DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 12th September 2023

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  • September 12, 2023
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Phanigiri artifacts


  • Prelims –ART AND CULTURE

Context: The Phanigiri artifacts, belonging to 200 BCE-400 CE were put on display at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.


  • The Phanigiri artifacts would be displayed in the art collection of the Tree and Serpent exhibition, which began at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art (popularly known as The Met) in July 2023.
  • The exhibition has 125 objects between 200 BCE and 400 CE.
  • The exhibition at The Met is on till November 13, 2023.

About the Phanigiri artifacts:-

  • Discovered: 1942.
  • Rediscovered: 2003.
  • Location: Phanigiri,
  • Phanigiri in Suryapet district is a small village of about 4,000 residents, about 150 km from Hyderabad.
  • The Phanigiri Buddhist site is considered one of the most important finds in Buddhist iconography in this millennium. (Buddhist monastery complex at Bharatpur of Bengal)
  • Phanigiri means the hillock of snake hood.

Key Findings and their Significance:-

  • The thoranas discovered at Phanigiri are very important as they are among the first found south of Sanchi.
    • The same thorana has a panel that shows both the Mahayana and Hinayana school of thought.
    • This shows that despite philosophical differences, both sects co-existed in Phanigiri.
  • There is evidence from Phanigiri that shows the deification of Buddha. (The Buddhist Circuit)
  • The change from a historical and spiritual identity and a transition to canonization and ritual is evident in Phanigiri.
  • The artifacts from this site, include a limestone carving of Buddha wearing what appears to be a Roman toga.

MUST READ: Buddhist caves, temples in Madhya Pradesh’s Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve



Q.1) In which one of the following regions was Dhanyakataka, which flourished as a prominent Buddhist centre under

the Mahasanghikas, located? (2023)

  1. Andhra
  2. Gandhara
  3. Kalinga
  4. Magadha

Q.2) With reference to ancient India, consider the following statements: (2023)

  1. The concept of Stupa is Buddhist in origin.
  2. The stupa was generally a repository of relics.
  3. The stupa was a votive and commemorative structure in Buddhist tradition.

How many of the statements given above are correct?

  1. Only one
  2. Only two
  3. All three
  4. None

Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC)


  • Prelims –Economy

Context: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is working with lenders to introduce new features to popularise the central bank digital currency (CBDC), in recent times.

About Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC):-

  • CBDC is fiat money or money established/backed by a government through its central bank in a virtual form.
  • It is a legal tender issued by a central bank in a digital form.
  • It combines the power of blockchain with the logistics of distributed ledger technology (DLT), where data can be synchronized across multiple locations without the need for centralized storage.

Salient Features:-

  • CBDC is a high-security digital instrument.
  • It is a means of payment, a unit of account, and a store of value.
  • Just like paper currency, each unit is uniquely identifiable to prevent counterfeiting.
  • It is a liability of the central bank just as physical currency is.
  • It’s a digital bearer instrument that can be stored, transferred, and transmitted by all kinds of digital payment systems and services.


  • CBDC is a faster system.
  • Financial inclusion
  • Improve Monetary policy facilitation.
  • It can become a regional currency for cross-border transactions.




Q.1) With reference to Central Bank digital currencies, consider the following statements: (2023)

  1. It is possible to make payments in a digital currency without using the US dollar or the SWIFT system.
  2. A digital currency can be distributed with a condition programmed into it such as a timeframe for spending it.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.2) In the context of finance, the term ‘beta’ refers to: (2023)

  1. the process of simultaneous buying and selling of an asset from different platforms.
  2. an investment strategy of a portfolio manager to balance risk versus reward
  3. a type of systemic risk that arises where perfect hedging is not possible
  4. a numeric value that measures the fluctuations of a stock to changes in the overall stock market.

Marine pollution



Context: Small island nations seek for protection from Marine /ocean pollution, and climate change in the United Nations recently.


  • Small island nations that have been disproportionately harmed by the climate crisis will go up against high-emitting nations
  • A landmark climate justice case started its hearing in the United Nations maritime tribunal in Hamburg, Germany, on September 11, 2023.

About Marine pollution:-

  • Marine pollution can be defined as the contamination of marine water, mainly big seas and oceans with pollutants and contaminants like industrial effluents, oil spills from huge vessels, chemical displacements, chemical spills, sewage, etc.


