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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 05 July 2017

 


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 05 July 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 

1) Briefly discuss of history of Chinese claims on Indian territories and the genesis of present crisis in between India and China near Bhutan border. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Introduction-

The Sino-Indian border dispute is one of the longest running border disputes in the world, which has so far eluded a solution. While China has settled its territorial disputes with most of its neighbours , including Russia and Vietnam, the border dispute with India is yet to be resolved, even after 15 rounds of negotiation under the new framework of Special Representative Talks initiated in 2003 during Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s visit to China, which indeed gave an impetus to the border talks.

History of Chinese claims on Indian territories-

tibet

India-China border dispute is contended in three areas viz Aksai Chin, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim region.

Aksai Chin-

  • The western stretch of the China-India border runs from the Karakoram pass to Gya peak, in north-eastern Himachal Pradesh-The alignment India claims was first outlined in the Treaty of Tingmosang on 1642, signed after a war between Ladakh and Tibet.
  • In 1842, envoys of the maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, the Dalai Lama and the Chinese emperor reaffirmed faith in this line, saying it had been “fixed from ancient times”. No-one, though, actually mapped this line on a piece of paper. In 1847, Lord Harding, the governor-general of India, proposed a boundary commission to solve this problem. China, however, said there was no need for the commission, since “the borders of those territories have been sufficiently and distinctly fixed so it will prove far more convenient to refrain from any measures to fix them”. In 1848, though, Kashmir and Tibet signed an agreement to formalise their borders, and surveyors were sent out to map it.
  • Chinese official maps issued in 1853, 1917 and 1919 accepted the border India now claims—but, in 1956, that country drove a road through Aksai Chin, the giant high-altitude desert to its east. India thus lost possession of Aksai Chin—without, the record shows, much protest until 1958.

Arunachal Pradesh-

  • In 1913-1914, British officers carried out surveys to map the territorial jurisdiction of southern Tibet—leading to a border called the McMahon Line, after the name of the British-Indian representative at the conference in Shimla where it was agreed on. The Line runs from the Bhutan-India-Tibet junction, to Peak 15,283-feet, 8 kilometers from the Diphu-La, where China, India and Myanmar meet.
  • China rejects the MacMahon Line, saying it was signed by an illegitimate authority. In 1912, the Tibetans had—briefly—won independence, forcing out the Chinese Amban, or governor. It remained semi-independent until 1950, when China retook Lhasa—a move India then, and now, accepts as legitimate. In essence, this means China claims all of Arunachal Pradesh.

Sikkim region (dispute is more of China-Bhutan than China-India)-

  • Until 1959, China made no claims on Bhutan, asserting in one official communication that there were no discrepancies in its maps and those of Bhutan at that time. But now, its Ministry of Foreign Affairs cites the 1890 China-Britain treaty, which states that the border runs west from Doka-La along the ridgeline — that is, south of the Doklam plateau which means Doklam plateau falls under China.
  • Doko La plateau is strategically significant. It overlooks the Chumbi valley which has two important passes – Nathu La and Jelep La – to connect India and China. The plateau is contested by both Bhutan and China. Doko La plateau makes survey of Indian territory up to the Siliguri corridor easy. This also brings the security of Sikkim under threat, hence ferociously contested by India.

Genesis of present crisis between India and China-

  • China first began to turn up the heat along the Chumbi valley in the late 1960s, escalating sharply in coming decade with a growing programme of road works construction. Faced with sharp Bhutanese protests, a status quo agreement was signed in 1988, and border talks began. In 1990, in the seventh round of talks, China offered a deal swapping their northern claims for those east of Chumbi — that is, those of most advantage against India. Then, in 1999, China made a territorial deal contingent on establishing full diplomatic relations.
  • From 2004, China sought to settle the issue by escalating the pressure. That year, road construction work started from the Langmorpo stream towards the Zuri ridge. Then, the PLA began a series of intrusions into the Charithang valley, stretching all the way to the Royal Bhutan Army’s outposts at Lahrigang, several kilometres behind the country’s claim line. Further road construction work began in 2009 on bridges along the Zuri and Phuteogang ridges, overlooking the Charithang valley.
  • Immediate reason- Since the beginning of June this year, Indian and Chinese troops have been facing off across a small meadow called Turning Point at the end of Chumbi valley — a pasture called the Doklam plateau, which is claimed by China but belongs to Bhutan. In an action without precedent, Indian troops have intervened in support of the Royal Bhutan Army, after the Chinese People’s Liberation Army refused to stop work on a road leading through the disputed territory towards Doka-La, India’s last post overlooking the plateau. For modern India, the Chumbi valley is a dagger pointed at the chicken’s neck sector, the narrow strip of territory that links the country to its Northeast.

