SECURE SYNOPSIS: 05 DECEMBER 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
- In 1405, China’s most famous sea warrior-diplomat, Admiral Zheng He, set sail on seven ocean voyages.
- With 300 ships and around 28,000 men, Admiral Zheng’s flotillas were an awe-inspiring sight as they travelled from Vietnam to Mecca to Africa, stopping in countries in the Indian Ocean such as India along the way.
- Admiral Zheng’s ostensible purpose was to carry gifts and goods for trade to each of the ports he reached. He took Chinese silk, porcelain and lacquered goods and brought back spices, pearls, and rare woods.
- Admiral Zheng’s voyages far and wide, even before the voyages of renowned explorers like Vasco da Gama and Christopher Columbus, is a symbol of Chinese prowess and explains its interest in using maritime expeditions for trade.
- But in later expeditions, he extended the Ming dynasty’s desire for suzerainty to his agenda, often using muscle power when diplomacy didn’t work. For instance, Vira Alakesvara, the ruler of Sri Lanka, refused to recognise the Ming Emperor Yongle and was taken to China as a prisoner.
- For others, the voyages were a lesson in the Chinese use of power to attain its means, and hegemonic maritime ambitions.
- China celebrated the 600th anniversary of Admiral Zheng’s voyages in 2005, the U.S. began to worry about how far China would go with its naval ambitions.
- USA used the term “string of pearls” for the first time to describe China’s projects in Gwadar, Myanmar, Cambodia and Thailand.
- China’s goal, it said, was to build “a blue-water navy to control the sea lanes, but also to develop undersea mines and missile capabilities to deter the potential disruption of its energy supplies from potential threats.”
- Like the treasure voyages, the Chinese government has set out to win the world with three different sorts of maritime manoeuvres: the Belt and Road Initiative that includes the Maritime Silk Route, trade routes, and a string of naval bases and port projects from Djibouti, to Gwadar to Hambantota to the man-made islands of the South China Sea.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.
Ideology as a factor
- In the 2009 and 2014 NES, Lokniti-CSDS asked voters what mattered more to them when they were deciding whom to vote for in the recent election — the party or the candidate?
- The data presented show that party-level characteristics were the most important consideration against candidate-level characteristics, social network and clientelistic benefits (received or expects to receive benefits, or has personal ties).
- It signifies the importance of ideology where those who are attracted to a party’s overall programme or its leadership.
Individual leader as a factor
- Ideally, in a parliamentary democracy, the responsibility of communicating the party’s ideological vision should lie with the party itself. However, in India, parties across the board are weakly institutionalised.
- As a result, leaders and their parties have become mirror reflections of each other.
- There is no distinction between the two as far as the ideological message is concerned.
- The widespread grief after the deaths of political leaders such as Y.S.R Reddy, Bal Thackeray, Kanshiram and Jayalalithaa could testify that the hold of such leaders on the masses in India cannot be explained simply by a transactional arrangement between them, brokered by middlemen.
Middlemen to access services as a factor
- Middlemen help citizens get documents, navigate the bureaucracy, access the benefits of government schemes and other such things, and thus they have “control” over voters’ choice on election day.
- Local politicians protect and nurture middlemen who mobilise voters on their behalf during elections.
- There is no doubt that politicians in India serve as providers of patronage to citizens.
Topic: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States,
- Voter behaviour
- Simultaneous elections do have an impact on voter behaviour as empiical data suggests.
- Voters tend to chose the same political party for both State and Centre.
- When elections were held even six months apart, less voters chose the same political party.
- Most Indian voters tend to choose the same party when elections are held simultaneously to both Centre and State, with the relationship diminishing as elections are held farther away.
- The issues of local interest will be subsumed under the national politics, which is not an ideal situation given the diverse nature of problems at the ground level.
- Further, simultaneous elections impinge on the political autonomy of States.
- Today, any elected State government can choose to dissolve its Assembly and call for fresh elections.
- If elections are to be held simultaneously, States will have to give up this power and wait for a national election schedule.
- There can be legitimate reasons for State governments to dissolve their Assemblies and call for fresh elections.
- Under a simultaneous elections regime, the State will be beholden to the Union government for elections to its State, which goes against the very grain of political autonomy under our federal structure.
Topic: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
- The Convention Against Torture (CAT) came into force in 1987 and India signed it in 1997. Today, the CAT has 162 state parties; 83 are signatories.
