Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 11 September 2023

India-Middle East-Europe mega economic corridor

GS Paper - 2 (International Relations)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the launch of the India-Middle East-Europe mega economic corridor. The project includes India, the UAESaudi Arabiathe European UnionFranceItalyGermany and the US.

What is the project?

  • The rail and shipping corridor is part of the Partnership for Global Infrastructure Investment (PGII) — a collaborative effort by G7 nations to fund infrastructure projects in developing nations. PGII is considered to be the bloc’s counter to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
  • The project will aim to enable greater trade among the involved countries, including energy products.
  • It could also be one of the more ambitious counters to China’s massive infrastructure program, through which it has sought to connect more of the world to that country’s economy, AP said.
  • The corridor will include a rail link as well as an electricity cable, a hydrogen pipeline and a high-speed data cable, according to a document prepared by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
  • The document also called the project “a green and digital bridge across continents and civilizations.”

Why is the project being proposed?

  • First, it would increase prosperity among the countries involved through an increased flow of energy and digital communications.
  • Second, the project would help deal with the lack of infrastructure needed for growth in lower- and middle-income nations.
  • Third, it could help “turn the temperature down” on “turbulence and insecurity” coming out of the Middle East

 National Strategy for Robotics

GS Paper - 3 (Emerging technology)

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has invited public comments as well as inputs from stakeholders on the draft "National Strategy for Robotics" (NSR). The strategy is aimed at "strengthening all pillars in the innovation cycle of robotic technology, while also providing a robust institutional framework for ensuring the effective implementation of these interventions. Presently, in terms of annual industrial installations, India ranks 10th globally as per the World Robotics Report, 2022.

What's in the draft?

  • The draft NSR proposes a policy framework for the implementation of robotics in various sectors, with the aim of making India a global robotics leader by 2030.
  • It also builds upon the mandates of the Make in India 2.0 plans, which identify robotics as one of the 27 sub-sectors to further enhance India's integration in the global value chain.
  • The draft has so far identified manufacturingagriculturehealthcare, and national security as the four core sectors to prioritise robotics automation.
  • According to the current draft, MeitY will serve as the nodal agency for robotics, with a two-tier institutional framework to facilitate the implementation of the NSR.
  • The implementation will be directly undertaken under MeitY's 'National Robotics Mission' or the NRM.
  • The draft also proposes fiscal and non-fiscal interventions by the NRM, for upscaling innovation in robotics.
  • These interventions will be specifically aimed at developing funding mechanisms for robotics start-ups as well as promoting exports.

Major recommendations of the draft NFR

  • First and foremost, the NFR has recommended the creation of a robust regulatory framework, led by the Robotics Innovation Unit (RIU), an independent agency that will function under MeitY as a part of India AI.
  • The NFR also proposes the implementation of Centres of Excellence (CoEs) in Robotics.
  • The CoEs will be categorised under foundational and applied research. The NFR suggests that for application-based research, CoEs should enlist private sector intervention in priority sectors to help with experimental prototyping, as well as small-volume production for the initial phase of commercialisation.
  • The current draft also lays out clear plans for providing advisory support to start-ups, harnessing the research potential of higher education institutes, and the development of robotics industrial zones.

Why is the NFR needed?

  • Besides the aim of integrating robotics into the identified sectors, the draft also points out that "there is a general lack of adoption and growth of the robotics ecosystem in India."
  • The primary challenges are high import dependencecostly hardware components, and insufficient investments in research and development.
  • Robots consist of numerous complex and minute parts that need precise knowledge and skills for assembling.
  • The current state adoption of robotics in the country is "too ambitious, keeping in mind the lack of skilled resources, technical expertise impeding the growth of the robotics ecosystem in the country.

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