[Newsbits] 2-4.03.2024: International Big Cat Alliance (IBCA), Spaceports in India & More

newsbits mindmap notes
International Big Cat Alliance (IBCA) mind map
New Delhi
Inception Date
March 1, 2024
St. Petersburg Tiger Summit, 2010
Proposal emergence
Double wild tiger numbers by 2022
Second Asia Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation, 2022
Advocated for IBCA
Facilitate transboundary monitoring
Channelize conservation investments
Boost scientific data collection
Curtail wildlife trafficking
Exchange expertise
Community stewardship models
Connects governments, agencies, corporations, experts, communities
India's Leadership
Home to over 50% of global wild tigers
Project Tiger initiative
Doubled tiger numbers from 2006-2019
Conservation success
Prey, habitat, local livelihoods security
Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (World as One Family)
Budget and Timelines
Founding contributor
₹150 crore over five years
Establish IBCA secretariat
Frame programs
Long-term vision
Larger partnerships
Financial and technical contributions
Potential formal launch
Global Tiger Summit, September 2023
Reinforces India’s leadership in sustainability
Channelizes conservation gains globally
Pivot from climate issues to broader environmental crisis

The International Big Cat Alliance (IBCA), initiated by India’s Environment Ministry and approved on March 1, 2024, represents a strategic intergovernmental effort to foster global tiger conservation. Headquartered in New Delhi, the IBCA is inspired by the International Solar Alliance and aims to emulate its success in the realm of wildlife conservation. Emerging from the St. Petersburg Tiger Summit in 2010, the alliance’s core objective is to enhance global collaboration for doubling wild tiger populations by facilitating transboundary monitoring, channeling investments into tiger habitats, boosting scientific data collection, curtailing wildlife trafficking, and exchanging expertise on community stewardship and eco-tourism. India, housing over 50% of the world’s wild tigers, plays a pivotal role through its successful Project Tiger initiative, demonstrating significant conservation achievements. With a commitment of ₹150 crore over five years, the IBCA seeks to establish a secretariat and frame conservation programs, aiming for a larger global partnership to address the broader environmental crisis threatening key ecosystems.

/ Nuclear Energy
India Initiates Core Loading of First Homegrown Nuclear Reactor mind map
Recent News
Core loading in PFBR
Kalpakkam, Tamil Nadu
Prime Minister Narendra Modi
March 4, 2024
Milestone for India's nuclear power program
Towards enhanced energy security
India's Closed Fuel Cycle Strategy
Stage I
Natural uranium fueled pressurized heavy water reactors
Stage II
Fast breeder reactors
Produce more fissile material than consume
Stage III
Thorium-based advanced heavy water reactors
Core Loading
Core Definition
Central portion
Contains fissile fuel assemblies
First Step
Loading control and safety rod assemblies
Regulate reactivity
Second Step
Inactive blanket assemblies
Absorb neutrons for breeding plutonium fuel
Final Step
Active fuel assemblies with enriched uranium
Initiate self-sustaining fission
Attain criticality
Connect to power grid
India's Position
Second country after Russia
Commercial FBR
Significance of Closed Fuel Cycle
Reduces High-Level Nuclear Waste
Utilizes spent fuel
Enhances Fuel Security
Breeds up to 30% more fissile fuel from thorium
Safer Reactor Design
Advanced safety systems
Meltdown prevention features
Meet Sustainable Goals
Zero carbon future
Minimal nuclear waste
Opposition from Anti-Nuclear Groups
Safety concerns
Local opposition
Urged halt of operations
US abandoned FBR programs
Government's Stand
Advanced safeguards
Based on feedback from test reactors
Land restrictions around site
Lack of transparent communication on risks
Balancing Sustainable Development
Rising energy demands
Decarbonize economy
Maximize zero-emission renewable capacity
Support clean transitional options
Nuclear for baseline demands
Manage community perceptions
Large industrial projects
Nuclear's Role
Provides 3% of India's electricity mix
Strategic Risks
Imported fuel dependence
Indigenous FBRs Benefits
Mitigate strategic risks
Ensure waste efficiency
Safety demonstrations
Reassure on potential threats

India’s first indigenous Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) in Kalpakkam, Tamil Nadu, marks a significant advancement in the country’s nuclear energy capabilities. With Prime Minister Narendra Modi witnessing the core loading activities, this development is pivotal for India’s three-stage nuclear power program, aimed at enhancing energy security through a closed fuel cycle strategy. This strategy includes utilizing spent fuel to reduce waste, breeding more fissile material, and advancing towards a zero carbon future with minimal nuclear waste, thereby supporting sustainable energy goals. Despite facing opposition over safety concerns, the project underscores India’s commitment to balancing rising energy demands with the need to decarbonize, highlighting the strategic importance of indigenous nuclear technology in ensuring fuel security and environmental sustainability.

