DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 4th August 2023

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  • August 4, 2023
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Is Venice on UNESCO Heritage Danger List?


  • Prelims: International Relations


  • The Italian city of Venice should be added to a list of world heritage sites in danger, experts from UNESCO have stated in a new report.
  • More sites that are under recommendations:
    • Kyiv and Lviv in Ukraine
    • Historic centre of Odessa, Ukraine
    • The town of Timbuktu in Mali
    • Several sites in Syria, Iraq and Libya.

Urgent Need to Address long-standing problems in Venice

Venice has been grappling for years with too many tourists and the effects of climate change.

  • Mass tourism
  • Development projects: High-rise buildings can have a significant negative visual impact on the city and they should be built far from the city Centre.
  • Rising sea levels due to Climate change [Global Risks due to Climate Change] – The increase in the frequency and levels of high tides, in addition to the phenomenon of wave motion caused by motor boats, is one of the main causes of deterioration and damage to the building structures and urban areas.

These issues are causing

  • Deterioration and damage to building structures and urban areas
  • Degrading the cultural and social identity of the property
  • Threatening the integrity of its cultural, environmental and landscape attributes and values

A few instances that were noted

  • In February 2023, the city was in the grips of a drought such that Italian lakes and rivers had dried up.
  • In November 2019, historical treasures and buildings were endangered due to flooding.

Two years back, the decision to include in ‘Danger List’ was averted

Some emergency measures were adopted by the Italian government.

  • One of those measures was the decision to ban large ships like cruise ships from the San Marco Basin-Giudecca Canal, which is still being enforced.
  • The UNESCO panel recommended finding new options for docking large ships outside the lagoon.
  • Another recommendation: Launch an ambitious conservation plan for the city.

But the plan to save Venice was never implemented and has remained a mirage.

About Venice

The UNESCO World Heritage property comprises the city of Venice and its lagoon situated in the Veneto Region of Northeast Italy.

  • Founded in the 5th century AD and spread over 118 small islands, Venice became a major maritime power in the 10th century.
  • The whole city is an extraordinary architectural masterpiece in which even the smallest building contains works by some of the world’s greatest artists such as Giorgione, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese and others.
  • Venice is known as “La Serenissima”, which translates to “very serene” – but that nickname no longer fits.
  • On top of being given a nickname for its serenity, it is in turn known as “the city of love”, “la domitante” (the dominant), and the “queen of the Adriatic”.

SOURCE: Down to Earth

Indian Economy witnesses significant surge in Gross Fixed Capital Formation


  • Prelims: Indian Economy

In News: Gross Fixed Capital Formation (GFCF) in India, an essential measure of investment in the economy, has seen significant growth from ₹32.78 lakh crore in fiscal 2014-15 to ₹54.35 lakh crore in fiscal 2022-23 (provisional estimates).

The Government is

  • Implementing the ‘Scheme for Special Assistance to States for Capital Expenditure’ (2020-21 & 2021-22) and ‘Scheme for Special Assistance to States for Capital Investment’ (2022-23 & 2023-24).
  • Approved and released special assistance (loan) in the form of 50-year interest-free loan for capital expenditure on capital projects including capital projects pertaining to sectors like health, and education, irrigation, power. Etc., for capital expenditure for different States.

The Concept

Gross Fixed Capital Formation (GFCF) Refers to the net increase in physical assets (investment minus disposals).

  • Does not account for the consumption (depreciation) of fixed capital.
  • Not a measure of total investment, because only the value of net additions to fixed assets is measured, and all kinds of financial assets, as well as stocks of inventories and other operating costs are excluded.
  • Includes land improvements (fences, ditches, drains, and so on); plant, machinery, and equipment purchases; and the construction of roads, railways, and the like, including schools, offices, hospitals, private residential dwellings, and commercial and industrial buildings.

SOURCE: Livemint

Himalayan vulture bred in captivity for the first time in India


  • Prelims: Environment

In News: Researchers have recorded the first instance of captive breeding of the Himalayan vulture in India at the Assam State Zoo, Guwahati.

  • A daunting task: In nature, the species breeds in snow-clad mountains
  • Second such instance in the world, after France, where the species has been bred in captivity.

