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2013 - August 18 to 23 - Current Affairs


International Issues

The French government announced 19 August as the World Photography Day. 

The World Photography Day originated from invention of the Daguerreotype, a photographic process which was developed by Joseph Nicèphore Nièpce and Louis Daguerre. 

The French Academy of Sciences on 9 January 1839 announced about the process of Daguerreotype. On 19 August 1839, the Government of France declared this invention as a gift which was Free to the World. 

Apart from this process, another process called Calotype, was also invented in the year 1839 by William Fox Talbot. Invention of Daguerreotype and Calotype therefore marked 1839 as year in which photography was invented. The date 19 August was chosen to celebrate photography. 



The Earth Overshoot Day for the year 2013 was observed on 20 August 2013. The day is an approximate calendar date on which humanity exhausted nature's budget for the year. The date changes every year according to the consumption of resources. 

The Earth Overshoot Day marks the approximate date our resource consumption for a given year exceeds the planet’s ability to replenish. From this day on, it would mean that humanity has exhausted the nature’s budget for the year and we are operating in overdraft. 

The concept of Earth Overshoot Day was originally developed by Global Footprint Network partner and U.K. think tank New Economics Foundation. It is the annual marker of when we begin living beyond our means in a given year. Earth Overshoot Day helps to measure the gap between our demand for ecological resources and services, and how much the planet can provide. 

Earth Overshoot Day is calculated from 2007 data (the most recent year for which data are available) and projections based on historical rates of growth in population and consumption, as well as the historical link between world GDP and resource demand. 



The 21st round of the boundary talks between the government of Bhutan and People’s Republic of China was held in Bhutan’s capital Thimphu on 22 November 2013. Bhutan and China reaffirmed their commitment to resolve the boundary issue at the earliest through mutual consultation, understanding and accommodation. 

The two sides expressed satisfaction with the talks and agreed to conduct Joint Technical Field Survey in the first week of September in Pasamlung area in Bumthang. While the Bhutanese delegation was led by Foreign Minister, Rinzin Dorje, the Chinese delegation was led by Vice Foreign Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Liu Zhenrrin. 

The Talks were held in a frank and cordial manner. The boundary talks provided the opportunity for Bhutan and China to better understand each other's positions better on the issues related to boundary and in arriving at an early and amicable settlement of the boundary between the two countries. 



Social networking giant Facebook on 21 August 2013 joined forces with six other technology giants to launch Internet.org with an aim to make Internet access affordable for people across the globe. 

Internet.org is an initiative of Facebook and six other technology giants, namely Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Founder and CEO, will head the partnership that aims to make Internet access available to the next 5 billion people. 



India has bypassed Japan to become the world’s third largest Internet user after China and the United States, and its users are significantly younger than those of other emerging economies, global digital measurement and analytics firm comScore has said in a report. India now has nearly 74 million Internet users, a 31 per cent increase over March 2012, the report says. 

The numbers are lower than other recent estimates, possibly reflecting comScore’s methodology that only factors in PC and laptop-based Internet usage. 

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) pegged the number of Internet subscribers in India at 164.81 million as of March 31, 2013, with seven out of eight accessing the Internet from their mobile phones. 


National Issues

My Journey: Transforming Dreams into Actions by former President of India, Dr. Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam (APJ Abdul Kalam, for short) was launched in the month of August 2013 by the Rupa Publication. 



The first cargo vessel Wilenergy carrying liquefied gas from RasGas in Qatar arrived at the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Terminal at Puthuvype near south Indian port city of Kochi on 20 August 2013. The vessel  carrying around one lakh cubic metres of LNG. The vessel has arrived in accordance with the supply arrangement as per an agreement signed between Petronet LNG Limited and RasGas, the natural gas supplier based in Qatar. 

The natual gas, which is in liquefied state, at a temperature of about minus 160 degree Celsius, will be converted into gas at the terminal and regasified LNG will be supplied to end-users. In the initial stage Petronet LNG will supply gas to Bharat Petroleum's Kochi refinery and Fertilisers and Chemicals Travancore Limited (FACT). 



State Governments of Delhi, Arunachal Pradesh, Haryana and Uttarakhand on 20 August 2013 launched Centre-Sponsored Food Security Scheme on the occasion of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's 69th birth Anniversary. 

The food security scheme aims at ensuring the poor to get essential food commodities such as wheat and rice at affordable prices (Rice at 3 Rs/kg, Wheat at 2 Rs/kg, Coarse grain 1 Rs/kg). 



