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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 14 January 2021


NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.


General Studies – 1


 

Topic:  Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues;

1. Foundation of the Congress was the natural culmination of the political work of the previous years. Elucidate. (250 words)

Reference: India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra.

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 1.

Key Demand of the question:

To trace the culmination of the political awakening in India, starting from local/regional organization to the pan Indian organization in the form Indian National Congress.

Directive:

Elucidate – Give a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the particular context. You must be defining key terms where ever appropriate, and substantiate with relevant associated facts.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Write about the circumstances leading to the formation of Congress in 1885 in brief.

Body:

In brief mention about various theories regarding the formation of Congress – Safety Valve Theory and The Nationalist Theory.

Write about the evolving political consciousness among Indians. Mention the factors responsible for it. Also, write about the various local organizations that sprang up across India as result of political awakening. Mention their demands.

Conclusion:

Culminate as to how these resulted in a Pan Indian organization in the form of Indian National Congress.

Introduction:

Indian National Congress (INC) was formed in Dec 1885 in effect to safety valve theory. This theory stated that if Indians were given harmless platforms to express their opinions, explosion like 1857 might be averted.

However, there were many political organizations which were a pre-cursor to INC which inspired INC to take up the work of laying down foundation for future political development of nation.

Body:

Although, the political organisations that inspired INC were dominated by wealthy and aristocratic elements, local or regional in character, yet through long petitions to the British Parliament demanded Administrative reforms, Association of Indians with the administration, and Spread of education.

Some of these organisations were:

Landholders Society:

  1. In July 1838, the “Zamindari Association”, also known as the “Landholders Society”, was established to safeguard the interests of the landlords.
  2. Landholders’ Society was limited in its objectives i.e. covered demand of Landlords only.
  3. The landholders Society used the methods of constitutional agitation for the redressal of grievances and marked the beginning of organised political activities.

Bengal British India Society:

  1. Established in April 1843, its objective was “the collection and dissemination of information relating to the actual condition of the people of British India”

The British Indian Association of Calcutta (1851):

  1. It was formed in 1851 by the merger of Bengal British India Society and the Landholders’ Society.
  2. It was established to convey Indian grievances to the British Govt.
  3. It suggested various reform in Company’s upcoming charter like Need for the establishment of a separate legislature, separation of judicial functions from executive functions, salaries of higher officers to be reduced, abolition of abkari, salt duty and stamp duties.
  4. Some of the recommendations of the association were accepted when the Charter Act of 1853 provided addition of six members to the governor general’s council for legislative purposes.

The Bombay Association (1852):

  1. On 26 August 1852, Bombay Association was founded with the object of ‘reminding from time to time the government authorities in India or in England for the removal of existing evils, and for the prevention of proposed measures which may be deemed injurious or for the introduction of enactment which may tend to promote the general interest of all connected with this country’.
  2. The Bombay Association sent a petition to the British Parliament urging the formation of new legislative council to which Indians should also be represented.
  3. It also condemned the policy of exclusion of Indians from all higher services, lavish expenditure on posts given to the Europeans.

East India Association:

  1. In the year 1866, East India Association was founded by Dadabhai Naoroji in London.
  2. The objective of East India Association was to discuss the problem and questions related to India and to influence the British leaders towards the development of India.
  3. Later, Dadabhai Naoroji also opened its branch in various important Indian cities.

Poona Sarvajanik Sabha:

  1. The Poona Sarvajanik Sabha was established in 1867 at Poona.
  2. It has the objective of serving as a bridge between the Government and the people.

India League

  1. It was established by Sisir Kumar Ghose in 1875.
  2. The aim of India league was to instill the feeling of Nationalism amongst the people.

The Indian Association of Calcutta

  1. Surendranath Banerjee and Anand Mohan Bose founded the Indian Association of Calcutta in 1876.
  2. Founders of Indian Association of Calcutta were discontented with the pro-landlord and conservative policies of the British India Association that’s why they established this new Association.
  3. This association was aimed to unify Indian people on a common political programme and create a strong public opinion on political questions.

Madras Mahajan Sabha

  1. In 1884 Madras Mahajan Sabha was established by Viraraghavachari, P. Ananda- charlu and B. Subramaniya Aiyer.
  2. The Madras Mahajan Sabha was formed in May, 1884 to co-ordinate the activities of local association and to ‘provide a focus for the non-official intelligence spread up through the Presidency’. It was founded by M. V. Raghavachari, G. Subrahmanyam Aiyar, Anand Charlu and others.

