2013 - August 8 to 10 - Current Affairs


International Issues


The world observed the International Day of the World's Indigenous People on 9 August 2013. The theme selected for the year 2013 is Indigenous peoples building alliances: Honouring treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements. 

The theme aims to highlight the importance of honouring arrangements between States, their citizens and indigenous peoples that were designed to recognize indigenous peoples' rights to their lands and establish a framework for living in proximity and entering into economic relationships. 

Agreements also outline a political vision of different sovereign peoples living together on the same land, according to the principles of friendship, cooperation and peace. 



The US Census Bureau Report released on 6 August 2013 revealed that 6.5 lakh people in the US speak Hindi, while over 8 lakh people speak various regional Indian languages. The report, titled Language Use in the United States: 2011, details the number of people speaking languages other than English at home and their ability to speak English, by selected social and demographic characteristics. 

The report shows South Asian languages have registered a substantial growth rate in the past decade. 

• The report revealed that South Asian languages in particular experienced high levels of growth. 

• The South Asian languages, Malayalam, Telugu and Tamil grew by 115 per cent, and Hindi grew by 105 per cent. 

• Punjabi, Bengali, and Marathi grew by 86 percent. The slowest growing South Asian languages were Gujarati (52 per cent) and Urdu (42 per cent) 

• In addition to English and Spanish, there were six languages in 2011 spoken at home by at least one million people. They are Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, French, German and Korean. 

• According to the census, as many as 648983 residents of the United States speak Hindi, with Urdu and Gujarati being spoken by 373851 and 358422 people respectively. 

• As many as 815345 Americans speak other Indic languages. 

• The data, taken from the American Community Survey, shows that more than half (58 per cent) of US residents older than 5 years who speak a language other than English at home, also speak English very well. 

This study provides evidence of the growing role of languages other than English in the US national fabric. 



Japan on 8 August 2013 pledged huge spending cuts amounting to 83 billion US dollars over two years as it works to bring down its debt. The cuts amounting to an average reduction of more than 4.0 percent of current annual spending comes days after the International Monetary Fund warned again over Tokyo's borrowings. The moves were outlined in the government's mid-term fiscal plan which called for cuts of 83 billion US dollars between April 2014 and March 2016. 

Japan's annual budget is about 93 trillion yen, with about 40 percent of that spending coming from borrowing which has created a debt pile that is more than twice as big as Japan's economy, the worst among industrialized nations. India has not faced a public debt crisis like the kind seen across the euro zone, largely because most of its low interest rate debt is held domestically rather than by international creditors. 

However, the IMF and others have warned that Japan must follow through on key fiscal and structural reforms to the economy, another key plank of Abe's plan but a difficult sell to many of Japan's cosseted industries. 



The New International Terminal constructed at Chennai airport started its operation on 7 August 2013. An investment of about 2000 crore rupees was made on the construction of the new terminal. 

International departure operations through New International Terminal commenced in a phased manner with the departure of a flight bound for Singapore on 7 August 2013. 

Now onwards, all international flights of Indigo, Spice Jet, Jet Airways and Air Austral will operate through New International Terminal. 


National Issues


The Union Cabinet on 9 August 2013 approved the proposal for establishment of a New Media Wing in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The new wing would be responsible for publicizing Government’s Initiatives through Multiple Social Media platforms and address the communication and dissemination requirements of the Government on social media platforms. It will also integrate the communication tools vertically and horizontally via these platforms. 

The proposal for establishment of New Media Wing has been drawn on the basis of the experience of the initiative undertaken by the Ministry on a pilot basis to position itself on the social media platforms such as Youtube, facebook and Twitter. 

A senior officer of Joint Secretary Level will be the head of this New Media Wing and it will be operational under his overall supervision, direction and guidance. The wing will be provided with the administrative and operational support from the Media Unit under the Ministry and i.e. Research Reference & Training Division. 