Conclusion-

The likely outcome is that both sides will back away, giving diplomats and military strategists time to think through their options: India’s decision to commit militarily in Bhutan seems to have surprised China and has changed the game for all sides. However the dialogue and negotiations between the three remain the most feasible solution.

 


General Studies – 2


Topic:   Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

2) Discuss the nature of and progress made in military-to-military relationship between India and Israel. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

 

Introduction-

India and Israel established full diplomatic relations in 1992 and since then the bilateral relationship between the two countries has blossomed at the economic, military, agricultural and political levels. Both countries see themselves as isolated democracies threatened by neighbors that train, finance and encourage terrorism, therefore both countries also view their cooperative relationship as a strategic imperative.

Nature and progress made in military-to-military relationship-

  • Progressive increase in the value and volume of defence trade-

Israel is India’s fifth-largest source of arms, with imports worth $0.21 billion in 2013-14 and $10 billion (Rs 59,670 crore) over the past decade.

  • High end technological devises-
  1. India has bought advanced Israeli Phalcon AWACS planes (airborne warning and control systems) which are capable of detecting hostile aircraft, cruise missiles and other incoming aerial threat far before ground-based radars.
  2. Israel has sold radar and surveillance systems as well as electronic components for military aircraft
  3. India’s imports of unarmed vehicles have almost all been from Israel. Of 176 UAVs purchased from Israel, 108 are Searcher UAVs and 68 are Heron UAVs.
  4. Indian Air Force had sought the procurement of SPYDER missile system to counter aerial threats at low altitude such as aircraft bombers, UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), cruise missiles, UCAVs (unmanned combat aerial vehicles) and other stand-off weapons.
  5. Israel Aerospace Industries announced has been awarded the largest defense contract in the Israeli defense industry’s history of $1.6 billion by the Indian Army for medium-range surface-to-air missiles, advanced air and missile defense systems as well as additional long-range surface-to-air missiles and air and missile defense systems for Indian aircraft carriers.
  6. The Indian Navy launched a new, Israeli-developed Integrated Under Water Harbour Defence and Surveillance System (IUHDSS), in February 2017.  The system will enhance the security of above and below-water vehicles operated by the Indian Navy in the Mumbai Naval Harbor.  
  • Joint ventures-
  1. India’s Western Naval Command has recently successfully conducted a trial firing of a medium-range surface-to-air missile from the INS Kochi stealth guided-missile destroyer. The missile, jointly developed by Israel Aerospace Industries and India’s Defense Research and Development Organization and manufactured by Hyderabad-based Bharat Dynamics Limited.
  2. Israel has also pledged support to the ‘Make in India’ mission in the defence sector.
  3. India and Israel have jointly-developed Barak 8 anti-ship-missile missile, which has been tested successfully by Indian Navy.
  4. Indian firm Reliance Defense and Israeli firm Rafael Advanced Defense Systems signed a cooperative agreement worth an estimated $10 billion at Defexpo India on March 30, 2016. Per the agreement, Rafael and Reliance will cooperatively produce air-to-air missiles, various missile defense systems, and surveilance balloons for the Indian military. The undertaking is projected to provide employment for 3,000 Indians at a facility in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.
  • Counter-terrorism-
  1. Mumbai attack in 2008 paved a way to creation of a joint working group to fight against terrorism. Just after the attacks Israel offered India homeland security assistance and counter- terror capabilities, in response to this, Maharashtra government also sent a delegation to Israel
  2. Israel has helped India defense itself through training in counterterrorism methods. In November 2011, India’s elit Cobra Commando unit bought more than 1,000 units of the Israeli X-95 assualt rifle to use in counterinsurgency operation.
  3. India is adopting hi-tech anti-infiltration systems and innovative tactics from Israel to safeguard its western and eastern borders.
  4. The two countries also signed an Extradition Treaty and a pact on Transfer of Sentenced Prisoners.
  • Military exercises-

Pilots from India joined pilots from Israel, the United States, Germany, France, Italy, and Poland in June 2017 for the 2017 Blue Flag exercise, the largest aerial training exercise to ever take place in Israel.  

  • Intelligence sharing-

Israeli and Indian government officials signed an intelligence-sharing agreement in July 2014, hoping to fight radical Islamic extremism in the region together.

Conclusion-

The relationship between India and Israel has overcome many hurdles and stands at critical point at present. India needs Israel’s cooperation not only in military, but also in other areas like agriculture, IT start-ups etc. Thus India has to cultivate and nurture strong bonding with Israel.

 


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

3) Critically analyse various dimensions of privacy related issues involved in Aadhaar debate. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Introduction-

Aadhaar has become topic of intense debate in India with the government’s compulsion for every resident to get Aadhaar through the legislation. Though the topics like exclusion and inclusion error due to Aadhaar is yet to resolve by government, the most important debate has been the violation of privacy due to Aadhaar.

Dimensions of privacy related issues involved in Aadhaar-

  • Danger of theft of personal data of millions of people-

Government says 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.