Methods learnt from previous organisations led to culmination of objectives of INC when it was formed in 1885 were:

  1. A Pan India Organization:To found a democratic, nationalist movement through a pan India organization.
  2. Politicize and politically educate people:Congress aimed to increase awareness about the colonial exploitative policies the political rights of Indians. To this end congress focused on demanding increasing representation in councils, Indianization of civil services etc.
  3. Anti-colonialism:Develop and propagate an anti-colonial nationalist ideology; Promote friendly relations among nationalist political workers from different parts of the country.
  4. Forward looking political and economic programme:Formulate and present popular demands before the government with a view to unifying the people over a common economic and political program.
  5. Promote Nationalism:Develop and consolidate a feeling of national unity among people irrespective of religion, caste or province.
  6. The success of INC led to mass mobilisation into national awakening and united concerted effort under the leadership of Gandhiji , led to Indian Independence in 1947.

 

Topic:  Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues;

2. Ghadarites fought in vain as they failed to achieve their desired objectives and hence Ghadar movement can be classified as a failure. Do you agree with this statement? Critically Analyze. (250 words)

Reference: India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra.

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 1.

Key Demand of the question:

To Analyze critically as to whether or not the Ghadar movement was a failure.

Directive:

Critically analyze – When asked to analyse, you have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a fair judgment.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

In brief, write about the Ghadar Movement and its aims and objectives it sought to achieve.

Body:

In first part, in line with its aims and objectives, write about how Ghadar movement in India and abroad took shape. Write briefly about its leaders and their attempts to overthrow the British rule.

In the next part, in detail analyze the success and failure of the Ghadarites in achieving their stated objectives. Mention about the preparation of the Ghadarites, the lack of secrecy and the suppression of the movement by the colonial government. Also, their relative failure in causing mass defections from the India army.

Mention the contributions of Ghadar movement in further deepening nationalist consciousness and ideology, the economic critique, impact on revolutionary nationalists and spread of nationalism abroad.

Conclusion:

Mention that the success or failure of a political movement is not always to be measured in terms of its achievement of stated objectives but by overall contribution and the legacy it created.

Introduction:

Ghadar movement was started by leaders like Lal Hardayal, Sohan Singh, Kartar Singh & others on the foreign land in the year 1914. It started with the opposition against the discriminatory policies of host countries towards immigrant Indians and lack of support by British. Gradually, it took the shape of nationalism in the form of armed struggle.

Success or failure of a movement will not always be measured by its achievement or by its objectives. But by the deepening of nationalist consciousness, testing new strategies, secularism, egalitarianism and time bound executions of activities had contributed their share to freedom struggle which motivated further struggles which took place.

Body:

  • Ghadar movement can be analysed, with respect to its success and failure as below:
    • On what grounds, it was successful?
      • It united the immigrant Indians for opposing and fighting against the British authorities. The Ghadar paper was published and distributed not only in USA and Canada, but it also reached to the Indians residing in Philippines, Singapore, Fiji, etc an acted as unifying factor.
      • It helped in sustaining the freedom struggle post Swadeshi movement, when Congress was not much politically active. So, the flame of patriotism and nationalism was kept alive by Ghadar movement.
      • The Ghadar paper was nationalist critique of colonialism and was a huge propaganda effort motivated and educated Indians.
      • The movement set out secular consciousness as the leaders were from diverse religious background worked together with peace and cooperation. As, Lala har dayal was Hindu, Ras Bihari bose was Bengali, Barkatullah was Muslim.
      • Leaders tried to give it democratic and egalitarian outlook, by incorporating people from diverse background like laborers, agriculture farmers and others. Their objective was to establish independent republic of India.
      • Contributions of Ghadar movement in further deepening nationalist consciousness and ideology, the economic critique, impact on revolutionary nationalists and spread of nationalism abroad.
    • On what grounds, it was failure?
      • They completely underestimated the level of preparation needed – financially, organizational, ideological, which was needed before the launch of armed revolt.
      • They underestimated the strength of British in India in terms of their armed and organizational might, using which Ghadar movement was suppressed.
      • The movement was sustained more by the zeal and enthusiasm of the militants rather than any effective organization.
      • There was also Leadership crisis, due to lack of consistent leadership. Once Lala Hardayal escaped, there was no one to lead the Ghadarites. In India after a continuous search, they found Ras Bihari Bose as their leader.
    • Relevance of Ghadar Movement
      • The Ghadar movement can be described as tale of extreme valour, hard-work, toil which has reached the heart of every Indian settled on distant lines.
      • The powerful speeches by its leaders did shape the NRI opinion against the misrule of British in India.
      • It truly qualifies for a major struggle which aroused the people internationally and sowed seeds for any other future course of action.
      • The immediate results would have been different had the then leaders introduced proper organization and had given more time to study the general mood of the population.

