SECURE SYNOPSIS: 04 JANUARY 2018
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: Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.
1) The new political articulation of the Dalits is a matter of concern for those forces which are divisive and polarising. Discuss critically source, inspiration and consequences of new Dalit assertion in India. (250 Words)
- Dalits have been oppressed since historic times but with increasing mobility through good education,jobs and the growing urbanization the dalit youth is striving assert their position in the society.
- The recent violence at Bhima Koregaon got the issue of dalit assertion to the forefront again.
Sources and inspirations :-
- Battle at Koregaon:
- In 1818, Mahar soldiers of the East India Company defeated the Peshwa army in Koregaon. This battle has attained legendary stature in Dalit history
- Battle came to be seen as a victory of the Mahars against the injustices perpetuated by the Brahminical Peshwas.
- The pillar erected to respect mahars support is considered as a site of positive memory of their valour and a symbol of their renewed political aspiration. It helps them relate to their social and political marginalisation in contemporary times.
- Similarly Shivaji son Sambhaji’s memorial was said to have been erected by the Mahars but upper caste Marathas refuse to acknowledge this
- Ambedkar’s movement of Dalit liberation created a sense of confidence and assertion in the community, which in turn enabled it to overcome traditional feelings of defeatism.
- Dalit literature played an important role in sharpening confidence.
- Battle at Koregaon:
- Causes which pushed Dalit youth:
- Maratha youth, who are facing unemployment and a lack of educational opportunities, are now being easily pulled into these conflicts by Hindutva organisations that are consequently built by invoking past Maratha glory. The violent clashes in Bhima Koregaon were an extension of the conflict in Wadhu Budruk.
- The effect of land reforms and agrarian transformation while reinforcing the hold of landed castes and communities in the countryside has pushed Dalits and social segments akin to them further to the margins.
- There is a new enslavement and recrudescence of gradation and ranking at the workplace rather than enablement and camaraderie. This triggered dalit youth to fight the hierarchy.
- The Hindutva agenda of assigning lower castes to their predestined places has further exacerbated the sense of being unwanted.
- The use of social media to network and communicate has proliferated
- Access to higher and professional education has enabled horizontal and vertical social and economic mobility for Dalits. This new class has started to refuse the conventional social stigmatisation and subordination of the Dalits by the upper castes.
- Protests by students at Hyderabad in the wake of the suicide of Rohith Vemula, who faced caste-based harassment, mobilisation of thousands of Dalits in Una, Gujarat ,mobilisation at the Jantar Mantar in the national capital, are examples of Dalit assertion that seem to have upset casteist sections. These protests till now have been peaceful.
- Constitutional protection given to Dalits in article 17 and other legislative provisions gave them support to fight for their rights
- With reservation policy many dalits have gained mobility.
- Dalit movements in the past like Dalit Panther movement,Kanshiram’s role made dalits aware of their strength in political power as well.
- This Dalit assertion has started posing a challenge to the age-old hierarchy-based supremacy of the upper and intermediate castes and even the OBCs.
- Women and men are found shoulder to shoulder with one another in this ‘long march’,
- Affirmative action has created a Dalit middle class
- Dalit forums have cropped up in almost every university after Rohith Vemula’s suicide.Dalit student politics will see a massive change and so will the politics at the state and national levels
- Caste remains the most influential factor in India’s electoral politics, particularly in rural areas, this reaffirms that caste constitutes the “basic structure” of Indian society.
- There is a resurgence of folklore, sites of atrocities have become places of pilgrimage, evocative posters and imaginative slogans challenge dominant perception and sensitivity.
- Increasing Dalit rights assertions in India have unleashed a wave of backlash violence and abuse against Dalits.Official National crime statistics in India, showing a 19% rise in crimes against Dalits including violence, rape and murder committed by dominant caste members.
- Populist policies could be brought out by the political parties to grab dalit votes furthe
General Studies – 2
Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections
2) The draft of Assam’s National Register of Citizens is said to be a first step towards addressing Assam’s immigration problem, but it opens up concerns and faces many challenges. Discuss these concerns and challenges. (250 Words)2
National register of citizens:-
- The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is the register containing names of Indian citizens.
