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2013 - August 7th Current Affairs


International Issues


Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova topped the Forbes list of highest-paid female athletes for the ninth straight year. According to Forbes, Sharapova earned 29 million US dollars between June 2012 and June 2013. The 26-year-old's earnings came from prize money and endorsement deals. The Forbes list was released on 6 August 2013. 

American Serena Williams is second on the list with earnings of 20.5 million US dollars, followed by Chinese tennis player Li Na on 18.2 million US dollars and Belarusian Victoria Azarenka on 15.7 million US dollars.


National Issues


The Ministry of Rural Development on 6 August 2013 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Pradan, a non-governmental organization. The NGO will serve as a resource and support organisation for the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM), with specially focusing on Naxal-affected districts. The scheme will be implemented in some of the Naxal-affected districts of Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha in the first phase. 

Rural development ministry identified three goals in order to help women farmers groups under the Mahila Krishak Sashaktikaran Yojana : 

1)Increase their earnings by reducing input costs 

2) Training SHGs by focusing on issues such as sanitation and setting up community kitchens to tackle malnutrition 

3) Putting an end to trafficking of tribal women by providing them with livelihoods. 

In the first project, 18000 families will get help through production and marketing of Tasar silk in Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal in the next three years with a budget of 50 crore rupees. 

The second project will be Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana and it will be implemented in Rajasthan, Odisha and MP with a budget of 20 crore rupees. The project is likely to be availed by 18000 families, where sustainable agriculture will be promoted through women headed households and it is calculated that there should be an increase of the income of the self help groups by 15 to 20 per cent after reducing the use of harmful chemicals and pesticides. 

Third component of the programme will be training of the girls for alternative sources of livelihood. Pradan’s help is needed in these areas since government agencies often find the in implementation of developmental projects because of threats from Naxals. Pradan, is funded by the Ford Foundation and Gates Foundation. It will extend its support and expertise in the field of livelihood generation. It will be called the NSO or the NRLM Support Organisation. 

NRLM is a programme aimed at reducing poverty by promoting livelihood opportunities for the poor so that their access to financial services could be improved. NRLM presides over 25 lakh women Self Help Groups (SHGs). It aims at creating nearly 60 lakh SHGs over the next five years. The NSO will support State and Central NRLM missions to guide these SHGs. 



Union Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister, Shri K.V.Thomas introduced National Food Security Bill in Loksabha on 7th August,2013 to replace the National Food Security Ordinance, 2013 which was promulgated on 5th July, 2013.

Other features of the Bill are as follows:

Coverage of two thirds population to get highly susidized foodgrains--
Upto 75% of the rural population and upto 50% of the urban population will have uniform entitlement of 5 kg foodgrains per month at highly subsidized prices of Rs. 3, Rs. 2, Rs. 1 per kg. for rice, wheat, coarse grains respectively . It will entitle about two thirds of our 1.2 billion population to subsidised foodgrains under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS).
Poorest of the poor continue to get 35 kg per household--
The poorest of poor households would continue to receive 35 Kg foodgrains per household per month under Antyodaya  Anna Yajna  at subsidized prices of Rs 3, Rs 2 and Rs 1. It is also proposed to protect the existing allocation of foodgrains to the States/Uts, subject to it being restricted to average annual offtake during last three years.

Eligible households to be identified by the States-- 
Corresponding to the coverage of 75% rural and 50 % of urban population at all India level, State wise coverage will be determined by the Central Government. The work of identification of eligible households is left to the States/UTs, which may frame their own criteria or use Social Economic and Caste Census data, if they so desire.

Special focus on nutritional support to women and children--
There is a special focus on nutritional support to women and children. Pregnant women and lactating mothers, besides being entitled to nutritious meals as per the prescribed nutritional norms will also receive maternity benefit of at least of Rs. 6000/-. Children in the age group of 6 months to 14 years will be entitled to take home ration or hot cooked food as per prescribed nutritional norms.

Food Security Allowance in case of non supply of foodgrains--
The Central Government will provide funds to States/UTs in case of short supply of food grains from Central pool, In case of non-supply of food grains or meals to entitled persons, the concerned State/UT Governments will be required to provide such food security allowance as may be prescribed by the Central Government to the beneficiaries.

States to get assistance for intra-State transportation and handling of foodgrains-- 
In order to address the concern of the States regarding additional financial burden, Central Government will provide assistance to the States towards cost of intra-State transportation, handling of foodgrains and FPS dealers’ margin, for which norms will be developed. This will ensure timely transportation and efficient handling of foodgrains.

Reforms for doorstep delivery of foodgrains--
The Bill also contains provisions for reforms in PDS through doorstep delivery of foodgrains, application of information and communication technology (ICT) including end to end computerisation, leveraging ‘Aadhaar’ for unique identification of beneficiaries, diversification of commodities under TPDS etc for effective implementation of the Food Security Act. Some of these reforms are already underway.

Women Empowerment-- Eldest women will be Head of the household--
Eldest woman of eighteen years of age or above will be head of the household for issue of ration card, and if not available, the eldest male member is to be the head of the household.

Grievance redressal mechanism at district level--
There will be state and district level redressal mechanism with designated officers.  The States will be allowed to use the existing machinery for District Grievance Redressal Officer (DGRO), State Food Commission, if they so desire, to save expenditure on establishment of new redressal set up. Redressal mechanism may also include call centers, helpline etc.

