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July 16 to 22 Current Affairs

International Affairs


China pledged to give 20 billion dollar loan to African countries over the next three years. The announcement about the credit line was made by the Chinese President Hu Jin Tao at the opening session of the fifth Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing on 19 July 2012. China had pledged 10 billion dollar loans at the previous China-Africa summit in 2009. 

Chinese President while addressing the conference announced to increase Chinese assistance to Africa by building agricultural technology demonstration centres, training 30000 personnel and offering 18000 scholarships. To provide better medical amenities in the continent, China will also send 1500 medical staffs to the continent. Heads of state and representatives from 50 African countries attended the conference. 





A news report by tax researchers estimates the amount of black money deposited by a 'global super-rich elite' in offshore accounts is as much as 13 trillion pounds (nearly 20 trillion dollars) – equivalent of the combined GDP of the US and Japan. The report by Tax Justice Network released to The Observer is said to be the 'most detailed estimates yet of the size of the offshore economy'.





The world's largest meeting on HIV/AIDS opened on 22 July in Washington with calls to speed up the global response to the three-decade-long epidemic that killed 1.5 million people last year. 

The 19th International AIDS Conference drew around 25,000 people, including politicians, scientists and activists, as well as some of the estimated 34 million people living with HIV who will tell their stories. 





French lawmakers voted to reduce the salaries of President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault by 30 percent as part of a series of budget-cutting moves.

The lower house National Assembly thus endorsed one of the first decisions made by Hollande after he came to power in May, bringing his and his prime minister's monthly salaries down from 21,300 Euros ($26,100) per month to 14,910 Euros.

Government ministers will also see their pay cut by 30 per cent to 9,940 Euros a month.

Earlier in the day, the lawmakers backed a raft of other measures abolishing tax breaks and taxing the wealthy as the new Socialist government pursued efforts to kick start the economy with a tax-and-spend programme. The measures were part of the first budget bill presented by Hollande's government since he unseated Nicolas Sarkozy.





India has slipped by 12 ranks since 1995 and is placed 112th in the global "Child Development Index" released by Save the Children, the world's leading independent NGO that works for child rights. According to the report, which analysed child well-being on three basic parameters of health, education and nutrition since 1995, India's CDI fell by three ranks from 100 to 103 between 1995 and 1999 and by another nine ranks (103 to 112) between 2005 and 2010. Out of 141 countries covered by the report, India is among the 14 whose ranks have dropped, it said. 

The CDI, launched in 2008 as a tool to monitor the progress in child well-being, ranks the best and worst places for children and improvements in child well-being globally. It measures the number of children in school, under five mortality rates and number of underweight children. The three indicators are aggregated by simply calculating the average score between them for each period under review, meaning that each of them has equal weighting in the index scores. 

According to the report, Japan is at present the best place in the world for a child, followed by Spain, Germany, Italy, France, Canada, Switzerland, UK and Norway. The US is ranked 24 in the Index, while Australia is at 16th place and China is at 29th. Somalia is at the bottom. The report also found that conditions for children have improved in 90 per cent of countries since the second half of the 1990s. Compared to that time, a child is now a third more likely to go to school and a third less likely to die before their fifth birthday.





According to the findings of the report Trends in global CO2 emissions, global carbon dioxide (CO2), emission increased by three percent in 2011. The three percent increase in CO2 took the total amount of CO2 in air at an all-time high of 34 billion tones. The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) released the report on 19 July 2012. 

The United States with 17.3 tones per capita remains one of the top CO2 emitters, while, China, the world’s most populous country, average CO2 emissions increased by nine percent to 7.2 tones per capita. The 27-nation European Union emitted 7.5 tones of CO2 per person. Emissions from 34-member Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries account for only one third of global CO2 emissions in 2011. China (29 percent), the United States (16 percent), the European Union (11 percent), India (six percent), the Russian Federation (five percent) and Japan (four percent) were the top CO2 emitters in 2011. 





The 15-member powerful UN body, the Security Council, has been unable to adopt a resolution that would have threatened sanctions on Syria, following the negative votes of China and Russia - both permanent members. The negative votes came on 9 July, amid pleas for a concerted and united action seeking an immediate halt to the ongoing violence in Syria. 

This is the third double-veto on the ongoing crisis in Syria. Eleven of the Council members, including India-whose nonpermanent membership ends in December--voted in favour of the resolution's text. Two others - Pakistan and South Africa - abstained. A veto by any one of the Council's five permanent members means a resolution cannot be adopted. 





The seventh G20 summit took place in the Mexican City Los Cabos on 18-19 July 2012. The summit was attended by the leaders of 20 nations including South Africa, Canada, India, Mexico, United States, China, Japan, South Korea, Russia, Turkey, Argentina, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, and Australia. 

