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July 30 and 31 Current Affairs

International Issues



Summer Olympic games 2012 inaugurated at Olympic Stadium at the Olympic Park in East London on 27 July 2012. 

Queen Elizabeth II officially declared the commencement of the 30th Olympics Game, popularly called the London Olympics, amidst the sparkling fireworks. The games, which will conclude on 12 August 2012, will see nearly 10500 athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees participating in as many as 26 sports events.

London was selected to host the 30th Summer Olympics on 6 July 2005 after it defeated bids from Moscow, New The York City, Madrid and Paris during the 117th IOC Session in Singapore. London also got a distinction to host the modern Olympic Games three times. The city had previously host the games in 1908 and in 1948.

Major facts related to London Olympics 2012

1. 100 heads of states were present at the three and a half hour long opening ceremony

2. More than 10000 performers participated in the opening ceremony

3. The opening ceremony was directed by celebrated Hollywood director Danny Boyle

4. Motto of the London Olympics is - Inspire a Generation

5. 10500 athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees participating in as many as 26 sports events





People of Romania voted in a referendum on impeaching the President Traian Basescu on 28 July 2012. The President, however, survived the impeachment because of low voter turnout. According to Romanian law, the referendum required at least 50 percent voting of eligible voters, while the turnout was under 46 percent on the day of referendum.

The referendum came following Romania's center-left government, led by Prime Minister Victor Ponta, suspended Basescu as it accused him of making unnecessary interference in government affairs. Traian Basescu was removed from his post by the parliament on 10 July 2012, but as the referendum stands invalid now, he will be reinstated to the position.

Traian Basescu was elected president of the country in 2004. Previously he was suspended from office in 2007, though he reacquired the position a month later through a referendum. In 2009 he was re-elected the president for a second 5-year term.





The Sahara Group acquired landmark Plaza Hotel of New York on 30 July 2012 in a deal worth 570 Million Dollars. Plaza Hotel was jointly owned by the Israeli Businessman, Yitzhak Tshuva and Saudi Arabia based firm, Kingdom Holdings Co.

Elad Properties sold their 60 percent of their stake to Sahara group. The remaining 40 percent was received by Kingdom Holdings Co.

Five Star Hotel Sahara Star situated in Mumbai is owned by the Sahara Group. The Sahara Group also owns the Grosvenor House Hotel situated in London.





Pakistan and the US on 31 July 2012 finally signed an agreement on transporting supplies for NATO troops in Afghanistan through Pakistan, until the end of 2015. The agreement was signed by Additional Defence Secretary Rear Admiral Farrukh Ahmed and US Charge d Affaires Richard Hoagland.

Under the agreement, the US will provide 1.1 billion dollar aid to Pakistan for fighting terrorists within its borders. The agreement will cease to exist by the end of 2015, though, it can be renewed for one-year intervals beyond that.

The agreement is set to replace the existing arrangements, which is not an official agreement and largely based on a verbal understanding.


National Issues



The World Bank approved an 1100 crore rupees loan for Himachal Pradesh to promote green initiatives and sustainable development in the state. The loan agreement was signed between the World Bank and the state government in New Delhi on 28 July 2012.

The financial assistance consists of 90 per cent grant and 10 per cent loan at interest rate of 0.7 per cent (payable in 30 years). The loan is directed towards the development of industry, tourism, power and infrastructure projects in the state.

The planning commission of India in its environment performance report released on 26 July 2012, ranked Himachal Pradesh as top state in the country on environmental performance index. According to the 2009 Forest Survey of India, the northern hilly state has a total of 37033 sq km of forest area, of which 3224 sq km is very dense forest.





In a move that is likely to impact the crude oil supply to the country, India banned US-sanctioned Iranian ships from entering its water. The decision to this effect was taken by the government on 27 July 2012.

Earlier in July 2012, the government had allowed import of crude oil from Iran in ships arranged by Tehran. It had allowed Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited (MRPL) and other state refiners to import oil from Iran on CIF (cost, insurance and freight) basis wherein Tehran was to arrange for ships and insurance. But the order was annulled within days and MRPL, the nation's largest importer of Iranian oil, could hardly import a ship from Tehran.

The US had imposed sanctions on the National Iranian Tanker Company and its 58 vessels on 13 July 2012, in a move aimed at forcing Iran to stop its illicit nuclear programme. Earlier European Union had also imposed a similar kind of ban on Iran's oil.