- It is a part of a much-awaited list that aims to separate the genuine residents of border state Assam and illegal Bangladeshi immigrants
- Nearly 32 years after the Assam Accord was signed, the first draft of an updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) for the State listed 1.90 crore names out of the 3.29 crore applicants.
- Assam is the only State in the country that prepared an NRC in 1951 following the census of that year and has become the first State to get the first draft of its own updated NRC.
- The NRC, 1951, is updated in Assam with the names of applicants whose names appear in NRC, 1951, or any electoral rolls of the State up to midnight of March 24, 1971, and their descendants and all Indian citizens, including their children and descendants who have moved to Assam post March 24, 1971.
Concerns and Challenges:-
- The initial publication of the register has caused confusion as many legal residents of Assam have found their names missing.
- The sudden appearance of a separate category of “original inhabitants” in the list. It is governed by the Citizenship Rules of 2003, which does not define “original inhabitants”. Even though the category has reportedly been withdrawn, it is not clear what criteria had been used in the first place.
- The possible disqualification of lakhs of applicants who had submitted panchayat documents as proof of identity. The Guwahati High Court said they had no statutory sanctity. This left about 48 lakh people who had submitted such documents in the lurch.
- There is a renewed conviction that the exercise of counting Assam’s citizens is a political one, and the new register will be a document of exclusion, not inclusion.
- The issue has become much larger than a cut-and-dried question of who is an Indian citizen and who is not. There are important humanitarian concerns at play, concerns that go beyond identification and numbers.
- Nearly five decades have elapsed since the cut-off date of March 25, 1971, and individuals who have sneaked in illegally have children and grandchildren by now.
- Muslim fears:
- Compounded older fears of discrimination that haunt Muslims in the state, which has never quite recovered from the Nellie massacres of 1983.
- The concerns of the Bengali speaking Muslims have peaked due to the proposed amendment to the Citizenship Act, 1955. The amendment would allow illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, eligible for citizenship.
- It embodies the paranoias of a volatile state.
- Paper issues:
- The process depended on countless fragile, fading documents, where entire family histories may be wiped out by a spelling mistake, a name misheard by surveying officials decades ago, a page missing from an old electoral roll.
- The bureaucratic ledgers are permeated by memory and hearsay, the document flickers between the official and the personal. It may have been this subjectivity in the counting process that laid it open to charges of political manipulation.
- In all least 10 districts the records are incomplete or unavailable.
- The concern for many in India is that a number of people may be deprived of citizenship through this process.
- Forged documents:
- Authorities detected a sizeable number of cases of persons trying to use forged documents to establish their Indian citizenship. Most of the persons who submitted forged documents are suspected to be illegal migrants
- Delay in process:-
- Most of the documents sent to authorities outside Assam are taking a lot of time. For instance around 65000 documents were sent to different authorities in West Bengal, only 30 have been sent back after verification so far.
Despite concerns the initiative is praised by many experts as a necessity to reduce the migrant issue in Assam.
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to health
- The U.S. will continue to withhold $255 million in Foreign Military Financing to Pakistan this year suggests it is prepared to downgrade its ties with Pakistan further in an effort to hold it to account on terrorism.
India’s regional security will be affected :-
- China’s dominance:
- Pakistan’s confidence that it has an alternative in China has grown, with Beijing’s pledge of more than $100 billion in loans for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor infrastructure, power projects, and so on.
- America concerned about only its interests:-
- All American statements focus on Pakistan’s support to terror groups that threaten the U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Therefore, action against the groups that threaten India is unlikely to be an immediate priority.
- America continues to prioritize the elimination of anti-Afghanistan militants over the anti-India ones. The U.S. government delinked Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) but not the Haqqani Network or any other Afghanistan-focused terror group from aid certification requirements
- With the US move benefiting India, Islamabad may further escalate its proxy war against India in Kashmir valley.
