maharashtra Speaker.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the shortcomings of the anti-defection law and measures needed to fix them.

Directive word: 

Examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we must investigate the topic (content words) in detail, inspect it, investigate it and establish the key facts and issues related to the topic in question. While doing so we should explain why these facts and issues are important and their implications.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Write about objectives of anti-defection.

Body:

First, write about various features of anti-defection pertaining to disqualification.

Next, write as to why the anti-defection has been ineffective in preventing defection and horse trading. Substantiate with examples.

Next, suggest measures needed to rectify this.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction

Defection is “desertion by one member of the party of his loyalty towards his political party” or basically it means “When an elected representative joins another party without resigning his present party for benefits”. The institutional malaise is defection and party-hopping is state- neutral, party-neutral, and politics-neutral.

The Supreme Court on October 30 directed Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar to decide disqualification petitions filed under the Tenth Schedule (anti-defection law) of the Constitution against the Chief Minister Eknath Shinde camp in the Shiv Sena dispute by December 31, 2023.

Body

Background

  • For a very long time, the Indian political system was impacted by political defections by members of the legislature. This situation brought about greater instability and chaos in the political system.
  • Thus, in 1985, to curb the evil of political defections,the 52nd constitution amendment act on Anti-defection law was passed and the 10th Schedule was added in the Indian Constitution.
  • The main intent of the law was to combat “the evil of political defections” which may be due to reward of office or other similar considerations.
  • The law applies to both Parliament and state assemblies. However, there are several issues in relation to the working of this law.
  • 91st Constitution Amendment Act-2003was enacted and was aimed at limiting the size of the Council of Ministers to debar defectors from holding public offices, and to strengthen the anti-defection law.

Flaws of the current Anti-defection law

  • Does not prevent Defection: The Anti-defection law has failed to curb “horse trading” and defection, leading to toppling of governments through machinations of corrupt legislators.
    • Eg: The 17-MLA’s of coalition government resigned in Karnataka, leading to change in government. The 17 MLA’s later contested from the party that formed new government.
  • Wholesale defection: The law prevents individual defections, but not wholesale defections.
    • Eg: Congress government in Madhya Pradesh lost majority due to resignations of MLA’s.
  • Against the true spirit of representative democracy:The anti-defection law seeks to provide a stable government by ensuring the legislators do not switch sides.
    • However, this law also enforces a restriction on legislators from voting in line with their conscience, judgement and interests of his electorate.
  • Impedes legislative control on government:The anti-defection law impedes the oversight function of the legislature over the government, by ensuring that members vote based on the decisions taken by the party leadership.
    • In short, if legislators are not able to vote on laws independently, they would not act as an effective check on the government.
    • The Anti-Defection Law, in effect, dilutes the separation of powers between the Executive and the Legislature – and centralises power in the hands of the executives.
  • Role of presiding officer of the house:The law lays down that legislators may be disqualified on grounds of defection by the Presiding Officer of a legislature based on a petition by any other member of the House.
    • However, there are many instances when presiding officers play a part with the vested interests of a political party/government in power.
    • Also, the law does not specify a time period for the Presiding Officer to decide on a disqualification plea.
    • The decision thus is sometimes based on the whims and fancies of the presiding officer.
  • Affects the debate and discussion:The Anti-Defection Law has created a democracy of parties and numbers in India, rather than a democracy of debate and discussion.
    • In this way, it does not make a differentiation between dissent and defection and weaken the Parliamentary deliberations on any law.

