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August 13 to 19 Current Affairs


International Affairs

  • Noted Indian-American journalist and author Fareed Zakaria(48) has been suspended by his employers CNN and Time magazine after he admitted to plagiarism and apologized for the ethical lapse. Mr Zakaria, was suspended by CNN and Time magazine after he admitted that he had plagiarised portions of an article he wrote on gun control for Time, from the New Yorker magazine. He issued an apology saying he had made a “terrible mistake” and his lifting a paragraph from the article by Harvard University professor of American history Jill Lepore was an “ethical lapse“. Mr Zakaria, a Yale and Harvard graduate, had written the column on gun control that appeared in the August 20 issue of Time magazine. Born on 20 January 1964 in Mumbai, Maharashtra, Fareed Zakaria obtained his Bachelors degree in Arts from Yale University. Later he received Doctorate in Political Science from Harvard University in 1993. In a career spanning more than two decades in journalism, Zakaria worked with numerous global media organizations such as News Week, Time, CNN.
  • In a high intensity political act, Ecuador on 16 August, granted asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, ignoring a threat from the British government to strip it of its diplomatic status and storm its embassy in London to arrest Mr. Assange for breaching his bail conditions. He has been holed up at the embassy since seeking refuge there in June to avoid extradition to Sweden over allegations of sexual assault. British Foreign Secretary William Hague made clear that Mr. Assange would not be given safe passage out of the country and indicated that the diplomatic stand-off could drag on for some “considerable” time. Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said the decision to grant asylum to Mr. Assange was prompted by a concern for Mr. Assange’s human rights as his government believed that his fears of “political persecution’’ were “legitimate.” Mr. Assange fears that if extradited to Sweden he could be handed to the American government that wants to prosecute him for publishing secret official documents. Britain said it was “disappointed” by the decision and stressed its “obligation” to extradite Mr. Assange to Sweden pointing out that he had exhausted all legal options in Britain.

  • The Organization of Islamic Cooperation suspended Syria on 16 August , citing President Bashar al-Assad's suppression of the Syrian revolt, but there was little support for direct military involvement in Syria at a summit of Muslim leaders in Mecca.Summit host Saudi Arabia has led Arab efforts to isolate Syria diplomatically.
  • China's commerce ministry announced on 14 August, China will develop two economic zones in North Korea. Both sides met in Beijing to discuss the setting up of Rason Economic and Trade Zone and Hwanggumphyong and Wihwa Islands Economic Zone.Sources said , a joint mechanism will be set up to train personnel, for compiling plans and regulations, customs clearance and telecom links .
  • The United Nations on 17 August, has announced that Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi will replace Kofi Annan as peace envoy to Syria. The 78- year-old Brahimi has worked in several high-profile positions at the UN, gaining a reputation as a tough, independent negotiator as envoy to Afghanistan, Iraq and Haiti. He helped negotiate the end of Lebanon’s civil war. Mr. Brahimi is a member of the Elders, a group of former world leaders working for global peace. Mr. Annan announced his resignation earlier this month after failing to achieve a temporary ceasefire during six-month tenure. The Security Council announced on 16 august, it would end the UN military observer mission in Syria

National Affairs

  • Members of Parliament, cutting across party lines, on 18 august, sent out a strong message to the northeast people that the whole country was for them and with them and that, they need not have any apprehension about their safety. Like any other citizen, they have every right to study, work and reside in any part of India.Prime Minister Manmohan Singh intervened in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha when the Houses took up for discussion, by suspending question hour, attacks on the northeast people and their exodus. He said the growing sense of insecurity among the northeast people was “more reprehensible”. Union Home Secretary R.K. Singh said that to check rumours, bulk SMSs and MMSs have been banned for 15 dayswith immediate effect. No one would be allowed to send more than 5 SMSs at a time and more than 20 KB of data through mobile phones.
  • The re-designed website of the President of India was launched at Rashtrapati Bhavan on 3 August. The re-designed website has some new features, which include direct connectivity from the website to social networking media of the President i.e. Facebook and You-Tube. These two features have been initiated after assumption of charge by the President Pranab Mukherjee. The new website also has a Video Gallery. Citizens can connect to the President directly by clicking the button ‘Write to the President’, which will take them directly to the helpline portal. Moreover, visuals have been conceptualized and made user friendly. Launching the website, Secretary to the President, Ms. Omita Paul expressed the hope that it would be a step forward to bring the President of India closer to the people. She also said that efforts would be made to ensure that the website is in line with the best global practices.

