- Lithium Reserves
- Mekedatu Project
- Delimitation of constituencies
- Hunger Hotspots – FAO-WFP
- Small Finance Banks
- CIBIL (Credit Information Bureau (India) Limited) score
- World Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Day
- Guarani tribe
The news of potentially significant reserves of lithium, an element needed to manufacture batteries used in electric cars and other renewable energy infrastructure, in Jammu and Kashmir has been welcomed universally.
GS I: Geography
Dimensions of the Article:
- About Lithium
- Status of India’s Lithium Industry
- Management of Lithium Reserves in Other Countries
- Future Considerations for India
- Lithium is a soft, silver-white metal with the symbol Li and atomic number 3.
- It is the lightest of all the metals and the least dense solid element.
- It is highly reactive and flammable, and easily oxidizes in air or water.
- Lithium is a rare element and is mostly found in minerals such as spodumene, lepidolite, and petalite.
- It is also found in brines and clays in certain regions of the world, such as the “Lithium Triangle” in South America, which includes Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile.
Lithium has a range of industrial applications, including:
- Lithium-ion batteries: It is a critical component of rechargeable batteries used in mobile devices, laptops, electric vehicles, and renewable energy storage systems.
- Aerospace industry: Lithium is used in the manufacturing of aircraft parts due to its lightweight and strong structural properties.
- Glass and ceramics: Lithium is used in the production of heat-resistant glass and ceramics, such as ovenware and laboratory equipment.
- Pharmaceuticals: Lithium is used as a mood stabilizer in the treatment of bipolar disorder.
- Lubricants: Lithium is used in greases and lubricants due to its ability to reduce friction and wear.
Status of India’s Lithium Industry:
- India’s electric-vehicle (EV) market was valued at $383.5 million in 2021.
- It is projected to reach $152.21 billion by 2030.
- In 2019-2020, India imported 450 million units of lithium batteries worth $929.26 million (₹6,600 crore).
- The country’s domestic lithium reserves development is crucial due to high stakes involved.
- Scholars argue that the global shift to low-carbon economies, AI expansion, and 5G networks will reshape global and regional geopolitics.
- Access to and control over rare minerals like lithium and cobalt will play a crucial role in these transformative changes.
Ownership of Minerals:
- A 2013 Supreme Court ruling states that landowners have rights to everything beneath their land, down to the earth’s center.
- However, large areas of publicly owned land, including forests, hills, mountains, and revenue wasteland, exist.
- The Union government has the authority to prohibit private actors from mining sensitive minerals, as seen with uranium under the Atomic Energy Act 1962.
- In the current context, lithium is considered as important, if not more so, than uranium.
Management of Lithium Reserves in Other Countries:
- Chile has designated lithium as a strategic resource, exclusively controlled by the state.
- Only two companies, SQM and Albemarle, are licensed for lithium production in the country.
- In 2023, Chile’s president announced a new “National Lithium Strategy,” aiming to regulate environmental impact, distribute revenue more fairly, and promote domestic research through public-private partnerships.
- Bolivia’s constitution grants the state control over exploration, exploitation, and commercialization of natural resources.
- Under former president Evo Morales, Bolivia nationalized the lithium industry, limiting private and foreign participation.
- Despite nationalization, Bolivia has not achieved commercial-scale lithium production.
- Current president Luis Arce intends to collaborate with other Latin American countries to develop a regional “lithium policy” benefiting their economies.
- Mexico’s president nationalized lithium, asserting it belongs to the nation and its people.
- General Approach in Latin and South America:
- Countries in the region are pursuing multi-pronged strategies for lithium development.
- National governments have significant control, but private sector participation varies.
- Indigenous Peoples’ mobilization influences government and corporate accountability.
Future Considerations for India:
- India must effectively manage its lithium sector, considering regions with poverty, environmental degradation, and weak regulation.
- The state’s role in careful and responsible management is crucial for social well-being, environmental safety, and national energy security.
-Source: The Hindu
After Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister expressed the resolve to build a dam and reservoir on the Cauvery at Mekedatu close to the state’s border with Tamil Nadu, DMK general secretary issued a sharp response — pointing out that the Mekedatu project was not part of the awards of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) or the ruling of the Supreme Court.
GS-II: Polity and Governance (Intra-State Relations, Functions & responsibilities of the Union and the States, Issues and challenges of federal structure)
Dimensions of the Article:
- About the Cauvery River
- About the Mekedatu Project:
- Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA)
- Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC)
About the Cauvery River
- The Cauvery River (Kaveri), designated as the ‘Dakshina Ganga’ or ‘the Ganga of the South’, flows in a southeasterly direction through the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and descends the Eastern Ghats in a series of great falls.