The decision to ban US-sanctioned Iranian ships will have far reaching consequences for India as Iran is the fourth largest oil supplier to the country. India has been largely dependent on Iran to meet its growing oil need. India imports nearly 12 percent of its entire oil requirement from Iran, and banning the Iranian ships could aggravate the situation in the country which has already been facing the high price of oil.





The Union government on 30 July 2012 introduced national certification standards for organic textiles to boost the demand for organic textiles in major markets, including Europe and Japan.  

The Indian Standards for Organic Textiles (ISOT) launched by Commerce, Industry and Textiles Minister Anand Sharma here is to be included under the National Programme for Organic Productions (NPOP). The NPOP includes norms for organic production and processing of agriculture crops along with certification standards. All organic products are grown under a system of agriculture without the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides.

Prior to the introduction of the national certification standards, private standards prevailed in the country for organic textiles. The private standards were not in conformity with the international benchmarks.

India with the introduction of the national certification standards thus took over the long-standing position of the Global Organic Textiles standards (GOTS), which are private standards prevailing in the organic textiles industry. India became the only country in the world to have introduced organic textiles standards at the national level.

Organic textiles exports were pegged at Rs 1027 crore in 2011-12 as per the data provided by the APEDA. In 2011 India exported certified organic products to various countries in Europe, Asia and the US worth Rs 1866 crore. India currently produces more than 1000 branded organic products which are backed by certification.

The demand for Indian organic products such as tea, coffee, spices, basmati rice, cereals, garment, vegetables and medicinal plants was found to be steadily growing in recent years as consumers' prefer products which are free from chemical residues.





The cabinet reshuffle carried out following the resignation of Pranab Mukherjee from the union cabinet, who became the President of India on 25 July 2012. Mukherjee resigned as the Union finance minister on 26 June 2012 and since then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was looking after the portfolio.

P Chidambaram : Union Finance Minister
Chidambaram, 66, was given the charge of Home Ministry following the resignation of Shivraj Patil who was forced to step down after the Mumbai Terrorist attack on 26 November 2008. Before taking over the Home Affairs, Chidambaram was holding the Finance portfolio. He was made the Finance Minister after the Congress led UPA came into power after 2004 general elections.

Sushilkumar Shinde : Union Home Minister
Sushilkumar Shinde, a prominent Dalit leader from Maharashtra, has been first time given the charge of any of the key ministry. Shinde, who saw a meteoric rise from a Police Sub Inspector in Maharashtra to the Union Home Minister, was given the charge of Home Ministry at a time when Assam, the north-eastern state is burning in the fire of sectarian violence and the state government has starkly failed in its attempt to pacify the situation. Before taking over as the Union Home Minister Shinde was looking after the Power Ministry.

Veerappa Moily : Union Minister for Corporate Affairs and Power
Veerappa Moily, the veteran Congressman, who also holds the charge of corporate ministry, was given the additional charge of power ministry in the middle of the worst power crisis of the history of the country. The electricity crisis erupted as three power transmission grids Northern, Eastern and North-eastern failed, leaving the half of the country with a complete blackout.





India's national news broadcasting channel NDTV sued the country’s only television audience measurement company TAM India and its global parent firms Nielsen and Kantar on 31 July 2012. The channel accused officials at TAM of being indulged in fraudulent and manipulating TV ratings.

NDTV, which filed the lawsuit in Supreme Court of New York, demanded damages of at least 810 million dollar for its losses over the last eight years. Besides, it also claimed the 580 million dollar compensation for losses due to negligence over the last three years.


TAM (Television Audience Measurement) the media research company installs PeopleMeters in over 8000 sample homes to monitor viewership patterns. The findings of TAM are instrumental in making the corporate decisions. In its lawsuit, NDTV accused TAM of fraudulent and claimed that the small sample size gave rise to the rampant corruption in Media industry.

NDTV is one of the India’s top broadcasters which has its presence in both English and Hindi media. The company also runs a business channel with name NDTV Profit. It was founded by Prannoy Roy, an eminent journalist and current chairman and director of NDTV Group in 1988.





The union government announced a financial assistance of 1900 crore under various schemes for the rain deficient states. It also extended a diesel subsidy of fifty percent to farmers to save the standing crops through groundwater irrigation which would be shared between the centre and the states.

The decisions were taken at the meeting of the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM). The meeting was chaired by Agriculture Minsiter, Sharad Pawar.