Steps to be taken

  • To be used for major decision making: Several experts have suggested that the law should be valid only for those votes that determine the stability of the government. e.g. passage of the annual budget or no-confidence motions as recommended by Dinesh Goswami Committee.
  • Non-partisan authority: Various commissions including National Commission to review the working of the constitution (NCRWC) have recommended that rather than the Presiding Officer, the decision to disqualify a member should be made by the President (in case of MPs) or the Governor (in case of MLAs) on the advice of the Election Commission.
  • Independent committee for disqualification: Justice Verma in Hollohan judgment said that tenure of the Speaker is dependent on the continuous support of the majority in the House and therefore, he does not satisfy the requirement of such independent adjudicatory authority.
    • Also, his choice as the sole arbiter in the matter violates an essential attribute of the basic feature.
    • Thus, the need for an independent authority to deal with the cases of defection.
  • Intra-party democracy: 170th Law Commission report underscored the importance of intra-party democracy by arguing that a political party cannot be a dictatorship internally and democratic in its functioning outside.
    • Thus, the parties should listen to the opinions of the members and have discussions on the same. This would give the freedom of speech and expression to its members and promote inner-party democracy.
  • Limiting Speaker’s discretion: Recent Supreme Court Judgement ruled that Speaker must decide on disqualification within three months of receiving application. It cannot be the discretion of the Speaker to take no action.

Conclusion

There is a need to prevent unholy defections that lead to instability in the governance system of the nation. The current law is clearly flawed and has not effectively curbed defection due to lure of power and money. There is a need for a more rationalised version of anti-defection laws which will help establish a truly representative democracy.

 

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

3. Mangrove forests are vital coastal ecosystems that offer a range of ecological and environmental benefits, as well as being essential habitats for various species. However, in India, these mangrove forests are facing ecological fragility and vulnerability. Analyse. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Insights on India

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 3 and mentioned as part of Mission-2024 Secure timetable.

Key Demand of the question:

To explain the importance of mangroves and to bring out the various threats faced by them.

Directive:

Comment- here we have to express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and form an overall opinion thereupon.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Begin the answer by briefly writing about mangroves and their ecosystem.

Body:

You can draw simple and illustrative of map showing important mangroves.

Write about the role of mangroves as the first line of defense against erosion and flooding. Also mention about the other ecological benefits of mangroves as well as its unique flora and fauna.

Next, write about the various threats that mangroves are facing which is making them ecologically fragile and climatically vulnerable such as Coastal development, clearing for agriculture, excessive Aquaculture &Salt Production, River changes: Dams and irrigation, Destruction of coral reefs, Pollution and Climate change etc. Cite necessary examples, facts and figures to substantiate your point.

Conclusion:

Write a way forward to protect the Mangrove ecosystem of India.

Introduction

Mangroves are the characteristic littoral plant formation of tropical and subtropical sheltered coastlines. They exhibit remarkable capacity for salt water tolerance, strong wind velocity, varying tides and high temperature. E.g.: Rhizophora, Avicenia, Bruguiera etc. Total cover of Mangroves in India is about 4,975 sq km as per latest State of Forest Report 2019.

Body

Ecological Services by Mangroves:

  • Mangrove plants have (additional) special roots such as prop roots, pneumatophoreswhich help to impede water flow and thereby enhance the deposition of sediment in areas (where it is already occurring), stabilize the coastal shores, provide breeding ground for fishes.
  • Mangroves moderate monsoonal tidal floods and reduce inundation of coastal lowlands.
  • They prevent coastal soil erosion.
  • They protect coastal lands from tsunami, hurricanes and floods.
  • Mangroves enhance natural recycling of nutrients.
  • Mangrove supports numerous flora, avifauna and wild life.
  • Provide a safe and favourable environment for breeding, spawning, rearing of several fishes.
  • They supply woods, fire wood, medicinal plants and edible plants to local people.
  • They provide numerous employment opportunities to local communities and augments their livelihood.

Threats to Mangroves:  

A scientific study reported that 100 per cent of mangrove species, 92 per cent of mangrove associates, 60.8 per cent of algae, 23.8 per cent of invertebrates and 21.1 per cent of fish are under threat.

