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12 Sep, 2019

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Stolen Nataraja Idol on the way back to Tamil Nadu after 37 years.

GS-I : Miscellaneous

GS-I: Stolen Nataraja Idol on the way back to Tamil Nadu after 37 years.


Its important to keep in mind that the bronze Shiva as Lord of the Dance (“Nataraja”—nata meaning dance or performance, and raja meaning king or lord), is a sacred object that has been taken out of its original context in fact, we don't even know where this particular sculpture was originally venerated. In the intimate spaces of the Florence and Herbert Irving South Asian Galleries in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Shiva Nataraja is surrounded by other metal statues of Hindu gods including the Lords Vishnu, Parvati, and Hanuman. It is easy to become absorbed in the dark quiet of these galleries with its remarkable collection of divine figures, but it is important to remember that this particular statue was intended to be movable, which explains its moderate size and sizeable circular base, ideal for lifting and hoisting onto a shoulder.

  • Shiva’s dance is associated with the end of the cosmic world.
  • Nataraja means ‘Lord of the Dance’.
  • Shiva is seen balancing on his right leg. The foot of the right leg is suppressing the apasmara (the demon of forgetfulness or ignorance).
  • His left hand is in Bhujangatrasita's stance (depicting kicking away tirobhava or illusion from the devotee’s mind).
  • Four arms are outstretched.
  • The main right hand is in Abhayahasta.
  • The upper right-hand holds the Damaru (his favourite musical instrument – a percussion instrument to keep rhythm).
  • The main left hand is in Dolahasta and connects with the right hand’s Abhayahasta.
  • The Upper left-hand carry a flame.
  • The entire dancing figure is surrounded by the jvala mala or the garland of flames.
  • Shiva’s locks fly on either side touching the jvala mala.
  • Many variations of this model are found.

600-year-old idol:

According to sources the 600-year idol weighing around 100kg was looted from the temple after breaking open the doors of the sanctum sanctorum on July 5, 1982. Along with it other panchaloha idols of Sivakami, Manickavasagar and Sri-Bali nayagar were also stolen.


The idol was being brought by team members of Australian authorities and the Art Gallery of South Australia from New Delhi and would reach Chennai. Later it would be handed over to the temple after obtaining necessary orders from the special court for idol wing cases in Kumbakonam.

Source: The HINDU

Striking a blow for investigative credibility


GS-II: Striking a blow for investigative credibility


These are highly contentious times for India’s criminal justice system. With sensational criminal cases, controversy erupts almost every day.

Criminal justice system

  • The judiciary enjoys a certain insularity. It is not required to be overly communicative. Thus it can stay away from direct confrontation with others.
  • Prosecutors and investigators face an issue of trust.
  • In the defence team, a few private lawyers hired by influential accused persons enjoy immunity.
  • In all this, investigators have no mechanism to air their grievances.
  • The prosecution lawyers and investigating officers are in an unequal battle against the defence.

Supreme Court judgement

  • A bench of the Supreme Court recently observed that probe agencies such as the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) needed a free hand to conduct their investigations.
  • Recently certain defence lawyers requested that courts should scrutinise every piece of evidence collected by the agencies before passing any orders, including ones related to the granting of bail.
  • The court believed that investigators should not be pressured to compromise on the confidentiality of evidence they have gathered during the process of data collection.

Changing the nature of criminal investigations

  • In the early 1980s and 1990s, arrests were rare.
  • Now, given the volume and complexity of investigative processes linked to multi-layered economic crime and pressure from the public and the executive, the pressure that the CBI should produce instant results is telling.
  • The charge against the CBI is that it has been selective in its targets, pursuing a campaign of vendetta at the behest of its political masters.
  • Two issues were flagged in court recently:
  • the right of an accused to get bail
  • the need for custodial interrogation by probe agencies.
  • Although the maxim that ‘bail is the rule, and jail is an exception was held since Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, the growing volume of crime and the dexterity of offenders have induced a change in judicial thinking.
  • Courts at all levels now believe that granting bail cannot be a routine and mechanical process and that certain cases deserve an application of mind while ordering bail.

Custodial interrogation

  • There is a controversy over the need for custodial interrogation of an accused person.
  • The complexity of present-day crime and the ease with which the many details of a crime can be hidden enhance the need for custodial examination.
  • While courts are convinced of its utility they sparingly grant such custody.
  • This could also lead to possible misuse in questioning under controlled conditions.
  • Police custody is a serious responsibility for the investigating officer. Any pressure tactics or attempted physical violence on the person in custody is fraught with serious consequences.
  • There are reasonable guarantees including accountability to the judiciary for civilised treatment of an accused in police custody.


