Expected Questions for UPSC 2020 Prelims Based on IDSA (Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses) (Download PDF)


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Indo-Saudi Relations: The Indian Prime Minister visited Saudi Arabia recently in October 2019. Time to time reviewal of the bilateral relations. Saudi Arabia has been a strategic partner of India since the signing of the Riyadh Declaration in 2010. Indian is a vital market for Saudi Arabia since the kingdom is facing economic strain in the wake of persistently weak oil prices.

  • Demand from China is also receding in the wake of a slowdown.
  • Pakistan’s refusal to join Saudi Arabia’s war coalition that has been bombing Yemen for the past one year in the name of fighting the Iran backed Shia rebels.

Relationship Status

  • After Iraq, Saudi Arabia is the second biggest supplier of India’s oil needs.
  • Imports nearly 83 % of its oil needs.
  • India had imported 207.3 million tonnes of oil in the fiscal year 2018 - 19.
  • As per the data 40.33 million tonnes of crude oil was sold to India by the Saudi Arabia.
  • Nearly 20,000 tonnes of LPG is being bought by India every month from Saudi Arabia.
  • The largest expatriate community of India in Saudi Arabia forms 2.6 million strong diaspora.

Meeting Outcomes and the Prospects

  • Oil and Gas, renewable energy and civil aviation are the key sectors.
  • To coordinate decisions regarding strategically important issues.

The other areas of meeting and discussions involve

  • Terrorism
  • Defence industries
  • Collaboration
  • Agriculture
  • Maritime security
  • Innovative technology
  • Renewable energy
  • Trade and investment
  • E-migration
  • MoU to roll out RuPay card in Saudi Arabia.
  • The third country in the Persian Gulf after the UAE and Bahrain to introduce India’s digital payment system.
  • India ranks 63rd while Saudi Arabia 62nd in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report.
  • First ever naval exercise between the two countries in March 2020.
  • Interest in moving ahead on the ambitious West Coast refinery project in Raigarh in Maharashtra which will involve investments from Saudi oil giant Aramco, UAE’s Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and Indian public sector oil firms.

Victory of Rajapaksa and India’s Concerns

  • Gotabaya Rajapaksa has been elected as the new president of Sri Lanka.
  • He played a significant role in putting an end to the nearly 30 year old civil war in the country.
  • His tenure as the defense secretary from November 2005 to January 2015.

Implications for India

  • Rajapaksas are seen as being sympathetic to China.
  • The Srilankan President has made repeated statements that his government won’t do anything that will harm India’s interests.
  • The government prior to Gotabaya gave Hambantota Port on a 99-year lease to China.
  • The port development offer was initially made to India and then handed over to China.
  • Chinese nuclear submarines also made port visits to Colombo port in 2014.
  • China also has acted as one of the major financial centers for Srilanka with a lot of investments. For example Colombo International Financial Center, Colombo-Kandy highway, oil refineries, and a $1.4 billion port city next to the Colombo port.

Some of the pending projects between India and Srilanka include

  • LNG terminal in Kerawalapitiya near Colombo.
  • A 50 - 100 MW Solar power plant.
  • Development of an oil tank farm in the eastern district Trincomalee.
  • The East Container Terminal at the Colombo port.
  • To match China’s contribution and the model to Colombo’s developmental requirements is very difficult for India but India along with Japan (All weather friend) can work hand in hand to make an economic and strategic difference in Sri Lanka.

Other Important Factors of India’s Concern

  • Post-war reconciliation
  • Respect for the dignity of the Tamil
  • Minority in Sri Lanka
  • Cultivation of ties in its Neighbourhood
  • The wider Indian Ocean

Xi’s Nepal Visit

  • Chinese President Xi Xinping recently visited Nepal in Oct 2019.
  • The first-ever visit by a Chinese President since 1996.
  • Building greater modal connectivity
  • Promoting “trans-Himalayan multi-dimensional connectivity network” in the region.
  • To promote BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) projects linking it with various trans-Himalayan connectivity projects.
  • More than 20 agreements were signed between the two sides.

Benefits to Nepal

  • Nepal will get the better connectivity links with China after its inclusion in BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) along with the entire Himalayan region.
  • Nepal would be gradually shifting from a landlocked to a land-linked country.
  • Nepal would be getting more and more financial aids with China’s investment in terms of several planned projects.

