08 September, 2020
- Hypersonic cruise vehicle test puts India in elite club Page 01
- Empower the youth first Page 06
- The search for an end to the complex Naga conflict Page 07
- Tibetan soldier funeral seen as Delhi signal to Beijing Page 09
- Who will lead the Jamboo Savari this time? Page 08
- Prelims Revision/Reference Govt. intervention in education policy should be minimal
UPSC Current Affairs: Hypersonic cruise vehicle test puts India in elite club
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: GS Paper I – Science 7 Technology Mains: GS Paper-III
Sub theme: Defence – Hypersonic Cruise Vehicle | Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle | – UPSC
- The hypersonic air-breathing scramjet technology was successfully demonstrated by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on Monday with a flight test of the hypersonic technology demonstrator vehicle (HSTDV), which will lead to the development of hypersonic cruise missiles and vehicles in future.
- In aerodynamics, a hypersonic speed is one that greatly exceeds the speed of sound, often stated as starting at speeds of Mach 5 and above.
- The HSTDV is an unmanned scramjet demonstration aircraft for hypersonic speed flight. It is being developed as a carrier vehicle for hypersonic and long-range cruise missiles, and will have multiple civilian applications including the launching of small satellites at low cost. The HSTDV program is run by the Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation.
What is SCRAMJET ENGINE -UPSC?
- The scramjets are a variant of a category of jet engines called the air breathing engines. The ability of engines to handle airflows of speeds in multiples of speed of sound, gives it a capability of operating at those speeds.
- A ramjet operates by combustion of fuel in a stream of air compressed by the forward speed of the aircraft itself, as opposed to a normal jet engine, in which the compressor section (the fan blades) compresses the air. The air flow through a ramjet engine is subsonic, or less than the speed of sound. Ramjet-propelled vehicles operate from about Mach 3 to Mach 6.
- A scramjet (supersonic-combustion ramjet) is a ramjet engine in which the airflow through the engine remains supersonic, or greater than the speed of sound. Scramjet powered vehicles are envisioned to operate at speeds up to at least Mach 15. Ground tests of scramjet combustors have shown this potential, but no flight tests have surpassed the Mach 9.6 X-43A flight. See illustration below.
Advantages of scramjet engine
- Does not have to carry oxygen tank. ØNo rotating parts makes it easier to manufacture. Less weight and simple design. ØAs the hydrogen is used as a propellant and combustion is carried out at supersonic velocity with the help of oxygen from the atmosphere. Ø As a result of that, steam (H2O) is being exhaust gas which is eco-friendly in nature.
UPSC Current Affairs: Empower the youth first
UPSC Syllabus: Mains: GS Paper I – Social Issues Mains: GS Paper-I
Sub theme: Festivals - Empowering the youth – UPSC
- On Independence Day, the Prime Minister belaboured his government’s leitmotif of an ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’.
- In today’s India, we can achieve that goal of self-reliance only if we enhance our citizens’ capabilities. Given our demographic composition, we must begin by empowering our youth.
Who is a youth?
- The 2014 National Youth Policy (NYP) defined youth as persons between 15 and 29 years. This cohort accounted for 27.5% of the population then.
What do we do for them?
- According to the NYP report, the Central government spends about ₹2,710 per youth on education, skill development, employment, healthcare and food subsidies.
- The total amount is pegged at more than ₹90,000 crore. Assuming that States spend an equal amount, the total investment in our youth would be under 1% of the GDP, hardly commensurate with their population and potential.
- Dedicated ministry
- Department of Youth Affairs, Ministry of youth affairs and sports.
- It has started various schemes:
Cost of not investing in children?
- A World Bank report pegged the projected cost (read: loss) of not investing in children and youth at 4% of the GDP every year. Of this, the costs of unemployment account for 0.6%.
So, what is the current status of Youth?
- As of 2017-18, youth participation in India’s labour force was 38.3%. Drawing from the 2018 State of Working India Report, we peg the youth unemployment rate to be at least 18.3% (3.47 crore youths). About 30% of youth fall under the ‘neither in employment nor in education’ category and 33% of India’s skilled youth are unemployed.
- Further, around 50 lakh youth are expected to be entering the workforce annually.
- Following the COVID-19 lockdown, the CMIE estimated a loss of 14 crore jobs in April alone of which 2.7 crore concerned youth. These numbers, coupled with impending grim implications of the pandemic, have landed us in uncharted turbulent economic waters.
The aspirational younger generation born after 1991 invariably hold the key to India’s economic and political future. India has just a decade’s time to seize the opportunity and realise this youth demographic dividend.
The way forward (Case Study)
- Therefore, it is an appropriate time to launch an Indian Youth Guarantee (IYG) programme, akin to the European Union Youth Guarantee (EU-YG) but tuned to our country’s context.