- In the past US has played a significant role in keeping extremist tendencies in Pakistan under control .As their relation fractures India’s regional security is affected.
- The rise of Hafeez Saeed in Pakistan :-
- Saeed’s recent release from house arrest and the emergence of the LeT-linked Milli Muslim League political party are a concern for India.
- With the U.S.-Pakistan relationship on the rocks, Pakistan could in due course loosen its grip on that leash, thereby enabling the group to do more damage in Afghanistan. And that should be an alarming thought for the United States and India
- US and Pakistan are mutually dependent but fractured relationship can cause disturbance:
- There’s a need for continued access to Pakistan-based NATO supply routes that serve U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
- America also continues to greatly value Pakistani intelligence support to help target al-Qaeda and ISIS in the region.
- For Islamabad, military assistance and the prestige of maintaining a partnership with a great power are major perks that are tough to relinquish.
Positives for India:-
- Pakistan derives material support but also prestige from being partner with America. As Pakistan is deprived of such benefits then that’s a clear triumph for India.
- Pakistan wanted America to give equal treatment to both Pakistan and India. With U.S.-Pakistan relations suffering and U.S.-India relations soaring, this goal has never appeared more elusive. This is a blow to Pakistan and a corresponding boon for India.
- S may be more inclined to help India boost its capacities to combat anti-India terror groups in Pakistan may be by providing India with drones and other technologies that better enable it to covertly target its non-state nemeses across the border.
- It gives credibility to Indian stand that Pakistan has been involving instate sponsored terrorism at the international level
- India needs to engage and develop relationships with countries from important organizations like SCO,BRICS and try to enable solutions for the issue of cross border terrorism.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology; Awareness in biotechnology
4) What do you understand by genomics-informed medicine? What implications do latest developments in genomics have for India and are there deliberate choices that would shape this coming future more advantageously for the country and its people? Examine. (250 Words)
Genomics informed medicine :-
- Genomic medicine is defined as an emerging medical discipline that involves using genomic information about an individual as part of their clinical care (e.g., for diagnostic or therapeutic decision-making) and the health outcomes and policy implications of that clinical use.
Implications for India:-
- India is more genetically diverse with something like 5,000 ethno-linguistic and religious groups (castes and others), all of which probably have some degree of genetic distinctiveness .
- The genetic distinctiveness of different Indian groups is in part the result of endogamy. some recent research has shown that endogamy is very likely to be medically significant.
- Castes are not just of the mind. The genetic implication of this is that there are likely to be many recessive diseases stemming from single genes specific to individual groups that can be identified.
- India has amazing genetic variation more than any other country perhaps in the world.
- Decreasing disease burden
- Include providing new solutions to diseases like malaria, dengue and chikungunya.
- This knowledge could then also be quickly applied to the task of managing diseases in these groups as well as be used for genetic counselling that could reduce their incidence in future generations.
- For instance, the founder group of Ashkenazi Jews have almost eliminated Tay-Sachs disease from their population by such means.
- With large samples the technique of genome-wide association studies that compare genomes of cases and controls could be used to identify genetic risk factors related to common diseases such as heart disease that stem from many genes that affect the health of many more individuals.
- The data collected as part of these efforts will also help to uncover the basic biological function of genes and their interactions, which are not yet fully understood. This knowledge will be useful to humanity worldwide and also offer India a chance to claim a piece of the global medical and scientific frontier.
- As a large part of the enterprise would be the application of information technology or bio-informatics the prospects of establishing viable commercial enterprises with synergies to existing IT champions are also promising in India.
What can India do :-
- The age of genomics-informed medicine is now within sight and will also make interventional treatments feasible with the revolutionary advances brought about by the discovery of new gene-editing techniques, such as CRISPR.
- To gain fully from the genomics revolution, India needs to collect information about the genetics of its population and train manpower capable of interpreting it.
