Gist of Editorials: Passing ASAT | GS – III

Relevance : GS Paper III


India has become only be the fourth country to test an ASAT weapon.

ASAT Tests by other Nations

  • By US and Russia in 1960s.
  • By China in 2007.

India lags Behind

  • Other 3 nations are close to develop space weapons.
  • India has a long way to catch up.

Analysing India’s ASAT Test

  • Targeted a satellite in a low earth orbit of 300 km.
  • India has had ASAT capabilities for long.
  • Test is more about policy change than a technological breakthrough.

India’s Earlier Stand on ASAT Tests

  • India argued against the weaponization of outer space.
  • India resisted to manage the emerging space threats.


India must clearly articulate its military space doctrine.

Editorial Simplified: Integrating the Island | GS – II

Relevance : GS Paper II & III
(International Relations and Internal Security)

Why has this issue cropped up?

Recently, the Prime Minister visited the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Historical significance of Andaman Islands

  • In the 17th and 18th centuries, they were the site of contestation between European colonial powers — Portugal, the Netherlands, France and Britain.
  • Britain occupied the islands at the end of the 18th century in search of a permanent military base. From a potential platform for power projection, the islands became a penal colony for the Raj.
  • After the Second World War, the partition of India and the Cold War between America and Russia, the Andamans became marginal to the new geopolitics.

Present geopolitical significance of Andaman Islands

Today as a rising China projects its economic and military power into the Indian Ocean, any strategy for regional balance would necessarily involve the economic and military development of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Way forward

  • As in the Second World War, so in the current juncture, it would involve considerable cooperation between India and its major strategic partners.
  • That in turn leads us to the imperative of ending the deliberate isolation of the island chain and promoting economic development, tighter integration with the mainland, strengthening military infrastructure, regional connectivity and international collaboration. The government has initiated some important steps in that direction, including on internet connectivity, visa liberalization, tourism, building new ports, agreements for cooperation with neighboring countries in South East Asia.
  • Finally, any large-scale development would inevitably raise questions about preserving the pristine environment of the Andamans and protecting its vulnerable indigenous populations. As it tries to turn the outpost in the Andamans into a strategic hub, Delhi can draw much from the wealth of international experience on the sustainable transformation of fragile island territories.


Modi’s visit will hopefully begin to change India’s national narrative on the Andamans.


Editorial Simplified: A Security Architecture without the Mortar | GS – III

Relevance: GS Paper III (Internal Security)

Theme of the article

Many of India’s national security inadequacies stem from the absence of a national security vision.

Why has this article cropped up?

In April this year, the government set up a Defence Planning Committee (DPC). Earlier this month, it also decided to revive the Strategic Policy Group (SPG) within the overall National Security Council (NSC) system.

Issues with the national security

  • India’s national security environment has steadily deteriorated since 2014.
  • Both the overall violence in Jammu and Kashmir and ceasefire violations on the Line of Control reached a 14-year high in 2017, a trend that refuses to subside in 2018.
  • The pressure from China is on the rise. The Chinese forces are back in the Doklam plateau with more force.
  • India’s neighbourhood policy continues to be in the doldrums and there is a clear absence of vision on how to balance, engage and work with the many great powers in the regional and the broader international scene.

Absence of defence reforms

  • There is little conversation between the armed forces and the political class, and even lesser conversation among the various arms of the forces. This will soon become unsustainable for a country that aspires to be a modern great power.
  • One of the most serious lacunas in our defence management is the absence of jointness in the Indian armed forces. Our doctrines, command structures, force deployments and defence acquisition continue as though each arm is going to fight a future war on its own.
  • Not only do the various arms of the Indian armed forces plan their strategies in silos but even their rhetoric is partisan (consider the Army Chief, Gen. Bipin Rawat’s statement about the Army, not the armed forces as a whole, being prepared for a “two-and-a-half front war”).
  • In the neighbourhood China has progressed a great deal in military jointmanship, and Pakistan is doing a lot better than India. In India, talk of appointing a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) has all but died down.
  • Leave alone appointing a CDS, even the key post of military adviser in the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) remains vacant.
  • Under the present system, where the ratio of revenue to capital expenditure in defence is roughly 65:35%, any serious attempt at modernisation would be impossible.
  • Many of India’s national security inadequacies stem from the absence of a national security/defence vision.

Way forward

Ideally, the country should have an overall national security document from which the various agencies and the arms of the armed forces draw their mandate and create their own respective and joint doctrines which would then translate into operational doctrines for tactical engagement. In the absence of this, as is the case in India today, national strategy is broadly a function of ad hocism and personal preferences.


the state of India’s national security and defence is worse off today compared to when it took office in May 2014. And in the meantime, we are becoming a country without a coherent national security purpose.