  • Sewage: Sewage or polluting substances flow through sewage, rivers, or drainages directly into the ocean.
  • Industries: Industrial waste which is directly discharged into the oceans, results in ocean pollution.
    • The runoff from industries raises the temperature of the ocean and causes thermal pollution due to which aquatic animals and plants have difficulty surviving at higher temperatures.
  • Land Runoff: Land-based sources (such as agricultural run-off, discharge of nutrients and pesticides, and untreated sewage including plastics) account for approximately 80% of marine pollution.
  • Oil Spills: Crude oil lasts for years in the sea and is extremely toxic to marine life, it suffocates the marine animals to death.
  • Ocean Mining: Ocean mining sites drilling for silver, gold, copper, cobalt, and zinc create sulfide deposits up to three and a half thousand meters down into the ocean.

Harmful Effects of Marine Pollution:-

  • Reduction of oxygen level in the water: Most of the waste dumped in oceans uses up oxygen to decompose thereby decreasing the oxygen level in the water.
  • Affects the oceanic food chain: Agricultural & and industrial waste enters the seawater and affects organisms.
  • Upset the coral reef cycle.
  • Oil spills that cover the surface of seawater do not allow sunlight to reach oceanic plants

Prevention of Marine Pollution:-

  • Puttin a stop using plastic-made material.
  • Cleaning the sea beaches.
  • The usage of organic farming techniques instead of using chemical pesticides and fertilizers by farmers.

 Global Initiatives:-

  • The Global Programme of Action (GPA) for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities: It is the only global intergovernmental mechanism directly addressing the connectivity between terrestrial, freshwater, coastal, and marine ecosystems. (Conserving Marine Resources)
  • MARPOL convention (1973): It covers pollution of the marine environment by ships from operational or accidental causes.
  • The London Convention (1972): It promotes the effective control of all sources of marine pollution and takes all practicable steps to prevent pollution of the sea by dumping wastes and other matter.

MUST READ: Global Treaty on Pollution



Q.1) With reference to the role of biofilters in Recirculating Aquaculture Systems, consider the following statements : (2023)

  1. Biofilters provide waste treatment by removing uneaten fish feed.
  2. Biofilters convert ammonia present in fish waste to nitrate.
  3. Biofilters increase phosphorus as a nutrient for fish in water.

How many of the statements given above are correct?

  1. Only one
  2. Only two
  3. All three
  4. None

Q.2) “R2 Code of Practices” constitutes a tool available for promoting the adoption of (2021)

  1. Environmentally responsible practices in the electronics recycling industry
  2. Ecological management of ‘’Wetlands of International Importance” under the Ramsar Convention
  3. Sustainable practices in the cultivation of agricultural crops in degraded lands
  4. ‘’Environmental Impact Assessment’’ in the exploitation of natural resources

Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS)


  • Prelims –Economy

Context: The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) recently, reached 2.4 lakh Gram Panchayats to create awareness and promote compliance with Indian standards.


  • The initiative aims to enhance the overall quality and safety of government programs and schemes implemented at the village level.

About the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS):-

  • Establishment: 1986.
  • Ministry: Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution.
  • HQ: New Delhi.
  • The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) was established under the BIS Act, 1986 for the harmonious development of the activities of standardization, marking, and quality certification of goods and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
  • Objectives: harmonious development of the activities of standardization, marking, and quality certification of goods and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
  • BIS is the National Standard Body of India.

Historical Background:-

  • It was formerly the Indian Standards Institution (ISI), set up under the Resolution of the Department of Industries and Supplies in 1946.
  • The ISI was registered under the Societies Registration Act, of 1860.
  • A new Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 2016 which was notified on 22nd March 2016, has been brought into force with effect from 12 October 2017.
  • It reinforces the activities of BIS with respect to standardization and certification of goods, articles, processes, systems, and services.


  • President, Ex-officio: Hon’ble Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Government of India.
  • Vice President, Ex-officio: Hon’ble Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Government of India.


BIS is involved in various activities as given below:-

  • Standards Formulation
  • Product Certification Scheme
  • Compulsory Registration Scheme
  • Foreign Manufacturers Certification Scheme
  • Hall Marking Scheme
  • Laboratory Services
  • Laboratory Recognition Scheme
  • Sale of Indian Standards
  • Consumer Affairs Activities
  • Promotional Activities
  • Training Services, National and international level
  • Information Services

MUST READ: Bureau of Indian Standards(BIS) and Hallmark



Q.1) With reference to Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMS), which of the following statements is/are correct? (2020)

  1. Quantitative restrictions on imports by foreign investors are prohibited.
  2. They apply to investment measures related to trade in both goods and services.
  3. They are not concerned with the regulation of foreign investment.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3

Q.2) Consider the following statements: (2017)

  1. The Standard Mark of the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is mandatory for automotive tyres and tubes.
  2. AGMARK is a quality Certification Mark issued by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Ban on Indica white rice exports by India


  • Prelims – Economy

Context: As per recent reports of the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations), global rice prices hit a 15-year high after a ban on Indica white rice exports by India.