- In refusing to ratify the CAT, India is in the inglorious company of Angola, the Bahamas, Brunei, Gambia, Haiti, Palau, and Sudan.
- International Opinion against India
- In 2008, at the universal periodical review by the Human Rights Council (HRC) of the UN, country after country recommended that India expedite ratification. India’s response was that ratification was “being processed”.
- In 2011, desiring to be appointed on the HRC of the UN, India took the extraordinary step of voluntarily “pledging” to ratify the CAT. Once on the Council, India forgot its commitment.
- In the 2012 review, India’s NHRC had reported a significant number of torture cases involving police and security organisations.” India ought to expeditiously ratify the CAT and enact a Prevention Against Torture Act. Again this year, India reiterated “its commitment to ratify the CAT.
- India has been making promises but doesn’t seem intent on keeping them, much to the dismay of the countries attending the review proceedings.
2.Supreme Cort Judgements against torture
- In Raghbir Singh v. State of Haryana (1980), the Supreme Court said it was “deeply disturbed by the diabolical recurrence of police torture.” “Police lock-ups,” it said, “are becoming more awesome cells.”
- In Shakila Abdul Gafar Khan v. Vasant Raghunath Dhoble (2003), the Supreme Court said that “torture is assuming alarming proportions… on account of the devilish devices adopted.
- In Munshi Singh Gautam v. State of M.P. (2004), the Supreme Court said: “Civilisation itself would risk the consequence of heading towards total decay resulting in anarchy and authoritarianism reminiscent of barbarism.”
3.Law Commission opinion
- Law Commission strongly recommended ratification and the drafting of comprehensive legislation instead of ad hoc amendments in the Indian Penal Code
4.Bill introduced previously
- The Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010 was an excellent attempt by Parliament to draft new legislation.
- Unlike Indian law, which focusses on murder and broken bones (grievous hurt), torture was expanded to include food deprivation, forcible feeding, sleep deprivation, sound bombardment, electric shocks, cigarette burning, and other forms.
- The Bill was allowed to lapse.
- In showing the world that India has no intention of combating the terror of its own forces and of implementing its promises made to the UN, the government has undermined India’s prestige.
- To be a world power, India must act like one.
Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
- Delhi is yet to come to grips with continental Eurasia.
- Indian political and policy establishment, long brought up on the notion that Europe and Asia are different, must adapt to their slow but certain integration into a single geopolitical theatre.
- Chabahar port
- The Chabahar port on the south-eastern coast of Iran opens up not just an alternative route to Afghanistan but also facilitates India’s overland connectivity with Central Eurasia.
- Shanghai Cooperation Organisation covers the heart of Eurasia but is named after a city on China’s Pacific coastline.
3.Partnership with Russia
- In Russia, the Eurasian idea has a special resonance. Eurasia is supposed to represent a unique cultural, spiritual and geographic space that is neither east nor west.
- For many in Russia, Eurasia invokes either the memories of the vast Russian empire or rekindles nostalgia for the Soviet Union.
- C-CEEC Summit
- Annual summit of an organisation called C-CEEC that promotes cooperation between China and 16 Central and East European Countries. It is more popularly known as “sixteen plus one”.
- That India is hardly interested in this new forum underlines the problem it has in dealing with a changing Eurasia.
- 2.Chinese overtures through infrastructure
- What is new to the debate, though, is China. Much in the manner that the rise of China is connecting up the Pacific and Indian Oceans, Beijing is breaking down the idea that Europe and Asia are two different continents.
- More immediately, it is about the expanding Chinese economic and political influence in spaces that were once dominated by either the West or Russia.
- But in exporting large amounts of capital for infrastructure development, drawing its economies east ward, and creating new political groupings, China has begun to undermine the Western hubris and Russian self-regard in Central Europe.
- It also widens the strategic options for Central European states.
Way forward – India’s approach
- There is indeed a Eurasia Division in India’s ministry of external affairs that deals with a significant part of the post-Soviet space. That is quite close to the most common usage of the term.
- Delhi’s world-view, traditionally defined in terms of an irreconcilable tension between “East and West”, “North and South” or “Europe and Asia” is becoming unsustainable as China’s massive Silk Road Initiative begins to integrate Europe with Asia.
- The old metrics of foreign policy purity in Delhi — distance from the West and solidarity with the East — make no sense as Chinese expansion and American retrenchment reshape the political and economic geography of Eurasia.
