2013 - August 3 to 5 - Current Affairs


International Issues


China blocked the import of milk powder from New Zealand after it discovered bacteria that can lead to botulism in some of its dairy products.

Global dairy giant Fonterra revealed that three batches of whey products contained Clostridium botulinum, a toxic bacteria, which can cause Botulism. 



Germany has cancelled a Cold War-era pact with the United States and Britain in response to revelations about electronic surveillance operations. Details of snooping programmes involving the transatlantic allies have been leaked to the media by former US intelligence analyst Edward Snowden. The revelations have sparked widespread outrage in Germany, where elections are due next month. 

The agreement dates from 1968-69, and its cancellation is largely symbolic. The agreement, cancelled, gave the Western countries which had troops stationed in West Germany - the US, Britain and France - the right to request surveillance operations to protect those forces. 


National Issues


Ministry of coal in consultation with coal India limited and central mine planning & design institute had identified three coal blocks viz. north of Arkhapal, west of Radhikapur and ramchandi promotional, having about 1500 million tonnes of geological coal reserves each, for development of coal liquefaction or coal-to- liquid technology in the country. This information was given by the Minister of State for Coal, Shri Pratik Prakash Bapu Patil in a written reply in Rajya Sabha. 

As per the guidelines for allocation of coal blocks for coal-to-liquid project, one of the eligibility criteria was that, the applicant company should have minimum net worth of rs. 4000 crores. Accordingly Ramchandi promotional coal block has been allocated to m/s Jindal steel & power ltd. for its coal-to-liquid project. 



Karnataka is the first state in the country to establish State Natural Calamities Relief fund of Rs. 125 crore. Chief Minister Sidamariah informed that the Relief Fund will provide for building capital assets and relief during man-made disasters that are not covered under the Disaster Response Fund Guidelines of the Government of India. 

In order to have adequate preparedness to meet any possible disaster, an additional allocation of Rs. 100 Crore has been made for disaster management. 



The Alipore Zoological Garden of Kolkata on 5 August 2013 launched Adoption of Zoo Animals Scheme with an aim to create awareness and love for the wildlife among general public. The scheme was inaugurated by the West Bengal State Forest Minister, Hiten Barman. 

Adoption of Zoo Animals Scheme :

• Under the scheme anyone willing to adopt an animal will have to pay specific amount for a year, which will be spent for the upkeep of chosen animal including its seeding and healthcare needs. 

• Names of the adoptive individuals will be engraved on a plaque of the animal's enclosure. They will be allowed to capture candid shots of their respective animal wards on film and photographs. 

• The sponsorship of each elephant, tiger, lion, chimpanzee is annually 150000 rupees while bears, leopards, rhinoceros, kangaroo, jaguar and zebra will each cost 50000 rupees per annum. 

The Alipore Zoological Gardens (also called Kolkata Zoo) is India's oldest formally stated zoological park and a big tourist attraction in Kolkata, West Bengal. It has been open as a zoo since 1875 and covers 18.81 hectars. 



A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on 1 August 2013 to set up a new company, named the National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC) to construct the Regional Rapid Transport System (RRTS). 

The Union Ministry of Railways, Union Ministry of Urban Development and the National Capital Region Planning Board (NCRPB) and the state Governments of Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh agreed for the creation of a company the National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC). RRTS is the high Speed rail network to connect the cities of National Capital Region. 

The Union Cabinet cleared the creation of NCRTC on 11 July 2013 NCRTC will implement individual RRTS corridors either through separate Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) or on Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode. The NCRTC will also design, develop, implement, finance, operate and maintain the Regional Rapid Transport System (RRTS) in the National Capital Region to provide comfortable and fast transit to NCR towns, and meet the high growth in transport demand. 



To ensure availability of loans at affordable rates for farmers, the govt has approved a scheme for providing short-term crop loans at concessional rate of 7 pc, Information and Broadcasting Min Manish Tewari said in New Delhi on August 2, 2013. An additional subvention of 3 per cent is being provided to those farmers who repay their loans on time, he said, adding, the effective rate of interest for such farmers, thus, will be 4 per cent per annum. 