Social audits and vigilance committees to ensure transparency and accountability--
Provisions have also been made for disclosure of records relating to PDS, social audits and setting up of Vigilance Committees in order to ensure transparency and accountability.

Penalty for non compliance--
The Bill provides for penalty to be imposed on public servants or authority, if found guilty of failing to comply with the relief recommended by the District Grievance Redressal Officer (DGRO).


Expenditure:
At the proposed coverage of entitlement, total estimated annual foodgrains requirement is 612.3 lakh tons and corresponding estimated food subsidy for 2013-14 costs is about Rs.1,24,724 crore.
It may be recalled that in June, 2009, the Central Government made a commitment to enact a new law to provide a statutory basis for food security of the people. Accordingly, the National Food Security Bill, 2011 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 22nd December, 2011.
         
After its introduction the bill was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Food, for examination and Report. The Standing Committee presented its report on 17th January, 2013. The recommendations of the Standing Committee were examined on priority; and accordingly, Government gave notice in Lok Sabha in the Budget Session for consideration and passing of the said Bill, along with official amendments. The said Bill was included in the Business of the House twice on 21st and 22nd March, 2013, before the recess of the Session. 

Subsequently, after reassembly of the House on 22nd April, 2013, the Bill was again listed on each working day since 2nd May, 2013. A motion for consideration and passing of the Bill was moved in the Lok Sabha on 2nd May, 2013 and the discussion were held on the Bill on 6th and 7th May, 2013. However, the discussion could not be concluded in the Budget Session, as Parliament was adjourned sine die on 8th May, 2013.
In view of the time that has already lapsed in passing of the National Food Security Bill, 2011 since its announcement on 4th June, 2009, and further delay in getting it passed through Parliament, the Government was of the considered view that it will not be appropriate to further delay the reaching of the proposed benefits of the Bill to the people of the country.
As both the Houses of Parliament were not in Session the National Food Security Ordinance, 2013 was promulgated on 5th July, 2013 which now has been replaced by introduction of the Food Security Bill in the Lok Sabha



An Aadhaar enrolment centre at the Yojana Bhawan, New Delhi was inaugurated on 7th August, 2013 by Smt. Sindhushree Khullar, Secretary, Planning Commission in the presence of Dr. V S Madan, DG & MD, UIDAI. 

The enrolment centre will besides Aadhaar enrolments will also have facility for obtaining an e-Aadhaar, updation and also queries regarding the status of the enrolment. The centre has been set up by the Delhi Regional Office of the UIDAI. 


Economic Issues


The Sub-Committee of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) on 7th August,2013 decided to set up a forum for inter-agency coordination and exchange of information about collective investment schemes (CIS) and discussed the need for a nationwide awareness campaign in this respect. FSDC reviewed the potential risks to stability of the domestic financial system, including deteriorating asset quality of public sector banks. 

The Sub-Committee also discussed the potential impact on India of the extra-territorial aspects of regulations by European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) and U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and decided to chalk out a unified strategy for the same. 

The Sub-Committee also reviewed the functioning of its technical groups set up for focussed attention on different areas/segments on financial Inclusion, financial literacy and the inter-regulatory coordination. 



The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has imposed a penalty of Rs.5,62,555 on State Bank of India for violating the norms for opening and maintaining currency chests. 


Sports


The World Games 2013 took place in Cali, Colombia from 25 July 2013 to 4 August 2013. Initially these games were to be hosted by German cities of Duisburg and Düsseldorf. It was announced during the World Games of 2009 in Kaohsiung, Taiwan that Cali won the rights for hosting the World Games 2013. In the World Games 2013, there are 31 official sports as well as 5 invitational sports. These games are held after every 4 years. The next World Games 2017 will be hosted by Wroclaw, Poland. 

The sports are held under the categories of Artistic and Dance Sports, Martial Arts, Trend Sports, Ball Sports, Precision Sports, Strength Sports and Invitational Sports. The World Games were held for the first time in 1981. This is the international multi-sport event, which includes those sports or events which are not contested in the Olympics. International World Games Association (IWGA) organises and governs the World Games under sponsorship of International Olympic Committee (IOC). 98 countries of the world participated in the World Games 2013. 

India’s Performance at the World Games 2013

One Gold Medal: 
Aditya Mehta, the Professional Snooker Player of India won the maiden Gold Medal in 2013 World Games in Snooker discipline. He defeated Liang Wenbo of China in the set of three frames 3-0. Before the final match, he also defeated Dechawat Poomajaeng from Thailand (Ranked 64) in Semi Finals 3-1 and Joe Perry from England (Ranked 19) in Quarter Final match 3-2. 

One Silver Medal: India also won one silver medal in the invitational sports category. Invitational sports included Softball, Canoe marathon, Duathlon, Road speed skating and Wushu. Overall Medal Tally. 


Awards


NTPC has been conferred three Awards by the World HRD Congress & Star group at the 4th Asian’s Best Employer Brand Awards held at Singapore recently. The award was received by Shri S.P. Singh, General Manager (HR), NTPC. 

The company has been Awarded for Talent Management, Award for Excellence in HR through Technology and Asian’s Best Employer Brand Award (RANK 14th). NTPC currently employs about 25,000 people. 


Science and Technology


Nasa’s Curiosity rover celebrated its first anniversary on Mars on 6 August 2013. Curiosity rover had landed on Mars one year ago o this date. It has already achieved its mission aim by discovering that Mars could have supported life. 


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