- CURRENT AFFAIRS – 08/08/2023
CURRENT AFFAIRS – 08/08/2023
Source : The Hindu
South Korea’s LK-99
(General Studies- Paper III)
South Korean researchers claimed to have discovered a room-temperature superconductor called LK-99.
- It is said to conduct electricity with zero loss without the need for extreme cooling or pressure.
- Room-temperature superconductors are highly sought after for their potential industrial and scientific applications.
- Many previous claims of room-temperature superconductors have not withstood independent scrutiny, leading to caution and the need for proper data verification.
- Independent verification by qualified scientists is crucial to validate the claim and ensure the scientific process is followed.
- Verification of superconductivity is difficult and requires sophisticated equipment and precise information about material synthesis.
- In some cases, originators of claims have been reluctant to share samples, which hinders the scientific process.
What is a Superconductor?
A superconductor is a material that exhibits a remarkable property called superconductivity.
- In simple terms, superconductivity is the ability of certain materials to conduct electricity with zero electrical resistance.
- When a material becomes a superconductor, it can transport electric current without any loss of energy, making it highly efficient for electrical transmission and other applications.
Key characteristics of superconductors include:
In Image: Graph showing relation between temperature and electrical resistance. The area between 0 and Tc, on X-axis, is known as Superconducting zone.
Zero Electrical Resistance:
- Superconductors have no resistance to the flow of electrical current.
- This means that when a current starts flowing through a superconducting material, it continues indefinitely without any loss of energy due to resistance.
- Superconductors also exhibit the Meissner effect, which means they expel magnetic fields from their interiors.
- When a magnetic field is applied to a superconductor, it creates currents within the material that generate an opposing magnetic field, resulting in the expulsion of the original field.
In Image: B- Magnetic Field Lines.
Critical Temperature (Tc):
- Each superconducting material has a critical temperature below which it exhibits superconductivity.
- Above this temperature, the material behaves as a normal conductor with electrical resistance.
Critical Magnetic Field (Hc):
- Superconductors have a critical magnetic field above which their superconductivity is destroyed.
- If the magnetic field exceeds this critical value, the material returns to a normal, resistive state.
Room Temperature Superconductors:
- Traditionally, superconductivity has only been observed at extremely low temperatures, often close to absolute zero (around -273.15°C or -459.67°F).
- This limitation has restricted widespread practical applications of superconductors, as cooling materials to such low temperatures can be expensive and challenging.
- Room-temperature superconductors, as the name suggests, can conduct electricity without resistance at relatively higher temperatures, such as those encountered in everyday conditions.
- The discovery of room-temperature superconductors would be ground-breaking because it would eliminate the need for expensive cryogenic cooling.
- – This, in turn, would make superconductivity much more accessible for practical applications.
- Superconductors could revolutionize power transmission by allowing the efficient and lossless transmission of electricity over long distances.
- Room-temperature superconductors could enable the development of highly efficient and powerful electronic devices with reduced energy consumption.
- Superconductors can be used in magnetic levitation (Maglev) trains and other transportation systems, reducing friction and improving energy efficiency.
- Superconducting magnets are used in medical imaging devices like MRI machines, and room-temperature superconductors could enhance their performance.
Source : The Hindu
India’s Mining Policy Shift
(General Studies- Paper II and III)
The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2023, was passed by Parliament to attract private sector investment in exploring critical and deep-seated minerals in India.
- Six minerals, including lithium, were reclassified as “critical and strategic,” allowing private sector participation in their exploration and mining.
High Demand and India’s Dependency
- India is highly dependent on imports for critical and deep-seated minerals, such as lithium, cobalt, nickel, niobium, beryllium, tantalum, gold, silver, copper, zinc, lead, and diamonds.
- Lack of availability and concentration of extraction in certain geographical locations lead to import dependency and supply chain vulnerabilities.
- Critical minerals like lithium, cobalt, and rare earth elements are crucial for manufacturing, infrastructure, and clean energy transitions, essential for India’s net-zero emission goals.
- The demand for critical metals like lithium and cobalt is expected to rise significantly by 2050.
- China holds majority ownership of cobalt mines and has the largest reserves of rare earth elements, leading to supply chain vulnerabilities.
- Major economies have moved to secure supply-chain resilience and reduce reliance on countries like China for critical minerals.
Need for Private Sector Participation
- The Ministry of Mines released a list of 30 minerals critical to India’s economic development and national security, with India heavily reliant on imports for most of these minerals.