The estimated budgetary implication of this scheme for 2013-14 is Rs 15,385 crore, he added. Tewari said the government will also provide interest subvention at 7 per cent to small and marginal farmers having Kisan Credit Card loans against Negotiable Warehouse Receipts for post harvest, on the same rates as those available for crop loan, for another six months. 

The estimated additional budgetary implication of this feature would be Rs 264 crore, he added. Banks have been consistently meeting the target set for agricultural credit flow in the past years. For the year 2013-14, the target for agricultural credit flow has been raised to Rs 7 lakh crore from Rs 5.75 lakh crore in the year 2012-13. 


Persons


Arundhati Bhattacharya on 2 August 2013 was appointed the managing director and chief financial officer of the State Bank of India(SBI). 



Hassan Rouhani on 4 August 2013 took oath as the new President of Iran in the ceremony held at the Iranian Parliament in Tehran. 



Veteran music director V Dakshinamoorthy passed away at his residence in Mylapore, Chennai. 


Sports


The BWF World Badminton Championships 2013 kicked off in Guangzhou, China on August 5, 2013. World Number 3 Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, P. Kashyap and Ajay Jayaram are the Indian shuttlers who are participating in the 7-day tournament. 



India on 3 August 2013 created history by recording their first-ever five-match ODI series whitewash on foreign soil. The Indian team, under Virat Kohli, achieved the feat when they thrashed Zimbabwe by 7 wickets in the fifth and final one-dayer at Bulawayo. 



Barcelona 2013 15th FINA World Championship that was held from 19 July – 4 August 2013 concluded on 4 August 2013 in Barcelona. USA topped in the Championship with an overall haul of 33 medals that included 15 gold, 9 silver and 9 Bronze. It was followed by China and Russia at second and third spot respectively. 


Defence


The Director of Agni Missile Project, Defence Research and Development Organisation- Tessy Thomas announced on 2 August 2013 that the Agni V missile would become operational by 2015, with two or three successful test firings. The announcement was made at the National Conference on Systems, Energy and Environment organised by the Government College of Engineering at Mangattuparamba. This is the project, which in turn will carry out multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles that can be used for delivering multiple warheads at various targets. 

Agni V missile is one of the biggest achievements of India. The ballistic missile has a range of 5000 km. It is also important to note that there are more than 2000 institutions, which have link up with DRDO for this project. The plans like this were also underway for two-stage Agni-IV, which had the 3500 km strike range. This missile is ready for induction by the end of 2014. 

The armed forces inducted Pakistan-specific Agni-I (700-km) and Agni-II (over 2000-km) and 3000 -km Agni-III. However, Agni-IV and Agni-V missiles have a different kind of class because they have the capability to deal against China in times of crisis. China has the massive nuclear arsenal as well as missiles such as 11200-km Dong Feng-31A, which is capable of attacking any Indian city. 


Science & Technology


World’s first talking robot Kirobo was successfully sent into space on 4 August 2013 by Japanese Scientists. The robot was sent by H2B rocket from the island of Tanegashima. The rocket carried food, water and other supplies. 

Kirobo will serve as a companion for Japanese astronauts. Kirobo was put through a series of zero-gravity and other safety tests prior to sending him into space. 

Kirobo is 34 centimetres tall and can speak Japanese. It will provide emotional support for people in space. 

Features of kirobo are as following:- 

• Kirobo will talk to JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata when he arrives at the space station in November 2012. 

• The name of Kirobo is a merging of Kibo and robot. 

• Kirobo was designed by scientists and engineers at the University of Tokyo. 

• It is equipped with voice-recognition and face-recognition technology, as well as a camera, emotion recognition software and natural language processing. 



Vietnam's micro-satellite Pico Dragon, together with three other such US satellites, was sent to ISS (International Space Station) by Japan's Kounotori-4 (HTV-4) cargo spacecraft. The two-stage H-2B rocket carrying the HTV-4 ship lifted on 3 August 2013, initiating a five-day journey to the habitable artificial satellite in low Earth orbit.

Pico Dragon is programmed to capture images of the earth, collect space environment data and test communication systems, said the report, quoting sources from the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology.

The satellite is planned to stay at the ISS for two-three months before going into space. In May this year, Vietnam's first remote sensing satellite - VNREDSat-1 - was launched into orbit from the Kourou launch pad in French Guiana. 


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