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9 February 2017 Question Bank


9th FEBRUARY 2017


(2 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.      “India has extensive experience in conducting evacuation operations, but to secure the lives and assets of Indians abroad, the government must avoid an ad hoc approach and seek to institutionalise best practices, bolster diplomatic and military capabilities, and improve coordination.” Elaborate.



  • The increasing size and complexity of the Indian diaspora requires the government to expand capacity and improve procedures.
  • More than 11 million Indians now reside abroad and 20 million travel internationally every year.
  • As political instability rattles the West Asian region, which hosts more than 7 million Indians, the government can no longer rely on heroic efforts by individual officials or quick-fix solutions.

Operation Raahat:


  • In 1986, South Yemen was being engulfed in a civil war that threatened the lives of thousands of foreigners living there.
  • While Britain, France and the Soviet Union coordinated to jointly evacuate their nationals, the 850 Indians in the country were forced to wait for several more days until New Delhi finally managed to convince a merchant ship to pick them up.
  • In April 2015, when Yemen was on fire once again. This time, however, the Indian government successfully conducted Operation Raahat to evacuate almost 5,000 Indians and nearly 1,000 citizens from 41 other countries.
  • Besides Air India aircraft, the Indian Navy deployed vessels, and the Indian Air Force C-17 Globemasters for strategic airlift.
  • Such unprecedented efforts and resources reflect New Delhi’s new drive to protect the lives and assets of its citizens abroad in times of crisis.


Steps that need to be taken to institutionalise evacuation operations:

1.      Institutionalise best practices:


  • The government will need to build on its rich experience in conducting more than 30 evacuation operations since the 1950s.
  • Studying India’s history, best practices and lessons learned will help institutionalise them.
  • By supporting policy-oriented research at universities and think tanks to document the memory of senior officials, the government would also facilitate the transmission of their expertise to younger officials.


2.      Formulate blueprint:


  • Every evacuation case is unique, given the specific nature and location of the crisis, but this should not preclude an analytical attempt to formulate a blueprint that lists core tasks for all operations.
  • An inter-ministerial committee should prepare a manual with guidelines that establish a clear chain of command and division of competencies; identify regional support bases, assembly points and routes for evacuation; develop country-specific warden systems to communicate with expatriates; and establish evacuation priority and embarkation criteria.


3.      Train diplomatic cadre for operation in hostile environments:


  • To achieve this, the government could instruct the police or army to train Indian Foreign Service probationers to operate in war zones; conduct frequent evacuation simulations and emergency drills; and create rapid reaction teams of Indian security personnel to be deployed to protect diplomatic staff and installations abroad.


4.      Work together with friendly governments.


  • India will have to invest in cooperative frameworks that facilitate coordination among countries that have large expatriate populations in West Asia, in particular Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and among leading powers with evacuation capacity in the Indian Ocean region.


5.      Defence forces coordination:


  • The government will have to assign a greater role to its armed forces, in particular by strengthening the Navy and Air Force’s capacity to operate in tandem with civilian authorities.
  • It should, for example, direct the military to develop a non-combatant evacuation (NEO) doctrine, designate the Integrated Defence Staff as the nodal organisation to improve inter-services and civil-military coordination, direct the services to conduct more multilateral NEO exercises, and adapt military modernisation plans to increase capacity for out-of-area deployment and evacuation.


6.      Inter-ministerial coordination:


  • To minimise redundancies, the government must institutionalise a permanent inter-ministerial coordinating mechanism for emergency evacuations, incentivise inter-agency cross-posting of officials dealing with diaspora affairs, and encourage State governments to create regional contingency plans.


7.      Permanent civil reserve air fleet:


  • To avoid cost inflation and delays, the government must establish a permanent civil reserve air fleet that pools aircraft from all Indian airlines based on pre-established requisition and reimbursement procedures.


8.      Authenticate identity:


  • The government will have to invest in new technologies to better monitor the diaspora’s profile and mobility.
  • This can be achieved by encouraging more diplomatic missions to provide online consular registration forms, developing an online registration system for overseas travellers, utilising social media, and by making the Aadhaar card compulsory to facilitate biometric identity verification and reduce identity fraud during evacuation.


9.      Ensure safety:


  • Finally, the government must expand efforts to manage public opinion and be able to conduct a quiet diplomacy that is crucial to safely extricate Overseas Indians from conflict zones.



2. What is spoils system. Does it exist in India? What is the Supreme Court’s view on the matter?



  • Article 320 of the Indian Constitution has established the Union Public Service Commission and various State Public Service Commissions to deal with rules to be framed for recruitment and other conditions of service.
  • In essence, public service commissions act as watchdogs for the civil servants.
  • However, over a period of time, recruitment to these commissions have become dependent on political loyalties.


SC’s observations


  • The Supreme Court, in the Upendra Narayan Singh, 2009 case, concerning the Bihar government, observed that the Public Service Commissions have become victims of spoils system.
  • The 11 appointments made by the State Governor to the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission were set aside by the Madras High Court; further, the Supreme Court refused to stay the order.
  • In 2016, three crucial appointments made by Tamil Nadu government were set aside by the courts. All three selections appeared to be a form of spoils-sharing.


1.      Among the 11 was a retired district judge whose request for extension of service by two years had already been denied by the High Court on the ground that his records were not clean.

2.      The post of State Consumer Forum president had been kept vacant for more than one-and-a-half years following the retirement of the previous incumbent. Contrary to the norms and practices, the State insisted on one particular retired judge getting appointed. However, thanks to the no nonsense attitude of Chief Justice S.K. Kaul, the government had to relent and appoint a person recommended by him.

3.      Coming to the third appointment, the selection of Kalyani Mathivanan as the chairperson of Tamil Nadu Commission for Protection of Child Rights created a legal controversy. The qualifications for holding such a post are prescribed clearly under Section 17 of the Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005. The act requires the chairperson to be a person of eminence who must have done outstanding work concerning the welfare of children. The Tamil Nadu government could not convince the court about her credentials. Finally, it agreed to withdraw her nomination and to look for a more qualified person.


  • The three appointments, all political, cannot be looked at in isolation. They only show that the party in power is willing to bend rules to please its loyalists.





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