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UPSC Online Editorial Analysis


1) Editorial

Title: Iran’s calculated risk

Written by: StanlyJohny

Topic in syllabus: Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.(GS-2)

Analysis about: This editorial talks about Iran’s nuclear programme & issues associated with it. It also focuses on its effect in west Asia & responses from different rivals of Iran (mainly Israel & Saudi).


  • What is the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action / the Iran nuclear deal? – It is an agreement on the Iranian nuclear program reached in Vienna on 14 July 2015, between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States—plus Germany) together with the European Union.
    • Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium was reduced by 97 percent, from 10,000 kg to 300 kg.
    • Iran may continue research and development work on enrichment, but that work will take place only at the Natanz facility and include certain limitations for the first eight years.
    • The IAEA will have multi-layered oversight “over Iran’s entire nuclear supply chain, from uranium mills to its procurement of nuclear-related technologies”.
  • Why US withdrawn from the deal?
  • The deal isn’t entirely permanent; the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program start to relax about 10 years after the deal was signed (though the agreement not to build a nuclear weapon is permanent).
  • The deal didn’t cover other problematic things Iran was doing, including ballistic missile development and its support for violent militias around the Middle East (like Hezbollah in Lebanon).


  • When the P5+1 nations (China,France, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S., plus Germany) reached an agreement with Iran in 2015 to scuttle thecountry’s nuclear programme, it wasexpected that the agreement wouldlead to a new beginning in West Asia.However, this did not happen.
  • The Barack Obama administration’scalculation was that denying Iran apath to the bomb was in the best interest of everyone, including Iran’srivals in the region.

What is the problem that Israel & Saudi Arabia having with Iran?

  • Israel and Saudi Arabia,for them, Iran’s nuclear programme was not the problem but was part of the largergeopolitical challenges Iran posed.
  • Tehran’sinfluence across West Asia, its backing for non-­state militias, and its ambition to emerge as a dominant pillarin the region based on the politicalheft of the Shia community.
  • Mr. Obama’s nuclear deal cut off the path tothe bomb, but by lifting sanctions, heallowed Iran to move towards claiming its natural economic and politicalmight. This upset the Israelis and theSaudis.

How Trump’s decision to withdraw from the deal gave leverage to Israel to launch its activities against Iran?

  • The Trumpyears gave Israel a window of opportunity to step up its covert and overtoperations.
  • In 2018, Israeli spies carried out a daring mission at a warehouse inside Iran and stole thousands of documents related to Iran’snuclear programme.
  • Iranian nuclearscientists came under attacks. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a top Iranian nuclear physicist, was assassinated onNovember 27 on the outskirts of Tehran. Israel has been blamed for theattack, an allegation that Tel Aviv hasnot denied.
  • In Syria, where Iran has deployed militiasbacking the government of Bashar al Assad, Israel continued to bomb Iranian targets.

What is the motive of Israel?

  • It wants to set backIran’s nuclear programme by takingout a prominent scientist and scuttlethe possible revival of the nucleardeal.
  • Israel wants Iran to be contained, not just Iran’s nuclear programme.

What is the dilemma before Iran?

  • If it does not retaliate, it showsthat Iran’s deterrence is getting weaker, which could trigger more such attacks from its rivals.
  • If it retaliates, itcould escalate the conflict, giving theoutgoing Trump administration anda crisis­hit Benjamin Netanyahu government reasons to launch heavierstrikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities,closing off the diplomatic path.

What is the path that Iran has chosen?

  • Instead of walkinginto the trap of provocation, its Parliament passed a Bill that obliges thegovernment to enrich uranium to ahigher level — from less than 5% nowto 20%, which is a technical step
    away from the weapons­grade levelof 90% — and stop access for UN inspectors to the country’s top nuclearfacilities in two months if sanctionsrelief is not given.

What lies ahead?

  • Within twomonths, Mr. Biden will be in theWhite House. So, Iran is taking a calculated risk by enhancing its nuclearprogramme, which can be reversed iftalks are revived. But it is leaving the
    Israel problem unaddressed, fornow.