Bilateral Relations
  • India and Belgium on 8 August decided to cooperate in the railway sector. A MoU was signed for this purpose in the presence of visiting Deputy Prime Minister Didier Reynders, who also holds the portfolio of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and European Affairs. Speaking on the occasion, Minister of External Affairs SM Krishna said India wanted to collaborate with Belgium in newer areas, particularly in infrastructure and energy sector, including port development, renewable energy, both solar and wind power. He said his discussions with Mr Reyders touched the entire gamut of their bilateral relations and touched on their cooperation in further strengthening the strategic partnership with the European Union. They took note of the fact that despite global economic slowdown, there was substantial increase in their bilateral trade, which has now crossed the 13 billion Euro mark in 2011. Belgium has now emerged as the second largest trading partner in goods sector within the European Union.
  • On the sidelines of the First India-CELAC Foreign Ministers Troika Meeting in New Delhi on August 7, 2012, Vice Foreign Minister of Cuba ,Mr. Rogelio Sierra Diaz, met with External Affairs of India, S.M. Krishna. During the meeting, both sides reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relations and expressed satisfaction. Both sides reiterated their desire to sustain and consolidate these relations. Both sides noted that the total bilateral trade of US$ 40 million between India and Cuba did not correspond to the excellent bilateral ties. They emphasized that the trade turnover should be enhanced through concerted efforts and underlined that new opportunities for cooperation existed in the area of trade and investment. The Cuban side appreciated the importance of the role played by the Indian Company OVL (ONGC Videsh Ltd.) in the field of petroleum exploration in Cuba and sought OVL’s continued engagement in Cuba in this area. The Indian side reiterated its offer of Lines of Credit announced during the visit of its Minister of External Affairs to Cuba in June 2012. India and Cuba agreed on the need for the reform of the United Nations Organisation. The Indian side appreciated Cuba’s expression of support to India’s candidature for permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council. Both sides emphasised the continued relevance of the Non-Aligned Movement in the current context of global relations and agreed to work towards the success of the forthcoming NAM Summit in Tehran. India and Cuba expressed appreciation over the importance and significance of the First India-CELAC Troika Ministerial Dialogue and recalled the considerable opportunities available for mutually beneficial cooperation between India and CELAC both in a multilateral manner and bilaterally.

