Lithium discovery in India
Why in News?
In the Salal-Haimana area of the UT of Jammu & Kashmir, the Geological Survey of India has for the first time discovered lithium “inferred” resources(G3) of 5.9 million tonnes.
What are inferred Resources?
- The term “inferred” refers to a mineral resource whose quantity, grade, and mineral composition are only tentatively evaluated.
- It is based on data collected from sites like outcrops, trenches, pits, workings, and drill holes, which may be of varying quality and lesser dependability than geological evidence.
- It is based on the 1997 International Framework Classification of Reserves and Resources for Solid Fuels and Mineral Commodities published by the United Nations (UNFC-1997).
- A standardized, globally accepted system for reporting reserves and resources is provided by the UNFC-1997 system for the categorization and reporting of solid fuel reserves and resources.
- The UN Economic Commission for Europe developed it.
- It encourages transparency and uniformity in the reporting of mineral and energy assets and guarantees the consistent application of geological, engineering, and economic data.
- Governments, business, and financial institutions all across the world utilize it as a basis for comparing statistics on reserves and resources between nations and regions.
There are four stages of exploration for any mineral deposit, according to UNFC-1997:
- Reconnaissance (G4)
- Preliminary investigation (G3)
- Detailed Exploration (G1)
- General Exploration (G2)
What is Lithium?
- Lithium (Li), known as “White gold” due to its use in rechargeable batteries, is a soft, silvery-white metal.
- Lithium is a chemical element with the symbol Li and atomic number 3.
- It is a soft, silvery-white alkali metal.
- It is the least dense metal and the least dense solid element.
Depending on the kind of deposit, lithium may be recovered in a variety of ways, including solar evaporation of vast brine pools or hard-rock extraction of the ore.
- Lithium is a key component of electrochemical cells used in EV, laptop, and mobile batteries.
- It can also be found in thermonuclear reactions.
- It is used to create alloys with aluminium and magnesium that increase their strength while also making them lighter.
- For armour plating, a magnesium-lithium alloy is used.
- Alloys of aluminium and lithium are used in aeroplanes, bicycle frames, and high-speed trains.
Major Global Lithium Reserves:
- Chile, Australia, and Argentina are the top three nations in terms of Li reserves.
- Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia form the Lithium Triangle.
India’s Lithium Reserves:
A preliminary assessment revealed 14,100 tonnes of lithium deposits in a tiny plot of land studied in Southern Karnataka’s Mandya district.
- Mica belts in Rajasthan, Bihar, and Andhra Pradesh.
- Odisha and Chhattisgarh have pegmatite belts.
- Gujrat’s Rann of Kutch.
Demand of Lithium in India
- Currently, India is reliant on imports of lithium cells and batteries. Between FY17 and FY20, around 165 crore lithium batteries are expected to have been imported into India, with an estimated import bill of up to $3.3 billion.
- The country’s efforts to establish lithium sourcing agreements are considered as a counter-move against Chinese imports, which are the primary source of both raw materials and cells.
- India is viewed as a late entry into the lithium value chain, having entered at a time when the EV market is projected to experience major upheaval.
- The year 2023 is seen as a watershed moment in battery technology, with the possibility for numerous advancements in Li-ion technology.
What is the importance of Discovery?
- India has committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2070, which necessitates the availability of lithium as a vital component in electric vehicle (EV) batteries.
- According to the Central Electricity Authority of India, the country would require 27 GW of grid-scale battery energy storage devices by 2030, which will necessitate vast amounts of lithium.
Addressing Global Scarcity:
- The World Economic Forum (WEF) has warned of worldwide lithium shortages as demand for EVs and rechargeable batteries grows to 2 billion by 2050.
- The world’s supply of lithium is under strain due to the concentration of resources in a few regions, with Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile holding 54% of the world’s lithium deposits.
- According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the world might face a lithium scarcity by 2025.
Geological survey of India
- GSI is now a connected office to the Ministry of Mines. It was founded in 1851 with the primary goal of locating coal seams for the railways.
- It has evolved through time into a storehouse of geoscience knowledge, as well as a geoscientific institution of international renown.
- Its headquarters are in Kolkata, with regional offices in Lucknow, Jaipur, Nagpur, Hyderabad, Shillong, and Kolkata. Each state has its own state unit.
