SECURE SYNOPSIS: 21 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
- The Kurds have already paid what they regard as an unconscionably high price for the mere act of staging an independence referendum.
- In a punitive move, Iraqi federal government forces, acting in lockstep with Iran-backed Shia paramilitaries, retook by force most of the areas that had fallen under the control of the Peshmerga when the Kurdish force defeated Islamic State in 2015.
- The loss of substantial oil-rich territory, revenue and border control by Iraq’s Kurds following the September 5 vote is merely the latest in a seemingly endless string of misfortunes that have befallen the Middle East’s 30 million Kurds
- The Catalan historical narrative is, of course, very different from the Kurdish saga of suffering, betrayal and heroism.
- But as with the Kurds of Iraq, there is no denying the deep-seated desire among a sizeable segment of the Catalan population, who have their own language, culture and history, to break free from Spain.
- Although it has 16 per cent of the Spanish population, Catalonia generates more than 19 per cent of Spain’s GDP and 25 per cent of its exports
- If it could retain access to both Spanish and European Union markets, an independent Catalonia could be as viable a country as any other EU member state.
- Additionally, in Barcelona the Catalan region has a world-class city that is also a major tourist attraction.
- Despite these advantages, the separatist Catalan political parties failed to convince the rest of Spain as well as Europe of their case for independence on the basis of an underwhelming referendum turnout – 42 percent, compared with the Kurds’ 72 percent.
- Up until October 1, Catalans in Spain enjoyed a high degree of political autonomy with their own parliament. Today, the separatist parties are in disarray, their leaders either in jail or on the run.
- East Timor became the world’s youngest nation on May 20, 2002, to the immense relief of an international community that was powerless to stop Indonesia from invading the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and launching an occupation that caused the deaths of more than 200,000 people.
- Fifteen years have elapsed since a long and traumatic struggle culminated in independence, but tensions attributable to income inequality and high unemployment continue to periodically boil over in the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.
- The prospect of turning into a “failed state” stares Timor-Leste in the face, placing the Southeast Asian country somewhere between Kosovo and South Sudan in the world’s ranking of fragile states.
- South Sudan, which broke away from Sudan in 2011 as the outcome of an agreement that ended Africa’s longest-running civil war, the world’s youngest country has steadily become synonymous with poor leadership, ethnic cleansing, sexual violence and economic collapse.
- Between 2013 and 2015, a civil war displaced 2.2 million people, killed tens of thousands of South Sudanese and devastated the economy.
- South Sudan, which has sub-Saharan Africa’s third-largest hydrocarbon reserves, was supposed to become a prosperous country following secession.
- Instead, crude output has dropped to half in recent years over security concerns and internal strife, with fighting disrupting production in the country’s northern oilfields.
- To sum it all up, six million people – that is, half of South Sudan’s population – are currently in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, and more than 1.2 million are at risk of famine.
- None of this is to say that people around the world should accept injustice, discrimination, inequality, ethnic cleansing or state violence as destiny and keep their aspirations for independence accordingly in check.
- Rather they should prevail upon their leaders to understand that in an age of raw power politics, what really counts is neither the lofty rhetoric of political slogans nor the moral rights of oppressed peoples but the immediate interests of sovereign states and major powers.
- Nations pay a price for the foolhardiness of their leaders, as the Kurds recently found out.
- The road to sovereign statehood may be paved with good intentions, but so is the proverbial road to hell.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
- The new National Security Strategy (NSS) document unveiled by US President Donald Trump earlier this week
- Acknowledgement of India’s emergence
- It acknowledges “India’s emergence as a leading global power”.
2.India’s role in Indian Ocean
- It mentions plans to “encourage Indian economic assistance in the region”, and outlines U.S. support to India’s “leadership role in Indian Ocean security and throughout the broader region” as a priority.
3.Critical of China’s sovereignity violations
- Mr. Trump’s views of China’s assault on the “sovereignty” of South Asian nations and of Pakistan’s continued support to terror groups are closely aligned with India’s concerns in the neighbourhood.
4.Encourage Central Asia and South Asia economic linkage
- NSS seeks to promote South Asian and Central Asian economic linkages, connectivity and trade. But it remains to be seen if the US can persuade Islamabad to lift its blockade of India.
5.Critical of Pakistan terrorism
- US says it is seeking a Pakistan that “is not engaged in destabilising behaviour” and defines the principal US goal as the need to prevent terrorist threats that impact the security of the US homeland and of its allies.
