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Current Affairs 04 May 2023

CONTENTS

  1. Eliminating Carbon Emissions in Steel Production
  2. India-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement
  3. African swine fever
  4. Startup India Seed Fund Scheme
  5. Buland Bharat Exercise
  6. Karnataka tops the National Manufacturing Innovation Survey

Eliminating Carbon Emissions in Steel Production


Context:

Hydrogen is a crucial part of the world’s plans to greenify its manufacturing and automobile industries as a fuel whose production and use needn’t emit carbon.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Green Steel Production through Direct Reduction with Hydrogen Gas
  2. Benefits of Using Hydrogen as a Reducing Agent in Steel Production
  3. Current Status of Steel Production in India

Green Steel Production through Direct Reduction with Hydrogen Gas

  • The direct reduction process by hydrogen (DR-H) is a steel production method that involves the use of hydrogen gas to reduce iron oxide (Fe2O3) into metallic iron (Fe) without the use of a blast furnace.
  • DR-H, also known as the “green route” for steel production, significantly reduces carbon emissions associated with traditional steelmaking processes.
  • The DR-H process typically involves mixing iron ore pellets or lumps with hydrogen gas in a reactor vessel at temperatures ranging from 600 to 800°C.
  • The hydrogen gas reacts with the iron oxide to form metallic iron and water vapor.
  • The chemical equation for this reaction is: Fe2O3 + 3H2 → 2Fe + 3H2O.

Benefits of Using Hydrogen as a Reducing Agent in Steel Production

  • Hydrogen produces only water vapor as a byproduct, making it a cleaner alternative to coal/coke for steel production.
  • The use of hydrogen as a reducing agent has the potential to reduce carbon emissions in steel production by up to 97%.
  • The direct reduction process eliminates the need for heating and melting large quantities of iron ore in a blast furnace, making it more efficient.
  • The high-quality iron produced through direct reduction has lower levels of impurities, resulting in higher-quality steel.
  • Direct reduction by hydrogen can be used with a wide range of iron ores, including those with lower iron content.
  • The direct reduction process can be more cost-effective than traditional steelmaking methods, especially when natural gas prices are high.

Current Status of Steel Production in India

  • India is currently the world’s second-largest producer of crude steel as of 2021, following China.
  • In 2021, India was also the second-largest consumer of finished steel, preceded by China.
  • Major steel production centers in India include Bhilai (Chhattisgarh), Durgapur (West Bengal), Burnpur (West Bengal), Jamshedpur (Jharkhand), Rourkela (Odisha), and Bokaro (Jharkhand).
  • India is a significant exporter of steel products, with the US, the UAE, and Nepal being major export destinations.
  • In 2017, the National Steel Policy was launched with a goal of achieving crude steel capacity of 300 million tonnes (MT), production of 255 MT, and robust finished steel per capita consumption of 158 Kgs by 2030-31.
Impact of Steel Industry on GHG Emissions and Pollution
  • The steel industry is one of the largest industrial emitters of greenhouse gases, responsible for approximately 7% of global CO2 emissions, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
  • The pollutants produced by steel industries include particulate matter such as PM2.5 and PM 10, oxides of sulfur, oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), and solid waste.

-Source: The Hindu


India-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement


Context:

Recently, the India-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) completed one year of implementation.

Relevance:

GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Bilateral Relationship between India and the UAE
  2. India UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA)
  3. About India’s CEPA agreements

Bilateral Relationship between India and the UAE

  • India and the United Arab Emirates established diplomatic relations in 1972. Their bond has grown exponentially since then.
  • In January 2017, India and the United Arab Emirates signed a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement.
  • The exchange of high-level visits by both sides has given impetus to the strong bilateral relations.
  • In February 2019, the UAE invited India to address the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s Inaugural Plenary 46th Session as the “Guest of Honour.”
  • In August 2019, Prime Minister Modi paid his third visit to the UAE. He received the UAE’s highest civilian award, the ‘Order of Zayed.’
  • In January 2017, the Crown Prince of the UAE visited India for the second time as the Chief Guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations.
  • In April 2019, the foundation stone for Abu Dhabi’s first traditional Hindu Temple was laid.
  • PM Modi and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan held a virtual summit in February 2022.
  • Both leaders issued a Joint Vision Statement titled “Advancing India and the UAE’s Comprehensive Strategic Partnership: New Frontiers, New Milestones.”
Commercial Relationship
  • Until FY20, the UAE was India’s second-largest goods export market, trailing only the US. When the pandemic caused severe trade disruptions in FY21, China pipped it.
  • The UAE is currently India’s third-largest trading partner, with bilateral trade worth $59 billion in FY20.
  • In addition, the UAE is India’s second-largest export destination after the United States (approximately $29 billion in FY20).

India UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA)

  • Both countries have begun negotiations for a mutually beneficial CEPA in September 2021.
  • The India-UAE CEPA was signed in New Delhi in February 2022 during the India-UAE Virtual Summit.
  • India announced the signing of the CEPA with the UAE in March 2022.
Coverage
  • It covers almost all of India’s (11,908 tariff lines) and the UAE’s tariff lines (7581 tariff lines)
Priority access to goods
  • CEPA establishes an institutional mechanism to encourage and improve bilateral trade.
  • India will benefit from the UAE’s preferential market access on over 97% of its tariff lines, accounting for 99% of Indian exports to the UAE in value terms.
  • India will also grant the UAE preferential access to over 90% of its tariff lines, including those of export interest to the UAE.
Services Trade
  • India has offered the UAE market access in approximately 100 sub-sectors.
  • Indian service providers, on the other hand, will have access to approximately 111 sub-sectors from the 11 broad service sectors.
  • Both parties have also agreed to a separate Pharmaceutical Annex to facilitate access to Indian pharmaceuticals
  • For the first time, a separate section of pharma has been created to facilitate the export of Indian generic medicines.
Investment
  • The UAE is India’s eighth-largest investor, with $11 billion invested between April 2000 and March 2021.
  • Indian companies are expected to invest more than $85 billion in the UAE.
Remittances from Non-Resident Indians
  • The annual remittances made by the UAE’s large Indian community (estimated at around 3.3 million) total US$ 17.56 billion in 2018.
Cooperation in Energy
  • In 2017, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and the Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Ltd. (ISPRL) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to establish a strategic crude oil reserve in Mangalore (Karnataka).
  • In addition, ADNOC is investigating the possibility of storing its crude oil at ISPRL’s underground oil storage facility in Padur, Karnataka.
  • The Lower Zakum Concession has been awarded to a consortium led by ONGC, which includes Indian Oil and Bharat Petro Resources.

About India’s CEPA agreements

  • India has signed CEPAs with South Korea and Japan and the one with UAE  is expected to increase bilateral trade in goods to USD 100 billion within five years of the signed agreement and increase trade in services to USD 15 billion, leading to wider social and economic opportunities in both nations.
  • CEPAs are a kind of free trade pacts but these agreements or cooperation agreements are more comprehensive than Free Trade Agreements.
  • CEPA usually covers negotiation on the trade in services and investment, and other areas of economic partnership. It may even consider negotiation on areas such as trade facilitation and customs cooperation, competition, and Intellectual Property Rights. It also looks into the regulatory aspect of trade and encompasses an agreement covering the regulatory issues.

Difference between CECA and CEPA

  • CECA – Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement
  • CEPA – Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement
  • The major “technical” difference between a CECA and CEPA is that CECA involve only “tariff reduction/elimination in a phased manner on listed/all items except the negative list and tariff rate quota (TRQ) items. CEPA also covers the trade in services and investment and other areas of economic partnership”.
  • Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement is a wider term than Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement and has the widest coverage.

-Source: The Hindu


African Swine Fever


Context:

According to an article published in the journal ‘Science’, the African Swine Fever could fatally affect the population of pygmy hogs, the world’s rarest and smallest pigs.

Relevance:

Focus: GS-III Science and Technology

 Dimensions of this Article:

  1. What is African Swine Fever?
  2. What are the symptoms of African swine fever?

What is African Swine Fever?

  • African Swine Fever (ASF) does not affect humans but can be catastrophic for pigs.
  • In 2019, the outbreak of the disease swept through pig populations in China — which is the largest exporter and consumer of pork — leading to large-scale cullings.
  • ASF is a severe viral disease that affects wild and domestic pigs typically resulting in an acute haemorrhagic fever.
  • The disease has a case fatality rate (CFR) of almost 100 per cent.
  • Its routes of transmission include direct contact with an infected or wild pig (alive or dead), indirect contact through ingestion of contaminated material such as food waste, feed or garbage, or through biological vectors such as ticks.
  • Any country with a pig sector is at risk of the spread of the disease and its spread is most likely via meat arriving aboard ships and planes, which is incorrectly disposed of and by meat carried by individual travellers.

What are the symptoms of African swine fever?

  • High Fever
  • Weakness and Difficulty Standing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Red or blue blotches on the skin (Particularly around ears and snout)
  • Coughing or labored breathing

-Source: The Hindu


Startup India Seed Fund Scheme


Context:

The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) is undertaking a third-party assessment of the Rs 945-crore Startup India Seed Fund Scheme to see its impact on the ground.