The recent data breaches in banking system and technological giants like yahoo, questions the robustness of Aadhaar infrastructure. Further government is yet to convince its citizens and Judiciary that how Aadhaar would be leak-proof.

  • Threat of misuse of sensitive information of the residents registered under it-

Government has stated that Aadhaar is safe because UIDAI stores only minimal data required for biometric matching and demographic details.

Critics of Aadhaar argue that Biometric and demographic details are publicly available, and anybody determined enough can obtain these from touched objects and using a powerful camera even without the victim’s cooperation.

  • Compulsion to have Aadhar card for a number of welfare schemes.

The Government of India (GoI) has repeatedly been saying that it is the government’s position that Indian citizens have no constitutional right of privacy.

It argues that the poor, whose welfare is at stake in the continuance of subsidy payments and other benefits, must be prepared to surrender their right of privacy, if any, in order to continue receiving benefits.

Critics argue that Indian constitution recognizes that the poor have the same rights as the rich in any democratic society.

The government’s stand may give rise to the doubt whether it is truly committed to protecting its citizens from violations of their privacy by the unauthorised use of information provided by them.

Conclusion-

The government’s most basic obligation is to protect its citizens’ rights — both their right to sustenance and their right to the privacy that enables freedom — equally. It should recognise both the need for Aadhaar and the need for stringent rules concerning access to and security of citizens’ biometric data, in order to preserve their privacy. The Constitution does not specify ‘right to privacy’ as a fundamental right, but the law on the subject has evolved considerably in India, and privacy is now seen as an ingredient of personal liberty.

 


Topic: Functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.

4) As an institution, what are the major challenges that the Election Commission of India faces today? What mechanisms it has placed to address these challenges? Examine. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- The Election Commission of India is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering election processes in India. The body administers elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, state legislatures, and the offices of the President and Vice President in the country. The Election Commission operates under the authority of Constitution per Article 324, and subsequently enacted Representation of the People Act. The Commission has the powers under the Constitution, to act in an appropriate manner when the enacted laws make insufficient provisions to deal with a given situation in the conduct of an election.

Procedural Challenges faced by Election Commission :-

  • Diversity :- The task of EC becomes even more important in a democracy like India where diversity is not an exception but a norm. Diversity in India exists along all the possible lines- topography, belief, language, sensibilities, aspirations, and living standards among other things. Hence conducting hustle free, fair, timely election has always been a challenge.

Solution :- Roping in workforce from different wings of government, deploying maximum security forces for ensuring free, fair elections.

  • Enrolment process and ensuring maximum participation :- Given the scale of India’s populace one can imagine how massive this task is. The demographic transition India is going through makes it even more cumbersome. The fact that there are 81.4 cr eligible voters this Lok sabha election shows the sheer size of this enterprise. The right to exercise one’s power to vote is the bedrock of modern democracies. So EC is also mandated to energise the election process to ensure that the election results reflect the true, broad based results. One forth of India’s populace is still unlettered. A significant proportion of our people are physically challenged. Poor infrastructure and hard terrain poses accessibility challenges. Naxal affected areas and vulnerable polling stations pose security threats. These challenges call for innovative and sincere solutions.

Solution :- Voters awareness program, vulnerability mapping of the polling booths, accessibility audits, deployment of central police forces, EVM-VVPAT among other things, systematic Voter’s Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP)

  • Ensuring a level playing field and good spirit :- EC has devised a model code of conduct (MCC). It has also issued guidelines to be observed during campaigning. But this particular task has become increasingly more difficult in recent times due to evolution of new mediums of communications and innovative and overzealous campaigning. Social media is an evolving platform. It provides an intimate, immediate and democratic space for information dissemination and interaction. The scale and depth of this platform is so vast that it is practically impossible to oversight and regulate it in a liberal democracy like India. EC is still grappling with this challenge. There are no easy solutions to it. EC is opening itself up to new possibilities and multi- stakeholder involvement.

Structural Challenges faced as an Institution :-

  • Present structure :- It consist of one Chief election commissioner and two other election commissioner who don’t enjoy same autonomy and powers as Chief election commissioner. Also tenure of Election commissioner not fixed hence not safe and independent of government’s intervention. Election Commissioner has demanded more autonomy and equal status for all recently.
  • Lack of Autonomy :- The election process of Chief election commission is not interference proof. The expenditure incurred by it is not charged on consolidated fund of India. It doesn’t even has a separate dedicated staff for conducting election process and has to be dependent on various government departments for roping in personnel.
  • Decreasing credibility :- Many political parties challenged the tampering with the EVMs which led to victory of a particular party. Frequent use of money power and muscle power is being viewed as rude shock to fairness of election process. The EC has handled it well by throwing open challenge to any political party or expert of hack or crack EVMs code. EC is satisfied as no one turned to do so and voter has faith on EVMs. 100% introduction of VVPAT will help to boost voters’ confidence into mode of conducting elections through EVMs. The EC can only disqualify a candidate if the money expenditure is no shown in his accounts. Other than that use of illicit money and black money tackling is outside the purview of EC. However, it has recommended the govt. to amend RPA and make it an offence. It has also suggested to include new clause 58 (B) to empower itself to cancel poll in case of muscle power use.