Natural forces due to climate change:

  • Sea-level rise:Mangrove systems do not keep pace with changing sea-level and fall
  • Extreme high-water events: affect the position and health including through altered sediment elevation and sulphide soil toxicity
  • Storms:increase damage to mangroves through defoliation and tree mortality and they collapse
  • Precipitation:decreased rainfall and increased evaporation will increase salinity, decreasing net primary productivity, growth
  • Temperature: Changing species composition, Changing phenological patterns (e.g., timing of flowering and fruiting)
  • Ocean circulation patterns:affect mangrove propagule dispersal and the genetic structure of mangrove populations, with concomitant effects on mangrove community structure.

Anthropogenic activities:

  • Mangroves are being destroyed and facing severe threats due to urbanization, industrialization, and discharge of domestic sewage, industrial effluents and pesticides.
  • Saltpans and aquaculturealso pose major threat to the mangroves.
  • 40% of mangrove forests in West Coast of India have been converted into farmlands and housing colonies over the last three decades.
  • Some of the mangrove species like Bruguiera cylindrica and Sonneratia acida are at the verge of extinction.
  • Due to shrimp farming, about 35,000 ha of mangroves have been lostin India.

Scientific Management of Mangroves

  • Nationwide mapping of the mangrove areas, by remote sensing techniques coupled with land surveys, and time series to assess the rate of degradation of the ecosystems.
  • Quantitative surveys of area, climatic regime, rate of growth of forest trees and seasonal variations of environmental parameters.
  • Inclusion of mangrove species under threat in the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red list.  Sonneratia griffithii in India
  • Assessment of suitable sites for reserve forests. : Artificial regeneration through mangrove nurseries or aerial seeding.
  • Joint management of mangroves with local community participation.
  • Disease and pest control:Crab cuts are prevented by painting hypocotyls in yellow or Placing seedlings inside bamboo containers.
  • Afforestation of degraded mangrove areas;
  • Study of management methods, the ecology of mangroves, their flora and fauna, their microbiology and the biochemistry of organic matter and sediments.
  • Mangroves for Future is a unique partner-led initiative for coastal ecosystem conservation. This project is being coordinated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) covering, initially, eight countries (including India) in South Asia, South East Asia and Western Indian Ocean, for the protection of the mangroves.
  • The mangroves have been afforded protection under Category I (ecologically sensitive) of the CRZ.

Conclusion:

An increase of 54 sq. km in mangrove cover has been observed as notes in SFR 2019. There is a need to build on this progress for stabilization of low-lying coastal lands. Mangroves being natural filters of pollutants from water, it becomes even more necessary to conserve them.

Value addition

Characteristics:

  • Mangroves are salt tolerant trees, also called halophytes, which survive high salinity, tidal regimes, strong wind velocity, high temperature and muddy anaerobic soil – a combination of conditions hostile for other plants.
  • The mangrove ecosystems constitute a symbiotic link or bridge between terrestrial and marine ecosystems.
  • They are found in the inter-tidal zones of sheltered shore, estuaries, creeks, backwaters, lagoons, marshes and mud-flats.

 

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

4. What causes coral bleaching? Examine the impact of bleaching on wildlife and humans.  (250 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Reference: Insights on India

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 3 and mentioned as part of Mission-2024 Secure timetable.

Key Demand of the question: 

To write about the causes for coral bleaching and its impact on wildlife and humans.

Directive word:

Examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we must investigate the topic (content words) in detail, inspect it, investigate it and establish the key facts and issues related to the topic in question. While doing so we should explain why these facts and issues are important and their implications.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by defining the phenomenon of Coral bleaching. Give examples.

Body:

First, in detail mention the causes of coral bleaching – Rise in Sea Temperature, Ocean Acidification, ultraviolet radiation, Infectious Diseases, Chemical Pollution and Increased Sedimentation etc.

Next, write about its impact on wildlife – Coral reefs support some of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet. Thousands of marine animals depend on coral reefs for survival. Coral reefs provide shelter, spawning grounds, and protection from predators. They also support organisms at the base of ocean food chains. As reef ecosystems collapse, already at-risk species may face extinction. 