Relevance:

GS III- Growth and Development

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Seed Fund Scheme:
  2. What is Seed Funding?

About Seed Fund Scheme:

  • The scheme aims to provide financial assistance to startups for proof of concept, prototype development, product trials, market entry and commercialization.
  • 945 Crore corpus will be divided over the next 4 years for providing seed funding to eligible startups through eligible incubators across India.
  • The scheme is expected to support about 3600 startups.
  • It will Secure seed funding, Inspire innovation, Support transformative ideas, Facilitate implementation, and Start startup revolution.
  • It will create a robust startup ecosystem, particularly in Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns of India, which are often deprived of adequate funding.
  • Objective: Fund has been set up to provide initial capital to the startups. After that start-ups will be provided with the Govt. Guarantees, to help them raise debt capital. 
  • Funding: The Scheme will offer startups up to Rs. 20 Lakhs as a grant for Proof of Concept. Upto Rs. 50 Lakhs can also be availed through convertible debentures or debt or debt-linked instruments for commercialization. 
Eligibility Criteria for Startups
  • The startup must be recognized by DPIIT and should not be more than 2 years old at the time of application.
  • The startup should have a viable business idea to develop a product or service with a market fit, commercialization potential, and scalability.
  • The startup should use technology in its core product or service, business model, distribution model, or methodology to solve the problem being targeted.
  • The startup should not have received more than Rs 10 lakh of monetary support under any other Central or State Government scheme.
  • At the time of application to the incubator for the scheme, Indian promoters should hold at least 51% of the startup’s shareholding.

What is Seed Funding?

  • Seed funding or seed-stage funding is a very early investment which aims at helping a business grow and generating its own capital.
  • Also referred to as seed money or seed capital, investors often get an equity stake in exchange for the capital invested.
  • The investors can themselves be the founders and use their savings as seed money for their new company — also known as bootstrapping.

-Source: Indian Express


Buland Bharat Exercise


Context:

Indian Army recently conducted the ‘Buland Bharat’ exercise in the longest high-altitude Artillery Ranges of the eastern theatre.

Relevance:

GS III: Security Challenges

About Buland Bharat Exercise:

  • It is an integrated surveillance and firepower training exercise conducted by the Indian Army.
Purpose of the Exercise:
  • To train and test the coordinated application of surveillance and firepower capabilities of the Artillery, Infantry, Special Forces, Aviation, and Central Armed Police Forces in the high-altitude areas of Arunachal Pradesh.
Location and Duration:
  • The exercise was conducted in the recently operationalised High Altitude Artillery Ranges of Eastern Theatre in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • It was a month-long training exercise that culminated in a test exercise.
Participants:
  • The exercise involved close coordination between Artillery, Infantry, Special Forces, Aviation, and Central Armed Police Forces deployed in West Kameng and Tawang districts of Arunachal Pradesh.
Key Objectives:
  • Validate plans for bringing down integrated firepower through synchronised firing by artillery guns and fire support components of the Infantry aimed toward the destruction of designated targets.
  • Practice the coordinated application of surveillance and firepower from Infantry and Artillery radars, weapon systems and direction of fire from the air.
  • Test uninterrupted communication on multiple media at long distances.
Outcome:
  • The exercise tested troops and equipment in simulated war conditions in the high-altitude area and extreme weather conditions.
  • It aimed to enhance the effectiveness of the Indian Army in the integrated application of surveillance and firepower capabilities.

Source: India today


Karnataka tops the National Manufacturing Innovation Survey


Context:

Karnataka has emerged as the most innovative state in India according to the National Manufacturing Innovation Survey (NMIS) 2021-22,

Relevance:

GS III: Indian Economy, Facts for Prelims

About National Manufacturing Innovation Survey

  • The National Manufacturing Innovation Survey (NMIS) 2021-22 conducted jointly by the Department of Science and Technology and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization found that Karnataka is the most innovative state in India.
  • Telangana, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu had the highest share of innovative firms, while Odisha, Bihar, and Jharkhand had the lowest share.
  • The survey examined the innovation processes, outcomes, and barriers in manufacturing firms, and also studied the innovation ecosystem that affects innovation outcomes in these firms.
  • Nearly three-fourths of the firms surveyed did not make any innovative product or business process innovation during the survey period of financial year 2017-2020.
  • The most frequent barriers to innovation were a lack of internal funds, high innovation costs, and a lack of financing from external sources.

-Source: The Hindu


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