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SYNOPSIS – Insights Secure – 2017: 26th December 2016



SYNOPSIS – Insights Secure – 2017: 26th December 2016


General Studies – 1;

Topic: History of the world – events and their effect on society

1) We are witnessing rise of national-populists across the world. What challenges do they pose to democracy? Critically comment on this rising phenomenon. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Victory of Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan embody the triumph of national-populism. This rise is due to their projection as new order against old political establishments. The rise is also characterized by the exploitation of the voters’ resentment against the existing system, in the context of rising socio-economic inequalities including rampant joblessness due to mechanization. This has given the notion of post-truth democracy – where it makes it hard for the citizenry to distinguish fact from fantasy.

They pose following challenges to democracy:

  • Empty signifiers: the populists do not even present socialistic references and programmes, mere slogans and paraphrases are used, for instance “making America great again”.
  • Xenophobic overtone: the populists, while establishing direct links with people cultivate a nationalistic style with a xenophobic overtone – this will breed intolerance on religious and ethnic groups as communities begin see immigrants as “outsiders” who threaten the interests of the “insiders”. This is successfully done by arousing fear among the masses about job losses and terror attacks
  • Fostering dissentions: the populists promote themselves as protectors of besieged nations and sometimes, even foster tensions for making their discourse more relevant. Thus, it leads to divisions among people of a nation.
  • Managerialism: populists claim to run the country as a company. This helps them to distinguish themselves from old political establishments. Also, their promises on economic front like job creation etc will have credibility. It also helps them to get the support of the corporate sector. This could lead to crony capitalism, further widen the inequalities and thus threaten democracy.
  • Personality cult: populist leaders relate to people directly and constantly, establishing a cult of personality. The opposition’s space declines. Centre of gravity of power shifts from parliaments to the seat of personal authority. Those who fight the populists are then considered as anti-national.
  • Undermining institutions: they capitalize on the legitimacy coming from the people’s mandate for fighting alternative power centers enshrined in the constitution. For instance, attempts to change procedure for appointing judges under Rajpaksa government in Sri Lanka.

National populism also leads to centralisation of power and failure of any measures of checks and balance. Freedom of expression is often constrained in the name of national security and interest. There may also be little hesitation in using force both internally (to repress separatists) and externally. Often, authoritarian leaders make mistakes because of their very modus operandi: Gradually insulated from the real world, they do not listen to advice, and nobody dares to tell them the truth anyway.

As a result, naked kings may initiate moves which can boomerang. When such developments occur before the complete devastation of the democratic legacy, democracy can be revived, like in Sri Lanka today. Also, most of them rose to power through democratic means, i.e., contesting elections. Thus, elections still remain essential to political legitimacy.

General Studies – 2

Topic:Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States

2) The Karnataka government has released draft amendments to the Karnataka Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Rules of 1961 that would implement 100% reservation for Kannadigas for blue-collar jobs in the private sector. Is it a good policy move? Critically analyse. (200 Words)


A common market is crucial for a sound economy. A common market not just includes trade in goods, but also means free movement of factors of production, including labour.

In this context, Karnataka government’s move to implement 100% reservation for Kannadigas for blue-collar jobs in the private sector is being criticised. Those that don’t comply will be penalized by being denied the concessions.

This is a good policy because: Karnataka’s labour force participation rate is 57.8% compared to a national average of 55.6%. The unemployment rate combined across urban and rural populations is 1.7%, exactly half the national rate of 3.4%. The reservation now being provided will further reduce the unemployment rate. Also, this preserves the sons of soil aspirations –

The policy can have adverse consequences:

  • Lowers competitiveness: A large number of studies have provided empirical evidence of the economic benefits of labour mobility, both to the workers’ regions of origin and the region where they find employment. It keeps the labour market competitive and thus improves production efficiency.
  • Blow to industry confidence: it is important to regulate the private sector for public good, but unreasonable restrictions makes operations in the state economically unviable.
  • Prospects of IT industry: even though the current policy leaves out the infotech sector, but private companies contemplating investment in Karnataka may feel uncertain about future policy extensions to cover even IT sector in the future.
  • e-commerce and electronics industry: e-commerce firms hoping to set up logistics hubs in the state, or manufacturers like Foxconn which are considering setting up plants to manufacture electronic items in Karnataka may now reconsider their decisions.
  • Lowers prospects for blue-collar workers: if industries move elsewhere, there would be less overall jobs, leading to more unemployment.
  • Legal challenge: The Supreme Court has capped employment reservation at 50%—and only in the public sector. So the policy will face legal hurdle, which will only complicate the matters further and lowers industry confidence.
  • Against cooperative federalism: other states may also resort to such “economic populism” which will impact inter-state cooperation.
  • Vote bank: the move could be seen as a measure to garner votes of poor jobless workers.

Way forward: Such protectionist measures does act detrimental to free trade and market system. Even Harvard Study, has validated the fact that ‘protectionism’ does more harm than good in longer term. Sustainable way to enhance employment opportunities is to emphasise on education, health, social safety net. Karnataka has done better on these fronts than most other states. It should only take this forward to boost investor confidence and at the same time generate more jobs.

Topic:India and its neighborhood- relations.

3) It is said that how India responds to the Rohingya crisis would give a clue to its aspirations as a South Asian power. How and why should India respond to Rohingya crisis? Critically examine. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Background – In spite of them living in Myanmar for decades, the Rohingyas have no legal standing and are seen as illegal settlers from Bangladesh. There are restrictions on them in areas such as land ownership, marriage, employment, education, and movement. Around 30,000 Rohingyas have been displaced internally and thousands have tried to flee to neighbouring countries, especially Bangladesh, through perilous routes. As a response to protests in East and South Asia and beyond over the deteriorating Rohingya situation in Rakhine, Myanmar called for a special meeting with Foreign Ministers of ASEAN.


Why should India respond?

  • Common border: India shares a common border with Myanmar. Any violence, instability, distress migration in Myanmar is bound to have spillover effects on Indian Border States.
  • Economic and trade ties: cross-border trade can expand and be profitable when there is no cross-border illegal migration and infiltration. Rohingya crisis poses threat to cross-border legal trade.
  • Humanitarian considerations: While leaders of the European Union have proactively debated and responded quite positively to finding a humane solution to the European migration crisis, emerging leaders in Asia such as China and India have remained mostly passive on the long-standing Rohingya refugee crisis
  • Possibility of indoctrination: the migrant rohingyas could be indoctrinated by fundamentalist islamic elements to take up terror, which is bound to threaten security of the whole region.
  • Image makeover: it is often alleged that the plight of Hindu minorities in Bangladesh and Pakistan has received serious attention in India by the policymakers. Whereas persecution of Muslim minorities (rohingyas) has been given low priority.
  • Illegal migration: According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, there are around 9,000 Rohingyas registered in Delhi and thousands more unregistered living in other parts of the country. Rohingyas illegally migrating to India will put a strain on resources in India and could also give rise to xenophobia.
  • As a successful Democracy: Being a successful democracy, India needs to educate Myanmar on minority protection, diversity, pluralism and securalism, which is important for infant democracy in Myanmar.
  • North East development and Act East Policy: Myanmar is the gateway to the ASEAN countries. Hence, Myanmar’s stability is at the core for our Act east policy and NE development.

How India should respond:

  • India has a robust civil society, media and human rights groups which must urge the Myanmar government to end violence against Rohingyas.
  • India can raise the issue in international for a like UN, ASEAN and urge Myanmar to consider Rohingyas as its citizens and provide for their protection
  • Countries bordering Myanmar like India, China, Bangladesh can come together by formulating a mechanism to deliberate on the crisis and to find out feasible solutions.
  • India can also provide humanitarian assistance to the refugees by accommodating them in refugee camps in India and providing them adequate facilities for their safe repatriation and reintegration

If India wants to project itself as a regional and a global leader, it has to rise above narrow economic and geopolitical interests and take a stance consistent with the moral and spiritual values with which it identifies. The crisis not only holds humanitarian significance, but also bears security implications for India and the region. Being a champion of pluralistic and secular democracy, India should promote Vasudaiva Kutumbakam.