Next, write about its impact on humans – Coral bleaching impacts peoples’ livelihoods, food security, and safety. Coral reefs are natural barriers that absorb the force of waves and storm surges, keeping coastal communities safe.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward to protect coral reefs around the world.

Introduction

Coral Bleaching occurs when the corals expel a certain algae known as zooxanthellae, which lives in the tissues of the coral in a symbiotic relationship. About 90% of the energy of the coral is provided by the zooxanthellae which are endowed with chlorophyll and other pigments. They are responsible for the yellow or reddish brown colours of the host coral. In addition the zooxanthellae can live as endosymbionts with jellyfish also.

A wide stretch of the Great Barrier Reef has been hit by a sixth mass bleaching event, the marine park’s authority said recently, an alarming milestone for the coral wonder that points to the continued threat of climate change and greenhouse gas emissions.

Body

 

 

Causes of Coral Bleaching

Natural Causes

  • Climate Change
    • Rising Sea surface temperature: The main cause of coral bleaching is heat stress resulting from high sea temperatures. Temperature increases of only one degree Celsius for only four weeks can trigger bleaching events.
      • If these temperatures persist for longer periods (eight weeks or more) corals begin to die.
    • El-Nino: Frequency of storms such as those associated with El Niño Southern Oscillation events has resulted in the devastation of very large areas of coral. In fact, 16% of the world’s corals were affected by the 1997-1998 El-Nino event.
  • Increased solar irradiance: Bleaching during the summer months, during seasonal temperature and irradiance maxima often occurs disproportionately in shallow-living corals and on the exposed summits of colonies. Solar radiation has been suspected to play a role in coral bleaching. Both photosynthetically active radiation (PAR, 400-700nm) and ultraviolet radiation (UVR, 280-400nm) have been implicated in bleaching.
  • Freshwater inundation: Strong cyclones and storms causes heavy precipitation and strongly dilutes the ocean water near the shore. This can disrupt Saline content (ppm) of the shallow water coral and induces bleaching.
  • Subaerial exposure: Sudden exposure of reef flat corals to the atmosphere during events such as extreme low tides, ENSO-related sea level drops or tectonic uplift can potentially induce bleaching. The consequent exposure to high or low temperatures, increased solar radiation, desiccation, and sea water dilution by heavy rains could all play a role in zooxanthellae loss, but could also very well lead to coral death.
  • Cold-Stress Event: In January 2010, cold water temperatures in the Florida Keys caused a coral bleaching event that resulted in some coral death.
  • Epizootics: Pathogen induced bleaching is different from other sorts of bleaching. Most coral diseases cause patchy or whole colony death and sloughing of soft tissues, resulting in a white skeleton (not to be confused with bleached corals). A few pathogens have been identified the cause translucent white tissues, a protozoan.

Anthropogenic activities

  • Increasing Green House Gas Emissions
  • CO2 Emissions: Rising Emission intensity from fossil fuels, coal and factories are heating up the planet and increasing carbon fertilization in oceans. Harmful Algal Blooms leads to turbity of water, thereby causing bleaching.
  • Pollutant Runoff: Pollutants from river water and industrial affluent leads to bleaching.
  • Poor Quality water: This can occur due to toxic sediment that comes along with the water that joins the sea. Corals cannot withstand toxicity and thus expel the algae.

Impact of Coral Bleaching on Coral Reefs

Corals begin to starve once they bleach. While some corals are able to feed themselves, most corals struggle to survive without their zooxanthellae. If conditions return to normal, corals can regain their zooxanthellae, return to their normal colour and survive. However, this stress is likely to cause decreased coral growth and reproduction, and increased susceptibility to disease.

