Jagranjosh.com brings to you August 2018 monthly recap that summarises the top current affairs of the month, covering topics such as the 18th Asian Games, ISRO's Gaganyaan Mission, India Post Payments Bank, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Assam's NRC, Indus Waters Treaty, controversy about Article 35-A of the constitution and Sabarimala temple row among others.
India with a haul of 69 medals including 15 gold recorded its best-ever performance in the history of Asian Games at the 2018 edition held in Jakarta and Palembang in Indonesia.
Overall, India maintained its top-10 rank by finishing eighth yet again. The previous highest medal tally for India was at the 2010 edition in Guangzhou, China where they had finished 6th with 14 gold, 17 silver and 34 bronze medals.
India set a new record for most medals won and equaled its previous record for maximum gold medals at the Asian Games. India also won 24 silver medals at the 18th Asian Games, which is more than any of the Games’ previous editions.
While there were some commendable performances and surprise medals in many sporting categories in the 2018 Asian Games, the athletic contingent stood out the most, as it produced one of its best results till date.
2. ISRO unveils Gaganyaan Mission to put Indians in space before 2022
India’s first manned space mission ‘Gaganyaan’ will be launched by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) by 2022. The mission was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his 72nd Independence Day speech. The Prime Minister had announced that this manned space mission will take Indian astronauts to space on board 'Gaganyaan' by 2022.
The programme will make India the fourth nation in the world to launch a Human Spaceflight Mission. So far, only the USA, Russia and China have launched human spaceflight missions. The mission's crew will be selected by Indian Air Force (IAF) and ISRO jointly after which they will undergo training for two-three years.
Prior to the actual launch of this manned mission by 2022, the ISRO will launch two unmanned Gaganyaan missions.
JDU’s Harivansh Narayan Singh was elected as the new deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha on August 9, 2018. The NDA candidate was pitted against BK Hari Prasad, the joint candidate of the Congress-led Opposition in the voice vote. Singh won the vote with 125 votes in favour and 105 against.
The post of the deputy chairman was lying vacant since June 2018 following the retirement of PJ Kurien, a Congress MP from Kerala.
The NDA candidate, Harivansh Narayan Singh received support from Shiv Sena, Akali Dal, AIADMK, TRS, YSRCP, INLD, BJD, three nominated candidates and SP MP, Amar Singh.
4. Atal Bihari Vajpayee passes away; Major achievements; Key milestones of his political journey
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee passed away on August 16, 2018 following a prolonged illness at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi. He was 93. He was admitted at the AIIMS on June 11, 2018.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the first non-Congress Prime Minister to serve a full five-year term. Vajpayee served three terms as the Prime Minister of India. He served the first term in 1996 for just 13 days. During his second term in 1998-199, he served for 13 months. In his final and third term, he served the nations for full five years from 1999-2004.
Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General passed away on August 18, 2018 after a short illness. He was 88. In 1997, Annan became the first African to take up the role of Secretary General at the United Nations. He served two terms as the chief of United Nations, from 1997 to 2006.
He later served as the UN special envoy for Syria, leading efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 for helping to revitalise the United Nations, during a period that coincided with the Iraq War and the HIV/Aids pandemic.
6. M Karunanidhi, DMK chief and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, passes away
DMK patriarch Muthuvel Karunanidhi, the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, passed away on August 7, 2018 after battling a brief illness at the Kauvery hospital in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. He was 94.
He was known as a strong Indian politician who dominated Tamil Nadu's politics for six decades along with arch-rivals MG Ramachandran and Late J Jayalalithaa. He served as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for five separate terms during the 1969–2011 period. He created a record by winning all the 13 Assembly elections he had contested since 1957.
Popularly called 'Kalaignar', he was known for his film scripts that greatly helped him in his political career. His powers of oratory bestowed on him a cult status much similar to Jayalalithaa.
7. Controversy about Article 35A of Indian Constitution
The Article 35A of the Indian Constitution was in news recently as the Supreme Court on August 6, 2018 adjourned the hearing on pleas challenging Constitutional validity of Article 35A pertaining to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).
The Article 35A was added to the Indian Constitution (Appendix II) through a Presidential Order -The Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954. It was issued by the then President Rajendra Prasad on May 14, 1954 in exercise of the powers conferred by clause (1) of Article 370.
The article empowers the Jammu and Kashmir state's legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state and provide special rights and privileges to these permanent residents. It prohibits non-permanent residents from acquiring immovable property, government jobs, scholarships and aid in the state.
8. Sabarimala temple case: Ban on women unconstitutional, says Kerala Government
The Kerala government on August 1, 2018 told the Supreme Court that the custom of barring the entry of women between the age group of 10 to 50 years into the Sabarimala temple in Kerala is not permissible under the Constitution.