- Data bank needed:
- The information that is needed has to come from a large and sustained collection of data fully sequenced individual genomes along with medical histories for the individuals who volunteer for this effort.
- Genetic information to help patients is on a small scale in india so a coherent push is needed at the national level that involves government, academic institutions, the existing health-care industry, the IT industry and the nascent biotechnology industry.
- Indian science allocation has not been growing either. It has been falling. It is 0.8 per cent of the GDP, while in the U.S. it is about 2.8 per cent of GDP. This needs to increase.
Topic: Security challenges and their management in border areas;
5) In the light of frequent ceasefire violations witnessed by both India and Pakistan across their borders in Kashmir, which measures would you think help reduce these violations and build peace along the border? Examine. (250 Words)
- With the rampant use of high calibre weapons such as mortars and even artillery in the borders in Jammu and Kashmir, civilian casualties and the destruction of their habitats have risen steadily.
- Pakistan has violated the ceasefire over 600 times so far this year, the highest in the last one decade.
How to reduce it :-
- To reduce the destruction of civilian habitats is to lower the calibre of the violations. The two sides could consider withdrawing heavy artillery to 50 km behind the zero line.
- The two Director-Generals of Military Operations, along with their delegations, could consider holding regular meetings every six months. Data show that every time the leaderships of the armed forces meet, ceasefire violations come down
- Establishing more flag meeting points between local commanders and responding quickly to meeting requests could lead to better communication and reduced misunderstandings resulting in fewer ceasefire violations.
- India could channel more effort into developing capabilities and strategies to exert non-violent pressure on Pakistan to prevent cross-border terrorism. It also comes with far lower risks of an escalating military conflict.
- India can bring pressure on Pakistan to reduce cease fire violations by getting support from international organisations like SAARC,SCO etc
- More avenues for people to people contact need to be encouraged.
- Advance technology like drones, thermal imaging etc can be used to monitor the activities in the border and track any violations beforehand.
Topic: Storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers
6) Agriculture policy should focus on reducing volatility by allowing futures trading and encouraging investment in cold-storage facilities, along with a national market for agriculture. Discuss. (250 Words)
- India’s farm economy is undergoing a structural shift for the sixth straight year, horticulture crop output has exceeded foodgrain production. But price volatility is a major problem.
How futures will help farmers:-
- Futures markets perform two key functions which can be helpful for farmers
- Risk management
- Price discovery.
- Risk management:
- Futures contracts give farmers the possibility to ‘lock in’ a certain harvest price for their agricultural production, thus excluding the possibility that their selling price will fall in the future.
- As a result, farmers do not have to cope with price volatility for these commodities anymore, as the risk of price changes is transferred from the farmers to speculators, who are willing to accept this risk in the hopes of making a profit out of it.  
- Futures can also be valuable as an instrument for price discovery. As futures markets reflect the price expectations of both buyers and sellers, they allow farmers to estimate the future spot prices for their agricultural products.
- These hedging and price discovery functions thus enable farmers to fix their prices for the future, reduce their risks, and better plan their production and investment decisions.
Concerns with future trading:-
- Farmers who engage in futures contracts are unfortunately also confronted with a variety of costs.
- Buyers and sellers of futures are required to act through a brokerage firm to conclude their transactions, and these firms receive commissions and fees for conducting these services.
- Additionally, farmers have to pay in order to open an account with their broker
- Futures are a complex risk management tool which requires a significant amount of technical know-how of the markets and regular informationon daily price changes
- It is possible that the futures price will diverge from the price on the commodity markets, resulting in a lower price for the farmers than the one agreed on in the futures contract.
- Pricevolatility is necessary for futures markets to be an effective instrument. If price variations did not occur or were only very limited, futures exchanges would not be attractive for speculators.
- Moreover, speculation on futures can even lead to sudden price rises, andmore generally to higher levels of price volatility.
How national market of agriculture helps farmers:-
- The present government’s goal is to create a one-nation, one-market model for farmers
- These include allowing setting up of private markets, direct sale of produce by farmers to bulk buyers and capping market fees and commission charges payable by a farmer.
