- RBI’s Proposed Six-Month Timeline for Wilful Defaulter Classification
- Ramifications of Metal Mining Pollution
- Study Links Climate Change to Increased Tropical Cyclones in Eastern Arabian Sea
- 2023 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences
- Digital India Act
- Indian Air Force (IAF) Ensign
RBI’s Proposed Six-Month Timeline for Wilful Defaulter Classification
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in a recent draft proposed that lenders should classify a borrower as a wilful defaulter within six months of their account being declared a non-performing asset (NPA).
GS III: Indian Economy
Dimensions of the Article:
- RBI’s Draft Highlights on Wilful Defaulters
- About Wilful Defaulter
RBI’s Draft Highlights on Wilful Defaulters
Timeline for Identification:
- Lenders must identify wilful defaulter borrowers within six months of their accounts being declared non-performing assets (NPAs).
- Previous system had no specific time constraint for identification.
Threshold for Assessment:
- Lenders must assess wilful default for accounts with outstanding amounts over Rs 25 lakh within six months of them becoming NPAs.
- Identification Committee:
- A committee formed by lenders, known as the Identification Committee, reviews evidence of wilful default.
Penalties and Restrictions:
- Policies require non-discriminatory photo publishing for wilful defaulters.
- No credit is allowed to wilful defaulters for up to one year after their removal from the List of Wilful Defaulters (LWD).
- No credit for new ventures is permitted for five years after LWD removal.
Guarantors and Investigation:
- Guarantors can be pursued without exhausting remedies against principal debtors.
- Investigation of wilful default is necessary before transferring credit to others or Asset Reconstruction Companies (ARCs).
About Wilful Defaulter:
- Wilful defaulters are entities that have the ability to repay money but intentionally fail to do so.
- The concept of ‘Wilful Defaulter’ was introduced by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) through its Master Circular, which defined the term and provided guidelines for banks and financial institutions to determine instances of wilful default.
Criteria for Wilful Default:
According to the RBI, a wilful default is deemed to have occurred in the following circumstances:
- When there is a default in repayment obligations by a unit (company/individual) despite having the capacity to repay, indicating a deliberate intention not to repay the loan.
- When funds obtained for a specific purpose are diverted for other uses.
- When funds have been siphoned off and not utilized for the intended purpose, without any justifiable assets to account for the usage.
- When assets purchased with lenders’ funds are sold off without the knowledge of the bank/lender.
- In cases where group companies of wilfully defaulting units fail to honor guarantees or letters of comfort provided to lenders when invoked, such group companies are also considered wilful defaulters.
-Source: Indian Express
Ramifications of Metal Mining Pollution
Recently, the University of Lincoln, the United Kingdom, has published a study, spotlighting the extensive ramifications of Metal Mining Pollution in rivers and Floodplains worldwide.
GS III: Environment and Ecology
Dimensions of the Article:
- Research Methodology
- Key Highlights of the Study
- Metal Mining Pollution
Scope of Contamination:
- The research focused on the simulation of contamination arising from operational and decommissioned Metal Mining Sites.
- It included critical aspects like tailings facilities designed for waste storage.
Evaluated Hazardous Substances:
- The study meticulously assessed the presence of hazardous substances, notably lead, zinc, copper, and arsenic.
- These elements are known to be detrimental to ecosystems and human health.
Accumulation Over Time:
- The research considered the accumulation of these hazardous substances downstream from mining sites over prolonged periods.
- This highlighted the long-lasting and far-reaching consequences of mining pollution.
Data Limitations and Conservatism:
- The research team acknowledged data limitations in certain countries.
- The figures presented in the study were treated as conservative estimates.
- This suggests that the actual impact of mining pollution could be even more extensive than indicated.
- Emphasizes the importance of comprehensive and accurate data for a thorough assessment.
Key Highlights of the Study
Extensive Impact of Mining Pollution:
- Pollution resulting from ongoing mining waste discharge into rivers affects a staggering number of people, approximately 50 times more than those directly affected by tailings dam failures.
Large Population and Livestock Impacted:
- The floodplains affected by mining waste contamination house a significant human population, approximately 23.48 million people.
