SECURE SYNOPSIS: 21 March 2017
SECURE SYNOPSIS: 21 March 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 : Salient features of world’s physical geography.
Goh Cheng Leong, Chapter 25
Climate change is affecting the polar or Arctic climate in following way-
- Records of increasing temperatures, melting glaciers, reductions in extent and thickness of sea ice, thawing permafrost, and rising sea level all provide strong evidence of recent warming in the Arctic.
- There are regional variations due to atmosphericwinds and ocean currents, with some areas showing more warming than others and a few areas even showing a slight cooling; but for the Arctic as a whole, there is a clear warming trend. There are also patterns within this overall trend; for example, in most places, temperatures in winter are rising more rapidly than in summer. In Alaska and western Canada, winter temperatures have increased as much as 3-4˚C in the past 50 years.
- Observations suggest that precipitation has increased by roughly 8% across the Arctic over the past 100 years, although uncertainties in measuring precipitation in the cold arctic environment and the sparseness of data in parts of the region limit confidence in these results. There are regional variations in precipitation across the Arctic, and there will be regional variations in the changes in precipitation as well.
- In addition to the overall increase, changes in the characteristics of precipitation have also been observed. Much of the precipitation increase appears to be coming as rain, mostly in winter, and to a lesser extent in autumn and spring. The increasing winter rains, which fall on top of existing snow, cause faster snowmelt and, when the rainfall is intense, can result in flash flooding in some areas. Rain-on-snow events have increased significantly across much of the Arctic, for example, by 50% over the past 50 years in western Russia.
Changes in sea ice-
- Climate” refers to much more than just temperature and precipitation. In addition to long-term average weather conditions, climate also includes extreme events, as well as aspects of the system such as snow, ice, and circulation patterns in the atmosphereand oceans. In the Arctic, sea ice is one of the most important climatic variables. It is a key indicator and agent of climate change, affecting surface reflectivity, cloudiness, humidity, exchanges of heat and moisture at the ocean surface, and ocean currents.
- Over the past 30 years, the annual average sea-ice extent has decreased by about 8%, or nearly one million square kilometers, an area larger than all of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark combined, and the melting trend is accelerating. Sea-ice extent in summer has declined more dramatically than the annual average, with a loss of 15-20% of the late-summer ice coverage. There is also significant variability from year to year. September 2002 had the smallest extent of arctic sea-ice cover on record, and September 2003 was very nearly as low.
- Sea icehas also become thinner in recent decades, with arctic-wide average thickness reductions estimated at 10-15%, and with particular areas showing reductions of up to 40% between the 1960s and late 1990s. Impacts of a decline in sea ice are discussed throughout this report and include increased air temperature, decreased salinity of the ocean’s surface layer, and increased coastal erosion.
Diagram showing reduction in ice in Arctic
A small temperature shift can have enormous implications
Even an increase of 2°C could be too much. A slight shift in temperature, bringing averages above the freezing point, will completely alter the character of the region.
- As snow and ice melt, the ability of the Arctic to reflect heat back to space is reduced, accelerating the overall rate of global warming.
- Some Arctic fisheries will likely disappear.
- We are likely to see more forest fires and storm damage to coastal communities in the Arctic.
- Glaciers, sea ice and tundra will melt, contributing to global sea level rises.
- A warmer Arctic could halt the Gulf Stream, which brings warmer water and weather to north-western Europe.
Examining the record of past climatic conditions indicates that the amount, speed, and pattern of warming experienced in recent decades are indeed unusual and are characteristic of the human-caused increase in greenhouse gases. Both natural and human-caused factors can influence the climate. Among the natural factors that can have significant effects lasting years to decades are variations in solar output, major volcanic eruptions, and natural, sometimes cyclic, interactions between the atmosphere and oceans. Several important natural modes of variability that especially affect the Arctic have been identified, including the Arctic Oscillation, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, and the North Atlantic Oscillation. Each of these can affect the regional patterns of such features as the intensity and tracks of storm systems, the direction of the prevailing winds, the amount of snow, and the extent of sea ice. In addition to changing long-term average climatic conditions, human-induced changes in the climate may also affect the intensity, patterns, and features of these natural variations.