  • Great Barrier Reef: Over 2016 and 2017, Great Barrier Reef suffered back-to-back bleaching, leaving half of the shallow water corals dead. One-third of the 3,863 reefs that make up the Great Barrier Reef went through a catastrophic die-off.
  • Biodiversity of Ocean Ecosystem These sessile organisms also provide refuge and shelter for many mobile animals. The entire biodiversity sustaining on the coral reef will be affected.
  • Fish Species: 25% of fish species spend some part of their life cycle in reefs, despite the fact that they cover less than 1% of ocean floor.
  • Carbon sink: In addition, sessile algae and the coral–algal symbiosis determine carbon fixation and its pathways into organic and inorganic forms. These are the basis for the energy that supports the ecosystem and deposits the calcium carbonate skeletons that create the reef.
  • Loss of livelihoods: Countries in Southeast Asia such as Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines would bear the brunt of the damage, as it will reduce the fish stock rapidly.
  • Economic Impact: Both fishing and tourism will be hit hard. Many communities in Queensland had to look for alternate livelihoods due to coral bleaching and loss of ocean ecosystem.
  • Barrier to storm: Coral reefs act as key barrier to guard against incoming storms and mitigate the damage done by surging seas.

Way forward

  • Limiting global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C, in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change, provides the only chance for the survival of coral reefs globally.
  • Other measures alone, such as addressing local pollution and destructive fishing practices, cannot save coral reefs without stabilised greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Reinforcing commitments to the Paris Agreement must be mirrored in all other global agreements such as the Sustainable Development Goals. l.
  • Economic systems need to rapidly move to the low greenhouse gas emission scenario to enable global temperature decrease.
  • A move away from current economic thinking should include the benefits provided by coral reefs, which are currently not taken into account in mainstream business and finance.
  • Therefore, sustaining and restoring coral reefs should be treated as an asset, and long-term investments should be made for their preservation.
  • Investments should also include support for research at the frontiers of biology, such as genetic selection of heat-resistant corals that can withstand rising global temperatures.

Conclusion:

There also needs to be a transformation of mainstream economic systems and a move towards circular economic practices. These are highlighted in SDG 8 (inclusive and sustainable economic growth) and SDG 12 (sustainable consumption and production patterns).

 

Topic: basics of cyber security;

5. By adopting a proactive approach to cybersecurity, we can reduce the risk of spyware attacks and protect our personal information and digital assets. Discus. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: The HinduInsights on India

Why the question:

Over a dozen Opposition leaders and journalists received email alerts from U.S.-based tech giant Apple on Monday night, informing them that their digital devices were being targeted by “state-sponsored attackers”.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about spywares, issues created by it and measures to tackle it.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by defining spywares and cite examples.

Body:

First, write about the threats and problems posed by spywares – Data theft, Identity fraud, Device damage etc.

Next, write about the various precautions which can be taken various levels in order to prevent various attacks from spywares.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction

Spyware is defined as malicious software designed to enter your computer device, gather data about you, and forward it to a third-party without your consent. Spyware can also refer to legitimate software that monitors your data for commercial purposes like advertising. However, malicious spyware is explicitly used to profit from stolen data.

Whether legitimate or based in fraud, spyware’s surveillance activity leaves unsuspecting victims open to data breaches and misuse of your private data. Spyware also affects network and device performance, slowing down daily user activities.

Body

Background

  • Spyware has been used for surveilling a political opponent in a country.
  • In 2021, investigations under the Pegasus Project revealed the massive scale of potential targets of spyware — more than 50,000 phone numbers in 50 countries.
  • Reports shared that victims of the spyware attacks were in India, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Morocco, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
  • The Pegasus spyware was also reportedly used by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to target journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s wife months before his death.
  • Khashoggi, a U.S. resident, was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. He was a known critic of the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

