SECURE SYNOPSIS: 23 MARCH 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: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
1) What is Lingayatism? Examine its relationship with the Sharana Movement in Karnataka. Also examine how 12th century philosopher Basavanna’s philosophy influence both Lingayatism and Sharana Movement. (250 Words)
- Recently Karnataka asked India’s federal government to grant the status of a separate religion to the Lingayats, a socio-religious community constituting a large part of the state’s population.
- Lingayats are followers of Basavanna, the 12th-century social reformer who rebelled against Hindu society and established a new dharma.
- The Lingayats evolved elaborate rituals to mark the distinctiveness of their dharma from the Brahminical, Jaina and folk faiths existing at that time.
- It rejects the authority of the Vedas, the caste system, and Hindu beliefs such as reincarnation and karma.
- Distinct theology and ritual life:-
- Composed by men and women from all “castes” (or occupational backgrounds), the extensive body of vachanas are in Kannada, not Sanskrit.
- They elevate labour to a spiritual ideal and emphasise the equal worth of different kinds of work.
- They reject temple worship and forbid animal sacrifice.
- The Lingayats are strict vegetarians.
- They have their own priests to officiate over ceremonies, their own cooks.
- They don’t cremate the dead, but bury them.
Relationship with Sharana movement :-
- The Sharana-movement, which started in the 11th century, is regarded by some as the start of Veerashaivism. It started in a time when Kalamukha Shaivism, which was supported by the ruling classes, was dominant, and in control of the monasteries.
- The main force behind the sharana movement was Basavanna similar to lingayatism.
- This movement not only had all the general characteristics of the bhakti movements but also managed to grow beyond them. Everyone associated with the movement was a devotee whose aim was nothing but realization of god.
- This otherworldly outlook however did not prevent them from addressing the issues faced by the people in the real world. They thought and worked hard to improve the prevailing social conditions.
- The movement produced more than two hundred people who composed vachanas (couplets) which was present in Lingayatism as well.
- The other big achievement of the movement was the inter-marriage among Brahmins and dalits These marriages had the complete approval of the then sharana society.
- While all Bhakti movements accepted the spiritual equality of all individuals the vachana movement alone also gave equal importance to the social equality of the people.
- Sharana movement never managed to regain its radical, egalitarian edge, though the Veerashaivas, now commonly known as Lingayats, emerged politically powerful in the later centuries.
- Even they denied the Hindu social order and most of the leaders of the movement were from backward classes.
- Women played a key role in the movement.The Sharana movement produced 33 women Vachana poets, most of them from the lower strata of the society. Akkamahadevi, the most famous poet of this period is still the best woman poet of the Kannada language.
- After Sharana movement in the 12th century and post Basaveshwara’s death, the movement went underground. The people who survived started practising their religion lingayatism along with Hindus.
Lingayatism and Basavanna:-
- The tradition of Lingayatism is known to have been founded by social reformer and philosopher Basavanna in 12th century Karnataka. While there exists a debate around whether Basavanna founded the sect or if he merely reformed an existing order, there can be no doubt that under him the community acquired the form of a well-organised, structured mass movement.
- Followers of the sect continue to revere him as the founder and prime philosopher of their religion.
- Basava’s works which view the Lingayat community as a boundless entity where there is no outsider, offers a glimpse of the radical theology of Lingayat dharma
- Basavanna’s vision of a societal order was one based on human freedom, equality, rationality, and brotherhood. He and his followers spread their ideas through vachanas (prose-lyrics) and their prime target was the caste hierarchy which they rejected with full force.
- Basavanna’s movement did not just uproot the Hindu cultural practices but also broke away from the other Bhakti movements by forming an institutionalised order for themselves.
Basavanna and Sharana movement:-
- The Sharana movement he presided over attracted people from all castes, and like most strands of the Bhakti movement, produced a corpus of literature, the vachanas, that unveiled the spiritual universe of the Veerashaiva saints.