Implications for India

  • China’s growing influence along the Indo-Pacific region is a matter of grave concern for India.
  • China is strengthening its influence in South Asia by connectivity and infrastructural initiatives such as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
  • China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC).
  • Deep seaports at Kyaukpyu in Myanmar.
  • Hambantota in Sri Lanka.
  • Gwadar in Pakistan and Chittagong Port in Bangladesh.
  • China’s is getting strategic access into the Indian Ocean.
  • Expanding its presence in the region to protect its sea lanes of communication (SLOC).
  • Beijing is very much concerned with India’s rising power and its condemnation of BRI and CPEC Projects.
  • China would be cautious regarding its ties with India and would not hurt its developing partnership with India.

ISIS Crisis and Concerns

  • Popularly known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
  • Most dangerous terrorist organization in the World.
  • Recently the United States executed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (carrying a bounty of US $25 million), the brutal founder of ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’ (ISIS) was executed by the US forces.
  • Recently ISIS has announced a new leader (Caliph) who is also the successor Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi.
  • The youth of the region belonging to Iraq and Syria and Lebanon are getting aspired to indulge in terror activities.
  • The ongoing civil unrest sweeping Iraq, Syria and Lebanon following acute political and economic mismanagement.
  • ISIS has tried to develop its ground even into India by claiming to establish ‘Wilayah of Hind’ (India Province) by calling for jihad by raising sentiments around Kashmir.
  • ISIS is looking to recruit cadres from India and its neighbourhood through its concerted efforts.
  • Joining hands with terror outfits like Al Qaeda who has been steadily increasing its influence in Asia and Africa.
Chief of Defense Staff and related Concerns
  • The post of Chief of Defense Staff was announced on the occasion of Independence Day speech 2019.
  • CDS being a high military office oversees and coordinates the working of the three Services wing.
  • It is responsible for offering seamless tri-service views and single-point advice to the Prime Minister on long-term defence planning and management, including work force, equipment and strategy, and coordination in operations.
  • The Chief of Defence Staff should not become another interposed level between the Defense minister and the service chiefs.

Role of CDS

  • CDS takes control of newer organizations with the retention of existing warfighting structures.
  • The newer organizations are being setup for tackling future threats, has some merit.

Important areas of Development include

  • Cyber
  • Space
  • Missiles domain
  • Nurturing of AI-based platforms
  • Usage of drones

Cost-effective Development

  • CDS can facilitate optimal, cost-effective integrated development and deployment of such structures.
  • To ease the advancements that are extremely costly particularly in terms of Modern war and warfighting that has tremendous economic costs.

Other important areas apart from cost where CDS can play a stellar role are

  • Planning and development function
  • Optimization of existing structures
  • National security apparatus
Significance of Chief of Defence Staff

Issues in Indian Defence Sector

Defence Planning

  • The plans, processes involved in the formulation of Defense procurement have been hardly satisfactory.
  • There has been a serious lack of inter- and intra-service prioritization, leading to duplication of efforts, haphazard capability development and sub-optimal utilization of resources.
  • There has been a conflict of interest with regards to the Department of Defence Production (DDP) because of its dual responsibility of being the administrative department for both production and quality assurance.

Overarching agency absence

  • Individual service headquarters (SHQ)
  • Plan and project requirements that are not necessarily in harmony with those of other services.

Delays in Procurement

  • The two main stages are procurement formulation of qualitative requirements (QRs) or technical specifications and conduct of trials.
  • These two stages of procurement are most susceptible to delays and controversies because of a number of reasons, lack of expertise and professionalism are the most prominent among them.

Lack of Integrated Command

  • Andaman and Nicobar Command is an integrated command centre though it lacks power due to differing perceptions and priorities of the contributing services.
  • CINCAN (Commander-in-Chief of the ANC) is constrained in requisitioning critical assets from the services to perform tasks related to integrated development.

Chief of Defense Staff’s Role in Addressing the Issues

  • The historical deficiency in its defence planning process can be rectified.
  • The task of defence planning, subject to overall guidance and directions form the DPC (Defence Planning Committee) could be entrusted by CDS.
  • Mandating the preparation and owning a holistic 15-year plan.
  • Initial vetting of bilateral/multilateral exercises and visits of higher military authorities to be centrally processed at the CDS level.
  • To take up the responsibility of quality assurance.

