Daily Prelims Newsletter for upsc 24 May 2022

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Daily Prelims Newsletter for upsc 24 May 2022

Daily Prelims Newsletter For UPSC
| RaghukulCS

24 May 2022-Tuesday

Table Of Contents

Table of Contents

Current and Future Trends in the Metal Industry

Why in the news?

The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) recently held a conference titled Indian Metal Industry: Current Outlook and Future Trends.

What is the current state of the Indian metal industry?

With the rise of industrialised economies at the turn of the twentieth century, countries with strong metal industries benefited from a first-mover advantage.

Metals have been a key motivator of industrialisation.

According to statistics, India was the world’s “Second-Largest Producer” of crude steel in October 2021, with an output of 9.8 MT. In FY22 (till January), crude steel output was 98.39 MT and completed steel production was 92.82 MT, respectively.

During the fiscal year 2021-22, per capita steel consumption in India increased by 10% to 77 kg.

According to preliminary estimates, India exported a record 13.5 million tonnes of completed steel in 2021-22, while producing a record 120 million tonnes of crude steel and 113.6 million tonnes of finished steel.

Growth Drivers:

The domestic availability of raw materials such as iron ore and cost-effective labour has fueled growth in the Indian steel business.

As a result, the steel industry has been a significant contributor to India’s manufacturing output.

The Indian steel sector is cutting-edge, with cutting-edge steel mills.

  • It has always sought for ongoing modernisation of ageing units and energy efficiency upgrades.
  • India is a natural location for the mining and metal sector due to its vast quantities of iron, coal, dolomite, lead, zinc, silver, and gold.
  • Steel has long held a leading position among metals. Steel production and consumption are widely recognised as indications of economic advancement, industrial development, and forms the backbone of any economy, and are predicted to rise in the coming years as government incentives increase.
  • The metals and mining sector in India is expected to undergo significant reform in the coming years as a result of reforms such as the Make in India Campaign, Smart Cities, Rural Electrification, and a focus on building renewable energy projects under the National Electricity Policy, as well as an increase in infrastructure development.
  • The average index of industrial production of basic metals manufacturing in FY 2021-22 is 177.3, up 18.4 percent over the previous year.
  • Recognizing the necessity of bringing sustainability to coal mining, the Ministry of Coal and all coal PSUs have established a “Sustainable Development Cell” to promote the implementation of better environmental management practises in coal mines.
  • The metal industry, particularly iron and steel, requires substantial capital investments that a developing country like India cannot afford. Many of the public sector integrated steel factories were built with the assistance of foreign aid.
  • Low Productivity: The country’s per capita labour productivity in the steel industry is 90-100 tonnes, which is quite low. In Korea, Japan, and other steel-producing countries, it is 600-700 tonnes per person.
  • Low Capacity Utilization: The Durgapur steel plant only uses about half of its potential due to problems such as strikes, raw material shortages, energy crises, poor administration, and so on.
  • Huge Demand:
  • Massive amounts of steel and other metals will be imported to meet demand. Productivity must be increased in order to conserve important foreign exchange.
  • Poor Product Quality: Due to a lack of infrastructure, capital inputs, and other facilities, the metallurgical process becomes more time-consuming, expensive, and generates a poorer variety of alloys.

What are the government’s metal sector initiatives?

  • 2017 National Steel Policy (NSP).
  • Policy on Steel Scrap Recycling
  • Specialty Steel PLI Scheme
  • Purvodaya Mission: Steel Sector Accelerated Development
  • India’s Steel Research and Technology Mission
  • Fourth Industrial Revolution Adoption (Industry 4.0).

Way Forward

  • Industry and other stakeholders will need to identify all of the regions and reasons that are contributing to an increase in consumption of these metals in order to improve availability for the common man at an affordable price.
  • It is critical to boost domestic competence through technological growth and innovation. This would not only allow India’s metal and metallurgy sector to become genuinely global, but will also contribute to India becoming a manufacturing hub for metals and metal goods.
  • It is critical that various industry organisations travel to rural India and enlighten the people about government programmes through local gatherings or seminars. They can operate skill development programmes and contribute significantly to nation building.
  • It is critical to cut costs by implementing technology and smart working practises.
  • It is stated that India has a competitive advantage over its peers in steel production due to the domestic availability of high-quality iron ore, strong domestic demand, and the availability of a young labour.
  • Because of the abundance of minerals in the country, the metal sector has the potential to play a significant role in the country’s ambitious objectives for Self-Reliant India and a USD 5 trillion economy by 2024-25.
  • It is vital to rationalise the need for the development of mineral reserves in the country, particularly minerals such as iron, coal, bauxite, lime, copper, manganese, chromium, and so on, which are the foundation of economic development.
  • India’s very low per capita steel consumption, as well as the predicted increase in consumption due to expanded infrastructure construction and the thriving automobile and railway sectors, present enormous opportunities for expansion.

