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31 March 2017 Question Bank


31ST MARCH 2017 


(3 Questions)

Answer questions in NOT MORE than 200 words each. Content of the answer is more important than its length.

Links are provided for reference. You can also use the Internet fruitfully to further enhance and strengthen your answers.


1.     The Africans in India face racism, that India vehemently denounces. How can such trends be negated? Elucidate.


The recent incident in Noida:

  • After a teenage boy went missing in Greater Noida on March 26, locals accused five Nigerian students of cannibalism.
  • Residents of the enclave barged into the home where the Nigerian students were staying and searched the fridge for the remains of the youth, who died in a hospital after being found in a nearby park.
  • Following unsubstantiated complaints from the victim’s family, the police charged the students with murder but did not detain them for lack of evidence.
  • It was later reported that the boy died of drug overdose.
  • This incident, followed by further violence against African students in Noida, marks a new low in the racism faced by Africans in India.
  • This vicious race crime is a clear sign of terrible ignorance, arrogance and the recycling of old tropes of Africans as “uncivilised”.
  • Indians, with their preference for “whiteness” and their total lack of information and exposure to Africa’s rich cultural heritage and its contemporary politics, have denied Africans in India their basic humanity which is demonstrated in their accusations of “cannibalism” — the ultimate denouncement of the “inhuman other”.

The incident in Delhi

  • There have been several atrocious cases of racism in the last year towards Africans in India.
  • Masonda Ketada Olivier, a young Congolese man who was a French teacher in South Extension, was murdered while returning home from a party when he tried to get an autorickshaw home and got into an argument with three men who wanted to hire the vehicle.
  • He was brutally pulled out of the auto, assaulted, and struck on the head with a stone.

The incident in Bengaluru

  • Three months before the Olivier tragedy, a 21-year-old Tanzanian woman was driving in Bengaluru when a mob stopped the car, dragged her out, beat her and stripped off her shirt. Local papers reported that the police stood by while she was beaten and paraded around naked. The car was set ablaze.
  • Apparently the young Tanzanian student was beaten to avenge the death of a woman who had allegedly been run over by a Sudanese man less than an hour before the attack.

African students in India:

  • There were 42,420 foreign students in India in 2016.
  • The top sending countries were Nepal (21.3%), Afghanistan (10.3%), Bhutan, (6.6%), Sudan (4.8%), Nigeria (4.7%), indicating that after the three SAARC partner countries, Sudan and Nigeria send the most students to study in India.
  • Students come from many African countries to India as many universities offer quality education in English that is much more reasonably priced than in the West.
  • Africans in India face everyday racism that makes them feel very unsafe.
  • The attitude of the police reflects and exacerbates this racial violence and discrimination.
  • African students are mostly left to protest the hate crimes, and the government, keen to placate the African governments, offers the obligatory sorry and promises to look into the incident and bring about justice.

Moving towards negating such trends:

  • It is critical for Indian students and members of communities where African students live to have a better understanding of Africa. This would require discussions and exposure to the many cultures and diversity of Africa.
  • A much more concerted effort must be made by the Indian government, and Indian citizens, intellectuals, and artists to make Africans feel safe in India.
  • The police too, who are often implicated in these racist incidents, must be trained, and issues of racism within the force seriously prosecuted.
  • Students on Indian campuses must be made aware of racism towards foreign students and shown that it is no different from the racism faced by Indian students abroad, which India so vehemently denounces.
  • In addition, for a country of India’s size and given the increasing number of Africans coming to India to study and for medical tourism, a far wider cultural engagement with the continent is necessary not only to combat the malevolent racism, but also to expand the global horizons of the Indian public.



2.     India must not enter into a contract involving billions of dollars with the American nuclear company that has already declared bankruptcy. Comment.


Westinghouse files for bankruptcy:

  • With Japanese conglomerate Toshiba announcing that Westinghouse, the American nuclear major it bought in 2006, has filed for bankruptcy, the road map of the India-U.S. nuclear deal is in jeopardy.
  • Under the India-U.S. nuclear deal, Westinghouse is slated to set up six AP1000 nuclear reactors in Kovvada, Andhra Pradesh.
  • The National Democratic Alliance government, after assuming power in 2014, had stood by the contours of the deal signed under the previous government and a preliminary work agreement between Westinghouse and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) to build two reactors in Kovvada was being finalised at the time of the bankruptcy filing.
  • The U.S. embassy in New Delhi has reaffirmed the commitment to civil nuclear cooperation with India, and Westinghouse is reported to have indicated that it continues to stand behind the reactor delivery model that it presented in its Technical Commercial Offer to India and looks forward to progress on an agreement in 2017.