- EU-YG emerged in 2010 at a time when youth unemployment rates were soaring above 20%.
An IYG initiative, with statutory backing, can function as a facilitatory framework for ensuring gainful and productive engagement of youth.
But this will entail massive costs? How will we meet them?
- At a time of fiscal stress, one way to allocate budgetary resources would be to create a Youth Component Plan, earmarking a specific percentage of funds under a separate head on the lines of the Special Component Plan for the Scheduled Castes and the Tribal Sub-Plan.
- The Youth Component Plan would be formulated by States/Union Territories/Central Ministries to channelize flow of outlays and benefits proportional to the percentage of youth population based on sub-regional requirements.
IYG should not be just another budgetary scheme. Its strategic goal should be to ensure that within a fixed time frame, young people graduating from college or losing a job either find a good quality job suited to their education and experience or acquire skills required to find a job through an apprenticeship.
An important aspect of IYG should be to rope in the district administration and local bodies for effective outcomes.
Existing youth schemes and skilling infrastructure need to be dovetailed and streamlined while leveraging industry to enable an in-situ empowerment of youth.
Learning from MGNREGA
- The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has been very effective in providing rural livelihood security and social protection.
- Yet only about 4% of youth in the labour force have been impacted by it. While an urban youth employment programme will be a new intervention, we believe that rural youth employment should be instituted alongside MGNREGA.
- IYG needs to be implemented across the country to address youth unemployment particularly given the rapid structural changes in the economy.
How would such a guarantee identify the needs of the youth?
- The Youth Development Index (YDI) in India serves as an advisory and monitory tool for youth development.
- It helps recognise priority areas, gaps and alternative approaches specific to each State.
The index also packs a new dimension of social inclusion to assess the inclusiveness of societal progress due to prevalence of systemic inequalities. In short, YDI can be revisited and deployed to play a vital role in crafting a region-specific IYG. A focus on our youth is the first step towards self-reliance. It is time we summon the political will to guarantee our youth a viable future.
UPSC Current Affairs: The search for an end to the complex Naga conflict
UPSC Syllabus: Mains: GS Paper III
Sub theme: Security – Naga Conflict – UPSC
What is Naga Conflict?
What is Naga peace deal?
While all eyes are focused on the events unfurling in Jammu and Kashmir, as they must, there have been rumblings of discontentment to be reported among the Naga separatist groups. The discontentment stems from the delay in finalising the long awaited agreement that would, when signed, lead to the successful termination of the longest running insurgency facing this country. Ironically, it is the manner in which the Central Government proceeded to modify Article 370, to abrogate the separate Constitution and flag of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir that is central to the concerns of the Naga separatist leaders.
It was on 14 August 1947, that A.Z. Phizo, the head of the Naga National Council (NNC), along with other Naga leaders, declared Naga independence, leading to the start of an insurgency that continues till this day in some parts of Naga dominated areas in the Northeast. Despite all efforts, including the creation of the State of Nagaland in 1963, the Central Government was unable to quell the rebellion. Ultimately, in 1975, the Shillong Accord was signed in which the NNC agreed to give up arms and accept the Indian Constitution. Two prominent leaders of the NNC, Th. Muivah and Isak Swu revolted, terming the Accord as a ‘sell out’ on the Naga sovereignty demand and went on to form the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) in 1980 along with S.S. Khaplang, a Myanmarese Naga . In 1988, the NSCN split into two factions, due to leadership differences, the NSCN (IM), led by Swu and Muivah, and the NSCN (K) led by Khaplang.
The agreement was lopsided because while it did result in a cessation of hostilities in the State, it went out of its way to appease the militants, which, not surprisingly, adversely impacted governance in the region.
By 1997, the NSCN (IM) faction had become the largest and most dominant Naga separatist group, and it was in July that Isak Swu and Th. Muivah, as well as its top leadership, signed a rather one-sided ceasefire agreement with the Central Government heralding cessation of armed confrontation in Nagaland. In brief, the agreement involved the establishment of designated camps for housing the armed cadres, which would remain out of bounds for Security Forces (SF), a prohibition of offensive operations by both sides, and no forcible collection of funds, intimidation of civilians or forcible recruitment of cadres by the NSCN. A Ceasefire Monitoring Group (CFMG) with members from both sides was also established to ensure implementation of the ceasefire. Finally, it allowed for the initiation of a political dialogue at the level of the Prime Minister in a third country with no conditions attached.