Topic:Salient features of world’s physical geography.
Goh Cheng Leong, Chapter 25
Resources available in Arctic region-
Oil and Gas-
- The Arctic contains a wealth of petroleum and mineral resources. Currently, the region produces about one tenth of the world’s oil and a quarter of its natural gas. The Russian Arctic is the source for about 80 percent of this oil and virtually all of the natural gas; Arctic Canada, Alaska, and Norway are the other leading producers. Recent appraisals suggest that a considerable fraction of the world’s undiscovered petroleum reserves lie within the Arctic.
- Commercial extraction of oil began in the 1920s in Canada’s Northwest Territories. During the 1960s, extensive hydrocarbon fields were discovered in Russia’s Yamalo-Nenets region, the North Slope of the Brooks Range in Alaska, and Canada’s Mackenzie Delta. During the last several decades, the Arctic territories of Russia, Alaska, Norway, and Canada have produced billions of cubic meters of oil and gas.
- Nonetheless, more than 400 onshore oil and gas fields have been discovered north of the Arctic Circle. About 60 of these are very extensive, but roughly one quarter of them are not yet in production. More than two-thirds of the producing fields are located in Russia, primarily in western Siberia.
- The major oil and gas area in Russia and one of the largest oil regions in the world is Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Region (KMAR). Here about 57 percent of Russian oil is extracted. In KMAR there are over 500 known oil and gas fields, the combined reserve of which is about 20 billion tons.
- In the US Arctic the oil reserves are estimated at about 15 million barrels, and gas reserves are over 2 trillion cubic meters; 20 percent of the oil is extracted at Prudhoe Bay Oil Field.
- In the Canadian Arctic there are 49 gas and oil fields in Mackenzie River Delta, and 15 fields are situated on the Canadian Arctic archipelago.
- The biggest gas fields are in the coastal area of Alaska and Siberia.
Other minerals (region wise)-
- Russian Arctic- The most developed sector of the region, the Russian Arctic also holds abundant deposits of nickel, copper, coal, gold, uranium, tungsten, and diamonds. Mining is especially well developed in northern Russia. Siberia is rich in ores of almost all economically valuable metals, such as nickel, gold, molybdenum, silver, and zinc. There are also some of biggest known deposits of coal, gypsum and diamonds. The Sakha Republic (Yakutia) yields approximately 25 percent of the world’s rough diamond supply. Copper, iron, tin, platinum, palladium, apatite, cobalt, titanium, rare metals, ceramic raw materials, mica, and precious stones are also found in northern Russia. Most of these mineral assets occur on the Kola Peninsula-where glaciers scraped away the top layer of soil many thousands of years ago, thus making the deposits a lot more accessible.
In Russian Arctic there are a number of mines where nickel, copper, tin, uranium and phosphate are produced. One of the biggest nickel-mining and producing centers is the Norilsk Nickel plant.
- USA (Alaska) Arctic– Alaska’s industrial-scale mining consists of one coal mine and one open-pit lead-zinc mine-the Red Dog mine, the world’s leading source of zinc and a significant producer of lead. It has been in operation since 1987. Many minor gold mines are also functioning in sub-Arctic Alaska.
- Canadian Arctic- Placer gold, coal, and quartz are extracted in Canada’s Yukon province. The region also contains pockets of uranium, copper, nickel, iron, natural gas, and oil. However, many known mineral reserves have not been exploited because of their inaccessibility and the steep development costs.
- Greenland- in Greenland cryolite, coal, marble, zinc, lead, and silver are produced.
Flora and Fauna-
Biological resources are similarly bountiful in the Arctic region. An estimated one-fifth of freshwater and several of the world’s largest rivers are found there. The region encompasses one of the last and most extensive, continuous wilderness areas on Earth, and it is home to hundreds of endemic species of plants and animals. Millions of migratory birds from around the globe breed and live seasonally in the Arctic and a variety of marine mammals inhabit the regional ocean waters. Fish such as salmon, cod, and pollock abound in Arctic and sub-Arctic waters, supporting valuable commercial fisheries. Some two dozen major herds of reindeer and caribou, important resources for indigenous peoples, migrate across high northern landscapes. In sum, humans gain much from the Arctic’s living resources, and the region is uniquely important to global biodiversity.