The G 20 Summit, one of the key important multilateral event, was held to discuss the prominent economic issues such as eurozone crisis, poor scenario of global economic growth and faltering international financial systems. The participant nations and world bodies also ratified the Los Cabos Action Plan for growth and employment. 





UNAIDS Report 2012 released on 18 July 2012, states that, new HIV infections among children are declining at a steady rate. The report noted that about 330000 children were newly infected in 2011, which indicated a 24 percent drop in the new HIV case among children since 2009. 

Report asserted that nearly 60 percent of the 1.5 million pregnant women living with HIV in poor countries received effective anti-AIDS medications last year, which lowered the chances of passing on the virus to their babies. As per the report about 34.2 million people worldwide were living with the AIDS virus at the end of 2011. 

UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, is an innovative partnership that leads and inspires the world in achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. UNAIDS came into existence in 1994, has its headquarter in Geneva, Switzerland. Michel Sidibe is the Executive Chairman of UNAIDS.


National Affairs


The Union Cabinet on 20th July, approved extension of the tenure by a year till July 16, 2013 of Justice M B Shah Commission of Inquiry which was set up to look into cases of illegal mining. An additional expenditure of Rs.50 lakh will be incurred because of the extension. It will cover Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Goa and Madhya Pradesh. The Justice M.B.Shah Commission of Inquiry was set up on November 22, 2011. It is based in Ahmadabad and was required to submit its report by July 16. 





The Union Cabinet on 19th July, has approved introduction of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2012, in Parliament seeking to widen the scope of sexual offence and replace the word 'rape' by the words 'sexual assault' to make the offence gender neutral. According to official spokesperson, the highlights of the Bill include substituting sections 375, 376, 376A and 376B by replacing the existing sections 375, 376, 376A, 376B, 376C and 376D of the Indian Penal Code,1860, replacing the word 'rape' wherever it occurs by the words 'sexual assault' to make the offence of sexual assault gender neutral. 





According to the findings of unemployment survey conducted by the Labour Bureau of the Government of India, the country recorded 3.8 % unemployment rate in the year 2010-11. The earlier figure (2009-10) was 9.4 %. The survey was conducted in all 28 states and 7 Union Territories. The findings of the survey were released on 9 July 2012. As per the survey report, the official unemployment rate of the country was 3.8 %, with urban unemployment and rural unemployment stood at 5.1% and 3.5 % respectively. 

Women unemployment at 6.7 % stood significantly ahead of men unemployment rate at 2.8 %. The report stated that of those with a livelihood, the majority were self-employed or casual labour. While 48.6 % were self-employed, 31% were casual labor. Based on social stratum the rates of employment for the SC, ST, and OBC groups stood at 55.9 per cent, 59.7 %, and 53.3 % respectively, as compared to 48.5 % for the general category. The unemployment rate was found maximum in states such as Goa (16 %), Kerala (9 %) , while Gujarat (1 %) had the lowest number of unemployment rate. 





Pranab Mukherjee was elected as the 13th President of India on 22 July 2012, by defeating his nearest rival PA Sangma with a huge margin as he secured nearly 69 percent of total valid votes. In an electoral college of 10.5 lakh, Pranab Mukherjee secured a vote value of 713763, while, PA Sangma managed to get only a vote value 315987. Returning Officer announced the victory of Pranab Mukherjee for the Presidential election VK Agnihotri. Pranab Mukherjee will be sworn in as the thirteenth President of India on 25 July 2012. 

The election is held through the system of proportional representation by means of the single - transferable vote by secret ballot. The 1971 census is currently under consideration. The candidate who gets 50 percent of votes is considered elected. Supreme Court looks into all disputes related to Presidential election. V V Giri is the only person who was elected as the President of the country as an independent candidate in 1969. Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy was the only person to be elected to the office of President of India unopposed, as no other candidate filed nomination for the post of the President. He was elected to the office of President in July 1977.


Economic Affairs


The empowered group of ministers (EGoM) on telecommunications, headed by union home minister P Chidambaram , recommended to reduce the base price for 2G spectrum airwaves by 4000 crore rupees. The EGoM recommended the base price for 2G spectrum at 14000-16000 crore rupees against 18000 crore rupees suggested by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). The EGoM announced a cut in spectrum usage charges (which will be part of the operators’ revenues towards spectrum fee) from 8-10 percent recommended by Trai to between 3 percent and 6 percent. 

The EGoM’s recommendations will now be sent to the Union Cabinet for its approval. The EGoM also approved the department of telecommunications’ (DoT) suggestion to defer the mode of payment for auction winners. Giving in to demand of telecom operators the DoT had suggested the EGoM that the auction winners should be allowed to pay 25-30 percent of the spectrum fee upfront and rest amount divided in 10 equal installments annually. 