Aircraft Carriers and the related Debates

  • The expensive aircraft carriers.
  • Largest and most complex of all warships.
  • Essential component of navies and indispensable to their strategic interests.

Multitude of Roles

  • Power projection
  • Land attack from sea
  • Securing sea lines of communication (SLOCs)
  • Security of island territories
  • Diplomacy
  • Numerous non-combat missions

India’s Position on Aircraft Carriers

  • Commissioning of Vikrant
  • Acquisition of Viraat in 1986
  • INS Vikramaditya-commissioned in 2013 (erstwhile Admiral Gorshkov of Russia) only carrier in operation.
  • First indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC-I) to be named Vikrant to be completed by 2021.
  • (IAC-I) is being manufactured by the Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL).
  • Follow-on induction, likely to be named Vishal (IAC-II) much larger and more potent.
  • Three-carrier force would allow the Indian Navy to operate one carrier task force (CTF) comfortably on each seaboard.

Proposed Solutions to Aircraft Carrier Issue

  • To coordinate simultaneous strikes by multiple weapon systems from different platforms.
  • Dividing the cost over the average life of an aircraft carrier could be anywhere from 40 to 45 years.
  • The division would work out like two destroyers with an average life span of 25 years.
  • Developing Mobile military assets for strengthening flexibility and depth for maritime operations.

Power Projection

  • Utility of aircraft carriers as a maritime mobile runway.
  • 70/80/90 rule
  • Water covers about 70 per cent of the earth’s surface, approximately 80 per cent of the world’s population lives in the littorals and about 90 per cent of all trade travels by sea.
  • Domination of the battlespace in the area of operations.

Way Ahead

  • To build maritime assets over a wide spectrum of operations.
  • Operational assets like ships, submarines and aircraft.
  • Assets like survey vessels, hospital ships and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) platforms projecting ‘soft power’.
  • A net-security provider for the region.
  • To maintain an operational carrier battle group on both sides and at all times.

Major Maritime Powers

  • The United States operates 11 nuclear powered carriers, to maintain a twelve-carrier force into the future.
  • The United Kingdom commissioned HMS Queen Elizabeth, with a second carrier, HMS Prince of Wales.
  • Russia, Italy and France all operate one aircraft carrier each.
  • Japan is in the process of converting its helicopter carrier into an aircraft carrier.
  • The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy operating two operational aircraft carriers, the third is under construction, four operational aircraft carriers by 2028,10 aircraft carrier navy by 2049.

Threat to Privacy-PEGASUS

  • Pegasus is a surveillance technology.
  • Most sophisticated spyware.
  • Can hack both iOS and Android devices.
  • It can be used for mass surveillance.
  • Works by sending an exploit link.
  • Pegasus developed by Israel-based NSO Group.
  • Inadequate and far from reassuring.
  • Exclusively licensed for government intelligence and law enforcement agencies and not just to anyone who wants it.

WhatsApp’s Revelations

  • Some 1400 people globally spied upon using Pegasus.
  • Indian journalists and human rights activists from India were spied.
  • At least two dozen academics, lawyers, Dalit activists, and journalists were alerted.

The targeted users included

  • Activists
  • Journalists
  • Senior government officials
  • Others
  • Pegasus exploited a bug in the call function of WhatsApp being a malicious code.
  • Access to every bit of information.
  • This Spyware exploited vulnerability in Whatsapp’s video call feature.
  • Attackers or hackers could be able to inject the spyware on to the phones simply by ringing the number of a target’s device.

India’s Data Security and the Way Forward

  • WhatsApp has been asked by the GOI to explain the kind of breach.
  • To safeguard the privacy of millions of Indian citizens.
  • Securing the smartphones of every single Indian by embracing technologies such as encryption rather than deploying spyware.

Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In)

  • It is a nodal government agency operating under aegis of Department of Information Technology, Ministry of Electronics and IT.
  • It is also responsible for responding to computer security incidents vulnerabilities and promotes effective IT security.
  • It also issues whitepapers regarding information security practices and prevention.
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Expected Questions for UPSC 2020 Prelims Based on IDSA

Expected questions for UPSC 2020 Prelims based on IDSA

- Published/Last Modified on: January 17, 2020

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