Conclusion :- A Democracy thrives on the integrity, competency and neutrality of its public institutions. Election commission (EC) is arguably single most important institution in a democracy. It is so critical for a democracy that quality of this institution is a baseline to evaluate the overall veracity of representative institutions.EC is constitutionally entrusted to work as an agent which ensures that the sanctity and veracity of the election process is not vitiated or distorted.

EC has transformed itself into an institution which is trusted by Indian people. Its various recommendations and moves to keep up with the challenges of the times have strengthened the elections process. Its neutrality, efficiency and work ethic are well established now. Robustness of our election results, peaceful transition of power and people’s faith in the EC stand testimony to all its virtues. It certainly is the dark knight of our democracy.

 


Topic:  Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

5) What are the bilateral irritants that are affecting economic ties between India and Iran. How should India resolve them? Discuss. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- India and Iran have always shared deep social, cultural, economic and political connections and relations that have enriched both civilizations. The use of the Persian language at the Mughal courts is just one example of Iranian cultural influence in north India.

With the creation of Pakistan in 1947, India and Iran lost the geographical contiguity they had enjoyed for centuries. The Cold War saw a period of turbulent relations between the two countries, as the Shah of Iran allied his country with the U.S., whereas India preferred to remain non-aligned. However, the end of the Cold War and the death of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini opened a window of opportunity for India to clear away misunderstandings and upgrade its relationship with Iran. Islamic ties with Pakistan notwithstanding, Iran began to cultivate a strong relationship with India. Bilateral relations also remained extremely cordial during Iran’s years of global chastisement for its nuclear program, with the exception of a short period during which India was unable to deal with the dynamic of Iran-U.S. divergence.

Overall, India’s diplomacy with Iran has been rooted in economic interests and buttressed by civilizational links. New Delhi’s contemporary cooperation with Tehran is mainly premised on India’s energy security, access to Afghanistan and Central Asia, and its enduring rivalry with Islamabad. It is worth emphasizing that India’s interests in Central Asia are substantial, and it needs to bolster its presence in the region. New Delhi’s desire to reclaim for India the influence and cultural relations it once enjoyed with the countries of Central Asia before the dawn of colonialism can only be reasonably realized through Iran. India and Iran also share many similarities: Extra-regional ambitions and a strong sense that they pursuing an independent foreign policy are common traits in the diplomatic behaviour of both countries. Moreover, Indo-Iran relations have a domestic political dimension as well. India’s large Shia population has been an important variable in India’s interaction with Iran.

Despite this bonhomie, even though the two countries share some common strategic interests, India and Iran differ significantly on key foreign, economic and strategic policy issues. Major irritants in relation of India Iran are as follows :-

  • Iran’s continued support for Pakistan and India’s close relations with Iraq during the Iran–Iraq War impeded further development of Indo–Iranian ties in past.
  • India had expressed strong opposition against Iran’s nuclear programme and whilst both the nations continue to oppose the Taliban, India supports the presence of NATO forces in Afghanistan unlike Iran which also irritate Iran.
  • As regards bilateral relations, the recent decline in economic ties should be of greater concern to the two countries. Iran seems to be in no hurry to decide on awarding the contract for gas exploration in its Farzad B offshore field to ONGC Videsh. Pending a decision on the contract, India has decided to decrease the volume of Iranian crude oil it will be buying this year. There have been reports that Tehran has signed an initial agreement for the gas field with Russian giant Gazprom. For India, which stood by Iran during the height of its global isolation, this is certainly galling.
  • In infrastructure and investment terms, the slow pace of the Chabahar port project has irked the Iranians and they have indicated that despite India developing the project, it won’t be exclusive to the country. Pakistan and China might also be invited to get involved. For India, this undercuts the very strategic utility of the port — viewed as India’s answer to the Gwadar port that will allow it to circumvent Pakistan and open up a route to landlocked Afghanistan.

