August 4 to 6 Current Affairs

International Issues


Typhoon Damrey hit the Chinese provinces Liaoning and Hebei in the first week of August 2012 causing severe damage to life and properties. The Typhoon also caused heavy rains and floods.

Approximately, 1.46 million people of 43 counties and urban districts in 10 cities of Liaoning were affected by heavy rains and floods.





Prime Minister of Fiji, Laisenia Qarase was punished for One year Prison on 3 August 2012 by the Supreme Court of Fiji. He found guilty on corruption charges. He was unable to answer the Government about his private investment in three companies to whom he was helping financially from past 20 years. He is not allowed to take part in the Prime Minister’s elections of Fiji in the year 2014. 





Sudan in the first week of August 2012 signed an agreement with South Sudan over oil payments. South Sudan agreed to pay Sudan just over 9 dollars per barrel to transport oil to its ports. The two nations held three weeks of talks in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa before reaching the agreement.

The dispute over how much South Sudan should pay North Sudan to transport oil resulted in South Sudan suspending all oil production. The dispute badly affected the economies of both nations.

South Sudan stopped oil production in January 2012 over the dispute and Sudan will receive 3bn dollars as compensation for revenue lost in that period. However, the agreement will be scrutinized further.

When South Sudan was separated from the north in 2011, three-quarters of Sudan's oil went with the former. The two countries also have outstanding border disputes. South Sudanese troops briefly occupied the disputed oil-rich border area of Heglig in April 2012.





The US government on 2 August 2012 announced to impose some fresh sanctions on Iran. Sanctions, imposed under Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (CISADA), put punitive regulation on those who continued to maintain ties with Iran.

Under the sanction Bank of Kunlun in China and Elaf Islamic Bank in Iraq faced cut off from transactions with US institutions. The two banks were punished for facilitating transactions worth millions of dollars on behalf of sanctioned Iranian banks. The new sanctions categorically target the Iranian energy and petrochemical sectors.

The sanctions are aimed at preventing Iran from establishing payment mechanisms for the purchase of Iranian oil to circumvent existing sanctions, and utilises the existing structure of our sanctions law, including exceptions for significant reductions in the purchase of Iranian oil.


National Issues



Government of Delhi Approved the Proposal for PPP(Public Private Partnership) in Water management, maintenance and supply on 3 August 2012. The Government of the state invited Private Entities in management, maintenance and supply of water in the state. It aims to reduce the water scarcity in the state. The decision took in the Delhi Jal Board Meeting headed by Sheila Dixit.

Now, Private Entities would command the areas of Malviya Nagar, Vasant Vihar, Khirki, Saket, Adhchini, Begumpuri, Chirag Delhi, Hauz Rani, Shivalik, Pushp Vihar, Sheikh Sarai, Qutub Institutional Areas, Nav Jeevan, Sarvodaya Enclave, Qutub, Lal Tanki, Bawaji Wala, Kishan garh and Garhwal colony in Mehrauli areas, West End Enclave, Shanti Niketan, Anand Niketan in Vasant Vihar areas.

These areas would be maintained for underground reservoirs and water treatment plants through Public Private Partnership. The Companies involved in the Water Management would receive the fee for their work by Delhi Jal Board.

According to the Contract, Delhi Jal Board has the same assests and the Private companies would work related to the water management, supply and maintenance.





The Union Cabinet on 3 August 2012 gave its consent to the launch of satellite to the Mars proposed in 2013. The Cabinet decision came following a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The Department of Space had sent a proposal to the Union Cabinet, in which it had sought government’s permission to launch a satellite to study Mars, also called Red Planet. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is expected to launch a Mars Orbiter in November 2013 with a 25kg scientific payload.

The Mars mission will be launched by ISRO’s advanced Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). The objective of the mission is to study the climate, geology, origin, evolution and sustainability of life on the planet. If the ISRO fails to launch the Mars Mission next year, other opportunites are available in 2016 and 2018.

India has undertaken the massive space project with the help of United States, Russia, Europe, Japan and China. The mission is estimated to cost the government exchequer about 450 crore rupees. An initial allocation of 125 crore rupees was already made in the budget 2012-13.





The Union Government decided to invest Rs. 425 crore for Gujarat Drought Relief on 3 August 2012. The decision took in the meeting with the Chief Minister of Gujarat. It was headed by the Union Agriculture Minister and Rural Development Minister.

The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) was also agreed to consider the demand of the state to extend the employment opportunities for the state under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), 2005.

The Chief Minister of Gujarat decided to leave 30 percent draught relief funds spent by State government.





The Union Cabinet on 4 August 2012 approved the reserve price for auction of 2G spectrum as well as spectrum usage charges (SUC). The Cabinet set the reserve price of 14000 crore rupees for the 5 megahertz pan-India spectrum in the 1800 megahertz band. The price is 22 percent lower than the telecom regulator's suggestion. An auctioneer will be soon appointed to conduct a fresh auction.