Conclusion:

Even though there was no immediate success of Ghadar movement, but in later years Ghadarites helped in foundation of secular national peasant movement in Punjab.

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic:  Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

3.  America’s acrimony towards Cuba has its roots in the Cold War period. As the U.S-Cuban relationship takes yet another turn following re-designation of Cuba by U.S.A as a state sponsor of terrorism. Analyse. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question:

Outgoing President Donald Trump has reclassified Cuba as a “state sponsor of terrorism” in a last-minute move that could complicate efforts by Joe Biden’s incoming administration to re-engage with Havana.

Key Demand of the question:

To trace the complicated relationship between U.S and Cuba and the impact of the recent move in them.

Directive:

Analyze – When asked to analyse, you have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Begin by the giving context regarding re-designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism in the final hour of Trump presidency.

Body:

In the first part, trace the path of relations between the tiny Caribbean nation of Cuba and the might U.S.A during Cold war until now. Bring out the complication and hostilities witness during the regime of Fidel Castro including the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Mention the current reasons as to why the trump administration sanctioned it as state sponsor of terrorism.

In the next part, bring out how the move complicates the relationship between the two nations and makes it tough for incoming Biden administration undoing the good work achieved in the Obama era.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction:

Recently, the USA State Department has designated Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism for repeatedly providing support for acts of international terrorism in granting safe harbor to terrorists.

Body:

cuba

  • Provisions for sanctions on countries:
    • The State Department of the USA can place four categories to enlist any country as sanctioned:
    • Restrictions on foreign assistance by the USA.
    • A ban on defence exports and sales.
    • Certain controls over exports of dual use items.
    • Sanctions can also be placed on countries and persons that engage in certain trade with designated countries.
    • Four countries remain on the list: Syria, Iran, North Korea and Cuba.
      • Cuba was delisted in 2015 and has been blacklisted again.
    • Cuba Designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism: The USA government had been accusing the Castro regime for:
      • Illegitimate interference in internal politics Venezuela.
      • Oppressing the people of Cuba.
      • Supporting international terrorism.
      • Subversion of the USA justice.
    • USA-Cuba Relationship:
      • The United States and Cuba have had a strained relationship for more than sixty years, rooted in Fidel Castro’s overthrow of a USA-backed government in 1959.
      • Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro took several steps to normalize bilateral relations, including restoring diplomatic ties and expanding travel and trade.
      • The Trump administration has reversed aspects of the past agreements by reimposing restrictions on tourism and other commerce.
      • Havana Syndrome:
        • In late 2016, USA diplomats and other employees stationed in Havana (capital of Cuba) reported feeling ill after hearing strange sounds and experiencing odd physical sensations.
        • The symptoms included nausea, severe headaches, fatigue, dizziness, sleep problems, and hearing loss, which have since come to be known as the Havana Syndrome. The USA had accused Cuba of carrying out “attacks”, but Cuba denied any knowledge of the illnesses.
      • Historical Reasons for Strained Relationship:
        • Cuban Revolution:
          • The tumultuous USA-Cuba relationship has its roots in the Cold War.
          • In 1959, Fidel Castro and a group of revolutionaries seized power in Havana (city capital of Cuba).
          • They overthrew the USA-backed government of Fulgencio Batista.
        • Cuban Missile Crisis:
          • The United States severed diplomatic ties with Cuba and began pursuing covert operations to overthrow the Fidel Castro regime in 1961.
          • The missile crisis arose after Cuba allowed the Soviet Union to secretly install nuclear missiles on the island following an attempt by the USA agencies to topple Cuban Government, known as the Bay of Pigs invasion.
          • In the end, Soviet Union head Khrushchev agreed to withdraw the missiles in exchange for a pledge from Kennedy (USA) not to invade Cuba and to remove the USA nuclear missiles from Turkey.
        • Trade with Soviet Union:
          • After the Cuban Revolution, the United States recognized Fidel Castro’s government but began imposing economic penalties as the new regime increased its trade with the Soviet Union, nationalized American-owned properties, and hiked taxes on the USA imports.
        • Embargo by Kennedy Government (1962):
          • After slashing Cuban sugar imports, the USA instituted a ban on nearly all its exports to Cuba, which President John F. Kennedy expanded into a full economic embargo that included stringent travel restrictions.
        • India’s Stand:
          • Supports Lifting Economic Blockade of Cuba: Recently when the USA opposed Cuba’s membership in UNHRC in 2019, India joined the majority of countries from all continents that raised their voices in the UN General Assembly to demand an end to the unjust and long economic blockade of the United States against Cuba.
          • Criticized the USA Embargo: In the UN General Assembly, India stressed that the continued existence of this siege by the USA against Cuba contravenes world opinion, undermines multilateralism and the credibility of the United Nations.
        • UN General Assembly’s Stand:
          • Since 1992, the UN General Assembly has approved every year a resolution acknowledging the necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba.
        • Way Forward
          • Reinitiating Bilateral Talks: Resuming Washington’s blockade against Cuba appears to be the most unjust, prolonged system of unilateral sanctions applied against any country. There is an urgent need to improve the relationship between the two countries through bilateral talks.
          • Respecting the Spirit of Democracy: As a large population of Cuban immigrants and people with Cuban roots reside in the USA, it is for the sake of democracy and spirit of internationalism that the two countries make efforts towards reconciliation.
          • For India: India has good ties with both the countries. If the tension between the two – USA and Cuba escalates, it is important for India to rationally balance the relationships.