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

4) Recently, the UN Security Council passed a resolution with a 14-0 majority urging Israel to halt its illegal settlements programme in the occupied Palestinian territories. What is the significance of this resolution? What is the implication of this resolution on Israel – USA relations? Examine. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Background – Israel – Palestine dispute has been one of the longstanding dispute which has not been resolved leading to many Palestinian refugees who are deprived of basic rights and livelihood. In this context, the UNSC resolution assumes significance

Significance of the resolution :-

The resolution is of not much significance:

  • The resolution is adopted under chapter 6 of UN Charter, which only recommends which are not binding in nature. It therefore does not affect the status quo in the occupied territories.
  • Israel has thus refused to comply with the terms of the resolution. Even before, it had continued to build settlements, impose blockade on Gaza. USA too had been supporting Israel, despite latter’s atrocities in Gaza.

Resolution is significant:

  • It states unambiguously that settlements constitute a violation of international law. This offers hope for the Palestinians against Israel in the International Criminal Court. It could pave the way for a permanent resolution of the Palestine issue in the form of the 2 nation theory advocated by the UN. Two separate countries viz Israel and Palestine can co-exist.
  • It will reduce the pressure on resources in the West Bank and Gaza Strip where Israel’s settlements are coming up. This will improve standard of living of the Palestinian residents of those areas.
  • This is the first time the US has not vetoed a UN resolution opposing Israeli settlements. Thus it may lead to a greater role for UNSC in ensuring international peace, through strategic convergence of its members eg resolving Syrian war.

Implication of the resolution on Israel- USA relations :- USA chose to abstain voting on the resolution. The U.S. had recently worked out a deal that provides $38 billion in military aid over 10 years to Israel, cementing long-established strategic ties. Seen in this light, USA’s decision to abstain from voting is remarkable. However, with Donald Trump’s presidency to start, the course can change as Trump has a favourable attitude towards Israel.

Under the increasingly changing international scenario wherein powers which once backed it are changing their views, Israel should take all the necessary steps to find a peaceful and fair solution to the Palestine problem.

Topic:India and its neighborhood- relations.

5) Pakistan is facing severe water crisis and it blames India for its water woes and accuses it of “water terrorism.” In this light, critically analyse the causes of Pakistan’s water crisis. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Background – In 1951, Pakistan was a water-abundant country with an annual per capita availability of around 5,260 cubic meters (m3). By 2013, this declined to as low as 964 m3 per annum. The country is expected to become “absolute water scarce” — less than 500 m3 per capita per annum — by 2035.

Water scarcity is affecting, agriculture, cities, industries and overall economy. Pakistan is accusing India of “water terrorism”, but it is ignoring the real causes behind it, which needs introspection.

Causes of water crisis in Pakistan :-

  • Increasing growth rate of Pakistan’s population – It has been one of the fastest in South Asia. From a population of 32.4 million in 1951, it has reached an estimated 195.4 million in 2015-16 while the supply of water has remained the same.
  • Inefficient water utilisation – Due to the poor maintenance of infrastructure, about two-thirds of the water is lost due to faulty transmission and seepage in the canal systems. Its productivity per unit of water of 0.13kg/m3 is one of the lowest in the world.
  • Inadequate number of dams – Pakistan has not invested in dams to store water for use during the lean winter months, thus discharging water into the sea. Even, the existing dams — Tarbela, Mangla and the Chashma Barrage — have lost almost 20-25 per cent of their storage capacity due to silting.
  • Climate change- The availability of surface water is declining due to climate change, changes in rainfall pattern, melting of glaciers, etc. Since the river flows are heavily dependent on the Himalayan glacial-melt, any impact of global warming on these mountains will have a double whammy impact — first flooding due to accelerated melting and thereafter a substantial decrease in river flows.