- It also seeks to prevent “cross border terrorism that raises the prospect of military and nuclear tensions” and in line with this, it declares that “an Indo-Pakistan military conflict that could lead to nuclear exchange remains a key concern requiring consistent diplomatic attention.”
- Indian Ocean contours not very specific
- India is a priority area which deserves support for “its leadership role in Indian Ocean security and throughout the broader region.”
- The document notes that the Indo-Pacific “stretches from the west coast of India to the western shores of the US.”
2.India’s role limited to South East Asia and Western Pacific
- India is seen primarily in terms of the balance of power in relation to South East Asia and the Western Pacific Ocean.
3.India not given role in Persian Gulf and North Arabian Sea
- But neither in the document, nor otherwise, does the most important external area of Indian concern – the Persian Gulf and the North Arabian Sea – fit into the Indo-US conversation.
- In fact, when it comes to the Middle East, besides not figuring in US calculations, India may find itself on the wrong side since the NSS goal is to “neutralise Iran’s malign activities in the region.”
- India must be mindful, therefore, that in welcoming the U.S.’s categorisations of its security threats, it doesn’t unthinkingly get swept into an American clinch.
- While the U.S. has talked of countering China’s influence in South Asia, it has not backed this with actual financial assistance for infrastructure critical to the region.
- Equally, while Mr. Trump’s words on Pakistan and terrorism are sharp, the U.S. has yet to show its hand, either in terms of military action or withholding of coalition support funds.
Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
- If SAARC is a broken-down vehicle, India need another instrument, but cannot ignore or abandon the task of building a largely cohesive and stable periphery, which is essential to prevent meddling by external powers and realise our legitimate aspirations in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.
How to make South Asia cohesive?
- Economic growth is primary
- Our ability to manage our region and stature in the world depend to a considerable degree upon economic success.
- The continent-sized Indian economy, growing at around 6 per cent, holds a tremendous attraction for our neighbours.
2.Positive assymetry towards neighbours
- External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s assurance in an address in December 2014 that realising its special responsibility in driving the locomotive of South Asian growth, India would “continue to institutionalise positive asymmetry in favour of our neighbours and allow all to benefit from our economy and market”, should be the leitmotif of our South Asia policies.
3.Jingoism not sustainable in diplomacy
- All our neighbours have certain vested interests opposed to India and it becomes necessary once in a while to send a coercive message to them.
- This should, however, not alienate the constituencies that are well-disposed towards us.
- A jingoistic response, as opposed to discreet punitive action, to the provocations of the Pakistan security establishment and its proxies ends up consolidating opinion there in favour of the provocateurs.
- The wisdom of restricting transit for Nepal to punish the short-sighted actions of its governments is also questionable. The resulting hardship can turn the entire population against us.
4.Separate domestic politics from relations with neighbour
- Relations with our South Asian neighbours are intertwined with the interests of our states and certain political constituencies.
- For example, the politics in Tamil Nadu over the Sri Lankan Tamils issue and our relationship with Pakistan has become a subject of electoral politics in recent years.
- In a democracy, such politics is unavoidable to an extent but carried out cynically, it could have unintended consequences.
5.Efficient project implementation in neighbouring countries
- The cost and time overruns that mar most of our projects at home due to cumbersome administrative and financial procedures also afflicts our projects in neighbouring countries.
- Instead of complaining against interlopers from outside the region, we need to focus on improving our project delivery.
6.Capitalise our cultural heritage
- Lastly, the pull of our soft power is the strongest in South Asia because India remains the repository of nearly all linguistic, religious and cultural traditions of this region.
- India is the epitome of the South Asian diversity, which we have managed well in our vibrant democracy. Any faltering on this count would impair not only our South Asia project, but also our global ambitions.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Land reforms in India.
Why conclusive land titling is necessary?
- The colonial system of deed-based registration, presumptive title (not conclusive title) and land records open to challenge, continue to limit proper land utilisation.
- High litigations
- Land is one of the most litigatious and controversial subjects in India. The lack of a proper system to maintain land records and provide persons with conclusive titles results in frequent and long drawn legal conflicts.
- Registering any transaction under the Registration Act, 1908 is just an evidence of the transaction, which does not confer any title on the landowner.
- The system envisaged under the Registration Act runs parallel to the records maintained by the revenue department.
- These are supposed to reflect the changes in either record.However, this does not always happen.
3.All transactions not registered
- Some transactions (e.g. gifts) which may be part of revenue records are not necessarily required to be registered under the Registration Act.
4.Some states do not demarcate physical boundaries
- Certain systems of land ownership in states like Haryana and Himachal Pradesh only deal with ‘shares’ of particular persons without demarcating physical boundaries between them.