- Additionally, these areas support a substantial livestock population of 5.72 million.
Vast Area of Irrigated Land Affected:
- These regions encompass an expansive area exceeding 65,000 square kilometers of irrigated land.
Groundbreaking Predictive Model:
- The study introduces a groundbreaking predictive model to assess the extensive offsite and downstream impacts of mining on ecosystems and human health.
Critical Decision-Making Tool:
- The model serves as a crucial tool for various stakeholders, including governments, environmental regulators, the mining industry, and local communities.
- It underscores the importance of prioritizing environmental sustainability in decision-making.
Relevance to Green Energy Transition:
- This research holds paramount significance in guiding the global shift towards green energy.
- It addresses the ecological footprint of mining, particularly in an era where sustainable mining practices are gaining prominence.
Call for Enhanced Data Collection:
- The study concludes by advocating for improved global data collection and monitoring systems.
- This call emphasizes the need for a comprehensive understanding of the ecological and health impacts associated with the metal mining industry.
Metal Mining Pollution
Metal mining pollution refers to the detrimental environmental impacts and contamination resulting from the extraction and processing of metallic ores to obtain valuable metals.
- It encompasses a range of activities associated with mining, including exploration, extraction, transportation, processing, and disposal of waste materials.
- These mining activities often release harmful substances into the surrounding environment, affecting air, water, and soil quality.
- The consequences of metal mining pollution extend to ecosystems, human health, and wildlife.
Sources of Pollution:
- Tailings are residual finely ground rock particles left behind after valuable metals have been extracted from the ore.
- These tailings often contain hazardous elements like mercury, arsenic, lead, cadmium, and other toxic substances.
- Contaminated tailings can leach into nearby water sources and soil, causing pollution.
Acid Mine Drainage (AMD):
- AMD occurs when sulfide minerals in mined rocks are exposed to air and water, resulting in the production of sulfuric acid.
- This acid can contaminate rivers, streams, and groundwater, posing a significant threat to aquatic life and ecosystems.
Airborne Particulate Matter:
- Dust and particulate matter generated during mining operations can become airborne.
- These particles may carry pollutants such as heavy metals and harmful compounds.
- Inhalation of airborne pollutants can pose health risks to miners and nearby communities.
- Chemicals like cyanide and sulfuric acid are frequently employed in metal extraction processes.
- Accidental spills or inadequate containment of these chemicals can result in soil and water contamination, leading to significant environmental damage.
Metal Mining Pollution: Strategies
- Implement and enforce stringent environmental regulations and standards for metal mining operations.
- Regulations should encompass waste disposal, emissions, water management, and reclamation to ensure compliance and minimize pollution.
Modern Tailings Management:
- Promote the use of advanced tailings storage facilities and waste disposal methods designed to minimize pollution risks.
- Emphasize proper design, continuous monitoring, and periodic assessments to prevent tailings dam failures.
Responsible Chemical Use:
- Encourage responsible and controlled chemical usage in mining processes.
- Explore and adopt alternative, less toxic chemicals to reduce the environmental impact of metal extraction.
- Implement effective water management strategies to control and treat water discharged from mining activities.
- Utilize water treatment technologies to remove harmful substances before releasing water into the environment.
- Make mine reclamation and rehabilitation an integral part of mining operations.
- Restore mined areas to their natural state, facilitating ecosystem recovery and biodiversity promotion.
- Promote sustainable mining practices that prioritize environmental protection alongside resource extraction.
- Encourage responsible sourcing of metals and minerals through certification programs and industry initiatives.
Research and Innovation:
- Invest in research and innovation to develop cleaner and more efficient mining technologies.
- Explore eco-friendly mining methods and processes that minimize pollution and resource depletion.
- Engage with local communities and stakeholders to address their concerns and incorporate their perspectives in mining projects.
- Develop transparent communication channels to foster trust and cooperation.
Monitoring and Reporting:
- Establish robust monitoring systems to track environmental impacts and compliance with regulations.
- Ensure transparency through regular reporting of environmental data to relevant authorities and the public.