Advanced MH-60R Seahawk Helicopters mind map
Recent News:
Indian Navy
Commission Date: March 6, 2024
Location: INS Garuda, Kochi
Contract Signed: February 2020
First Delivery: July 2021
Full Delivery by: 2025
Strengthen Maritime Security:
Enhance anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare capabilities
Improve surveillance and operational effectiveness
Total Aircraft: 24 MH-60R helicopters
Cost: Over 14,000 Crores INR ($2.12bn)
Advanced Warfare Capabilities:
Anti-submarine warfare (ASW)
Anti-surface warfare (ASuW)
Search and rescue (SAR)
Medical evacuation (MEDEVAC)
Vertical replenishment (VERTREP)
Torpedoes, missiles, and precision kill weapon system rockets
Self-Protection Suite:
Chaff and Infrared Flares
Data Link System:
Enhances interoperability and operational coordination
Strategic Importance: Indian Ocean Region (IOR)
Involved Parties:
Indian Navy
United States Government
Lockheed Martin/Sikorsky
Key Personalities:
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh
Indian Ambassador to the USA, Taranjit Singh Sandhu
Lieutenant Commandant Aneesh Ayarotil
Training and Integration:
Training for IN crew with initial deliveries
Final testing and integration with INS Vikrant
Operational Reach:
Extends the operational reach of the Navy
Maritime Presence:
Strengthens India's maritime presence in IOR
Seamless interoperability with Indian and friendly foreign platforms
Integration Challenges:
Ensuring seamless integration into existing naval operations
Way Forward:
Operational Deployment:
Seamless transition to operational deployments anticipated
Sustained Naval Operations Support:
Supporting sustained naval operations across various spectrums and vast maritime domains

The Indian Navy’s commissioning of MH-60R Seahawk helicopters symbolizes a significant enhancement in maritime security capabilities, specifically in anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare, along with improved surveillance, search and rescue, and medical evacuation capabilities. The procurement of 24 advanced helicopters from the US, under a deal worth over 14,000 Crores INR ($2.12 billion), is set to extend the Navy’s operational reach, especially in the strategic Indian Ocean Region. This integration into the Navy’s fleet, with the commissioning scheduled for March 6, 2024, at INS Garuda in Kochi, is a critical part of India’s defense modernization, aiming to bolster its maritime security and ensure seamless interoperability with Indian and international naval forces​​​​​​​​​​.

/ Sri Lanka
India Funds $11M Renewable Energy Project in Sri Lanka mind map
Recent News
India inked $11 million grant project
With Sri Lanka and a private partner
To install hybrid renewable energy infrastructure
Across three islands off Jaffna peninsula
March 2nd
For Colombo's energy security
Economic recovery
Hybrid renewable energy systems
Using solar photovoltaics
Wind turbines
Supported by battery storage solutions
To meet baseload power needs of island communities
Providing 24x7 clean electricity access
To households, commercial establishments, public institutions
Project includes
Installing transmission infrastructure
Distribution networks
Setting up 70 charging stations
Providing solar panels to villages
Sustainability features
LED street lighting
Smart meters
Microgrids with remote monitoring
Indian renewable firm U-Solar Clean Energy Solutions
Signed contract to construct systems
In Delft (Neduntheevu), Nainativu, Analaitivu islands
Funding from Indian government
Local oversight by Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority
Three islands off Jaffna peninsula
Northern Sri Lanka
National Thermal Power Corporation
Spearheading a solar venture in Sampur town
Adani Group
Setting up renewable energy projects in Mannar, Pooneryn
U-Solar Clean Energy Solutions
Contracted firm for system construction
Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority
Providing local oversight
Through an $11 million grant project
Collaboration between India, Sri Lanka, and a private partner
Enhances energy security and economic recovery for Sri Lanka
Supports India's neighborhood first policy
Spanning humanitarian assistance
Connectivity infrastructure
Community development cooperation
Marks milestone in India-Sri Lanka collaboration
Across food, fuel, medicines, livelihood packages
Pushes for greater renewable energy adoption
Inform sustainable de-centralized electrification roadmaps
Countering Chinese investments in northern islands
Way Forward
Lessons to inform sustainable electrification for remote locations
Approximates Colombo’s pivot from Chinese dependency
Towards balanced Indo-Sri Lanka regional dynamic

