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Here are the topics covered for 17th November 2023:
GS-2: OPEC, Indo-Pacific Economic Framework
GS-3: World’s First Chikungunya Vaccine, Electric Batteries
Facts for Prelims: Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Nirbhay Cruise Missile
The 6th High-Level Meeting of the India-Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Energy Dialogue, held in November 2023 in Vienna, Austria, brought together key representatives to discuss critical aspects of oil and energy markets. This dialogue holds significance in shaping India’s energy policies and addressing challenges in the global energy landscape.
Key Highlights of India-OPEC Energy Dialogue:
- The meeting centred around crucial issues related to oil and energy markets, emphasizing the need for availability, affordability, and sustainability to ensure the stability of energy markets. This comprehensive discussion aimed at addressing challenges and fostering cooperation.
- Both parties highlighted the importance of enhanced cooperation between OPEC and India. Recognizing India as the third-largest energy consumer, a major crude oil importer, and the fourth-largest global refiner, the dialogue acknowledged India’s role in global economic growth and energy demand.
India’s Growing Significance:
- Referring to the World Oil Outlook 2023, the meeting highlighted India as the fastest-growing major developing economy. The outlook projected India’s long-term growth at 6.1% between 2022-2045, contributing over 28% to incremental global energy demand during the same period.
Recognition of India’s Initiatives:
- The dialogue acknowledged India’s achievements and initiatives in renewable energy, energy efficiency, hydrogen economy, and climate change mitigation. This recognition underlines India’s commitment to sustainable and innovative solutions in the energy sector.
- The meeting concluded with an agreement to hold the next High-Level Meeting of the India-OPEC Energy Dialogue in 2024 in India, indicating a commitment to sustained collaboration and continued dialogue on pressing energy-related matters.
Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)
Formation and Objectives:
- OPEC, established in 1960 at the Baghdad Conference, is an intergovernmental organization with headquarters in Vienna, Austria. Its primary objectives include coordinating and unifying petroleum policies among member countries to secure fair and stable prices, ensuring an efficient and regular supply to consuming nations, and providing a fair return on capital invested in the industry.
- Comprising nations such as Algeria, Angola, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, OPEC nations collectively produce about 30% of the world’s crude oil. Saudi Arabia stands out as the largest single oil supplier within the group.
- In response to falling oil prices, OPEC, in collaboration with other oil-producing countries, formed OPEC+ in 2016. This expanded coalition, including Russia and other non-OPEC countries, now produces about 40% of the world’s crude oil, addressing the challenges posed by dynamic global oil markets.
- The India-OPEC Energy Dialogue serves as a crucial platform for addressing challenges, fostering cooperation, and recognizing the evolving role of India in the global energy landscape.
- This ongoing dialogue exemplifies the commitment of both India and OPEC to collaboratively navigate the complexities of the energy sector, ensuring a sustainable and stable future for the global economy.
Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF)
- India, the United States, and 12 other members of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) signed a crucial supply chain resilience agreement in November 2023. This agreement is a strategic move aimed at reducing dependence on China and fostering the shift of manufacturing for vital goods among member nations.
- The concept of IPEF was first introduced by US President Biden in October 2021 during the East Asia Summit.
- The framework is designed to establish shared objectives among member nations, focusing on trade facilitation, digital economy and technology standards, supply chain resiliency, decarbonization and clean energy, infrastructure development, worker standards, and other areas of mutual interest.
- Notably, IPEF does not include market access commitments such as tariff reductions, positioning itself more as an administrative arrangement.
- Launched in Tokyo in May 2023, IPEF aims to enhance economic engagement among member countries to promote growth, peace, and prosperity in the region.
- It is not a conventional trade agreement but comprises different modules, organized into four pillars, covering diverse aspects.
Four Pillars of IPEF
- Fair and Resilient Trade (Pillar I)
- Supply Chain Resilience (Pillar II)
- Clean Economy (Pillar III) – Infrastructure and Decarbonization
- Fair Economy (Pillar IV) – Tax and Anti-corruption
Countries are required to sign up for all components within a module (pillar), but they have the flexibility to choose participation in specific modules.
The IPEF includes 14 partner countries:
- Australia, Brunei, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and the United States.
- This bloc represents approximately 40% of the world’s GDP and 28% of global trade in goods and services.