Geo-politics associated with these resources-
- In a 2009 report the United States Geological Survey (USGS) postulated that over 90 billion barrels of oil, 1,669 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 44 billion barrels of natural gas liquids are located in the Arctic (84 per cent of which could potentially be found in offshore areas). With longer ice-free periods now available to explore for hydrocarbons, a new scramble for oil and gas could occur, especially if oil prices recover to levels above $100 a barrel.
- In addition, new technological developments in marine surface and undersea logistics, as well as deep-water drilling technology, have increased the salience of issues relating to the extension of coastal state’s respective continental shelves under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS).
- For the last few years, the Northern Sea Route along Russia’s north coast has witnessed ice changes, providing Russia with greater access to its vast Siberian resources and leading to bold assertions of its sovereignty over vast swathes of the polar sea.
- Military has a longstanding presence in the Arctic, greater access in Arctic means the nature of this presence will have to adjust to take on new roles and capabilities, such as increased capacity for search-and-rescue operations and border patrolling, and submarine adaptation to reduced opaque ice cover and potentially increased monitoring of the waters by the Arctic states.
- Indeed, the region has already opened to global commerce with the announcement on 21 August 2009 that, for the first time, two German commercial ships unaccompanied by ice-breakers were traversing the Northern Sea Route on a voyage from Vladivostok to the Netherlands. The Northern Sea Route over Eurasia is also important since it shortens shipping routes between northern Europe and north-east Asia by 40 per cent compared with the existing routes through the Suez or Panama canals, and takes thousands of miles off maritime routes round Africa or Latin America.
- Increased access to resources and opening of communication lines would only intensify the already complex issue of overlapping sovereignty.
Strengthened legal and regulatory frameworks in the Arctic will be necessary to attract international investment and development. The debate on the future of Arctic governance centres on whether to create new or use existing multinational frameworks.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health
The Centre recently cleared the long-awaited National Health Policy 2017, which promises to increase public health spending to 2.5% of GDP in a time-bound manner and guarantees health care services to all Indian citizens still The World Health Report of 2016 recently released by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that despite being placed roughly in the middle of the South-East Asian Region (SEAR)—India is one of the worst performing regions in health.
Health sector and spending has assumed importance as:-
- National Health policy 2017 marks a paradigm shift in health care sector. The govt has committed to increasing health spending to 2.5% of GDP.
2. Health insurance has gained focus recently with schemes such as the RSBY.
3. A separate Ministry of AYUSH underlines the govt commitment for alternative medicines.
4. Preventive health care has gained impetus with Yoga being promoted by the PM personally.
However the nature of health spending is coming under critical scrutiny due to following aspects:-
- India spends close to 5% of its GDP on health. While this may appear low when compared to 18% of the U.S., data show that Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries spend 8-11%, middle-income countries close to 6%, and India’s peers, the lower-middle-income countries 4.5%.
- The finance minister gave the health ministry Rs 10,000 crores more this year, but that is still less than health allocation in 2011.
- Health to total public expenditure in inida remains 29% where as even sub Saharan countries also have it as high as 45%
- Government focuses on curative healthcare rather than preventive healthcare
- The out of pocket expenditure remains tremendously high compared to other countries as government fails to ensure the universal health access. Medical debt remains second biggest factor for keeping people in poverty.
- There is still less emphasis on creating world class infrastructure in health sector. Recently announcement of concerting 1.5 lack primary health centers into wellness centers indicates it. 75% medical devices in India are imported.
- Spending on creation of skilled workforce of healthcare personal still remains low. Which is very much required as only 1 doctor per 1681 person is available.
Exploring Alternative financing sources: Following mechanisms may be considered for expanding the existing pool of financial allocations for health in our country:
- Surcharges on alcohol and tobacco:This is increasingly gaining traction in many parts of the world, including India, and should be continued.
