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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 03 February 2017
NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.
General Studies – 1;
Topic: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues
Mahatma Gandhi stands as torch-bearer of Indian freedom movement and one of the greatest exponent of non-violence in the struggle against foreign domination. Despite his admirable contribution, he had to undergo ordeal of assassination by fellow Indian and the irony is that the one who killed Mahatma Gandhi called himself true nationalist.
Circumstances and reasons for assassination of Mahatma Gandhi-
At the time of partition both Muslim league and staunch Hindu nationalists created a communal havoc leading to large-scale violence. Thousands perished and many more suffered the trauma of assault, rapes and indignity. In such conditions Mahatma Gandhi tried his best to pacify both the communities. Moreover he also compelled Indian government to give to Pakistan due share decided under the terms of division of assets and liabilities during partition plan. For Gandhiji India’s act was violation of the mutually agrees treaty between India and proposed Pakistan and unethical on the part of India. But these acts of Gandhiji did not go well with the Hindu communalists who saw Pakistan as perpetrator of violence and backstabber as Pakistan was quietly supporting tribal invaders in north Kashmir. They saw this act as appeasement of Muslims which would hamper India’s efforts to won Kashmir. Thus some of the Hindu communalists felt the need of the undoing the work of Mahatma Gandhi and securing India’s interests by assassinating him. The greatest preacher of non-violence had to suffer the violence by his own country-man on January 30 1948.
How should Indians remember and celebrate January 30?
It is time now for India not to remember this day only as Martyrs’ Day but as a day to reflect on the spirit of the freedom movement. There should be much more discussion, public meetings, a kind of eventful day that enables the new generation to recall what was the politics, and who were those who rebelled against it at that time, and what have we landed in by forgetting those histories. Just as we have endless panels on the bickering by political parties or the fallibility of gigantic corporates, we should have discussions on January 30 invoking the history of the freedom struggle.
It’s our responsibility that we don’t turn 30 January into mechanical celebration or celebrate it for the sake of completing formality. To give real tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, we should ensure that the values like truth, nonviolence for which he stood his whole life and even sacrificed it, should be passed on to new generations. At present we can still sense tendencies of communal violence, intolerance and hatred. We need to follow his teaching for bringing peace and harmony in society.
Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), under the Ministry of Culture, is the premier organization for the archaeological researches and protection of the cultural heritage of the nation. Maintenance of ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance is the prime concern of the ASI. Besides it regulate all archaeological activities in the country as per the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958. It also regulates Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, 1972.
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was formed in 1861 by a statute passed into law by Canning, with Alexander Cunningham as its first Archaeological Surveyor, to excavate and conserve India’s ancient built heritage.
Role played by ASI-
Monuments protection- The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) under the provisions of the AMASR Act, 1958 protects monuments, sites and remains of national importance. There are at present more than 3650 ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance belonging to different periods, ranging from the prehistoric period to the colonial period. These monuments and sites are maintained and preserved through various Circles of the ASI spread all over the country.
Excavation- Various Branches and Circles of the ASI carry out archaeological excavations in different parts of the country. Since independence various agencies like the Archaeological Survey of India, State Departments of Archaeology, Universities and other research organisations have conducted archaeological excavations in different parts of the country.
Conservation and preservation- ASI carries out these activities namely under structural conservation and chemical preservation. Structural conservation mainly deals with repairing and restoring ancient monuments eg Sanchi stupa while chemical preservation deals with restoring colors and shades of ancient paintings, sculptures etc.
Epigraphic studies– ASI has active contribution in documenting and deciphering inscriptions and coins all over the country and also abroad.
Museums- ASI deeply involved in preserving ancient antiquities through museums across India and thereby spreading awareness among citizens about the rich culture of India;.
Publications- ASI regularly publishes magazines and journals about its work and recent discoveries.
Archaeological endeavors of the Survey extended beyond the frontiers of the sub-continent and have excelled in all its expeditions abroad.
The conservation of Ankorwat in Cambodia is perhaps one of the most outstanding projects of the Survey in the foreign countries.
The conservation and restoration of Buddha at Bamyain, Khwaj Parsa’s Mosque at Balkh and extensive repairs to the shrine of Sufi saint Khwaja Abu Naser under R. Sen Gupta and B. B. Lal and their colleagues was one of the important endeavours of the Survey.
Rare images like Shiva as Ekpada-Trimurti, Chandra riding on a chariot of geese, Mahesha-samhara and Vishnu in ardhanari were the most outstanding discoveries.
A delegation visited the famous monument at Borbodur and it was extensively documented.