Editorial Simplified: Deadly Roads | GS – III

Relevance: GS Paper III (Internal Security)

Why has this issue cropped up?

The Road Accidents in India report of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways for 2017 comes as a disappointment.

Issues with the report

  • By reiterating poorly performing policies and programmes, it has failed to signal the quantum shift necessary to reduce death and disability on the roads.
  • It expresses concern at the large number of people who die every year and the thousands who are crippled in accidents, but the remedies it highlights are weak, incremental and unlikely to bring about a transformation.
  • The lack of progress in reducing traffic injuries is glaring, given that the Supreme Court is seized of the issue and has been issuing periodic directions in a public interest petition with the assistance of the Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan Committee constituted by the Centre.
  • Little has been done to fulfil what the Road Transport Ministry promises: that the Centre and the States will work to improve safety as a joint responsibility, although enforcement of rules is a State issue.
  • That nothing much has changed is reflected by the death of 1,47,913 people in accidents in 2017. To claim a 1.9% reduction over the previous year is statistically insignificant, more so when the data on the rate of people who die per 100 accidents show no decline.
  • Even more shocking is the finding that green commuters — cyclists/pedestrians — now face greater danger on India’s roads, with a rise in fatalities for these categories of users of 37% and 29% over 2016, respectively.

The hurdles in the way of road safety

  • It is welcome that greater attention is being paid to the design and safety standards of vehicles, but such professionalism should extend to public infrastructure: the design of roads, their quality and maintenance, and the safety of public transport, among others.
  • The Centre has watered down the national bus body standards code in spite of a commitment given to the Supreme Court, by requiring only self-certification by the builders.
  • Valuable time has been lost in creating institutions for road safety with a legal mandate, starting with an effective national agency.
  • The Road Safety Councils at the all-India and State levels have simply not been able to change the dismal record.
  • The police forces lack the training and motivation for professional enforcement.


Data on fatalities and injuries due to road accidents must jolt the government into action. The urgent need is to fix accountability in government.


Deadly roads in India (The Hindu)


Value Added Article: S-400 Air Defence System | Category – Defence, Security, IR | Source – Indian Express


Relevance: GS Paper II, III (Defence, Security, IR)




The Russian government has confirmed that President Vladimir Putin will oversee the signing of the S-400 air defence system deal with India after his arrival. It is over $5-billion deal.

What is S-400?

  • A missile defence system is intended to act as a shield against incoming ballistic missiles.
  • The S-400 Triumf is the world’s most dangerous operationally deployed modern long-range surface-to-air missile system, and is considered much more effective than the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence system developed by the US.
  • It is a mobile system that integrates a multifunction radar, autonomous detection and targeting systems, anti-aircraft missile systems, launchers, and a command and control centre.
  • It can be deployed within five minutes, and is capable of firing three types of missiles to create a layered defence.
  • It can engage all types of aerial targets including aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, and ballistic and cruise missiles within a range of 400 km, at an altitude up to 30 km.
  • It can simultaneously track 100 airborne targets, including super fighters such as the US-built F-35, and engage six of them at the same time.
  • The S-400 was made operational in 2007, and is responsible for defending Moscow. It was deployed in Syria in 2015 to guard Russian and Syrian naval and air assets.

Why does India need S-400?

It is important for India to have the capability to thwart missile attacks from the two likeliest quarters, Pakistan and China.

How did the US come into the picture?

  • In August 2017, US signed into law the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which specifically targets Russia, Iran, and North Korea.
  • Among other things, the Act seeks to punish Russia for its military intervention in Ukraine and its alleged meddling in the 2016 US Presidential elections, by taking aim at its oil and gas industry, defence and security sector, and financial institutions.
  • The Act empowers the US President to impose at least five of 12 listed sanction on persons engaged in a “significant transaction” with the Russian defence and intelligence sectors.
  • US has notified 39 Russian entities, “significant transactions” with which could make third parties liable to sanctions. Almost all major Russian defence manufacturing and export companies/entities including the manufacturers of the S-400 system, are on the list.

So, how did India get around CAATSA?