Citizens can now file RTI applications online in all central government ministries and departments through a portal. This facility was launched by the Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, V Narayanasamy in New Delhi on 21 August 2013. 

The web address of the portal is www.rtionline.gov.in. The portal is a step towards ushering in greater transparency in governance through the Right to Information Act which mandates timely response to citizens requests for government information. It will enable tech savvy people to file applications at the click of a button. 

An information seeker can submit a fee of ten rupees via Internet banking through State Bank of India (SBI) and its associate banks using the website. One can also use credit or debit cards. Presently, the text of an application that can be uploaded in the prescribed column on the portal while filing application is confined to 500 words only. In case an application contains more than 500 words, it can be uploaded as an attachment. 

An applicant will get an alert on the mobile phone about movement of the application. Answers to queries related to the portal can be sought on the telephone number 011- 24622461 during normal office hours. 



The Union Government of India on 21 August 2013 constituted an Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) to quickly resolve the infrastructural issues and to ensure speedy implementation of power projects in the northeastern states. 

The information about the constitution of the EGoM was stated by Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power, Jyotiraditya Scindia while he addressed the Consultative Committee of Members of Parliament for the Ministry of Power in New Delhi. 

At present 94 power projects are pending in the country for clearance from Environment and other ministries. According to Power Ministry, clearance of all these projects from different ministries will help in adding another 37000 MW power in the country. Jyotiraditya Scindia also informed that the Power Ministry has been conducting frequent meetings with different ministries like Coal, Environment and Water Resources for speedy execution of these projects. 



An MoU was signed between the NMDC Power Limited (NPL) and IEDCL on 21 August 2013 in order to set up the joint venture power plant of 500 MW at Gonda, Uttar Pradesh. The MoU was signed in the presence of Union Minister of Steel, Beni Prasad Verma and Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power, Jyotiraditya Scindia, at New Delhi. 

Major Points of the MoU :

• The MoU was signed between Hari Sankaran, Vice Chairman and MD IL&FS and N.K. Nanda, Chairman, NMDC Power Limited. 

• The MoU was signed for setting up 2x250 Mw Thermal Power Plant under Joint Venture at Gonda, Uttar Pradesh. 

• The establishment of this power plant will encourage potential agro based industries, while also helping in ensuring better living and industrial growth in the region. 

• The new project will facilitate faster development of the area and opening of newer avenues of employment for the people of Gonda. 

• It is important to note that in Uttar Pradesh. There is 13.6 percent power deficit and various steps such as linking of different grids is under the way. 

• The project would be completed by 2016. 

• The approximate cost of this project is around 3000 crore Rupees. 



The Government of India on 19 August 2013 decided to include Hysterectomies as a component in the fourth round of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), which will begin in January 2014. The data generated during the NFHS could be used for formulating guidelines to conduct surgeries for removal of uterus. 

The inclusion of Hysterectomies in NFHS came in the wake of a demand from the health activists and medical practitioners following reports of rising cases of hysterectomies across the country. 

The decision to include hysterectomies as a component in the NFHS-4 was taken at the steering group meeting on NFHS on 19 August 2013. It was pointed out that unscrupulous doctors were performing hysterectomies on pre-menopausal and even women younger than 30 years for monetary gains. 

About Hysterectomy: Hysterectomy is the complete or partial removal of the uterus, and sometimes ovaries, cervix and fallopian tubes. Ethically, a doctor should suggest this operation in case of certain medical conditions, or when all other treatment options fail. 



The Union Government of India on 22 August 2013 announced that it will provide an extra 3.1 million tonnes of foodgrains to the states under the Food Security Programme at Above Poverty Line (APL) rates

The APL rates for extra foodgrains are rupees and 30 paise per kilogram for rice and 6 rupees and 10 paise per kilogram for wheat to 18 states (including Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir). 

The supply of extra foodgrains will cost the exchequer nearly 5100 crore rupees annually. The decision to provide extra food grains at APL rates was decided in a meeting of Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) at New Delhi. 



The Union Cabinet of India on 22 August 2013 approved the amendments to the Representation of the People Act, 1951. This is to negate the recent Supreme Court verdict on disqualification of convicted legislators. The amendmentas were proposed by Ministry of Law and Justice. 