Problems caused by spywares

  • Data theft: Malicious spyware is installed without your informed consent. Step-by-step, spyware will take the following actions on your computer or mobile device:
    • Infiltrate via an app install package, malicious website, or file attachment.
    • Monitor and capture data via keystrokes, screen captures, and other tracking codes.
    • Send stolen data to the spyware author, to be used directly or sold to other parties.
  • Breach of privacy: In short, spyware communicates personal, confidential information about you to an attacker. Eg: Pegasus spyware giving whatsapp message info of users to third party.
  • Identity Fraud: Spyware can steal personal information that can be used for identity theft.
    • If malicious software has access to every piece of information on your computer, it can harvest more than enough information to imitate your identity.
    • Information used for this purpose includes browsing history, email accounts, and saved passwords for online banking, shopping, and social networks.
    • Also, if you’ve visited online banking sites, spyware can siphon your bank account information or credit card accounts and sell it to third parties — or use them directly.
  • Computer Damages: Spyware can be poorly designed, leading to system-draining performance. The lack of performance optimization can take up an enormous amount of your computer’s memory, processing power, and internet bandwidt
    • As a result, infected devices may run slowly and lag in between applications or while online. Worse cases include frequent system crashing or overheating your computer, causing permanent damage. Some spyware can even disable your internet security programs.
  • Disruptions to Your Browsing Experience: Spyware can also manipulate search engine results and deliver unwanted websites in your browser, which can lead to potentially harmful websites or fraudulent ones. It can also cause your home page to change and can even alter some of your computer’s settings.
    • Pop-up advertisements are an equally frustrating issue that accompanies some types of spyware.
    • Advertisements may appear even when offline, leading to inescapable annoyances.

Precautions to address these issues

  • At user-level
    • Basic Security Hygiene : Not visiting untrusted websites, installing untrusted third party applications or certificates, keeping device and application software updated is needed.
    • Using licensed software: Users must ensure pirated software are not used and also update latest security patches to their devices.
    • Non-disclosure of sensitive information: Awareness to ensure people are not deceived by unsrcupulous actors regarding confidential information. Eg: Bank Login, OTP, debit/credit card details.
    • Using trusted software: Users must not give unbridled access to phone’s content to suspicious apps.
    • Two-layer authentication: Strong passwords with OTP login can help secure devices, apps from unauthorized access.
  • At Government level: Initiatives
    • CERT-IN is the national nodal agency to respond in crisis situation.
    • CERT-fin has also been launched exclusively for financial sector.
    • CERT-in is also operating Cyber Swachhata Kendra, a Botnet Cleaning and Malware Analysis Centre
    • National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) to battle cyber security threats in strategic areas such as air control, nuclear and space.
    • Cyber Surakshit Bharat Initiative to strengthen Cybersecurity ecosystem in India. It is first public private partnership of its kind and will leverage the expertise of the IT industry in cybersecurity.
    • National cyber coordination centre (NCCC) to scan internet traffic coming into the country and provide real time situational awareness and alert various security agencies.
    • Cyber Forensic Lab set up in Bangalore, Pune, Kolkata in collaboration with NASSCOM.

 

Conclusion

India must develop core skills in data integrity and data security fields, to ensure protection of user data as well as security of critical infrastructure. Expertise of the private sector must be leveraged to build capabilities. Meanwhile user awareness is equally necessary to prevent them from becoming victims of cybercrime.

New foundation for a global law on cybersecurity must be laid. It will help in guiding national legislation or policy against cybercrimes. Cyber-Deterrence must be ingrained in the policy on cybersecurity with both defensive and offensive approach.

Rapid capacity building and Skill development in cyber space is required considering the fact that India’s IT segment accounts for 51 percent share of the IT-BPM sector (2018-19).

 

Value addition

Types of spyware

Spyware is generally classified into four main categories:

  • Trojan spyware enters devices via Trojan malware, which delivers the spyware program.
  • Adware may monitor you to sell data to advertisers or serve deceptive malicious ads.
  • Tracking cookie files can be implanted by a website to follow you across the internet.
  • System monitors track any activity on a computer, capturing sensitive data such as keystrokes, sites visited, emails, and more. Keyloggers typically fall into this group.

 

 


General Studies – 4


 

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

6.  What does this quote means to you? (150 words)

“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.” ― May Sarton

Difficulty level: Moderate

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 4 and part of ‘Quotes Wednesdays’ in Mission-2024 Secure.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by explaining the literal meaning of the quote.