  • Concerns about Russia apart, CAATSA also impacts the United States’ ties with India, and dents its image when it is trying to project India as a key partner in its Indo-Pacific strategy.
  • Secretary of Defence James Mattis had written to members of a Senate Committee, seeking “some relief from CAATSA” for countries like India.
  • Commander of the US Pacific Command had cited the “strategic opportunity” that India presented, and the chance “to trade in arms with India”.
  • Over the last decade, US defence deals with India have grown from near zero to worth $15 billion, including key Indian acquisitions such as C-17 Globemaster and C-130J transport aircraft, P-8(I) maritime reconnaissance aircraft, etc.
  • In July, the US communicated that it was ready to grant India (along with Indonesia and Vietnam) a waiver on the CAATSA sanctions. The waiver also conveyed the acceptance by the US that India could not be dictated on its strategic interests by a third country.

What is the state of the India-Russia defence cooperation now?

  • Stringent implementation of CAATSA would have impacted not just the S-400s, but also the procurement of Project 1135.6 frigates and Ka-226T helicopters, and joint ventures like Indo Russian Aviation Ltd, Multi-Role Transport Aircraft Ltd, and Brahmos Aerospace. It would have also affected purchase of spares, components, raw materials and other assistance.
  • The bulk of India’s military equipment is of Soviet/Russian origin — including the nuclear submarine INS Chakra, the supersonic Brahmos cruise missile, MiG and Sukhoi fighters, the Il transport aircraft, the T-72 and T-90 tanks, and the Vikramaditya aircraft carrier.

Present state of India-Russia relations

  • In recent years, however, the relationship has appeared to cool off somewhat. Having once rested on multiple pillars from people-to-people to space, it is now one whose principal pillar is defence.
  • Indio-Russian trade is at $10 bn, compared to Indo-US at $100 bn. Yet, India needs Russia for spare parts for its legacy defence equipment.
  • Also, Moscow gives New Delhi technologies that the US doesn’t yet want to share, including nuclear-powered submarines.
  • As India tries to balance its relations between an unpredictable US administration and an assertive China, it would like Russia on its side; Moscow as an ally in the UN Security Council is valuable. At the same time, Russia’s growing proximity with China, and its newfound relationship with Pakistan, makes Delhi uncomfortable.


Editorial Simplified: Himalayan Divide | GS – II, III

Relevance: GS Paper II & III (International Relations, Internal Security)

Why has this issue cropped up?

Despite several attempts at a reset, ties between India and Nepal continue to be a cause for concern.

The recent incidents of disconnect

  • The disconnect between the two governments was most visible at the BIMSTEC military exercises concluded recently. After confirming its participation in June, the Nepalese Army withdrew from the exercise.
  • Nepal’s decision to join China for a 12-day Mt Everest Friendship Exercise in Sichuan province, also focussed on anti-terrorism drills, drives the wedge in further.
  • Despite New Delhi signalling its discomfiture with the volume of Chinese investment in hydropower and infrastructure and transport projects, Nepal went ahead recently and finalised an ambitious connectivity proposal that will eventually link Kathmandu to Shigatse by rail.

Way forward

  • New Delhi and Kathmandu must put an end to the unseemly controversy by renewing diplomatic efforts over the issue.
  • India and Nepal don’t just share an open border; they have shared the deepest military links. Such unique ties must not be undermined due to lack of communication. The larger geopolitical context of the discord over the military exercises must not be ignored.
  • India is still blamed for the 2015 economic blockade against Nepal. It is also held responsible for attempts to destabilise Mr. Oli’s previous tenure as Prime Minister during 2015-2016. New Delhi cannot turn a blind eye to the rebuffs, and must address them.
  • At such a time, the Army chief, General Bipin Rawat’s statement on BIMSTEC, that “geography” will ensure that countries like Bhutan and Nepal “cannot delink themselves” from India, could have been avoided; such comments unnerve India’s smaller neighbours and are misleading. Modern technology and connectivity projects could well take away geography’s role as a guarantor of good relations.


Editorial Simplified: Lean, Mean Military? | GS – III

Relevance: GS Paper III (Defence & Internal Security)

Why has this issue cropped up?

Gen Bipin Rawat has called for plan to modernize army to prepare the army for 21st century conflict.

What does this modernization consist of?

  • The army envisages a cut of some 1,50,000 troops, beginning with a cut of one-third within two years.
  • The army hopes for a saving of Rs 5,000 crore to Rs 7,000 crore that could be used to boost its capital budget to buy new equipment.

Previous such modernization ideas

  • In 1998, the army reduced its recruitment so as to cut its numbers by 50,000, with the hope that the expected saving of Rs 600 crore would help to buy new equipment. But, to its chagrin, it found that the government simply pocketed the money and there was no bonus in the 1999 budget.
  • As for restructuring, in the early 2000s, when the army formulated its Cold Start Doctrine, it envisaged the reconfiguring of its divisions and corps into agile integrated battle groups (IBGs) which would be roughly the strength of a brigade.
  • In 2017 the defence ministry had announced it was “redeploying” 57,000 personnel following recommendations of the Shekatkar Committee, set up to suggest measures to enhance the army’s combat potential and constrain its revenue expenditure.