Amongst the states facing the problems are Parts of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab and Haryana. The overall kharif sowing is lower by 56.03 lakh hectares compared to the normal area, with a shortfall in the cultivation of rice, coarse cereals and pulses largely in Karnataka, Rajasthan and Gujarat.

Apart from this, an interim assistance of Rs. Thirty eight crore for supply of drinking water would be given to Karnataka, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.


Bilateral Issues



India and Bangladesh on 24 July 2012 decided to fast track the implementation of various agreements reached between them in 2010 and 2011. The decision was taken during the foreign office consultations held between them in New Delhi. The various agreements are related to projects under the Indian line of credit, land boundary agreement implementation, trade facilitation measures, infrastructure development of land customs station and border haats. The co-operation in renewable energy and nuclear energy was also discussed during the Foreign Office consultations.

Infrastructure and development projects worth 800 million US Dollars have already been identified and are in different stages of implementation in Bangladesh under the line of credit being provided by India which include purchase of buses, railway wagons, coaches and engines.





India and China agreed to take the defence and security dialogue to a higher level and work to take steps to ensure that the two countries achieve a USD 100 billion trade target by 2015 on 26 July 2012.

The dialogue of forty minutes took place on the sidelines of the Rio+20 Environment Summit by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabo. Post the dialogue, Prime Minister Singh invited Chinese investment in infrastructure in India.

The two leaders also discussed the issue of trans-border rivers flowing in both the countries, India and China during which Beijing agreed to transfer of information in this regard to New Delhi.

The two countries have agreed to establish strategic and cooperative partnership for peace and prosperity, they also reiterated their intention to promote regular ministerial-level exchanges and make full use of the strategic dialogue and other bilateral dialogue mechanisms.

As far the trans-border rivers issue is concerned, China has maintained that its hydropower project on Brahmaputra river in Tibet is not obstructing the water flow to India. It has also said that its dam is not big enough to affect the lower riparian regions like in India.


Economic Issues


According to the quarterly report on ‘Public debt management’ prepared by the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) under the Ministry of Finance, India’s public debt rose by 4.9 per cent to 3752576 crore rupees during the first quarter (April-June) of fiscal year 2012 from 3578244 crore rupees in the fourth quarter (January-March) of 2011-12. The report was released by the government on 27 July 2012.

The report pointed out that internal debt constituted 90.6 per cent compared with 90.1 per cent at the end of March, 2012 quarter. The report noted that outstanding internal debt of the Government at 3398154 crore rupees constituted 33.4 per cent of GDP compared with 36.4 per cent in the last quarter of 2011-2012.

On the tax front, report revealed, the government did remarkably better as gross tax collections during April-May period at 7.8 per cent of budget estimate were higher than 6.6 per cent a year ago. Personal income tax collections at 25999 crore rupees also surged by 44.2 per cent against budgeted estimate of 13.9 per cent for 2012-13. In the direct taxes, corporate tax collections at 10137 crore rupees showed a healthy growth.

Among the indirect taxes, customs and excise duties showed negative growth of 2 per cent and 4.6 per cent, respectively, against budgeted growth rates of 22 per cent and 29.1 per cent. Service tax collections, however, increased by 37.7 per cent during April-May 2012-13 as against budget estimate of 30.5 per cent.




The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in its April-June quarter monetary policy review released on 31 July 2012 left the key policy rates unchanged. The repo rate - the rate at which banks borrow from RBI - thus remained unchanged at 8 percent while the reverse repo rate – the rate at which, the banks lend to RBI – remained stable at 7 percent. Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) - the amount of total deposits that banks are required to keep with the central bank - also remained unchanged at 4.75.

The statutory liquidity ratio (SLR) - the percentage of total deposits that banks need to invest in the government bonds was changed to 23 percent from the erstwhile 24 percent. The cut in SLR is broadly aimed at enhancing the liquidity in the system to ensure free flow of credit growth.

RBI had last cut the policy rates by 50 bps in its annual monetary policy announced on 17 April 2012. The bank decision had come after three years of stringent monetary policy

According to the Wholesale Price Inflation (WPI) data released by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry on 16 July 2012, India’s headline inflation in the month of June 2012 slowed to 7.25 percent.