-Source: Down To Earth
Study Links Climate Change to Increased Tropical Cyclones in Eastern Arabian Sea
A recent study published in the Nature Journal, conducted as part of the “Forecasting with Fisher’s” project by the Advanced Centre for Atmospheric Radar Research (ACARR) at Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT), has highlighted the growing concern of climate change contributing to more frequent tropical cyclones in the Eastern Arabian Sea.
GS-I: Geography (Physical geography – Climatology, Important Geophysical phenomena), GS-III: Disaster Management
Dimensions of the Article:
- Key Findings of the Study on Cyclones in the Eastern Arabian Sea:
- What are Tropical Cyclones?
- Conditions for cyclone formation:
- How are Tropical Cyclones Formed?
- Why tropical cyclones don’t form in the eastern tropical oceans?
- Names of Tropical Cyclones
- Structure of the tropical cyclone
- Landfall, what happens when a Cyclone reaches land from the ocean?
- Cyclone Management in India
Key Findings of the Study on Cyclones in the Eastern Arabian Sea:
- Changing Warming Patterns: Shifts in ocean and atmosphere warming patterns are causing more frequent and severe tropical cyclones in the Eastern Arabian Sea, particularly along India’s west coast.
- Cyclone Timing: Traditionally, tropical cyclones in the Arabian Sea occur during the southwestern monsoon season (March to June) and post-monsoon season (October to December).
- Regional Impact: Although the Arabian Sea accounts for only about 2% of the global mean of tropical cyclones annually, it poses a significant threat due to its densely populated coastlines.
- Positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD): The positive phase of the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) leads to warmer sea surface temperatures and increased precipitation in the western Indian Ocean region. IOD is akin to the El Niño phenomenon but occurs in the Indian Ocean.
- Human Influence: The study attributes the recent increase in the frequency of extremely severe cyclonic storms over the Arabian Sea during the post-monsoon season to anthropogenic (human-caused) factors, rather than natural variability.
- Climate Change Impact: Human-induced climate change is contributing to the intensification and higher frequency of cyclones in the Arabian Sea.
- Coastal Threat: The intensified and more frequent cyclones pose significant threats to densely populated coastal regions along India’s western coast, including Gujarat to Thiruvananthapuram. Risks include strong winds, storm surges, heavy rainfall, and associated hazards.
- Community Impact: Changing cyclone patterns are expected to impact the lives and livelihoods of indigenous coastal communities and artisanal fishers, necessitating further research and adaptation strategies.
What are Tropical Cyclones?
- The Tropical Cyclones are violent storms that originate over oceans in tropical areas and move over to coastal areas bringing about large-scale destruction caused by violent winds, very heavy rainfall and storm surges.
- These are low pressure weather systems in which winds equal or exceed speeds of 62kmph.
- Winds circulate around in anti-clockwise direction in the Northern Hemisphere and in clockwise direction in the Southern Hemisphere.
- “Tropical” refers to the geographical origin of these systems, which form almost exclusively over tropical seas.
- “Cyclone” refers to their winds moving in a circle, whirling round their central clear eye, with their winds blowing counter clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.
- The opposite direction of circulation is due to the Coriolis effect.
Tropical Cyclones in India
- Tropical cyclones striking India generally originate in the eastern side of India.
- Bay of Bengal is more prone to cyclone than Arabian Sea because it gets high sea surface temperature, low vertical shear winds and has enough moisture in middle layers of its atmosphere.
- The frequency of cyclones in this region is bi-modal, i.e., Cyclones occur in the months of May–June and October–November.
Conditions for cyclone formation:
- A warm sea surface (temperature in excess of 26o –27o C) and associated warming extending up to a depth of 60m with abundant water vapour.
- High relative humidity in the atmosphere up to a height of about 5,000 metres.
- Atmospheric instability that encourages the formation of cumulus clouds.
- Low vertical wind between the lower and higher levels of the atmosphere that do not allow the heat generated and released by the clouds to get transported from the area.
- The presence of cyclonic vorticity (rate of rotation of air) that initiates and favours rotation of the air cyclonically.
- Location over the ocean, at least 4–5 o latitude away from the equator.
How are Tropical Cyclones Formed?