About Himalayan Vulture

  • Scientific Name: Gyps himalayensis
  • It is a rare and largest bird native to the Himalayas
  • Habitat:
    • It lives mainly in the higher regions of the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau at the elevation of above 1500 metres.
    • This species is distributed from western China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan, east through the Himalayan mountain range in India, Nepal and Bhutan, to central China and Mongolia.
  • Description:
    • This is a huge vulture and the adult is sandy brown with a pale, featherless head. When in flight, the bird has black primaries and a small-headed, squared-winged appearance.
    • Usually seen singly or in small groups; gathers in large flocks at a carcass
  • Conservation status:
    • The vulture is listed as “Near Threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)Red List of Threatened Species.
    • The species is covered by a Multi-species Action Plan (MsAP)for the conservation of African-Eurasian vultures and by national Action Plans in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Cambodia.
  • Threats:
    • The most serious potential threat to this species is thought to be mortality caused through ingestion of diclofenac and other vulture-toxic non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) widely used in livestock, particularly in South Asia.

Indian Vultures:

  • India is home to 9 species of Vulture: Oriental white-backed, Long-billed, Slender-billed, Himalayan, Red-headed, Egyptian, Bearded, Cinereous and the Eurasian Griffon.
    • Most of these 9 species face danger of extinction.
  • Vultures in India also foragemostly out of protected areas. They travel long distances every day while foraging for food.
    • However, Indian Vultures feed on livestock.
    • Due to this, a drastic crash in vulture populations is seen in India due to the use of diclofenacin veterinary treatment, mainly on cattle.
  • Wildlife Protection Act 1972:
    • Schedule-1: Bearded, Long-billed, Slender-billed, Oriental white-backed
    • Rest are protected under ‘Schedule IV’.
  • IUCN status:
    • Critically endangered: Oriental white-backed, Slender-billed, Long-billed, Red-headed
    • Endangered: Egyptian
    • Near threatened: Himalayan, Bearded, Cinereous
    • Least Concerned: Indian Griffon

What is the importance of Vultures?

  • They live in the tropics and subtropics.
  • Nature’s garbage collectors: Vultures are the scavengers who do the work of cleaning up, and keeping the ecosystem healthy.
    • Despite feeding on infected carcass, vultures do not get infected.
    • The acids in their stomach are potent enough to kill the pathogen.
    • Thus, the chain of infection is broken.
    • Therefore, vultures invisibly controls the spread of harmful pathogens causing deadly anthrax, cholera, foot and mouth disease, rabies etc.
  • They also prevent the contamination of water sources, especially in the wild.
    • When animals die near watering hole, there is an imminent danger of contamination resulting in a quick spread of infections and mass death.
    • But vultures devour the carcasses in totality thereby preventing a tragic mishap.


  • Population decline
  • Captive-breeding programs
  • Widespread use of drugs such as diclofenac
  • Rotting of carcasses formerly eaten by vultures causing collapse of animal disposal system
  • Diseases from rotting carcasses like rabies, anthrax.

Conservation Efforts in India:

  • Identification and removal of threats near the nesting and roosting sites, making food and water available to them is what needs to be done.
  • Understanding their habitat use and their behaviour.
  • Vulture Recovery Plan – banning the veterinary use of diclofenac, finding its substitute and set up conservation breeding centres for vultures.
  • Action Plan for Vulture Conservation 2020-2025
    • Ensure minimum use of Diclofenac
    • The Vulture Safe Zone programme is being implemented at eight different places
    • Four rescue centres at Pinjore (Haryana) , Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), Guwahati (Assam) and Hyderabad (Telangana)
    • First Vulture Conservation and Breeding Centre (VCBC) in India at Pinjore, Haryana
  • PIL filed in Delhi High Court about not banning nimesulide, aceclofenac and ketoprofen which are toxic to the vultures.
  • The Centre has formed a committee made up of members from the BNHS and Indian Veterinary Research Institute to formulate a release policy for vultures being bred at the centres.

SOURCE: The Hindu



  • Prelims: Science and Technology

In News: A new cryptocurrency project called WorldCoin, from OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, has claimed over 2 million sign-ups across the world around a week after its official launch.