- It withdraws the power to issue trading licences from the mandis managed by a board of traders and vests it with the state’s director of agriculture marketing.
- With a national market farmers can expect returns that are remunerative and transparent
- Concerns :
- Agriculture marketing is a state subject and the centre can only propose a blueprint. The eventual rollout will depend on the state governments.
- A model Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) law was first proposed in 2003 but made little progress.
How encouragement of investment in cold storage will help farmers:-
- India has around 6,300 cold storage facilities, with a capacity of 30.11 million tonnes. However, some 75-80 per cent of these refrigerated warehouses are suitable only to store potatoes, a commodity that produces only 20 per cent of agricultural revenue. So India needs expansion of cold storage infrastructure in an affordable, reliable and sustainable way to increase the contribution of agriculture to the economy.
- India’s vast produce rot due to lack of cold storage resulting in increased cost of the same produce as they die before they could even enter the market
- Wastage of fruits and vegetables
- Only 10-11 per cent of the fruits and vegetables produced in India use cold storage. Storage capacity needs to be increased by 40 per cent to avoid wastage.
How to proceed further:
- Establishment of supply chains required prioritisation of investment in affordable, reliable and sustainable cold chain infrastructure.
- This includes combining renewable energy with innovative technologies for producing both power and cooling, such as for example cryogenic energy storage using liquid air or nitrogen,
- Haryana launched the Bhavantar Bharpai Yojana for vegetables. Under the scheme, the government will announce prices for four vegetables before the sowing season and compensate farmers if there is a price deficit in the market. Similar schemes need to be prepared by other states as well.
Topic: Storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers
- Farmers continue to commit suicide in large numbers and the sale of misbranded pesticides is one of the prominent reasons.
- The Pesticides Bill has been pending before Parliament since 2008. The proposed legislation replacing the 1968 Insecticide Act, would regulate the manufacture, quality, import, export and sale of pesticides.
Anomalies existing in the pesticide industry which the new bill has to look into:-
- Larger pesticide companies generally outsource production to smaller manufacturers. But they can’t be prosecuted because the Central law only stipulates prosecution of the manufacturer.
- When the license to sell pesticides is issued, applicants declare a responsible person to be held accountable for violations. The person is usually a low-paid employee, who over time becomes unreachable. So, even serving the prosecution notice becomes difficult.
- Most pesticide samples don’t fail the test due to conniving officers not following procedures.
- The cumbersome documentation procedure allows the second sample to expire before it’s tested, rendering the process invalid. Thus, the crime cannot be established.
- Less than 40 pesticide-related convictions have been possible in Punjab in 10 years.
- Currently, only a magistrate can order suspension of pesticide sales over an evident violation but there were allegations of manipulation in this process
- The pesticide industry rewards retailers for increased sales, but greater pesticide sales are affecting farmers adversely. The use of imported, untested pesticides and unregistered technical procedures could be a reason for the farmer deaths in Maharashtra.
Provisions in the draft bill:-
- It would create mechanisms to make pesticides available, minimise produce contamination by pesticide residue, minimising risk to human beings, animals and the environment, and ensure regular monitoring of registered pesticides and review of safety.
- The statement of objects and reasons of the draft intends to provide for an elaborate definition of pesticides to cover any substance of chemical or biological origin intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, mitigating or controlling any pest, including unwanted species of plants or animals, which will enable regulation of existing pesticides as well as new discoveries.
- The Bill proposes to address all aspects of development, regulation and quality monitoring, production, management, packaging, labelling, distribution, handling, application, use and control, including post-registration activities and disposal of all types of pesticides.
- It would also define household pesticides, in order to prohibit their field applications and to enable delicensing of their retail sale for easy availability to the consumer.
- The Bill would provide for the effective and efficient working of the Central Pesticides Board and Registration Committee, fix tolerance limits of pesticides, detail the minimum qualification of licensees and accredit private laboratories to carry out any or all functions of the Central pesticides laboratory.