- Tropical cyclones typically form over large bodies of relatively warm water. Warm water > Evaporation > Rising up of air > Low Pressure area.
- They derive their energy through the evaporation of water from the ocean surface, which ultimately re-condenses into clouds and rain when moist air rises and cools to saturation.
- Water takes up heat from the atmosphere to change into vapour.
- When water vapour changes back to liquid form as raindrops, this heat is released to the atmosphere.
- The heat released to the atmosphere warms the air around.
- The air tends to rise and causes a drop in the pressure.
- More air rushes to the centre of the storm.
- This cycle is repeated.
Why tropical cyclones don’t form in the eastern tropical oceans?
- The depth of warm water (26-27°C) should extend for 60-70 m from surface of the ocean/sea, so that deep convection currents within the water do not churn and mix the cooler water below with the warmer water near the surface.
- The above condition occurs only in western tropical oceans because of warm ocean currents (easterly trade winds pushes ocean waters towards west) that flow from east towards west forming a thick layer of water with temperatures greater than 27°C. This supplies enough moisture to the storm.
- The cold currents lower the surface temperatures of the eastern parts of the tropical oceans making them unfit for the breeding of cyclonic storms.
- ONE EXCEPTION: During strong El Nino years, strong hurricanes occur in the eastern Pacific. This is due to the accumulation of warm waters in the eastern Pacific due to weak Walker Cell.
Names of Tropical Cyclones
Depending on its location and strength, a tropical cyclone is referred to by different names:
- Cyclones in the Indian Ocean
- Hurricanes in the Atlantic
- Typhoons in the Western Pacific and the South China Sea
- Willy-willies in Western Australia
Structure of the tropical cyclone
Tropical cyclones are compact, circular storms, generally some 320 km (200 miles) in diameter, whose winds swirl around a central region of low atmospheric pressure. The winds are driven by this low-pressure core and by the rotation of Earth, which deflects the path of the wind through a phenomenon known as the Coriolis force. As a result, tropical cyclones rotate in a counter clockwise (or cyclonic) direction in the Northern Hemisphere and in a clockwise (or anticyclonic) direction in the Southern Hemisphere.
- The Eye: A characteristic feature of tropical cyclones is the eye, a central region of clear skies, warm temperatures, and low atmospheric pressure. Typically, atmospheric pressure at the surface of Earth is about 1,000 millibars.
- The Eyewall: The most dangerous and destructive part of a tropical cyclone is the eyewall. Here winds are strongest, rainfall is heaviest, and deep convective clouds rise from close to Earth’s surface to a height of 15,000 metres.
- Rainbands: These bands, commonly called rainbands, spiral into the centre of the storm. In some cases the rainbands are stationary relative to the centre of the moving storm, and in other cases they seem to rotate around the centre.
Landfall, what happens when a Cyclone reaches land from the ocean?
- Tropical cyclones dissipate when they can no longer extract sufficient energy from warm ocean water.
- A storm that moves over land will abruptly lose its fuel source and quickly lose intensity.
- A tropical cyclone can contribute to its own demise by stirring up deeper, cooler ocean waters. tropical cyclone can contribute to its own demise by stirring up deeper, cooler ocean waters.
Cyclone Management in India
India is highly vulnerable to natural disasters especially cyclones, earthquakes, floods, landslides, and drought. Natural disasters cause a loss of 2% of GDP every year in India. According to the Home ministry, 8% of total area in India is prone to cyclones. India has a coastline of 7,516 km, of which 5,700 km are prone to cyclones of various degrees.
- Loss due to cyclones: Loss of lives, livelihood opportunities, damage to public and private property and severe damage to infrastructure are the resultant consequences, which can disrupt the process of development
- Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) is the nodal agency for early warning of cyclones and floods.
- Natural Disaster Management Authority is mandated to deal with the disaster management in India. It has prepared National Guidelines on Management of Cyclone.
- National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (NCRMP) was launched by Home ministry to upgrade the forecasting, tracking and warning about cyclones in states.
- National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has done a commendable performance in rescuing and managing relief work.