Shortcomings of ASI-
- There have no strong police actions on FIR’s filed by ASI in the past. How is it that FIRs against ordinary people are followed up but not when defenceless monuments are taken over by those who enjoy political backing?
- The demoralisation of its cadre is the most obvious. Trained professionals within it are known to have given up serious archaeological pursuit because non-technical people now run the show.
- In the ASI, corruption is becoming almost as common as a criminal is in our political system. It is rumoured that postings to “remunerative” segments are open to bidding among hopeful claimants.
- Projects are regularly awarded to external agencies as if outsourcing India’s past will solve the problems that face its institutional guardian.
- There is no archaeological leadership. For over a decade, the head of the ASI has inevitably been some IAS officer with little knowledge of either monuments or archaeology.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
Year 2016 will be seen as a memento of Protectionism and nativism with two events, one being Brexit, and the other being the election of Donald Trump as the President of USA. On the eve of world politics now taking unexpected turns, the relationship between USA and UK does need a detailed assessment.
U.S and U.K. bilateral relations –
TRUMP’S SUPPORT FOR BREXIT –
Being supporter of Isolationism and protectionism, Trump is in support of Brexit. He even criticised EU – bureaucracy and strict regulations for hampering business-climate.
Both the nations are now being believed to share the same opinion about globalization. Hence, post-Brexit U.K. also welcomed new regime in U.S.
BILATERAL TRADE –
UK being the biggest foreign investor in the U.S., does more than twice as much trade with America than with Germany, its next biggest partner, and prides itself at being good at talking to the Americans.
As U.S. is demanding more relaxed terms for the trade-deal, there can be problems for Europe’s manufacturing industry should it have to cater to weaker requirements from the U.S. while at the same time attempting to trade with the EU, with its strict regulations governing the quality of imports.
U.S. demands that the U.K. National Health Service be opened up to American companies, and that Britain relax food safety standards. In both cases compliance by U.K. seems difficult.
As U.K. is in urgency to crack some trade deals immediately after Brexit, on individual basis, and importance of deal with U.S. confers more bargaining powers to U.S.
STRATEGIC CONCERNS –
On the foreign policy front, Trump has said a number of things which worry allies, including the U.K. These include suggested deals with President Putin on Ukraine and Syria, tearing up the nuclear deal with Iran (negotiated not just by the U.S. but also by Russia, China, Britain, France, Germany and the E.U.), giving up on a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine problem, providing nuclear weapons to Japan and South Korea, keeping Muslims out of the U.S.
Viewing NATO as ‘obsolete’, admiring Putin, untroubled by nuclear proliferation, Trump’s isolationist nationalism would likely plunge the US and global economies into turmoil, when the UK at minimum requires stability and growth.
UK is apprehensive of improving US- Russia relations .
Impact on India :-
- India in its trade deal with UK is trying to demand flexibility in immigration policy for its students and workers , hence any significant deal with US can affect the bargaining power of India .
- It can further affect India as both US and UK share same views regarding globalisation and protectionism and in light of recent H1b visa policy, etc. it might turn to India’s disadvantage.
On the whole, the relationship can be considered to have entered a tricky phase, where careful, and pragmatic moves from both the sides will ensure balanced outcomes in the long run.
Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations.
With many ups and downs over decades, Indo-China relations are characterized with huge bilateral trade, China’s friendly relations with Pakistan and conflict over line of actual control resulting in huge mistrust. The Indo-China relationship of the present times, stands at cross roads of competition and cooperation.
Reasons which call for betterment in our relationship:-
- Strategic ties :
China is considered as too big to ignore due to her economic progress and military expansion. India shares common border with China and one can change their friends, but not their neighbours. The recent move of China- OBOR needs to be negotiated with talks between two nations. Better relationship between two countries will bring peace in the region and they can fight against terrorism ,separatist movements, and underdevelopment in the region. The border problem, by virtue of its complexity and size, will take its time to resolve.
- Economic ties :
Trade between two nations is over $70 billion.Hence both nation’s are markets for each other’s economy.China has huge forex reserve and India needs foreign investment for projects like Make in India. Both nation’s shares membership to international organizations like NDB,AIIB, BRICS,BCIM etc and hence good relations among them can bring economic prosperity to both of them in this 21st century which is projected as Asian century.
- Together on Global platform :
Though China has shown apathy towards India’s demand for NSG membership, stand on Azhar masood, CPEC in controversial PoK region; these countries had batted together on climate change issue and negotiated CBDR for developing countries. And improved relations can help India to get membership in NSG, UNSC.