- The Bill proposes stringent punishments to check production and sale of misbranded, sub-standard and spurious pesticides, besides providing for the disposal of expired, sub-standard and spurious pesticides in an environment friendly and safe manner.
What needs to be done ?
- The responsible person has to be among the top five financial beneficiaries of the firm and the fine should be computed as a percentage of the total sales in the state. The guilty can also be served a rigorous 10-year jail term.
- Mandatory e-documentation (as per the IT Act, 2000) for agriculture departments will expedite the process and increase transparency in pesticide sample testing
- The powers for suspension of pesticide sales need to be delegated to a pesticide inspector. The magistrate’s judicial process should only begin once the prosecution for punishment starts.
- The Central Insecticide Board and Registration Authority should be restructured and many of its powers be transferred to the states.
- The Centre should make it mandatory for all agriculture-input packaging to have a bar code giving product information. The bar code will sync with the GST and the e-way bill.
- States should make retailers log all agriculture input sales onto state government servers, allowing for traceability from the factory floor to farmer’s field and for regulation enforcement.
- A data bank of agriculture input sales will give unparalleled benefits.
- Digitisation at the ground-level will drive personalised and data-driven farm extension, realistic crop loss compensation and insurance. Most importantly, it will facilitate a farmer grievance redressal mechanism to make the system accountable.
- The Centre and the states must invest in capacity building for farmers, to help them choose the right pesticide combinations, handle and store pesticides and inspect the gear used for delivery.
- Farmers must have access to information and expert advice. A strong extension service programme could help guide and nudge farmers towards practices that are both safe and beneficial.
- Research laboratories, universities and agricultural institutions need to focus on developing pesticides that are safe and effective
General Studies – 4
- Living in harmony with Nature has been an integral part of Indian culture. This has been abundantly reflected in a variety of traditional practices, religious beliefs, rituals, folklore, arts and crafts, and in the daily lives of the Indian people from time immemorial.
Protecting environment is a moral cause and moral obligation because:-
- Protecting the environment is not a modern concept. It is an idea enshrined in spiritual beliefs around the world.Major religious and spiritual movements have historically placed an emphasis on themes that have now been adapted by environmentalists seeking to protect the earth’s ecosystem.
- An American – Indian community, the Sioux Indians, refused to till the soil because they did not want to wound the body of their mother, the Earth.
- Forest dwellers respect for sacred groves .
- The principle of morality suggests that humans don’t have the right to destroy environment when they are not the creators .
- Climate change is intrinsically linked to public health, food and water security, migration, peace and security .Environmental protection is an issue of social justice, human rights and fundamental ethics. People have a profound responsibility to protect the fragile web of life on this Earth, and to this generation and those that will follow.
- Climate change affects us all, but not equally. Those who suffer first and worst are those who did least to cause it: the poor and most vulnerable members of society. So it is in the utilitarian system to act for larger good.
- Religious communities across the world routinely view the earth as a divine creation and different faiths are increasingly accepting societal role in the conservation of environement.
- Environmental action also urges positive actions, a view of the entire earth as our family, a need to act together, to be generous, compassionate and to see others welfare as part of our responsibility.
- There is a need to respect the air people breathe and the soil people walk upon the same way as the earth is an extension of society and everything truly is connected.
- When people cut down forests for agriculture, for example, there are immediate repercussions. Not only do we disturb the habitat for many species, but we also destroy the soil.
- The sustainable development definition that sustaining environment for future generations is void impact of climate change are already visible for current generation itself.
- For development of the country environmental sustainability is of huge importance as huge amount of money is spent for post rehabilitation measures of a natural disaster.
- That environmental conservation cannot be isolated from the general issues of development and must be viewed as an integral part of it, and an essential prerequisite for sustainable development, is being increasingly understood today.
- Conscious efforts are now being made to integrate environmental concerns into policies and programmes relating to economic development.
- There have been instances like Chipko movement where people actively protected environment that vigour is needed in t he present with more force.