India must not enter into contract:

1.     Consequences of filing for bankruptcy:

  • With the bankruptcy filing, no creditors will come forward to lend the approximately $7 billion needed to bankroll the India project in the first phase.
  • During the time of the Barack Obama administration, India had hoped to get a U.S. Export-Import (Exim) Bank loan for the Kovvada project. This is highly unlikely now.

2.     A history of project delays

  • Westinghouse had taken the contractual responsibility of two projects to build four AP1000 nuclear reactors in the U.S.
  • Both these projects are delayed by three years or more and the costs have escalated by 40-50%.
  • It has also been party to two Chinese reactor projects for the construction of four similar AP1000 reactors at two sites, and these too are behind schedule, and costs have also similarly exceeded much beyond the original estimates. In China, the first of these reactors was to have been set up in 2013. As of 2017, none of these reactors is near completion, and it may take another two years to finish all four.

3.          For the reactors envisaged for Kovvada, no site work has started yet, and the local population is opposed to the nuclear power project.

4.          In terms of capital costs, each Westinghouse 1000 MWe reactor will cost approximately three times the cost of two 500 MWe India-designed heavy-water reactors today, and perhaps eight times the cost of equivalent coal-powered supercritical power plants.

5.          Not a single AP1000 Westinghouse reactor is in operation anywhere in the world today.

6.          The current status of world energy technology does not warrant the inclusion and consideration of nuclear power of any kind in the energy basket of our nation.




3.     What are the advantages and concerns with respect to Aadhaar? Can it cause breach of privacy? How can this aspect be resolved?


Benefits of Aadhaar

  • Aadhaar has transformed the service delivery in our country, conveniencing residents and reducing leakages.
  • Direct benefit transfer, subscription to various services and authentication at the point of service delivery are some of the benefits which have accrued.
  • Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi said that out of every rupee spent by the Indian government, barely 15 paisa reaches its citizens.
  • A Planning Commission study done six years ago on the Public Distribution System found 27 paise reaching the citizens. The remaining 73 paise went on payments of salaries, administrative costs and corruption.

Aadhaar can be used for mass surveillance

  • Aadhaar is mass surveillance technology. Unlike, targeted surveillance which is a good thing, and essential for national security and public order — mass surveillance undermines security.
  • When assessing a technology don't ask — “what use it is being put to today?”. Instead ask “what use can it be put to tomorrow and by whom?”.
  • The original noble intentions of the Aadhaar project initiators will not constrain those in the future that want to take full advantage of technological possibilities. 

Shift from biometrics to smart cards

  • In January 2011, the Centre for Internet and Society had written to the parliamentary finance committee that was reviewing what was then called the “National Identification Authority of India Bill 2010”. We provided nine reasons for the government to stop using biometrics and instead use an open smart card standard.
  • Biometrics allows for identification of citizens even when they don't want to be identified.
  • Smart cards which require pins on the other hand require the citizens' conscious cooperation during the identification process.
  • Consent is baked into the design of the technology.
  • If the UIDAI adopts smart cards, we can destroy the centralized database of biometrics just like the UK government did in 2010 under Theresa May's tenure as Home Secretary.
  • This would completely eliminate the risk of foreign government, criminals and terrorists using the breached biometric database to remotely, covertly and non-consensually identify Indians.
  • The Aadhaar Authentication Regulations 2016 specifies that transaction data will be archived for five years after the date of the transaction. Smart cards based on open standards allow for decentralized authentication by multiple entities and therefore eliminates the need for a centralized transaction database.

Need for a law on Privacy:

  • The Aadhaar Act has clear restrictions on data sharing.
  • When a biometric-based authentication takes place, it is the individual who must participate in the process by submitting his or her biometrics, typically at the service delivery point to prove his identity.
  • India does not have a law on privacy.
  • In fact, then chairman of UIDAI, Nandan Nilekani, wrote to the Prime Minister as early as in May 2010 suggesting that there was a need to have a data protection and privacy law.
  • This aspect cannot be neglected anymore.
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