The project involves India granting $11 million to Sri Lanka, in collaboration with a private partner, to install hybrid renewable energy systems across three islands off the Jaffna peninsula in northern Sri Lanka. This initiative aims to bolster Sri Lanka’s energy security and aid in its economic recovery, marking the third India-backed energy project in the region. The effort supports India’s “neighborhood first” policy, emphasizing humanitarian assistance, connectivity, and community development cooperation during Sri Lanka’s challenging transition. By focusing on sustainable energy infrastructure, the project also reflects India’s commitment to promoting renewable energy adoption and could serve as a model for decentralized electrification in remote areas, including within India itself.

/ Space
Spaceports in India mind map
Recent News:
Kulasekarapattinam Spaceport:
Foundation laid by:
Narendra Modi
Tamil Nadu
Dedicated to:
Small Satellite Launch Vehicles (SSLV)
Construction timeline:
Two years
Strategic benefits:
Fuel savings
Direct south launch over Indian Ocean
$119 million (986 crores Indian rupees)
Launch frequency:
24 launches per year
Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC):
Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh
Primary spaceport:
Launch pads:
Two functioning
Arumugam Rajarajan
Near equator
Large uninhabited area
Coastal length of 27 km
Launch history:
First rocket launch in 1971
SLV and ASLV programs
SDSC operational since 1971
Kulasekarapattinam spaceport construction expected to complete in two years from foundation laying
To cater to small satellite launches
Avoid overflying Sri Lanka for polar orbits
Primary orbital launch site
Ideal location near equator
Two launch pads
Supports a wide range of missions
Mobile launch structure
24 launches per year capacity
Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh
Tamil Nadu
Narendra Modi
S Somanath
Arumugam Rajarajan
Utilizing existing infrastructure
Launches supported by ISRO Range Complex
New construction
Mobile launch structure
Proven track record
Supports major ISRO missions
Fuel efficiency
Increased launch capacity
New infrastructure setup
Meeting planned launch frequency
Way Forward:
Completion of Kulasekarapattinam construction
Expansion of India's launch capabilities

India is enhancing its space launch capabilities with two major spaceports. The Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, has been operational since 1971, serving as India’s primary orbital launch site. It benefits from its near-equatorial location, which is ideal for launching satellites into space due to the Earth’s rotational speed boost. The centre has two functioning launch pads and has witnessed significant launches, including India’s lunar exploration probes.

On the other hand, India is constructing a new spaceport in Kulasekarapattinam, Tamil Nadu, dedicated to launching smaller launch vehicles with an investment of $119 million. This spaceport aims to conduct 24 launches per year using a mobile launch structure and is expected to be completed in two years. The new facility will cater to the increasing demand for small satellite launches, offering strategic benefits such as fuel savings and the ability to launch directly south over the Indian Ocean. This expansion reflects India’s growing participation in global space developments and its ambition to become a significant player in the space industry​​​​​​​​​​​​.

Rooftop Solar Scheme mind map
Recent News
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announces scheme
To install rooftop solar on 10 million houses
Announced on January 23, 2024
To reduce electricity bills for poor and middle class
To make India self-reliant in energy sector
Pradhan Mantri Suryodaya Yojana
Installation of rooftop solar on one crore houses
Up to 300 units of free electricity monthly
Over Rs. 75,000 crores
Nationwide implementation in India
Indian households eligible
Be a permanent citizen of India
Be over 18 years old
Own a house
Possess necessary documents
Have an annual income of less than Rs 1 or 1.5 lakh
Application process detailed in official communications
Reduces financial burden of electricity on households
Promotes use of renewable energy
Aims to add 20-25 GW of solar capacity
Helps in improving power discoms’ financial health
Massive national campaign needed to mobilize adoption
Awareness and uptake among residential segment
Way Forward
A national campaign to mobilize residential segment consumers
Right awareness campaigns crucial for success

The Rooftop Solar Scheme in India, formally known as the Pradhan Mantri Suryodaya Yojana, was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the aim of installing rooftop solar panels on 10 million households across the country. Announced in January 2024, the scheme targets reducing electricity bills for the poor and middle class while promoting energy self-reliance in India. Beneficiaries are promised up to 300 units of free electricity monthly, with the government investing over Rs. 75,000 crores in this initiative. Eligible households must meet certain criteria, including being permanent citizens of India, over 18 years old, owning a house, possessing necessary documents, and having an annual income below a specified threshold. The scheme represents a significant step towards enhancing the utilization of renewable energy sources within India, aiming to alleviate financial burdens on households and contribute to the country’s energy security​​​​​​​​​​.

