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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 25 May 2017

 


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 25 May 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:  World history

1) It is said that the recent the result of the presidential election in France has reinscribed France’s reputation as the birthplace of a modern democratic sensibility, and as the site of a major democratic revolution in 1789. Discuss why. (200 Words)

The Hindu

French revolution of 1789 is credited for emergence of the modern democratic ideas of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. French revolution broke the autocratic ideas of governance and ushered the era where every human being was considered worthy of living dignified life. This revolution changed the direction of politics forever and embraced the open mindset nation building.

The victory of Emmanuel Macron if glanced through the ideals of French revolution shows that, France has once again shown the right way for crisis-ridden Europe. This is borne out by the fact that French voters decisively rejected Marine Le Pen’s socially conservative campaign that attacked Islam, immigrants, and the European Union. In a Europe that has rapidly turned to racism, xenophobia and intolerance, yet another rejection of an extreme right-wing party is cause for celebration.

In Europe, unemployment led to a serious backlash, racism, hate speech and violence against immigrants. Some parties tried to tackle this; others rode on the wave of xenophobia. With the Britain’s exit from EU and emergence of right wing parties in other European nation, the future of Europe was considered in peril. While France did not only remove this fear, but it also set the new direction for other countries to follow.

President Macron emphasizes the need to cultivate an open attitude to the world, to strengthen the European Union, to promote a positive attitude to immigration, to encourage free trade and to secure the rights of the LGBTQ community.

The election of Mr Macron would only help in strengthening the European Union and thereby boosting the process of consolidation of Europe. This would give impetus to the movement of Men, Machine and Material not only in Europe but all over the world. Further it would also create conducive environment for the cooperation among different EU members.

French people notwithstanding the adverse campaign run by Meryl Le Pen, decisively voted for candidate who shown the faith in the collective capacities of people of Europe. This could prove as a turning point for the future course of Europe as like 1789 revolution albeit less in intensity and spread.

Europe at this point of time needed a leader who could break the pessimistic shackles of the disintegration of EU and could bring the coherence in the thought s and actions of the different states of the Europe.

Thus by rejecting the divisive tendencies France once again has assumed the role of leadership in the Europe and would be rewarded for it.

 


General Studies – 2


Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

2) “Political optics have overpowered economic logic in the framing of the GST structure.” Critically comment. (200 Words)

Livemint

Introduction-

India moved a step closer to a new indirect tax system after the GST Council finalized tax rates in Srinagar. The best way to understand the grand federal bargain is to consider it a victory of immediate political concerns over the potential economic gains that could have been possible in the future.

Why and how political optics have overpowered economic logic in the framing of GST structure?

  • The tax rates that have been approved by the finance ministers in the GST Council are clearly a reflection of three political economy concerns.
  1. First, the impact of the new tax regime on the prices citizens will pay.
  2. Second, the impact on government budgets through changes in tax collections.
  3. Third, maintaining an element of progressivity on what is essentially a regressive tax, as all indirect taxes are.
  • The overarching goals of the negotiations thus seem to have been to ensure that the inflationary impact is minimal, government revenue is protected, and the new tax system explicitly appears to be pro-poor.
  • The problem is that these dominant political economy concerns have led to a complicated tax structure with multiple rates, exemptions and even cesses—a far cry from the clean goods and services tax that had been proposed initially more than a decade ago. 
  • The complicated tax structure that has now been decided in many ways could be a copy of the current tangle of excise duties. Consider some examples. There are separate GST rates for roasted coffee and instant coffee. The tax rates on restaurants have been decided in a way that would do the interventionist Indian bureaucracy proud. The sheer complexity of the GST structure will result in tax disputes, lobbying and corruption in the future.
  • The second problem with a complicated tax structure is that it will lead to distortions. The GST, even in its current form, will lead to efficiency gains in the Indian economy—and hence lead to higher growth. But the growth dividend is likely to be far lower than what better structure would have delivered.
  • The GST council has taken a static rather than a dynamic view of the transition to GST. On the one hand, a more complicated tax structure will actually increase business costs, while on the other, exemptions will mean cascading of costs because of the absence of input tax credits. Higher economic growth as well as a bigger tax base would also have ensured revenue neutrality despite lower tax rates. The optimality in a tax system should be judged on elasticity.

Way forward-

Economic reformers will now have to push for a simpler GST structure in the years ahead. There are two ways to do this.