- National Disaster Response Reserve (NDRR)– a fund of 250 crores operated by NDRF for maintaining inventory for an emergency situation.
- In 2016, a blueprint of National Disaster Management Plan was unveiled to tackle disaster. It provides a framework to deal with prevention, mitigation, response and recovery during a disaster. According to the plan, Ministry of earth science will be responsible for disaster management of cyclone. By this plan, India joined the list of countries which follow the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.
- Due to increased awareness and tracking of Cyclone, the death toll has been reduced substantially. For example, Very severe cyclone Hudhud and Phailin claimed lives of around 138 and 45 people respectively, which might have been more. It was reduced due to the early warning and relocation of the population from the cyclone-hit areas. Very severe cyclone Ockhi claimed many lives of people in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. This was due to the unprecedented change in the direction of the cyclone.
- But the destruction of infrastructure due to cyclonic hit is not been reduced which leads to increase in poverty due to the economic weakening of the affected population.
-Source: The Hindu
2023 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences
The Nobel economics prize was awarded to Harvard professor Claudia Goldin for research that has advanced the understanding of the gender gap in the labor market.
Facts for Prelims
Dimensions of the Article:
- Origin of Economics Nobel
- Key Findings of Claudia Goldin’s Research
- Significance of Goldin’s Research
Origin of Economics Nobel:
- The Nobel Prize in Economics, formally known as the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, was not originally part of Alfred Nobel’s will.
- It was established in 1968 by a donation from Sweden’s central bank, Sveriges Riksbank, on the bank’s 300th anniversary.
Women in Economics Nobel:
- Claudia Goldin is only the third woman to receive the Economics Nobel.
- Elinor Ostrom received the award in 2009, and Esther Duflo shared it with Abhijit Banerjee and Michael Kremer in 2019.
Key Findings of Claudia Goldin’s Research:
- Role of Older Data: Goldin’s research looked at historical data to understand changes in women’s participation in economic activity. Before industrialization, more women were involved in agriculture and cottage industries.
- Industrialization Impact: As industrialization concentrated work in factories, women faced difficulties leaving their homes for employment. This trend reversed with the growth of the services sector.
- Marriage Limitations: By the early 20th century, only around 5% of married women were gainfully employed. Marriage bars, or restrictive legislation, prevented married women from continuing their careers in certain fields.
- Impact of Expectations: Women’s career expectations were influenced by their mothers’ experiences, leading to decisions not geared toward uninterrupted careers.
- Role of Contraceptives: The popularity of contraceptive pills in the 1960s gave women more control over family planning and career choices. Women began studying and working in fields beyond the services sector.
- Gender Pay Gap: Despite progress, the gender-based pay gap persists, with factors like parenthood affecting women’s career trajectories.
Significance of Goldin’s Research:
- While Goldin’s research doesn’t provide solutions, it offers insights into the roots of the gender pay gap and its evolution over time.
- Policymakers can use this research to address the long-standing issue and understand how it varies with development stages.
- Goldin’s work sheds light on the complex interplay of historical factors, societal norms, and economic shifts in women’s participation in the labor market and the gender pay gap.
-Source: The Hindu
Digital India Act
The recent announcement of the Digital India Act 2023 (DIA) represents a significant step towards establishing a future ready legal framework for the country’s burgeoning digital ecosystem.
GS II: Polity and Governance
Dimensions of the Article:
- Key Points About the Need for the Digital India Act 2023
- Key Provisions of the Digital India Act 2023
- Significance of the Digital India Act 2023
- The Challenges to Implementing Digital India Act 2023
- Way Ahead
Key Points About the Need for the Digital India Act 2023:
- Replacing the IT Act:
- The Digital India Act 2023 (DIA) is intended to replace the two-decade-old Information Technology Act 2000 (IT Act).
- Outdated IT Act:
- The IT Act was formulated during a time when the internet was in its early stages, making it challenging to adapt to rapid technological advancements and evolving user behavior.
- Internet User Base Growth:
- India’s internet user base has experienced explosive growth, increasing from 5.5 million users to a staggering 850 million users since the IT Act’s enactment.