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic:  Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money laundering and its prevention

4.  Supply chain viruses are quickly becoming the new face of cyber warfare. India should proactively take steps to prevent India from such attacks. Examine. (250 words)

Reference: Indian Express 

Why the question:

In the last week of 2020, news came in that Vietnam had been found to be the target of a sophisticated supply chain cyber-attack.

Key Demand of the question:

To examine the nature of threat that supply chain viruses pose and steps India should in that regard to prevent them from happening.

Directive:

Examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we must look into the topic (content words) in detail, inspect it, investigate it and establish the key facts and issues related to the topic in question. While doing so we should explain why these facts and issues are important and their implications.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Being by describing as to what constitutes a supply chain virus with an example.

Body:

In brief, describe the mechanism of the supply chain virus attack and the implications it poses for the supply chain of the country. Use the example of Vietnam and U.S.A to substantiate your points.

Given the vast nature of India’s supply chain bring out the potential implications of supply chain viruses in India in destabilizing them and affect the public.

Mention the steps India should take in that regard in proactively identifying and capacity building to ward of any supply chain viruses.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction:

In an increasingly digital and connected world, supply chain viruses and hackers could be the new face of cyber warfare. In the last week of 2020, news came in that Vietnam had been found to be the target of a sophisticated supply chain cyber-attack.

In the second week of December, the technology world was rocked by the news of a “supply chain” cyber-attack that had managed to infiltrate the networks and systems of multiple US government departments, tech majors like Microsoft and Cisco, and hundreds of big and small companies around the world working in sensitive areas.

These are termed “supply chain” cyber-attacks because instead of attacking a target, the hackers rely on infecting one of its suppliers instead to gain access.

Body:

Cyber warfare is computer- or network-based conflict involving politically motivated attacks by a nation-state on another nation-state. In these types of attacks, nation-state actors attempt to disrupt the activities of organizations or nation-states, especially for strategic or military purposes and cyber espionage.

It involves the actions by a nation-state or international organization to attack and attempt to damage another nation’s computers or information networks through, for example, computer viruses or denial-of-service attacks.

Supply chain hackers are relatively difficult to guard against. The US government cyber defence system for example could not detect the Cozy Bear attack because it came in via a trusted source.

India’s vulnerabilities to cyber threats: 

India’s preparedness and challenges faced:

  1. The attacks can be more tangible causing damage to physical or digital infrastructure.
  2. This includes a country’s water system or electric grid.
  3. Cyber tentacles can spread to political parties, universities and private businesses and Citizens.
  4. Potentially worrisome cyber incidents include interference in political affairs, leaks and espionage and the compromising of critical national infrastructure.
  5. A 2017 study conducted by Symantec found that India ranked fourth in online security breaches, accounting for over 5 per cent of global threat detections. In the beginning of 2017, the newly launched Bharat Interface for Money application (BHIM app) reportedly faced spam threats.
  6. The real danger to India lies in targeted cyber-attacks coming from adversarial nation states.
  7. Countries like China can bring immense assets to bear in carrying out sophisticated cyber-attacks. The success of Stuxnet, which damaged the Iranian centrifuge facility at Natanz is an example.
  8. Cyber warfare is characterised by an absence of clarity.
  9. India can never be certain about the capability of the other side and also the chances of success if we launch a cyber-counterstrike.
  • There is a push towards greater digital dependence with demonetisation a cashless system is being propagated. Aadhar and the wider platforms such Digital India and Smart Cities will push things further along. India is the world’s second largest digital nation with more than 350 million Indians are online and millions more will be getting connected in the years to come.
  • India is not even a signatory to some of the basic international frameworks on Cyber security like the Convention of Cybercrime of the Council of Europe which not only European nations but Japan, US, South Africa have become signatories to, except India.
  • Indian laws are not in tandem with the ever-changing global cyberspace.
  • The laws are old and hence need to be more dynamic in nature to deal with issues like cyber-espionage, data theft and so on.
  • The Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act 2000) is the sole law that deals with cyberspace in India and was passed way back in 2000.
  • Also, the Cyber Law of India has been subject to amendments on various occasions but hasn’t served the changing dynamics and the growing threats and manifestations of cyber war.

