September 2018
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[op-ed snap] A new Chinese threat warrants a review of NFU policy


Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood- relations

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: India’s No First Use nuclear doctrine and urgent need of its review


China’s new weapon threat

  1. China is developing an India-specific long-range rocket that can fly over the Himalayas from Tibet with an electromagnetic propulsion system, similar to what is used in a railgun or launch aircraft from aircraft carriers
  2. The rocket system is being designed to hit the heartland of India
  3. The Doklam standoff is being cited as the reason for its development
  4. This is the first time that China has explicitly named India to develop a weapon system and talked about striking India’s mainland

What does this imply?

  • China does not think it can impose its will on India in a border conflict
  1. The Doklam standoff lasted for more than 70 days, and despite constant threats from China, India did not blink till a disengagement was negotiated
  2. China will require a 10:1 force advantage to overwhelm the strong Indian defensive posture in the Himalayas, making it impossible for it to “teach India another lesson”
  3. India has won tactical victories in the two previous skirmishes in 1967 and 1987
  • China is considering the feasibility of waging a total war with India and not limiting itself to a border conflict that it cannot win
  1. By declaring the development of an India-specific rocket, China has revealed that it now considers India a threat
  2. It is trying to deter India from undertaking tactical military operations against China to stop its “salami slicing” by threatening to strike India’s industrial, commercial and population centres

The strategy behind the deployment of new weapons

  1. It may be part of China’s psychological warfare against India, but it does have other weapon systems already deployed in Tibet to strike at India’s heartland
  2. The idea is that once the system is ready, it will be deployed in large numbers as it is relatively cheap and will give China the capability to launch saturation strikes on major north Indian cities—New Delhi in particular
  3. This would overwhelm India’s air defence system and cause a lot of damage
  4. This is similar to China’s war planning against Taiwan—it has more than 2,000 missiles pointed at the latter to overwhelm the air defence and deliver crippling strikes that will destroy 90% of the island
  5. North Korea, too, has a large artillery force pointed at Seoul that will inflict unacceptable destruction without the need for nuclear weapons

India’s arsenal is not that strong

  1. China’s major industrial, commercial and population centres are located on its east coast, about 4,000km from India
  2. New Delhi does not have any conventional capability to strike them
  3. India only has a limited number of Agni series of missiles that can strike these areas, but they are all intended for nuclear weapons delivery, not conventional warheads
  4. It will be very expensive to make a large number of Agni V missiles with conventional warheads that can strike all parts of China

What will India’s limitations lead to?

  1. India’s options to counter any Chinese border and maritime violations will be restricted in the absence of conventional retaliatory options to respond to strategic bombing of Indian cities with conventional weapons
  2. China’s overwhelming conventional firepower superiority over India will leave only the nuclear option for India
  3. But India has pledged no first use (NFU) of nuclear weapons and will use them if it is attacked first with nuclear weapons
  4. India’s NFU is, however, qualified

No consideration of conventional weapons in NFU policy

  1. India’s nuclear doctrine says that if attacked with weapons of mass destruction, such as chemical and biological weapons, India will respond with nuclear weapons
  2. It does not consider mass destruction by conventional weapons that strategic bombing can inflict as a reason to respond with nuclear weapons

Way Forward

  1. A review of India’s nuclear doctrine is long overdue
  2. Countries around the world are developing even more potent conventional weapons that fly at hypersonic speed and can accurately strike targets within minutes
  3. If India decides to stay with the NFU policy after any future review, it should qualify it further to deter destructive conventional attacks on its major population, industrial and commercial centres
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[op-ed snap] Ending TB


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: UNGA, TRIPS, Doha declaration

Mains level: International and domestic efforts to end TB and challenges therein


UNGA recognition to ending TB

  1. On September 26, the UN General Assembly will, for the first time, address TB in a High-Level Meeting and likely release a Political Declaration, endorsed by all member nations
  2. This is being done to galvanise investment and action to meet the global target of eliminating TB worldwide by 2035

Access to diagnostics and drugs still a problem

  1. Elimination, which means reducing the number to one case per million people per year, will be impossible without universal, equitable access to affordable, quality TB diagnostics and treatment for anyone who needs it
  2. Issues around access to diagnostics and drugs have been considerably diluted in the most recent draft of the Political Declaration
  3. The latest draft is a watered-down version of the original that actively committed to upholding access to affordable generics for all
  4. Various important provisions have been omitted from the draft:
  • A critical omission is that countries may avail of the various flexibilities under the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights
  • Second, countries may invoke the Doha Declaration to compulsorily license drugs for use in public health emergencies is absent from draft text
  • The option to de-link the pricing of new TB drugs from the costs incurred in their research and development is also not mentioned

TB is curable

  1. TB is, by and large, easily diagnosable and curable
  2. Each day, thousands of people with TB die, often because of inequitable access to quality diagnosis and treatment
  3. India not only accounts for a fifth of the world’s TB burden, it also has the largest number of people living with multidrug-resistant TB

What is needed to end TB?