The agreement was lopsided because while it did result in a cessation of hostilities in the State, it went out of its way to appease the militants, which, not surprisingly, adversely impacted governance in the region. Firstly, since it was signed by the Centre with no involvement of local politicians in the negotiations, it put a big question mark on the relevance of the democratically elected State Government, while simultaneously legitimising the position of the NSCN, a banned outfit. Secondly, while the militants arrogantly strutted around the villages, with complete disregard for terms of the ceasefire, openly indulging in intimidation and forcible collection of money, acts difficult to prove, the SF found itself increasingly constrained by a well-orchestrated media campaign. Unable to operate freely, the SF found itself losing the initiative to the insurgents, leading to a loss of control and the ability to dominate the area, thereby creating law and order issues. The weakening of the local government and a growing lack of accountability only added to rampant corruption, which only further de-legitimised the State and added to its developmental woes.
Subsequently, in June 2001, the Government attempted to extend this ceasefire to “all Naga-dominated areas in the Northeast,” but was forced to revert to the status quo a month later, due to violent protests that broke out in the other states as people in Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh perceived it as a move that threatened their territorial integrity. This however, did not stop the Central Government from establishing three camps in Manipur to house militants, belonging to the NSCN, with permission to retain their weapons only enhancing and widening the scope of the problem.
In addition the NSCN had accepted that the “boundaries of the States will not be touched” and “some special arrangements would be made for the Nagas, wherever they are.”
As a matter of fact, in July 2013, in a scathing opinion piece in Rediff.com dated 29 July 2013 titled “Nagas in a state of anarchy” R.N. Ravi, the Governor of Nagaland, then former special director Intelligence Bureau, had come down hard on successive central governments for their appeasement of the insurgents. To quote him:
“The Naga ‘revolution’, over the years, has degenerated into a comic spectacle in which the ‘revolutionaries’ are gainfully closeted with their arch-enemy, the Indian State, while they remain unsparingly brutal with the Naga people should they ever demur on their writs, including whimsically determined ‘taxes’….The interlocutors have not risen above mere rent-seekers. K. Padmanabhaiah, a former home secretary and effectively the first interlocutor, survived for some 12 years in this cast. Setting the course for Naga ‘peace talks’ on a perverse trajectory has been his singular contribution. He ignored the popular Naga sentiment and bought into the contentious rhetoric of the NSCN-IM. Not only that, he mischievously amplified them to successive prime ministers and home ministers. He indeed proved himself a successful marketing agent for the NSCN-IM in selling its larger-than-life profile to Delhi. His successor, R.S. Pandey, is carrying on the legacy for the last four years.”
Not surprisingly, Mr. Modi’s election and appointment as Prime Minister, in 2014, led to a relook at the issue. This led to the replacement of Mr. Pandey by Mr. Ravi as the Centre’s interlocutor. By August 2015 the Centre had signed a “Framework Agreement” with the NSCN (IM), though no details were made available in the public domain. However, it stands to reason that given Mr. Ravi’s strong views on the subject, the Agreement must be substantially different from the earlier Ceasefire Agreement, if Mr. Ravi was to retain credibility. This is borne out by the details given in the 213th report on the security situation in the Northeastern States, tabled by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs in the Rajya Sabha. The Interlocutor informed the committee that while details had not been worked out, it was “just about the recognition of the uniqueness of the Naga history by the Government of India”. In addition the NSCN had accepted that the “boundaries of the States will not be touched” and “some special arrangements would be made for the Nagas, wherever they are.”
Moreover, over the years the rank and file of the insurgent groups has come to enjoy the trappings of city life and is unlikely to be enthused to return back into the jungle, if the talks collapse for any reason.
Since then, not much seems to have changed and reports suggest that progress is held up on the issue of a separate constitution and flag for the Naga people. However, given the turn of events in Jammu and Kashmir, the Naga groups must be able to clearly see the writing on the wall as the Central Government would find itself in an extremely difficult position if it were to acquiesce to these specific demands.
Add to this the completely different environment that the NSCN and the leadership of other Naga separatist groups are faced with today. First and foremost, the vast majority of Nagas have moved ahead and they fully appreciate the challenges that the formation of an independent Nagaland would entail, when compared to the advantages of being a full stakeholder in a rapidly growing major economy. More so, if its stated “Act East” policy is successful and leads to opening up the region as it integrates with its Southeast Asian neighbours. All stakeholders in the region are fully cognisant that for such an initiative to succeed, an essential ingredient is peace in the region. Secondly, as Mr. Ravi has earlier pointed out, insurgents with their acts of brutality, intimidation and “tax collection” over the past two decades, have turned the average Naga against them. An insurgency without local support is an anachronism.
The most important issue that would need to be dealt with sensitively, is the mainstreaming of insurgents that would help them reintegrate into the community without loss of face.