Chips for Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Why in the news?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) chip use has increased in recent years, with chipmakers producing several sorts of these chips to enable AI applications.

What exactly are AI chips?

  • AI chips are designed with a specific architecture and have AI acceleration built in to facilitate deep learning-based applications.
  • Deep learning, also known as Active Neural Network (ANN) or Deep Neural Network (DNN), is a subset of machine learning that falls under the umbrella of artificial intelligence (AI).
  • It combines a sequence of computer orders or algorithms that stimulate brain activity and structure.
  • DNNs go through a training phase in which they gain new skills from previous data.
  • DNNs can then generate predictions on previously unseen data using the skills learnt during deep learning training.
  • Deep learning can speed up and simplify the process of collecting, analysing, and interpreting massive volumes of data.
  • Chips like these, with their hardware designs, complementing packaging, memory, storage, and connectivity solutions, enable AI to be integrated into a wide range of applications to transform data into information, and then into knowledge.
AI Chips Designed for a Variety of AI Applications:
  • ASICs, Field-Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs), CPUs, and GPUs are all examples of application-specific integrated circuits.
  • Natural Language Processing (NLP), computer vision, robotics, and network security are examples of AI applications used in a wide range of industries, including automotive, IT, healthcare, and retail.
Causes of the Increase:
  • One of the primary factors driving market expansion is the rising deployment of AI chips in data centres.
  • Furthermore, the growing need for smart homes and cities, as well as an increase in investment in AI start-ups, are likely to boost the growth of the worldwide AI chip market.
  • The global AI chip market was worth approximately USD 8 billion in 2020 and is anticipated to be worth USD 195 billion by 2030, rising at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 37.4 percent between 2021 and 2030.

What is the Advantage of AI Chips Over General Purpose Hardware?

Faster Computing:

In order to run advanced training models and algorithms, artificial intelligence applications often demand parallel computational capability.

When compared to typical semiconductor devices at similar price ranges, AI hardware provides better parallel processing capability and is projected to have up to ten times more competing power in ANN applications.

Memory with a High Bandwidth:
  • It is predicted that specialised AI hardware will allot 4-5 times more bandwidth than regular CPUs.
  • This is required because AI applications demand much higher bandwidth between processors for efficient performance due to the necessity for parallel processing.

Region of Nagorno-Karabakh

Why in the news?

  • Protests against prospective concessions by Armenia on the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh with neighbouring Azerbaijan have recently increased.
  • Clashes erupted in September 2020, quickly escalating to become the bloodiest since the 1990s.

What exactly is the Nagorno-Karabakh Region?

  • Nagorno-Karabakh is a mountainous and densely forested region that is recognised as part of Azerbaijan under international law.
  • However, the vast majority of the inhabitants, ethnic Armenians, oppose Azeri control (the legal system of Azerbaijan).
  • Following the withdrawal of Azerbaijani troops from the region following a battle in the 1990s, these ethnic Armenians have been in administrative control of Nagorno-Karabakh, with support from Armenia.
Strategic Importance:
  • Energy-rich Azerbaijan has developed multiple gas and oil pipelines to Turkey and Europe via the Caucasus (the region between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea).
  • Some of these pipelines run near to conflict areas (within 16 km of the border).
  • In the event of an open war between the two countries, the pipelines might be targeted, affecting energy supply and possibly leading to increased global oil prices.

What Caused the Conflict to Begin?