Way forward- Rather blaming India for each and every problem, the Pakistani government should invest in the needed infrastructure and polices – dam, improving water use efficiency, check on ground water extraction, improving irrigation efficiency, population control measures, etc. It should use the expertise of the countries.

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

6) Ten years ago, the  report of the Sachar Committee, on the social, economic and educational condition of Muslims in India, was tabled in Parliament. Has the condition of muslims improved during these ten years? Critically examine. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Background –  The Rajinder Sachar Committee was commissioned in 2005 by UPA government to prepare a report on the latest social, economic and educational conditions of the Muslim community of India. The report was submitted to the Parliament in 2006.

It was highlighted that while Muslims constitute 14% of the Indian population, they only comprise 2.5% of the Indian bureaucracy. The Sachar Committee concluded that the conditions facing Indian Muslims was below that of SC and ST.  The Committee recommended setting up an Equal Opportunity Commission to provide a legal mechanism to address discrimination complaints, including in matters such as housing.

The Sachar Committee’s recommendation to increase Muslim representation in the Indian Army by providing preferential admission has been severely criticized by members of the Indian Armed forces and argued that the Indian Armed Forces should remain secular and not give preference to any religious group.

Has the condition of Muslims improved?

An analysis of government data show that most indicators have not seen significant improvement in the years since the Report was submitted.

  • Declining representation – The Sachar Committee recorded the percentage of Muslims in the IAS and IPS as 3% and 4% respectively. These numbers were 3.32% and 3.19% respectively on January 1, 2016, as per the home ministry data.  The fall in Muslim representation in the IPS was due primarily to a steep fall in the share of Muslim promotee officers in the IPS — from 7.1% in the Sachar Report to merely 3.82% at the beginning of 2016.
  • Slight improvement in work participation – The work participation rate for Muslim men increased only slightly to 49.5% in 2011 from 47.5% in 2001; for Muslim women, the increase was even smaller, from 14.1% in 2001 to 14.8% in 2011.
  • Increasing population with slowing rate – Muslims were 13.43% of India’s population; in 2011, they were 14.2%. However, the increase of 24.69% in the population of Muslims between the two Censuses was the smallest ever recorded for the community.
  • Improving sex ratio – Sex ratio among Muslims remained better than that of India overall in both 2001 and 2011, and the percentage of Muslims living in urban centres too remained higher than the national average in both Censuses.

Way forward – The need is to ensure functioning of equal Opportunity commission to redress grievances,  promoting Islamic window in banks for credit (Being considered by RBI) and schemes like – MUDRA, Nai Manzil and Nai Roshni can play an important role for holistic development of Muslim community.

General Studies – 3

Topic:Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.

7) The world faces the prospect of increased terrorist activity in multiple regions of the world, and especially in Europe. Does intensified electronic and physical surveillance of suspected groups or individuals would help reduce these attacks? Examine. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Background – Increasing lone -wolf attacks in countries like Bangladesh Germany, assassination of the Russian Ambassador to Turkey by a lone gunman and other such incidents should be taken seriously to address the overall problem of terrorism across the globe.

Intensified electronic and physical surveillance of suspected groups or individuals would help reduce these attacks :-

  • Track and check online radicalisation – It can be used to track online radicalization through social media which has increased in the recent days- ISIS communicating through online propagandas, increasing its outreach.
  • Monitor terror financing – It can be used to track and monitor illegal terror financing being used by terrorist activities, thus cracking the major source.
  • Early warning- Physical surveillance of international borders supported with latest satellite images along with UAVs plus cyber security cells to follow online propaganda helps as early warning system. For example- CARTOSAT and NIA cyber cells).
  • Reduces Damage- Electronic and physical surveillance during an attack helps in reducing casualties by aiding in evacuation and precise targeting of infiltrators as was done in Mumbai attack.
  • Evidence collection – Post attack, surveillance data aids collecting the evidences and makes the authorities accountable.