Economic Affairs

  • The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India in its audit report noted that India’s exchequer suffered a massive loss of 1.86 lakh crore due to the distribution of coal blocks without bidding. The CAG report was tabled in the parliament on 17 August 2012.The CAG in its report stated that 57 coal blocks that were allocated to private companies during 2004-2009, extended them a windfall gain of 1.86 lakh crore rupees. The CAG report has also brought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh under scrutiny as he was holding the charge of Coal Ministry from 2006 to 2009. Besides, the CAG report also raised serious allegations against the PMO which delayed the fair bidding process for coal blocks despite the clearance from Law and Justice Ministry. Tata Group, Reliance Power, Jindal Power and Steel, Abhijit Group, Bhushan Group, Electro Steel, OP Jindal Group were some of the major beneficiaries of the coal blocks distribution. The government has distributed about 150 coal blocks over the past eight years. During this period Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Shibu Soren and Prakash Jaiswal have been charged the Coal Ministry. The 1.86 lakh rupees scam is the biggest in the history of India as it surpassed the 1.7 lakh crore 2G spectrum scam.
  • India’s leading car maker Maruti Suzuki India, on 16 august, announced termination of services of 500 regular workers and resumption of normal operations from August 21 at its violence-hit plant at Manesar, Haryana. Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) Chairman R. C. Bhargava told that, they had issued termination notices to 500 regular worker and they had plan to lift the lock-out from August 21 and resume operations at the facility in phases. The company said termination notices had been issued to regular workers who were allegedly involved in the July 18 violent incidents that led to the death of a senior MSI executive, Ashwani Kumar, and left nearly 100 others injured. Maruti Suzuki India had declared a lockout at the Manesar plant on July 21, stating the safety and well-being of its employees were paramount to the company.
  • The United States administration has announced setting up of an institute for manufacturing innovations, which will help prevent jobs going to India and China. President Barack Obama said in a statement that,this institute would help make sure that manufacturing jobs of tomorrow take root not in places such as China or India, but right here in the United States of America. The National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII), which will be based in Ohio, will be a public-private partnership initiative and has received $70 million as initial financial assistance.On March 9, Mr. Obama had announced plans to invest $1 billion to catalyze a network of up to 15 manufacturing innovation institutes around the country that would serve as regional hubs of manufacturing excellence and help to make manufacturers more competitive and encourage investment in the U.S. According to the White House, the NAMII will provide the innovation infrastructure needed to support new additive manufacturing technology and products to become a global centre of excellence in this field. Additive manufacturing, often referred to as 3D printing, is a new way of making products and components from a digital model, and will have implications in a wide range of industries, including defence, aerospace, automotive, and metals manufacturing.
  • In yet another indication of slowdown, the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council(PMEAC) on 18 August, revised downwards its economic growth projections for the current fiscal to 6.7% from an earlier 7.5-8%. The PMEAC also raised its inflation forecast to 6.5-7% from an earlier estimate of 5-6% for the current fiscal. PMEAC Chairman C Rangarajan said , Food inflation is expected to remain high in the coming months.

Awards

  • Dr PKB Patnaik has bagged the Damien-Dutton Award for 2012. He is now working as the State Leprosy Officer , Odisha. Dr Patnaik has been selected for the award in recognition of his more than 25 years of concern and dedication to the victims of leprosy in India and for his direct involvement in making the multi-drug therapy available to the people affected by leprosy and goal to eliminate leprosy from the State, which has been achieved. The Damien-Dutton Society for Leprosy AID INC was founded in the year 1944 by the Staff Sgt Howard E Crouch, Medical Corps US Army.Dr Patnaik is also Honorary Secretary, Hind Kustha Nivaran Sangh, Odisha State Branch appointed by the Governor since 1996.
  • In a rare honour, eminent Urdu litterateur, Padmabhushan award winner, Professor Gopi Chand Narang’s(81) name figured in the list of civilian honours announced by Pakistan on the eve of its Independence Day. Prof. Narang has been conferred Sitara-i-Imtiaz (Star of Excellence), the third highest civilian honour bestowed by the nation.The legendary writer Saadat Hasan Manto ( Nishan-i-Imtiaz ), ghazal maestro Mehdi Hassan ( Nishan-i- Imtiaz ) and eminent poet Josh Malihabadi ( Hilal-i-Imtiaz ) are also figured in the list of award winners. In the past, former Prime Minister Morarji Desai and matinee idol Dilip Kumar have been bestowed Pakistan's highest civilian honour, Nishan-i-Imtiaz .The investiture ceremony will take place in Pakistan on March 23, 2013, Pakistan's Republic Day.