The Cabinet also endorsed the EGoM's recommendation that the reserve price for the 800 megahertz band, which is used by CDMA operators, be fixed at 1.3 times the price for 1800 megahertz band.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had recommended the base price at 18000 crore rupees, which drew a heavy criticism from telecom companies, who argued that the base price suggested by TRAI is irrational. 

The fresh auction of 2G spectrum was necessitated after the Supreme Court scrapped 122 telecom licenses on 2 February 2012 as it found the process of spectrum allocation cramped with flaws.





The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), a semi-autonomous body for trouble-torn Darjeeling hills in West Bengal, sworn in on 4 August 2012. The 50-member body was administered oath by West Bengal Governor MK Narayanan in presence of Home Minister Sushil Shinde, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Railway Minister Mukul Roy.

Bimal Gurung, President of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), will head the first elected body of the GTA. The 50-member body will consists of 45 elected candidates and 5 nominated candidates.

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) had emerged victorious on all 45 seats in the Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) election. The party won 28 seats out of 45 uncontested while, the voting for remaining 17 GTA seats were held on 29 July 2012 and results were declared on 2 August 2012.






Securities and Exchange Board of India(SEBI) inaugurated their local office in Jaipur on 4 August 2012. It was inaugurated by Rajeev Kumar Agarwal, the member of SEBI. The office will be responsible to look after all the regulatory aspects of investor protection, investor education and all the other responsibilities within Rajasthan state.

Jaipur is known as the Pink City. It is the largest city in Rajasthan State.





State Government of Goa launched Ladli Laxmi Scheme on 6 July 2012. Women and Child Welfare department initiated this scheme. The meeting was headed by the Chief Minister of Goa. It aims to prevent female foeticide in the state. 

Under this scheme, girls who are 18 years and above would be provided with Rs. 1 Lakh for their marriage. This scheme is for those girls who lie between the age group of 18-40 years.

This scheme is valid for those girls whose parents are living in Goa for the last 25 years. In addition, the girl should have been born and brought up in the state.

The State Government had reserved the fund of Rs. 150 crore for this scheme. Five banks were enrolled with the Women and Child Welfare department. Goa registers 1000 marriages (approx) every year.





Former Chief Minister of Gujarat, Keshubhai Patel launched Gujarat Parivartan (GPP) Party on 6 August 2012. Keshubhai Patel and the former union textile minister Kanshiram Rana resigned from Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) on 4 August 2012. This Party would contest all the 182 seats in Gujarat assembly elections which will be held by the end of 2012.





Siemens India nailed an order worth two ninety million Euros from National Mineral Development Corporation (NDMC), which is state run, for developing basic oxygen furnace converter for steel marking.

The contract has been awarded to a consortium which is led by Siemens Vai Metals Technologies, SEW infrastructure and Mukand Engineers. The steel works is scheduled to be built at a place called Nagarnar in Chattisgarh with an annual capacity of around three million tones steel. The completion of the steel work is scheduled by mid of 2015.



Economic Issues


The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in a notification issued on 3 August 2012 stated that all registered non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) which who intend to convert themselves into non-banking financial company-micro finance institutions (NBFC-MFIs) would have to seek registration with immediate effect, not later than 31 October 2012.

The central bank also mentioned that the NBFCs have to maintain net-owned funds (NOF) at Rs 3 crore by 31 March 2013, and at Rs.5 crore by 31 March 31 2014. If the NBFCs fail maintain the NOF they will have to ensure that lending to the micro finance sector, that is, individuals, SHGs or JLGs, which qualify for loans from MFIs to be restricted to 10 per cent of the total assets.

The NBFCs operating in the north-eastern region are to maintain the minimum NOF at Rs.1 crore by 31 March 2012, and at Rs.2 crore by 31 March 2014.
Operational Flexibility

To promote operational flexibility the NBFCs are to ensure that the average interest rate on loans during a financial year does not exceed the average borrowing cost during that financial year plus the margin, within the prescribed cap. The RBI notification also stated that while the rate of interest on individual loans may exceed 26 per cent, the maximum variance permitted for individual loans between the minimum and the maximum interest rate cannot exceed 4 per cent.

The average interest paid on borrowings and charged by the MFI will have to be calculated on the average monthly balances of outstanding borrowings and the loan portfolio, respectively.


The RBI also decided that the cap on margins as defined by the Malegam Committee are not to exceed 10 per cent for large MFIs (loans portfolios exceeding Rs.100 crore) and 12 per cent for others. The measure was initiated to ensure that in a low cost environment, the ultimate borrower will benefit, while in a rising interest rate environment and that the lending NBFC-MFIs will have sufficient leeway to operate on viable lines.





