Arunachal harbours a vanadium source

Paper:

Mains: G.S. I Geography of India and Natural Resources

Why in news?

Arunachal Pradesh, a sleeping hydropower giant, is likely to become India’s prime producer of vanadium, a high value metal used in strengthening steel and titanium.

Key details

  • India is a significant consumer of vanadium, but is not a primary producer of the strategic metal.
  • Vanadium is recovered as a by-product from the slag collected from the processing of vanadiferous magnetite ores.
  • According to data provided by GSI, India consumed 4% of about 84,000 metric tonnes of vanadium produced across the globe in 2017.
  • China, which produces 57% of the world’s vanadium, consumed 44% of the metal.
  • Officials of GSI found promising concentrations of vanadium in the palaeo-proterozoic carbonaceous phyllite rocks in the Depo and Tamang areas of Arunachal Pradesh’s Papum Pare district. This was the first report of a primary deposit of vanadium in India with an average grade of 0.76% V2O5 (vanadium pentoxide).
  • Vanadium mineralisation in Arunachal Pradesh is geologically similar to the “stone coal” vanadium deposits of China hosted in carbonaceous shale.
  • “Good prospects” of vanadium for a cumulative length of 15.5 km and an average thickness of 7m were found in the Deed, Saiya and Phop areas of Lower Subansiri district. Vanadium content was also found in the Pakro area of Pakke-Kesang district, Palin-Sangram in Kra Daadi, Kalamati in West Siang, Kalaktang in West Kameng and Kaying in Siang district.
  • The largest deposits of vanadium are in China, followed by Russia and South Africa.
  • Vanadium is a rare, soft, ductile grey-white coloured element, which is found combined with minerals and is used to produce alloys like ferrovanadium. Due to the presence of a protective film of oxides on the surface, it helps with metal corrosion.
  • Vanadium is used in nuclear power plants and in several other purification processes.
  • Vanadium is one of the many elements used in the purification of Uranium that is used for nuclear purposes.

Experts are in favour of simultaneous elections

Paper:

Mains: G.S. II Polity and Governance

Why in news?

The BJP said legal luminaries Soli Sorabjee and Mahesh Jethmalani spoke in favour of holding simultaneous elections.

Key details

  • PM Narendra Modi called for “one nation, one election” in November 2020.
  • Simply put, the concept of simultaneous polls refers to an arrangement wherein a citizen casts her vote for all the three tiers of government — the Lok Sabha, the state legislature and the municipal bodies or the panchayats — on the same day.
  • For holding all elections on a particular day, the terms of the Lok Sabha and the state legislative assemblies should be synchronized in such a way that elections can be held within a given span of time. For this, constitutional amendments would be needed. Articles 83, 85, 172, 174, and 356 of the Constitution of India would need to be amended.
  • Article 83 says that the term of the Lok Sabha would be a period of 5 years from the date of its first sitting. Similarly, Article 172 says that the term of the legislative assemblies in the country will also be a period of 5 years from the date of its first sitting.
  • For the implementation of simultaneous elections in the country, the terms of some legislative assemblies should be extended, or in some cases, they must be curtailed.
  • The core problem area which is coming in the way of implementing this is the Parliamentary form of Government which India practices.  
  • The idea of “One Nation, One Election” is not new. We have been holding the elections of the assemblies and the Lok Sabha from 1951-52 till 1967. There are no disputes in terms of the efficacy of “One Nation, One Election”. The problem that needs to be addressed is about its implementation, and how we can enforce it all across India.
  • Arguments in favour of simultaneous elections
  • Firstly, with the Model Code of Conduct imposed, the government goes into stand-by mode for prolonged periods of time, thereby suspending all governance and developmental activity.
  • Secondly, the government expenditure on frequent elections is substantially greater than what it would be if elections were held simultaneously.
  • Thirdly, winding up elections for all the states and the Lok Sabha in one go would ensure that security forces are not kept engaged in election work throughout the year.
  • Lastly, a host of miscellaneous factors — disruption of public life due to frequent elections, perpetuation of religion, caste and communal issues across the country and compelling the government to think about immediate gains to woo voters instead of working for long-term gains — make simultaneous polls desirable.

looks at expenditure budget to aid higher growth

Paper:

Mains: G.S. III Indian Economy

Why in news?