A proviso added to sub-section (4) of section 8 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 states that the convicted member shall continue to take part in proceedings of Parliament or Legislature of a state but he or she shall neither be entitled to vote nor draw salary and allowances till the appeal or revision is finally decided by the court. 

As per the amendment, a lawmaker would not lose his right to vote if under arrest even for a short duration and thereby would retain his right to contest a poll. A public representative will get 90 days time to seek revision but on condition that a higher court-stay is obtained against the conviction. 



The Mental Health Care Bill, 2013 was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in the third week of August 2013. The new bill seeks to decriminalise suicide, while at the same time, making affordable mental health care a right for everyone. 

It is important to note that this is the first time in history of criminal law reforms in India that the Mental Health Care Bill, 2013 offers to decriminalise acts of suicide by associating it with the state of mental health of a person who attempts suicide.



The Union Cabinet of India on 22 August 2013 cleared a proposal to scrap the collegium system of appointing judges to the Supreme Court and High Courts. A Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) will be set up which will replace the collegium system of appointing judges to Supreme Court and High Courts. 

According to the proposal, the government will set up a panel headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) to appoint and transfer senior judges. The other members of the proposed Commission will comprise the Law Minister, two judges of the Supreme Court, two eminent persons as members and Secretary (Justice) in the Law Ministry as Member Secretary. 



The government on 23 August 2013 announced to release a national e-mail policy to protect privacy of email users in India. In the proposed policy all government departments and Indian embassies are being asked to use NIC server for their email correspondence. NIC server is located in India and it cannot be accessed by any foreign agency. 

The government is working to enhance its capacity to protect data and information flows by building better cyber and telephony infrastructure and by evolving new cyber and telecom security practices. 

The government is also promoting Indian players in the information technology sector to develop and offer Internet services by their servers located in India. 


Bilateral Issues

The 5th India-China Strategic Dialogue was held in New Delhi on 20 August 2013. Maintaining peace and tranquility along the Line of Actual Control in the border areas figured prominently during the talks. India and China also discussed covered bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest. 

The two nations discussed several issues including enhancing understanding on the utilization of trans-border river waters, expanding bilateral trade and investment while addressing problems of the large and growing deficit faced by India, ways of maintaining peace and tranquility along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the India-China border areas, methods of boosting cultural cooperation as well as people-to-people exchanges and expansion of scientific and technological cooperation. 

India and China also discussed the possibility of a visit to China, later this year, by Prime Minster Dr. Manmohan Singh. The potential and prospect for BCIM economic cooperation was also touched upon. India and China took stock of developments in bilateral ties since the successful visit of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to India. 

Future cooperation in the BRICS framework, ways of ensuring an open, inclusive and transparent architecture in the Asia-Pacific region and the outlook for Afghanistan in 2014 and beyond were other areas of discussion between India and China. The 6th India-China Strategic Dialogue will be held at Beijing at a mutually convenient time. 


Business Issues

Welspun Energy Ltd on 21 August 2013 unveiled the 55-MW solar plant in Rajasthan. 

This is the 500 crore Rupees project and is the largest single-location solar plant of Asia. 

The solar plant was inaugurated by the Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy, Farooq Abdullah, and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.




India's second largest tyre maker Apollo Tyres on 21 August 2013 announced a tie-up with Manchester United to become its official tyre partner in UK and India. 

The tie-up with Manchester United will help Apollo produce football based play zones constructed from used tyres. These rubber-based pitches will be based by young people from local communities in the UK and India to encourage them to take up soccer as sport. It will encourage healthy lifestyles and develop sporting skills in young people. 

A Nielsen survey in 2010 found that 47 percent of India's 1.2 billion population can be described as football fans. This partnership will help Apollo promote its brand and encourage sporting activities among people. 


Economic Issues

The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), in the third week of August 2013 planned to broaden its shareholding by inducting 49 banks as the shareholders. 

The capital of around 100 crore Rupees which is contributed by the banks towards shareholding, will facilitate NPCI in strengthening the retail payments infrastructure. It will also help in bringing down the transaction costs in the entire banking system. 

It is important to note that at present, NPCI has ten main promoter banks which include HSBC, Citibank, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Bank of India, Union Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Canara Bank, Punjab National Bank and the State Bank of India. Because of being the non-profit company, NPCI does not offer any dividend to these ten banks. All these banks contribute 10 crore Rupees each in the paid-up capital of NPCI. 



The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 20 August 2013 further relaxed the Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR) to provide more funds to banks for lending. This was in view of the losses suffered by banks in their investment portfolio. 

