IASCLUB Daily Current Affairs : 08 October 2019

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The fight over Aarey Colony

Topic: GS-III: Environment

A special Vacation Bench of the Supreme Court on Monday ordered “status quo [to] be maintained till the next date of hearing with respect to cutting of trees”. This means that while the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) cannot cut any more trees at the site of the proposed car shed, it can go ahead with construction activity related to the project.

Background:

  • The MMRCL had proposed — and had been permitted by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s Tree Authority — to cut 2,185 trees, and transplant 460.
  • A 21-year old Greater Noida-based law student, RishavRanjan, wrote to Chief Justice of India RanjanGogoi, seeking a stay on the cutting of trees for the MMRCL’s car shed located on 33 hectares land in Mumbai’s Aarey Colony. The site is on the bank of the Mithi River, with several channels and tributaries flowing into it — and construction for the “polluting industry” could flood Mumbai, he argued. The court accepted the letter as Public Interest Litigation (PIL) and set up the special Bench.
  • The tussle between environmental activists and the government over the Metro car shed has been ongoing since 2014. the Bombay High Court dismissed four petitions challenging the decision to cut trees at Aarey. The petitioners had questioned the propriety and legality of the BMC Tree Authority’s permission for the tree-felling, and asked for Aarey to be declared a flood plain and a forest. Activists argue that Aarey is an extension of Sanjay Gandhi National Park, and that the car shed would pave the way for greater commercial exploitation of the area.

Why does Metro want the car shed here?

  • MMRCL argues that this land belongs to the state — it is with the Dairy Development Department — and therefore, the long, messy, and expensive process of acquisition can be avoided, with zero additional cost to citizens.
  • The activists want the depot to be in Kanjurmarg, which is 10 km from SEEPZ. Acquiring land at this site is likely to increase the cost of the Rs 23,000-crore Metro line 3 project (the Colaba-SEEPZ line, which will be serviced by the car shed) by Rs 5,000 crore. It will also delay the project, and add to the cost.

E-assessment scheme for taxpayers

Topic: GS -III: Economic Development

The income tax department’s National e-Assessment Centre (NeAC) launched in New Delhi.

Why is this important?

  • The e-assessment process is aimed at minimising the level of interaction between taxpayers and the Income-Tax Department, which leads to “certain undesirable practices on the part of tax officials”.
  • With the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) notifying the creation of the NeAC — which will serve as an independent office that will exclusively deal with e-assessment — the Centre’s plan to launch faceless and nameless assessment of tax payers has now kicked into motion.
  • The CBDT issued a circular few days ago directing that during the financial year 2019-20, all assessment proceedings should be conducted electronically.
  • It has also directed tax officers to smoothly conduct assessment proceedings through ‘E-Proceeding’ and that requisition of information in cases under ‘ E-Proceeding’ should be sought after a careful scrutiny of case records.

How the e-assessment system works:

  • Under the new system, tax assesses will receive notices on their registered emails as well as on registered accounts on the web portal http://www.incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in with real time alert by way of SMS on their registered mobile number.
  • The issues will be specified on email and on the portal. All such communication will have a document identification number (DIN), using which you can search it on the income tax e-filing portal.
  • To reply to any income tax notice, the assessee is not supposed to visit any income tax office or send letters by post. All taxpayers have to reply to any notice or letter from the tax department electronically through their account on the income tax department’s e-filing portal.
  • After the reply is received, the NeAC will allocate the case to an assessing officer using an automated system.
  • The new initiative shall impart greater efficiency, transparency and accountability in the assessment process. There would be no physical interface between the tax payers and the tax officers.

Nobel Prize

Topic: GS -III: Science and Technology

Context:

The 2019 Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded jointly to William G. KaelinJr, Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe and Gregg L. Semenza“for their discoveries of how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability.”

  • This year, the Nobel Prizes are being announced between October 7 and 14, in the following order: October 7 (Medicine), October 8 (Physics), October 9 (Chemistry), October 10 (Literature), October 11 (Peace), October 14 (Economics).

What is the Nobel Prize?

  • Alfred Nobel, a Swedish chemist, engineer, industrialist, and the inventor of dynamite, in his last will and testament in 1895, gave the largest share of his fortune to a series of prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology/Medicine, Literature, and Peace, to be called the “Nobel Prizes”.
  • In 1968, the sixth award, the Prize in Economic Sciences was started by Sweden’s central bank, the SverigesRiksbank.
  • According to the official Nobel Prize website, between 1901 and 2018, the Prizes have been awarded 590 times, the recipients during this period being 908 Laureates and 27 organisations.
  • The Nobel Prize consists of a Nobel Medal and Diploma, and a document confirming the prize amount.

The prize money

  • The awardees of the 2019 Nobel Prize will receive in prize money Swedish kronor (SEK) 9 million (approximately Rs 6.45 crore) for a full Prize.
  • In his will, Alfred Nobel dedicated most of his fortune, SEK 31 million at that time, for the Awards. This money was to be converted into a fund and invested in “safe securities.” The income from the investments was to be “distributed annually in the form of prizes to those who during the preceding year have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind”.

How candidates are nominated

  • The Nobel Committees of four prize-awarding institutions every year invite thousands of members of academies, university professors, scientists, previous Nobel Laureates, and members of parliamentary assemblies among others to submit candidates for the Nobel Prizes for the coming year.
  • Per the Nobel website, the nominators are selected in such a way that as many countries and universities as possible are represented over time.
  • One cannot nominate himself/herself for a Nobel Prize.

The selection of candidates

  • The nomination processes for every year starts in September of the previous year and ends on January 31 (except the Nobel Peace Prize, nominations for which close on February 1). The Prizes are announced in October, and the Nobel Laureates receive their awards at The Nobel Prize Award Ceremony on December 10 in Stockholm.
  • The names of the nominees cannot be revealed until 50 years later.

The institutions that choose winners

  • The Nobel Committees of the prize-awarding institutions are responsible for the selection of the candidates, the institutions being:
  • Nobel Prize in Physics, Nobel Prize in Chemistry: The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
  • Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine: The KarolinskaInstitutet
  • Nobel Prize in Literature: The Swedish Academy
  • Nobel Peace Prize: A five-member Committee elected by the Norwegian Parliament (Storting)
  • Prize in Economic Sciences: The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

The Nobel Prize and India

  • The following Indians (or individuals of Indian origin) have been honoured with the Nobel: Rabindranath Tagore (Literature, 1913), C V Raman (Physics, 1930), Hargobind Khorana (Medicine, 1968), Mother Teresa (Peace, 1979), Subramanian Chandrashekhar (Physics, 1983), the Dalai Lama (Peace, 1989), AmartyaSen (Economics, 1998), VenkatramanRamakrishnan (2009), and KailashSatyarthi (Peace, 2014).
  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) under the chairmanship of R K Pachauri won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.
  • The Nobel Prize website laments not giving the Peace Prize to Mahatma Gandhi. Under the section ‘Mahatma Gandhi, the missing laureate’, the website says: “Up to 1960, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded almost exclusively to Europeans and Americans. In retrospect, the horizon of the Norwegian Nobel Committee may seem too narrow. Gandhi was very different from earlier Laureates. He was no real politician or proponent of international law, not primarily a humanitarian relief worker and not an organiser of international peace congresses. He would have belonged to a new breed of Laureates.”
  • The legendary physicists MeghnadSaha and Satyendranath Bose are two other glaring Indian exclusions in the list of Nobel Laureates. Both Saha and Bose were nominated multiple times, but ignored by the Nobel Committee.

 

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