  1. The rapid emergence of drug-resistant forms of TB (DR-TB) in many countries brings a fresh set of needs including new and comprehensive diagnostic tests and second-line TB drugs, and health systems trained anew to manage DR-TB
  2. India has set a target to eliminate TB by 2025, ahead of the global targets.
  3. These targets cannot be achieved without access to affordable, quality diagnostics/ drugs

Way Forward

  1. India has fought to retain its status as a maker and distributor of generic medicines, thereby protecting the right to health of people in developing countries
  2. Unless India assumes a leadership role to restore every possible option to protect universal access to TB drugs in the Political Declaration, 2018 may end up being just another brick in the wall
Tuberculosis Elimination Strategy

[op-ed snap] Freedom’s second coming


Mains Paper 2: Governance | mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Section 377

Mains level: Decriminalisation of sex between consenting adults and its relation to fundamental as well as human rights


Section 377 verdict

  1. The Supreme Court has decriminalised sex between consenting adults in private under Section 377
  2. Section 377 IPC is irrational, indefensible and arbitrary, the Supreme Court ruled
  3. The sexual orientation of each individual in the society must be protected on an even platform, for the right to privacy and the protection of sexual orientation lies at the core of the fundamental rights guaranteed by Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution
  4. The LGBT community possess the same human, fundamental and constitutional rights as other citizens do since these rights inhere in individuals as natural and human rights
  5. Respect for individual choice is the very essence of liberty under law

Section 377 wrongly used

  1. Section 377 IPC assumes the characteristic of unreasonableness, for it becomes a weapon in the hands of the majority to seclude, exploit and harass the LGBT community
  2. It shrouds the lives of the LGBT community in criminality and constant fear mars their joy of life
  3. They constantly face social prejudice, disdain and are subjected to the shame of being their very natural selves

Impact of the judgment

  1. It has freed the LGBTQI communities from the yoke of a colonial law
  2. The LGBTQI communities can now walk tall and openly with their heads proud and held high as equal citizens with dignity, liberty and fraternity

Timeline of events

  1. Mx Of Bombay Indian Inhabitant vs M/S. Zy And Another (1997) verdict directed that all HIV positive persons who were functionally fit to do the work could not be denied a job in the state or public sector
  2. Naz Foundation filed the writ petition in the Delhi High Court
  3. It was dismissed by the Delhi High Court on the ground of maintainability
  4. In the challenge to that order, the Supreme Court firmly said that the matter must be decided on merits and not technicalities
  5. Ultimately, the Delhi High Court, in a seminal judgment in Naz Foundation, pronounced the decriminalisation of sex between consenting adults in private
  6. The euphoria of the high court verdict was short lived because the Supreme Court in Suresh Kumar Koushal vs Naz Foundation trumped it
  7. The first blow to Koushal came with the NALSA vs Union of India (2014) judgment which granted gender recognition on a self-identification basis to the transgender communities
  8. The privacy judgment of KS Puttaswamy vs Union of India and Others (2017) held that the treatment of privacy in Koushal was wrong
  9. Navtej Johar vs Union of India case reaffirmed Delhi HC’s verdict of Naz foundation in September 2018 judgment

Challenges on equality and discrimination

  1. The LGBTQI communities in India have not received their rightful share in all spheres of life
  2. They have been discriminated against in employment, in education, services and all other spaces, both in the public and, especially, the private sector
  3. There is no law at the moment which removes this discrimination
  4. Similarly, the law on rape is inadequate to address non-consensual sex other than within the binary of man-woman sex
  5. Such is also the case with sexual harassment

Way Forward

  1. There will be the demand for a same-sex marriage law
  2. Though that may take time, as it has in many other countries, a civil partnership law can easily be brought in as an interim measure
LGBT Rights – Transgender Bill, Sec. 377, etc.

[pib] Centenary of the Battle of Haifa Celebrated


Mains Paper 1: World History | History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Battle of Haifa

Mains level: Contribution of Indian Soldiers in World Wars.