- Global uncertainties :
In the backdrop of present situation of increasing protectionism among developed nations , it becomes more relevant to work together by these major beneficiaries of liberalism.
- Historical and Cultural ties :
Both the nations share histories with old silk route and Buddhism. People are connected through these common links.
MEASURES TO BE TAKEN –
- Dialogue : Initiating strategic dialogue process on border issues and OBOR, overall productive ,comprehensive, open and frank dialogue recognizing each other’s interests is necessary.
- Cultural ties: improving People to people contact, tracing the work of Chinese traveller Huan tsang and Indian counterpart Kashyap Matenga in relation with Buddhism.
Connectivity: BCIM funded by AIIB would be a game changer for economic prosperity. Also the road and air connectivity should also be improved.
- Economic integration : TRADE deals negotiated on clear terms of goods, services, cross border investment, R&D, dispute resolution mechanism would be worth exploring.
- Panchsheel Principles : Nonetheless, to achieve a fully co-operative relationship, both countries must demonstrate the political will to re-assess and re-configure the narrative by adhering to Panchsheel Principles.
Competitive coexistence, with a clear delineation of areas of difference and how to manage them, the promotion of business and people-centred connectivity, and mutual confidence-building with tension-reduction measures should be the agenda for both countries.
Maturity of approach, and strategic patience while each country is preoccupied with the demands of internal and external equilibrium and balancing, offers a constructive way forward.
Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
The H-1B non-immigrant visa programme in the U.S. is for skilled workers in tech jobs. Indian IT firms have been among the top recipients of the 65,000 such visas made available annually via a lottery system, in some years garnering well in excess of 80% of them.
While America’s proposed immigration reforms could be very challenging in the short term for India’s information technology (IT) services companies, they could also be the catalyst for the transformation they must make to survive.
AMERICA’S GROWING PROTECTIONISM, SIGNIFICANTLY- THE H1-B VISA REFORM’S EFFECTS ON INDIAN AND AMERICAN ECONOMIES:
- India’s IT Sector- among the top receivers of H1-B visas would be significantly hit as they may lose their competitive advantage of labour cost. More pressure on Indian job market.
- Business of American technology giants like Microsoft, Google, Facebook may suffer as they would find it difficult to source talent from India AND to fill the gap of mid-level jobs with American workers.
- Increased production cost for Americans thus fuel inflation. 4. Indian IT firms would prefer to entirely offshore their operations to India, which might result in job and investment losses for America, and business losses for the firms.
- Bilateral relations may get unamiable which may further hamper bilateral trade, businesses, investment, knowledge sharing etc.
- Firms in America would look for American talent, thus, boosting job creation in their economy.
- If Indian firms can reorient their competitiveness to technological innovation, better services, new avenues of growth, using efficient managerial and entrepreneurial skills, it may instead enhance their status and business at global level.
- So-called “brain drain” from India may decline. This will lead to increase in activity in India due to less absorption into US and with proper infrastructure, provisions,& incentives it will work in India’s favor.
WAY FORWARD –
India’s phenomenally successful IT services companies need to shift their business model away from labour cost as the fundamental source of competitive advantage.
Commoditization, technology shifts, automation and now growing protectionism and fears about jobs in all countries are working to undermine their global delivery model.
They need to abandon cost arbitrage and shift from “renting out IQ to creating IP”. They understand that they must look at new services for growth, focus more on innovation and automation, localize work forces and leadership teams and gradually turn their units in the US, UK and Europe into hubs in a global network.
If IT services companies seize this window of opportunity to transform, they will be perceived not as “Indian” or “body shops,” but as global technology giants that don’t need visas to succeed.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Resource mobilization
Krishi Kalyan Cess(KKC) is a cess of 0.5% levied by the central government on all taxable services to help finance the distressed agricultural sector.
The cess, introduced in 2016, is based on the idea that the thriving services sector(about 60% of GDP) can help fund the farm sector which is in trouble in recent years.
It will raise Rs 9,000 crore in 2016-17.
According to the budget presentation of 2017, the cess was used to fund two of government schemes –
1) Insurance: The premium paid by government for Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana(PMFBY) was partially funded by this cess(about 30%).
2) Interest subvention: The interest subsidy paid by government on short-term crop loans was funded by about 40% from KKC.
3) Apart from that, it helped government increase allocations under other schemes on irrigation, national horticultue mission etc.
4) 19% of agriculture ministry’s spending funded by cess.
Hence, the cess has helped the government partially sponsor these schemes in order to ease distress.