- The egalitarianism of Basavanna’s Sharana movement was too radical for its times.
- He set up the Anubhava Mandapa, where the Sharanas, drawn from different castes and communities, gathered and engaged in learning and discussions.
- Sharanas challenged the final bastion of the caste order: they organised a wedding where the bridegroom was from a lower caste, and the bride a Brahmin.
- Basavanna is a seminal figure in the Bhakti movement, which challenged the dominance of Brahminical Hinduism, and especially institutions like the caste system, from the 6th century onwards.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections
- Trafficking in human beings is the third largest organized crime violating basic human rights. There are 27 million adults and 13 million children who are victims of trafficking. There is nospecific law so far to deal with this crime. Accordingly, the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 has been prepared.
Features of the bill:
- Addresses the issue of trafficking from the point of view of prevention, rescue and rehabilitation.
- Aggravated forms of trafficking, which includes trafficking for the purpose of forced labour, begging, trafficking by administering chemical substance or hormones on a person for the purpose of early sexual maturity, trafficking of a woman or child for the purpose of marriage or under the pretext of marriage or after marriage etc.
- Punishment for promoting or facilitating trafficking of person:-
- Which includes producing, printing, issuing or distributing unissued, tampered or fake certificates, registration or stickers as proof of compliance with Government requirements; or commits fraud for procuring or facilitating the acquisition of clearances and necessary documents from Government agencies.
- The new law also seeks to make way for punishment of three years for a person found to be promoting or facilitating trafficking.
- Punishment ranges from rigorous minimum 10 years to life and fine not less than Rs. 1 lakh in cases of “aggravated” crimes
- In order to break the organized nexus, both at the national and international level, the Bill provides for the attachment & forfeiture of property and also the proceeds for crime.
- The confidentiality of victims/ witnesses and complainants by not disclosing their identity. Further the confidentiality of the victims is maintained by recording their statement through video conferencing (this also helps in trans-border and inter-State crimes).
- Time bound trial and repatriation of the victims – within a period of one year from taking into cognizance.
- Immediate protection of rescued victims and their rehabilitation. The Victims are entitled to interim relief immediately within 30 days to address their physical, mental trauma etc. and further appropriate relief within 60 days from the date of filing of charge sheet.
- Rehabilitation of the victim which is not contingent upon criminal proceedings being initiated against the accused or the outcome thereof.
- Rehabilitation Fund created for the first time. To be used for the physical, psychological and social well-being of the victim including education, skill development, health care/psychological support, legal aid, safe accommodation, etc.
- As per the Bill, the rescued adults would be given an opportunity before the Magistrate if they want to stay in protection homes or go to their native places.
- Institutional mechanism:
- Designated courts in each district for the speedy trial of the cases.
- The Bill creates dedicated institutional mechanisms at District, State and Central Level. These will be responsible for prevention, protection, investigation and rehabilitation work related to trafficking. National Investigation Agency (NIA) will perform the tasks of Anti-Trafficking Bureau at the national level present under the MHA.
- The NIA will receive financial aid under Nirbhaya fund for safety of women in order to set up a cell for investigating human trafficking
- The Bill comprehensively addresses the transnational nature of the crime. The National Anti-Trafficking Bureau under national investigation agency will perform the functions of international coordination with authorities in foreign countries and international organizations
- The Bill addresses one of the most pervasive yet invisible crimes affecting the most vulnerable persons especially women and children. The new law will make India a leader among South Asian countries to combat trafficking.
- The bill addresses the issue of trafficking from the point of view of prevention, rescue and rehabilitation(first to address the issue of victim rehabilitation).
- Setting up of one or more special homes in each district for the purpose of providing long-term institutional support for the rehabilitation of victims is another feature of the Bill.
- Unlike the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act (ITPA), 1956, Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976, and Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code, the new Bill takes a holistic view and aims to prevent trafficking for forced labour, beggary and organ transplant, among many others.