- Evolution of Internet Usage:
- The nature of internet usage has evolved, giving rise to new intermediaries and various forms of user harm, including cyberstalking, trolling, and doxing.
- Comprehensive Legal Framework:
- The DIA recognizes these changes in the digital landscape and aims to provide a comprehensive legal framework to address emerging challenges and opportunities.
- Adapting to Digital Revolution:
- The primary motivation behind the DIA is to align India’s regulatory framework with the 21st-century digital revolution, ensuring that it can effectively govern the digital sphere.
Key Provisions of the Digital India Act 2023:
- Online Safety and Trust: The act prioritizes online safety and trust, safeguarding citizens’ digital rights while remaining adaptable to market dynamics and international legal principles.
- Emphasis on New Age Technologies: It recognizes the significance of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain and provides guidelines for their responsible use.
- Open Internet: The act upholds the concept of an open internet, balancing accessibility with necessary regulations to maintain order and protect users.
- Stringent KYC Requirements: Mandates strict Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements for wearable devices, backed by criminal law sanctions.
- Review of Safe Harbor Principle: Contemplates a review of the “safe harbor” principle that shields online platforms from liability related to user-generated content, indicating a potential shift in online accountability standards.
Significance of the Digital India Act 2023:
- The act reflects a commitment to address the complexities of the digital age and promote responsible adoption of new technologies in alignment with ethical, legal, and data privacy principles.
- It engages in actively shaping the development and use of these technologies within a regulatory framework, striking a balance between innovation and safeguarding against potential harms.
- India’s proactive approach positions it as a responsible player in the global technology landscape, harnessing the potential of new age technologies while mitigating associated risks.
Challenges to Implementing Digital India Act 2023:
- Stricter Regulations Impacting Entrepreneurship: Stringent regulations, especially in emerging technologies, may unintentionally hinder entrepreneurial initiatives and discourage foreign investments.
- Cautious Approach and Freedom of Expression: Platforms may adopt a more cautious approach due to these regulations, potentially affecting freedom of expression and innovation.
- Resource and Infrastructure Requirements: Effective implementation will demand substantial resources, expertise, and infrastructure development.
- Inclusion of Tech Giants: Balancing the inclusion of tech giants while protecting citizen rights poses a significant challenge.
- Vigilant Monitoring and Adaptability: The implementation of the DIA requires vigilant monitoring and adaptability to mitigate unintended consequences.
- Shaping India’s Digital Landscape: The act signifies a forward-looking regulatory approach that has the potential to shape India’s digital landscape for generations.
- Evolving Legislation: As consultations continue, it will be interesting to observe how this proposed legislation evolves and operates in the dynamic digital environment.
-Source: The Hindu
Indian Air Force (IAF) Ensign
Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief Air Chief recently unveiled a new Ensign for the force.
Facts for Prelims
Dimensions of the Article:
- About Indian Air Force (IAF) Ensign
About Indian Air Force (IAF) Ensign:
- The new IAF Ensign will only incorporate the IAF Crest.
- The crest prominently features the national symbol, the Ashoka Lion, at the top, with the words “Satyamev Jayate” in Devanagari script below it.
- Below the Ashoka Lion, there is a Himalayan eagle with outstretched wings, symbolizing the fighting spirit of the IAF.
- A light blue ring encircles the Himalayan eagle with the words “Indian Air Force.”
- The IAF motto, derived from the Bhagavad Gita, “Nabha Sparsham Deeptam,” meaning “touching the sky with glory,” is inscribed below the Himalayan eagle in golden Devanagari.
- The IAF crest symbolizes the source of inspiration and encouragement.
- The IAF has adopted various crests for commands, squadrons, and other establishments. These crests follow a standard frame containing the individual formation sign with a motto shown in the scroll at the foot of the frame.
- During the British era, the Indian Air Force was known as the Royal Indian Air Force (RIAF).
- Its ensign consisted of the Union Jack in the upper left canton and the RIAF roundel (Red, White & Blue) on the fly side.
- Post-Independence, the Indian Air Force ensign was created by replacing the Union Jack with the Indian tricolor and the RAF roundels with the IAF tri-color roundel in the lower right canton.
-Source: The Hindu