2) Editorial

Title:The cruelty camera can’t see

Written by:AishwaryaMohanty, NeetikaVishwanath

Topic in syllabus:Polity, Governance, Police reforms(GS-2)

Analysis about:This editorial talks about custodial atrocities& issues regarding recent judgement of SC to install CCTV cameras in police station.


  • In a bid to curb torture, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court recently mandated that CCTV cameras be installed in police stations and offices of other investigative agencies.

How the SC given detailed guidelines regarding the installation of cameras?

  • SC shows more care by listing out areas of police stations where cameras must be installed to ensure that there are no blind spots.
  • It asks for oversight committees to be set up to monitor the functioning of the cameras.
  • It also specifies that the cameras must be equipped with night vision and be able to record audio and visual footage.
  • The recordings will have to be preserved for at least 12 months.

What are the issues associated with custodial atrocities?

  • Since torture is not recognised as an offence per se under Indian law, the judgment’s reference to the use of force resulting in “serious injuries and/or custodial deaths” unwittingly creates a high threshold for what amounts to torture.
  • It fails to acknowledge the existence of forms of physical and psychological torture that leave behind no marks on the body.
  • Indian courts have also expressed their apprehension of police tampering with CCTV footage.
  • Between 2005-2018, with respect to 1,200 deaths in police custody, 593 cases were registered, 186 police personnel were charge-sheeted, and only seven were convicted (National Crime Records Bureau).
  • Evidentiary concerns frequently arise since often the only witnesses are the victims themselves.
  • The Supreme Court (1995) has noted that police officials remain silent to protect their colleagues as they are “bound by brotherhood” and held that courts should not insist on direct or ocular evidence in these cases.
  • Those held responsible for custodial deaths are often not convicted for murder, but for offences that are comparatively less grave such as grievous hurt.

What are the issues specifically related to CCTV cameras?

  • Previous decisions with similar recommendations have been poorly implemented, evidenced by reports of installation of defunct cameras and exaggerated claims of authorities about the number of cameras installed.
  • CCTVs will monitor only one of many sites where torture happens.
  • Multiple works on torture in India suggest that torture is often not inflicted in police stations, but isolated areas or police vehicles.
  • Victims are illegally detained and tortured in undisclosed locations before officially arrested and brought to the police station.


  • Monitoring the police through CCTVs is an important step towards combating torture but its effectiveness is contingent on broader reforms.
  • The realities of torture and its prosecution in India would temper our expectations from this one development.
  • The Supreme Court needs to ensure robust implementation of its order and simultaneously plug the gaps so that incidents of torture are curtailed.

3) Explained

Title:What’s in France’s draft law against ‘Islamism’

Topic in syllabus:Polity-Comparison of the Indian Constitutional Scheme with that of Other Countries. (GS-2) | These points are useful for essay to compare Indian religious freedom with others.


Secularism in India:

  • With the Forty-second Amendment of the Constitution of India enacted in 1976,[1] the Preamble to the Constitution asserted that India is a secular nation.
  • However, the Supreme Court of India in S. R. Bommai v. Union of India established the fact that India was secular since the formation of the republic.
  • The judgement established that there is separation of state and religion.However, India’s secularism does not completely separate religion and state.
  • The Indian Constitution has allowed extensive interference of the state in religious affairs.In matters of law in modern India, however, the applicable code of law is unequal, and India’s personal laws – on matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, alimony – varies with an individual’s religion.
  • The Indian Constitution permits partial financial support for religious schools, as well as the financing of religious buildings and infrastructure by the state.

