Topic 1: India and Shanghai Co-operation Organization (SCO)
Context: India will host the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in the virtual format in July.
- The last SCO summit took place in the Uzbek city of Samarkand that was attended by all top leaders of the grouping ie Modi, Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin.
- India had assumed the rotating chairmanship of the SCO at the Samarkand Summit on September 2022.
- India will host the summit in Virtual format and it did not cite reasons for holding the summit in the virtual mode.
- All the SCO member states ie China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have been invited to attend the summit.
- Besides Iran, Belarus and Mongolia have been invited as observer states. As per SCO tradition, Turkmenistan has been invited as the guest of the chair.
- Six international and regional organizations that have been invited to the summit:
- The United Nations
- CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States),
- CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization),
- EAEU (Eurasian Economic Union)
- CICA (Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia).
Topic 2: The Foucault’s Pendulum
Context: The Foucault’s Pendulum has been installed hanging from a skylight at the top of the Constitution Hall in the newly inaugurated Parliament.
- The Pendulum signifies the “integration of the idea of India with the idea of the cosmos”.
- Created by the National Council of Science Museum (NCSM) in Kolkata, the pendulum is the largest such piece in India (22 metre in height, 36 kg in weight).
- At the latitude of the Parliament, it takes 49 hours, 59 minutes, and 18 seconds for the pendulum to complete one rotation.
- The first such pendulum was installed in 1991 at the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) in Pune.
- Article 51A of the Constitution enshrines every citizen “to develop the scientific temper, humanism, and the spirit of inquiry and reform”
- The experiments like Foucault’s pendulum represent the spirit of scientific inquiry and scientific temper.
Source: The Indian Express
Topic 3: India’s Growth momentum to sustain in FY24.
Context: According to Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Annual Report 2022-23, India’s growth momentum is likely to be sustained in 2023-24.
Highlights of the RBI annual Report:
- According to RBI, in the atmosphere of easing inflationary pressures, Indian economy will be supported by:
- Sound macroeconomic policies
- Softer commodity prices
- A robust financial sector
- Continued fiscal policy thrust on quality of government expenditure
- New growth opportunities stemming from global realignment of supply chains.
- However RBI also cautioned that slowing global growth, protracted geopolitical tensions and a possible upsurge in financial market volatility could pose downside risks to growth.
- Therefore for India it becomes important to sustain structural reforms to improve India’s medium-term growth potential.
- The central bank emphasised that domestic economic activity does face challenges from an uninspiring global outlook.
- However the resilient domestic macroeconomic and financial conditions, expected dividends from past reforms and new growth opportunities from global geo-economic shifts place India in an advantageous position.
- The risks to inflation have moderated with downward corrections in global commodity and food prices and easing of the pass-through from high input cost pressures of last year.
- The cumulative increase in policy repo rate by 250 bps last year would steer the disinflationary process, along with supply side measures to address transient demand-supply mismatch due to food and energy shocks.
- With a stable exchange rate and a normal monsoon (unless an El Nino event strikes), the inflation trajectory is expected to move down over 2023-24, with headline inflation edging down to 5.2% from the average level of 6.7% recorded last year.
- Monetary policy remains focused on withdrawal of accommodation to ensure that inflation progressively aligns with the target, while supporting growth.
- The realignment of global supply chains, transition to green energy and ongoing technological advancements provide a congenial environment for a pick-up in investment activity and raising productivity.
- Robust balance sheets of corporates and banks, coupled with high capacity utilisation, would aid in strengthening the momentum in private investment.
- Robust agriculture production buoyed by expectation of a bountiful rabi harvest and resilience in allied sector activity are also brightening the outlook for rural demand.
- Traction in construction activity is likely to be sustained as reflected in steady expansion in its proximate indicators: steel consumption and cement production.
- Port cargo traffic and railway freight traffic movements also point to industrial activity picking up amidst gradual easing of input cost pressures.
- Amidst strong global headwinds, the Indian economy is expected to have recorded a growth of 7.0% in real GDP in 2022-23.
- Agriculture and allied activities were resilient in 2022-23, with gross value added (GVA) registering a growth of 3.3%.
- In the industrial sector, manufacturing activity withstood global spillovers, while electricity generation exhibited robust growth, and mining recorded steady activity.
- Sustained momentum was seen in construction activity, while infrastructure and capital goods production benefitted from the government-led investment in infrastructure.
Source: The Hindu
Topic 4: petaFLOP supercomputers
Context: India will unveil 18 new petaFLOP supercomputers for weather forecasting in 2023.
- Presently India gives forecasts with a 12-kilometre resolution. The new supercomputer will improve it to six-kilometre resolution.
- The ministry of Earth Sciences aims to achieve one-kilometre resolution forecasts.
- The new supercomputer is expected to improve weather forecasts at the block level.
- It will help weather scientists give higher resolution ranges of the forecast, predict cyclones with more accuracy and better lead time.
- Lead time is the difference between a phenomenon being forecast and actually occurring.
How many FLOPs can a computer achieve?
- Modern computing systems, such as CPUs (Central Processing Units) and GPUs (Graphics Processing Units), are designed to perform multiple operations simultaneously, using parallel processing techniques.
- The parallelism significantly increases the number of FLOPs a system can achieve within a given time frame.
- Over the years, hardware has become more efficient, exponentially increasing computing power.
- In 2008, a supercomputer was able to break what was then called “the petaFLOPS barrier,” when the IBM Roadrunner shocked the world with an astounding peak performance of 1.105 petaFLOPS.
- Currently, the world’s fastest computer in terms of PFLOPs is the Hewlett Packard Enterprise Frontier, or OLCF-5 with the capability to touch a peak performance of 1,685.65.
Are FLOPs the only metric to judge a computer’s performance?
- FLOPs is not the only factor determining the performance of a computing system.
- Memory bandwidth, latency, and other architectural features also play significant roles.
- However, FLOPs provide a valuable baseline for comparing the computational capabilities of different systems.
Is India already using petaFLOPs computers for weather forecasting?
- ‘Mihir’, a 2.8 petaflop supercomputer and ‘Pratyush’, a 4.0 petaflop supercomputer were launched in 2018.
- They will be decommissioned once the new supercomputer is unveiled.
- While NCMRWF will be allocated eight PFLOPs computing power, the remaining 10 PFLOPs will go to IITM.
Source: Indian Express
Topic 5: Government plans to reduce import tax on solar panel
- India is considering cutting its import tax on solar panels by half and is seeking a rollback in goods and services taxes on the devices.
- The decision is aimed to make up for the shortfall in local output amid rising demand for renewable energy.
- Government plans to cut the import tax on solar panels from 40% to 20%.
- Besides the government has decided to lower the GST on solar panels to 5% from the 12% imposed in 2021.
- The change will come as a boost for solar power giants such as Tata Power, Adani Green and Vikram Solar which won solar power supply contracts.
- India imposed the 40% solar panel imports tax in April 2022 and a 25% tax on solar cells to discourage Chinese imports.
- This is in line with the Prime Ministers plan to become self-reliant and cut emissions by scaling up renewable energy generation.
- The proposal comes as the government looks at achieving a target of 365 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar capacity by 2031-32, part of a green energy push that extends from promoting electric cars to sustainable aviation fuel.
- India’s current annual solar panels manufacturing capacity is 32 GW per annum but the requirement is 52 GW.
- According to government data, India imported $3 billion worth of solar panels in 2021-22, 92% of which came from China.
- The tax cuts could potentially lower the cost of imported panels by a fifth, bringing them closer to the prices of domestically made modules.
Source: Live Mint