News: Geological Survey of India(GSI) has found concentrations of vanadium in the palaeo-proterozoic carbonaceous phyllite rocks in the Depo and Tamang areas of Papum Pare district in Arunachal Pradesh. This was the first report of a primary deposit of vanadium in India.
- Vanadium: It is a chemical element with the symbol V and atomic number 23. It is a hard, silvery-grey, malleable transition metal. The elemental metal is rarely found in nature and is electrically conductive and thermally insulating.
- Found in: Vanadium occurs naturally in about 65 minerals and in fossil fuel deposits. It is recovered as a by-product from the slag collected from the processing of vanadiferous magnetite ores (iron ore).
- Uses of Vanadium:
- Vanadium is mainly used to produce specialty steel alloys such as high-speed tool steels, and some aluminum alloys.
- Vanadium alloys are used in nuclear reactors because of vanadium’s low neutron-absorbing properties
- Vanadium pentoxide is used as a catalyst for the production of sulfuric acid.
- The vanadium redox battery for energy storage may be an important application in the future.
- Large amounts of vanadium ions are found in a few organisms, possibly as a toxin. Particularly in the ocean, vanadium is used by some life forms as an active center of enzymes, such as the vanadium Bromo peroxidase of some ocean algae.
- Largest Deposits: The largest deposits of vanadium of the world are in China, followed by Russia and South Africa. China, which produces 57% of the world’s vanadium consumed 44% of the metal in 2017.
- India: India is a significant consumer of vanadium, but is not a primary producer of the strategic metal. India consumed 4% of about 84,000 tonnes of vanadium produced across the globe in 2017.
- Vanadium in Arunachal Pradesh: Vanadium found in Arunachal Pradesh is geologically similar to the stone coal vanadium deposits of China hosted in carbonaceous shale. This high vanadium content is associated with graphite, with a fixed carbon content of up to 16%.
News: Preliminary surveys by the Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research(AMD) are learnt to have shown the presence of 1,600 tonnes of lithium resources in the igneous rocks of the Margalla-Allapatna region of Karnataka’s Mandya district.
- Lithium: It is a chemical element with the symbol Li and atomic number 3. It is a soft, silvery-white alkali metal.
- Characteristics: Under standard conditions, Lithium is the lightest metal and the lightest solid element. Like all alkali metals, lithium is highly reactive and flammable. It never occurs freely in nature due to its high reactivity.
- Extraction of Lithium: Lithium can be extracted in different ways, depending on the type of the deposit – it is generally done either through solar evaporation of large brine pools or by hard-rock extraction of the ore.
- Uses of Lithium:
- Lithium and its compounds have several industrial applications, including heat-resistant glass and ceramics, flux additives for iron, steel and aluminum production, lithium batteries and lithium-ion batteries.
- Lithium is also present in biological systems in trace amounts; its functions are uncertain.
- Lithium salts have proven to be useful as a mood-stabilizing drug in the treatment of bipolar disorder in humans.
- Largest Producers of Lithium: In 2019, the largest producer of the lithium was Australia followed by Chile and China.
Lithium in India:
- India currently imports all its lithium needs. Over 165 crore lithium batteries are estimated to have been imported into India between 2016-17 and 2019-20 at an estimated import bill of upwards of $3.3 billion.
- Lithium Exploration in India:
- India is currently going for the domestic exploration push which also includes exploratory work to extract lithium from the brine pools of Rajasthan and Gujarat and the mica belts of Odisha and Chhattisgarh.
- The Margalla-Allapatna area along the Nagamangala Schist Belt, which exposes mineralised complex pegmatites (igneous rocks) is seen as among the most promising geological domains for potential exploration for lithium and other rare metals.
- There is also some potential for recovering lithium from the brines of Sambhar and Pachpadra in Rajasthan and Rann of Kachchh in Gujarat.