The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) permitted banks to lend to telecom companies for the upcoming auction for spectrum, subject to conditions such as mortgaging the spectrum to the lenders. The RBI had laid down a few pre-conditions for financing of telecom firms for the auction of airwaves to protect banks against potential defaults.

The Union cabinet on 3 August 2012 approved a proposal that allows telecom companies bidding for airwaves to mortgage spectrum to raise funds from banks. The government set a reserve or base price of Rs 14000 crore for the auction.

That banks were revising their lending rates in specific maturities without lowering the base rate concerned the RBI. This activity of the banks resulted in the transmission of monetary policy signals by the central bank to be ineffective. The base rate is supposed to be responsive to changes in monetary conditions.

The RBI had formed a committee to assess the monetary policy transmission mechanism and also loan products offering fixed interest rate. The RBI want banks to enact changes in lending rates through their respective benchmark base rates for floating-rate loans.





Fitch Ratings revised the Indian retail sector outlook for the second half of the financial year 2012-13 to negative from stable in the backdrop of a decline in the discretionary spending ability. Fitch has revised down its real GDP forecasts to 6.5% and 7.0% for 2013 and 2014 respectively from the earlier 7.5% and 8.0%. The downward revision was attributed to sluggish demand, high construction costs and liquidity pressures. The worsening business conditions are likely to negatively impact credit profiles. The impact on individual retailers however depends on their ability to manage their capital structures.

According to the rating agency the Private Final Consumption Expenditure (PFCE) growth rate, which was weakest in the last seven years in the first six months of 2012, cannot be expected to improve significantly unless consumer price inflation dips and consumers receive a significant raise in real wages.


Persons



Gurung was sworn in as the CEO on 4 August 2012. It was administered by the Governor of West Bengal, Union Ministers Sushil Kumar Shinde and Mukul Roy, and Mamata Banerjee.He was appointed as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) on 3 August 2012. He was the former president of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM). He has the responsibility to develop hills of Darjeeling, Terai and Dooars. He has to take care of the Administration of Gorkhaland.

Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) is a semi-autonomous administrative body for Darjeeling hills in West Bengal, India. GTA has three hill sub-divisions they are: - Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong and some areas of Siliguri sub-divisions.


Sports


Ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehawal won India its third medal at London Olympics 2012 after she clinched a bronze in women's singles badminton event played at Wembley Arena on 4 August 2012. Saina bagged the bronze after her Chinese opponent Xin Wang conceded the match due to a knee injury. Xin Wang was one game point ahead of Saina when she decided to quit the game due to the unbearable pain. Chinese shuttlers Li Xuerui and Wang Yihan won the gold and silver medals respectively.

Saina’s bronze marked India’s third medal at London Olympics 2012 and twelfth individual medal in the history of modern oympics. The previous two medals came in shooting events. While Gagan Narang won India its first bronze in the London Olympics on 30 July 2012, Vijay Kumar clinched silver on 3 August 2012. With this victory, Saina became the second Indian woman after Karanam Malleshwari to win a medal in the history of olympics. Karnam Malleshwari had earned India a bronze in weight lifting event in 2000 Sydney Olympics.





Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt won gold in men’s 100 meter race with 9.63 seconds, fastest in the history of Olympics. His compatriot Yohan Blake came second as he took 9.75 second to complete the race. US’ sprinter Justin Gatlin grabbed bronze with 9.79 seconds.

Bolt holds a world record of 9.58 second in 100 meter racing, the record he set at the Berlin World Championships in 2009. With it, he now has the three fastest 100 meters in history next to his name. He is only the second Olympic champion in the 100 meters to defend his title after United State's Carl Lewis.


Science & Technology


The US space agency NASA landed Curiosity, a huge new robot rover on Mars on 5 August 2012. The one-tonne vehicle touched the surface of Mars after a 345-million-mile expedition. The robot rover will now conduct a study to find out whether the planet was ever hospitable to life. The robot rover, which epitomizes the technological wizardry of man kind, is set to spend nearly two years for the mission.

NASA undertook the mission with an objective to determine whether Mars has ever had the conditions to support life. The ambitious project costed the US government about 2.5 billion dollar.

Specific Technological Features of Curiosity are:

• The 900 kg rover has the top speed of about 4cm/s

• Plutonium generators installed on the rover will deliver heat and electricity for at least 14 years

• 75kg science payload more than 10 times as massive as those of earlier US Mars rovers

• Equipped with tools to brush and drill into rocks, to scoop up, sort and sieve samples

• Variety of analytical techniques to discern chemistry in rocks, soil and atmosphere

• Even carries a laser to zap rocks; beam will identify atomic elements in rocks

• Equipped with 17 cameras, which will identify particular targets, and a laser will zap those rocks to probe their chemistry

• Findings of the mission will be delivered to Earth through antennas on the rover deck



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