Revising its earlier limit, asking banks to reduce their hold-to-maturity bond holdings gradually to 23 per cent of deposits, RBI has now allowed banks to retain those holdings at 24.5 percent. To further ease rupee volatility, RBI will conduct open market operations of long dated government securities worth 8000 crore rupees on 23 August 2013. 

RBI stated that depending on evolving market conditions, it will thereafter decide on the amount and frequency of OMOs (Open Market operations). 

SLR: SLR stands for Statutory Liquidity Ratio. This term is used by bankers and indicates the minimum percentage of deposits that the bank has to maintain in form of gold, cash or other approved securities. In other words, it is ratio of cash and some other approved securities to liabilities (deposits). It regulates the credit growth in India. 



The Reserve Bank has imposed monetary penalty worth 6 crore 50 lakh rupees on six banks for violating Know Your Customer guidelines. 

RBI has informed that penalties ranging from 50 lakhs to two crore have been imposed on Allahabad Bank, Bank of Maharashtra, Corporation Bank, Dena Bank, IDBI Bank Ltd. and Indian Bank. 

The Apex Bank has however clarified that till now there is no prima facie evidence of money laundering. 


Persons

Vijay Singh was named a recipient of the 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Society of Civil Engineers Environmental and Water Resources Institute (ASCE-EWRI) on 16 August 2013. He is a professor and a distinguished chair in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at Texas A&M University. 

Vijay Singh is an engineer specialising in water resources engineering and hydrology. He is internationally recognized. He made several advances in hydrologic and environmental modeling and received the most prestigious awards for hydrology from numerous professional societies. 



Ratan Thiyam, the renowned theatre personality from Manipur, was appointed as the Chairperson of the National School of Drama Society on 19 August 2013 by the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee. His term will be of 4 years, according to the relevant Rules and Regulations of the Society. He replaced Amal Allana, who served two consecutive terms at the National School of Drama Society. 



Robert Mugabe, the incumbent President of Zimbabwe on 21 August 2013 sworn in for his seventh term as the President of the country. He took oath to the office in the main sports stadium in Harare. 

Earlier, the 89 year old Mugabe of Zanu-PF (Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front) party won the Presidential election (Parliamentary Election) by winning 61 percent votes in his favour on 3 August 2013. Presidential election of Zimbabwe was held on 2 August 2013. 



Nishi Vasudeva on 22 August 2013 became the first woman to be selected as the head of the Navratna public sector unit (PSU), Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL). She became the head of the state-owned oil company HPCL. 

At present, she is the Director, Marketing, HPCL and will take over as the chairman and managing director of the company. She will replace Subir Roy Choudhury, who will retire on 28 February 2014. 


Sports


Usain Bolt of Jamaica equalled the world record of highest golds after winning the 4x100m relay at the World Athletics Championships on 18 August 2013 at Moscow, Russia. 

By winning the 4x100m gold medal Usain Bolt’s secured his eighth gold. This was his third gold medal at World Athletics Championships 2013 Moscow. 

Usain Bolt won the 100m and 200m sprint at Berlin in 2009, 200m in Daegu in 2011, the 100m and 200m in Moscow 2013, as well as golds as part of the winning Jamaican 4x100m relay squads in 2009, 2011 and 2013. 

With this victory Usain Bolt has joined the club of highest (8) gold medal winners list along with American women's 200m specialist Allyson Felix, and retired US track stars Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson including relays. 


Awards

Tata Steel on 22 August 2013 was adjudged the Best Performing Integrated Steel Plant in the country for the year 2011-12 based on the recommendations made by a Panel of Judges that selected companies for the Prime Minister`s Trophy awards for the year 2011-12. 

The date of the award function for 2011-12 will be announced by the Union Ministry of Steel later. The Government of India decided to award the Certificate of Excellence to Tata Steel as per the scheme for the Prime Minister's Trophy for 2011-12. Tata Steel has scored maximum marks in overall performance for the fourth consecutive year. 

Tata Steel had won the Prime Minister’s trophy twice for 2008-09 and 2010-2011 while the Certificate of Excellence in 2009-10 and 2011-12. The Prime Minister’s Trophy was instituted in 1992 by former Prime Minister Late P V Narsimha Rao for excellence in the performance of integrated steel companies with an objective to give recognition for outstanding performance in the vital sector of the national economy which draws heavily on national resources of capital and skilled manpower. 


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