Daily Current Affairs – 03-08-2023

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    64th Global Environment Facility’s (GEF) Council Meeting

    Syllabus: GS3/Environmental Conservation

    News

    • At the 64th Global Environment Facility (GEF) council meeting in Brazil, the governing body approved the disbursement of $1.4 billion to accelerate efforts to tackle the climate, biodiversity and pollution crises.

    More on the News

    • The GEF governing board has approved plans to establish a new fund-the Global Biodiversity Framework Fund (GBFF)  to finance the implementation of the Kunming-Montreal GBF adopted in December 2022.
    • 47 per cent of the funds have been earmarked for work on biodiversity, followed by 16 per cent for climate change, 12 per cent for land degradation, 11 per cent for international waters and 6 per cent for chemicals and waste.
    • The proposed fund allocations are as follows: 
      • 20 percent will go to Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPLC).
      • 25 per cent will go to GEF agencies and must be enforced. 
      • Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDC) will get 36 per cent and 3 per cent, respectively. 
    Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) 

    • It was adopted during the COP 15 of the UN Convention on Biodiversity in 2022. 
    • The Framework supports the achievement of the SDGs, and sets out an ambitious pathway to reach the global vision of a world living in harmony with nature by 2050 through 4 goals and 23 targets.
      • Enhanced integrity of all ecosystems;
      • Valuing, maintaining or enhancing Nature’s contributions to people through conservation and sustainable use;
      • Fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the utilization of genetic resources; and
      • Closing the gap between available financial and other means of implementation, and those necessary to achieve the 2050 Vision.
    • In adopting the framework, all Parties committed to setting national targets to implement it
    • At the next meeting of the Conference of the Parties in 2024 in Türkiye, the world will take stock of the targets and commitments that have been set.

    About Global Environment Facility

    • It was established on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. Through its investments, the GEF works with partners to tackle the planet’s biggest environmental issues. 
    • It is a unique partnership of 18 agencies — including United Nations agencies, multilateral development banks, national entities and international NGOs. 
    • It is a financial mechanism for five major international environmental conventions: 
      • The Minamata Convention on Mercury, 
      • The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), 
      • The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD),
      • The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and 
      • The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). 
    • The GEF Trust Fund was established to help tackle our planet’s most pressing environmental problems. Funds are available to developing countries and countries with economies in transition.

    Source: DTE

    ‘Action Plan’ for Startups under Startup India Initiative

    Syllabus: GS3/Indian Economy

    News

    • An ‘Action Plan’ for Startups was unveiled to create a vibrant startup ecosystem. It comprises 19 action items spanning across areas such as “Simplification and handholding”, “Funding support and incentives” and “Industry-academia partnership and incubation”.

    About Startup India 

    • It was launched on 16th January 2016 to build a strong ecosystem for nurturing innovation, startups and encouraging private investments in the startup ecosystem of the country.
    • As per eligibility conditions prescribed, entities are recognized as ‘startups’ by the DPIIT (Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade).
    Eligibility conditions for Startups:

    • The Start-up should be incorporated as a private limited company or registered as a partnership firm or LLP.
    • Turnover should be less than Rs. 100 Crores in any of the previous financial years.
    • An entity shall be considered as a Start-up to 10 years from the date of its incorporation.
    • The Start-up should be working towards innovation/ improvement of existing products, services and processes and should have the potential to generate employment/ create wealth. 
    • It must obtain certification from the Inter-Ministerial Board set up for such a purpose. 
    • An entity formed by splitting up or reconstruction of an existing business shall not be considered a “Start-up”.

