SECURE SYNOPSIS: 31 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: Urbanization – problems and remedies
1) Recently the Supreme Court directed transport authorities to stop registering vehicles that do not meet Bharat Stage-IV emission standards from April 1, 2017. Why Bharat III vehicles are considered as more polluting? Also discuss implications and significance of this directive. (200 Words)
Bharat Norms are India’s vehicular pollution control standards and are equivalent to the Euro norms of Europe. They go from Bharat Stage I to VI in increasing order of pollution control effectiveness. Bharat Stage III norms and vehicles, by this logic are considered more polluting than later stages.
Why BS III vehicles are more polluting –
- They emit more polluting gases like CO, NO2, SO2 and CO2 from their exhaust. Particulate matter from BS III vehicles is also High compared to BS IV.
- Engine efficiency, a leading indicator of pollution potential is lesser in BS III vehicles.
- Technologies like catalytic convertor, which capture and convert pollutants like CO to less harmful pollutants like CO2.
- BS III engines are also incompatible with higher quality of fuels, especially those blended with more percentage of ethanol.
- The nitrogen oxide (NOx) level and Sulphur Levels are High in BS III fuels .Sulphur in fuel makes it dirtier and lowers the efficiency of catalytic converters, which control emissions. These fuels are used in Basel III vehicles.
1] Impact on Auto-Industry – a little over eight lakh BS-III vehicles will have to be either upgraded or sold abroad.The technology cost to upgrade the vehicles is also high.
2] For General public: Cascading effects of R&D leading to higher costs of automobiles, possible pollution reduction and improved vehicular efficiency.
3] For government and other fuel suppliers: Investments in better quality fuel and more ethanol blending.Fuel companies must also upgrade their Fuels to match the Vehicle Design.
1] It sends a clear message that Environment and Human Health is more important than short term Profit or Loss.
2] Helps to reduce particulate emission, NOx and Sulphur levels in the air resulting in Clean environment.
3] Even with short term high costs it helps to increase efficiency of Vehicles – Fuel economy and profit for industry.
Though there are difficulties, SC’s progressive directive should be lauded and all stakeholders concerned should work in tandem to realize the goal of one India, one fuel norms under BS IV in order to prepare for even better BSVI norms in future and clean environment today .
General Studies – 2
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health
2) India has continued to account for one fourth of the global TB burden for more than a decade despite implementing the WHO-backed Directly Observed Treatment, Short-Course (DOTS) programme nationwide. Critically examine why. Also suggest what more should government do to eradicate TB. (200 Words)
Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB). Tuberculosis generally affects the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body. Most infections do not have symptoms, in which case it is known as latent tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is spread through the air when people who have active TB in their lungs cough, spit, speak, or sneeze. People with latent TB do not spread the disease. Active infection occurs more often in people with HIV/AIDS and in those who smoke.
DOTS (directly observed treatment, short-course), also known as TB-DOTS, is the name given to the tuberculosis control strategy recommended by the World Health Organization. According to WHO, The most cost-effective way to stop the spread of TB in communities with a high incidence is by curing it. The best curative method for TB is known as DOTS.
DOTS has five main components:
- Government commitment (including political will at all levels, and establishment of a centralized and prioritized system of TB monitoring, recording and training).
- Case detection by sputum smear microscopy.
- Standardized treatment regimen directly of six to nine months observed by a healthcare worker or community health worker for at least the first two months.
- A drug supply.
- A standardized recording and reporting system that allows assessment of treatment results.
TB Burden in India
Each year about 2.2 million people develop TB in India and an estimated 220,000 die from the disease.1 Some estimates calculate the deaths as being twice as high. TB can affect any age, caste or class but cases are mainly poor people. Slum dwellers, tribal populations, prisoners and people already sick with compromised immune systems are over-represented among the cases, compared to their numbers in the population. The economic burden of TB is extremely high. Between 2006 and 2014, TB cost the Indian economy a massive USD 340 billion.
Challenges while dealing with Tb in India.
- TB Case notification
The notification of TB cases is estimated to be only 58%. Over one third of cases are not diagnosed, or they are diagnosed but not treated, or they are diagnosed and treated but not notified to the RNTCP. This could be even higher, and the WHO (World Health Organization) estimates that possibly as many as another 10 lakh (1,000,000) Indians with TB are not notified. One of the reasons for the low case notification is the largely unregulated and unmonitored private sector which accounts for almost half of the TB care delivered in India.
- Private sector care for TB
The private sector in India, has unfortunately, been a source of mismanagement of TB and hence of drug resistance. This includes the use of incorrect diagnostics (e.g. blood tests), incorrect regimes and a lack of supervision to ensure all TB patients complete their TB treatment. So every effort is being made to engage the private sector in India and improve the quality of care provided by private practioners.