Criminal law and its contours are evolving. It is easy to criticise and accuse police agencies charged with efficient solving of crimes of arbitrariness. The attempt should not be to choke them. There’s a need for allowing them more freedom to be professional without diluting the controls that are already in place.

Source: The Hindu

Centre to bring ordinance to ban e-cigarettes in country


GS-II: Centre to bring an ordinance to ban e-cigarettes in the country


The union Cabinet is likely to approve an ordinance prohibiting the manufacture and sale of e-cigarettes in the country. The law would make production, manufacturing, import, export ,transport, sale, distribution or advertisements of e-cigarettes a cognizable offence.

What are e-cigarettes?

An electronic cigarette (or e-cig) is a battery-powered vaporizer that mimics tobacco smoking. It works by heating up a nicotine liquid, called “juice.”

Nicotine juice (or e-juice) comes in various flavors and nicotine levels. e-liquid is composed of five ingredients: vegetable glycerin (a material used in all types of food and personal care products, like toothpaste) and propylene glycol (a solvent most commonly used in fog machines.) propylene glycol is the ingredient that produces thicker clouds of vapor.

Proponents of e-cigs argue that the practice is healthier than traditional cigarettes because users are only inhaling water vapour and nicotine.

Why it’s hard to regulate them?

As e-cigarettes contain nicotine and not tobacco, they do not fall within the ambit of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 (COTPA), which mandates stringent health warnings on the packaging and advertisements of tobacco products.

Need for regulation: The current unregulated sale of e-cigarettes is dangerous for a country like India where the number of smokers is on the decline (WHO Global Report, 2015) as it increases the possibility of e-cigarettes becoming a gateway for smoking by inducing nicotine addiction and perpetuating smoking by making it more attractive, thereby encouraging persons to become users of tobacco as well as e-cigarettes.

WHO report on e- cigarettes and effects:

  • As per the report, Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) (also known as e-cigarettes) emits nicotine, the addictive component of tobacco products. In addition to dependence, nicotine can have adverse effects on the development of the foetus during pregnancy and may contribute to cardiovascular disease.
  • The WHO report further says that although nicotine itself is not a carcinogen, it may function as a “tumour promoter” and seems to be involved in the biology of malignant disease, as well as of neurodegeneration.
  • Foetal and adolescent nicotine exposure may have long-term consequences for brain development, potentially leading to learning and anxiety disorders.
  • The evidence is sufficient to warn children and adolescents, pregnant women, and women of reproductive age against ENDS use and nicotine.

Source: The Hindu

A case for differential global carbon tax.


GS-III: A case for a differential global carbon tax.


Climate change is a global problem and a global problem needs a global solution. The most recent IPCC report suggests that we as humankind might have just over a decade left o limit global warming.

What is a carbon tax?

A carbon tax is a fee for making users of fossil fuels pay for climate damage their fuel use imposes by releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and for motivating switches to clean energy

India introduced a nationwide carbon tax in 2010, which is currently Rs.400/tonne.

Carbon as non-regressive:

Skewed consumption pattern: India's carbon emissions in 2014 were more than three times its level in 1990. While the emissions have increased sharply, their distribution across income groups is extremely skewed. The poor in India who contribute the least to climate change face the maximum brunt. Thus implementation of the carbon tax and utilizing the proceeds for pollution control and augmenting the health budget is a rational way forward.

Reducing demand: By taxing carbon revenue thus generated can be used for a systematic overhaul of the energy mix in the economy, carbon taxes address the demand side of carbon-based energy resources i.e. reducing it ( by increasing prices of carbon-intensive products).

Health cost of pollution: By reducing carbon emissions through taxing there are immense health benefits. A significant part of more than 3 % cent of India’s GDP currently spent on pollution-induced diseases will inevitably come down and this cost is heavily borne by the poor.

Climate finance: When it comes to mitigation of climate change the global North has to shoulder a higher burden of adjustment both because of their past and current contributions as well as their greater access to funds. Carbon tax in these nations can help to fund climate financing thus ensuring climate justice and equity.

Subsidizing renewable energy sources through cross-subsidization from a carbon tax can help in dealing with climate change by promoting solar energy, wind energy, cleaner biofuels etc.


Thus, the Carbon tax apparently gives the impression of being a regressive tax; however, by implementing it in conjunction with broader health and energy policy, it can help in redistribution and help the poor to ward off the negative impact of climate change.

At the same time, the Carbon tax will help in the achievement of goals under the Paris Agreement to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Source: The Hindu

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