- If the Great Himalayan barrier and post-Partition geography have made it hard for India to develop connectivity with inner Asia, Delhi has been reluctant to walk though the open door in Europe.
- Focused as it is on bilateral relations with France, Germany and Russia, Delhi has neglected the European Union and ignored Central Europe.
- Correcting this imbalance is the first step towards a more purposeful Indian engagement with Eurasia.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth
- The FRDI Act defines the resolution mechanisms being pushed by the government as an alternative to recapitalisation.
- Creation of independent Resolution Corporation
- At the centre of the new scheme is the creation of a new independent corporation that would take over the task of resolution of bankruptcy in banks, insurance companies and identified “systemically important financial institutions” (SIFIs).
- The Resolution Corporation will also take over the task of insuring bank deposits, compensating depositors up to a specified maximum amount (at present Rs.1 lakh) in case of bank failure.
2.Classification of financial institutions
- As part of its responsibilities, the corporation is to be mandated to classify the financial institutions under its jurisdiction under different categories based on risk of failure, varying from “low” and “moderate” (where the probability of failure is marginally or well below acceptable levels) to “material” or “imminent” (implying failure probabilities that are above or substantially above acceptable levels) and, finally, critical (being on the verge of failure).
3.Imminent firms under the radar
- In cases of financial firms placed under the material or imminent category, the Resolution Corporation is to be given the power to: (i) inspect the books to obtain information on assets and liabilities; (ii) restrict the activities of the firm concerned; (iii) prohibit or limit payments of different kinds; and (iii) require submission of a restoration plan to the regulator and a resolution plan to it, if necessary involving a merger or amalgamation.
4.Critical firms to be taken over
- In cases identified as critical, the Resolution Corporation will take over their administration and proceed to transfer their assets and liabilities through merger or acquisition or liquidation with permission from the NCLT.
- Closing all options, the law prohibits recourse to the courts to stay the proceedings at the NCLT or seeking alternative routes to resolution.
- Since liquidation involves compensating stakeholders according to their designated seniority, depending on the net assets available, any stakeholder can be called upon to accept a “haircut” or loss, including holders of deposits more than the maximum amount insured against loss.
Need for bail-in clause in FRDI bill
- The biggest challenge for a government launching a “bail-in” attack on deposits is that depositors can promptly withdraw their money from the bank by demanding cash.
- Such an event can lead to severe bank runs and destabilise the banking system because bank deposits are only fractionally backed by actual cash.
- There are fears that it will enable banks to be ‘bailed in’ by depositors’ funds rather than being ‘bailed out’ by taxpayers (or potential buyers).
- The need for a specialised regime to cope with large financial firms on the verge of going bust is well-understood especially since the global financial crisis of 2008.
- As a resolution tool for stressed financial firms, the bail-in clause has been the subject of much debate, but it remains the least well-established across the world.
- Use bail in sparingly
- Bail in should typically be used where continuing a firm’s services is considered vital but its sale is unviable — not as a lazy default option.
- If lenders don’t believe that a bail-in plan would salvage a firm, triggering the clause could end up causing a run on the bank instead of preventing one.
- With its thrust on initiatives such as the Jan Dhan Yojana and demonetisation, the government has nudged more people towards the formal banking system.
- To ensure that those gains are not lost, the government must communicate more clearly the rationale behind the bail-in provision, and the circumstances in which it may ultimately be used, if at all.
2.Enhance the deposits to be returned in case of bankruptcy
- Most importantly, it must enhance the amount of bank deposits that will remain safe under the new dispensation.
- 3.Lesson from Financial Stability Board
- This resolution framework is merely the replication in the Indian context of a regime recommended by the Basel-based Financial Stability Board (FSB)
- The FSB was established in the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2007-08, which was centred round the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe.
- However, in those jurisdictions, the resolution of the post-crisis problem of potential insolvency of banks came through government purchases of equity and liquidity infusion by Central banks, unlike the FRDI Bill.
Topic: Indian economy; Infrastructure; Inclusive growth;
- In the next three years, India will add more than 300 million new mobile subscribers—and, by 2025, it is highly likely that the country will be the largest mobile market in the world.
- Like other countries in Asia, India is developing a “mobile-first” digital culture, with smartphones fuelling a boom in e-commerce and other forms of business.