About the ban on Indica white rice exports by India:-

  • The Indian government has prohibited the export of white rice and levied a 20% export duty on par-boiled rice till October 15, 2023.
  • India has implemented these restrictions on non-basmati white rice exports to ensure sufficient availability in the domestic market at reasonable prices.
  • The export ban is also intended to:-
    • Support the ethanol-blending program
    • Reduce costly oil imports
    • Benefit the animal husbandry and poultry sectors by lowering animal feed costs.
  • India is the second-largest producer of rice in the world, after China.
  • India has become the largest rice exporter globally, accounting for nearly 40% of global rice exports in 2022/23.
  • Non-basmati white rice constitutes approximately 25% of the total rice exported from the country.

Impact of the ban:-

  • IMF predicts a potential rise of 10-15% this year in international rice prices.
  • Countries in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, which heavily rely on India as a major supplier of rice, may face vulnerability due to potential disruptions in the rice market.

 Rice production estimate in the country:-

  • As per the latest Advanced Estimate from the Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, rice production during the Rabi season of 2022-2023 witnessed a decrease of 13.8%.
  • Kharif sowing data, indicates that rice has been cultivated on 384.05 lakh hectares up to August 25 this year, in contrast to the 367.83 lakh hectares during the same period last year.
  • However, in certain states like Tamil Nadu, some farmers anticipate delayed planting due to insufficient rainfall from the southwest monsoon.

MUST READ: Basmati Rice



Q.1) Consider the following statements: (2023)

  1. The Government of India provides Minimum Support Price for niger( Guizotia aoyssinica) seeds.
  2. Niger is cultivated as a Kharif crop.
  3. Some tribal people in India use niger seed oil for cooking.

How many of the above statements are correct?

  1. Only one
  2. Only two
  3. All three
  4. None

Q.2) Which one of the following countries has been suffering from decades of civil strife and food shortages and was in the news in the recent past for its very severe famine? (2023)

  1. Angola
  2. Costa Rica
  3. Ecuador
  4. Somalia

Achanakmar Tiger Reserve


  • Prelims –Environment and Ecology

Context: Recently, the officials in  Achanakmar Tiger Reserve have been trying to recover big cat numbers.


  • A recent NTCA report found Chhattisgarh had only 17 tigers compared to 46 in 2014.
  • Tracking teams inside Achanakmar Tiger Reserve in Chhattisgarh are undertaking a grueling task — keeping tabs on a tigress released in April 2023 to augment the reserve’s falling population of the big cat.

About Achanakmar Tiger Reserve:-

  • Location: Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh. (Indravati Tiger Reserve)
  • Area: approximately 553.286 sq. Km.
  • It is a part of the huge Achanakmar-Amarkantak Biosphere Reserve.
  • Mountain Ranges: Maikal mountain range
  • Water bodies: Maniyari River.

Historical Timeline:-

  • Wildlife Sanctuary: In 1975, Achanakmar Wildlife Sanctuary was established, under the provisions of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.
  • Biosphere Reserve: In 2005, the Achanakmar-Amarkantak Biosphere Reserve was created by the Government of India.
  • Tiger Reserve Status: It was declared a tiger reserve in 2009.
  • UNESCO Biosphere Reserve: Achanakmar-Amarkantak Biosphere Reserve was recognized by UNESCO in 2012 for its biological diversity and cultural significance.


  • It has a corridor connecting Kanha and Bandhavgarh Tiger reserves and plays a critical role in the dispersal of tigers among these reserves.
  • Vegetation: Tropical deciduous forest.
  • Flora: Sal, bija, saja, haldu, teak, tinsa, dhawara, lendia, khamar ,bamboo etc.
  • Fauna: Wild fauna includes the tiger, leopard, bison, flying squirrel, Indian giant squirrel, chinkara, wild dog, hyena, sambar, etc.

MUST READ: Global Conservation Assured|Tiger Standards (CA|TS)



Q.1) Consider the following ‘fauna: (2023)

  1. Lion-tailed Macaque
  2. Malabar Civet
  3. Sambar Deer

How many of the above are generally nocturnal or most active after sunset?