  • The Embassy of India held a ceremony in Haifa to mark the Centenary of the Battle of Haifa when on 23 Sep 1918; Indian soldiers from the Jodhpur, Mysore and Hyderabad Lancers liberated the city of Haifa.

Battle of Haifa

  1. Owing to its rail and harbour, Israeli port city of Haifa was a strategic supply base.
  2. In addition to Haifa, the Allied Forces also engineered a plan to annexe Nazareth and Damascus in present-day Israel and Syria.
  3. On September 23, 1918, the 15th (Imperial Service) Cavalry Brigade comprising lancers from the regiments of princely states of Jodhpur and Mysore inflicted heavy assault on positions held by Ottoman Turks in and around the city of Haifa.
  4. Eventually, the Indian cavalry brigades fighting under the leadership of British General Edmund Allenby helped liberate Haifa from the clutches of the Turkish-German forces.
  5. A total of 1,350 German and Ottoman prisoners were captured by the two Indian regiments.

Significance of Haifa war

  1. The victory was more special as the Indian soldiers were armed only with lances (a kind of spear) and swords while the Turks had in their possession advance artillery and machine guns.
  2. The Indian troops displayed exemplary cavalry skills and valour during what was considered to be the last major cavalry campaign in military history.
  3. No more remarkable cavalry action of its scale was fought in the whole course of the campaign.

Haifa War in news

  1. As a symbolic gesture of friendship with Israel, India renamed the iconic Teen Murti Chowk, a war memorial, during the visit of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as Haifa Chowk.
  2. Every year on September 23, the Indian Army celebrates ‘Haifa Day’ to commemorate the war dead during the Battle.
History- Important places, persons in news

[pib] Global Sanitation Convention to Herald 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies & interventions for development in various sectors & issues arising out of their design & implementation

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Swachh Bharat Mission, Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention (MGISC)

Mains level: Globalizing the success of SBM.



  • Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation will organize a global sanitation convention to mark the beginning of the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi.

Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention (MGISC)

  1. It will be a 4-day international conference that will bring together Sanitation Minsters and other leaders in WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) from around the world.
  2. The Convention will culminate on 2nd October, Gandhi Jayanti, which is also celebrated as the Swachh Bharat Diwas.
  3. Several mass mobilization events and campaigns are being planned across the States in the run up to this Day.
  4. The global Convention will be aimed at sharing sanitation success stories and lessons across all participating countries.
  5. The success of the Swachh Bharat Mission will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the global achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 6.2), i.e. to achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all.
Swachh Bharat Mission

[pib] 3rd ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting) Conference on ‘Global Ageing and Human Rights of Older Persons’


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: ASEM

Mains level: Importance of such international engagements



  1. Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment left for Seoul (Korea) for the 3rd ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting) Conference on ‘Global Ageing and Human Rights of Older Persons’.
  2. The experience gained from the Conference will be beneficial for Policy formulation and implementation for welfare of senior citizens.

3rd ASEM Conference

  1. The 3-day Conference will reaffirm the universal value of the human rights of older persons.
  2. It aims to share information on discrimination against the elderly and exemplary cases of long-term and palliative care in Asia and Europe.
  3. It will also discuss operation and tasks of the ASEM Global Ageing Centre as an implementing institution for mutual cooperation among ASEM members for the protection and promotion of the human rights of older persons.


Asia–Europe Meeting

  1. The ASEM is an Asian–European political dialogue forum to enhance relations and various forms of cooperation between its partners.
  2. It was officially established on 1 March 1996 at the first summit in Bangkok, Thailand, by the then 15 members of the European Union (EU) and the European Commission, the then 7 members of the ASEAN and the individual countries of China, Japan, and Korea.
  3. A series of enlargements saw additional EU members join as well as India, Mongolia, Pakistan and the ASEAN Secretariat in 2008, Australia, New Zealand and the Russian Federation in 2010, Bangladesh, Norway, and Switzerland in 2012 as well as Croatia and Kazakhstan in 2014.
  4. The main components of the ASEM process rest on the following 3 pillars:
  • Political & Security Pillar
  • Economic & Financial Pillar
  • Social, Cultural & Educational Pillar
Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

India signs landmark defence pact with U.S.


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: 2+2 Dialogue, COMCASA, LEMOA, GSOMIA

Mains level: The newscard talks of success of the 2+2 Dialogue.