- Health Impact Assessment Index (HIAI):Industries should be incentivized or disincentivized as per their impact on individual / public health. Those which have a negative impact should be taxed
- Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR):A certain percentage of CSR should be earmarked for health.
- Import tariffs / duties:All import tariffs / duties on health care (drugs, surgical, equipment, etc.) should be completely removed if their manufacture / production within the country is not feasible for whatever reasons.
- Prioritization of health expenditures:Chronic diseases have assumed pandemic proportions in India. Unlike other countries, however, the problem in India is not just about low priority to health among citizens and governments alike, but about lower priority accorded to chronic diseases within already miniscule health allocations.
- Tax benefits:The limits of medical reimbursement and exemption under Section 80D should be raised from the present 15,000 each to, at least, 1 lakh each per household. There should be provisions for further tax exemptions based on the household burden of disease and disability.
Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations
4) Discuss the humanitarian dimension of the fishermen issue between India and Sri Lanka. In your opinion, what are the best available options that could help resolve this issue between two neighbours? (200 Words)
The Palk straight has always been a bone of contention between India and Sri Lanka due to the issue of fishermen frequently crossing the maritime boundaries for bottom trawling fishing expeditions.
Q)Why we often hear about arrest / shooting of Indian fishermen and not Sri Lankan?
Though both Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen are known for entering into each other’s waters, yet the cases of arrest of Sri Lankan fishermen by Indian authorities are comparatively less. This is mainly because the Sri Lankan fishermen mostly fish in the high seas by using multi-day crafts. On the other hand, due to the dearth of multi-day fishing capability, Indian fishermen cannot shift their fishing effort from the Palk Bay area to the offshore areas of the Indian waters or way beyond the continental shelf.
Q)How fishermen issue with Sri Lanka is different from those with Pakistan or Bangladesh? Wherever sovereign coasts are in proximity, straying of fishermen is normal. But the fishermen issue between India and Sri Lanka is different from other neighbors. This is because the coasts of both countries are too close and Territorial Maritime waters of each country in some areas strays into the other are if 12 nautical mile criteria is strictly applied
Q)Role of Katchatheevu island:- One of the major reasons complicating the issue is of Katchatheevu Island. India ceded the uninhabited island to its southern neighbor in 1974 under a conditional accord. In 2009, the Sri Lankan government declared Katchatheevu island as sacred land owing to a Catholic shrine’s presence on the piece of land.
HUMANITARIAN SIDE OF THE ISSUE:-
- Right to life- frequent arrests of Indian fishermen by Sri Lanka Navy and even at times killing them infringes upon their right to life.
- Livelihood- It is in search of good catch that most fishermen stray off into Sri Lankan waters. Due to the dearth of multi-day fishing capability, Indian fishermen cannot shift their fishing effort from the Palk Bay area to the offshore areas of the Indian waters or way beyond the continental shelf. Therefore, Indian fishermen have no other option but to fish into the Sri Lankan waters.
- There is a glaring need for institutionalization of fishing in Indian waters by the government of India so that alternative means of livelihood are provided.Blue economy is a rather ignored issue in India and that seems to have led to the current crisis.
- The Ministry of Agriculture and the Department of Ocean Development are the nodal bodies responsible for giving technical assistance to states for the development of fisheries and blue economy.
- Licensing:- Government recognized/registered or cooperatives of fishermen can institutionalize and govern organized fishing within a set framework.
- Fishermen Board:-arranging frequent meetings between fishing communities of both countries could be explored
- To avoid shooting incidents due to “mistaken identity”, ‘coordinated patrolling’ between marine forces of both countries can be considered.
- As an additional safety measure, the Indian Navy’s proposal of fitting Global Positioning System (GPS) in every Indian fishing boat should be implemented.
- Developing fish farming extensively in Indian waters would prevent its fishermen from venturing into other waters in search of a ‘big catch’. India can also consider leasing fishing blocks , especially those identified as ‘surplus total available catch’, from Sri Lanka. Through this, Sri Lanka could also earn much required foreign exchange.