Issues with the ideas of modernization

  • The suggestions that cuts will take place in Signals and Supply units actually goes against the grain of modern warfare, which emphasizes quick moving forces and long range precision strikes enabled by specialized ISTR, EW and logistics units.
  • There is no guarantee that the army’s savings will be given back to them. In India money is retained in the Consolidated Fund, and whatever is saved or left over, goes back into it. It’s not as though the money “belonged” to the army. The government would have to re-appropriate the alleged savings through the Union Budget process. Going by past experience, that is unlikely to happen.
  • Reducing numbers does not necessarily translate into reducing expenditure. Indeed, in the short run, it will be the other way around. The reason is that there is need to invest in getting higher quality personnel, pay to train them into their new jobs and re-equip the army with an entire new range of weapons and systems.


It is worthwhile recalling the testimony of the army to Parliament’s Standing Committee on Defence earlier this year, that some 68% of the army’s equipment holdings belong to the “vintage” category, 24% current and 8% state of the art. A modern, war winning military needs to be state of the art in every dimension – doctrine, organization, equipment and quality of its personnel.


Editorial Simplified: All for One, One for All | GS – III

Relevance: GS Paper III

Why has this issue cropped up?

There has been much discussion in the media recently on the integrated military theater commands.

Opposition to integrated command

Most of the opposition to such a restructuring has been led by Air Force officers who have voiced the view that the creation of integrated commands would seriously hamper the effective application of air power, particularly because of the limited resources available with the Air Force.

How far is the opposition justified?

  • There is justification in the argument that moving ahead towards integrated commands without any meaningful restructuring in the higher defence organization is premature. The initial steps should have been an integration of the Ministry of Defence and the appointment of a Chief of the Defence Staff. This would have put in place structures and practices that would encourage a jointness among the three services and perhaps pave the way in future towards integrated organizations.
  • What is more debatable is the somewhat simplistic view on the character of future wars. The real problem lies in the fact that all three services have their own vision of how future conflicts could unfold and the primacy of their own arm in winning wars. The start point is therefore a common understanding between the services on the nature and character of wars that India could fight in the future.
  • Political purpose will decide the start and termination of wars, and the manner in which they will be fought. The services have made their operational plans based on a proactive (cold start) strategy, with the assumption that the war will be short and swift. Maximum combat power is to be harnessed and applied across the border in a series of strikes that will rapidly degrade the military potential of the enemy. The weakness with this strategy is that it seldom takes political objectives into consideration.

How military is used by the govt

Let us take a few examples of the recent past where military force was used or contemplated to be used by the Indian state.

  • During the the Kargil conflict in 1999, while the complete military was poised to strike Pakistan by land, sea and air, the political leadership decided to restrict the conflict to only the Kargil sector and to our own side of the LoC.
  • After the attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001, Operation Parakram was launched and the Indian Army mobilized for an impending war against Pakistan. The Army remained deployed along the borders for almost one year.
  • The Mumbai attack in November 2008 was the biggest terror strike launched from Pakistan. There was outrage in the country and calls for retaliation against Pakistan. However, the use of force was ruled out.

Way forward

  • The importance of a military force lies in its utility to achieve the national aims, and not in the numbers of divisions, ships and aircraft squadrons. The dominance of America’s military power has not resulted in the achievement of its political objectives in Afghanistan.
  • We must also debate the character of future wars. A number of questions need to be answered. For instance, what will be the contours of a war between nuclear armed adversaries, and how will victory be defined if we want to remain below the nuclear threshold?
  • It is necessary for the three services to sit together and find realistic answers. We must be prepared for a whole range of options from non-contact warfare to a full-scale war.
  • It is only after these discussions crystallize that we will be able to arrive at a common understanding of how future wars could possibly play out and the kind of joint structures that are required to best fight this conflict.


We may not get everything right but each service extolling its own importance is not helping our ability to prepare for the future.


Value Added Article: Strengthening of Cyber Security | Category – Internal Security | Source – Yojana

Relevance: GS Paper 3 (Internal Security)


Yojana Magazine - Chrome IAS.png


Why has this issue cropped up?

The sky rocketing intrusion of digitalization in the banking industry has given more thrust on the implementation of Cyber security in the digital platform.

