Current Affairs 26th August 2022

1.    ORGANISATION OF THE PETROLEUM EXPORTING COUNTRIES (OPEC)

  • News: OPEC’s united front on possible action grew stronger, as more nations endorsed Saudi Arabia’s view that supply curbs may be needed to stabilize world oil markets.
  • About OPEC:
    • The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is an intergovernmental organization of 13 countries.
    • Founded on 14 September 1960 in Baghdad by the first five members (Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela), it has, since 1965, been headquartered in Vienna, Austria, although Austria is not an OPEC member state.
    • As of September 2018, the 13 member countries accounted for an estimated 44 percent of global oil production and 81.5 percent of the world’s “proven” oil reserves, giving OPEC a major influence on global oil prices that were previously determined by the so-called “Seven Sisters” grouping of multinational oil companies.
    • The formation of OPEC marked a turning point toward national sovereignty over natural resources, and OPEC decisions have come to play a prominent role in the global oil market and international relations.
    • The effect can be particularly strong when wars or civil disorders lead to extended interruptions in supply.
    • In the 1970s, restrictions in oil production led to a dramatic rise in oil prices and in the revenue and wealth of OPEC, with long-lasting and far-reaching consequences for the global economy.
    • In the 1980s, OPEC began setting production targets for its member nations; generally, when the targets are reduced, oil prices increase.
    • This has occurred most recently from the organization’s 2008 and 2016 decisions to trim oversupply.

2.    BASE EFFECT

  • News: The Government is set to release the gross domestic product (GDP) data for the June-ended quarter on Wednesday. After slowing down to just 4.1% in the March quarter, growth is expected to have jumped to 13-16%, because of the statistical effect of a low base.
  • About Base Effect:
    • The base effect is the effect that choosing a different reference point for a comparison between two data points can have on the result of the comparison.
    • This often involves the use of some kind of ratio or index value between two points in a time-series data set, but can also apply to cross-sectional or other types of data.
    • The base effect refers to the effect that the choice of a basis of comparison or reference can have on the result of the comparison between data points.
    • Using a different reference or base for comparison can lead to a large variation in ratio or percentage comparisons between data points.
    • The base effect can lead to distortion in comparisons and deceptive results, or, if well understood and accounted for, can be used to improve our understanding of data and the underlying processes that generate them.
    • Because the base number makes up the denominator in the comparison, comparisons using different base values can yield widely varying results.

3.    RIGHT OF WAY RULES FOR 5G ROLE OUT

  • News: As a part of its efforts to help faster 5G roll-out, the department of telecommunications (DoT) has amended the Right of Way rules to ensure quick approvals for deploying telecom infrastructure.
  • Details:
    • The government’s GatiShakti Sanchar portal will fast-track approvals required by any department or state government in this regard.
    • According to the amended rules, charges for laying aerial optical fibre will be capped at ₹1,000 per km and annual fees have been fixed at ₹300 for urban areas and ₹150 for rural areas per street furniture, and ₹1,000 per poles to set up small cells.
    • DoT has also uploaded the 5G RoW application form on the GatiShakti Sanchar portal, which will offer a standard mechanism for all, including central and state governments, central land-owning authorities, such as railways and defence, local bodies, and service providers, for setting up towers and fibre.
    • 5G requires more towers, poles, fibres, and bandwidth. This will require the telecom industry to set up more infrastructure. By October, 5G will be launching and then we will rapidly scale up to sub-urban and rural areas.
    • The rules will help small cell deployment and ensure uniform implementation of RoW rules across states, Union territories, and municipal bodies.