- Before emptying into the Bay of Bengal south of Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu the river breaks into a large number of distributaries forming a wide delta called the “Garden of Southern India”
- The Cauvery basin extends over states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, and Union Territory of Puducherry draining an area of 81 thousand Sq.km.
- It is bounded by the Western Ghats on the west, by the Eastern Ghats on the east and the south, and by the ridges separating it from the Krishna basin and Pennar basin on the north.
- The Nilgiris, an offshore of Western ghats, extend Eastwards to the Eastern ghats and divide the basin into two natural and political regions i.e., Karnataka plateau in the North and the Tamil Nadu plateau in the South.
- Physiographically, the basin can be divided into three parts – the Westen Ghats, the Plateau of Mysore, and the Delta.
- The delta area is the most fertile tract in the basin. The principal soil types found in the basin are black soils, red soils, laterites, alluvial soils, forest soils, and mixed soils. Red soils occupy large areas in the basin. Alluvial soils are found in the delta areas.
- It is almost a perennial river with comparatively fewer fluctuations in flow and is very useful for irrigation and hydroelectric power generation because its upper catchment area receives rainfall during summer by the south-west monsoon and the lower catchment area during the winter season by the retreating north-east monsoon.
- Harangi, Hemavati, Shimsha, and Arkavati are the tributaries on the left bank (north) and Lakshmantirtha, Kabbani, Suvarnavati, Bhavani, Noyil, and Amaravati are the tributaries on the right bank (south).
- Mekedatu is a location along Kaveri in the border of Chamarajanagar and Ramanagara Districts. Sangama is the place where Arkavati merges with Kaveri.
- At Mekedaatu, the Kaveri runs through a deep, narrow ravine of hard granite rock.
- The water flows very fast through the gorge, gouging pits in the rocky riverbed.
About the Mekedatu Project:
- The Mekedatu dam project is located in Ramanagaram district, approximately 100 km south of Bengaluru, near the entry point of the Cauvery River into Tamil Nadu. The project has been a subject of controversy for several years.
- The proposed dam has a capacity of 48 TMC (thousand million cubic) feet and an estimated cost of Rs 6,000 crore. Its primary objectives are to provide drinking water to Bengaluru and recharge the regional groundwater table.
- In November 2014, the Karnataka government, under Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, invited expressions of interest for the project and allocated Rs 25 crore in the 2015 Budget for a detailed project report.
- The Mekedatu dam is planned to be larger than the Krishnaraja Sagar project on the Cauvery River. The Central Water Commission (CWC) approved a feasibility study for the project in 2018.
History of Opposition to the Project:
- Tamil Nadu witnessed widespread protests against the dam in 2015, including a statewide bandh supported by various stakeholders. The state Assembly passed unanimous resolutions against the project in December 2018 and January 2022.
- Prior to the 2016 Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, Captain Vijayakanth of DMDK led a delegation of Opposition leaders to meet the Prime Minister to raise concerns about the project. Siddaramaiah, the then Chief Minister of Karnataka, also led an all-party delegation from Karnataka seeking the Centre’s cooperation for the project.
- In August 2021, Tamil Nadu approached the Supreme Court against the project, arguing that Karnataka’s plan to construct two reservoirs on the Cauvery River would alter its flow and violate the final award of the Cauvery River Water Tribunal (CRWT). Tamil Nadu contended that the project would impede the flow of water downstream, affecting areas such as Billigundulu along the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border.
Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA)
- CWMA has been created as per the Cauvery Management Scheme framed by Centre and approved by Supreme Court.
- The Cauvery Management Scheme deals with release of water from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.
- It will be implemented by Cauvery Management Authority (CMA).
- CMA will be sole body to implement CWDT award as modified by Supreme Court.
- The Central Government will have no say in implementing of the scheme except for issuing administrative advisories to it.
- The authority will comprise a chairman, a secretary and eight members.
- Out of the eight members, two will be full time, while two will be part time members from centre’s side. Rest four will be part time members from states.
- The main mandate of the CMA will be to secure implementation and compliance of the Supreme Court’s order in relation to “storage, apportionment, regulation and control of Cauvery waters”.
- CMA will also advise the states to take suitable measures to improve water use efficiency.
- It will do so by promoting use of micro-irrigation, change in cropping patterns, improved farm practices and development of command areas.
- The CMA will also prepare an annual report covering its activities during the preceding year.
Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC)
- The Central government constituted the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC) as per the provisions in the Kaveri Management Scheme laid down by the Supreme Court.
- While the CWMA is an umbrella body, the CWRC will monitor water management on a day-to-day basis, including the water level and inflow and outflow of reservoirs in all the basin states.
-Source: The Hindu, Indian Express
Many politicians of the Southern States are raising voices over Delimitation of constituencies based on population, which they consider to be unfair.
GS II: Polity and Governance
Dimensions of the Article:
- What is Delimitation?
- What is the Delimitation Commission?
- Concerns Related to Delimitation
What is Delimitation?
- Delimitation is the process of defining the boundaries of territorial constituencies in a country or province with a legislative body.
- Delimitation for Lok Sabha (LS) and Legislative Assembly (LA) differs from that of local bodies.
- The Delimitation Commission Act was passed in 1952.
- The President of India appoints the Delimitation Commission, which works in collaboration with the Election Commission of India (ECI).
- Delimitation Commissions have been established four times: in 1952, 1963, 1973, and 2002, under the Acts of 1952, 1962, 1972, and 2002.
Previous Delimitation Exercises:
- The first delimitation exercise was conducted by the President, with the assistance of the Election Commission, in 1950-51.
- The most recent delimitation exercise that affected the composition of the Lok Sabha by states was completed in 1976, based on the 1971 census.
Objective and Impact:
- The Constitution of India mandates that seat allocation in the Lok Sabha should be based on each state’s population, ensuring a close ratio of seats to population across states.
- This provision aimed to ensure that each person’s vote carries a similar weight, regardless of their state of residence.
- However, it led to states with low population control having a higher number of seats in Parliament.
- To address this, the 42nd Amendment Act of 1976 froze seat allocation in the Lok Sabha and division of constituencies at the 1971 level until 2000.
- The 84th Amendment Act of 2001 empowered the government to readjust and rationalize constituencies based on the population figures of the 1991 census.
- The 87th Amendment Act of 2003 allowed delimitation of constituencies based on the 2001 census instead of the 1991 census.
- However, this can be done without altering the number of seats allotted to each state in the Lok Sabha.
Objectives of Delimitation:
- To ensure equal representation for equal segments of the population.
- To achieve a fair division of geographical areas, preventing any political party from gaining an advantage in elections.
- To uphold the principle of “One Vote One Value.”
- Article 82 of the Constitution empowers the Parliament to enact a Delimitation Act after each Census.
- Article 170 provides for the division of states into territorial constituencies based on the Delimitation Act after each Census.
What is the Delimitation Commission?
- The Delimitation Commission is a high-power body responsible for determining the number and boundaries of constituencies in India.
- It is appointed by the President of India and collaborates with the Election Commission of India.
- The Commission consists of:
- Retired Supreme Court judge
- Chief Election Commissioner
- Respective State Election Commissioners
Responsibilities of the Delimitation Commission:
- To ensure the population of all constituencies is nearly equal by determining the number and boundaries of constituencies.
- To identify and allocate seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, particularly in areas where their population is relatively large.
Decision-making within the Commission:
- In case of a difference of opinion among the members of the Commission, the majority opinion prevails.
Authority and Legal Status of the Delimitation Commission:
- The Delimitation Commission in India is a high-power body, and its orders have the force of law.
- The decisions and orders of the Commission cannot be challenged or questioned before any court.
Concerns Related to Delimitation:
Disparity in Representation:
- Delimitation based solely on population can lead to disparities in representation between the northern and southern parts of India in the Lok Sabha.
- The southern states have made significant progress in population control but may still be disadvantaged due to their lower population compared to the northern states.
Disregarding Progress in Population Control:
- Delimitation solely based on population may disregard the progress made by southern states in controlling their population.
- This could result in a skewed federal structure, as the southern states contribute significantly to the country’s GDP despite having a smaller population (18% of the country’s population but 35% of the GDP).
- The use of the 2011 Census as the basis for funding and tax devolution recommendations by the 15th Finance Commission raised concerns about southern states potentially losing funding and representation in parliament.
- Previously, the 1971 Census was used as the base for such recommendations.
Shift in Power:
- The scheduled delimitation and reallocation of seats may lead to a loss of seats for southern states and potentially increase the political power of parties with their support base in the northern states.
- This could result in a shift of power away from the southern states and toward the northern states.
Impact on Reserved Seats:
- The delimitation exercise will also affect the division of seats reserved for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST) in each state, as governed by Articles 330 and 332 of the Constitution.