- The major mica belts in Rajasthan, Bihar, and Andhra Pradesh, and the pegmatite belts in Odisha and Chhattisgarh apart from Karnataka are the other potential geological domains.
- Firstly, the newly found lithium in India in Margalla-Allapatna is categorised as “inferred”, one of the three categories into which mineral resources are subdivided in order of increasing geological confidence.
- Secondly, the lithium find is comparatively small, considering the size of the proven reserves in Bolivia (21 million tonnes), Argentina (17 million tonnes), Australia (6.3 million tonnes), and China (4.5 million tonnes).
- Thirdly, India is also seen as a late mover in attempts to enter the lithium value chain, coming at a time when Electric Vehicles(EVs) are predicted to be a sector ripe for disruption.
- Initiatives taken by India: In 2020, Khanij Bidesh India Ltd had signed an agreement with an Argentinian firm to jointly prospect lithium in the South American country that has the third largest reserves of the metal in the world.
- Khanij Bidesh India Ltd: It was incorporated in 2019 by three state-owned companies, NALCO, Hindustan Copper, and Mineral Exploration Ltd, with the specific mandate to acquire strategic mineral assets such as lithium and cobalt abroad.The company is learnt to be also exploring options in Chile and Bolivia.
News: The Standing Committee of National Board of Wildlife(SC-NBWL) in its 60th meeting held has approved the advisory for management of Human-Wildlife Conflict(HWC) in the country.
- Empowers Gram Panchayats: The advisory empowers gram panchayats in dealing with the problematic wild animals as per the section 11 (1) (b) of WildLife (Protection) Act, 1972.
- Crop Damage: Utilising add-on coverage under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Yojna for crop compensation against crop damage due to HWC are some key steps envisaged to reduce HWC.
- Compensation: Payment of a portion of ex-gratia as interim relief within 24 hours of the incident to the victim/family.
- Other Key advisories: The advisory also envisages prescribing inter-departmental committees at local/state level, adoption of early warning systems, creation of barriers, dedicated circle wise Control Rooms with toll free hotline numbers which could be operated on 24X7 basis among others.
Other Key Decisions: The committee also approved the inclusion of Caracal into the list of critically endangered species. Now, there are 22 wildlife species under the recovery programme for critically endangered species.
- Caracal: It is a medium-sized wild cat native to Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, and India. It is characterised by a robust build, long legs, a short face, long tufted ears, and long canine teeth.
- Characteristics: Typically nocturnal, the caracal is highly secretive and difficult to observe. It is territorial and lives mainly alone or in pairs. The caracal is a carnivore that typically preys upon small mammals, birds, and rodents.
- India: In India, the Caracal can be found in some parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat.
- IUCN Status: Least Concern mainly due to their large numbers in Africa.
- Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972.
- Recovery Programme for Critically Endangered Species program: It is one of the three components of the Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats(IDWH).
- IDWH: It was started in 2008-09 as a Centrally sponsored Scheme. It is meant for providing support to protected areas (national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, conservation reserves and community reserves except tiger reserves), protection of wildlife outside protected areas and recovery programmes for saving critically endangered species and habitats.
- 22 wildlife species under the recovery programme: Snow Leopard, Bustard (including Floricans), Dolphin, Hangul, Nilgiri Tahr, Marine Turtles, Dugongs, Edible Nest Swiftlet, Asian Wild Buffalo, Nicobar Megapode, Manipur Brow-antlered Deer, Vultures, Malabar Civet, Indian Rhinoceros, Asiatic Lion, Swamp Deer, Jerdon’s Courser, Northern River Terrapin, Clouded Leopard, Arabian Sea Humpback Whale, Red Panda and Caracal.
News: The World Bank has released the Global Economic Prospects report.
- Global Economic Prospects Report: It is a World Bank Group flagship report that examines global economic developments and prospects, with a special focus on emerging markets and developing economies. It is issued twice a year, in January and June.