    Government Initiatives to promote startups 

    • Fund of Funds for Startups (FFS) Scheme: The Government has established FFS with a corpus of Rs. 10,000 crore, to meet the funding needs of startups. DPIIT is the monitoring agency and Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) is the operating agency for FFS. 
    • Credit Guarantee Scheme for Startups (CGSS): for providing credit guarantees to loans extended to DPIIT recognized startups by Scheduled Commercial Banks, Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) and Venture Debt Funds (VDFs) under SEBI registered Alternative Investment Funds. 
    • Start-ups Intellectual Property Protection (SIPP): It facilitates the startups to file applications for patents, designs and trademarks through registered facilitators in appropriate IP offices by paying only the statutory fees.
    • Self-Certification under Labour and Environmental laws: Startups are allowed to self-certify their compliance under 9 Labour and 3 Environment laws for a period of 3 to 5 years from the date of incorporation.
    • Income Tax Exemption for 3 years: The recognized startups that are granted an Inter-Ministerial Board Certificate are exempted from income-tax for a period of 3 consecutive years out of 10 years since incorporation.
    • Faster Exit for Startups: The Government has notified Startups as ‘fast track firms’ enabling them to wind up operations within 90 days vis-a-vis 180 days for other companies.
    • National Startup Advisory Council: to advise the Government on measures needed to build a strong ecosystem for nurturing innovation and startups in the country to drive sustainable economic growth and generate large scale employment opportunities. 
    • Startup India Seed Fund Scheme (SISFS): To facilitate easy availability of capital at the early stages of growth of an enterprise.
    • National Startup Awards (NSA): National Startup Awards is an initiative to recognize and reward outstanding startups and ecosystem enablers.
    • National Mentorship Portal (MAARG): In order to facilitate accessibility to mentorship for startups in every part of the country, the Mentorship, Advisory, Assistance, Resilience, and Growth (MAARG) program has been developed and launched under the Startup India Initiative.
    • ASCEND(Accelerating Startup Caliber & Entrepreneurial Drive):  Sensitization workshops on startups and entrepreneurship were conducted for all eight North Eastern States.  
    • Startup20 Engagement Group: Under India’s G20 Presidency the group has been institutionalised which is working towards harmonisation and cross collaboration amongst the largest global economies. 

    Source: PIB

    51st GST Council Meeting

    Syllabus: GS2/ Government Policies & Interventions; GS3/ Indian Economy & Related Issues

    In News

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

    Background – The previous (50th meeting) of GST Council 

    • The GST Council in the 50th meeting had deliberated on the Second Report of the Group of Ministers (GoM) on Casinos, Race Courses and Online Gaming. 
    • It had recommended that the actionable claims supplied in Casinos, Horse racing and Online gaming may be taxed at the rate of 28% on full face value, irrespective of whether the activities are a game of skill or chance. 
    • The Council had also recommended that the law may be amended to provide clarity in the matter.

    About the 51st GST Council Meeting

    • Accordingly, 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, horse racing 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 and also for blocking of access by the public to any information generated, transmitted, received or hosted in any computer resource used for supply of online money gaming by such supplier in case of failure to comply with provisions of registration and payment of tax.
    • The Council also recommended that valuation of supply of online gaming and actionable claims in casinos may be done based on the amount paid or payable to or deposited with the supplier, by or on behalf of the player. 
    • The Council recommended that CGST Rules, 2017 may be amended to insert specific provisions for valuation of supply of online gaming and supply of actionable claims in casinos accordingly. 

    Goods and Service Tax (GST)

    • About:
      • 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 i.e. 
      • 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. 

    Significance of GST

    • Better Compliance: GST helped in achieving better tax compliance by subsuming multiple taxation and reduction in taxation burden in the last four years.
    • 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
    • E-invoice & 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. Before GST was implemented, India’s Ease of Doing Business ranking was 130 in 2016. In 2020, India was ranked 63rd on the list.
    • 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. 
    • Improved Competitiveness: GST has improved the competitiveness of domestic industries in the international market by removing hidden and embedded taxes. 

    Way ahead

    • In India, it has been a remarkable achievement and a unique experiment in cooperative federalism. 
    • It helped the country in transitioning to an automated indirect tax ecosystem.
    • GST gave a major boost to the ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Government of India by making goods and services produced in India competitive in the National as well as International market. 
    GST Council

    • It is a Cconstitutional body under Article 279A, introduced by the Constitution (One Hundred and First Amendment) Act, 2016.
    • It is empowered to modify, reconcile or to procure any law or regulation based on the context of GST in India.
    • It is also considered as a federal body where both the centre and the states get due representation.
    • Functions: It makes recommendations to the Union and State Government on issues related to GST.
    • Composition
      • Chairperson: Union Finance Minister.
      • Members: Union State Minister of Revenue or Finance and Ministers in-charge of Finance or Taxation of all the States.
    • Every decision of the GST Council shall be taken at a meeting by a majority of not less than three-fourths of the weighted votes of the members present and voting, in accordance with the following principles, namely:
      • Vote of the Central Government shall have a weightage of one third of the total votes cast.
      • Votes of all the State Governments taken together shall have a weightage of two-thirds of the total votes cast, in that meeting.