Measures needed:

  1. A Defence Cyber Agencycould be the first step the government plans to for critical infrastructure and military networks that are increasingly becoming dependent on the Internet, thus increasing vulnerabilities.
  2. The Defence Cyber Agency will work in coordination with the National Cyber Security Advisor. It will have more than 1,000 experts who will be distributed into a number of formations of the Army, Navy and IAF. According to reports, the new Defence Cyber Agency will have both offensive and defensive capacity.
  3. Equally important is cyber propaganda. During the Doklam conflict, China tried its best to unleash cyber propaganda on India and indulged in complex psy-ops
  4. Critical cyber infrastructureneeds to be defended and the establishment of the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPCis a good step in this direction
  5. Individual ministries and private companies must also put procedures in place to honestly report breaches. It is only then that the NCIIPC can provide the requisite tools to secure these networks. This partnership must be transparent and not mired in the usual secrecy of intelligence organisations.
  6. The upgrading of the Defence Cyber Agency to a Cyber Commandmust be implemented at the soonest.
  7. A robust ecosystem must be built to secure India from acts of state and non-state actors, including protocol for grievance redressal in international forums.
  8. Better capabilities must be built to detect and deflect attacks.
  9. The computer emergency response team (CERT)must be strengthened and aligned with military and foreign affairs operations.
  • Building a joint task force between the government and key technology players will be crucial.
  • The government should push for the creation of a global charter of digital human rights.
  • A national gold standardshould be created, which ensures that Indian hardware and software companies adhere to the highest safety protocols
  • Impart cybercrime investigation training and technological know-how to the various law enforcement agencies.
  • Cyber awarenessmust be spread and there should be multi-stakeholder approach- technological inputs, legal inputs, strengthening law enforcements, systems and then dealing with trans-border crime involves lot of international cooperation.

Conclusion:

Most of the Indian banking industry and financial institutions have embraced IT to its full optimization. Reports suggest that cyber-attacks are understandably directed toward economic and financial institutions. With innovative, technology led programmes such as AADHAAR, MyGov, GeM, Digital Locker the new India is the land of technological prowess and transformation. Government and the private sector jointly have to give cyber security some priority in their security and risk management plan.

 

5.As the New Year brought new tidings, old ties are being reinvigorated in West Asia. Comment. What is its impact on India? (250 words)

Introduction:

A meeting was held in the town of Al-Ula in Saudi Arabia between the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain on one side and Egypt and Qatar on the other.

Body:

  • Qatar was expelled from the GCC in 2017 over a failure to agree to a number of demands put forth by a combination of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
  • The dispute revolved around allegations that Qatar supported Islamist militants, including the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been designated a terrorist organization by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt.
  • Qatar denied it supporting terrorism and said that the Arab countries wanted to control its foreign policy.
  • Some of the other conditions placed ahead of Qatar included:
    • Curbing diplomatic ties with Iran and close its diplomatic missions
    • Having to shut down Al Jazeera and other Qatar-funded news outlets
    • Close a Turkish military base and halt joint military co-operation inside Qatar
    • End interference in other sovereign countries’ internal affairs
    • Align with other Arab countries militarily, politically, socially and economically.
    • Qatar rejected these demands on the grounds that the Saudi-led coalition was trying to strongarm Qatar in its foreign policy decisions, this led to the boycott of Qatar.
  • The meeting was held to end the dispute and arrive at an amicable solution. Now, three and a half years later, the boycott has ended.
  • Background to the boycott
    • The Arab Spring was a series of pro-democracy uprisings that enveloped several largely Muslim countries, including Tunisia, Morocco, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Bahrain.
    • However, the political and social impact of these popular uprisings remains significant today, years after many of them ended.
    • The Arab Spring uprisings had thrown up popular demands for reform — and an end to authoritarian rule and the restoration of Arab “dignity” through freedom and democracy.
    • The immediate impact was witnessed when four leaders fell under these pressures, which also gave rise to two new developments:
      • Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated parties came to power in Egypt and Tunisia.
      • Saudi Arabia instead of bringing in reforms at the domestic front, chose to put a smokescreen by pointing fingers at Iran and the threat it carried in the region.
    • The Brotherhood has a well-organized grassroots network and is known for its mobilization and politically, it seeks to wed Islamic principles with Western-style democracy and poses a serious challenge to the existing monarchical order that provides no scope for popular participation.
    • Saudi Arabia and the UAE were taken aback by Brotherhood’s electoral successes, leading to Mohammed Morsi being elected President of Egypt in 2012.
    • There was widespread fear among the ruling elite that a successful Brotherhood administration would eventually become a template to be replicated for their countries as well.
    • The two GCC allies supported the Egyptian army’s coup against Morsi in July 2013.
    • These policy differences related to ties with Iran, support for the Muslim Brotherhood, support to different factions in the ongoing civil war in Libya and Syria, and the editorial slant of the Qatar-owned Al Jazeera media group.
    • The differences were serious enough for the three GCC countries and Egypt to cut off ties and blockade Qatar, which has a land border only with Saudi Arabia.
    • Qatar and the Brotherhood
      • Qatar, a GCC member, has not always toed the line of the Arab nations. It has been supporting its independent television channel, Al Jazeera, that often indulges in criticizing the regional leaders, and is an ardent supporter of the Brotherhood.
      • Qatar expresses its action as an act of exercising autonomy in foreign policy decisions, however, it aspires to play a major role in regional affairs. It seeks to offset its geographical diminutiveness with its vast wealth.
      • Qatar in its aspirations to play a larger role in the region has been very assuring towards US concerns and interest in the region.
      • The US felt that there was a need for wide-ranging reform in the region, it believed that the Brotherhood, with its blend of Islam and democracy, could achieve change.
      • Hence, Qatar’s backing for the Brotherhood from the early 2000s and later, specifically of Morsi, was in line with U.S. interests.
      • However, things took an ugly turn when the U.S. President Donald Trump’s hostility towards Iran and total support for Saudi Arabia allowed the Saudi led coalition to marginalize Qatar by imposing a boycott and they even attempted to corner Qatar by imposing harsh conditionalities that impinged on Qatar’s sovereignty.
      • The pressure tactics did not yield desired results, as Qatar, banking on its huge financial resources could weather the financial assault, and it also found allies in Turkey, Iran and two GCC partners, Kuwait and Oman, which ensured that the movement of goods and people was maintained.
      • Turkey, a strong regional player led by an Islamist party, became Qatar’s strategic partner and even challenged Saudi regional leadership on doctrinal and political bases.
      • Recently, when the UAE and Bahrain “normalized” ties with Israel via the Abraham Accords, both Qatar and Turkey affirmed their support for Hamas, the Islamist party in power in Gaza.
      • The two countries are also partners in Libya, ranged against the group backed by Egypt and the UAE in the ongoing civil conflict.
    • Possible re-alignments
      • The reconciliation does not entirely come up as a surprise. With the swearing-in of the new US President fast approaching the region could be in for some major realignment.
      • It is expected that, besides reviving the nuclear agreement with Iran and easing sanctions, Joe Biden could turn his attention towards Saudi Arabia’s dismal human rights record and the war in Yemen.
      • Thus, the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman played his cards early to seek a reconciliation with Qatar.
      • The reconciliation is not without drama, the other players who were part of the boycott, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain have not shifted stance.
      • The UAE and Egypt feel particularly threatened by the Brotherhood; they sent low-level delegations to Al-Ula.
      • The trio has made it clear that the future ties with Qatar will depend on the way Qatar conducts itself.
      • Several international relations observers have noted that it is foolhardy to expect Qatar to mend its ways, it is not going to dilute its backing for the Brotherhood, detach itself from Turkey, or even put a gag on Al Jazeera.
      • The UAE has its own reasons for hostility towards Qatar. It has far greater concerns relating to the threat from the Brotherhood than other GCC members due to the influence of its domestic Brotherhood-affiliated Al Islah party. Again, its leaders are also keen to emerge as major players in regional affairs on the back of close links with the U.S. They, therefore, see Qatar as a rival hindering their aspirations.
    • Impact on India:
      • Having nurtured good ties with all GCC countries, India will have cause to be satisfied with the reconciliation effort.
      • India’s energy ties with the GCC countries and the large Indian expatriate community in these nations are important bonds.
      • Saudi Arabia and Qatar are important suppliers of oil and natural gas to India.
      • Post-COVID-19 economic recovery in the GCC nations will aid India’s economic recovery as well, as these countries are major trading and investment partners as well as employment destinations for Indian workers.
      • With the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco establishing full diplomatic ties with Israel, India will have reason to be satisfied, given the close security ties it has with Israel.