Measures taken by the govt. to strengthen cyber security

National Cyber Security Policy, 2013

  • Its mission is to protect cyberspace information and infrastructure, build capabilities to prevent and respond to cyber-attacks, and minimise damages through coordinated efforts of institutional structures, people, processes, and technology.
  • Few Strategies adopted by the Policy include:
    • Creation of a secure cyber ecosystem through measures such as a national nodal agency,
    • Strengthening the regulatory framework coupled with periodic reviews,
    • Creating mechanisms for security threats
    • National Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-in) functions as the nodal agency for coordination of all cyber security efforts,
    • Securing e-governance by implementing global best practices,
    • To promote cutting edge research and development of cyber security technology,
    • Human Resource Development through education and training programs to build capacity.

Cyber Swachhata Kendra

  • To combat cyber security violations and prevent their increase,Government of India’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERTin) in February 2017 launched ‘Cyber Swachhta Kendra’ (Botnet Cleaning and Malware Analysis Centre).
  • It functions to analyze BOTs/malware characteristics, provides information and enables citizens to remove BOTs/ malware and to create awareness among citizens to secure their data, computers, mobile phones and devices such as home routers.
  • The Centre offers the following security and protective tools:
    • USB Pratirodh, to control unathorised usage of USB devices
    • An app called Samvid for desktop
    • M-Kavach, a device for security of Android mobile devices

Information Technology Act

  • IT Act, 2000 is the primary law in India dealing with cybercrime and electronic commerce which had subsequent amendment in the year 2008.
  • The description of the electronic offences and the Penalty are detailed in the IT Act for the offences such as:
    • Tampering with computer source documents.
    • Hacking with computer system.
    • Using password of another person.
    • Acts of cyber terrorism, etc.

RBI Directions

Reserve bank of India has given directions to protect interests of the customer such as:

  • RBI has made it mandatory for banks to register all customers for text message alerts and permit reporting of unauthorised transactions through a reply to the alert message. This shall alert the customers on the frauds instantly.
  • A customer will have zero liability in respect of a fraudulent transaction if there is contributory fraud or negligence on the part of the bank.
  • The customer will also not be liable if there is a third-party breach, without bank involvement, which is reported to the bank within three working days of receiving communication regarding the unauthorized transactions.


With all the measures towards strengthening of Cyber Security, our country shall provide a completely Cyber Secure architecture that is secure and reliable for the digital transactions. However, it is to be continuously upgraded, as new threats emerge. Security is a journey. Awareness will enable to face and mitigate the risk.

VAA – Policing The Police | Category – Internal Security | Source – EPW

Section: Internal security

Title: Policing the Police

Relevance: GS 3

Why has this article been published?

For the first time in India, two policemen were sentenced to death recently for a case of custodial death in Kerala, and three other policemen were awarded imprisonment.


Fate of other such cases

The fate of a majority of other such trials in the numerous cases of custodial torture and killings is strewn with impediments that are familiar:

  • witnesses who turn hostile,
  • doctors who give in to the pressure to give the police a clean chit in the post-mortem report,
  • investigations that are little better than “cover-ups” for the accused, and
  • the vulnerability of the family of the victims who are unable to get legal and financial help.


The Supreme Court directives on Police Reforms

  • The 2006 directives of the apex court was then hailed as a decisive move in the sluggish trajectory of police reforms in India.
  • This hope has been dashed since, with the centre and states either implementing the directives selectively, conveniently, or ignoring them altogether. Some of these directives dilute the power of the state executive in terms of dealing with the police, and hence the reluctance to implement them effectively.
  • Had the apex court ensured their implementation under its own observation, the outcome perhaps would have been different.
  • The reports of the various commissions and the Supreme Court directives offer comprehensive suggestions. These include
    • replacing the Police Act, 1861 with a new one,
    • making the police force independent of executive interference by improving methods of recruitment (including that of top-ranking police officers),
    • transfers and promotions,
    • separating the investigative wing of the police from the law enforcement wing, and
    • setting up a mechanism to deal with complaints against the police.


Police Discrimination

  • The thrust of the police reforms campaign has also been to ensure that public perception of and faith in the police as an institution does not crumble completely.
  • The “Status of Policing in India” 2018 report that covers six major areas—the crime rate, disposal of cases by police and courts, diversity in the police force, infrastructure, prison data, and disposal of cases of crimes against Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes/women and children—finds that in all these fields police performance weighs in against the marginalised and the minorities.
  • It reveals that police discrimination based on class is the most common, followed by gender, caste, and religion, with the public fear of the police being higher among the country’s religious minorities, particularly the Muslims.


From the rather dismal pace of the implementation of police reforms, it is clear that the Supreme Court needs to step in to ensure that its 2006 order is strictly complied with and errant states are punished for contempt.