The new wing will be developed would cost the exchequer an amount of 22.5 crore rupees during the 12th Five Year Plan (1012-17). The proposal was approved by the CCEA under Development Communication & Information Dissemination plan scheme of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. 



National Book Trust (NBT) in first week of August 2013 unveiled its new logo nbt.india to mark completion of 56 Years of its Operations. Union Human Resource Development Minister M. M. Pallam Raju unveiled the new logo at a function organised at New Delhi. 

The Logo carries a Banyan Tree, which symbolizes stability and knowledge, the flying leaves reveals an open book through a contemporary visual. The combination of red with earthy brown colour portrays the rootedness to Indian soil as well as the passionate urge for knowledge. The stylistic representation of nbt.india indicates the modernistic commitment of the organization engaged in preparing the readers for a future world. The typography is bold slab-serif, which provides a strong base to the idea. 

The new logo of NBT has been designed by a Prof. Tarun Deep Girdher a faculty of Graphic design at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad and his team. This Logo of National Book Trust, India is a harmony of tradition and innovation, earthiness and imagination. 

The motto, Ekah Soote Saklam (एक: सूते सकलं), taken from Kalidasa's Meghdutam, signifies the purpose of NBT for striving to give every thing desired in the world of books. 



A special report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) on the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) in Bihar has revealed that a total of 83 percent households in the state did not get the employment of 100 days under the scheme. CAG studied 15 districts as sample out of 38 districts of Bihar and found that maximum 17 percent households were provided with 100 day jobs during 2007-2012 (period of 11th Five Year Plan). Of the fifteen sample districts, Madhubani stood at the last position with employment generation rate of below one percent and Begusarai topped in the list with seven percent employment. 

The agency also recorded a decreasing trend in job offering from a sharp drop from 75 percent in 2007-08 to 20 percent in 2011-12. It also noted that of all the registered population for the scheme just one to seven percent were provided 100 days employment. 

The agency also noted that 76.42 man-days of work could not be created in Bihar because of certain irregularities, which included non-release or delay in release of funds, non-payment of wages, unspent amount of grant, excess consumption of material over wages and few problems at local level. There were several loopholes and weaknesses on part of project implementation starting from planning, execution, fund management, monitoring and training in implementation of MGNREGS and grievance redressal mechanism in the State. 

In the survey a sample of 1997 beneficiaries, there existed problems at different levels like fixation of photographs on job cards. About 37 percent job cards had no photographs, apart from this multiple job cards were issued to the same household. In about 26 percent cases, the payment of wages that was entered on the job cards didn't matched with the amount credited to their accounts. Also, wages were deposited in the personal accounts of the working agencies first and further given via cheques which were dropped due to lack of balance in the accounts of the agencies. 



The Companies Bill 2012 was passed in Rajya Sabha on 8 August 2013 (during the monsoon session of the parliament). Earlier, the bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on 18 December 2012. The legislation will replace the 57-year old Companies Act, 1956 after getting the final consent from Pranab Mukherjee, the President of India. 

Highlights of the Companies Bill that was presented in the Parliament

• The new legislation, which would replace the nearly 57-year-old Companies Act of 1956 and would encourage the companies to undertake social welfare voluntarily instead of imposing the social responsibility. 

• The proposed legislation would ensure setting up of special courts for speedy trial and stronger steps for transparent corporate governance practices and curb corporate misdoings. 

• The new law would require companies that meet certain set of criteria, to spend at least two percent of their average profits in the last three years towards Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities. 

• In case, entities are unable to comply with the CSR rules, they would be needed to give explanations. Otherwise, they would face action, including penalty. 

• The amended legislation also limits the number of companies an auditor can serve to 20 besides bringing more clarity on criminal liability of auditors. 

The Companies Act of 1956 replaced the first Companies Act that was created in 1919 (the pre-independent India). The Act of 1956 has been amended 25 times in all these years since its formation. 



Gitanjali, the collection of poems (song offerings) by Rabindranath Tagore was released in 14 different languages at Kolkata by Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal on 8 August 2013.