 

Measures to be taken :-

  • India must follow a de-hyphenating policy in relation with the Arab world’s nation as happenings in one country impacts many countries around it. The de-hyphenation policy must be extended in political, economic and foreign policy issues of Iran as well. It would help in keeping economic interest intact despite ups and downs in other areas of relationship.
  • Enhancing bilateral ties and economic co operation :- The need to increase trade and economic cooperation between India and Iran is a strong imerative though the current level of economic engagement does not reflect the close relations between the two. India and Iran bilateral trade during 2011-2012 was USD 15,968.03 million as compared to 12,887.52 million in 2007-2008. The major portion of this trade is imports of petroleum products by India from Iran. Therefore, in order to sustain the level of trade interaction, it is important that Iran imports more from India. Agriculture, pharma, medical equipments and aeronautics are some of the identified areas where cooperation in future could be enhanced. It is ironical that Iran imports wheat from the US while it can do the same from India.
  • Boost infrastructural, regional connectivity activities :- an important initiative was taken by both countries when India and Iran signed an agreement to establish a new rail link between Iran and Russia. India offered assistance for technical training of personnel, railroad signalling projects as well as the supply of locomotives and spare parts. The trilateral agreement between the governments of India, Iran and Afghanistan to develop the Chabahar route through Melak, Zaranj and Delaram will also facilitate regional trade and transit and thus contribute to regional economic prosperity. Faraj–Bam railway project, Zarang–Delaram road, garland highway, International North South transport corridor are some other projects. These efforts must be speeded up and should be taken at new heights.
  • Cooperation on regional security issues :-The region is passing through the turbulent phase. There are huge political uncertainties particularly in Afghanistan, Syria and some of the West Asian countries. Without Iran’s inclusion a durable regional security architecture will not be sustainable. Iran controls the entry and exit to the Straits of Hormuz through which vast amount of oil passes. The uninterrupted oil supplies from the Persian Gulf remain important for India and the global economy.
  • Enhancing Cultural and People-to-people Contact :-To give further push to the cultural ties and increase people to people contact between the two countries, the Indian Cultural Centre was inaugurated in Tehran during the EAM’s visit. India did not have a single Culture Centre while Iran had many Culture Centres in India. Therefore, opening up of the Centre is significant from a historical and cultural context. To enhance people-to-people contacts, the two sides felt the need to liberalise the visa regime.

Conclusion :- For India, Iran continues to remain important for various reasons: energy security, for countering Pakistani Taliban in Afghanistan, for access to trade and transport connectivity with Central Asia and Afghanistan and, to some extent, for managing the domestic political dynamics. New Delhi needs to work with Tehran to resolve bilateral irritants affecting economic ties. India’s relations with Iran are important and the reformist regime of Hassan Rouhani is looking for a wider global engagement. 

 


General Studies – 3


Topic:  Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth

6) It is argued that the impact of GST will be inflationary. Critically examine whether GST’s impact will be inflationary of deflationary. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Introduction :- GST, the new tax regime, has brought with it a lot of anxiety in terms of implementation. Even in midst of all the uncertainties and challenges, there is confidence that in the long-term it will lead to benefits in the form of higher GDP growth and wider tax base. However, the pertinent question currently is what could be its impact on inflation.

Inflationary impact :-

  • In the past, countries which opted for GST were faced with a scenario of high inflation and slowdown in consumption initially. Whether that history will be repeated in India depends on a host of factors, the most important being the standard rate of GST finally agreed upon.
  • A revenue neutral rate (RNR) of 15-15.5%, as suggested by a committee headed by chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian is not expected to impact inflation significantly. Many economists anticipate minimal impact on consumer price inflation if the standard GST rate is at 18%.
  • Food items like cereals and vegetables will get more expensive with ‘oil and fat’ being an exception. Essential items like health services and medicines will bear the brunt, whether GST rate is capped at 18% or 22%. As of now, products like alcohol and petroleum have been kept out the GST ambit; clarity is yet to emerge on whether there will be more exemptions. Tobacco and tobacco products are likely to attract more tax.
  • There is an apprehension of inflation in the services sector. The services sector contributes more than 50% to India’s GDP. The GST rate applicable on most services is now 18% as compared to 15% under the older tax regime. This will put upward pressure on prices in the services sector.
  • GST will result in some non-productive expenses like logistics and warehousing cost going down. This is because taxes on inter-state movement like entry tax and CST will be subsumed under GST. However, this cost reduction by the producers many not necessarily be passed on to the consumers in terms of lower prices in the near-term.
  • In countries such as Australia, Canada, Japan, China and Singapore, there was an increase in inflation post-GST implementation.

Deflationary impact :-

  • Inflation will be under control as items with 50% weightage in the CPI are exempt, and another 50% are in the concessional 5% duty bracket. In fact, the incidence of duty on all the major items is coming down under GST; therefore, the impact of GST, far from being inflationary, might actually be mildly deflationary. Therefore, there may be even a case for RBI reducing interest rates post the implementation of GST.
  • Cascading taxes are removed, the tax compliance will increase keeping fiscal deficit under control, exports to become more competitive in global markets and the foreign direct investment to surge, cost of doing business to decrease and with other windfall gains like more job creation, formalisation of Indian market the GST impact will be deflationary.
  • Countries like New Zealand, Greece, Portugal, Thailand, and Vietnam saw inflation reducing with the implementation of GST. However, in the case of New Zealand, inflation increased in the subsequent year of the GST implementation.