Highlights of the RBI Quarterly Monetary Policy Review:

  • Repo rate - the rate at which banks borrow from RBI remained unchanged at 8 percent.
  • Reverse repo rate – the rate at which, the banks lend to RBI – kept unchanged at 7 percent.
  • CRR - the amount of total deposits that banks are required to keep with the central bank - also remained unchanged at 4.75
  • SLR was changed to 23 percent from the erstwhile 24 percent
  • Projection for WPI based inflation for March 2013 raised to 7 percent
  • Economic growth outlook for the fiscal year 2012-13 cut to 6.5 percent




Exports from Special Economic Zones (SEZs) grew 64 per cent to Rs 118321.56 crore during the first quarter (April-June) of the fiscal 2012-13. Export Promotion Council for EOUs and SEZs (EPCES) mentioned that investments worth Rs 213605.54 crore were made in SEZs as on 30 June 2012. As on 30th June, 2012 investments worth Rs.213605.54 crore were made in SEZs and this sector generated employment to 920243 persons.

The Union Government had granted 588 formal approvals for setting up of SEZs. Of the total 588, 386 had been notified while 158 were in operation as on 30 June 2012. 

The Minimum Alternate Tax and Dividend Distribution Tax had affected SEZ growth, investments, employment and exports. MAT/DDT implementation also sent wrong signals to the international investment community which look at India for its resources of skills and manpower. The EPCES had on 30 July 2012 sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's intervention for some long-term benefits to this sector in order bring it back to its established state.


Sports


Gaurav Nandrajog won Coca-Cola Squash Open Championship 2012 on 29 July 2012. Gaurav defeated Sandeep Jhangra with the score of 3-2. The score of the five sets were 7-11, 7-11, 12-10, 11-8, 11-7. The Game was held in Kendriya Vidyalaya Squash Courts, R.K.Puram, New Delhi.

In Semi-finals Gaurav Nandrajog defeated Laxman Joshi with the score of 3-0. The score of the three sets were 11-3, 11-4, and 11-4.

Sandeep Jhangra had celebrated his victory with Bronze Medal in Asian Games 2010 for the category of Team Championship. In Semi Finals, Sandeep had defeated Karm Kumar with the score of 3-0.

Third Position was secured by Karm Kumar. Karm defeated Laxman Joshi with the score of 3-0. The scores of the three sets were 11-6, 11-6 and 11-4. Karm Kumar became the first Champion of the 105 Tournament which was organized by Indian Squash Professionals (ISP). Karm defeated Rishi Jahan with 3-0 in the final Match.





Ace Indian Shooter won India its first medal in the London Olympics 2012 after he clinched the bronze medal in the men's 10 meter air rifle event on 30 July 2012. While Abhinav Bindra, who had won a gold medal in the Beijing Olympics 2008, failed to qualify for finals and finished sixteenth.

Romania’s shooter Alin George Moldoveanu claimed the gold medal with a total score of 702.1 while Italy's Niccolo Campriani clinched the silver with a score of 701.5. Narang came third with a total score of 701.1.

It was third time when Gagan Narang was participating in Olympics. In previous Athens and Beijing Olympic games he could not turn his performance into medal. This was India’s third medal in shooting events in the history of Olympics. Earlier Rajyawardhan Singh Rathore and Abhinav Bondra had won India silver and Gold medal respectively in 2004 and 2008 olympic games. Narang’s bronze also marked India’s tenth individual medal in the history of Olympic games.

Gagan Narang, who hails from Amritsar in Punjab was conferred with the Padma Shree Award in 2010. Considering his tremendous contribution to the field of sports, in year 2010, Gagan Narang was chosen for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, the highest sports award in the country.





Hockey India on 30 July 2012 signed a multi-year broadcast agreement with ESPN STAR Sports to exclusively broadcast all international hockey test matches under Hockey India to be played in India for the next 5 years. Under the agreement the ESPN STAR Sports will also exclusively cover Hockey India League (HIL), which is expected to be launched in January 2013.

The Hockey India is coming up with a professional hockey league that will see the best of Indian and international hockey players showcase their sporting skill. The first edition of the league is expected to be played in the month of January 2013. At least six franchise hockey teams will participate in the league and will feature 33 hockey matches to be played in prime time in state-of-the-art stadia across the country. All teams will play each other on a home and away basis (30 league matches) followed by 2 semifinals and the final.





US swimmer Michel Phelps became the most successful athlete in the history of Olympic games after he won the gold medal in 4x200 metre freestyle relay in final race at the Aquatic Centre on 31 July 2012.