  1. Only one
  2. Only two
  3. All three
  4. None

Q.2) Consider the following statements regarding the Indian squirrels: (2023)

  1. They build nests by making burrows in the ground.
  2. They store their food materials like nuts and seeds in the ground.
  3. They are omnivorous.

How many of the above statements are correct?

  1. Only one
  2. Only two
  3. All three
  4. None


Bihar government’s caste-based survey


  • Mains – GS 2 (Governance)

Context: Recently in its reply to the Supreme Court on the Bihar government’s caste-based survey, the Union government recently said only the Centre is entitled to conduct a census.

About Caste Census:

  • The Socio-Economic and Caste Census 2011 (SECC) was conducted for the 2011 Census of India.
  • The SECC 2011 was conducted in all states and union territories of India.
  • SECC 2011 was the first paperless census in India conducted on hand-held electronic devices by the government in 640 districts.
  • SECC 2011 was the first caste-based census since the 1931 Census of India.
  • SECC 2011 was not conducted under the 1948 Census of India Act, which made information disclosure voluntary for citizens, and not a mandatory disclosure.
  • Caste Census is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Home Affairs: Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India.

About Census in India:

  • Census in India was started in 1872 under British Viceroy Lord Mayo,
    • However, the first complete census was taken in 1881 under Lord Ripon.
  • Since 1881, the Census has been undertaken every 10 years.
  • It is conducted by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • All the censuses since 1951 were conducted under the 1948 Census of India Act.

Significance of Caste Census:

  • Steps towards equality: It would help to point out those castes that are not represented in the institutions of this country so that steps towards equality can be established.
    • It would justify the extension of reservations to various communities.
  • Usage of last census data: last caste census was in 1931 and the government still uses this as a basis to estimate demography and different caste groups.
    • There have been significant changes in the demography of this country.
  • Data unavailability: The Rohini Commission too, faced difficulties due to the unavailability of data on various communities classified under OBCs.
    • The Commission was set up to examine the issue of sub-categorisation of OBCs.
  • Effective service delivery: A fresh estimate of the population is necessary to ensure more effective delivery of targeted welfare.
  • State actions on caste data collection: Karnataka, Odisha and Telangana had carried out similar counts in the name of “socio-economic surveys”.
  • Popular demand: Along with Bihar, other states like Jharkhand and Odisha are also reiterating their support for the caste census.

Criticisms associated with it:

  • Way for caste divisions: The 21st century India should be discussing ‘let’s do away with caste’ rather than further divide India on those lines.
    • It may “rekindle divisive feelings among people.
  • A colonial practice: Every Census until 1931 had data on caste. So it was a colonial practice of divide and rule which drove them toward collecting such data.
    • Every Census in independent India from 1951 to 2011 has published data on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, but not on other castes.
  • Demand for reservations: Reservations that were implemented for 10 years have continued for 75 years and a caste-based census may lead to a demand for more.
  • Constitutional Mandate: Unlike in the case of the SCs and the STs, there is no constitutional mandate for the Registrar-General and Census Commissioner of India, to provide the census figures of the OBCs and the BCCs.
  • Feasibility of the count: Union government contended that such an exercise was not feasible given that there are too many castes and sub-castes in each state and Union territory making it difficult to classify them.
    • People use their clan/gotra, sub-caste and caste names interchangeably.
    • The government has cited numerous administrative, operational and logistical reasons.
    • Census data enumerators are part-timers with 6-7 days of training and are “not an investigator or verifier”
    • There is a fear that such counting could endanger the census exercise itself.
  • Political agenda: At a deeper level there are politics involved in the matter.
    • Bihar’s politics has been dominated by the Other Backward Castes (OBCs), the numerically powerful social group.

Way Forward:

The need for a caste census can be seen in the vast income disparity in the country. For instance the 2020 Oxfam report states that the top 10% of India’s population owns 74.3 % of the total wealth; the middle 40% owns 22.9%;  and the bottom 50% owns a shocking 2.8 %. This indicates unequal distribution of wealth demands a greater understanding of Indian society.

The SECC will help to move to the principle of ‘program-specific indicators for program-specific entitlements’. Recognizing many dimensions of poverty and tackling them with different programs, in multiple fields like health, education, sanitation, and mid-day meal can be universal; others like affordable housing and disability can be targeted.

Source:    Indian Express

Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG)


  • Mains – GS 2 (Polity and Governance)

Context: The CAG has criticised the Arunachal Pradesh government for “several deficiencies” while implementing the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) yojana in the northeastern State.