• Gitanjali for the first time was published in 1913 and is a collection of 157 poems 

• The English version of Gitanjali that is known as the Song Offerings is a collection of 103 English poems . These were self translated by Tagore and was published by the Indian Society of London. The English version contained translations of 53 poems from the original Bengali Gitanjali, as well as 50 other poems from Tagore's drama Achalayatan and eight other books of poetry 17 poems were taken from Gitimalya, 15 from Naivedya and 11 from Kheya. 

• Gitanjali is composed from two words Git that means song and anjali that means offering, thus as a whole it means an offering of songs. In 1913, Tagore became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, largely for the English Gitanjali. 



The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology inaugurated Data portal of India in New Delhi on 8 August 2013. It is aimed at sharing more and more data as it empowers and connects to policy making. It will also help in bringing more transparency in the system and continuing the information revolution which started with the RTI act. 

The information revolution that started with the Right to Information act has brought us to a stage where government is now willing to share data with everybody because we realised that is the absence of data you cannot yet appropriate decision making. 

Open Data Application and Data portal is a part of Manmohan-Obama Initiative which allows to plug in all type of Data. 



The Government on 5 August 2013 introduced the Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2013 in the Rajya Sabha for stricter enforcement of laws to protect wildlife. The Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2013 was introduced by Union Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan. The bill seeks to further amend the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972. 

Highlights in the Bill 

• The Bill provides the legal framework for the protection of various species of wild animals, management of their habitat and also for the regulation and control of trade in the products derived from them. 

• The Bill seeks to confer power of entry, search, arrest and detention on any officer authorised by the Management Authority or any customs officer not below the rank of an inspector or any officer of the coast guard not below the rank of an Assistant Commandant. 

• The Bill seeks to deal with the serious wildlife crime, such as the offence related to any animal specified in Schedule I or Part II of Schedule II or the meat of such animal or animal article, trophy, or uncured trophy derived from such animal. 

• If a crime of this sort is committed, the bill seeks to punish the culprits with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than five years, but may extend to seven years and also with fine which shall not be less than 1 lakh rupees but may extend to 25 lakh rupees. 

• In the case of a second or subsequent offence of the same nature, the terms of imprisonment shall not be less than seven years and also with fine which shall not be less than 5 lakh rupees but may extend to 50 lakh rupees. 

• It provides for prohibition on use of animal traps except under certain circumstances and provide for protection of hunting rights of the Scheduled Tribes in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. 

• The bill also has the provisions for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). 

CITES is an international agreement that aims to ensure that international trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. 


Bilateral Issues


India signed a Protocol amending the India - Morocco Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC) in New Delhi.  

The Protocol was signed by Dr Sudha Sharma, Chairperson, Central Board of Direct Taxes on behalf of Government of India and H.E. Mr. Larbi Reffouh, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco to India on behalf of Government of the Kingdom of Morocco. 

The Protocol is based on international standards of transparency and exchange of information. 

It provides for effective exchange of information including banking information between tax authorities of the two countries. It also provides that each treaty partner shall use its information gathering measures to obtain the requested information even though it may not need such information for its own domestic tax purposes. The Agreement will enhance mutual co-operation between the two countries by having effective exchange of information in tax matters. 


Economic Issues


The data released by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 9 August 2013 revealed that the Foreign exchange reserves of India have fallen by 2.995 billion US dollars to 277.167 billion US dollars in first week of August 2013. 

As per the data released, the foreign currency assets, a major component of the forex reserves, have dropped by 2.155 billion US Dollars to 249.895 billion US dollars, while gold reserves have dropped by 808.5 million dollars at 20.747 billion dollars in the first week of August 2013.

The report also stated that the country's reserve position with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has also gone done by 10.7 million US dollars to 2.171 billion US dollars.


Persons


Nirupama Sanjeev (Vaidyanathan), the former Tennis Player from India on 5 August 2013 released her book, The Moonballer. The book was launched by the tennis ace Vijay Amritraj in Chennai. The book elaborates her story in a crisp manner and has tried to expose people and their self-centred approach.