Key Takeaways from the Report:
- India: It is expected to grow at 5.4% in fiscal year 2021-22 and 5.2% in fiscal 2022-23 after an expected contraction of 9.6% in fiscal 2020-21.
- Reason: India’s expected contraction in the is due to a sharp decline in household spending and private investment. There was severe income loss in the informal sector which accounts for 4/5ths of employment
- Globally: Global economic output is projected to grow by 4% in 2021 assuming widespread roll-out of a COVID-19 vaccine throughout the year. This projection is 5% below pre-pandemic levels.
- Emerging Market and developing economies (EMDEs): They are expected to grow at an average of 4.6% in 2021-22 reflecting the above average rebound in China (forecast at 7.9% and 5.2%, this year and next).
- Increase in Global Debt Levels: There has been a massive increase in global debt levels because of the pandemic with the South Asian region seeing the steepest increase. India’s government debt expected to increase by 17% of GDP while service output contracts over 9%.
- South Asia slowdown led by India: The South Asian region’s economy is expected to contract by 6.7 % in 2020 due to the pandemic. This was led by India’s deep recession where the economy was already weakened by the stress in non-bank financial corporations.
- The key immediate policy priorities for countries should be limiting the spread of the virus, providing relief for vulnerable populations and overcoming vaccine-related challenges should be the key immediate policy priorities for countries.
- Countries should also foster resilience by safeguarding health and education, prioritising investments in digital technologies and green infrastructure, improving governance, and enhancing debt transparency.
News: The National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) has announced that it will offer a free IDN (Internationalized Domain Name) in any of their preferred 22 official Indian languages along with every IN domain booked by the registrar.
- NIXI: It is a not for profit Organization established under section 8 of the Companies Act 2013 in 2003.
- Purpose: It was set up for peering of ISPs among themselves for the purpose of routing the domestic traffic within the country, instead of taking it all the way to US/Abroad thereby resulting in better quality of service (reduced latency) and reduced bandwidth charges.
- To promote the Internet.
- To set up, when needed, in select location(s)/parts/regions of India Internet Exchanges/Peering Points.
- To enable effective and efficient routing, peering, transit and exchange of the Internet traffic within India.
- To continuously work for enhancing and improving the quality of Internet and Broadband services.
- Set up. Internet Domain Name Operations and related activities.
- Managed by: NIXI is managed and operated on a Neutral basis, in line with the best practices for such initiatives globally.
- India’s Country Code: “.IN” is India’s Country Code Top Level domain (ccTLD).The Govt. of India delegated the operations of INRegistry to NIXI in 2004.
News: The Ministry of Education has issued guidelines to States for offering support to students during the closure of schools and when they reopen to minimize the impact of the pandemic on school education across the country,
- Door to Door Survey: States to conduct door-to-door surveys to identify children out of school and migrant students and prepare an action plan to prevent increased drop-outs, lower enrolments, loss of learning and deterioration in the gains made in providing universal access, quality and equity in recent years.
- Globally, the United Nations had estimated that almost 24 million school age children are at risk of dropping-out from the educational system due to COVID-19 this year.
- Relax Detention Norms: States should relax detention norms to prevent drop-outs this year as well as a slew of measures to address learning loss due to the coronavirus-induced shutdown of schools.
- Guidelines during Closure of Schools: The States have been recommended to explore the option of classroom-on-wheels and classes in small groups at the village level, increasing the access of children to online and digital resources, use of TV and radio to reduce learning losses and ensuring easy and timely access to the provisions of uniforms, textbooks and mid-day meals.
- Guidelines after Reopening of Schools:
- States should prepare and run school readiness modules and bridge courses for the initial period so that they can adjust to the school environment and do not feel stressed or left-out.
- Identify students across different grades based on their learning levels and relaxing detention norms to prevent drop out this year have also been recommended.
- Large-scale remedial programmes and learning enhancement programmes should be held to mitigate learning loss and inequality.