- Demographic profile:
General susceptibility of population to TB bacteria due to malnutrition & low immunity as a result of poverty and unhygienic conditions.
- Public health infrastructure:
In many parts of the country the public health infrastructure is not upto the mark to cater the needs of the people. Inefficient medical infrastructure to implement the DOTs programme across the country has led to the variation in disease control program
- Role of other stakeholders:
Awareness among people and no early detection will spread the disease is not upto the mark. Lack of responsibility among local TB program implementing agencies and negligence on their part to involve private practitioners and NGOs is one of the hindrance in implementation of the program.
Steps to eradicate TB:
- India needs to double its investment in TB prevention, early diagnosis and treatment. The government still doesn’t have enough capacity to meet the needs of all TB patients, a majority of whom seek care in the private sector.
- India has a plan to eradicate TB by 2025. It is a very ambitious challenge to implement.
- Currently, the government runs the Directly Observed Treatment Short or DOTS course for TB treatment where the patients would take seven or eight anti-TB medicines on alternate days of the week. Each dose is handed out by a healthcare provider at a clinic. The practice makes it cumbersome for patients to follow and when they drop out often leads to drug resistance.
- Patients with both HIV and TB are even less inclined to adhere to this programme. They have a better chance with the method used worldwide of a fixed dose combination treatment which involves taking three or four pills every day.
- Government has discussed active case finding, which allows the health system to look for a patient rather than depending on patient walk ins at healthcare centers. The TB department has proposed to have an active case detection drive “in campaign mode”
Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
3) The Westinghouse, the American nuclear major company with which India had an agreement to procure nuclear reactors, recently went bankrupt. Should India enter into contract with Westinghouse? Critically comment. (200 Words)
Indo-US Nuclear deal
As per the deal, India agreed to separate its civilian and military nuclear activity and open up the civilian part to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In return, the US offered to resume full nuclear trade (selling of reactors, transfer of technology, Uranium sale) with India, ending its nuclear ostracism. This U.S.-India deal took more than three years to come to fruition as it had to go through several complex stages, including amendment of U.S. domestic law, especially the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, a civil-military nuclear Separation Plan in India, an India-IAEA safeguards (inspections) agreement and the grant of an exemption for India by the NSG. 22 nuclear facilities have been placed under IAEA safeguards so far. The Agreement provides for the development of a strategic reserve of nuclear fuel to guard against any disruption of supply over the lifetime of India’s reactors.
The US wants to bring India closer to the Non Proliferation regime by placing most of its nuclear capabilities under IAEA safeguards. This is the first step towards achieving that end.
The news of bankruptcy of American company has raised the doubt over the continuation of signed contracts for nuclear reactors to be procure.
Cancelling the deal may not be a viable option on the below grounds:-
1) Deal has already reached to a certain stage and Westinghouse has already understood the requirement and plans are also framed. Searching for new partners for this deal will further the timeline and hence it will be better to proceed with Westinghouse only.
2) Cancelling the deal may also attract some penalties that Westinghouse may levy on India. However this aspect is yet to researched and debated well.
Various arguments that can be put forward to continue with the agreement are :-
1) Westinghouse project delivery is already behind the schedule and that leads to cost escalation. With this bankruptcy filling there will be further delay in the execution of the project .
2) With this bankruptcy case, there will be hardly any institution interested in funding this project for India hence the resource constraints can actually impact the overall future of the project.
3) Previous USD govt was still sympathetic to Indian cause but the current US govt may not be willing to pitch the Indian case for funding for this project with the international institutions.
4) Apart from this, there is no operational nuclear reactor delivered by Westinghouse around the world and hence its operational efficiency is yet to be ascertained. This incident of bankruptcy may impact the overall efficiency of the project especially in terms of timelines.
5) Companies workforce will be moving out of the defunct company any time soon, hence it may aggravate the overall trouble.
India has to maintain a balance between its energy security and financial viability of the projects. There is also issue of feasibility of nuclear technology in its overall terms as far as the safety is concerned. The government has to take a pragmatic decision based on geopolitical understanding , but it can not be compromised on the safety and security of nuclear power plants and financial viability of any signed projects.
Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
MARTIN LUTHER KING Jr said “INJUSTICE ANYWHERE IS A THREAT TO JUSTICE EVERYWHERE”. This statement is particularly relevant today. Since the last few years the racial attacks on the African nationals have increased manifold in our metropolitans.These attacks show a deep rooted bias against the blacks in our minds .
WHAT CAN GOVERNMENT DO ?
1.BREAK THE PREJUDICES –
highlight the role played by African students , tourists for our economy ,societal values and culture.