  • The Conflict’s History: The conflict dates back to the pre-Soviet era, when the region was at the crossroads of the Ottoman, Russian, and Persian empires.
  • When Azerbaijan and Armenia became Soviet Republics in 1921, Russia (then Soviet Union) awarded Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh in exchange for autonomy in the disputed territory.
  • In the 1980s, as Soviet control waned, separatist currents resurfaced in Nagorno-Karabakh. The national legislature voted in 1988 to end the region’s autonomy and join Armenia.
  • Azerbaijan, however, resisted such calls, resulting in a military war.
  • Conflicting Factors:
  •  Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence in September 1991, against the backdrop of the USSR’s impending collapse, resulting in a war between Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh, which was supported by Armenia.
  • Ceasefire: 
  • This conflict lasted until 1994, when a ceasefire deal was negotiated, partly via the mediation of Russia. Since then, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group, co-chaired by the United States, Russia, and France, has worked hard with Azerbaijan and Armenia to resolve the dispute.
  • By then, Armenia had seized control of Nagorno-Karabakh and turned it over to Armenian separatists.

What is India’s Role?

  • India and Armenia have a friendship and cooperation pact (signed in 1995), which, by the way, forbids India from giving military or other support to Azerbaijan.
  • In the case of Azerbaijan, ONGC/OVL has invested in an oilfield project there, while GAIL is looking into LNG collaboration opportunities.
  • Azerbaijan is also located on the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC), which connects India to Russia via Central Asia.
  • Through the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars passenger and freight rail link, it can also connect India with Turkey and beyond.
  • Armenia unambiguously supports India on the Kashmir problem, whereas Azerbaijan not only opposes but also promotes Pakistan’s narrative on the subject.
  • Unlike “Neighborhood First,” “Act East,” or “Central Asia Connect,” India does not have a publicly declared policy for the South Caucasus.
  • The region has stayed on the outside of the country’s foreign policy radar.

The Way Forward

  • The conflict is fundamentally a clash between two international principles: territorial integrity, as promoted by Azerbaijan, and the right to self-determination, as invoked by Nagorno-Karabakh and supported by Armenia.
  • India has every reason not to support Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity because Azerbaijan has showed little regard for India’s territorial integrity, which Pakistan has breached in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • At the same time, it is difficult for India to publicly support Nagorno-right Karabakh’s to self-determination because of the potential ramifications for India, as adversaries such as Pakistan may misuse it not only by making erroneous connections with Kashmir, but also by re-igniting secessionist movements in certain parts of India.

Other’s News

The United States' One China Policy

  • Soon after the US President stated that if China invaded Taiwan, the US White House sought to explain that he did not mean that America’s attitude on the dispute had changed.
  • The basics of the ‘One China’ policy were outlined in a joint declaration issued by the United States and the People’s Republic of China in December 1978.
  • Under the ‘One China’ policy, the United States recognises the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as China’s sole lawful government.
  • In addition, the United States severed official diplomatic ties with the Republic of China (ROC) in Taiwan in 1979.
  • The US government recognises China’s view that there is only one China, and Taiwan is a part of it.
Implications –
  • In practise, the One China Policy is a balancing act in which the US maintains an official engagement with China while maintaining an unofficial relationship with Taiwan.
  • As a result, Taiwan has been diplomatically isolated from the international world.
Taiwan-US Relations
  • The Taiwan Relations Act was passed by the US Congress in 1979, about the time the PRC and the US placed Ambassadors in each other’s capitals (TRA).
  • The Act stated unequivocally that the US decision to establish diplomatic ties with the PRC is based on the assumption that Taiwan’s future will be settled peacefully.
  • It promised to providing Taiwan with defensive armaments and to maintaining the US’s ability to reject any use of force or other forms of coercion that might imperil the security, social system, or economic system of the people of Taiwan.
  • The Act established the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) as a private non-governmental organisation (NGO) to maintain the appearance of unofficiality in the relationships.
  • The AIT serves as the US Embassy in Taiwan de facto.

A* Sagittarius

  • The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) facility scientists have revealed the first image of the black hole Sagittarius A* in the centre of the Milky Way.
  • In 2019, the EHT Telescope made history by revealing the first image of a black hole M87* – the black hole at the centre of the supergiant elliptic galaxy Messier 87.
  • The photograph of the black hole Sagittarius A* added to the evidence that the compact object at the centre of our galaxy is, in fact, a black hole. This lends support to Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.
  • Supermassive Black Hole Sagittarius A*
  • It is located 27,000 light years away from Earth.
  • It is located at the centre of our Milky Way galaxy in the constellation Sagittarius.
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