Conclusion :- It’s very difficult to draw any black and white opinion in early stages of implementation of GST. While the CPI basket does not show an adverse impact of GST on inflation, we must not ignore the fact that tax on services, which is a big chunk of our GDP, is increasing. Moreover, a large part of the economy (items like petrol, diesel) are outside the ambit of GST. That may also have an inflation distortionary impact as an offset on these items will not be available under GST. In the short-term, it may not be easy to pass on the reduction in cost due to GST. Overall, GST impact on inflation could be somewhere between neutral to a marginal increase in the short-term. In the medium to long-term, GST should put downward pressure on inflation through efficiency gains, reduction in supply chain rigidities and lower transportation cost.

 


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

7) Last month, Saudi Arabia and the UAE imposed a blockade on Qatar, arguing that the country was promoting terrorism. Critically comment on the role of state actors such as Saudi Arabia in promoting terrorism around the world including India. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Introduction :- State-sponsored terrorism is government support of violent non-state actors engaged in terrorism. Last month, Saudi Arabia and the UAE imposed a blockade on Qatar, arguing that the country was promoting terrorism. The irony is that Saudi and elite groups of nations in the Gulf have also been supporting Salafis and jihadis for a long time. While Riyadh fights against al Qaeda and the Islamic State, the Saudis have been accused of financing Pakistan-based groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Haqqani network.

Past records of Saudi Arabia and its role in spreading terrorism :-

Through funding :-

  • While Saudi Arabia is often a secondary source of funds and support for terror movements who can find more motivated and ideologically invested benefactors (e.g. Qatar), Saudi Arabia arguably remains the most prolific sponsor of international Islamist terrorism, allegedly supporting groups as disparate as the Afghanistan Taliban, Al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba(LeT) and the Al-Nusra Front.
  • Saudi Arabia is said to be the world’s largest source of funds and promoter of Salafist jihadism, which forms the ideological basis of terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda, Taliban, ISIS and others. Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide, according to Hillary Clinton. According to a secret December 2009 paper signed by the US secretary of state, “Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, the Taliban, LeT and other terrorist groups.”  
  • According to studies, most of suicide bombers in Iraq are  Saudis. 15 of the 19 hijackers of the four airliners who were responsible for 9/11 originated from Saudi Arabia, two from the United Arab Emirates, one from Egypt, and one from Lebanon. Osama bin Laden was born and educated in Saudi Arabia.
  • The violence in Afghanistanand Pakistan is partly bankrolled by wealthy, conservative donors across the Arabian Sea whose governments do little to stop them. Three other Arab countries which are listed as sources of militant money are Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates, all neighbors of Saudi Arabia. 
  • Starting in the mid-1970s the Islamic resurgence was funded by an abundance of money from Saudi Arabian oil exports. The tens of billions of dollars in “petro-Islam” largess obtained from the recently heightened price of oil funded an estimated “90% of the expenses of the entire faith.”
  • Throughout the Sunni Muslim world, religious institutions for people both young and old, from children’s maddrassas to high-level scholarships received Saudi funding, “books, scholarships, fellowships, and mosques” (for example, “more than 1500 mosques were built and paid for with money obtained from public Saudi funds over the last 50 years”),along with training in the Kingdom for the preachers and teachers who went on to teach and work at these universities, schools, mosques, etc. The funding was also used to reward journalists and academics who followed the Saudis’ strict interpretation of Islam; and satellite campuses were built around Egypt for Al Azhar, the world’s oldest and most influential Islamic university.

Through ideological spread and interventions :-

  • According to former Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew, while this effort has by no means converted all, or even most, Muslims to the Wahhabist interpretation of Islam, it has done much to overwhelm more moderate local interpretations of Islam in Southeast Asia, and to pitch the Saudi-interpretation of Islam as the “gold standard” of religion in minds of Muslims across the globe.
  • Patrick Cockburn accused Saudi Arabia of supporting extremist Islamist groups in the Syrian Civil War, writing: “In Syria, in early 2015, it supported the creation of the Army of Conquest, primarily made up of the al-Qaeda affiliate the al-Nusra Front and the ideologically similar Ahrar al-Sham, which won a series of victories against the Syrian Army in Idlib”
  • While the Saudi government denies claims that it exports religious or cultural extremism, it is argued that by its nature, Wahhabism encourages intolerance and promotes terrorism. Former CIA director James Woolsey described it as “the soil in which Al-Qaeda and its sister terrorist organizations are flourishing.” 
  • In 2015, Sigmar Gabriel, Vice-Chancellor of Germany, accused Saudi Arabia of supporting intolerance and extremism, saying: “Wahhabi mosques are financed all over the world by Saudi Arabia. In Germany, many dangerous Islamists come from these communities.” 
  • In May 2016, The New York Times editorialised that the kingdom allied to the U.S. had “spent untold millions promoting Wahhabism, the radical form of Sunni Islam that inspired the 9/11 hijackers and that now inflames the Islamic State”. Iranian Hamidreza Taraghi, a hard-line analyst with ties to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said, “ISIS ideologically, financially and logistically is fully supported and sponsored by Saudi Arabia…They are one and the same”.

