19, May 2017

  1. Now, Victoria Memorial on Google Arts & Culture

Source: The Hindu

Victoria Memorial Hall (VMH) is introducing facilities of exploring its galleries at the click of a button, courtesy the Google Arts and Culture project to commemorate the occasion of International Museum Day.

  • The project offers viewers a 360-degree walk through traversing the galleries, in Google Street View mode.
  • The galleries with The Art of Abanindranath Tagore, Gaganendranath Tagore: Painter and Personality, and The Magnificent Heritage of India as seen by the Daniells can be explored.
  • Abanindranath Tagore was the principal artist and creator of “Indian Society of Oriental Art”. He was also the first major exponent of Swadeshi values in Indian art, thereby founding the influential Bengal school of art, which led to the development of modern Indian painting.
  • He was also a noted writer, particularly for children. Popularly known as ‘Aban Thakur’, his books Rajkahini, Budo Angla, Nalak, and Khirer Putul are landmarks in Bengali language children’s literature.
  • His famous paintings include `Bharat Mata’, the `Passing of Shah Jahan’, the `Chandi Mangal’ collection and `Krishna Leela’.

2.ISRO gets Indira Gandhi Prize for 2014

Source: The Hindu

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was recently presented with the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development for the year 2014.
  • The ISRO was selected for the prize in 2014 by a jury headed by Vice-President Hamid Ansari.
  • It consists of a trophy made of banded Haematite Jasper, with a portrait of the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in Jaipur miniature paintings, a cash award of ₹1 crore and a citation.

  1. New Bill to deter offenders’ escape

Source: The Hindu

The government has invited comments on ‘Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2017’ that seeks to deter economic offenders from fleeing the country by attaching and confiscating properties owned by them in India.

The Bill makes provisions for a special court under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act to declare a person a ‘Fugitive Economic Offender’.

Background:

  • The issue of loan defaults has been stressed as a critical issue burdening the Indian economy. The proposed ‘Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2017’ comes against the background of India seeking the extradition of liquor baron Vijay Mallya from the U.K. for defaulted loans to banks.
  • There have been several instances of economic offenders fleeing the jurisdiction of Indian courts, anticipating the commencement, or during the pendency, of criminal proceedings. The absence of such offenders from Indian courts has several deleterious consequences— first, it hampers investigation in criminal cases; second, it wastes precious time of courts of law; third, it undermines the rule of law in India.

Fugitive economic offender

A Fugitive Economic Offender is a person who has an arrest warrant issued in respect of a scheduled offence and who leaves or has left India so as to avoid criminal prosecution, or refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution.

  1. India’s first uterine transplant performed

Source: The Hindu

India’s first uterine transplant performed was recently performed by Pune doctors. First successful transplant in the world was done in 2012 in Sweden.

Background:

  • In India, infertility prevalence is between 3.9%- 16.8% of the population of child bearing women. Among the reasons, uterine factor is the cause in 20% of cases. The uterine factor can be due to causes like congenital absence of uterus, uterine malformations, genital tuberculosis and surgical removal of uterus for cancers.

However, few are opposed to such surgeries because of the ethical issues involved in it:

  • Removing the uterus from a live donor exposes the person to surgical risk.
  • Involves too many surgical steps for the recipient.
  • The transplant is not a lifesaving procedure.
  • It also discourages other methods like adoption and surrogacy.

  1. RAIL-CESS

Source: The Hindu

Plagued by repeated derailments, the Railways is considering imposing safety cess on train tickets to be utilised for strengthening accident prevention measures.

The Railways will have to generate additional revenue of Rs. 5,000 crore in the current fiscal as its contribution to the safety fund created in the budget. For this, the Railways is looking for support from the people.

Significance of this move:

  • A cess is a tax that is levied by the government to raise funds for a specific purpose. Collections from the Education Cess and the Secondary and Higher Education Cess, for instance, are supposed to be used for funding primary and higher and secondary education respectively. Likewise, money collected from the newly introduced Krishi Kalyan Cess is to be used for funding agri development initiatives.
  • A cess is also different from the usual taxes such as personal income tax, excise duty and customs duty in another respect. All the taxes collected by the government usually go into the Consolidated Fund of India (CFI) which can be spent on any legitimate activity. But the collections from a cess are required to be kept outside of the CFI to be spent only on the specific purpose for which it was levied.
  • If there is an unspent amount, it is simply carried forward for use in the following year. While the Centre has to mandatorily share the revenue from other taxes with the States, it gets to retain the entire kitty with a cess.
  • Cesses are not supposed to be relied upon as a regular source of revenue. They are resorted to only for a particular purpose and are to be discontinued after the objective is met, though this often doesn’t happen in practise.
  • Governments love to rely on cesses because they are an easy way to raise tax revenue. Unlike taxes, cesses can be introduced, modified and removed any time without much trouble. As long as the government has a specific reason for imposing a cess, all that it has to do is to put out a notification to this effect. However, even a small modification in a tax rate has to be followed by accompanying amendments in the tax rules and regulations.



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