1) The coverage of PMFBY remains only about 25% of farmers, hence, to cover all farmers this cess is hardly sufficient.
2) Increase in allottment for PMFBY from KKC in 2017-18 will result in a reduction in allotments for income subsidies, funding for which needs to be brought from other sources.
- On the other hand, it has increased the cost of services in restaurants, transport etc. for customers, although by a small amount.
4) Bringing cess even with GST in place defeats the motive of GST.
Hence, it is necessary for the government to explore other sources, especially widening the tax base, so that farm sector can be revived while the income from cess acts as a supplement. This can, inturn reduce the food prices due to increase in productivity, so that cess can be easily paid by customers, making it sustainable.
Topic: Government budgeting;
“Digital Economy” was one of the 10 themes that the 2017 budget focused on. Overall, the government’s target is to achieve 25 billion digital transactions in 2017-18.
- 1. SECURITY: The establishment of a computer emergency response team for India’s financial sector –
It is the most immediate need, given the woefully inadequate cybersecurity infrastructure in India.
- EASE OF PAYMENT : Promotion of Unified Payments Interface (UPI) system via the BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money) app –
Potentially revolutionary step to make banking less cumbersome. It allows for bank-to-bank and bank-to-e-wallet payments without concerns about inter-operability. Currently, there are five payment options on the BHIM app; the Aadhaar number will be the sixth. There is no need for internet connectivity or a smartphone. In other words, it is an inclusive solution and, if done right, with the bugs fixed, it stands a chance of scaling up to Indian proportions.
- REGULATION : Establishment of a Payments Regulatory Board for digital payments, within the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) –
An increase in the uptake of digital payments, especially since demonetization has highlighted the need for a regulator with specific jurisdiction over such payments. And the establishment of a regulatory board within the RBI is a wise move.
- INCLUSION : Enabling a merchant version of Aadhaar-enabled payments, primarily targeted towards those who do not have debit or credit cards –
Prioritizing Aadhaar-enabled payment systems will provide a massive push towards a less-cash economy. The lack of access to smartphones, reliable Internet, debit cards and credit cards puts a very significant portion of India’s population outside the entire cashless drive. Enabling cashless payments on the back of a biometric-enabled Aadhaar system overcomes this hurdle to a great degree.
- Government is removing duties on point-of-sale devices and fingerprint readers and there are plans for 10 lakh point-of-sale machines to be introduced by banks by March and another 20 lakh Aadhaar-based point-of-sale machines by September this year.
- Relevant infrastructure investment: Broadband connectivity to 1,50,000 gram panchayats by the end of 2017-18 under BharatNet along with a DigiGaon initiative .
- Government plans to mandate digital payments at petrol stations, hospitals and universities. Cash transactions over Rs 3 lakh have been banned altogether. Moreover, the Indian Railways will no longer levy a service charge on train tickets booked online through the IRCTC
Individually, each of these is not only welcome but also necessary. Put together, they signify a concerted effort to strengthen the structural underpinnings of the digital economy, in order to incentivize a bigger uptake of digital payments.
- Lack of adequate data and privacy protection measures remains a major concern in Aadhaar-based payments system, where biometrics used for identification and authentication can be stolen.
2. Recently 3.2 million debit cards were compromised due to a massive cyber-attack. If a similar attack on the Aadhaar system, it is not simple card details that would be compromised, but the identities of over a billion people.
3. limited reliability of wireless Internet due to lack of availability of high-speed internet which hinders any transition to either UPI or mobile wallets.
4. Lack of interoperability among the various mobile wallets and other stakeholders.
5. High cost of cashless transactions (high fees that merchants need to pay for using card systems) remains a major impediment to popularizing digital payments.
6. Recent study by Fletcher School states concerns on “digital trust deficit in India”, as India is ranked 36th position out of 40 countries studied for “digital trust”.
Way forward: –
- Incentivizing interoperability will ensure that mobile wallets become effective substitutes for petty cash.
2. Loopholes in the Aadhaar Act regarding information sharing, and privacy protection should be worked on
3. Incentives to switch to digital payments.
4. Increase digital literacy so that middlemen can be curbed and transactions are safe.
5. Improve digital trust in people by bringing policy changes to strengthen security and empower consumers.
6. Holistic approach: Availability, Accessibility, Affordability of Internet should be intergrated with Digital India programme. More digital villages should be built like Akodara village, first digital village of india.
The steps outlined in the budget provide a solid framework for a transition to a less-cash economy. It is, however, necessary for the government to build on this framework by addressing the concerns in order to enable a truly digital economy.