Conclusion:

The Al-Ula conclave could possibly lead to some major changes in the regional alignments. There could be a nascent Saudi-UAE competition, with the UAE playing second fiddle to U.S. interests in the region and supporting its interests in diverse theatres – Yemen, the Horn of Africa and the western Indian Ocean.

Turkey and Qatar, possibly with Iran, could then seize the opportunity to re-engage with Saudi Arabia and Egypt, thus shaping an alternative regional coalition that would perhaps be closer to Russia and China than to the U.S.

The change of guard in the US will also bring in changes in the region, the Al-Ula conclave could trigger the emergence of a new regional order in West Asia.

 

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic:  Information sharing and transparency in government, Right to Information;

6.  By being accountable and transparent and countering misinformation, the government can improve vaccine intake of the masses which crucial for us in the fight against Covid-19. Elaborate. (150 words)

Reference: The Hindu 

Why the question:

India on Tuesday began the mammoth task of ferrying the first lot of Covid-19 vaccine Covishield doses, developed in Pune’s Serum Institute of India, with 9 flights carrying as many as 5.6 million doses to 13 cities ahead of the vaccination drive scheduled from January 16.

Key Demand of the question:

To develop the link between improving transparency and accountability which is crucial for success of vaccination policy against Covid-19.

Directive:

Elaborate – Give a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the particular context. You must be defining key terms where ever appropriate, and substantiate with relevant associated facts.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Begin by giving context of what will the one of the largest vaccination drive witnessed and the relationship between the success of vaccination drive and transparency.

Body:

In the first part, write about how lack of transparency and public information regarding the trials and subsequent roll out can damage the public sentiment against the vaccine. The growing misinformation in the media and public domain can lead to vaccine hesitancy.

Mention steps that the government can take to over the fear and skepticism. Education, Information, Participatory decision making, levering community leaders etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction:

Transparency, in governance context, is honesty and openness. Transparency is about information. It is about the ability of the receiver to have full access to the information he wants, not just the information the sender is willing to provide. Transparency embodies honesty and open communication because to be transparent someone must be willing to share information when it is uncomfortable to do so. Transparency is also the organization being upfront and visible about the actions it takes, and whether those actions are consistent with its values.

Effective management of public health emergencies demands open and transparent public communication. The rationale for transparency has public health, strategic and ethical dimensions. Despite this, government authorities often fail to demonstrate transparency.

IMPORTANCE OF TRANSPARENCY:

  1. The first and most pressing rationale for transparency during a health emergency is the role that information plays in promoting core public health objectives.
  2. When the public is at risk of a real or potential health threat, treatment options may be limited, direct interventions may take time to organize and resources may be few.
  3. Communicating advice and guidance, therefore, often stands as the most important available tool in managing a risk.
  4. In addition to serving core public health objectives, transparent public communication also addresses key strategic imperatives – political, economic and psychosocial – which are associated with public health emergencies.
  5. Proactive announcements and ongoing transparency in this context is seen not just as an organizational responsibility but as also the most effective way of seizing control of media reports, public discourse and customer relations associated with the event.
  6. Communication control is seen as a strategic tool to ensure perceptions of risk align with actual risk so as to limit negative information associated with the company and, ultimately, help to ensure that the reputation of the organization rebounds to its pre-crisis level.
  7. Transparency not only provides individuals and communities with information needed to survive an emergency, it is also an element of procedural fairness in decision-making and priority setting.

ISSUES RELATED TO VACCINE DISTRIBUTION

Utilization of Covid-19 vaccine will be influenced by three factors or three Cs (Convenience, Complacency, and Confidence)

  • Convenience:It implies the physical proximity or availability of vaccination to the masses.
    • A recent Lancet study pointed out, some wealthy nations have secured more than 2 billion doses of potential future Covid-19 vaccines using advance purchase agreements. This would certainly create a scarcity for developing countries like India.
    • Further, distributing the vaccine across India will need a sophisticated cold chain system.
  • Complacency:With respect to diseases, a lot of people tend to think that their personal risk is low.
    • “Optimism bias,”as it is called, makes vaccination seem unnecessary to them. However, this behaviour can prove fatal in battling a pandemic like Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Confidence:Public trust in the efficacy and safety of the vaccine is crucial whenever a new vaccine is launched.