- The Bill also provides for designated courts in each district for time-bound trial and repatriation of victims within a period of one year from taking into cognizance. This is welcome move.
- The Bill also provides for seizing of property located in foreign lands which is a good effort to deal with such crimes.
- It is gender-neutral and covers transgender persons.
- It doesn’t criminalise the victims, but instead provides them with shelter, compensation, and counselling.
- The Bill also relies on Article 21 of the Constitution, guaranteeing that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law.
- The Bill takes note of the fact that India has ratified the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organised Crime and its three Optional Protocols, including the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in persons, especially women and children.
- National investigation agency is an understaffed organisation, that is already tackling the gigantic footprint of terrorism across the subcontinent and there are doubts whether it might be in a position to take on and investigate cases of human trafficking.
- According to experts most of the trafficking is taking place in small towns so focus should be on policing and not NIA
- Assertion that the bill covers ‘new’ forms of trafficking that are not addressed under existing laws is not completely true.
- For instance while the new law focuses on removing and evicting sex workers from their occupation, the Bonded Labour Act protects the worker who was held in bondage from being evicted from the place where the individual has been working.
- It does not harmonise different approaches and integrate existing laws into one.
- The Anti-Trafficking Bill has not been preceded by any substantial research or analysis.
Measures needed :-
- The trafficking bill 2018 need to be passed as it would plug the loopholes in earlier anti-trafficking laws and help tackle the menace of human trafficking as also the festering issue of illegal brothels by equipping the law enforcement agencies with more ammunition.
- Instead for a multi-faceted legal and economic strategy
- Robust implementation of labour laws
- A universal social protection floor
- Self-organisation of workers
- Improved labour inspection, including in the informal economy
- Corporate accountability for decent work conditions are needed.
- Need for systemic reforms
- To counter distress migration
- End caste-based discrimination
- Enforce the rural employment guarantee legislation
- Avoid the indiscriminate rescue of voluntary sex workers
- Protect migrants mobility and rights.
- Victims of trafficking, especially children, need safe social and economic rehabilitation.
- Higher budgetary allocations are needed for their immediate help and counselling, besides making arrangements for their vocational training, housing and repatriation.
- The reintroduction to education is also a must. Also, changes in the education system to include rights-based information, if given to each child, can lay the foundations of an aware and secure generation.
- Schools and parents must make children aware of the dangers of trafficking and prepare them to recognise and tackle it.
- Trafficking bill is the first step in the measures which are bold and holistic response to a socioeconomic problem of labour exploitation and this can help India realise SDG 8.7.
Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability.
3) Recently, a firm known as Cambridge Analytica, harvested the data of 50 million Facebook users and used that information to manipulate outcome of elections in the US. What are the issues involved in this episode of harvesting user data? What lessons does this offer to regulators and governments, especially for India? Analyse. (250 Words)
- In the technological world the combination of using personal data without consent and tailoring slander campaigns, fake news and propaganda to discover preferences of voters is a potent and dangerous precedence .
- The recent data breach involving alleged misuse of information of Facebookusers by data mining and analytics firm Cambridge Analytica has once again highlighted the need for users to treat their digital lives as their physical ones.
- Statista, an online data portal, estimates that India had 281.81 million mobile phone Internet users in 2016. So effective mechanisms are necessary against the misuse of user data.
- Individual users are increasingly viewed as legitimate targets for mining personal and metadata. Such data can provide an intimate psychological profile including ideological preferences that together help campaign managers target communications and forecast voter behaviour.
- Data theft and identity crisis:-
- Data of millions are taken and used when only 270,000 people knowingly or unknowingly gave consent.
- Individuals often share their data without being aware of it or understanding the implications of privacy terms and conditions.
- Individuals do not have much rights over the data they shared and personal data is considered as the new oil.
- The real threat of Cambridge Analytica working in Indian elections would come from psychological warfare, psychographics and micro-targeting. This allows them to target ads and messages at voters based on key “triggers” identified by their algorithms.