The divestment will help the government to raise about 4000 crore rupees. The government holds 85.82 per cent stake in SAIL. In its annual budget 2012-13 the govt. has set the disinvestment target at 30000 crore rupees (300 billion rupees). On the issue of ownership, it made clear that at least 51 per cent ownership and management control of Central Public Sector Enterprises would remain with the Government.


Awards


Indian Sand Artist Sudarshan Pattnaik(Orissa) won People's Choice Gold Medal Award in Moscow on 18 July 2012. It was the Second World Sand Sculpture Championship. He sculpted the copy of the face of The Showman of the Millennium Raj Kapoor, while the theme of the competition was WORLD CINEMA. Sudarshan Pattnaik had also won Berlin World Championship 2008. He had also won his first Prize in Copenhagen Sand Sculpture Championship in Denmark. He also won two gold medals and a trophy in Solo International Sand Sculpture contest 2012.


Sports


David Howel of England won the 6th Leiden International Chess tournament on 15 July 2012, which was held in Leiden, Netherland. The Indian grand master Parimarjan Negi took the second position. While the third place of the Leiden tournament was shared by two Indian Grandmasters S Arun Prasad and M.R. Lalith at 6.5 points.


Persons


Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma: African Union (AU) on 15 July 2012 elected South Africa's home affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as its new head, making her the first female head of the union. In a closely fought contest Dlamini-Zuma beat incumbent Jean Ping of Gabon 37-17. Dlamini-Zuma, wife of the former South African President Jacob Zuma, was declared winner following a third round of voting. In election held in January 2012, neither of the two candidates got the two-thirds majority, which was required to be elected as the organization head. Consequently, Ping got an extension of another six months in the office. African Union, the successor to Organisation of African Unity, came into existence in 2002 at Durban summit in South Africa. 

The Union is headquartered at Addis Ababa Ethiopia. A pan-African organization, AU aims at promoting unity and cooperation among African nations. The association also strives to spread democracy and good governance in the continent. At present the African Union has a total of 54 members. Morocco is the only African country which is not the part of the Union. 





Stephen Covey, '7 Habits' author, dies at 79. Stephen R Covey,the well-know motivational speaker and author of the best selling ''The Seven Habits of Highly Effective people'', which sold more than 20 million copies in 38 languages, died on 16th July at a hospital in Idaho Falls, Idaho, due to complications from a bicycle accident in April, according to his family. 

Covey also was the author of several other best sellers, including ' First Things First,' ''Principle-Centered Leadership'', ''The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families,'' and ''The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness''. Covey was the co-founder of Utah-based professional services company Franklin Covey. He lived with his wife in Provo, and has nine children and 52 grandchildren. 





Veteran socialist leader Mrinal Gore, who earned the sobriquet 'Paniwali Bai' for her efforts in bringing drinking water supply to Goregaon, a Mumbai suburb, passed away on 17 July, after a brief illness. A pioneer and visionary, Gore was one of the last of the Socialist pillars in Maharashtra. Gore was elected to Parliament on a Janata Party ticket in 1977. 

Gore belonged to that special set of women who took to politics in a period when it was virtually unthinkable for women to be involved in public work. Influenced by Mahatma Gandhi's Quit India exhortation as a youngster, Mrinal chucked a promising career in medicine to devote herself to organizing the poor and the disenfranchised.





GOVT. has decided on 16 July 2012 to appoint Arun Mishra as the Chief of Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). He will replace E. K. Bharat Bhusan. Arun Mishra was the former IAS officer at West Bengal cadre. He was the joint Secretary of Civil Aviation in the year 2009.DGCA comes under the Ministry of Civil Aviation. DGCA is the regulatory body in the field of Civil Aviation that deals with the safety issues. 





Deepak parekh- HDFC chairman, the govt. has appointed him on 16 July as the new chairman of the High Level Committee on Financing Infrastructure. He would function in an honorary capacity with the rank of minister of state. The committee is authorized to re-examine existing policies and advice necessary changes to present in the investment for the infrastructure sector. It will work under 12th Five- Year project investments plan from 2012 to 2017 of 4099240 crore rupees. The committee was first set up by Rakesh Mohan, former Deputy Governor of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in November 2012. 





Yesteryear Bollywood superstar Rajesh Khanna passed away at his Mumbai residence Ashirwad on 18 July 2012. He was 69. Rajesh Khanna is considered to be the first superstar of Indian cinema.  Rajesh Khanna’s real name was Jatin Khanna, was born on 29 December 1942, in Amritsar, Punjab.  