  • First, governments should gradually remove exemptions, on the one hand and equally gradually, bring taxes on most goods and services to a standard rate on the other hand.
  • Second, there is now a strong case to push ahead with the direct tax code so that higher collections of income and corporate taxes create fiscal space for a rationalization of indirect taxes. That is easier said than done, because the GST council could present classic collective action challenges.

Nonetheless GST will integrate the Indian market, promote economic efficiency by taxing final consumption rather than intermediate goods, encourage voluntary compliance and create a new architecture for cooperative federalism.

 


General Studies – 3


Topic: Biotechnology

3) Examine social, economic and environmental reasons why GM mustard should not be cultivated. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- The regulator of the genetically modified crops has given the green signal for commercial cultivation of GM mustard in the country. In a submission to the Environment Ministry, Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee has given a positive recommendation but with certain conditions. With the GEAC nod, the GM mustard developed by the Delhi University gets closer to become India’s first edible GM crop. Several groups are opposing the GEAC’s decision as it might affect allied agricultural activities, health of the people etc. The Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (CGMCP), Delhi University South Campus, had submitted an application to the GEAC for the environmental release of GM mustard (Brassica juncea) hybrid DMH-11 and the use of parental events (varuna bn 3.6 and EH2 mod bs 2.99) for the development of a new generation of hybrids.

Why it should not be cultivated?

  • India needs technological interventions in agriculture and other fields but the issue of genetically modified crops has always been controversial. Mustard is used for edible oil, their leaves are eaten and it is also used as ayurvedic medicine. Its impact on health of the people, environment, soil, groundwater or food chain is not known yet. The glufosinate-based herbicide to which the proposed GM mustard is tolerant will also have adverse impacts on health. A herbicide-tolerant crop promotes constant exposure to a single herbicide which eventually results in weeds becoming resistant.
  • There are social and economic concerns attached to any technology as well. In this case, farmers especially in Punjab and other mustard growing areas have said that they don’t need new varieties. They need better policy, pricing and to rationalize the input costs against the cost which they get after selling it in the markets. If these problems cannot be solved, bringing in another technology might not solve the problem.
  • GEAC needs to be a transparent body. it should put it in the public domain that on what grounds it has approved GM mustard for citizens to analyze and stay aware whether it is good for them or not. If there is a lack of trust on the part of people who are to use it, it will be like forcing something upon them. India is a signatory to Cartagena Protocolon biosafety where it has committed to public participation in decision making.
  • There has to be strong liability lawsif there are any environmental hazards or if something goes wrong in future which are not there in India at present.
  • The pesticide industry’s efforts to influence policymakers and regulators have obstructed reforms globally. Their business model aims only at making profit.
  • Allowing the cultivation of GM mustard would lead to a direct attack on women involved in the mustard crop weeding.

The social, economic and environmental impacts associated with it are

Social:

  • Livelihood: Herbicide resistant GM crop will negatively affect the livelihood of poor women whose livelihood dependent on weed removal
  • Bee-keeping:The herbicide will affect some of communities who carry out bee-keeping activity as the use of herbicide will indiscriminate due to herbicide resistant GM mustard crop.
  • Stratification in Society: Higher input cost will keep marginalized farmers out which shall perpetuate existing stark inequality in agriculture as well as society
  • Health:Herbicide resistant crops are know to cause birth defects in children, Alzheimer disease and Autism

Economic:

  • Higher yield:While GM mustard envisages higher yields, it has been seen that higher yield in GM crop has been from non-GM countries compared to GM ones. Rather than GM, we should focus on System of Mustard Intensification which was successfully conducted in Bihar under aegis of World Bank
  • Higher Consumer Cost:Mustard shall become dearer which will have negative impact on consumers.
  • Oligopoly: GM market is dominated by a few oligopoly firms which can lead to negative impact.

Environmental:

  • Pesticide:Use of it may reduce however the use of higher herbicide may have negative impact on ecology
  • Seed diversity:Shall reduce and have a negative impact on environment.

Conclusion:

Agriculture is a state subject therefore, it is important for the Centre to take into consideration the views of State Governments as well. It is expected that the Supreme Court will ensure protection of Indian consumers and farmers as giving a nod to GM mustard will pave the way for clearance to other GM crops as well whether the impact is good or bad.