- The Central Geological Programming Board (CGPB) is an essential venue of the Geological Survey of India (GSI) for facilitating dialogue and avoiding duplication of effort.
GS PAPER I NEWS
Women’s marital age
Why in News?
The Assam government is cracking down on child marriage and has registered over 4,000 cases just this year alone.
- Data from NFHS5 show that the more educated a woman, the higher her negotiating power about when she wants to get married.
- Data suggest that for decades now, better educated women have had more of a say on when they should get married.
Median Age of Marriage
- The median age of women when they first got married by current age, across various wealth quintiles, and years of school education completed, in 2019-21.
- In the survey, women who completed over 11 years of schooling (row K) and currently aged 25 29 (column I) and 4549 (column V) were asked their age when they were first married.
- The median marriage age in the 2529 age group was 23 and in the 4549 age group was 22.5.
- The negligible difference (column IV) shows that education has long been a controlling factor in deciding a woman’s marital age.
Wealth of a household
- The same is not true when it comes to the wealth of a household. Women who belonged to the richest 20% households (row E) and currently aged 2529 (column I) and 4549 (column V), were asked their age when they were first married.
- The median age at first marriage in the 2529 age group was 22.8 and in the 45 49 age group was 19.7.
- The difference (column IV) shows that wealth has only recently gained relevance as a controlling factor in deciding a woman’s marital age.
- Among older generations, even wealthier families married women at a younger age. Though wealth has recently gained relevance, education continues to be the dominant controlling factor of the two.
- The median marriage age of women from the wealthiest households was still lower than that of women who completed over 11 years of schooling (EK).
- The median marriage age of women from the poorest households was still higher than that of women who have had no schooling (AF).
Caste and location
- Women from SC (row A), ST (row B), OBC (row C) and other (row D) communities and currently aged 2529 (column I) and 4549 (column V) were asked their age when they were first married. The median marriage age among SC/ST/OBC women was below 20 even among younger generations, while that of nonSC/ST/OBC women crossed 20.
- Women from urban (row F) and rural (row G) areas and currently aged 2529 (column I) and 4549 (column V) were asked their age when they were first married.
- The difference (row FG) in the median age between rural and urban women was wider among younger generations.
- The negotiating power of urban women has improved at a higher pace than that of rural women.
Analysis for men
- Data shows that education was not as dominant a factor in pushing up their median marriage age as it was in the case of women.
- The median age of marriage among men was above the legal age of 21 across all background characteristics, whereas the median marriage age was below 18 among women across categories.
- There were other interesting patterns among men.
- In recent times, men belonging to poorer households and with fewer years of schooling have been marrying at an earlier age than before.
GS PAPER II NEWS
Ladakh, a fragile region, needs autonomy
Why in News?
- Ladakh residents have been calling for special constitutional status, which would allow them to pick a development path that would conserve the region’s delicate natural and cultural legacy.
- They want negotiations to include a four-point agenda, which includes statehood, Sixth Schedule, job reservation, and distinct parliamentary constituencies for Leh and Kargil.
- Ladakh is a union territory managed by India that is part of the broader Kashmir area and has been a point of conflict between India, Pakistan, and China since 1947.
- Ladakh is bordered on the east by the Tibet Autonomous Region, on the south by the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, on the west by both the Indian-administered union territory of Jammu and Kashmir and the Pakistan-administered Gilgit-Baltistan, and on the far north by the southwest corner of Xinjiang across the Karakoram Pass.
- It stretches from the Karakoram range’s Siachen Glacier to the main Great Himalayas in the south.
- The eastern end, which contains the desolate Aksai Chin plains, is claimed as part of Ladakh by the Indian government and has been under Chinese rule since 1962.
Ladakh as a Union territory
- Ladakh, India’s Himalayan region, became a union territory in August 2019, a move that was praised and accepted by the majority of the region’s inhabitants at the time.
- Three and a half years later, the holiday spirit has given way to anxiety and concern. The anticipated progress and protections did not occur.
- The inhabitants of Leh and Kargil joined forces a year after Ladakh became a union region. Regardless of their socio-political inclinations, the people of Ladakh began to come together in protest, calling for statehood and protection for the union area.
Why are the people of Ladakh dissatisfied with the region’s status as a Union Territory (UT)?
- Ladakh has been fighting for UT status for many years, and when the Centre announced it in 2019, there was joy all throughout the area.