He was conferred the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.Rajesh Khanna was also the member of Lok Sabha from 1992 to 1996. He was elected to the lower house on the Congress Party ticket from the New Delhi constituency. 





Professor of Economics and the first principal secretary of Indira Gandhi passed away on 19 July 2012 in New Delhi. He was the professor of Economics in the University of Delhi. 

He was the only person who had joined Prime Minister’s Office in the year 1970. He was the team member which was accompanied by Indira Gandhi when she had signed Simla Agreement with Pakistan after the War of Bangladesh in the year 1971. Dhar was one of the founders of Delhi School of Economics. He worked as the Assistant Secretary General in United Nations, Research and Policy Analysis in New York in the year 1976-78. 





SUMAHENDRA, renowned Art Expert, passed away on 19 July 2012. He was the director of Visual Art in Jawahar Kala Kendra, Rajasthan. He was also the retired Principal of Rajasthan School of Art. He was known as the expert in Rajasthani miniature paintings and frescos. 

His work included the World Famous frescos in Bundi fort in the National Museum which is located at Delhi. In addition, He was the author of numerous books which are based on painting. Varnamala is one of his famous book.





BAL APTE, top Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Ideologue and Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Bal Apte died in Mumbai on 17 July 2012. He was 73. Bal Apte was twice elected to the Rajya Sabha (in 2000 and 2006), where he represented the state of Maharashtra. He was the vice president of BJP during 2002-2010 . 





Rajkeshwur Purryag became the fifth president of Mauritius on 21st July. His predecessor Anerood Jugnauth resigned in March following open conflict with Prime Minister Navin Chandra Ramgoolam. The row erupted when the leader of the opposition Paul Berenger announced the creation of an opposition alliance headed by Mr. Jugnauth.Mr. Ramgoolam asked Mr. Jugnauth to either deny the statement by the opposition, or — in the case of confirmation — to resign, arguing that his new role was incompatible with a position as head of state. 





Captain Lakshmi Sehgal, who was part of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose's Indian National Army, died on 23rd July in Knapur, following a brief illness. Sehgal (97), breathed her last at a private hospital at 11.20am, her daughter and noted CPM leader Subhashini Ali said. Sehgal, who was ill for some time, was admitted to the hospital on July 19 after she suffered a heart attack at her residence in Civil Lines area here. She was kept on life support system. She was very active during the Independence movement and had commanded the 'Rani of Jhansi Regiment' of the INA formed by Bose. A doctor by profession, Sehgal was working as a medical practitioner and a social worker. She was awarded Padma Vibhushan in 1998. 





Derek o’ Brian, the Rajya Sabha MP from West Bengal became the first Anglo Indian to vote in Presidential Elections in India. Brian, a Trinamool Congress MP, cast his vote in Kolkata on 19 July 2012. O'Brien voted , as he is not a nominated member and has been elected to the Rajya Sabha from West Bengal . 

As per the constitution of India an MP who has been nominated by the President to either of the house of the Indian Parliament is not eligible for casting vote in Presidential election. In Rajya Sabha, there are twelve members, who are nominated by the President and can not vote in Presidential election. 





Dawoud Rajiha Syrian Defence Minister Dawoud Rajiha, was killed in a bomb blast in Damascus, capital of Syria ,on 18 july,2012. The bomb strike was carried out by a suicide bomber, who was apparently a part of the security team that was posted to guard Syrian President Bashar Al Assad’s inner group. 


Science and Technology


A Russian Soyuz TMA-05M spacecraft carrying three astronauts including Sunita Williams, the Indian-American astronaut, took-off for the international space station on 15 July 2012 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Three astronauts on board including Sunita Williams, Russian Soyuz Commander Yuri Malenchenko and Japan flight engineer Akihiko Hoshide will take two days to reach to the International space station. NASA’s space shuttle programme came to an end in July 2011, which left US astronauts dependent on Russian Soyuz spacecrafts for ferrying to the International Space Station. 

The Soyuz launch marked the 37th anniversary of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project that opened the door to US-Russian cooperation in space science. Sunita Williams, the Indian-American astronaut, was born on 19 September 1965 in Euclid, Ohio and was raised in Massachusetts in US. She joined NASA in June 1998.Previously she served as a flight engineer on board the International Space Station. She launched with the crew of STS-116 on 9 December 2006, docking with the station on 11 December 2006. 





Indigenously built stealth warship `INS Sahyadri' was commissioned in the Indian Navy on 21 July, adding firepower to its anti-submarine warfare capabilities. The frigate, last in the series of stealth warships after `INS Shivalik' and `INS Satpura', was commissioned by Defence Minister A K Antony at the Naval dockyard here in presence of Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma and senior Naval officials. INS Sahyadri is the last warship of `Project-17' undertaken by the Navy.



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