Through other means :-

  • The Saudis are also using more benign conduits, like TV channels, to promote their version of Islam. In Pakistan, Paigham TV (broadcasted in Urdu and Pashto) is a case in point. It was inaugurated in 2011 by Abdul Rahman Ibn Abdul Aziz Al-Sudais, the imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca.

Saudi Arabia’s sponsoring of terrorism and links with India:- 

  • The Pakistani militant outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba, which carried out the 2008 Mumbai attacks, used a Saudi-based front company to fund its activities in 2005. 
  • the creation of Peace TV by Zakir Naik, who reached a reported 100 million viewers. Naik spoke against Sufi devotions and Shiism in more or less explicit terms. He once declared that “seeking the intercession of sacred Islamic personalities, including that of Prophet Muhammad, with God is heresy”, a remark he withdrew subsequently. He also praised the murderer of Imam Husayn, offending the Shias. Naik has been censured by several Indian Muslim clerics, but praised by Gulf leaders. In 2013, Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktum, vice president and prime minister of UAE and ruler of Dubai conferred on Naik the Dubai International Holy Qur’an Award’s Islamic Personality of the Year.
  • The Saudis are supporting Salafi enterprises in South India, including in Kerala. According to a Saudi embassy cable in Delhi, millions of riyals have been reserved for the Islamic Mission Trust of Malappuram (Kerala), the Islamic Welfare Trust and the Mujahideen Arabic College in Palakkad. 

Conclusion :- Though Saudi Arabia is pointing fingers at Qatar, but on terror linkages, it has a record of double-speak. It’s a well proven thing that it sponsors terror on its soil. It’s time for not only Arab nations but also other important nations in world to catch it and peruse Saudi Arabia to shun its path of sponsoring terrorism.

 


General Studies – 4


Topic: Ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institution

8) Differentiate between terrorism and extremism. Do you think recent lynching and extortionist acts can be categorised as state sponsored terrorism? Do these incidents reflect lack of ethics in governance? Critically comment. (150 Words)

The Hindu

 

Introduction :-

Terrorist –  A person who “terrorises” people to gain a political advantage or make a point. Even if a point is not made, a terrorist is simply a person who “Terrorises” others. The ethical code of conduct of terrorists is always a subjective matter- and a terrorist by definition is morally irrelevant. A cop is a terrorist for a thief the same way a Rapist is a terrorist for a woman. 

Extremist – A person who holds extreme views about anything- usually taken in the sense of political or religious extremities. Say for example I’m part of a religion called “Mc Followers” that’s only rule is to eat McDonalds burgers. If I eat a Mc burger once everyday I’m a Mc Follower. But if I refuse to eat anything other than a Mc Burger- and have it for breakfast lunch and dinner- then I’m an “extremist” Mc Follower.

Difference Between Extremism and Terrorism in conventional way :-

  • The world is in the grip of a global phenomenon known as terrorism that is resulting loss of property and innocent lives on a much greater scale than even natural calamities
  • Terrorism refers to use of arms and violence in a secretive and furtive manner to kill soft targets and indulge in acts that cause destruction of property.
  • Organizations that indulge in terrorism are banned by all governments but they survive because of moral and monetary support from some groups of people and countries
  • Extremism refers to political ideology that is in opposition to moderation or is at least against the norms of the society
  • However, there are some countries where local terrorists are today being referred to as extremists.

Over the past two years or so we have seen a rising tide of violence, mainly in northern India, against Dalits and Muslims. This has revolved around the treatment of the cow. Indians have been physically attacked by rampaging mobs accusing them of storing beef or transporting cows for slaughter. Upon this excuse, Dalits have been assaulted and Muslims actually killed.

 It can be categorised as state sponsored terrorism :-

  • The government’s response to the terrorising of Dalits in Gujarat and the killing of Muslims across north India is far too weak in relation to the negation of democracy that this violence represents. It is expected of government to protect citizens from assault by fascist forces and should mobilise the government machinery to do so.
  • Though It is clear that the civil administration code in India sufficiently empowers the district-governing authority to deal with the situations related to mob lynching still vigilantism, often enacted while the police stand by watching
  • Relationship of certain accused groups and mobs with the people in political party which is in power at state level or at central level

Though theses arguments stands out they are exceptions today and not norms. Government is not being efficient enough to curb them but that doesn’t imply they are state sponsored terrorism acts.

Is there lack of Ethical Governance ? 