    Source: PIB

    Smartphone Addiction in Children

    Syllabus: GS2/ Issues Related to Children

    Context

    • China’s cyberspace, in its draft ‘Guidelines for the Construction of Minor Mode of the Mobile Internet’ has put forward plans to limit the usage of smartphones by children to no more than two hours a day, and to require all tech companies to introduce a ‘minor mode’ to enable restrictions.

    What are the proposed guidelines?

    • It suggests restrictions for five different age groups: under 3, 3-8, 8-12, 12-16 and 16-18.
      • For children under 8, the ‘minor mode’ will only permit 40 minutes per day, and for those under 3, online internet providers should recommend children’s songs, enlightenment education and other parent-child companionship programs, and they’re recommended to play via audio.
      • The internet service providers are prohibited from providing services to minors from 10 p.m.to 6 a.m.
      • The 16-18 age group will be given two hours’ usage.
    • Parents will have to sign on and sign off the minor mode and will be asked to back the campaign once the guidelines are rolled out across the country.
    • The minor mode is being seen as offering parents a tool to manage how their children use devices.

    Impacts of Smartphone Addiction in Children

    • In general, there are many factors like distraction and reduced concentration span, decreased reading and comprehensive habit, cyberbullying, reduced face-to-face interaction with parents and other elder members of the family, inaccurate information over internet, privacy concerns etc which directly affect the overall development of the children.
    • In India, around 23.8 percent of children use smartphones while they are in bed before going to sleep and 37.15 percent of children have experienced reduced levels of concentration due to smartphone use.

    Way ahead

    • As per the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), globally, one in four countries has imposed bans on smartphones in schools either as law or as a policy out of concern for data privacy, safety, and child’s well-being.
    • If the guidelines are adopted as is expected, China will be introducing some of the world’s most strict regulations for children in usage of smartphones.

    TH

    Facts In News

    e-CARe portal 

    Syllabus: GS2/ Government policies & interventions

    In News

    • The e-CARe (e-Clearance for Afterlife Remains) portal was launched recently.

    About the Portal

    • The portal will facilitate easy and swift transportation of the deceased Indians across international borders.
    • The existing system has many barriers which cause delays. The purpose of a dedicated portal is to remove the barriers
    • A nodal officer will review them in a time-bound manner and approve the application within 48 hours.

    Source: LM

    Ayush Visa

    Syllabus: GS2/ Government policies & interventions, Health

    In News

    • The Ministry of Home Affairs has notified the creation of a new category of Ayush (AY) visa for foreign nationals for treatment under Ayush systems/Indian systems of medicine. 

    About

    • The introduction of the Ayush Visa category is part of India’s roadmap for the Heal in India initiative.
    • It will boost Medical Value Tourism in India and will strengthen the endeavor to accomplish vision for making Indian traditional medicine a global phenomenon.
    • Medical Value Travel has seen significant growth in India in recent years. According to the report ‘The Global Wellness Economy: Looking beyond COVID’ by the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), the Global Wellness economy will grow at 9.9% annually. 

    AYUSH System of Medicine

    • AYUSH is the acronym of the medical systems that are being practiced in India such as Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy.
    • Fundamentally AYUSH provides an integrative healthcare modality for complete physical, mental, social, and spiritual health.
    • In 2014, the Ministry of Ayush was formed by the Government of India with a vision of reviving the profound knowledge of traditional Indian systems of medicine.
    • The WHO – Global Center for Traditional Medicine (WHO – GCTM), the first and only center of its kind is taking shape in Jamnagar, Gujarat.
    • A special Ayush mark for Ayush products, development of a network of Ayush parks to encourage the promotion, research and manufacturing of Ayush products across the country. 
    • A significant step to achieve cooperation and facilitation of “One Herb, One Standard” was taken with the signing of MoU between the Pharmacopoeia Commission for Indian Medicine and Homoeopathy (PCIM&H) and Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission (IPC). 

    Source: TH

    Small Modular Reactors (SMRs)

    Syllabus: GS3/ Science and Technology

    Context

    • India is exploring the options of collaborating with other countries and taking up indigenous development of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs).
      • For this, the provisions of Atomic Energy Act, 1962 are being examined to allow participation of private sector and start-ups to promote SMRs technology in the country.

    About

    Small Modular Reactors (SMRs):

    • These are advanced nuclear reactors that have a power capacity of up to 300 MW(e) per unit, which is about one-third of the generating capacity of traditional nuclear power reactors.
    • SMRs, which can produce a large amount of low-carbon electricity, are:
      • Small – physically a fraction of the size of a conventional nuclear power reactor.
      • Modular – making it possible for systems and components to be factory-assembled and transported as a unit to a location for installation.
      • Reactors – harnessing nuclear fission to generate heat to produce energy.