- It is strategically viewed as an economic and trade strategy, supported by the US, to counter China’s economic influence in the region.
India and IPEF
- In September 2022, India joined three pillars of the IPEF—supply chain, clean economy, and fair economy.
- while maintaining observer status in the trade pillar negotiations, signalling a selective but strategic engagement.
Other Benefits of Supply Chain Resilience Agreement
- Global Supply Chain Fortification: A pioneering international agreement that fortifies and strengthens global supply chains, fostering adaptability, stability, and sustainability.
- Potential Shifting of Production Centers: Opens avenues for shifting production centres in critical sectors, reducing vulnerability to economic disruptions.
- Supply Chain Diversification: Promotes diversification, enhancing the resilience of supply chains and reducing dependency on specific regions.
- Mobilization of Investments: Encourages the mobilization of investments, particularly in critical sectors, contributing to economic growth and stability.
- Deeper Integration of India in Global Value Chains: Facilitates deeper integration of India into global value chains, expanding economic opportunities and influence.
- Support to MSMEs: Offers support to Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), potentially boosting their competitiveness and growth.
- Creation of a Seamless Regional Trade Ecosystem: Aims to establish a seamless regional trade ecosystem, facilitating the flow of Indian products and enhancing regional economic cooperation.
- The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework emerges as a dynamic and forward-looking initiative, showcasing the collaborative efforts of diverse nations in shaping a resilient and prosperous economic landscape in the Indo-Pacific region.
- As the framework evolves, its success will hinge on the continued commitment and effective implementation of its diverse pillars, ultimately contributing to sustained economic growth, stability, and peace in the region.
World’s First Chikungunya Vaccine
- On November 9, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S. approved the world’s inaugural chikungunya vaccine, developed by European manufacturer Valneva. Marketed under the name Ixchiq, the vaccine is specifically greenlit for individuals aged 18 and above at an elevated risk of chikungunya exposure.
- The Accelerated Approval pathway was employed, allowing the FDA to clear products for severe or life-threatening conditions based on evidence indicating clinical benefit.
- Chikungunya, a viral infection (CHIKV), manifests with severe joint pain, restricted mobility, and fever.
- Transmitted mainly by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, it’s recognized as a global health threat.
- The disease prevails in Africa, Asia, and the Americas, with sporadic outbreaks reported elsewhere.
- Characterized by joint pain, muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue, and rash, chikungunya is often misdiagnosed due to similarities with dengue or Zika. Presently, symptomatic relief is the only recourse, with no cure available.
Vaccine Composition: Ixchiq Insights
- Administered as a single muscle injection, Ixchiq incorporates a live, weakened version of the chikungunya virus, potentially causing symptoms akin to the disease.
- Safety evaluations involved two North American clinical studies encompassing about 3,500 participants receiving the vaccine and 1,000 receiving a placebo.
- Common side effects included headache, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, fever, nausea, and injection site tenderness.
- Vaccine effectiveness was gauged through immune response data, showcasing promising results in protecting against the virus.
Significance of the Vaccine
- Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, emphasized the approval’s importance in addressing an unmet medical need, marking a pivotal step in preventing a debilitating disease with limited treatment options.
- The fast-track pathway inspired by COVID-19 research could expedite vaccine distribution, especially in regions where chikungunya prevails prominently, including Brazil, Paraguay, India, and parts of West Africa.
- In summary, the approval of the Chikungunya vaccine marks a significant stride in combating a global health threat, offering hope for enhanced prevention and potential relief for affected regions.
- The recent developments in electric batteries and electrochemical cells have become a focal point of attention due to their transformative impact on various sectors such as transportation and energy. These advancements are steering us towards a more sustainable future.
- Electric batteries are devices designed to store chemical energy and convert it into electricity. Comprising one or more electrochemical cells connected to external inputs and outputs, they have played a major role in motorization and wireless technology proliferation.
- Portable Electronics: Powering smartphones, laptops, tablets, and wearable devices.
- Transportation: Driving electric vehicles (EVs) for both personal and public transportation.
- Renewable Energy Storage: Storing energy generated by solar panels and wind turbines.
- Electricity for Remote Areas: Providing electricity in remote locations.
Types of Batteries:
- Solid-state Battery: Utilizing solid electrodes and electrolytes, commonly used in pacemakers and wearable devices.