- The holiday mood has diminished dramatically since 2019. Many Ladakhis have learned that their fundamental demand for relatively free and independent functioning, as well as major local job creation, is an illusion.
- Ladakh existed as a separate monarchy for 1,000 years before being integrated into Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).
- This lengthy history has not been forgotten, and it bothers me that, while no longer subject to J&K, Ladakh is now controlled from New Delhi.
- The ruling government declared in 2019 that Ladakh will be awarded special constitutional status, which would provide it autonomy.
- Prior to the election of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (AHDC), the area was promised Sixth Schedule status, as seen in several parts of north-east India. This promise has yet to be implemented.
- Senior Ladakhi politicians and activists who approached the Home Minister over this were rejected down.
Inclusion in Six Schedule
- The sixth schedule of the Indian Constitution tackles “the administration of tribal territories,” especially in the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram.
- Tribal communities constitute roughly 97 percent of the population of Ladakh. Thus, the people of Ladakh want statehood within the parameters of autonomy provided to the four entities specified in the sixth schedule.
- The inclusion of Ladakh in the sixth schedule would grant the regional council authority in legislative, judicial, and budgetary concerns.
Importance of Ladakh
- Ladakh’s significance to both India and China stems from the intricate historical events that led to the province becoming a union territory in 2019 (it was previously part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir), as well as China’s interest in it since the conquest of Tibet in 1950.
- Ladakh is rich in natural resources because it is located in the upper reaches of the Indus watershed, which supports approximately 120 million people in India (in the states of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, and Rajasthan) and approximately 93 million in Pakistan (literally, “Land of the Five Rivers”).
- Water resource management in Ladakh is consequently critical, not only for the lives of Ladakhis and the ecosystems of Ladakh, but also for the overall health of the river system.
- Solar radiation is one of the most plentiful natural resources in Ladakh, with yearly solar radiation surpassing averages for comparable high-insulation locations of India.
- Surveys have discovered a geothermal resource at depths appropriate for exploitation and development.
- This resource might be used to offer grid-connected electricity to local villages and army bases located along the major route.
- Tourism industry: Popularly known as the Lama Land or tiny Tibet, Ladakh is at elevations varying between around 9,000 feet and 25,170 feet. Ladakh offers it everything, from hiking and climbing to Buddhist tours to numerous monasteries.
- Connectivity: The Ladakh region’s passes link some of the world’s most politically and economically crucial zones, including Central Asia, South Asia, China, and the Middle East.
- Market access: Through this region, South Asian countries may contact Central Asian markets. Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan have abundant uranium, cotton, oil, and gas resources.
- Energy security: In future, the oil and gas pipeline from Iran to China can travel via this hilly region. India‟s energy demands can also be satisfied by developing a pipeline from Central Asia via this region.
- Geopolitical Importance: The territory of Ladakh is significant because it is located on the old Silk Route, which runs through these areas and had an important part in the development of culture, religion, philosophy, trade, and commerce in the past.
- Geostrategic location: The existence of resources is what drives India, China, and Pakistan to compete for control of resources in Ladakh. In this area, Pakistan and China are at odds with India over Siachen and Aksai Chin. In the midst of these battles, Ladakh’s geostrategic importance has grown.
- Ladakh and Delhi have chances for partnership. The central government may back a Hill Council move to declare all Ladakh agriculture organic.
- Communities might be supported in claiming and enforcing community rights to grasslands by utilizing the Forest Rights Act. Tourism may be refocused entirely on community-run, ecologically conscientious tourism.
- Ladakhi civil society groups and government agencies are already executing incredible efforts for ecologically sensitive livelihoods, decentralized solar energy use, food and agricultural heritage preservation, entrepreneurship, and many other things.
GS PAPER II NEWS
Why in News?
The Supreme Court issued notices to the Centre and five states Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Jharkhand over the failure to elect a Deputy Speaker
Article 93 says “The House of the People shall, as soon as may be, choose two members to be Speaker and Deputy Speaker and, so often as the office of Speaker or Deputy Speaker becomes vacant, the House shall choose another member”
Article 178 contains the corresponding position for Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of a state.
Is it mandatory to have a Deputy Speaker?
Constitutional experts point out that both Articles 93 and 178 use the word “shall”, indicating that the election of Speaker and Deputy Speaker is mandatory under the Constitution.