However, intensified electronic and physical surveillance of suspected groups and individuals has certain limitation as well:-

  • Increasing lone wolf attacks – There is a new trend of lone wolf attacks which are swift and efficient and don’t require much planning. Lone wolf attackers can easily slip past the surveillance systems and so are rarely flagged. Thus, it has the ability of getting out of intelligence radar, as detail surveillance of every citizen not possible.
  • Spontaneous radicalisation – Radicalisation is so subtle that even the family members are not aware and are baffled by the enormity of the actions by one of their own kin.
  • Difficulty in monitoring – With the new modus operandi involving trucks, it becomes more difficult to trace militants than those buying explosive ingredients or firearms. The easy logistics is difficult to monitor – one can use his own gun, car, or any appliance into a weapon and cause damage.
  • Refugee influx – With the influx of a large number of refugees without adequate documentation, surveillance becomes even more difficult for the intelligence agencies.

Intense surveillance has its limitations and it also has a negative impact in terms of privacy and freedom of citizens of a country. Social integration of refugees, increased security around public gatherings and proper document verification for hiring heavy duty vehicles would go a long way in reducing the terrorist attacks.

General Studies – 4

Topic: Public service values

8) Why should impartiality and non-pertisanship be considered as foundational values in public services, especially in the present day socio-political context? Illustrate your answer with examples. (150 words)

CSE Mains 2016 GS-IV

Public service is a service which is provided by government to people living within its jurisdiction, either directly or by financing provision of services. Through this, certain services should be available to all, regardless of income or physical ability. In countries like India, where government performs the welfare role – providing services from womb to tomb- it becomes very crucial for the government to be fair, transparent and accountable towards the citizens.

Thus being partial or favouring or working with any prejudice towards any particular person/ organisation/ group people defeats the very purpose of the public service. If bureaucrats start practising partisan attitude, they do not remain value neutral, going against the organisation ethics and values. Hence, both – impartiality and non-partisanship are considered as foundational values of the public services.

Why impartiality and non- partisanship are considered foundational values in present socio- political context?

Due to increase in regional political, coalition form of government and factors like anti- incumbency, political parties are trying to influence a particular set of voters. Thus they adopt a partial attitude, favouring any particular caste or community. They try to influence the voters through bribery, free-bees, unholy nexus with corporates, etc. This leads to favouritism, nepotism and degrades the values of equality and honesty which is required for public service.

Also, in above mentioned political setup, bureaucracy should remain neutral and should not show partisan attitude. If they start doing it, it reflects moral degradation, they start compromising their values and principles for their own benefit. They start misusing their seat of authority and power, by misallocating the valuable resources of their country. And in this process, the poor people suffer the most due to corruption and inefficient delivery of services. For example- It was found that in 2G scams, commonwealth games scam, coal gate scam, NRHM scam of UP, etc these values were compromised due to unholy nexus of Bureaucrats-politicians-corporates and they wasted the crucial and scarce resources of the country.

Thus the values of impartiality and non-partisanship are very much needed to maintain the trust of the people in the government, especially for a diverse country like India, where diversity of caste, class, religion, region, gender is widespread. They are also needed to maintain the constitutional spirit of  right to Equality and ideals of a just society in DPSP.

These values help the public servants in performing their duty with commitment, integrity, compassion and empathy. Even if they get harassed by their seniors, colleagues, political executives, they try to follow these values with their value system. For example, when a civil servant gets transferred frequently or gets threatened or other kinds of harassment, they face it bravely because of their personal ethical values and principle. Thus, the values of impartiality and non-partisanship help the civil servant in easing of pressure, without showing any affinity or discrimination against any one.

Both qualities form basis for good governance and promote the virtue of egalitarian society based on social economic & political justice.