Polity & Governance
- New Bill to deter offenders’ escape
- GST Council sets rates for most commodities
Art & Culture
- Now, Victoria Memorial on Google Arts & Culture
Science & Technology
- Scientists bring ‘limitless’ blood supply closer to reality
- India’s first uterine transplant performed
Key Facts for Prelims
- ISRO gets Indira Gandhi Prize for 2014
- Bilateral Exercise Simbex-17 commences
- M 777 A-2 (Indian) ULH
- Joint HADR Exercise
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Polity & Governance
New Bill to deter offenders’ escape
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’.
Who is a 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.
Need for a law:
- 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.
- 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.
GST Council sets rates for most commodities
The GST Council headed by finance Minister Arun Jaitley has finalised tax rates and has approved all the seven rules for the GST regime that is scheduled to be implemented from July 1.
- The remaining two rules of the GST pertaining to transition and return is under the examination of the legal committee.
- In total, the council has fixed the rates of 1211 items.
- It will decide rates of some other items and services in the coming days.
[Ref: The Hindu]
Art & Culture
Now, Victoria Memorial on Google Arts & Culture
To commemorate the occasion of International Museum Day on May 18, Victoria Memorial Hall (VMH) is introducing facilities of exploring its galleries at the click of a button, courtesy the Google Arts and Culture project.
- 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.
- English landscape painter Thomas and nephew William spent around nine years in India from 1785 and made extensive studies, sketches and drawings of the scenery, architecture and antiquities in both oil and aquatints.
- The Victoria Memorial Hall has the largest collection of the Daniells’ works in India (144 hand-coloured aquatint plates).
- The VMH was opened in 1921. It was conceived by Lord Curzon, the then Viceroy of India, as a tribute to Queen Victoria.
What is Google Arts & Culture?
- Google Arts & Culture provides an online platform via which the public can access high-resolution images of artworks housed in the world’s leading museums.
About Abanindranath Tagore:
- Abanindranath Tagore was the principal artist and creator of ‘Indian Society of Oriental Art’.
- He was 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.
- Tagore sought to modernise Mughal and Rajput styles to counter the influence of Western models of art, as taught in Art Schools under the British Raj and developed the Indian style of painting, later known as Bengal school of art.
Science & Technology
Scientists bring ‘limitless’ blood supply closer to reality
For the first time, scientists have generated blood-forming stem cells in the lab, an advance that brings them “tantalisingly close” to create a limitless supply of human blood.
- Researchers used pluripotent (immature) stem cells that can make virtually every cell type in the body.
- Although the cells made from the pluripotent stem cells are a mix of true blood stem cells and other cells known as blood progenitor cells, they are capable of generating multiple types of human blood cells when put into mice.
Significance of the findings:
- The study may help create immune-matched blood cells, derived from patients’ cells, for treatment purposes.
- This step opens up an opportunity to take cells from patients with genetic blood disorders, use gene editing to correct their genetic defect, and make functional blood cells.
- This also gives us the potential to have a limitless supply of blood stem cells and blood by taking cells from universal donors. This could potentially augment the blood supply for patients who need transfusions.
India’s first uterine transplant performed
In a major medical feat in India, doctors and surgeons at a private hospital in Pune successfully performed country’s first womb or uterus transplant on a woman.
- In 2013, the world’s first uterus transplant was done in Sweden.
What is uterus transplantation?
- The uterine transplant is the surgical procedure whereby a healthy uterus is transplanted into an organism of which the uterus is absent or diseased.
- As part of normal mammalian sexual reproduction, a diseased or absent uterus does not allow normal embryonic implantation, effectively rendering the female infertile.
- This phenomenon is known as absolute uterine factor infertility (AUFI). Uterine transplant is a potential treatment for this form of infertility.
Ethical concerns associated with uterus transplantation:
Uterus transplantation is opposed 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 life saving procedure.
- It also discourages other methods like adoption and surrogacy.
- 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.
Key Facts for Prelims
ISRO gets Indira Gandhi Prize for 2014
- The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was recently presented with the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development for the year 2014.
- ISRO is awarded in recognition of its path-breaking achievements, culminating in the Mars orbiter mission, its significant contributions in strengthening international cooperation in peaceful use of outer space
- 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.
Bilateral Exercise Simbex-17 commences
- Simbex-17, a bilateral naval exercise between India and Republic of Singapore commenced in the South China Sea.
- SIMBEX is an acronym for “Singapore-India Maritime Bilateral Exercises”.
- The Simbex-17 is the 24th in the series and is aimed to increase interoperability between the RSN and IN as well as develop common understanding and procedures for maritime security operations.
- Bilateral cooperation between Singapore and India was first formalised when RSN ships began training with the Indian Navy in 1994.
- The thrust of exercises at sea this year would be on Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), integrated operations with Surface, Air and Sub-surface forces, Air Defence and Surface Encounter Exercises.
M 777 A-2 (Indian) ULH
- After a 30-year wait for new artillery guns since the Bofors scandal, the Indian Army received the first two M-777 A-2 (Indian) ultra-light howitzers (ULH) from BAE systems of the US.
- This is a part of an order for 145 long-range guns which will be mostly deployed on borders.
- The M 777 A-2 (Indian) ULH having a maximum range of 30 km were being taken to Pokhran firing range in Rajasthan for test firing.
- The M777 is a 155mm, 39 caliber towed artillery gun made of titanium and aluminium alloys.
- In November 2016, India signed the Letter of Acceptance (LoA) with the U.S. government under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme for 145 BAE Systems-built M777A2 artillery guns in a deal worth $737 million.
Joint HADR Exercise
- The Annual Joint Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Exercise began at Naval Station Karwar.
- The exercise involves multiple agencies and is being conducted by Indian Navy’s Western Naval Command.
- This year’s exercise is code-named “KARAVALI KARUNYA” meaning ‘Assistance to Coast of Karnataka’.
- It will see the armed forces, central government agencies and state government departments working together to provide relief in a post-tsunami scenario.