- There are no institutional checks on fake news and it can irrevocably damage the fabric of consensual democracy.
- The scope for external or foreign influence in democratic processes:-
- Major players are not only based abroad but also send data to overseas and thus beyond India’s jurisdiction because of lack of infrastructure of data localization.
- The Cambridge Analytica episode highlights the invisible yet pervasive ways in which public opinion can be shaped in a digital age and transform political destinies.
- India seems to be further relaxing existing checks and balances.
- The Finance Bill 2016 amended the FCRA to make it easier for parties to accept foreign funding;
Lessons to be learned by regulators, governments:-
- India needs to have a legal framework for data protection. It will create a vital and necessary framework against which rights and responsibilities can be articulated, and digressions thereof evaluated.
- A proper data protection law with an effective enforcement mechanism would ensure recognition for India as a trustworthy global destination for data-based businesses and privacy-conscious consumers while also protecting the Right to Privacy of the people in India.
- The lesson to take away is the need for more stringent regulations around election campaigning.
- India needs to formulate and implement rigorous data protection laws that would make individualised tracking of voter behaviour illegal.
- In the right to privacy judgment ,the judges provided one conclusion. The privacy protections that limit state intrusion and data protection laws should shield individuals rather than commercial interests or technological innovation.
- Concept of social engineering is needed to made private developers more accountable.
- India must learn from the US and the UK and what they are experiencing with Cambridge Analytica and its role in Brexit and Trump’s victory.
- It is very important that governments and private players give the due importance to the data it has of citizens.
- They should repeat audits every year, if not every six months, as only full transparency will restore trust back in this system.
- Cyber law provisions need to be revised as the current approach of the Indian law is very narrow.
- International agreements form an important node in a web of solutions needed to address security and the rule of law in cyberspace. Given India’s vision of a Digital India and considering the surge in cybercrime, it would be beneficial for India to join Budapest Convention
- Experts have pointed to the importance of aspects such as following basic cyber hygiene and a periodic review of the security facets of one’s profile on various web platforms, especially on social media, where users tend to share personal information.
- When there are no legitimate security or public interest reasons, users should have the right to have their data destroyed.
Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability.
- There was a time that oil companies ruled the globe, but “black gold” is no longer the world’s most valuable resource it’s been surpassed by data.
- In 2019, there would be around 258.27 million social network users in India, up from 168.1 million in 2016. Also the recent issue with Cambridge analytica where data of 50 million users stored on Facebook is misused shows that personal and user data is important to protect.
Why Personal data is considered as the new oil:-
- By giving away data so easily, people have handed the five biggest tech firms Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft the kind of monopoly that Standard Oil, enjoyed in the early 20th century
- For instance, Google holds an 81 per cent share of search, according to data metrics site Net Market Share.
- Just as global powers have historically battled for the control of oil resources and oil trading routes, so latter-day nation states are conspiring to control the data and cyber networks upon which governments and their citizens depend.
- As people use their platforms, the corporate giants are collecting information about every aspect of people’s lives, their behaviour and their decision-making. All of that data gives them tremendous power. And that power begets more power, and more profit.
- Based on the price of data and the amount of money that’s being made by big companies by reselling that data, it’s certainly comparable to oil in that manner
- Big data threatens the old order .It is fast replacing finance as the driver of business and market behaviour.
- Uber is now more valuable than many traditional carmakers, even though it does not make cars.
- Amazon knows so much about people that it now challenges every retailer, including supermarkets, the one sector that has, so far, resisted its advance.
- What makes the data that people generate more valuable than black gold is that it is unique, personal, live, accurate, infinite and can be traded cheaply.
- The more advanced data services become, the greater the risk of hacks. Data-driven automated cars that rely on car-to-car data sharing have been hacked .
- Individual users are increasingly viewed as legitimate targets for mining personal and metadata.
However there are strong arguments that personal data is not the new oil:-
- Data isn’t a finite resource. More data can be created which is not the case with oil.