- Similarly, most land records do not really mirror property ownership at an individual level.
5.Constitutional deadlock between states and centre
- Under India’s constitution, maintenance of land records, land revenue, survey and ‘record of rights’ are clubbed in the state list.
- In the concurrent list, some subjects which the parliament has legislated on – stamp duty, Registration Act, transfer of property etc. – have a direct bearing on land records.
- Model Land Tilling Bill, 20011
- To rectify the anomaly in the land situation, the central government has drafted the Model Land Titling Bill, 2011.
- The Bill aims to create a template for states to move towards establishing conclusive titles through government notifications.
- Unfortunately, the entire system of new officers and authorities proposed in the Bill does not clarify their functioning vis a vis the current or existing system.
- The factors further dogging the Bill are inadequate land records, uncertain procedure of survey
- Also, the central government’s funding of authorities that primarily function under the aegis of state governments, (for e.g. ‘land record’, ‘record of rights’) as envisaged in the Bill, are seen to be problematic.
2.National Land Records Modernizing Program
- The government has also launched the National Land Records Modernizing Program (2008) to address the issue of conclusive land titling.
Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
5) Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill tries to bring global standards to resolution of financial firms. But there is a strong case for keeping deposits out of the bill’s purview. Analyse. (250 Words)
Need for Resolution Corporation
- RBI has used the powers available under the Banking Regulation Act to deal with bank failures and weaknesses in case of private sector banks.
- The Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (DICGC) schemes have been used only to a limited extent in case of commercial banks but they have been used extensively to protect depositors of weak and failing urban cooperative banks.
- The RBI has no powers of resolution in case of public sector banks. Under the existing legislation, there are no legal provisions for the RBI to resort to options such as receivership, bad bank-good bank, bridge bank etc.
- The proposed bill gives such options to the Resolution Authority.
FRDI adheres to global standards
- Global norm
- It is important to have a resolution authority with sufficient legal powers to explore a variety of options for resolution, without recourse to the sovereign’s budget, under any circumstance. In the case of large and complex financial firms, regulators insist on living wills.
- In addition to capital reserves and provisions that create a buffer against losses, regulators can also require banks to issue a special category of debt instruments that have a loss-bearing capacity or bail-in provisions.
- In many countries where such laws have been already enacted, there is a bail-in provision as well. These include the UK, Canada, Australia, EU — but, in some cases, deposits have been excluded from the purview of bail-in.
2.Financial Stability Board Recommendation
- During the global financial crisis, many governments had to use taxpayers’ money to bail out banks deemed “too big to fail “.
- Thus, under the auspices of the G20 Financial Stability Forum, it was recommended that each jurisdiction should have clear legal provisions for dealing with the resolution of financial firms.
- Such firms cannot be dealt with under the normal bankruptcy laws. They operate with public funds — as deposits or insurance premium or contribution to pension funds or money invested by public in units of mutual funds — and in debt instruments issued by non-banking financial companies.
- There needs to be clarity on how the assets of the financial firms can be used to settle different types of debt liabilities.
Why keep deposits out of the bail-in?
- In a country like India, where there has not been any banking crisis and where the public needs to have a safe place where they can invest their savings rather than keeping it under the mattress or buying gold, depositors need to have safety of funds.
- FSDC Group had suggested that bail-in clause should exclude bank deposits.
- The Group recommends that the bail-in framework should cover the capital instruments (additional Tier 1 and Tier 2) as well as other unsecured creditors
- Deposit liabilities, inter-bank liabilities, and all short-term debt, which if subjected to bail-in can induce financial instability, would be excluded from bail-in.
- Public trust in the banking system is the most important condition for financial stability.
6) Recently, a new legal framework for wetlands was passed, the Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017, replacing the earlier Rules of 2010. Discuss the merits and demerits of these Rules. (250 Words)
- Wetlands can be defined as lands transitional between terrestrial and aquatic eco-systems where the water table is usually at or near the surface or the land is covered by shallow water.
- They support rich biodiversity and provide wide range of ecosystem services such as water storage, water purification, flood mitigation, erosion control, aquifer recharge and others.
- But they are threatened by reclamation and degradation due to activities like drainage and landfill, pollution, hydrological alteration (water withdrawal and changes in inflow and outflow), over-exploitation resulting in loss of biodiversity and disruption in ecosystem services provided by them.
- There are at least 115 wetlands that are officially identified by the central government and of those 26 are identified as wetlands of international importance under Ramsar Convention which is an international intergovernmental treaty for conservation of wetlands. India is a party to the treaty.
- Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017, replacing the earlier Rules of 2010 are also passed.
- Setting up State Wetlands Authority
- The new rules stipulate setting up of a State Wetlands Authority in each State and union territories that will be headed by the State’s environment minister and include a range of government officials.
- They will also include one expert each in the fields of wetland ecology, hydrology, fisheries, landscape planning and socioeconomics to be nominated by the state government.
2.Activities permitted/prohibited to be defined comprehensively
- These authorities will need to develop a comprehensive list of activities to be regulated and permitted within the notified wetlands and their zone of influence, recommend additional prohibited activities for specific wetlands, define strategies for conservation and wise use of wetlands, and undertake measures for enhancing awareness within stakeholders and local communities on values and functions of wetlands.
- The rules prohibit activities like conversion of wetland for non-wetland uses including encroachment of any kind, setting up of any industry and expansion of existing industries, manufacture or handling or storage or disposal of hazardous substances and construction and demolition waste, solid waste dumping, discharge of untreated wastes and effluents from industries, cities, towns, villages and other human settlements.
3.Identify all wetlands within stipulated time
- The State authorities will also need to prepare a list of all wetlands of the State or union territory within three months, a list of wetlands to be notified within six months, a comprehensive digital inventory of all wetlands within one year which will be updated every ten years.
- This year, the Supreme Court also passed an order directing States to identify wetlands in the country within a stipulated timeframe.
- Identification does not distinguish between existing and encroached
- Identification process by the State Wetland Authority does not distinguish between existing wetlands and especially those past wetlands which have been encroached and can be proved through legal documents.
- It also does not take into account the Jagpal Singh judgment of Justice Katju for restoration of encroached wetlands throughout the country.
2.Central government intervention provision
- Provisions like “central government may consider proposals from the state government or union territory administration for omitting any of the (prohibited) activities on the recommendation of the authority” in the new rules can be misused.
3.Appeal against Wetland Authorities not defined
- Another major objection is about the process of appeal against the decisions of wetland authorities. According to the 2010 rules, anyone aggrieved with the CWRA’s decisions could have filed an appeal with the National Green Tribunal, but the new 2017 rules are silent on the appeal process.
4.Wise use provision
- The other big gap is the subjective definition of “wise use” which is to be determined by the state wetland authority. While the subject head talks about restrictions and the activities listed are to be prohibited, the provision gives ample space for undoing everything that ought to be prohibited.
5.Some wetland types ignored
- Salt pans as ‘wetlands’ have been omitted from the new Rules. They were identified as wetlands in the 2010 Rules, as they are often important sites of migratory birds and other forms of biodiversity.
General Studies – 4
Topic: Ethics in human actions; Values; Ethical dilemmas
- Our culture is replete with vivid depictions of compromised positions through history, from the pages of the Kama Sutra and the walls of the Khajuraho temples to the screens of Bollywood and regional films.
- The truth is that our continuing inability to be comfortable about the display of affection and the opportunity to love is deeply troubling for the 200 million young people caught, like the proverbial deer in the head-lights, between their desires and the denial of expressions of their sexuality.
- Under-sexed due to increasing age of marriage
- Our youth are turbo-charged sexual creatures whose animal instincts need authoritarian and paternalistic control, they are, in fact, amongst the most under-sexed in the world.
- But the real existential crisis that the youth are trapped in is unique to our times.
- Over the past hundred years, the average age of marriage has steadily increased from the early teens to the early-20s.
- Yet, during this period of dramatic changes in the lives of young people, social norms prohibiting sexual relations (or, even just hugging) until marriage have remained inflexible.
- As a result, young Indians are now waiting longer than their grand-parents’ generation to enjoy sex, at a stage of life when they are primed, from both psychosocial and biological perspectives, to be sexually active.
- To make matters worse, there is a toxic atmosphere surrounding sexuality education in schools.
- There is an abysmal lack of safe spaces to romance, and there is limited access to information and services regarding contraception.
2.Easy aceess to pornography
- At the same time, our youth have unrestricted access to a torrent of online pornography which becomes their only source of information, however twisted, about sexuality and we have the ingredients of a perfect storm.
- It is time to reclaim sexuality from the self-appointed guardians of morality and to recognise that being sexual is integral to being human.
- In addition to making comprehensive sexuality education, designed in an age-appropriate way, accessible to all young people from an early age, we need thought leaders, in particular young people, to champion an open dialogue and challenge archaic values about youth sexuality.