  • OpenAI is the company behind the AI chatbot ChatGPT.
  • San Francisco and Berlin-based company Tools for Humanity is behind WorldCoin. Altman is its Co-Founder and Alex Blania is its Co-Founder and CEO.

What is WorldCoin?

Intended to be the world’s largest identity and financial public network, open to everyone regardless of their country, background or economic status

  • Aim: To provide a unique, verified identity for everyone and to enable universal access to the global economy.
  • How: By distributing a new digital token freely to billions of people, including those without a passport or legal identification
  • Three aspects to the project:
    • World ID or a digital identity for “proving an individual’s unique personhood,”
    • Worldcoin token (WLD) that is its cryptocurrency
    • World App that enables “payment, purchases and transfers globally using digital assets and traditional currencies.

What differentiates WorldCoin from many existing cryptocurrencies

Its use of biometrics.

  • WorldCoin wants to offer users an account that only “real humans” can get, through what it calls a “World ID”.
  • For this, a customer has to sign up and do an in-person eye scan at particular locations, where their irises would be scanned through a ball-like object called an ‘orb’.
  • Once the orb’s iris scan verifies the person is a real human, it creates a World ID for them.


Biometric data would help differentiate between humans and Artificial Intelligence systems and prevent duplication of IDs from the same person.

  • It can then be used as an ID in a variety of everyday applications – such as a cryptocurrency wallet – without revealing the user’s identity
  • Can help address how the economy will be reshaped by generative AI technology

What are the data collections and privacy concerns over WorldCoin?

  • Images collected by the Orb are “promptly deleted unless explicitly requested by the person signing up”.
  • It adds that in its place, a message containing a numerical representation of the most important features of the image captured remains, to create a unique individual code.

But this has not convinced certain regulators.

  • There are concerns over its large-scale processing of sensitive biometric data.
  • The legality of the project’s biometric data collection “seems questionable”.
  • Recommendation: Individuals signing up for it must ensure that they are duly informed about how their sensitive data could be used. There needs to be increased vigilance for compliance with its data-processing law.

SOURCE: Indian Express


Goods and Service Tax (GST)


  • Mains – GS 2 (Governance) and GS 3 (Economy)

Context: The 51st meeting of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council was recently held.

About Goods and Service Tax (GST):

  • Goods and Services Tax is an indirect tax used in India on the supply of goods and services.
  • It is a value-added tax levied on most goods and services sold for domestic consumption.
  • It was launched in India in 2017 as a comprehensive indirect tax for the entire country.
  • It is a comprehensive, multistage, destination-based tax-
  • Comprehensive because it has subsumed almost all the indirect taxes except a few state taxes.
  • It is paid by the consumers and is remitted to the government by the businesses selling the goods and services.
  • It is of three types:
    • CGST to be levied by the Centre,
    • SGST to be levied by the States and
    • IGST a tax levied on all Inter-State supplies of goods and/or services.
  • All these taxes are levied at rates mutually agreed upon by the Centre and the States.
  • Governance: The GST Council headed by the Union Finance Minister is the governing and key decision-making body for GST.

About GST Council:

  • The 101st Amendment Act of 2016 (122nd Amendment Bill), paved the way for the implementation of GST.
  • The GST Council is a joint forum of the Centre and the states under Article 279-A of the constitution.
  • Article 279-A. gives the President the authority to appoint a GST Council by executive order.
  • The members of the Council include the Union Finance Minister (chairperson), and the Union Minister of State (Finance) from various states.
  • As per Article 279, it is meant to “make recommendations to the Union and the states on important issues related to GST, like the goods and services that may be subjected or exempted from GST, model GST Laws”.
  • It also decides on various rate slabs of GST.
  • The GST Council in its 51st meeting recommended certain amendments in the CGST Act 2017 and IGST Act 2017, including amendment in Schedule III of CGST Act, 2017, to provide clarity on the taxation of supplies in casinos, horseracing and online gaming.
  • The Council also recommended inserting a specific provision in IGST Act, 2017 to provide for liability to pay GST on the supply of online money gaming by a supplier located outside India to a person in India, for single registration in India for the said supplier through a simplified registration scheme.