Rakesh Sethi on 5 August 2013 took charge as the Executive Director of the Union Bank of India. 


Awards


Vinod Prakash Sharma an eminent scientist on 9 August 2013 won the Gujar Mal Modi Award for Science and Technology 2013. He received the award for his contribution in the field of basic and applied research of Malaria and Vector Biology.

Vinod Prakash Sharma was presented with a scroll of honour, a silver shield and a cash prize of 2.01 lakh rupees. It was given away by physicist M G K Menon.



Barack Obama, the US President would confer the Presidential Medal of Freedom on former US President, Bill Clinton and talk show queen, Oprah Winfrey. It is the highest civilian honour of America. The announcement of the Freedom Honorees was done on 8 August 2013. Clinton and Winfrey are among the 16 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom for the year 2013.

The award was created by John F Kennedy and this year it marks its 50th Anniversary of the executive order signed by him. Since the day of its formation, the Presidential medal has been awarded to more than 500 exceptional individuals from different sections of society.

Other recipients of the award include 

• Ernie Banks a baseball players
• Ben Bradlee, he as a newsmen of his generation
• Daniel Kahneman a scholar of psychology
• Richard Lugar a former Senator
• Loretta Lynn legend of country music
• Patricia Wald, an appellate judge of her generation
• Mario Molina, a visionary chemist and environmental scientist
• Cordy Tindell C T Vivian, a distinguished minister, author, and organiser
• Arturo Sandoval, celebrated jazz trumpeter, pianist and composer
• Dean Smith, head coach of the University of North Carolina basketball team between 1961 to 1997
• Gloria Steinem, a renowned writer and activist for women's equality

Three were honoured posthumously and they are Sally Ride (first American astronaut to travel to space), Daniel Inouye (a public servant) and Bayard Rustin (an activist for civil rights, dignity, and equality for all).

 About Presidential Medal of Freedom: The Presidential Medal of Freedom is an award bestowed by the President of the United States and is—along with the comparable Congressional Gold Medal bestowed by an act of U.S. Congress—the highest civilian award in the United States. Individuals, who have made some meritorious contribution for the national security and national interest of US, Cultural/Public/Private endeavors and World Peace are recognized by this award. Being a civilian award, it can be awarded to a military person and can be worn along with the uniform. It can also awarded even to non-US residents. It was established in 1963 and replaced the earlier Medal of Freedom that was established by President Harry S. Truman in 1945.


Sports


PV Sindhu, the Indian shuttler on 9 August 2013 became the first Indian women singles player to enter Semi-finals in World Badminton Championships and ensure a medal.

Sindhu defeated Shixian Wang of China 21-18, 21-17 to enter the semi- finals the game that lasted for 55 minutes.


Defence


India on 7 August 2013 successfully test-fired two rounds of indigenously developed Pinaka rockets from a multi-barrel rocket launcher (MBRL) from a base at Chandipur-on-sea near Balasore, off the Odisha coast. The tests were routine trials conducted for training purpose.

The tests were conducted by personnel from Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE), Pune unit at Proof and Experimental Establishment (PXE) firing point-2. Earlier in 2013, ten rounds of Pinaka rockets were tested from the same base.

More advanced and second generation Pinaka Mark II Multi-Barrel Rocket Launcher System had undergone successful firing trials at Chandhan area in Pokhran field firing ranges in western Rajasthan during July 2013.

The Main Features of Pinaka :

• Pinaka is an area weapon system with a range of 40 km.

• The quick reaction time and high rate of fire of Pinaka will give an edge to the Army during a minor conflict situation.

• Pinaka system can fire a salvo of 12 rockets in 44 seconds. The battery of six launchers can neutralise at a time a target area of 3.9 sq km.

• Pinaka is capable to incorporate several types of warheads which makes the weapon deadly for the enemy as it can even destroy solid structures and bunkers.


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