- Data can also be re-used, and the same data can be used by different people for different reasons.
- Through the email address, a data company were able to access information about people or their friends so the social network and the search engine might all benefit from that one email address and all that is connected to it. This is different from oil as only the oil company get to alone will have control of the oil exploration
- Who controls the commodity:-
- There are very legitimate fears about the use and abuse of personal data online – for instance, by foreign powers trying to influence elections.
- And very few people have a really clear idea about the digital footprint they have left online.
- Data is something which in theory if not in practice the user can control and it is largely as a result of people’s choices that these firms have so much of my personal data.
- But in case of oil company, it’s largely up to them how they deploy the oil in the ground .
- Data industry is much faster to evolve than the oil industry was. Innovation is in the very DNA of big data companies, some of whose life spans are pitifully short. As a result, regulation is much harder.
- Data collectors and users should be held more accountable for how they store and manage data, rather than simply obtaining people’s consent to do pretty much as they please.
- Online firms should be prohibited from using certain data or using it in such a way that harms users . There should also be stiffer penalties for hacks.
- People should have the right to anonymity, as long as they acknowledge that this means no longer enjoying access to free services or tailored commercial offers.
- Users need to be cautious about the data they put in these social media forums and strengthen their privacy by choosing robust passwords and enabling two step verification on all important services, such as email and banking.
- The Justice Shah group had emphasised on taking the informed and individual consent of users before the collection of their personal data.
- It had proposed giving users prior notice of information practices, providing them with choices, and collection of only limited data necessary for the purpose for which it is collected.
- India needs a strong data protection law and some international convention on the lines of Budapest convention will be a welcome step.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Energy infrastructure
- India has about 240 million people without access to electricity that’s about one fourth of the total global population who don’t have energy security thus the need to have efficient energy security .
- Technically speaking, grid parity is when an alternative form of energy generates power at a levelized cost of electricitythat’s equal to or less than the price of buying power from the electric grid.
- Grid parity is the point when the cost of the alternative energy becomes equal to or less than electricity from conventional energy forms like fossil fuels. It’s one of the most important things energy analysts look at when determining how economically viable an alternative energy form is for widespread development and adoption.
- Central grid is an interconnected system of local and regional grids to provide continuous supply of electricity in the whole country. It is one seamless network for delivering power to consumers.
- It provides relief to power deficit regions.
- It will also improve transmission and facilitate better management of demand, ensuring the stability of the electricity grid.
- Easier availability of power could also lead to lower tariffs
- The reliability of the central grid cannot be assured.
- Despite central grid, problems of load shedding and power outages are still common with some parts of India having access to power for less than eight hours a day.
- Distribution – the link between power generation plants and the end users is a complex challenge that India’s power sector is tackling with.
- Close to one fourth of India’s population still lacks access to the grid, those who do have an intermittent supply of power.
- Does not offer fault isolation capability so whole grid have to be shut down to rectify faults.
- Transmission losses increase over long distances.
- Price differences might arise.
- Transmission to rural areas would be costly.
- People typically associate micro grids with small, rural, renewable-powered and standalone systems that provide electricity to homes across the area.
- A microgrid is a small-scale localized power generation and distribution network, capable of operating independently or in conjunction with the main grid.
Micro grid is the way forward for rural communities :-
- Microgrids are way to provide a reliable supply of power, with the additional benefit of reducing demands upon the conventional distribution network.
- Microgrids connected to the main distribution network have the potential to support the main grid by exporting surplus power.
- Typically microgrids use power from a combination of sources. They can help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) by facilitating the use of with low-carbon energy sources such as solar and wind.
- The cost of energy storage equipment is falling. This means that, for communities where the cost of connection to conventional power distribution networks is prohibitive, micro grids which incorporate energy storage offer a cost competitive way of providing power.
- Their modular nature make them easy to install and run in remote and hard to access locations.