- Nickel–Cadmium Battery (Ni-Cd): Found in cordless electronic appliances and small battery-operated devices.
- Alkaline Battery: Primary battery using zinc and manganese dioxide, suitable for low-cost applications.
- Lithium-ion Battery: Awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2019, versatile in powering portable devices and electric vehicles.
- Electrochemical cells convert chemical energy into electrical energy and vice versa. Operating through redox reactions, voltaic or galvanic cells consist of anode and cathode sections immersed in specific electrolytes, facilitating electron flow through an external circuit.
Components of a Cell:
- Anode and Cathode: Where oxidation and reduction occur, respectively.
- Wire and Salt Bridge: Facilitate electron and ion movement between the electrodes.
- Source Voltage: Dictated by the energy carried by electrons, ensuring an efficient power supply.
Advancements and Challenges:
- Advancements in cell design, seen in nickel-cadmium, zinc-copper, and lithium-ion cells, showcase increased voltages and efficiency. Challenges include corrosion, particularly in high humidity environments, and galvanic corrosion, impacting electrode longevity.
Evolutionary Trajectory of Batteries:
Galvani’s Experimentation (1780):
- Luigi Galvani’s experiment connecting metals and frog legs revealed the link between electrical energy and muscle movement, laying the foundation for future battery development.
Voltaic Pile (1800):
- Alessandro Volta’s voltaic pile generated a steady current using metal plates and electrolytes, marking a significant advancement in battery technology.
Faraday’s Insights (Early 19th Century):
- Michael Faraday’s work deciphered cell mechanisms, unveiling the roles of anode, cathode, and electrolyte, providing critical insights into battery functioning.
- The Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2019 was awarded for the development of lithium-ion batteries, capable of converting chemical energy into electrical energy and enabling rechargeability.
- The journey of electric batteries and electrochemical cells, from Galvani’s experiments to the groundbreaking lithium-ion technology, showcases a remarkable evolution.
- Despite challenges, these advancements hold the key to shaping a sustainable and energy-efficient future, with applications ranging from portable electronics to renewable energy storage and electric transportation.
Facts for prelims:
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) grouping is currently meeting in San Francisco, drawing attention to its significance and India’s interest in joining the forum.
- Established in 1989, APEC is a regional economic forum focusing on enhancing interdependence in the Asia-Pacific region and promoting prosperity through economic integration.
- APEC refers to its member countries as “economies” and operates on non-binding commitments and voluntary consensus.
- Members include major economies such as the United States, China, Japan, and others. Membership criteria emphasize economic independence rather than sovereign statehood.
Significance of APEC
- APEC has historically championed trade liberalization, lowering trade tariffs, and economic integration.
- It represents a substantial portion of global GDP (62%) and trade (nearly half). Since its inception, APEC has aimed to create a liberalized free trade area around the Pacific Rim.
Despite being an observer, India has expressed keen interest in full APEC membership since 1991.
- India sees APEC as a strategic platform, given its significant share of global trade and GDP. India’s aspiration to become a $5 trillion economy aligns with the potential investment opportunities offered by APEC’s capital surplus nations.
Nirbhay Cruise Missile
The Indian armed forces are set to integrate the Nirbhay long-range attack cruise missile into their arsenal, empowering them to target objectives beyond 1,000 kilometres.
About Nirbhay Cruise Missile:
- A long-range sub-sonic cruise missile.
- Marks India’s inaugural indigenously-produced cruise missile.
- Developed by the Bengaluru-based Aeronautical Development Establishment, a lab under India’s Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO).
- Engineered for deep penetration into adversary territories, ensuring precise strikes on high-value targets.
- Nirbhay’s dimensions include a length of 6.0 m, a body diameter of 0.5 m, and a launch weight ranging between 1,500-1,600 kg.
- Capable of hitting land targets at distances surpassing 1,000 kilometres.
- Utilizes a solid propellant booster motor ejected shortly after launch, transitioning to a turbojet engine.
- Exhibits versatility, cruising at Mach 0.7 (sub-sonic) at altitudes as low as 100 meters.
- Can accommodate a 200-300 kilogram warhead, supporting both conventional and nuclear payloads.
- Deployable from various platforms.
- Guided by INS/GPS with an active-radar terminal seeker.
The Nirbhay Cruise Missile stands as a testament to India’s technological prowess, offering a strategic advantage with its formidable capabilities.