With the GDP expected to post a negative growth of 7.7 per cent in 2020-21, the government expects a strong rebound next financial year.

Key details

  • With the uptick in the economy better than what most economists estimated post easing of lockdown restrictions, the Union Finance Ministry is of the view that higher spending at this stage of recovery — rather than earlier — will give a bigger push to growth.
  • Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, Niti Aayog and the Chief Economic Advisor’s office, have pushed for an expansionary budget to reinforce the nascent recovery. All have advocated the Keynes mantra to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during pre-Budget consultations.
  • British economist John Maynard Keynes had argued that free markets cannot be relied upon to fuel GDP growth when there is a recession, of the kind India and the world, has witnessed in 2020 following the Covid-19 pandemic. In depressing times like these, Keynes said only government intervention through higher spending can revive demand and restore stability.
  • A fiscal stimulus in 2021-22 will be most effective to spur growth, particularly with many parts of the economy showing clear signs of a nascent recovery.
  • Towards this end, the Finance Ministry is also considering a review of the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act in line with the recommendations of the NK Singh panel, which suggested that the debt-GDP ratio (as opposed to fiscal deficit) be taken as the primary target for fiscal policy. Under the amended FRBM Act, the government was expected to reduce its fiscal deficit to 3 per cent of GDP in 2020-21. But while presenting the Budget, Sitharaman had invoked the escape clause for having deviated from the target for 2019-20 and 2020-21 to the extent of 0.5 per cent of GDP; the Budget Estimate of fiscal deficit for 2020-21 was 3.5 per cent of GDP.
  • A counter-cyclical policy entails a higher than normal government spending when the economy is powering down. “In extraordinary times like these, the government has to make a substantial intervention on the expenditure side, especially with a collapse in demand and no private sector interest to invest”.
  • It will be more an ‘expenditure Budget’ than a revenue Budget; after consultations with various stakeholders, the areas where the ministry is keen to increase spending are healthcare and construction-related activities, be it infrastructure or housing. Public spending in these activities have a huge trickle down effect, and benefit many industries from cement to steel besides creating durable jobs.
  • High spending will mean high growth, and this itself will be an antidote to bring deficit down.
  • While the combined debt of the Centre and states as a percentage of GDP stood at 72 per cent last year, it is expected to touch 85 per cent given the shrinking of the GDP this year, and higher government borrowings. It is in this backdrop that the Finance Ministry may announce making debt-GDP ratio as the primary target for fiscal policy, and provide a new glide path for reducing debt levels.

Searching for lithium toehold, India finds a small deposit in Karnataka

Paper:

Mains: G.S. I & III Geography of India and Natural Resources & Science and Technology

Why in news

India has initiated a concerted domestic exploration push for the alkali metallic, an important ingredient of the lithium-ion rechargeable batteries that power electrical vehicles (EVs), laptops and mobile telephones.

Key details

  • Surveys by the Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Analysis (AMD), an arm of the Department of Atomic Vitality, are learnt to have proven the presence of 1,600 tonnes of lithium assets within the igneous rocks of the Marlagalla-Allapatna region of Karnataka’s Mandya district.
  • The find in Mandya is extraordinarily small in quantitative terms, nevertheless it marks some preliminary success within the attempt to domestically mine the silver-white metallic by the use of hard-rock extraction of the ore.
  • India presently imports all its lithium wants.
  • The lithium discover is relatively small, contemplating the dimensions of the confirmed reserves in Bolivia (21 million tonnes), Argentina (17 million tonnes), Australia (6.Three million tonnes), and China (4.5 million tonnes).
  • In India, alongside the rock mining at Mandya, there’s some potential for recovering lithium from the brines of Sambhar and Pachpadra in Rajasthan, and Rann of Kachchh in Gujarat.