Significance of GST:

  • Automated tax ecosystem: It helped the country in transitioning to an automated indirect tax ecosystem.
    • From electronic compliances, generation of e-invoices to tracking movement of goods through e-waybill – everything is now online.
  • Better Compliance: GST helped in achieving better tax compliance by subsuming multiple taxation and reduction in taxation burden in the last four years.
  • E-invoice and More Revenue: The E-invoicing system helped reduce fake invoicing. Use of technology with online bill generation has resulted in smoother consignment movement and much fewer disputes with officials.
    • After the introduction of E-invoice, GST collections have risen steadily since November 2020, surpassing the Rs. 1 lakh crore mark on several occasions.
  • Logistical efficiency, production cost cut: Another major achievement of this regime is the fact that over 50% of logistics effort and time is saved since GST has ensured the removal of multiple checkpoints and permits at state border checkpoints.
  • Lesser transaction costs: After the introduction of GST, there has been a significant reduction in transaction costs.
    • This reduction has been a huge breakthrough in the interstate movement of products, allowing the country to boast of a single national unified market for businesses.
  • Cooperative Federalism: The customs portals are linked with the GST portal for credit availing on imports constitution of the GST Council and ensuring Centre-State partnership in the decision-making process.
    • It ensured cooperative federalism to be its major part.
  • Ease of doing business: India’s ease of doing business ranking has improved significantly in the last four years.
  • More Freedom: Since the GST rate is the same across the country for a particular supply, traders and manufacturers in the organised sectors have gained more freedom to choose the best vendors, suppliers, and other stakeholders with better pricing, regardless of their location.

Challenges of GST:

  • Refund delay issues: the Government has taken many steps to smoothen the process of export refunds, automatic processing of refunds has always been an area of major concern under GST.
  • Rate differentiation: This is an inefficient way of targeting benefits for the poor.
  • Lack of Dispute redressal mechanism: There is no statutory mechanism under the GST regime that could ensure uniformity in the rulings passed by the Authorities.
  • Constant amendments: Over the last few years, the GST law has seen many amendments.
    • During this time, all these revisions often confused the taxpayer and as well the tax administrators which created misunderstandings and misconceptions.
  • Adaption and Technical Issues: Small and medium businesses are still grappling to adapt to the tech-enabled regime.
    • The fundamental principles on which the GST law was built viz. seamless flow of input credits and ease of compliance has been impaired by IT glitches,
  • Complex Penalties: Many businesses are genuinely not able to monitor their vendor behaviour and feel that they should not be penalised for the tax compliance deficiencies of their vendors once they have paid the GST amounts to their vendors.
  • Other Concerns: Further, the 15th Finance Commission, in its report, has also highlighted several areas of concern in the GST regime relating to:
    • multiplicity of tax rates,
    • shortfall in GST collections vis-à-vis the forecast,
    • high volatility in GST collections,
    • inconsistency in filing of returns,
    • dependence of States on the compensation from Centre

Way Forward:

Therefore, streamlining of anti-profiteering measures and simplification of compliance procedures also needs to be revisited to ensure that the cost efficiency and reduction in prices envisaged under GST law finally reach the common man. To overcome the issues of dispute related to GST and increase efficiency in tax administration, there is a need for a robust dispute redressal mechanism.

Source: The Hindu

National Deep Tech Startup Policy


  • Mains – GS 3 (Science and Technology)

Context: Recently the draft National Deep Tech Start-up Policy (NDTSP) has been released for Public Consultation.

Key highlights of the NDTSP include:

  • Bolstering Research and Development: The policy seeks to support research and development activities in deep tech start-ups to foster innovation and technological advancements.
  • Financing Support: The policy aims to provide financing assistance to deep tech start-ups at critical stages, such as before they launch their products or ideas into the market.
  • Simplifying Intellectual Property Regime: The policy proposes to streamline the intellectual property regime for deep tech start-ups, making it easier for them to protect their innovations and inventions.
  • Easing Regulatory Requirements: The NDTSP suggests measures to ease regulatory burdens for deep tech start-ups, enabling them to navigate administrative processes more efficiently.
  • Promotion Measures: The policy suggests the creation of an Export Promotion Board to facilitate the entry of Indian deep tech start-ups into foreign markets and encourages the inclusion of provisions for market access in foreign trade agreements.
  • Attracting Global Talent: The policy includes resource-intensive approaches to attract international talent, providing networking opportunities and incentives for experts interested in contributing to India’s deep tech ecosystem.
  • Inter-Ministerial Deep Tech Committee: To address the different aspects of deep tech and its supply chains that fall under various ministries, the policy recommends the creation of an “Inter-Ministerial Deep Tech Committee” to review and coordinate the requirements for a thriving deep tech ecosystem.
  • International Engagement: The policy emphasizes the need for a coordinated and comprehensive approach to engaging with international partners and multilateral institutions to safeguard India’s interests in deep tech development and manufacturing.