Source: The Hindu
According to a recent Report by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Program (WFP) Hunger Hotspots – FAO-WFP early warnings on acute food insecurity, India’s neighbors, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Myanmar, are among the hunger hotspots in the world.
GS III: Environment and Ecology
Dimensions of the Article:
- Highlights of the Report
- About Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
- About World Food Programme (WFP)
Highlights of the Report:
Acute Food Insecurity Hotspots:
- There are 18 areas in 22 countries where acute food insecurity is expected to increase in magnitude and severity.
- Hotspots with very high concern include Pakistan, the Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Syrian Arab Republic.
- These hotspots have a high number of people facing critical acute food insecurity, and the drivers of food insecurity are expected to worsen in the coming months.
Highest Concern Level:
- Afghanistan, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen remain at the highest concern level for food insecurity.
- Haiti, the Sahel region (Burkina Faso and Mali), and Sudan have been elevated to the highest concern levels.
- This elevation is due to severe movement restrictions of people and goods in Haiti, as well as conflict eruptions in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Sudan.
Population at Risk:
- All hotspots at the highest concern level have populations already facing critical food insecurity or projected to face starvation.
- These areas are at risk of deteriorating towards catastrophic conditions due to severe aggravating factors.
Impact of Conflicts:
- New emerging conflicts, including the eruption of conflict in Sudan, are likely to drive global conflict trends and impact neighboring countries.
- The use of explosive ordnance and siege tactics in hunger hotspots contributes to pushing people into catastrophic levels of acute food insecurity.
- Weather extremes such as heavy rains, tropical storms, cyclones, flooding, drought, and increased climate variability are significant drivers of food insecurity in some countries and regions.
- The May 2023 forecast suggests an 82% likelihood of El Niño conditions starting in the May–July 2023 period, which will have significant implications for several hunger hotspots.
- Deepening economic shocks are pushing low- and middle-income nations deeper into crisis, exacerbating food insecurity.
About Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
- The Food and Agriculture Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations.
- Its main objective is to lead international efforts in the fight against hunger.
- FAO was founded in 1945 and is headquartered in Rome, Italy.
- It is one of the UN food aid organizations, along with the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
- World Food Day is celebrated annually on October 16th to commemorate the establishment of FAO in 1945.
About World Food Programme (WFP)
- The World Food Programme is a leading humanitarian organization that saves lives and transforms lives through food assistance.
- It provides food aid during emergencies and works with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience.
- WFP was founded in 1961 by the FAO and the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
- Its headquarters are also located in Rome, Italy.
- WFP is a member of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group (UNSDG) and collaborates with other UN agencies to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- The international community has committed to ending hunger, achieving food security, and improving nutrition by 2030.
- WFP operates in over 120 countries and territories, delivering life-saving food to people affected by conflict and disasters.
Source: Down to Earth
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI)-appointed director, recently resigned from the board of Ujjivan Small Finance Bank (SFB).
GS III: Indian Economy
Dimensions of the Article:
- About Small Finance Banks (SFBs)
- RBI Guidelines on SFBs in India
About Small Finance Banks (SFBs):
- SFBs are specialized banks licensed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to cater to the financial needs of low-income individuals and underserved communities.
- They provide financial services and products such as microfinance, micro-enterprise services, and basic banking services.
- The main objective of SFBs is to promote financial inclusion by offering access to financial products to segments of the population who are excluded from the traditional banking system.
- SFBs are registered as public limited companies under the Companies Act, 2013.
- The RBI introduced guidelines for SFBs in 2014 to regulate their operations.
Small Finance Banks are governed by the provisions of the:
- Banking Regulation Act, 1949;
- Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934;
- Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999;
- Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007;
- Credit Information Companies (Regulation) Act, 2005;
- Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation Act, 1961;
- Other relevant Statutes and the Directives, Prudential Regulations and other Guidelines/Instructions issued by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and other regulators from time to time.
RBI Guidelines on SFBs in India:
- SFBs are granted scheduled bank status after becoming operational and meeting the requirements under Section 42 of the RBI Act, 1934.
- The primary focus of SFBs is to provide financial services to the unbanked and underbanked segments of the population.
- They are required to maintain a minimum Capital to Risk-Weighted Assets Ratio (CRAR) of 15%.
- SFBs must extend at least 75% of their Adjusted Net Bank Credit to Priority Sector Lending.
- They are required to open a minimum of 25% of their branches in unbanked rural areas.
- The minimum paid-up voting equity capital for small finance banks is set at Rs. 200 crore.