/ Judiciary/Justice
SC seeks to Incentivize Super performer Judges mind map
Recent News
Chief Justice DY Chandrachud's statement
March 2024
Objective framework development
Overturned 2018 judgment
Automatic vacation of stay orders
Civil and criminal cases
Five-judge Constitution Bench
Headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud
Timeline for case disposal
Fixed only in exceptional circumstances
March 2024
Motivate trial court judges
Efficiently clearing case backlogs
Additional incentives
Recognize "super performer" judges
Objective framework
Disposal rates
Backlog reduction metrics
Judgment quality
Legal soundness
Analysis depth
Courtroom administration
Initiative taking
Work ethic
Handling complex cases
Amidst external pressures
Additional Benefits
Over regular pay
Across India
Chief Justice of India
DY Chandrachud
Trial court judges
Supreme Court of India
Developing an objective framework
Reward frameworks
Motivates efficient case clearing
Addresses massive case backlog
Aims to inspire culture of excellence
Links performance to incentives
Details pending on parameters
Equating performance across diverse contexts
Way Forward
Implementation of objective framework
Continuous evaluation and adjustment

The Supreme Court of India, under the leadership of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, is planning to introduce an objective framework to identify and incentivize “super performer” judges within the trial courts across India. This initiative, announced in March 2024, aims to address the massive backlog of over 4.5 crore cases by motivating judges to efficiently clear cases through additional incentives. The criteria for recognizing these high performers are expected to include disposal rates, judgment quality, courtroom administration, initiative, work ethic, and the ability to handle complex cases. This move is seen as a significant step towards inspiring a culture of excellence in India’s lower judiciary and linking performance with incentives, providing a higher purpose for judges contributing significantly to backlog reduction.

/ Important Days
World Wildlife Day 2024 mind map
Recent News
Connecting People and Planet
Exploring Digital Innovation in Wildlife Conservation
Organized by
CITES Secretariat
United Nations Development Programme
Jackson Wild
International Fund for Animal Welfare
March 3, 2024
UN high-level event
March 4, 2024
United Nations Headquarters in New York
Livestreamed on United Nations WebTV
To celebrate and raise awareness
Of world's wild fauna and flora
To highlight
Digital conservation technologies and services
Sustainable and legal wildlife trade
Human-wildlife coexistence
Global digital revolution
Breaking down barriers
To people-centered digital governance
To equal opportunities for digital transformation
Narrowing digital divide
Connectivity and Internet access reaching 66% of global population
2.7 billion people not online
Only 36% in least developed countries online
Gaps in Internet access for women and young people
Technological innovation in conservation
Research, communication, tracking, DNA analysis
Critical issues
Uneven access to new tools
Environmental pollution
Unsustainable applications of certain technologies
Global event
Special focus on digital innovation in wildlife conservation
CITES Secretariat
Facilitator for global observance
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Jackson Wild
Host of the World Wildlife Day Showcase
International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)
Host of the World Wildlife Day Youth Art Contest
Intergenerational exchange and youth empowerment
Through art, presentations, conversations
Exploring digital innovations
Available now and in the future
Latest applications of digital technologies in wildlife conservation and trade
Impact of digital interventions on ecosystems and communities
Equips people with job-ready digital skills
Supports indigenous and women-led initiatives
Expands "financial inclusion"
Prevents fraud in illegal trade of animals and plants
Shares information on wildlife populations
Digital divide
2.7 billion people not online
Limited online access in least developed countries
Gender and youth disparities in Internet use
Detrimental use of digital technologies
Illegal sale of protected species on the Internet
Way Forward
Mobilize new commitments to policy and funding
For sustainable adaptation and preservation of nature
Bridging financial gaps for equitable access to conservation tools
Strengthening digital capacity-building
Considering impacts on all communities and ecosystems

World Wildlife Day 2024 focuses on the theme “Connecting People and Planet: Exploring Digital Innovation in Wildlife Conservation.” It aims to highlight the role of digital technologies in wildlife conservation, sustainable trade, and fostering human-wildlife coexistence. Organized by the CITES Secretariat, this year’s event underscores the importance of digital transformation in addressing environmental challenges and ensuring the protection of biodiversity for future generations. The initiative also emphasizes intergenerational exchange, youth empowerment, and bridging the digital divide to ensure equitable access to conservation tools and technologies.

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