Sports

  • The London Olympics 2012 concluded in London on 12 August 2012. The 30th summer Olympic event was inaugurated at Olympic Stadium at the Olympic Park in East London on 27 July 2012. Nearly 10500 athletes were participated in 26 sports events in this Olympics. At the end of the game US topped the medal tally with a total of 104 medals (46 Gold+29 Silver+ 29 Silver) followed by China with 88 medals (38 Gold+27 Silver+23 Bronze). Great Britain with 65 medals (29 Gold+17 Silver+19 Bronze), Russia with 82 medals (24 Gold+26 Silver+32 Bronze) and South Korea with 27 medals (13 Gold+8 Silver+6 Bronze) finished third, fourth and fifth respectively. India with 6 medals (2 Silver+4Bronze) finished 55th on the medal tally.
  • The mascots of London Games-2012 were Wenlock and Mandeville. While Wenlock is a mascot of Olympics, Mandeville is mascot for Paralympics. These are two ultra-modern one- eyed creatures. Total 4700 medals ( Gold, Silver, Bronze) were there at the London Olympics 2012. The Olympic medals weigh between 375-400 grams. The gold medals are not actually made of solid gold. They are in fact 92.5 percent silver and 1.34 percent gold, while the rest is copper. On every medal there is the image of Nike, the Greek Goddess of victory. The 31st edition of Summer Olympics will be held in Reo de Janeiro, Brazil in 2016.
  • Some of the winners at London Olympics 2012:
    1. Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt won three gold in three separate events (100 meter race, 200 meter race and 4X100 meter relay team race). With a storming victory in both 100 and 200 meters race he became the only sprinter in the history to defend both Olympic titles.
    2. Dan Lin of China beat Malaysian Chong Wei Lee to clinch Badminton men’s singles gold
    3. Germany beat Netherlands 2-1 to win men’s hockey gold.
    4. Mexico beat Brazil 2-1 to win Soccer gold
    5. United States defeated Spain to win men’s Basketball gold
    6. Andy Murray of Great Britain beat Roger Federer of Switzerland to win tennis men’s singles gold
    7. Michael Phelps bagged 6 medals(4 Gold+2 Silver) in swimming, becoming the most decorated Olympian ever with 22 medals.
    8. Russia defeated Brazil to win men’s volleyball gold.
  • India’s performance-India had sent 83-member team to the London Olympics 2012, which is the largest ever contingent sent by Indian Olympic Association in the Olympics. Shooter Vijay Kumar bagged the silver medal in the 25 m Rapid Fire event, while MC Mary Kom, five-time world women's boxing champion, ace shuttler Saina Nehwal and rifle shooter Gagan Narang won India bronze medals. Gagan Narang opened India’s account at the medal tally after he won bronze in shooting event on 30 July 2012.

Persons
  • Vilasrao Deshmukh(67)- The Union Minister for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences died of multiple organ failure at the Global Health City Hospital in Chennai on 14 August 2012. He was born on 26 May 1945 in Babhalgaon, Latur district, in Maharashtra. He first became the Chief Minister of Maharashtra after 1999 state assembly elections. He remained on the position till 2003. Again he became the chief minister in the year 2004 but he resigned from the post following the Mumbai Terror Attack on 26 November 2008.In 2009, Deshmukh was elected to the Rajya Sabha and was made the Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises. Later he became the Minister for Rural Development replacing Manishankar Aiyyar.
  • Ashok Mehta(65)- One of India's most accomplished cinematographers, who had been critically ill from lung cancer, passed away on 15 August. Mehta was an award-winning lensman and had worked with prominent filmmakers like Subhash Ghai, Rajiv Rai and MF Husain. He was the director of photography in films like 36 Chowringhee Lane, Utsav, Trikal, Khalnayak, Bandit Queen, Chalte Chalte, Gajgamini, Trimurti, Khalnayak, Moksha and Ram Lakhan. He also launched model-turned-actor Arjun Rampal in 'Moksha' opposite Manisha Koirala. A true Renaissance Man, he even wrote and acted in some movies.

Science and Technology

  • The Indian Institute of Soil Science developed a web-based system for advising farmers the right quantity of fertilizers that they should use in their soils for a particular type of crop. The software takes into account the soil type in different districts of the country and available nutrient in the soil. It takes into consideration the crop and cropping season in calculating the nutrient requirement. This system is presently available for all the districts in 11 states- Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Orissa, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.

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