Africans are usually wrongly considered as uncultured, backward, drug-traffickers, cannibalistic , etc. People should be made aware of these misconceptions.
2.CULTURAL INTEGRATION –
Interactions between the Indian and African students needs to be promoted, so that there may be greater confidence between them.They will come to know about each other’s culture.
Greater awareness in society-through social media campaign,Twitter and mann ki baat.
Community level program needs to be initiated by govt. to bring local and other nationals together and foster great understanding.
Assimilatory sport matches , cultural programmes , social campaigns .
3.SENSITIVITY TRAINING – to people , students and especially to our police personnel against any racial prejudices.
4.SPEEDY JUSTICE – prompt actions by police , fast grievance redressal , speedy justice are necessary to prevent more crimes.
People need to react to this impending emergency exactly the same way they react to the hate crimes against Indians abroad. Otherwise this evil of racial hatred poses a grave threat to our traditional ethos of tolerance, compassion and to the axiom of “ATITHI DEVO BHAVA”.
There were 42,420 foreign students in India in 2016. The top sending countries were Nepal (21.3%), Afghanistan (10.3%), Bhutan, (6.6%), Sudan (4.8%), Nigeria (4.7%), indicating that after the three SAARC partner countries, Sudan and Nigeria send the most students to study in India. Students come from many African countries to India as many universities offer quality education in English that is much more reasonably priced than in the West. The University of Mysore, for instance, has 2,000 foreign students, many from African countries.]
Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies
The Law Commission of India has drafted a new law, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2017, inserting new sections to fortify democracy against hate speeches. The Commission, in its 267th report on hate speech, said such utterances have the potential to provoke individuals and society to commit acts of terrorism, genocide, and ethnic cleansing.
“Hate speech is any word written or spoken, signs, visible representations within the hearing or sight of a person with the intention to cause fear or alarm, or incitement to violence.”
Hate speech is an “incitement to hatred” against a particular group of persons marginalised by their religious belief, sexual orientation, gender, and so on.
According to commission -“Indisputably, offensive speech has real and devastating effects on people’s lives and risks their health and safety. It is harmful and divisive for communities and hampers social progress. If left unchecked, hate speech can severely affect right to life of every individual.”
The Commission has proposed –
- Section 153C, which penalises incitement to hatred, and punishes a guilty person with two years’ imprisonment, or Rs. 5,000 in fine, or both.
- Section 505A, which for the first time makes “causing fear, alarm, or provocation of violence in certain cases” a specific criminal offence. Section 505A provides a punishment of one year imprisonment, or Rs. 5,000 in fine, or both.
- Section 272, penalises manufacture of adulterated food items.
- Section 273, penalises sale of adulterated food items. Makes Rape ‘gender neutral’. Word – rape is substituted with more encompassing term- ‘SEXUAL ASSAULT’ which includes sexual offences against both men and women.
- Section 326A and 326B, inserted for making acid attack a specific offence.
- Section 166A and B, inserted to penalise public servant who knowingly disobeys or fails to record information.
- Indian evidence act,1872 amended by the way of inserting new section 53A, wherein the evidence of the character or previous sexual experience of the victim shall not be questioned.
The implications of these provisions on Indian democracy would be as follows :
- Fortify democracy against hate speech –
- It would help ensure that marginalization of communities through incitement to hatred, and provocative hate speeches, is brought to an end.
- These additional provisions would surely deter unscrupulous politicians from exploiting the voters in the name of religion and ethnicity, and help ensure that democracy functions in an equal manner for all.
- Most importantly, these provisions would ensure that the basic principle of democracy is given a boost, i.e, prevention of discrimination, and allowing everybody to enjoy the fruits of freedom on an equal measure.
- Recognition to sexual offences against MEN specially boys by men or women . This will empower law enforcing agencies to register cases of sexual offences against men too.
- Right to food safety to public is ensured.
- Increased vulnerability – Marietal sexual assault is not considered as offence. This will further generate furore over post-marietal consented sex issue.
It exempts non-consented medical examination of private parts from punishment.
Although these provisions are progressive enough, what would ultimately matter is the enactment of the draft law by the Parliament, and after that, a sincere implementation of them by the law enforcement authorities. Disincentivising hate speech, and incitement to hatred and violence, can go a long way in ensuring that democratic institutions function efficiently, and are not held captive by vested interests, or fringe groups, seeking to reap covert political or other benefits, through creating divisions.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Basics of cyber security;
India has been rated poorly year by year when it comes to cyber security and more vulnerable to cyber attacks. Recent attack on debit card data of major banks shows the hollowness of our cyber security architecture. Private companies cyber security is a major concern as they see cyber security as only an IT ISSUE and treat it as burden on their bottom line. Cyber-security, especially in the context of companies, which have to ensure it in their day-to-day business and transactions with various stakeholders, is an essential aspect of their operation, that needs to be paid attention to.