Phelps, who is playing his 4th Olympics, with this victory took his individual Olympic tally to 19 (15 gold, two silver and two bronze), surpassing the 18 won by Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina between 1956 and 1964.

He first swam at the Olympics in 2000 Sydney Olympics, when he was just 15. He became the youngest American male swimmer in 68 years and placed fifth in the 200m butterfly. He also holds the world record in swimming when he swam1:54.92 in the 200m butterfly event in March 2001.

Six-time winner of the World Swimmer of the Year Award, Phelps has to his credit the record of winning maximum number of gold medals (8) won in a single Olympics, the feat he achieved hduring 2008 Beijing Games surpassing American swimmer Mark Spitz's seven-gold record at Munich in 1972.


Persons


Kuchipudi Dance Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam passed away on 29 July 2012. He was 83 years old. He was honoured with Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in the year 1998. He was born in Kuchipudi Village in Krishna District of coastal Andhra Pradesh where Kuchipudi dance was originated. 





Anil Kumar was appointed as the new Director General for Employee’s State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) on 27 July 2012. Employee’s State Insurance Corporation comes under the Ministry of Labour and Employment.

Anil Kumar was an IAS Officer from the 1981 batch. He was the former Additional Chief Secretary in Animal Resources Development Department, Government of West Bengal.

He had successfully completed his graduation and post graduation from IIT Kanpur and IIM Bangalore respectively. In addition, he had completed his Master’s degree in International Affairs from the University of Columbia, United States.





Deutsche Bank, the largest German lender, appointed Ravneet Gill as the new CEO of the bank’s Indian operations. Gill replaced Gunit Chadha to the top position, who was elevated as co-chief executive of Asia Pacific along with Alan Cloete in June 2012.





Kaushik Basu ended his tenure as India’s Chief Economic Advisor on 31 July 2012. A professor from Cornell University , he held the position for two and a half years at the North-Block, New Delhi.

Prior to his stint as the economic advisor, Basu was the Chairman of the Department of Economics in the year 2009 and between 2006-9 he was the Director of the Center for Analytic Economics at Cornell. He at present is the fourth President of the Human Development and Capabilities Association, which was founded by Amartya Sen.



Awards



9 physicists worldwide were given the Fundamental Physics Prize on 31 July 2012. The prizes were given to the physicists for their remarkable contribution to the field of fundamental physics. Fundamental Physics Prize has been established by Russian Businessman Yuri Milner and the most money-spinning academic prize in the world.

Winners of the award include , Ashoke Sen, N J Nima, Arkani-Hamed, Juan Maldacena, Nathan Seiberg, Edward Witten, Andrei Linde, Alexei Kitaev, Maxim Kontsevich, Ashoke Sen.

The winners will receive 3 million dollar as the prize amount. The Nobel Prize currently comes with an award of 1.2 million dollar, which is generally divided between two or three people.





Indian Scientist Ashoke Sen was honoured with Fundamental Physics Prize (FPP) 2012 on 31 July 2012. He is 56 years old. Ashoke will get the cash prize of three million dollar which is double the cash prize of Nobel Prize. He is the only Indian who was honored with this award.

He was the Professor of Physics in Harish Chandra Research Institute, Allahabad. In the year 1988, he had joined Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai.

This Prize was started by the billionaire of Russia Yuri Milner.The prize was given to the physicists for their remarkable contribution to the field of fundamental physics. The winners of Fundamental Physics Prize were selected by Yuri Milner. Yuri Milner was the researcher in Lebedev Physical Institute.


Science & Technology


Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) successfully test-fired Brahmos supersonic cruise missile from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur, in Balasore district, Orissa on 29 July 2012. The missile was test-fired as the developmental trial as it has already been inducted into the Indian Army and Indian Navy.

BrahMos, which has a target range of 290-km, is the surface-to-surface cruise missile. It is capable of carrying a conventional warhead of 200 to 300 kg. The missile has been developed by BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited, a joint venture between Republic of India's Defence Research and Development Organisation(DRDO) and Russian Federation's NPO Mashinostroeyenia. It is the world's fastest cruise missile in operation. It can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft or land.

Presently scientists at the BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited are working to develop the air as well as the submarine launch version of the missile. Last time the missile was tested on 28 March 2012 from the same platform.
The name BrahMos is the blend of the names of two rivers, the Brahmaputra of India and the Moskva of Russia.



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