There is also the question of the ageing top rung leadership. While there are second rung leaders available, none enjoys the stature or following of Isak Muivah. Moreover, over the years the rank and file of the insurgent groups has come to enjoy the trappings of city life and is unlikely to be enthused to return back into the jungle, if the talks collapse for any reason. Finally, while there may be those who hark back to the days when motivated insurgent groups like the Vietcong, for example, were able to fight and win against greater odds, circumstances have changed and both technology and geopolitics have made their job even more difficult. India’s relationship with Myanmar and Bangladesh will make it that much harder for such groups to find safe havens there. Moreover, international opinion no longer condones the use of terror for achieving political aims. Finally technology available to the military for surveillance and strike, such as satellites, drones, electronic intelligence and Precision Guided Munitions (PGMs) make it that much easier for them to locate and neutralise camps wherever they may be established, even in the remotest of areas.
In these circumstances it is vital that the Naga leadership fully comprehend the situation that they face and look towards the issues they wish to safeguard under the provisions of Article 371 of the Constitution. The Home Minister’s categorical statement in this regard that it will neither be abrogated nor amended, needs to be given the importance that it deserves. It is also time that the Central Government also brought in the elected representatives of the people into the dialogue as they have an extremely important part to play in it as well. The most important issue that would need to be dealt with sensitively, is the mainstreaming of insurgents that would help them reintegrate into the community without loss of face. In this regard the rank and file of insurgent groups could be absorbed into our Security Forces after suitable training and orientation, while the leadership could well be assisted in joining mainstream politics as was done in Mizoram. It stands to reason that the quicker an agreement is signed the better it will be not just for the Naga population, but also for the Northeast as a whole.
UPSC Current Affairs: Tibetan soldier’s funeral as Delhi’s signal to Beijing
UPSC Syllabus: Mains: GS Paper III –Security
Sub theme: Various Security Forces - What is Special Frontier Forces – UPSC?
Special Frontier Force
- The Special Frontier Force (SFF) is a special force of India created on 14 November 1962.
- Its main goal originally was to conduct covert operations behind Chinese lines in the event of another Sino-Indian War.
- The first public acknowledgement of its existence reportedly came after SFF personnel participated in an abortive operation with the CIA in 1965 to place a nuclear-powered device on Mount Nanda Devi to monitor China’s nuclear weapons tests.
- It is based in Chakrata, Uttarakhand.
- The force was put under the direct supervision of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), and later, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India's external intelligence agency and is not part of the Indian Army but functions under their operational control with its own rank structure, charter and training infrastructure.
- The SFF has a separate control because it also has Tibetan refugees and involves another country.
- It falls under the authority of Directorate General on Security in Cabinet Secretariat headed by an Inspector General (IG) who is selected from the Major General rank of the Indian Army that reports directly to the Prime Minister Office.
- SFF has participated include the 1971 war between India and Pakistan for the liberation East Pakistan or present-day Bangladesh.
- In that war, SFF battalions were deployed next to the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
- They were tasked with attacking enemy positions to aid the Indian Army’s operations.
- In the operation, which was codenamed ‘Eagle’, they infiltrated into Bangladesh for guerrilla campaigns to attack enemy soldiers, military infrastructure, communication lines, logistics and weapons supplies.
- They also prevented Pakistani troops from escaping into Myanmar, according to a piece on the website of the Delhi-based think-tank Observer Research Foundation (ORF).
- The SFF soldiers were awarded for their bravery for their role in the 1971 war.
UPSC Current Affairs: Who will lead the ‘Jumboo Savari’ this time?
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: GS Paper I – Art and Culture Mains: GS Paper-I
Sub theme: Festivals - What is Mysuru Dasara – UPSC?
- Mysuru Dasara is a 10-day festival in the region culminating on Vijayadashami or tenth day. Mysore Dasara is a Royal Festival Celebrating victory of Truth over Evil.
- In Karnataka, Mysuru Dasara is observed as State festival - Nadahabba, because of the celebration of the festival is steered by the Royal Family of Mysore.
- The royal family of Mysore performs special worship on the occasion of Dasara and shower flowers on presiding deity Chamundeshwari, placed in a golden howdah, carried by the elephant Arjuna.
- On Vijayadashmi, the traditional Dasara procession, locally known as Jumboo Savari is held on the streets of Mysore City. The main attraction of this procession is the idol of the Goddess Chamundeshwari which is placed on a golden mantapa on the top of a decorated elephant.
- The idol is worshipped by the royal couple and other invitees before it is taken around in the procession. Colourful tableaux, dance groups, music bands, decorated elephants, horses and camels form a part of the procession which starts from the Mysore Palace and culminates at a place called Bannimantapwhere the banni tree is worshipped.