    (Fig: Comparison between Large and Conventional, Small Modular, and Microreactor)

    • Power plants based on SMRs may require less frequent refuelling, every 3 to 7 years, in comparison to between 1 and 2 years for conventional plants. Some SMRs are designed to operate for up to 30 years without refuelling.

    Way ahead:

    • SMR is a promising technology in industrial de-carbonisation especially where there is a requirement of reliable and continuous supply of power. India is considering steps for development of SMR, to fulfil its commitment to Clean Energy transition.

    PIB

    LK-99

    Syllabus: GS3/Science and Technology

    News: 

    • According to a paper released recently, the South Korean team has created a groundbreaking new material, LK-99, a room-temperature superconductor working at ambient pressure.

    About LK-99:

    • Named after two scientists, Lee and Kim, and the year of its discovery — 1999 — LK-99 is a compound which is a copper-doped lead apatite.
    • Apatites are a group of phosphate minerals that have a phosphate scaffold with a tetrahedral, or pyramidal motif: one phosphorus atom is surrounded by four oxygen atoms. Other atoms can sit in between these pyramids.
    • The work of the Korean group’s involves filling the space between the phosphate pyramids with lead and oxygen ions. Then, some of the lead atoms are replaced with those of copper, a process called substitution.
    • The group reported that at 10% copper substitution, the wonder material LK-99 arises: copper-substituted lead appetite. 
    • The group subjected this material to a variety of tests and claimed that it has essentially zero resistance to the flow of an electric current.

    Why the quest?

    • An electric current carried by a metal wire suffers losses owing to the wire’s electrical resistance. A significant amount of electricity generated in power plants is lost in transmission for this reason.
    • Hence, there is a quest to make a material that would offer no resistance to current flow.
    • Scientists discovered such materials more than a century ago. They found that elemental mercury, a liquid metal at ambient conditions, becomes a superconductor at an unimaginably cold temperature of -268 degrees Celsius. 
    • Years of research revealed that superconductivity is a rather common phenomenon in metals if they can be cooled down to similar temperatures.
    • But the importance of discovering a material that is a superconductor in ambient conditions is new to the world.

    Way Ahead

    • The lucre of a room-temperature superconductor hasn’t been without controversy. Some recent claims of superconductivity in a hydride material didn’t withstand scrutiny. 
    • The ambient condition superconductor has thus remained one of the most elusive and coveted prizes of the field. The South Korean group’s claim, if proved true, will therefore be groundbreaking.

    Source: TH

    Iberian wolf

    Syllabus: GS3/ Species In News

    In News

    • The Iberian wolf is extinct in Spain’s Andalusia

    Source:DTE

    About Iberian wolf

    • Scientific Name : Canis lupus signatus
    • It is  the species of gray wolf native to the Iberian Peninsula comprising Spain and Portugal.
    • The Iberian wolf, like other types of gray wolf, lives in packs that are territorial and hierarchical and led by a dominant breeding pair.

    About Gray wolves (Canis lupus)

    • They are the largest wild members of Canidae, or the dog family.
    • They have a circumpolar range including North America, Europe and Asia. 
    • IUCN Red List Status:  It is listed as Least Concern.
      • It is included in CITES Appendix II, except populations from Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan, which are listed on Appendix I.

    Source: DTE

    Desiccation-tolerant vascular plant

    Syllabus: GS3/ Species In News

    In News

    • New study discovers 62 desiccation-tolerant vascular plant species in India’s Western Ghats, with potential applications in agriculture & conservation.

    About Desiccation-tolerant vascular plant

    • They are able to withstand extreme dehydration, losing up to 95% of their water content, and they revive themselves once water is available again.
      • This unique ability allows them to survive in harsh, arid environments that would be uninhabitable for most other plants.

    • DT plant varieties are found in both flowering and non-flowering species and in both temperate and tropical climates.
    • The global population of these species ranges between 300 and 1,500,
    • They are spread mainly in rock outcrops and partially shaded tree trunks inside the forests.

    Utility 

    • They have been studied for their possible applications in agriculture, particularly in areas with limited water resources. 
    • The genes of these plants could be used to create a high-temperature tolerant variety of crops to improve climate resilience and ensure food security for the masses.

    Source: DTE