- The global microgrid market is estimated to top $35 billion by 2020. The concept of locally generated and consumed energy is evolving how global cities are planning utility systems, with resilience and reliability gaining precedence.
- A microgrid is helpful in providing electricity for lighting, in charging mobile phones, and small livelihood applications. Consumers connected to a community managed microgrid can meet their minimum needs.
- Microgrids designed to optimise local energy generation sources along with grid and battery backup can be one way to solve the access to power and energy security challenge.
- Microgrids can be a catalyst to realise the vision of power-for-all in India.
- India has taken cognizance of the importance of micro and mini grids in achieving the objective of ‘24X7 power to all’ with the proposed development of 10,000 renewable microgrids and mini-grids with a generative capacity of 500 MW announced in June this year.
- Microgrids are built to perform in extreme environments to ensure continuity of energy supply. In the event of a calamity, they are self-sufficient and can provide resilient power backups.
- They could further play a role in programs such as port development, like the Sagarmala project and other initiatives to support growth in island economies.
- In India, microgrids are increasingly being used in commercial or industrial parks that consider these an extension of captive power or at least mixed with back-up power.
- India also has private entrepreneurs investing in village microgrids. They include Mera Gao Power in Uttar Pradesh and the Mlinda Foundation in West Bengal. But there are problems for private investors because the grid is rarely far away and grid power is heavily subsidized by the government. This makes it hard for investors to be sure of a return.
- Challenges exist in terms of funding and viability of such projects due to the existing price differentials with state discom supplied power municipalities
- Ongoing research in battery technologies will bring down the cost of electricity storage and improve safety of storage, thereby paving the way for a large deployment of solar and wind.
- The International Solar Alliance can direct technology development towards the needs of all developing countries.
- Finding a solution to these challenges will not just help bring a major chunk of India out of the dark ages, but also power India’s future through her smart cities.
General Studies – 4
Topic: Ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions; laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance
6) Without any doubt, atrocities against Dalits are a grim social reality, necessitating a stringent law to combat it. However, there are instances of misuse of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. In this light, suggest measures to strike a balance between protecting individual liberty and preserving the spirit of a law in favour of oppressed sections. (150 Words)
In India, SCs and STs have suffered social ostracisation and economic deprivation for centuries. To address this social deficit and achieve the “dignity of the individual” was set out as one of the objectives in the Preamble to the Constitution. Article 17 abolished untouchability and made it an offence punishable in accordance with law.
Dalits are frequently the victims of discriminatory treatment in the administration of justice. The justice system fails to vigorously and faithfully pursue complaints brought by Dalits, which is evidenced by the high rate of acquittals in such cases. Despite laws, the abhorrent practice of discrimination and violence against the SCs and STs continues.
However the use of the Atrocities Act as an instrument to blackmail or to wreak personal vengeance is uncalled for . It has also been used against public servants performing their bona fide duties. So there is a need to strike the balance with the spirit of the law and protecting liberty of an individual by introducing safeguards. Any harassment of an innocent citizen, irrespective of caste or religion, is against the guarantee of the Constitution and also against basic rights of the citizen. The recent Supreme court ruling is in line to enforce the fundamental rights of life and liberty against any executive or legislative action.
The Act should promote fraternity and integration of society as the Constitution envisages “a cohesive, unified and casteless society.” So there is a need to curb “false implication of innocent citizens on caste lines.
Public servants can be arrested with the written permission of their appointing authority. In the case of private employees, the senior superintendent of police (SSP) concerned can allow it. Anticipatory bail should be allowed if the accused is able to prove that the complaint was malafide.
Preliminary inquiry should also be conducted before the FIR is registered to check whether the case falls within the parameters of the Atrocities Act or whether it was frivolous or motivated.
Police can take cognizance of technology for collecting evidences like the Madhu case in Kerala so that victims get justice and false cases are rejected.
Affirmative action need to be taken in the society to improve social cohesion and harmony among different communities where everyone teach others with respect and equality irrespective of their caste,gender,religion etc.