- Adequate fish population can be maintained in Palk Bay and Gulf of Mannar areas, so that most of the fishermen would not find the need to venture into other’s ‘territories’.
- APJ Abdul Kalam once opined that this issue can be solved by giving right to fish in Palk Bay on alternate days for both nations.
The issue of fishermen straying in each other’s territorial waters has come as a potential irritant in the otherwise generally good bilateral relations between India and Sri Lanka. Solution from below’ has greater chances of success than a ‘solution imposed from above’ by the governments. The solution cannot be extra deployment of Navy and Coast Guard. The underlying cause needs to be addressed. Detentions of fishermen on both sides running for years seems unnecessary. Sri Lankan authorities reportedly feel that detentions have reduced poaching to a great extent but that has not reduced the intensity of the situation. Both countries need to put a stop to it for finding a peaceful amicable solution. As recently said by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina that the most important issue of South Asian region is poverty and it can be tackled with cooperation and sharing of scarce resources of region peacefully.
Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations
5) Recently Pakistan launched, despite much opposition by various groups, conducting of its population census after a gap of 19 years. Why was there an opposition? Discuss the significance of this census for Pakistan and also for non-muslim communities living in Pakistan. (200 Words0
Pakistan’s decision to launch a national census, after much delay, is a welcome step that would allow it to formulate realistic policies to address the challenges it faces. The Census in Pakistan, is a decennial census and a descriptive count of Pakistan’s population on Census Day, and of their dwellings, conducted and supervised by the Bureau of Statistics of the Ministry of Finance and Statistics. The 2017 Census in Pakistan marks the first census to take place in Pakistan since 1998. The next census is scheduled for 2027.
It is not difficult to see why traditional political parties and ethnic leaders oppose the data-gathering. Since the last census was conducted in 1998 by the second Sharif government, Pakistan has undergone major changes. The opposition to census is on following grounds:-
- Political parties in Sindh fear that many Sindhis in rural Sindh may not be counted as they don’t have NATIONAL IDENTITY CARD.
- PUNJAB- where population growth is slowing down fears that Punjabis may lose CURRENT EDGE IN PAKISTAN POLITICS that they have now.
- BALOCHISTAN- The local political groups argue that process be delayed till afghan refugees return.
- SIKH COMMUNITY- has not been recognized as a distinct religious community and put under “OTHER” category.
- AFGHAN REFUGEES have been excluded from the exercise by a ruling of Baloch high court.
Significance of Census:-
- The data are critical as key federal decisions such as resource allocation for provinces and delimitation of electoral constituencies are taken based on demographic numbers.
- The census is not merely an exercise of counting heads.It provides information on key indicators such as population density, gender ratio, literacy rate, financial conditions and employment numbers.
- As the 19-year-old census data are obsolete, it is crucial for the government to obtain an updated picture of the country’s socio-economic composition to make the right policy choices.
- Residential mobility data can provide an understanding of spatial differences in socio-economic status and how these change over time.
- National and regional population projections are also crucial to estimating the environmental impact of population growth, allocation of water resources, land use or other factors.
- For the first time in this census, transgender persons will be counted separately and this is a historical move.
- It will give insights into urbanisation trends and can be very effectively used for devising law enforcement strategies, security infrastructure and better local governments.
Pakistan is going through a relatively stable phase, economically and politically. The Sharif government doesn’t face any existential challenge and is set to become the second elected government in Pakistan’s history to finish its full term next year. Economic growth has also picked up. This allows Mr. Sharif to take some risks for long-term reforms. He should stay the course towards working out a realistic reallocation of resources and parliamentary seats to the provinces based on the new census data. All political parties should be prepared to let go and work with new ground realities. The provincial governments should participate in ensuring a credible consensus. They are now stakeholders. Blame game should be avoided at all costs. This census should be transparent and its data should be released immediately and be available to research communities to shun doubts and confusions.
Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations
Conflicts between the Nepali and Indian side over construction activities, and SSB interventions, are reported routinely. Nepal and India share an open border of around 1,750 km. Demographic similarities, marriages between the people of the two nations and the free movement of persons are, however, not without their problems. Comparison and contrast:-
- When an ordinary citizen,Govinda Gautam, 32, was allegedly shot and killed by an SSB personnel in Kanchanpur district. The Indian embassy in Kathmandu initially denied the incident, but retracted its statement after the National Security Adviser, Ajit Doval, expressed his regret in a telephonic conversation with the Nepali Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal. In contrast In June 1960, after a Nepali was killed by a Chinese security personnel in Mustang along the border with Tibet, China promptly apologised and also apparently paid compensation to the victim’s family.
- Border disputes have remained unresolved for decades in at least 71 places, and worn-out border pillars are taking longer than planned to be replaced (two major areas, Susta and Kalapani).While The disputed Sino-Nepal territory is uninhabitable plus less People to People interaction means less spill over in internal matter contrary to Indian open borders.
- In September 2015, Nepal suffered a nearly five-month-long blockade when India chose to endorse the demands of the Madhesis. China is taking advantages of such situations and China has been making increasing inroads into Nepal and of late, it has emerged as the biggest foreign direct investors in the country.
- Even during Nepal Earthquake, Indian media is being criticised by Nepali citizens. In this perspective, China is more resolute in addressing issues in hands.
Nevertheless, two or three incidents may not change the strategic calculus in the region. It is time for India to address the Nepali social, economic and political concerns at least from china prism. Nepal is also a buffer for India to counter China’s aggression. More the stronger relations more the strategic weight to India in South Asia. It is also very easy to address Nepali concerns than dealing with Pakistan-China axis.
Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
7) Do you think Russia’s recent maneuvers in the Afghanistan and Pakistan affairs would help it strategically in the region? Critically comment on the nature of its clout in the South Asian region and its impact on India’s stature in the region. (200 Words)
Russia’s recent few steps in Afghanistan Pakistan region shows its attempts to gain some strategic stronghold in region:-
- Russia carried out joint military exercise with the Pakistan first time in history :- Due to Increasing Indian proximity towards the USA , Through the Russia , Pakistan and china want to balance the power in South Asia. There is raise of the China-Pak-Russia axis which may make India Stifle in her own region.
- Russia wants to become active peace talk partner in Afghanistan:- ISIS loosing land in the syria and moving towards the Afghanistan which is neighborhood of the Russia. To counter the threat of the ISIS , Russia want peace settlement with Taliban. Traditionally , India oppose any talk with the Taliban as India consider Taliban as the proxy of the Pakistan army and ISI. Russian linkage with Taliban will make hard for India to counter Taliban in Afghanistan as Traditionally Russia Supported the Indian backed Northen alliance against Taliban in Afghanistan.
- There is also possibility of the Russian participation in the China Pakistan economic corridor (CPEC) . CPEC pass through the Gilgit Baltistan which India consider her own territory. Russian support to CPEC will make hard for India to make sovereign claim on Gilgit as Russia traditionally support India in that issue in UN.
RUSSIAN CLOUT IN THE SOUTH ASIA –
In south Asia Russia’s presence is not that strong. Its vision in the region is marked by short-term interests. Neither does it have the necessary economic prowess to undertake any long-term adventure.
It’s unlikely to affect Indian stature in any significant way. Russia’s trade with India, Pakistan and Iran has actually gone down .India has undertaken several infrastructure development programs in Afghanistan and commands SOFT POWER in the region. something that can not be subdued by Russia. Pakistan on the other hand is aid hungry. It makes little difference whether comes from Russia, china or USA. Russia has negligible presence in the region on the other hand India recently has expanded its presence dramatically e.g. Chahbahar port in Iran.
Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India all have good reasons to reinforce ties to Russia, though each is differently placed to weather the potential consequences. But even if it had the resources, Moscow’s room for maneuver would be very limited. NATO is not going to pull out of Afghanistan entirely, China looms far larger in Pakistan and in the region more generally, and Russia’s Afghanistan-Pakistan gyrations have hardly endeared it to New Delhi.