Secularism in France:

  • Article 1 of the French Constitution is commonly interpreted as discouraging religious involvement in government affairs, especially religious influence in the determination of state policies.
  • It also forbids government involvement in religious affairs, and especially prohibits government influence in the determination of religion.
  • Secularism in France does not preclude a right to the free exercise of religion.
  • The government and political issues should be kept separate from religious organizations and religious issues (as long as the latter do not have notable social consequences).
  • This is meant to both protect the government from any possible interference from religious organizations and to protect the religious organization from political quarrels and controversies


  • French cabinet presented a draft law that targets “radical Islamism” — although the word “Islamist” is not part of the text. Called a law “to reinforce Republican principles”, the Bill will go to the National Assembly, the lower chamber of Parliament, in January.
  • Prime Minister Jean Castex has said it is “not a text against religion, nor against the Muslim religion”, but against radical Islamism, whose objective, he said, is “to divide French people from one another.”

What does the proposed law aim to do?

  • It envisages a range of measures, including school education reforms to ensure Muslim children do not drop out, stricter controls on mosques and preachers, and rules against hate campaigns online.
  • Once the law comes into force, French mosques could see increased surveillance of their activities, such as financing.
  • The government would be able to exercise supervision over the training of imams, and have greater powers to shut down places of worship receiving public subsidies if they go against “republican principles” such as gender equality.
  • Moderate community leaders targeted by an extremist “putsch” could receive protection.
  • Under French secularism laws, or laïcité, there is already a ban on state employees displaying religious symbols that are “conspicuous”, such as the crucifix or hijab. This ban would now be extended beyond government bodies to any sub-contracted public service.
  • There would also be a clampdown on home-schooling for children over age three, with parents from to be dissuaded from enrolling them in underground Islamic structures, according to France 24.
  • Doctors who issue “virginity certificates” would be fined or jailed. Officials would be banned from granting residency permits to polygamous applicants. Couples would be interviewed separately by city hall officials prior to their wedding to find out if they have been forced into marriage.
  • Stricter punishments would be introduced for online hate speech.

What lies ahead for India & Indian Muslim?(Extra points)

  • Muslims are in India for a thousand years and are integrated with the society.
  • But it is easy for radical Islam and Islamists to find footholds among the Indian Muslims. Because Indian Muslims economic, education, literacy, and employment status, and share in political, bureaucratic, and judicial power structure, is low.
  • They are therefore likely to fall prey to the lure of lucre and other incentives and advance the designs of the Islamists.
  • The solution is to lift the Indian Muslims economic status and to give them their share of political, economic, and bureaucratic power.
  • But this will take time. A few decades, at the very least. And these decades will test India’s secularism, resilience, and resolve to the breaking point.

4) Explained

Title: What is special about Mallana Cream, Himachal’s unique cannabis product?

Topic in syllabus: Internal Security-Drug trafficking (GS-3)


  • The Narcotics Control Bureau in Mumbai Wednesday claimed to have seized the contraband ‘Malana Cream’ from a person linked to actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death.

What is Malana Cream?

  • It is the charas or hash or hashish which comes from the Malana Valley in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh.
  • Charas, called bhang in Himachal, is the resin obtained from a species or strain of the cannabis plant (botanical classification of cannabis is disputed), which grows naturally in the valley and is also cultivated illegally.
  • The valley has a single village, Malana, and the hash resin produced there is generally more ‘creamy’, or clay-like, as compared to that produced in other parts of the state.
  • The cannabis plant has a number of chemical compounds called cannabinoids, among which tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the primary psychoactive constituent which produces the high sensation.

What are its other uses?

  • Strains of the plant with low levels of THC are used for industrial and non-drug purposes such as making ropes, paper, textiles etc.
  • Plants with a high level of another cannabinoid called CBD (cannabidiol) are used for medicinal purposes.

How is it produced so widely if it is illegal?

  • Malana is a remote village which remained isolated from other habitations in the area for centuries and developed its own distinct culture.
  • Charas was banned in India in 1986 under the NDPS Act, but the plant was considered an important crop in Kullu, used for a variety of other purposes such as making footwear.
  • With greater road connectivity, Malana and its neighbouring Parvati Valley became notorious for ‘drug tourism’, with domestic as well as foreign tourists thronging to the area lured by the easy availability of drugs as well as picturesque treks.
  • Also, the plant grows naturally in the area, so it cannot be eliminated altogether.

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