Exercising power and decision-making for a group of people is called “Governance”. Ethical governance refers to the process and procedures and cultures and values. that ensure high standards of behaviour. stated values. are the principles and standards that underpin the way councillors and officers.

  • Lynching and beatings of innocent individuals do indeed highlight a blatant violation of the rule of law. On top of that, the ineffective enforcement of law and order by the police and security forces is another drawback. Such instances does point out the ineffectiveness of the machinery for governance to protect the human rights at large.
  • In such incidences minorities are targeted, protection of minorities is a fundamental right and prime aim of government.
  • Values of Secularism, Integrity, Equality, Feeling of Brotherhood suffers a jolt.
  • Even people becoming mute spectator of such incidences shows lack peoples participation in good and ethical governance.

The acts of mob beatings, lynching, and murder of innocent people, because of a virulent adherence to certain social norms, is perhaps an indicator of the degrading status of the society as a whole. Hence only blaming government out rightly cant be a justified argument though lack of ethical governance can’t be denied at present point of time.

 


Topic:  Challenges of corruption.

9) In a survey released in March by Transparency International, among 16 countries of the Asia-Pacific region, India has the highest bribery rate of 69%. What is the correlation between economic growth and corruption? Why does corruption continues to exist despite strong economic growth? Examine. (200 Words)

Livemint

Introduction-

India has been the fastest-growing major economy in the world for the most part of the last few years. Foreign direct investment (FDI) in India increased 2.5 times from $24.3 billion in 2013-14 to $60.1 billion in 2016-17. However, economic progress has not seen a commensurate reduction in corruption.

Corruption is a multifaceted phenomenon which makes it difficult to have a single definition. There are several schools of thought on the degree of impact of corruption, but there is a consensus that corruption stifles growth, hampers development, worsens income inequality, and affects poor people the most.

Correlation between economic growth and corruption and why does it exist despite strong economic growth-

level of corruptioncorruption and income

  • There is a strong relationship between corruption and income (Chart 1). Also, different income groups have different levels of corruption. Low-income economies have the highest corruption while the high-income economies have the lowest (Chart 2). However, with an increase in income levels, corruption does not come down automatically.
  • For example, Equatorial Guinea, which is a high-income economy, is still among the most corrupt. It is often called “an almost perfect kleptocracy”, with the Open Society Foundations once referring to its corruption as “unparalleled in its brazenness”. This is because the economy—one which is chiefly natural resources-based—is run by a few powerful individuals with hardly any institutions to ensure accountability and transparency. The absence of institutions provides an opportunity for government officials and politicians to indulge in moneymaking, either in collusion or individually.
  • Corruption levels depend on an environment largely determined by per capita income. At a particular income level, actual corruption can improve or be worse, but only within a small range as compared to the trend line, depending upon the efforts made by the government in power to improve institutions.
  • One of the reasons why low-income countries are unable to reduce corruption to the level of high-income countries is because the low-income countries do not have resources to build and sustain anti-corruption institutions. Hence it is a virtuous cycle: income provides an ecosystem for building institutions and institutions help in reducing corruption and reduction in corruption helps in economic growth.

India’s case-

  • A consistent annual GDP (gross domestic product) per capita growth rate of around 7% has the potential to propel India into an upper-middle income economy in another 15 years—a stage of development at which average corruption of economies is “generally” lower than that of the lower-middle-income group of economies in which India is currently placed. However, unless anti-corruption institutions are strengthened and supporting infrastructure put in place, e.g. e-governance, skilled manpower, simplified procedures to reduce discretionary powers of the bureaucrats, etc., an increase in income alone would not help much in the reduction of corruption.
  • Often bureaucrats exercise discretionary powers in the absence of rules due to an incomplete contract situation which often leads to corruption,” says Nobel Laureate economist Amartya Sen. The experience of Hong Kong and Singapore, in fact, shows that they started putting in place tough anti-corruption measures even when their per capita incomes were comparable to that of the African countries today (low-income group) and kept strengthening them as their income levels went further up.
  • India’s anti-corruption institutions have been facing a growing shortage of human resources, which puts a question mark on the government’s sincerity in fighting corruption. In India, the judge to population ratio is at 17.86 judges per million people against 50 as recommended by the Law Commission in its 1987 report. The Central Vigilance Commission, as on 31 December 2016, has a shortage of 27.77% personnel in Group “A” posts and 28.57 % in Group “B” posts when compared to the sanctioned strength. Similarly, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) also faces a shortage of 1,584 officers against the sanctioned strength of 7,274 as per the latest data from the department of personnel and training.

Conclusion-

The Lokpal Act was passed in 2014 but the appointment of a Lokpal has not been done yet. “It is the institutions—the ones which deter corruption and those which punish corruption once it has occurred—that are necessary to make an economy corruption-free. The critical need for trust in citizens and simplified government procedures are also important for reducing corruption in essential services