Therefore, it is pertinent to highlight some of the good, as well as bad cyber-security measures, that the companies usually employ.
The good practices are as follows :
1.Prompt conveyance of information related to data breach, to its customers and employees.
2. A significant portion of the budget being dedicated to upgrading the IT security infrastructure.
3. Also, end-to-end encryption for all its digital transactions, during the course of its business, is a very good measure.
4.Safeguarding the client’s personal details like name, address, age etc.
5. Not to expose the personal data to any third channel that is prone to data leakage.
6. Not to store sensitive information in the database like bank details, health details, passwords etc. which are more vulnerable to be misused.
7. To invest well in the cyber security like firewalls, antivirus to protect the database of its own company and details of its clients.
8. To have well documented cyber security policy and review it periodically to accommodate the changes.
9. To have written cyber security protocol and guidelines for action to be taken in case of any cyber security attack.
10. Having periodic backup to restore the details in case of any cyber attack.
11. Regular security audits.
The bad practices are as follows :
1.Concealing incidents of data breach and information loss, that have taken place through cyber-attack.
2. Deliberate attempt to withdraw from the coverage under protective legislations or regulations, asking companies to be accountable for their cyber-security.
3. Low investment in digital security, or investing in low-grade technologies, such as less efficient anti-viruses, or malware detectors, for their computer systems.
WAY FORWARD –
It is in the best interest of the companies to practise good cyber security practices as it :
1)Increase the faith of the clients, thus better image and word of mouth – publicity for the company.
2) Cyber security can be exploited as marketing tool eg. Apple phones are considered to be most safe for any sort of virus attack thus they demand their own space in phone market.
3) Digital revolution is going to change the way various stakeholders of the interacts with it, thus sooner the better to invest in cyber security.
Considering both kinds of practices, it is safe to conclude that the companies need to practise the culture of ensuring proper cyber-security. This is more so, in the context of the ongoing digital revolution, in which many activities of the government such as service delivery involve a number of companies in contractual relationships.
Topic: Basics of cyber security;
Aadhaar is India’s unique ID system, which is designed to store an individual’s details which can be used to authenticate a bouquet of government services. It aims to bring about a digital revolution in the country and to ensure the reach of government-services to all without corruption and leakage.
It has been under continuous criticism for so many reasons. Some of those reasons are:-
1.Danger of theft of personal data of millions of people.
2. Threat of misuse of sensitive information of the citizen registered under it.
3. Govt.’s compulsion to have Aadhar card for a number of welfare schemes.
Although there has been so much of criticism of this scheme, UIDAI, the agency which takes care of projects claims that Aadhaar is designed such that it protects person’s privacy as it has taken a number of steps to ensure safety of the personal data of the people who have Aadhar card. These steps are :-
- Collection of Minimal Data:- Data collected by UIDAI is just sufficient to establish identity. Only four elements have been taken as input from the user, these are:- name, gender, age and communication address.
- Issuance of Random Aadhar No.:- Aadhar no. allocated to a user is just a random no. of 12 digits. This no. doesn’t disclose anything about the person.
- Restriction on data sharing:- UIDAI has put strict restrictions on sharing of data collected for Aadhar card. No download of personal information is permitted. Option of lock/disabling an Aadhar number exists with the user.
- Specified Identification Method:– When biometric identification is required, only individual is authorized to submit his or her biometrics. Eg. – At the time of taking ration from PDS shop or opening of a bank account.
- E-KYC :- Unlike KYC form used under other institutions like Banks which are filled on a paper and are likely to be misused in future, this scheme used E-KYC, which is filled online and free from any future breach.
However, Aadhaar is not infallible, because of the possible loopholes in its safety designs –
- Use of biometrics does not demand consciousness of the individual, thus a mentally unstable or a dead individual’s data can be misused.
- The data remaining ‘open to all’ by default and requires manipulation to ‘lock’ it leaving big data vulnerable.
- The recent data breaches in banking system and tech. giant yahoo, questions the robustness of Aadhaar infrastructure.
Recent attacks like theft of banking details of customers, hacking of twitter accounts of politicians, and the recent leak of M.S.Dhoni’s Aadhaar card details point to the fact that we still have a long way to go along the Cyber-security infrastructure.
Although there are some critical security concerns, Aadhaar can become a good alternative for plugging the loopholes in the delivery of essential services to the citizens, if the security concerns and privacy issue are addressed properly before putting in use at pan India level.