- Private sector participation in mineral exploration is crucial to discovering potential reserves and economically viable deposits.
- India has explored only 10% of its Obvious Geological Potential (OGP), with limited private sector involvement in exploration projects.
- The Mines and Minerals Bill 2023 aims to encourage private players through the introduction of exploration licenses (EL) for competitive bidding.
- Private explorers can bid on their desired percentage share of the auction premium, to be paid eventually by a mining lease holder.
- The Bill omits certain atomic minerals from the reserved list, allowing private sector exploration for specified critical and strategic minerals.
Possible Issues with the Proposed Amendments:
- Revenue generation for private explorers depends on a share of the premium, but successful auctioning may take years.
- Private explorers may not know the amount of revenue they will receive until a successful mine auction.
- The auction method for exploration licenses may not be feasible as the value is unknown until exploration is completed.
- Private explorers are unable to sell their discoveries to miners, unlike global jurisdictions with more flexible policies.
Overall, the Mines and Minerals Bill 2023 seeks to address India’s import dependency on critical and deep-seated minerals by encouraging private sector participation in mineral exploration and development.
The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2023
- Ministry of Mines
- The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2023 was introduced in Lok Sabha on July 26, 2023.
- The Bill aims to amend the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, which regulates the mining sector in India.
- Classification of Mining Activities:
- The Act classifies mining-related activities into reconnaissance, prospecting, and mining.
- Reconnaissance involves a preliminary survey to determine mineral resources and includes aerial surveys, geophysical, geochemical surveys, and geological mapping.
- The Bill allows sub-surface activities like pitting, trenching, drilling, and sub-surface excavation to be part of reconnaissance, which were previously prohibited.
- Introduction of Exploration Licence:
- The Bill introduces a new type of concession called the exploration licence.
- The exploration licence will authorize either reconnaissance or prospecting or both activities for specified minerals.
- List of Specified Minerals:
- The exploration licence will be issued for 29 minerals specified in the Seventh Schedule, including gold, silver, copper, cobalt, nickel, lead, potash, and rock phosphate.
- The exploration licence will also cover six minerals previously classified as atomic minerals: beryl and beryllium, lithium, niobium, titanium, tantallium, and zirconium.
- These minerals are declassified as atomic minerals.
- Auction for Exploration Licence:
- The exploration licence will be granted by the state government through competitive bidding.
- The central government will prescribe details such as manner of auction, terms and conditions, and bidding parameters for the exploration licence through rules.
- Validity and Area of Exploration Licence:
- The exploration licence will be issued for five years, with a possibility of extension for up to two years.
- Activities under a single exploration licence will be allowed in an area up to 1,000 square kilometres.
- The licensee can retain up to 25% of the originally authorized area after the first three years and must submit a report to the state government stating reasons for retention.
- Submission of Geological Reports:
- The licensee must submit a geological report within three months of the completion of operations or expiry of the exploration licence, regarding the findings.
- Incentive for Exploration Licensee:
- If the resources are proven after exploration, the state government must conduct an auction for mining lease within six months of the submission of the report by the exploration licensee.
- The licensee will receive a share in the auction value of the mining lease for the mineral prospected by them, as prescribed by the central government.
- If the state government fails to complete the auction within the specified period, they will pay the exploration licensee an amount prescribed by the central government.
- Auction of Certain Minerals by the Central Government:
- Auction for composite licence and mining lease for specified critical and strategic minerals will be conducted by the central government.
- These minerals include lithium, cobalt, nickel, phosphate, potash, tin, phosphate, and potash.
- Concessions for these minerals will still be granted by the state government.
Overall, the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2023 aims to facilitate private sector participation in mineral exploration and development by introducing exploration licences and allowing prohibited activities under reconnaissance.
Source : The Hindu
31st Edition of Malabar Multilateral Exercise
(General Studies- Paper II and III)
The 31st edition of the Malabar multilateral exercise comprising India, Australia, Japan and the U.S. will be held off Sydney from August 11-21.
- Participants: The participating countries are India, Australia, Japan, and the U.S.
- Host Country: Australia is hosting the exercise for the first time this year.
- Venue: The exercise will be held off Sydney, Australia, in the East Australian exercise are.
- Exercise Format: It will consist of a harbour and sea phase in a designated area spread over a couple of hundred miles off Sydney.
- AUSINDEX: Following Malabar, India and Australia will conduct their bilateral naval exercise called AUSINDEX.