Body:

Write about the meaning of being ‘ourself’ and the various impediments and restrictions on being ourself – family, society and lack of belief. Write about the impact of the same and ways in which one can ‘themselves’. Substantiate with examples.

Conclusion:

Summarise by highlighting the importance of the quote in the present day.

Introduction

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom”

According to a legend ‘Know Thyself’ was carved into stone at the entrance to Apollo’s temple at Delphi in Greece and even though the carved stone disappeared long ago, these two words stay in our minds for thousands of years.

The philosopher Socrates famously declared that the unexamined life was not worth living and he would sum up all the philosophical commandments to: “Know yourself.” And only by Knowing ourselves, we can dare to be ourselves.

Body

To dare to be ourselves

One of these facets to be ourselves involves acknowledging your limitations. Only when we have learnt our personality, our behaviour and our shortcomings, we can truly try to be genuine and authentic. We will stop pretending the day we learn what we can do and accept it. One should not try to fit in to the world by being superficial. We must be our real self, only then we can be truly content and find purpose and meaning to life.

Self-awareness is something that everyone can always improve. It is emotional intelligence, perceptiveness, and critical thinking. It means, knowing our weaknesses, but it also means knowing our strengths and what motivates us.

The experience of self-discovery is undoubtedly challenging. Most knowledge comes gradually without immediate impact, but some moments of true realization can offer a surprising release from years of self-doubt

Once this happens, we should remove any façade or mask that we were and try to be true to our beliefs and principles. Only then will the world see us for who we truly are. It also leads to to right paths and ultimately to right destinations.

Take for instance Gandhiji, he did not bow down to anyone for his causes and what he believed in. He wore indigenous clothes even when people made fun of him. This was because he dared to be himself and became an icon and inspiring figure for generations to come.

Conclusion

Living well is not easy, but if we really want to live our lives, we must fight to make it happen. Because if we are not living our lives, we are not living. We are just existing. And to live truly is to be ourselves in any context and situation and not put on an act to please someone else.

 

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

7. What does this quote means to you? (150 words)

“The soul becomes dyed with the colour of its thoughts.”― Marcus Aurelius

Difficulty level: Easy

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 4 and part of ‘Quotes Wednesdays’ in Mission-2024 Secure.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by explaining the literal meaning of the quote.

Body:

Write about the various manifestation of thoughts – how thought transform in to actions, actions to personality and personality to character. Substantiate with examples.

Conclusion:

Summarise by highlighting the importance of the quote in the present day.

Introduction

The mind is everything. What you think you become – Buddha

It’s how you think and act that determine the life you lead and the way you see the world. If one is optimistic, then he is hopeful and will have the right drive to do something productive and be happy. Similarly, if one is a pessimist and sees negative aspects of life without seeing the glass half full, he will be a miserable soul who will always be unhappy.

Body

Every day we have 60,000 thoughts and most of them are the same as the day before, most of them are negative. We choose to spend our life worrying about what the future might bring, to complain about our present circumstances and about what’s missing in our lives.

Our whole being, our personality and our self-worth is all because of our mind and the thoughts that consume us. Majority of the time is spent thinking and we are surrounded not by people but by our own thoughts. Hence, they play an important role in shaping our personality and determine our state of mind.

Thoughts are so powerful, even war and peace are result of thoughts of mankind or of one person. Worry clogs the brain and paralyzes the thought. A troubled brain cannot think clearly, vigorously, locally. If we want to change our experiences, our life, we have to change the frequency of our thoughts. We have to pay closer attention to our thoughts because they are the ones that shape the life we want to lead.

 

Conclusion

It’s our own resolution to accomplish something which makes a difference. Put all the heart and mind in the smallest task we do, do it consciously. Develop the right mindset, have the courage to accept your failure, learn from it and improve yourself and keep moving forward.

All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.


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