About Deep Technology

  • Deep Technology refers to innovations founded on advanced scientific and technological breakthroughs. Due to their disruptive nature, they have the potential to solve India’s most pressing societal issues.
  • India’s deep tech Vision encompasses four key pillars: securing India’s economic future, progressing towards a knowledge-driven economy, bolstering national capability and sovereignty through the Atma Nirbhar Bharat imperative and encouraging ethical innovation.
  • Deep tech fields like Artificial Intelligence, advanced materials, block chain, biotechnology, robotics, drones, photonics, and quantum computing are moving more and more quickly from early research to market applications.

State of India’s Deep Tech Start-ups:

  • India had over 3,000 deep-tech start-ups, dabbling in new-age technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning (ML), Internet of Things, Big Data, quantum computing, robotics, etc., at the end of 2021.
  • According to the National Association of Software and Service Companies, deep-tech start-ups in India raised USD 2.7 billion in venture funding in 2021, and now account for over 12% of the country’s overall start-up ecosystem.
  • In the last decade India’s deep tech ecosystem has grown 53% and is at par with that in developed markets like the US, China, Israel, and Europe.
  • Bengaluru accounts for 25-30% of India’s deep-tech start-ups, followed by Delhi-NCR (15-20%) and Mumbai (10-12%).
  • Deep-tech start-ups are making their presence felt across sectors like drone delivery and cold chain management to climate action and clean energy.

Present challenges:

  • Scale and Time Challenge: To build actual business applications and transfer them from the lab to the market, it takes concerted R&D.
  • Marketing: Failure to collect adequate market intelligence, improper use of that information, and insufficient data on overseas markets are all marketing issues.
  • Lack of Capital: Because Deep Tech firms require more capital than ordinary tech start-ups, one of the most significant barriers to commercialization is funding.
    • Furthermore, because deep technology involves previously unknown mechanics and algorithms, investors are hesitant to support such early-stage systems because they lack the knowledge to assess the new technologies’ potential worth.
  • Cultural and Industrial Challenges: Biotech firms in Asia, for example, face numerous obstacles from the government because of stringent laws, as this technology raises issues about biosafety, food safety, and ethics.

Government Initiatives:

  • The Atal New India Challenge: It has been launched under the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) of the NITI Aayog, with an objective to serve as a platform for the promotion of Innovation Hubs, Grand Challenges, start-up businesses, and other self-employment activities, particularly in technology-driven areas.
  • NASSCOM’s Deep Tech Club (DTC) 2.0: This scheme is aimed at scaling the impact to over 1,000 firms that are leveraging technologies such as AI, ML, Internet of Things, robotics, and block chain.

Way Forward:

Thus, the policy complements and adds value to the existing Start-up India policies, programmes and initiatives, by fostering a conducive ecosystem for deep tech start-ups to thrive and address their unique and complex challenges. The need of the hour is a coordinated, comprehensive push to optimally engage with international partners and multilateral institutions to push the Indian Deep Tech Ecosystem.

Source:  The Hindu

Mains Practice Questions

Q.1) Explain the rationale behind the Goods and Services Tax (Compensation to States) Act of 2017. How has COVID-19 impacted the GST compensation fund and created new federal tensions? (250 words)

Q.2) Discuss the significance of Deep Tech Ecosystem for India that can drive growth and deliver sustainable solutions across the country. (250 words)

Comment the answers to the above questions in the comment section below!!

ANSWERS FOR 3rd August – Daily Practice MCQs

Answers- Daily Practice MCQs

Q.1) – a

Q.2) – b

Q.3) – b

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