- During a visit to India in March 2023, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced hosting the multilateral exercise for the first time and emphasized India’s significance as a top-tier security partner for Australia.
- Malabar has grown in size, scope, and complexity over the years. Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) training has become a major focus area in recent editions.
- Previous Edition: Japan hosted the last edition of Malabar in November 2022, marking the 30th anniversary of the exercise that started as a bilateral exercise between India and the U.S. in 1992.
The Malabar Exercise is a multilateral naval exercise that involves the navies of India, Australia, Japan, and the United States. It aims to enhance maritime cooperation, interoperability, and strategic alignment among the participating countries. The exercise is conducted in the Indo-Pacific region and is one of the key initiatives of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, commonly known as the Quad.
About Malabar Exercise
The Malabar Exercise was initiated in 1992 as a bilateral naval exercise between India and the United States.
- It aimed to strengthen naval ties and improve coordination between the two nations.
- Over the years, the exercise has evolved to include other like-minded Indo-Pacific countries.
- In 2007, Australia and Singapore joined as non-permanent participants.
- In 2020, Australia was included as a permanent member of the Malabar Exercise, expanding the scope of the naval drills and enhancing strategic cooperation in the region.
- The Malabar Exercise is currently conducted by four major naval powers: India, Japan, Australia and USA
- The primary goal of the Malabar Exercise is to enhance cooperation and interoperability between the participating navies.
- It aims to conduct joint military exercises, drills, and simulations to strengthen maritime security and stability in the Indo-Pacific.
Locations and Frequency:
- The exercise is conducted annually or biennially, with the host nation changing each year.
- Different locations in the Indo-Pacific region are chosen for the exercise, allowing the navies to operate in diverse environments.
- Malabar is considered a significant platform for the Quad countries to demonstrate their commitment to the principles of a free and open Indo-Pacific.
Quad and Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA):
- The Malabar Exercise aligns with the Quad’s focus on Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA).
- The four countries have announced an Indo-Pacific MDA initiative to assist regional countries in enhancing their maritime surveillance and security capabilities.
Source: The Hindu
Cambodia king approves nomination of Hun Manet as next PM
(General Studies- Paper II)
Cambodia’s King has approved the government’s nomination of Hun Manet, the eldest son of long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen, to become the next Premier.
The decree was published on August 7.
- The appointment of Hun Manet as the next Prime Minister requires the approval of the newly elected National Assembly, which is expected to happen later this month.
- Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has been in power for 38 years, announced last month that he would step down and hand over power to his son in August.
- The ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) won a huge victory in last month’s election, securing 120 out of 125 parliamentary seats.
- The election was criticized for side-lining all viable opposition parties.
- Despite stepping down as Prime Minister, Hun Sen will retain important posts in the legislature and the ruling party.
- Hun Manet, aged 45, was educated in the United States and Britain, holding a master’s degree and a doctorate in economics.
- He is a graduate of the prestigious West Point military academy in the United States and has served as Cambodia’s deputy armed forces commander-in-chief.
- Hun Manet won a seat in the capital, Phnom Penh, in the recent election, but he has said little about his vision for the country.
The already existing Political Landscape
- The Hun family’s continued hold on power has raised concerns about the lack of political pluralism and democratic space in Cambodia.
- Prime Minister Hun Sen has been accused of suppressing political opposition and restricting media freedom during his lengthy rule.
- The appointment of Hun Manet as the next Premier further solidifies the dominance of the ruling party in Cambodia’s political landscape.
- Critics view it as a continuation of dynastic politics and a potential perpetuation of authoritarian rule.
Official Name: Kingdom of Cambodia
Capital: Phnom Penh
Population: Approximately 16 million (as of 2021)
Official Language: Khmer
Government: Constitutional Monarchy
Monarch: King Norodom Sihamoni
Prime Minister: Hun Sen
National Flag: The flag of Cambodia consists of three horizontal stripes – blue (top), red (center), and blue (bottom).
- In the center, there is a white emblem representing Angkor Wat, the famous temple complex in Cambodia.
- Currency: Cambodian Riel (KHR)
- Major Religion: Buddhism (Theravada Buddhism)
- Major Ethnic Group: Khmer (Over 90% of the population)
GDP (Nominal): Approximately $27 billion (as of 2021)
- Cambodia is located in Southeast Asia, bordered by Thailand to the west and northwest, Laos to the north, Vietnam to the east and southeast, and the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest.
