Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 16 February 2023

Solar-powered drone SURAJ unveiled

GS Paper - 3 (Defence)

Drone startup Garuda Aerospace on 15 February 2023 unveiled its solar-powered drone "SURAJ", designed specifically for surveillance operations, at Aero India 2023SURAJ is an ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) high-altitude drone designed specifically for surveillance operations, providing "real-time information to the high command and protecting jawans on the ground."

More about SURAJ

  1. The drone's unique J-shaped wings are equipped with solar-powered cells that serve as its primary fuel source, while an auxiliary battery provides additional propulsion or decreased speed as required.
  2. The drone will carry a versatile payload of high-resolution zoom cameras with thermal imagery and foliage-penetrating lidar sensors with a maximum capacity of 10 kg.
  3. This cutting-edge technology will capture, process, and transmit photos and videos in real-time, ensuring that the headquarters and base have access to vital information before planning strategic operations and terms.
  4. It has an endurance of 12 hours and can fly at an altitude of 3000 ft.
  5. The drone is all set to support various Indian and global giants namely the Indian Army, Navy, Airforce, BSF, CRPF, CISF, ITBP, DRDO, MOD, and MHA, the company said in a release.


  1. Recently, Garuda Aerospace had raised USD 22 Million, the "largest ever" Series A funding in the drone sector.
  2. The funds will therefore help in the development of a 1:1 prototype of SURAJ which will be ready to fly by August 2023.
  3. Garuda Aerospace's SURAJ drone will help in providing military and security support with edge-cutting solutions like real-time monitoring.
  4. Garuda Aerospace is also being guided by NAL, DRDO and several other scientists on the development of the SURAJ drone.


RBI announces 2nd global hackathon

GS Paper - 3 (Technology)

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced its second global hackathon -- 'HARBINGER 2023 - Innovation for Transformation' with the theme 'Inclusive Digital Services'. Fintechs have been invited to develop solutions that have the potential to make digital financial services accessible to the differently-abledfacilitate efficient compliance, extend the reach of Central Bank Digital Currencies and enhance the scalability of blockchains.


  1. Being part of HARBINGER 2023 gives an opportunity to the participants to get mentored by industry experts and exhibit their innovative solutions before an eminent jury and win exciting prizes in each category
  2. The RBI has invited innovative ideas in four segments.
  3. a)Innovative, easy-to-use, digital banking services for differently-abled (Divyaang)
  4. b)RegTech solutions to facilitate more efficient compliance by Regulated Entities (REs)
  5. c)Exploring use cases/solutions for CBDC-Retail transactions, including transactions in offline mode
  6. d)Increasing Transactions Per Second (TPS)/ throughput and scalability of blockchains'


  1. The first hackathon was announced in November 2021 and results were declared in June 2022.
  2. It had received 363 proposals submitted by teams from within India and from 22 other countries including the US, UK, Sweden, Singapore, Philippines, and Israel.


Lithium creates sense of euphoria

GS Paper - 3 (Energy)

sense of euphoria has engulfed the country – quite understandably – after the Ministry of Mines announced on 10 February 2023 that the Geological Survey of India has discovered lithium in Kashmir, with inferred reserves of 5.9 million tonnes (mt)Lithium is the primary ingredient for making the most sought-after electrochemical batteries, viz., lithium-ion batteries.

What is lithium? 

  1. Lithium is a metal: the lightest metal and the third element in the periodic table, after hydrogen and helium, both of which are gases.
  2. It is highly reactive. If you put a pellet of lithium in water, it will start sizzling like pakora in hot edible oil and could even catch fire.
  3. It is extremely light and a good donor of electrons—which makes it the preferred electrode material in batteries. 
  4. But to make better batteries, lithium is mixed with other elements, such as cobaltironphosphorous or sulphur: but it remains the main stuff in lithium-ion batteries

How much lithium is being imported? 

  1. In 2020-21, 173 crore worth of lithium metal and ₹8,811 crore worth of lithium batteries were imported. In the April – November period of 2022, for which figures are available, the numbers were ₹164 crore and ₹7,986 crore.
  2. In the same period, India also imported ₹339 crore worth of lithium hydroxide and ₹95 crore of lithium carbonate, both of which doubled over the corresponding period of the previous year. This gives a sense of buoyancy in imports.
  3. These numbers will only increase, exponentially, as (according to Niti Aayog) the demand for advanced chemistry cell batteries is set to increase between 104 GWhr and 260 GWhr by 2030, compared with about 3 GWhr now.

How significant is the GSI discovery? 

  1. The Ministry of Mines has estimated that the reserves could contain 5.9 mt of lithium. To compare, the previous discovery in India, in the Mandya district of Karnataka in 2021, was estimated at 1,600 tons.
  2. To put this in perspective, Bolivia has 21 mtArgentina 17 mtChile 9 mtUS 6.8 mtAustralia 6.3 mt, and China 4.5 mt.
  3. However, the 5.9 mt estimate of the Kashmir find is only in the ‘inferred’ category. A lot of work needs to be done before it is established as mineable reserves.
  4. The GSI survey was a ‘preliminary survey’ (or, ‘G3’), which is the second step in the exploration of minerals after ‘reconnaissance surveys (G4).
  5. After further exploration, the exact reserves will be determined and then will start the process of securing environmental clearances and tendering out for mining. Hopefully, as all this happens, a processing industry will evolve in India.


Examine subversion of Tenth Schedule

GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

Former Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray said in the Supreme Court that the “artful” dodges legislators employed to subvert the Tenth Schedule (anti-defection law) to bring down governments in crucial States. The “sweeping discretion” available to Speakers in deciding cases of disqualification of legislators need a relook by a larger Bench of seven judges. The legislators were using the anti-defection law to “serve the cause of political immorality”.

Previous Judgment

  1. The Nabam Rebia judgment held that a Speaker or a Deputy Speaker facing notice of removal cannot decide disqualification proceedings against legislators.
  2. So what happens is notice of removal is issued against the Speaker/Deputy Speaker just a day or so before the session ends. Thus, he cannot function as a Tribunal under the Tenth Schedule.
  3. The notice of removal against a Speaker or a Deputy Speaker should be moved while the House was in session and put to vote within seven days. “This would end all malpractice”.
  4. Secondly, Speakers cannot be trusted to act as an “impartial body” under the Tenth Schedule as held by a five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court in a majority judgment in the KihotoHollohan case in 1992.
  5. The senior lawyer said he agreed more with the minority view in the Kihoto Hollohan judgment that the post of the Speaker did not satisfy the requirement of an “independent adjudicatory authority” as his tenure depended on the continuous support of the majority of the House.

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