- With a rapidly growing middle class, and a young, tech-savvy population, online personal services are about to take a big jump and international companies are ready to radically increase their investment in India’s digital economy.
- Just as many Indian information technology (IT) service companies have become global leaders, there is a good chance that the next decades will see new Indian entrepreneurs shaking up the global digital economy.
- Diffusing the digital revolution to wider masses
- Digitization will boost the economy if it includes communities and regions that may have previously been distant from the information and communication technology (ICT) advancement.
- Improved telecom infrastructure as well as new affordable smartphones now give everyone the opportunity to benefit from mobile digital technologies.
- And that is helping to spur a revolution in how people can access services such as banking and retail that so far have been closed to them.
- India has about three million companies that are owned by women, and the lion’s share of those are micro-enterprises whose No.1 barrier to growth is lack of access to formal financial services.
2.Regulations be streamlined
- It is equally important that sectors be opened up to new digital business models through reductions in regulatory restrictiveness.
- India has among the most restrictive regulations for product markets in the Asia-Pacific region.
- But for countries to reap the digital dividend, there must be space in the economy for new digital competition, experimentation and entrepreneurship—especially in traditionally non-digital sectors.
- All the economic growth that can be sparked by digitization will remain a promise if regulators aim to protect incumbent firms from digital competitors, rather than removing red tape that burdens digital entrepreneurs with unnecessary costs or adopting an embracing attitude to every actor, local or foreign.
- Europe’s experience with the digital economy is an interesting example.
- Example of Estonia
- Take a country like Estonia.
- A quarter-century ago, it was a poor outpost in the Soviet Union, but now it is Europe’s digital leader.
- For sure, the country has ploughed a lot of capital into building high-tech infrastructure, but the success of the country is equally about a regulatory culture that encouraged new digital competition.
2.Other countries in Europe
- And contrast the example of Estonia with several countries on the European continent that are struggling to compete in the new digital world—despite having access to world-class digital infrastructure.
- Europe has several digital protectionists that have protected markets from digitization because they have feared new competition.
- With ideas about preventive restrictions on new technological platforms like Amazon or Uber, or regulators that chase companies for competing too successfully, the digital dividend has shrunk.
- Unlike other comparable economies, countries like France and Germany have not experienced the quick spread of new digital technologies in many companies and sectors.
- Small- and medium-size firms in countries like Italy and Spain get bruised because they are blocked from having easy access to the digital technologies and services they need in order to compete.
- While these European countries have invested substantial resources in building up technological capacities for digital success, the restrictive regulatory environment has lowered the economic pay-off of all that investment.
Lessons for India
- India should adopt policies that serve the interest of the entire economy and avoid repeating the mistakes of some European countries.
- Just like other countries that are growing their digital economy fast, India should aspire to have full and open competition between different business models.
- India has great opportunities to prosper as a digital economy, but those opportunities will diminish if it gets trapped in a regulatory culture that is suspicious of foreign competitors and that champions the view that success must be indigenous.
- Technological innovation is a boon for India—and the great thing about innovation is that the only thing that matters is how much it is allowed to change the economy, not where it comes from.
General Studies – 4
- The position an individual takes on an issue often reflects his or her place in society by income and education, religion, race or ethnicity, region, and gender and is said to be called his/her political values.
- People who have the same social background usually share the same political ideas.
Factors determining the political values
- Income and education
- Low-income people tend to endorse a stronger economic role for the federal government than do wealthier ones.
- The rich generally favor a limited government and emphasize the ability of everyone to succeed through hard work.
- This belief in individual responsibility may overcome a worker’s self-interest in endorsing large social programs.
2.Race and ethnicity
- There are deep differences between the two groups in their perceptions of the judicial system and the role of the police in society.
- Self-interest also plays a significant role in attitudes on racial policies.
- Racial and ethnic minorities tend to favor affirmative action programs
- Major religious groups have their own liberal and conservative wings that frequently oppose each other on political issues.
- The region of the country a person lives in can affect political attitudes.
- The Northern states of India tend to support a strong defense policy, a preference reinforced by the presence of many military installations in the region.
- Gender gap, a term that refers to the varying political opinions men and women hold
- Unmarried women hold political views distinct from those of men and married women, views that lead them to support the liberal political views at a disproportionate rate.
- On abortion, there is very little difference between men’s and women’s opinions.