About Comptroller and Auditor General(CAG):

  • The Constitution of India provides for an independent office of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).
  • He/she is the head of the Indian Audit and Accounts Department and is the guardian of the public purse at the Centre and the States.
  • He shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal.
  • It is his/her duty to uphold the Constitution of India and the laws of Parliament in the field of financial administration.
  • The Constitution of India, under Article 148, provides for an independent office of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).
  • He is one of the bulwarks of India’s democratic system of government.

Powers and functions of CAG:


  • Expenditure Audits: CAG audits the accounts related to all expenditures from the Consolidated Fund, Contingency Fund and the Public Account of India, each state and union territory having a Legislative Assembly.
  • Special Audits: It also audits receipts, stock accounts and others, with the approval of the President or when required by the President.
  • Government Transactions: It audits all transactions of the Central and state governments related to debt, sinking funds, deposits, advances, suspense accounts and remittance business.
  • Financial Oversight: CAG audits the receipts and expenditures of the following: All bodies and authorities substantially financed from the Central or state revenues; Government companies; and other corporations and bodies when so required by related laws.
  • Authority Audits: It audits the accounts of any other authority if requested by the President or Governor, for example – the audit of local bodies.
  • Accounting Guidance: It advises the President about the prescription of the form to keep the accounts of the Centre and the states.
  • Parliament’s Agent: It is an agent of the Parliament and conducts an audit of expenditure.


  • The CAG plays a vital role in ensuring transparency, accountability and good governance in India.
  • The CAG’s reports provide valuable insights into the financial performance, compliance, efficiency and effectiveness of various government programs and activities.
  • The CAG’s reports also highlight the gaps, weaknesses and irregularities in the public financial management system and suggest corrective measures for improvement.
  • The CAG’s reports serve as a basis for parliamentary oversight and public debate on various issues related to public finance.

Challenges faced by CAG:

  • Limited scope of audit: There are many public-private partnerships, autonomous bodies, trusts, societies, etc. that are involved in delivering public services or utilizing public resources, but are outside the purview of the CAG.
  • Lack of follow-up action: There is no mechanism to ensure that the audited entities take corrective action on the audit observations and recommendations.
  • Lack of timely submission of audit reports due to various reasons, such as non-cooperation from the audited entities, procedural hurdles, political interference, etc.
    • This affects the timeliness and relevance of the audit findings and recommendations.
  • Secret service expenditure is outside the purview of the CAG and he cannot call for particulars of expenditure incurred by the executive agencies.
    • But has to accept a certificate from the competent administrative authority that the expenditure has been so incurred.

Way Forward:

Despite the severest limitations, the CAG still creditably survives in the defence of accountability, a knight in shining armour amidst the overwhelming rot. The office is a unique combination of knowledge, integrity, commitment and fearlessness. Some of the notable examples are the 2G spectrum scam, the coal block allocation scam, the Commonwealth Games scam etc. The CAG audit reports enable the Parliament to hold the executive accountable in financial administration.

Source:   The Hindu

Practice MCQs

Daily Practice MCQs

Q1) Consider the following pairs:

Tiger Reserve Location
1.Sariska Tiger Reserve Madhya Pradesh
2.Kali Tiger Reserve Kerala
3.Pakke Tiger Reserve Arunachal Pradesh

How many of the above pairs are correctly matched?

  1. Only one
  2. Only two
  3. All three
  4. None

Q2) Consider the following statements


Marine pollution can be prevented by avoiding the use of microplastics.


Ocean mining is a source of marine pollution.

Which one of the following is correct in respect of the above statements?

  1. Both Statement-I and Statement-II are correct and Statement-II is the correct explanation for Statement-I
  2. Both Statement-I and Statement-II are correct and Statement-II is not the correct explanation for Statement-I
  3. Statement-I is correct but Statement II is incorrect
  4. Statement-I is incorrect but Statement II is correct

Q3) With reference to the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), consider the following statements:

  1. It is a faster system.
  2. It aids financial inclusion
  3. It can Improve Monetary policy facilitation.

How many of the statements given above are correct?

  1. Only one
  2. Only two
  3. All three
  4. None

Mains Practice Questions

Q.1) What is the significance of Caste census. Critically analyse how it will lead to equitable growth and welfare of marginalised sections in the country. (250 words)

Q.2) Discuss the powers and functions of CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) as an anti-corruption body. (250 words)

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

ANSWERS FOR ’  12th September 2023 – Daily Practice MCQs’ will be updated along with tomorrow’s Daily Current Affairs.st

ANSWERS FOR 11th September – Daily Practice MCQs

Answers- Daily Practice MCQs

Q.1) – c

Q.2) – d

Q.3) – b

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