How soon must the Deputy Speaker be elected?
- Articles 93 and 178 do not lay down a specific time frame.
- In general, The practice in both Lok Sabha and the state Assemblies has been to elect the Speaker during the (mostly short) first session of the new House usually on the third day after the oath-taking and affirmations over the first two days.
- The election of the Deputy Speaker usually takes place in the second session and is generally not delayed further in the absence of genuine and unavoidable constraints.
- Rule 8 of The Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha says the election of Deputy Speaker “shall be held on such date as the Speaker may fix”.
- The Deputy Speaker is elected once a motion proposing his name is carried in the House.
- Once elected, the Deputy Speaker usually continues in office for the entire duration of the House.
- Under Article 94 (Article 179 for state legislatures), the Speaker or Deputy Speaker “shall vacate his office if he ceases to be a member of the House”.
- They may also resign to each other, or “may be removed from office by a resolution of the House of the People passed by a majority of all the then members of the House”.
- H V Kamath argued in the Constituent Assembly that if the Speaker resigns, “it will be far better if he addresses his resignation to the President and not to the Deputy Speaker, because the Deputy Speaker holds an office subordinate to him”.
- Dr B R Ambedkar disagreed and pointed out that a person normally tenders his resignation to the person who has appointed him.
- “The Speaker and the Deputy Speaker are appointed or chosen or elected by the House. But if they want to resign, they must tender their resignations to the House which is the appointing authority.
- The House being a collective body of people, a resignation could not be addressed to each member of the House separately. Consequently, the provision is made that the resignation should be addressed either to the Speaker or to the Deputy Speaker, because it is they who represent the House,” he said.
- When Neelam Sanjiva Reddy resigned as Speaker of the 4th Lok Sabha on July 19, 1969, he addressed his resignation to the Deputy Speaker.
What happens if the post of Deputy Speaker is vacant?
- “The House is informed of the resignation of the Speaker by the Deputy Speaker and if the office of the Deputy Speaker is vacant, by the Secretary-General who receives the letter of resignation in that House.
- The resignation is notified in the Gazette and the Bulletin,” say the Rules for Presiding Officers of Lok Sabha.
Do the powers of the Speaker extend to the Deputy Speaker as well?
- Article 95(1) says: “While the office of Speaker is vacant, the duties of the office shall be performed by the Deputy Speaker”.
- In general, the Deputy Speaker has the same powers as the Speaker when presiding over a sitting of the House. All references to the Speaker in the Rules are deemed to be references to the Deputy Speaker when he presides.
- It has been repeatedly held that no appeal lies to the Speaker against a ruling given by the Deputy Speaker or any person presiding over the House in the absence of the Speaker.
What is the position of the Union government on the current vacancy in the post of Deputy Speaker?
- The Treasury benches have maintained there is no “immediate requirement” for a Deputy Speaker as “bills are being passed and discussions are being held” as normal in the House.
- A Minister argued that “there is a panel of nine members — senior, experienced, and selected from different parties who can act as chairpersons to assist the Speaker to run the House”.
- This panel of nine has Rama Devi, Kirit P Solanki, and Rajendra Agrawal of the BJP ,Kodikunnil Suresh of the Congress; A Raja of the DMK ,P V Midhun Reddy (YSRCP) ,Bhartruhari Mahtab (BJD); N K Premachandran (RSP); and Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar (TMC).
- It has been usual practice to offer the post of Deputy Speaker to the Opposition Charanjit Singh Atwal (SAD, then a constituent of NDA) was Deputy Speaker during 2004-09 when UPA-I was in power, Kariya Munda (BJP) occupied the post during 2009-14 (UPA-2), and M Thambidurai (AIADMK) was Deputy Speaker during the first NDA government (2014-19).
Can the courts intervene in cases of a delay in electing the Deputy Speaker?
- In September 2021, a petition was filed before the Delhi High Court, which argued that delay in the election of the Deputy Speaker violated Article 93 (Pawan Reley v. Speaker, Lok Sabha & Ors).
- There is no precedent of a court forcing the legislature to elect the Deputy Speaker.
- Courts usually don’t intervene in the procedural conduct of Parliament.
- Article 122(1) says: “The validity of any proceedings in Parliament shall not be called in question on the ground of any alleged irregularity of procedure.”