Fruitful conclusion of 2+2 Dialogue

  1. India and the United States sealed the landmark Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) that will lead to a new generation of bilateral military partnership.
  2. Apart from the agreement both sides also called on Pakistan to stop terrorist strikes on other countries and urged for maritime freedom in the Indo-Pacific region.

What will COMCASA provide?

  1. India has already signed two of them General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) in 2002 and the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016.
  2. The COMCASA will allow the U.S. to transfer specialised equipment for encrypted communications for US origin platforms like C-17, C-130 and P-8I aircraft.
  3. It comes into force immediately and is valid for 10 years.

Specific additional provisions of the Agreement

  1. Data acquired through such systems cannot be disclosed or transferred to any person or entity without India’s consent.
  2. Both countries will implement this agreement in a manner that is consistent with the national security interests of the other.
  3. India and the U.S. will also hold a first-ever tri service joint exercise on the east coast of India in 2019.

Role for private sector

  1. Both sides announced their readiness to begin negotiations on an Industrial Security Annex (ISA) that would allow Indian private sector to collaborate with the U.S. defence industry.
  2. The GSOMIA allows sharing of classified information from the U.S. government and American companies with the Indian government and defence Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) but not with Indian private companies.
  3. To further defence innovation, a Memorandum of Intent was signed between the U.S. Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) and the Indian Defence Innovation Organization – Innovation for Defence Excellence (DIO-iDEX).
  4. This MoI will look into joint projects for co-production and co-development projects through the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI).
Foreign Policy Watch: India-United States

Govt. grants ‘trust’ status to ‘Bharat Ke Veer’ initiative


Mains Paper 3: Security | Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate .

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Bharat Ke Veer Initiative

Mains level: Welfare of the families of martyred defense personnel.


Trust status for Bharat Ke Veer

  1. The government has granted the status of a trust to ‘Bharat Ke Veer’, a private initiative which aids families of paramilitary personnel killed in action.
  2. Contributions to Bharat Ke Veer have been exempted from Income Tax, Home.
  3. Akshay Kumar and former national badminton champion Pullela Gopichand have been included as trustees.
  4. The initiative had now been formalized into a registered trust for providing a platform for all citizens to contribute and provide assistance to the families of martyred personnel.
  5. The public can visit the ‘Bharat Ke Veer’ application and website, and contribute to support the families of jawans who die in the line of duty.


Bharat Ke Veer

  1. Bharat Ke Veer is a fund-raising initiative by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India on behalf of members of the Indian Armed Forces.
  2. The initiative was launched by Home Minister Rajnath Singh and supported by the noted Hindi film actor Akshay Kumar.
  3. It allows donations of up to ₹ 15 lakhs to an individual’s account and donations to the “Bharat Ke Veer” corpus.
  4. The corpus would be managed by a committee made up of eminent persons of repute and senior government officials, in equal number.
  5. They would decide to disburse the fund equitably to the bravehearts family on need basis.

GM mustard trials may get nod soon


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

From UPSC perspectives, the following things are important

Prelims Level:  DMH 11

Mains Level: Controversy over use of GM Mustard


Nearing approval after several trials

  1. The environment ministry is set to convene a special meeting of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) to decide on field-trial approvals for the controversial transgenic mustard
  2. It was developed by the University of Delhi’s Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (CGMCP).
  3. The CGMCP had earlier applied to grow transgenic mustard (DMH-11) in plots in Delhi and Punjab to test the plant’s effects on honeybees.
  4. The GEAC had initially cleared the GM crop for commercial cultivation but backtracked and demanded more tests and additional data on honeybees and other pollinators and on soil microbial diversity.

In the chorus of Objections

  1. The GEAC, the apex regulator of transgenic products had put a decision on the proposed field trials on hold after some members objected to the use of unapproved pesticides/herbicides.
  2. The CGMCP team had proposed to use endosulfan; a banned pesticide as part of their experiment, hence some members had voiced objections.
  3. The field safety protocol specifies what measures can be undertaken in case there’s a pest attack on the mustard being tested.
  4. The GEAC had sought more tests for GM mustard in the wake of a several objections to the transgenic crop.
  5. Once cleared it would be the first transgenic food crop to be allowed in India.

Threats posed by GM Mustard

  1. Environmentalists, farmer groups and some scientists argue that transgenic mustard poses several environmental and health risks.
  2. It contains a foreign gene from another species and tests so far have failed to show any appreciable gains in yield over traditional varieties.
  3. The GM mustard is dependent on glyphosate, a weedicide that has been linked to cancer.
Genetically Modified (GM) crops – cotton, mustards, etc.