For countries where public trust in government and public health is low, efforts to build and maintain trust are best made in collaboration with stakeholders before a public health emergency occurs.

The “bunker mentality” during a crisis results in a less inclusive decision-making process because fewer stakeholders are involved. This in turn results in less transparency and accountability.

Without it, public trust is diminished and it is difficult to restore.

When this happens, the effectiveness of risk communication diminishes and public health emergency management efforts may be significantly less effective.

Conclusion:

To conclude, Information sharing and transparency are vital components for any government to enhance the living of society. Information is valuable for every citizen to participate in the life and governance of society. The greater the access of the citizen to information, the greater would be the responsiveness of government to community needs. Transparency is considered imperative to procure the support and participation of citizens in management of public services.

 

Topic:  Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in-human actions; dimensions of ethics;

7. Are white lies ethically justified? Using examples debate on the concept of white lies. (150 words)

Reference: Ethics by Lexicon publications.

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 4.

Key Demand of the question:

To examine the concept of white lies and to determine if they are ethically justified.

Directive:

Debate – Weigh up to what extent something is true. Persuade the reader of your argument by citing relevant research but also remember to point out any flaws and counter- arguments as well. Conclude by stating clearly how far you agree with the original proposition.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Define as to what constitutes a white lie with an example.

Body:

In the first part, examine the nature of white lies and analyze the concept using various ethical theories and thinkers. Give examples to substantiate your arguments.

In the next part, give situations where it would be okay to use white lies and situations where white lies would not be right.

Conclusion:

Pass a balanced judgement that usage of white lies is based on situation but all lies are a form of deception. It would not be okay to justify white lies ethically unless there exist extra-ordinary circumstances.

Introduction:

White Lie is a form of deception about a small or unimportant matter that someone expresses to avoid hurting another person.For Eg:  Telling your mother that her food is delicious when you really don’t like the food.

Body:

White Lies are sometimes justified:

Consequentialists state that lying to get a better harmonious and productive outcome is justified.

In some situations, lying might be the ethically better choice. Many of these situations occur in daily life, and many of us resort to telling “white lies” to navigate these situations. Since they concern trivial matters and are usually well-intentioned, perhaps some white lies are justified.

Upholding Social Norm: our motivation for lying in one situation might differ from our motivation in another. For example, some situations involve social rituals such as answering “fine” when someone asks how you are. Even on bad days, most people elect to tell that white lie because their motivation is to uphold social norms. The decision to answer “fine” when you are not actually feeling fine might also be justified by the culturally shared understanding that asking “How are you?” functions mostly as a greeting.

Respecting feelings and sensitivities of others: If a mother asks a son, does she look old, even if she does, her son will oblige by saying no.

Protecting lives of Individuals:
If Nazi soldiers asked a family hiding Jews during World War II if they were in fact hiding Jews, the right response would obviously be to lie. In such a case, lying to save a life is a higher virtue than truth-telling.

According to a study published by University of Massachusetts, most people cannot go 10 minutes in a conversation without lying. Yet, at the same time, most people would prefer not to be deceived themselves.

White Lies are not justified:

Deontologists base their moral thinking on general universal laws, and not on the results of particular acts. Hence regardless of outcome, lying in essence is a wrong act.

Moreover,

Telling Trivial Lies Makes It Easier To Lie More Often: if a person gets comfortable telling small untruths she/he will eventually tell larger untruths. Integrity and ethical behavior requires telling the truth at all times.

For Eg : Gandhiji, started lying about going out with friends, then went on to lie about eating meat, then he lied about smoking, then he lied about stealing gold from his own house. After which his spirit awakens his conscience and he vows never to lie again. As per “My Experiments with Truth”.

Telling Trivial Lies Can Damage the Reputation of Our Business, organisation and cause Trust Deficit: Because if the lie is discovered at later point, it permanently stays as blot in memories of masses.

For Eg: Volkswagen emission scandal, when they expressed white lies to protect integrity of organisation and later got penalised and lost their trust among people.

Being Pragmatic in ways for telling truth – As Buddha had stated, telling truth is essential but telling unkind truth is uncalled for.

Appreciating truthfulness and honesty of individuals – Incentives and rewards rewires brain to tell the truth and develop conscience.

Not punishing individuals for lying because, people often lie out of fear.

Proactively generating ethical literacy among all about the challenges of lying and providing ways to deal with lying.


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