- SFBs must maintain at least 50% of their loan portfolio as microfinance and advances of up to Rs. 25,00,000.
- They need to comply with various prudential norms and regulations regarding income recognition, asset classification, and provisioning.
- SFBs are encouraged to adopt technology to enhance their operational efficiency and reach the target segments.
Source: India Today
The Kerala High Court recently held that an application for education loan by a student could not be rejected on the ground of a low CIBIL (Credit Information Bureau (India) Limited) score.
GS III: Indian Economy
Dimensions of the Article:
- About CIBIL (Credit Information Bureau (India) Limited) score
- Credit Information Bureau (India) Limited (CIBIL)
About CIBIL (Credit Information Bureau (India) Limited) score:
- The CIBIL score is a three-digit numeric summary of an individual’s credit history.
- CIBIL, or Credit Information Bureau (India) Limited, is responsible for maintaining and calculating credit scores in India.
- The value of the credit score can range between 300 and 900.
- Lenders use the CIBIL report and credit score to assess the risk of lending to applicants and make decisions regarding loan or credit card approvals.
- A higher CIBIL score indicates a better chance of loan or credit card applications being approved.
How is CIBIL Score calculated?
- The CIBIL score is derived from the credit history present in the CIBIL Report.
- It takes into account the borrower’s credit profile over the past 36 months.
- The credit profile includes various types of loans, such as home loans, credit cards, personal loans, automobile loans, and overdraft facilities, as well as the payment history associated with them.
Credit Information Bureau (India) Limited (CIBIL):
- CIBIL is the leading credit bureau and Credit Information Company (CIC) licensed by the Reserve Bank of India.
- Its primary function is to collect and maintain financial data provided by lenders, generate credit reports, and provide credit scores for customers.
- CIBIL maintains credit files on around 600 million individuals and 32 million businesses.
- CIBIL India is part of TransUnion, an American multinational group, which is why credit scores in India are known as the CIBIL TransUnion score.
What is a CIBIL Report?
- A CIBIL Report is a comprehensive credit report that includes the consumer’s CIBIL Score, credit summary, personal information, contact information, employment details, and loan account information.
- Lenders consider both the CIBIL Score and Report to assess a person’s loan eligibility.
Source: India Today
The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, observed World Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Day on 30th May 2023, joining the global MS community in raising awareness and fostering connections. With the theme of ‘connections’ for the 2020-2023 period.
Facts for Prelims
Dimensions of the Article:
- About Multiple Sclerosis
About Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system (CNS). It occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the protective covering called the myelin sheath surrounding the nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord. Here are some key points about Multiple Sclerosis:
- Muscle weakness and numbness.
- Bladder problems, such as difficulty emptying the bladder or frequent and sudden urination.
- Bowel problems.
- Damaged nerve fibers in the spinal cord.
- MS can be challenging to diagnose as symptoms are often nonspecific, leading to delayed diagnosis.
- Diagnostic tests include neurological examination, medical history assessment, MRI scans, and other tests to rule out alternative conditions.
The exact cause of MS is unknown, but it is believed to involve a combination of factors.
- Genetic factors: There may be a genetic predisposition to developing MS.
- Environmental factors: Smoking and stress have been associated with an increased risk.
- Vitamin D and B12 deficiency have also been suggested as potential factors.
- There is no known cure for MS, but various treatment options are available to manage symptoms, slow disease progression, and improve quality of life.
- Treatment may involve medications, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and lifestyle modifications.
- It’s important for individuals experiencing symptoms associated with MS to consult with a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and diagnosis.
Source: The Hindu
Recently, protests by Guarani tribal people have erupted across Brazil as the country’s Chamber of Deputies approved a new land bill that will restrict the new recognition of ancestral land of indigenous people.
Facts for Prelims
- A new law has been enacted, stating that tribal people can only receive recognition for the land they have been occupying prior to the constitution of the country in 1988.
Key Facts about the Guarani Tribe:
- The Guarani tribe was among the first peoples encountered by Europeans when they arrived in South America approximately 500 years ago.
- In Brazil, there are approximately 51,000 Guarani individuals residing in seven states, making them the country’s largest tribal group. Many others live in neighboring countries like Paraguay, Bolivia, and Argentina.
- The Guarani in Brazil are divided into three subgroups: Kaiowá, Ñandeva, and M’byá, with the largest being the Kaiowá, which translates to “forest people.”
- The Guarani people have a deep spiritual connection and are known for their spirituality.
- Most communities have a dedicated prayer house and a religious leader whose authority is based on prestige rather than formal power.
Source: Down to Earth