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2013 - July 28 to 30 - Current Affairs


International Issues


The International Monetary Fund on 29 July 2013 approved a further 1.7 billion euros (2.3 billion US dollars) in funds for Greece's bailout programme after it completed the fourth review of IMF. The total funds from the IMF, the European Commission and the European Central Bank include 5.8 billion euros. 

Greece's reform record has been dismal ever since its EU/IMF bailout began in mid-2010, resulting into frequent delays in the disbursement of rescue funds. Greece goes through its sixth year of recession and unemployment increases at a record rate of 27 percent. 

The IMF's board relinquished several requirements Greece had to fulfill by the end of June2013, since data was not yet available. This comprises targets for overall government debt, government domestic arrears and the general government balance. Although Greece cut budgets and external imbalances it has not done enough on broader reforms to its tax collection and public sector which are necessary to ensure its economy returns to growth. Greece will receive another 1 billion euros from international lenders in October 2013. 

Greece's bailout package was approved in March 2012, will total 173 billion euros over four years. It was done to help Greece recover from a sovereign debt crisis and return to markets, and protect the country from a possible exit from the euro zone. 



The Government of Saudi Arabia, on 28 July 2013, announced that it awarded over 22 billion US dollar in contract for the development of metro line in the capital, Riyadh. 

This is said to be the largest public transport initiative of the world and will help in boosting the economy of Saudi Arabia considerably. The metro line will join Dubai as well as Qatar in the expansion of the public transport networks. 

The contracts were awarded to Bechtel Group Inc. (9.4 billion US dollar), Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas (7.8 billion US dollar) and Ansaldo STS SpA (STS) (5.2 billion US dollar). 



India-born Pakistani businessman Mamnoon Hussain, a close aide of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, on July 30, elected as the 12th President of Pakistan after he trounced his lone opponent in a one-sided contest. 



July 28th is World Hepatitis Day and this year's theme is --- This is Hepatitis, Know it, Confront it. The theme, mainly aims at creating global awareness about the Hepatitis virus and encouraging its prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Of the five types of viruses, B and C are considered to be dangerous. 

The incidence of Hepatitis accounts for nearly 14 lakh deaths every year in India. WHO estimates show that Hepatitis-B virus claims 2.4 lakh people and Hepatitis-C nearly one lakh.


National Issues


India, which is actively engaged in the scientific activities in the Arctic Region, has attained the Observer Status in the International Arctic Science Committee. 

Earth Sciences Minister S Jaipal Reddy said New Delhi has also been assigned to take a lead in the global efforts for building Climate Services under the World Meterological Organization. 



The Congress Working Committee, CWC, on July 30, 2013, unanimously passed a resolution in favour of creating a separate state of Telengana out of Andhra Pradesh.


Bilateral Issues


India and Senegal reaffirm their commitment to have sustained cultural exchanges by signing “Executive Programme for Cultural Cooperation” between India and Senegal for the period 2013-2015 on 29th July 2013 at New Delhi.

The Executive Programme for Cultural Cooperation was signed by Smt. Chandresh Kumari Katoch, Minister of Culture on behalf of Government of India and by H.E. Mr. Adboul Aziz Mbaye, Minister of Culture, on behalf of Government of Republic of Senegal.

The Executive Programme for Cultural Cooperation is valid for three years. Thereafter, however, it will continue to be in force till a fresh Exchange Programme is signed.

The Executive Programme for Cultural Cooperation seeks to: 

• Exchange the Experts in the field of theatre.

• Encourage Training in the areas of artistic heritage, creative activities, audio visual, music, dance, theatre and puppetry

• Exchange the publications on cultural heritage.

• Exchange canvas works and grounding mats for exhibition.

• Exchange experts in the field of prehistoric archaeology; provide Laboratory training in the field of restoration of cultural properties and monuments.

• Exchange experts reciprocally with a view to promoting library activities and expertise in the fields of publishing, printing and binding.

 • Exchange programmes depicting various facets of life and culture in the two parties through their respective Radio and TV organizations.

• Exchange experiences in the field of sports and explore the possibilities of exchanging sports teams/coaches in diverse disciplines.

• Organize cultural week featuring various aspects of its culture

• Exchange1-2 experts in the field of Performing Arts and literature.


Economic Issues


RBI released the First Quarter Review of Monetary Policy for 2013-14 on 30 July 2013.

The highlights are as following: 

• The repo rate was kept unchanged at 7.25 percent.

• Reverse repo remains at 6.25 percent.

• Cash reserve ratio unchanged at 4.00 percent

• Keeps Marginal Standing Facility rate at 10.25 percent.

• Bank rate stands at 10.25 percent. Considerations behind the Policy Move

• The policy stance in this review was informed by two considerations.