- The country’s landscape is characterized by low-lying plains, the Mekong River, and the Tonle Sap, which is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia.
- Cambodia’s economy relies heavily on agriculture, with rice being the staple crop.
- The garment industry is a significant contributor to the economy, accounting for a significant portion of exports.
- Tourism is also a major source of revenue, with Angkor Wat being a popular destination.
- The Angkor Archaeological Park, with its iconic Angkor Wat temple, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a symbol of Cambodian identity.
Source : The Hindu
Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023
(General Studies- Paper II)
The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023, has received Parliament’s approval.
- The Bill gives sweeping powers to the Lt Governor and bureaucrats, replacing the ordinance on control of services in Delhi.
- The Bill creates the National Capital Civil Services Authority with the Chief Minister, Chief Secretary, and Principal Home Secretary of Delhi as members.
- The Authority will suggest actions to the Lieutenant Governor (LG) related to officials’ transfers, postings, and disciplinary matters.
- The LG will have the power to make decisions at his own discretion on various matters, including those recommended by the National Capital Civil Services Authority.
- The LG can also control summoning, prorogation, and dissolution of the Delhi Legislative Assembly.
- Department secretaries can inform the LG, Chief Minister, and Chief Secretary about any matter that may create controversies between the Delhi Government and the Central Government.
- Giving powers over officer transfers and postings to the Authority may disrupt the accountability chain between civil services, ministers, the legislature, and citizens, potentially violating parliamentary democracy principles.
- The LG has been granted sole discretion in various matters, including convening the Legislative Assembly, which could limit the Chief Minister’s ability to schedule essential government business sessions.
- Department secretaries can directly inform the LG, Chief Minister, and Chief Secretary without involving the concerned minister, potentially undermining the collective responsibility of the Cabinet.
The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023
- Delhi and Puducherry are Union Territories with a legislature and council of ministers.
- Delhi Legislative Assembly can legislate on State and Concurrent List subjects, except for police, public order, and land.
- Parliament can legislate on all State and Concurrent List matters related to Delhi.
- The Lieutenant Governor (LG) is the administrator of Delhi, working with the aid and advice of the council of ministers.
- The Supreme Court ruled on May 11, 2023, that the Delhi government will have control over services in Delhi, excluding police, public order, and land, which remain under central government jurisdiction.
- The 2023 judgement reaffirmed the 2018 ruling, stating that the LG must follow the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers.
- Following the Supreme Court’s decision, the GNCTD (Amendment) Ordinance, 2023, was promulgated on May 19, 2023.
- The GNCTD (Amendment) Bill, 2023, introduced on August 1, 2023, repeals the Ordinance and will be applied retrospectively from May 19, 2023.
Key Features of the Bill
National Capital Civil Services Authority:
- Established to make recommendations to the Lieutenant Governor (LG) of Delhi on certain service-related matters.
- Matters include transfers, postings, vigilance, disciplinary proceedings, and prosecution sanctions of Group A of All India Services (except Indian Police Service).
- Chief Minister of Delhi (Chairperson),
- Principal Home Secretary of Delhi (Member Secretary),
- Chief Secretary of Delhi (Member).
- Appointments of Principal Home Secretary and Chief Secretary done by the central government.
- Decisions based on majority vote, quorum for a meeting is two people.
Powers of the Lieutenant Governor (LG):
- LG may exercise sole discretion in matters outside the legislative competence of Delhi Legislative Assembly but delegated to the LG.
- Also in matters where the LG is required to act in his discretion or exercise any judicial or quasi-judicial functions.
- LG can approve or return recommendations of the Authority for reconsideration.
- In case of a difference of opinion with the Authority, LG’s decision is final.
Disposal of matters by Ministers:
- Delhi government ministers can issue standing orders for disposing of matters brought to their attention.
- Orders issued in consultation with concerned Department Secretary.
- Certain matters need submission to LG, through the Chief Minister and Chief Secretary, for his opinion before issuing orders.
- Matters include proposals affecting peace and tranquillity of Delhi, relations with central government, Supreme Court, other state governments, summoning, prorogation, dissolution of Legislative Assembly, and matters where LG exercises sole discretion.
Duties of Secretaries:
- Concerned Department Secretary must inform the LG, Chief Minister, and Chief Secretary about matters that may bring Delhi Government into controversy with the central or any state government, Supreme Court, or High Court of Delhi.
Source: The Indian Express