4.    LITHIUM RESERVES FOR INDIA

  • News: In a massive boost to its efforts to secure critical mineral supplies, India has been approached by several African nations with offers to service part of their development loans by giving access to Indian companies in their mining operations and allowing exports of highly prized lithium and cobalt.
  • Details:
    • This is part of India’s plans to leverage over-$30 billion of lines of credit (LoC) and financial support it has extended to African, Latin American and Asian countries.
    • The approach by the Africans— made to the economic diplomacy division of the ministry of external affairs— is the first such instance of an economic trade-off leveraged by India.
    • The government has asked domestic metal and mining companies to place their interest in raw materials and other minerals that they require for manufacturing so that these could be sourced from countries where Indian lines of credit have been extended.
    • LoCs are extended through the Exim Bank of India, and each LoC can have several projects under it.
    • With Africa, India has extended LoCs to over 41 countries worth more than $12 billion. It is here (with Africa) that the first set of mineral deals would be worked as part of the debt-servicing obligation of beneficiary countries.
    • India extends development assistance through concessional LoC under the Indian Development and Economic Assistance Scheme (IDEAS). Under it, India extends concessional funds to overseas financial institutions, regional development banks, governments and other entities to help finance development and infrastructure projects or to import goods and services from India—all on deferred credit terms.
    • Africa has rich deposits of oil, gas and lithium, which has become the most sought-after mineral by countries building their electric mobility infrastructure using lithium-ion batteries. The LoC deal with African countries could give India access to mineral and metal ores such as magnesium ore, nickel ore, zinc, lead, quartz, limestone, alumina, iron ore, copper and bauxite.
  • About Export – Import Bank of India (EXIM Bank):
    • Exim Bank was established by the Government of India, under the Export-Import Bank of India Act, 1981 as a purveyor of export credit, mirroring global Export Credit Agencies.
    • Exim Bank serves as a growth engine for industries and SMEs through a wide range of products and services.
    • This includes import of technology and export product development, export production, export marketing, pre-shipment and post-shipment and overseas investment.
    • Exim Bank extends Lines of Credit (LOCs) to overseas financial institutions, regional development banks, sovereign governments and other entities overseas, to enable buyers in those countries to import developmental and infrastructure projects, equipment, goods and services from India, on deferred credit terms.
    • EXIM Bank has laid strong emphasis on enhancing project exports, the funding options for which have been enhanced with introduction of the Buyer’s Credit-National Export Insurance Account (BC-NEIA) program.

5.    QUANTUM BIT

  • News: Chinese search engine giant Baidu Inc revealed its first quantum computer on Thursday and is ready to make it available to external users, joining the global race to apply the technology to practical uses. The Baidu-developed quantum computer, dubbed “Qianshi”, has a 10 quantum-bit (qubit) processor, Baidu said. The Beijing-based company has also developed a 36-qubit quantum chip.
  • About Qubit:
    • A qubit is a quantum bit, the counterpart in quantum computing to the binary digit or bit of classical computing.
    • Just as a bit is the basic unit of information in a classical computer, a qubit is the basic unit of information in a quantum computer.
    • In a quantum computer, a number of elemental particles such as electrons or photons can be used (in practice, success has also been achieved with ions), with either their charge or polarization acting as a representation of 0 and/or 1.
    • Each of these particles is known as a qubit; the nature and behavior of these particles (as expressed in quantum theory) form the basis of quantum computing.
    • The two most relevant aspects of quantum physics are the principles of superposition and Entanglement.
    • A classical computer has a memory made up of bits where each bit hold either a one or zero. A qubits (quantum bits) can hold a one, a zero or crucially a superposition of these.

6.    BIOLERS ACT TO BE DECRIMINALIZED

  • News: The government is set to decriminalize the archaic Boilers Act, 1923, which lays down rules for the operation of steam boilers, to improve the ease of doing business in India.
  • Details:
    • The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) is also likely to ease 60 compliances related to the legislation besides decriminalizing three provisions of the Act, removing the provision for a two-year jail time for violation of the rules.
    • The proposed changes will affect several industries, including power, automobiles, textiles, breweries and distilleries.
    • It is part of the government’s reform initiative to improve the ease of doing business in the country and reduce litigation.
    • Boiler is an essential tool for a number of industries including power plants, government factories, sugar, textile, feed, auto rice mills and the pharmaceutical industry.
    • The jail provision will be dropped for three sections of the Act. Around 30 compliances have already been reduced under the boiler regulation.
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