 


Topic:  Indian economy

4) Discuss critically all the concerns raised against the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Ordinance of May 4, 2017. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- The banking Regulation (Amendment) Ordinance 2017 amends the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 and it makes following changes in act:-

  • It inserts two new Sections (viz. 35AA and 35AB) after Section 35A of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 enables the Union Government to authorize the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to direct banking companies to resolve specific stressed assets by initiating insolvency resolution process, where required.
  • Section 35AA:The Central Government may by order authorise the Reserve Bank to issue directions to any banking company or banking companies to initiate insolvency resolution process in respect of a default, under the provisions of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
    Explanation – For the purposes of this section, “default” has the same meaning assigned to it in clause (12) of section 3 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.  Section 35AB: (1) Without prejudice to the provisions of section 35A, the Reserve Bank may, from time to time, issue directions to the banking companies for resolution of stressed assets. 
    (2) The Reserve Bank may specify one or more authorities or committees with such members as the Reserve Bank may appoint or approve for appointment to advise banking companies on resolution of stressed assets.

Current NPA situation :- According to RBI October to December report, the gross Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) of Public Sector Banks are just under Rs. 4 lakh crore, and they collectively account for 90% of such rotten apples in the country’s banking portfolio. In terms of net NPAs, their share is even higher – at 92% of the total bad loans reported so far in the banking system.

Benefits of Ordinance:-

  • This action of the Union Government will have a direct impact on effective resolution of stressed assets, particularly in consortium or multiple banking arrangements, as the RBI will be empowered to intervene in specific cases of resolution of non-performing assets, to bring them to a definite conclusion.
  • The formation of such committees proposed by ordinance will help lenders take decisions without a fear of prosecution.
  • The ordinance is passed at crucial time when Indian banks are suffering from mounting bad loan problem.

The attendant concerns that this amendment brings in are

  • Operation and Regulation:The ambit of RBI from being a regulator widens to include involving itself in operational aspect of bank.
  • Commercial impropriety: The banks may be forced to comply with RBI guidelines. This may compromise the personal interests of the banks at the altar of national interests
  • Hurts Capital infusion: The much needed capital infusion required to comply with BASEL-3 norms shall be affected as the foreign and national investors will become wary of the dictates of RBI.

 


Topic: Basics of cybersecurity; Mandate of security agencies

5) In the light of tough encryptions created for online data, what are the challenges faced by investigative agencies such as NIA and what should they do to access such encrypted data? Examine. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- In an attempt to provide their users with total privacy and security most of the communication platforms provide end-to-end encryption. But this is problematic from security and national interest point of view as these are also used by criminals and terrorists. In such a situation security agencies are faced with challenges in accessing the data:

  • Terrorism:Encrypted conduits of communication serve a tool to promote terrorism.
  • Cyber attacks:Lack of rigorous encryption may led to cyber attacks. Recent ransomware attack is a case in point.
  • Secured Encrypted communication: As more powerful encryption is embedded with electronic devices, terrorists exploit the technology to communicate securely and store information.
  • No global cyber-security laws: Regulatory measures(local laws) have little effect on the international tech giants as there is no organised cyber-security law that makes the tech companies accountable or answerable.
  • Sophisticated software: Even if the internet is shut down, with the advancement of terrorists in tech front will lead to development of their own encrypted communication software.
  • Miscellaneous problems: Other problems that plague this field is Full Device Encryption(File vault, Apple iPhone), Anonymization of user, Operational security feature(Windows Washer, Telegram burner) etc

Fight against terrorism is increasingly complicated in this digital age. It’s alarmingly important for us to raise the intelligence security for our nation. Some of the steps that can be taken are:

  • Recruiting more cryptography specialists: End-to-end encryption relies upon something called public-key cryptography. These message can be de-crypted if she intercept’s the public key shared by the terrorist organisation.
  • International data-sharing: With advanced data sharing of intel resources, they can prevent the movement of terrorists in real time.( Fingerprints of terrorists posing as refugees)
  • Bilateral agreements: Bilateral data-sharing agreement to help the government engage with Internet companies directly.
  • Law:Put in place laws that spell out what constitutes national interest and laws that eke out clear cut guidelines to enforce it in letter and spirit.
  • Co-operate the Corporate:Take into considerations the concerns of corporates and using their expertise to address the menaces emanating from encryption.

In an open internet, the security of personal data and identities should be preserved with strong and ubiquitous encryption. In an open world, personal safety is best safeguarded by police and intelligence services sharing information as seamlessly as do the terrorists.