• First, the need for continuous vigil and preparedness to pro-actively respond to risks to the economy from external developments, especially those stemming from global financial markets.

• Second, managing the trade-off posed by increased downside risks to growth and continuing risks to inflation and inflation expectations. Monetary Policy Stance Accordingly, the four broad contours of

RBI’s monetary policy stance are as following: 

• First, to address the risks to macroeconomic stability from external shocks;

• Second, to continue to address the heightened risks to growth;

• Third, to guard against re-emergence of inflation pressures; and

• Fourth, to manage liquidity conditions to ensure adequate credit flow to the productive sectors of the economy.

RBI Cut GDP growth forecast for 2013-14 to 5.5 percent from 5.7 percent earlier.


Business Issues


The Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) on 29 July 2013 cleared the proposal of Jet Airways to sell 24 percent stake to Abu Dhabi-based Etihad. With this clearance, Jet-Etihad deal has become the first one after the Union Government of India relaxed the FDI rules for aviation sector in the year 2012.

The deal will now have to cross the hurdle of Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) for final approval. The Economic Affairs Secretary Arvind Mayaram announced that the Jet-Etihad deal was approved after the FIPB meeting, but with certain conditions.


Persons


Ilya Segalovich, the co-founder of Yandex, the largest search engine of Russia, died on 27 July 2013 at a London hospital.



Sharad Kumar has been appointed as the new Director General of National Investigation Agency. 


Awards


Sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan was chosen for the 21st Rajiv Gandhi National Sadhbhavna Award for his contribution towards promotion of communal harmony and peace. It will be conferred on Amjad Ali Khan on 20 August 2013, the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavana Award (Rajiv Gandhi National Communal Harmony Award) is an award given for outstanding contribution towards promotion of communal harmony, national integration and peace.

The award was instituted by All India Congress Committee of the Indian National Congress Party (INC), in 1992 to commemorate the lasting contribution made by the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. The award carries a citation and a cash award of five lakh rupees.

The award is given on 20 August evry year, the birth anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi, which is celebrated as Sadbhavna Diwas (Harmony Day).The former recipients of the award comprise Mother Teresa, Bismillah Khan, Teesta Setalvad, Swami Agnivesh, Harsh Mander, Sunil Dutt, Dilip Kumar, Mohammed Yunus, Maulana Wahiuddin Khan and K R Narayanan.


Sports


Bastian Schweinsteiger, the German midfielder defeated his teammates Thomas Mueller and Franck Ribery to grab the Journalists' Player of the Year Award announced by the Kicker magazine on 28 July 2013. Bastian Schweinsteiger won 92 out of 527 votes. Franck Ribery won 87 votes, while Thomas Mueller won 85 votes.



India have won the second edition of the SAFF under 16 Championships. India defeated hosts Nepal 1-0 in the final.


Science & Technology


A new respiratory virus related to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) has killed 39 people in Saudi Arabia. Scientists have named this respiratory virus as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). The new virus is related to the respiratory virus SARS that killed more than 800 people across the world in 2003.

It belongs to a family of viruses that most often cause the common cold. SARS emerged in China.



Tata Motors Limited (TML) and Indian Space Research Organisation, in collaboration, developed the first Hydrogen-powered automobile bus of India, after various years of research. The first hydrogen fuel-fitted bus of India was put on demonstration at the ISRO facility- Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre in Mahendragiri in Tamil Nadu on 28 July 2013.

Primary features of the Hydrogen-powered automobile bus 

• The Hydrogen-powered automobile bus is the CNG kind of a bus. 

• Atop the bus, the Hydrogen in bottles at high pressure is stored, which would lead to zero pollution.

• These hydrogen bottles or cells were a by-product of the cryogenic technology and ISRO had been working on the development of this since past few years. 

• The technology used in Hydrogen-powered automobile bus is not exactly like the cryogenic technology. It is actually the liquid hydrogen handling, where ISRO has expertise. 

• The bus would lead to zero pollution because the product of cold combustion would be just water. 

Since past 30 years, ISRO has had rich technology in production, storage as well as handling of the gaseous and liquid hydrogen. The team at ISRO generated technical specifications for various elements as well as general specifications of this bus. It is important to note that ISRO and TML had signed a Memorandum of Understanding in the year 2006 in order to design as well as develop the automobile bus which uses hydrogen as the fuel through the fuel cell route.

The entire project is a team work of Tata Motors and ISRO specialists along with the contribution from PESO (Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organisation) and DSIR (Department of Scientific and Industrial Research)



US department of energy's (DOE) SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory invented the fastest electrical switching in magnetite- a naturally magnetic mineral. This scientific finding will enable faster, more powerful computing devices.

Scientists used SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) X-ray laser to find that it takes only 1 trillionth of a second to flip the on-off electrical switch in samples of magnetite, which is thousands of times faster than the electrical switch used in transistors.


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