- Experts said that the courts do have jurisdiction to at least inquire into why there has been no election to the post of Deputy Speaker since the Constitution does envisage an election “as soon as may be”.
GS PAPER II NEWS
US, China trade spying charges
Why in News?
The United States and China are currently involved in an extraordinary standoff over allegations of espionage through high-altitude balloons.
- The US downed three unidentified ‘objects’ flying over its airspace and that of Canada.
- The downed objects have not yet been recovered, so it is not clear whether these were balloons.
- The US has claimed that Chinese balloons entered its airspace on at least four earlier occasions, remaining undetected at that time.
- China, in turn, has accused the US of sending surveillance balloons over its airspace at least 10 times since last year.
- Balloons have been in frequent use for several decades now, though the first uses go back at least 200 years.
- They are used mainly for scientific purposes but increasingly for tourism and joy rides, surveillance, and disaster relief and rescue.
- The bigger balloons can be as large as a football stadium, go up to 40-50 km from the ground, and carry a few thousand kilograms of payloads.
- Most of these are built of thin sheets of polyethylene, like the common plastic bags, and are filled mostly with helium gas.
- Balloons can stay in flight from anywhere between a few hours to a couple of months.
- Those that are meant to remain in air for long and go higher up in the atmosphere are made of more advanced materials for increased sturdiness.
- Balloons have a basket attached to them, called gondolas, that carry instruments or human beings. In unmanned flights, the gondolas are also attached to a parachute.
- Once the job of the balloon is done, a device in the gondola is triggered to snap its ties with the balloon as well as create a rupture in the fabric of the balloon.
- With the help of the parachute, the gondola then glides down to the earth, followed by the ruptured balloon.
- The possible landing zone is calculated ahead of the flight based on weather conditions.
- The most common use of balloons is in scientific research.
- Balloons equipped with instruments were able to perform the functions of a satellite before the space age dawned.
- Even in the times of advanced satellites, there are situations in which balloons are considered more suitable.
- Weather agencies routinely use balloons to make measurements of air temperature, pressure, wind speed and direction, aerosol concentrations.
- Because of the high altitudes that today’s giant balloons can attain, they are considered useful for astrophysicists and even space agencies.
- These are relatively clear spaces, much above the heights at which airplanes fly and far below the nearest orbits, about 200 km from earth, where satellites are placed.
- They offer better opportunities to observe specific parts of the earth, and are also thousands of times cheaper than satellites.
- The balloons are brought down after their job is done, the instruments used are recoverable and reusable.
- NASA has a full-fledged balloon programme that does four-five launches every year. Several universities and research institutions also use balloons for research work.
- Balloon-based experiments have resulted in at least two Nobel prizes for Physics, in 1936 and 2006.
- High-altitude balloons are tempting vehicles for espionage operations, though their use is not known to be very common.
- Drones and satellites are used more frequently, and spy planes have been in use since World War I.
Balloons have certain advantages
- They can hover over an area for a prolonged time.
- Big balloons can carry a few thousand kilograms of payload, which means they can be packed with spying instruments.
- The biggest advantage is the greater prospect of their remaining undetected.
- Because of their relatively slow movement, balloons are mostly flagged as birds by defense radars, thus escaping attention. In fact, the US has now said it will recalibrate its radar systems to detect slow-moving objects.
- Balloons lack sophisticated navigation systems of an aircraft, drone or satellite, being largely on the mercy of wind speed and direction.
- But the balloon that was downed on seemed to have a solar panel attached to it, which has given rise to the possibility of it powering an onboard propulsion device.
Ballooning in India
- Scientific balloons have been used in India for more than 70 years, the first one having been sent in 1948 by Homi Bhabha for cosmic ray research.
- The Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) started balloon fabrication work in the 1950s, and several balloon flights were launched from Mumbai and Hyderabad.
- In 1969, the TIFR opened a full-fledged Balloon Facility in Hyderabad, which remains India’s largest such facility today.
- Scientists from different research institutions have used it to launch more than 500 flights till now.
- It is regularly used by the space institutions under ISRO, and weather research institutions like the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology in Pune.
- Institutions like the Bengaluru-based Indian Institute of Astrophysics and Hyderabad’s Osmania University, as well as some private educational institutions, also have balloon programmes.