The state government said that the celibate status of deity cannot be a ground for barring the entry of women into the Sabarimala temple. The government argued that it is a Hindu temple and not a temple of a particular denomination.
Senior advocate Jaideep Gupta, appearing on behalf of the Kerala government, said that there is no need to strike down Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965, which bars women from entering the temple but instead, the rules can be read in such a manner that women are not excluded.
The US space agency NASA on August 3, 2018 introduced to the world the crew of nine astronauts who will fly on American-made spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) from the US soil for the first time since the space shuttle’s retirement in 2011.
The astronauts include Indian-origin Sunita Williams, Josh Cassada, Eric Boe, Nicole Mann, Christopher Ferguson, Douglas Hurley, Robert Behnken, Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover. They will first crew the test flights and then the missions involving Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft. The missions will begin in 2019.
10. Indra Nooyi to step down as Pepsico CEO
Pepsico CEO Indra Nooyi will step down from the position on October 3, 2018, after helming the post for the last 12 years. The announcement was made by Pepsico on August 6, 2018.
Ramon Laguarta, who has worked with Pepsico for over 22 years, will be succeeding Nooyi. The 54-year-old was unanimously elected to the position by PepsiCo's Board of Directors. He will become the sixth CEO of the company in its 53-year old history.
While Nooyi will step down as CEO of food and beverage giant PepsiCo in October, she will continue to serve as the Chairman of the company till early 2019.
11. Parliament passes Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018
Indian Parliament on August 6, 2018 passed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018 that proposes to enhance punishment for rape of a child. The Bill was earlier passed by the Lok Sabha on July 30, 2018.
The Bill seeks to replace the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018 promulgated on April 21, 2018 following an outcry over the rape and murder of a minor girl in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir and the rape of another woman at Unnao in Uttar Pradesh.
The Bill stipulates stringent punishment for those guilty of rape, particularly of girls below the age of 16 and 12 years. The ordinance also orders death sentence to those guilty of raping girls below the age of 12 years.
12. Parliament passes bill to give constitutional validity to NCBC
The Rajya Sabha on August 6, 2018 passed the Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill that seeks to provide constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC).
The bill was passed in the upper house of the Parliament with an absolute majority and over two-third majority of the members present and voting. All 156 members present in the house voted in favour of the bill.
The Lok Sabha had passed the crucial bill on August 2 with over two-third majority, with all 406 members present voting in favour after an almost five-hour long debate. The House had passed the bill superseding the amendments by the Rajya Sabha.
13. India breaks into top 100 in UN’s E-Government index
India has jumped 22 places to break into the top 100 of the United Nation’s E-Government Index 2018. India, which was ranked 118 in 2014, jumped 11 places to be ranked 96 in 2018. Its overall score was 0.5484.
The survey is released by the United Nations in every two years. The 2018 edition: 'Gearing E-Government to Support Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies' was launched on July 19.
Denmark, with an index value of 0.9150, topped the 2018 E-Government Development Survey. It was followed by Australia with 0.9053 score and the Republic of Korea with a value of 0.9010.
14. Union Cabinet approves acquisition of IDBI Bank’s controlling stake by LIC
The Union Cabinet on August 1, 2018 approved acquisition of IDBI Bank’s controlling stake by Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) as promoter in the bank. The acquisition will be done through preferential allotment or open offer of equity and through relinquishment of management control by the Government of India.
The Cabinet has also approved reduction in Government shareholding in IDBI Bank Limited to below 50 percent by dilution. The acquisition would help financially strengthen the LIC and the bank as well as their subsidiaries which offer financial products such as housing finance and mutual funds.
15. Startup India launches Academia Alliance Programme
Startup India has launched the Startup Academia Alliance programme, which is a unique mentorship opportunity between academic scholars and startups working in similar domains, to fulfill the Indian Government’s mission to promote the spirit of entrepreneurship in the country.
The Startup Academia Alliance aims to reduce the gap between scientific research and its industrial applications in order to increase the efficacy of these technologies and widen their impact. The initiative aims to create lasting connections between the stakeholders of the startup ecosystem by creating a bridge between the academia and industry.
16. Sikkim’s Khangchendzonga biosphere reserve added to UNESCO list
India’s Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve, one of the highest ecosystems in the world, has been added to UNESCO's list of World Network of Biosphere Reserve (WNBR).The Khangchendzonga reserve will be India's 11th internationally designated WNBR.
The reserve includes a range of ecoclines varying from subtropical to arctic, as well as vast natural forests in different biomes that support an immensely rich diversity of forest types and habitats resulting in high species diversity and endemism.
With its inclusion in the WNBR list, the reserve joins other Indian biospheres such as Nandadevi, Simlipal, Sunderbans, and Nilgiri.
17. Union Cabinet approves law provisioning death penalty for maritime piracy
The Union Cabinet on August 2, 2018 approved a bill provisioning death penalty or life imprisonment to those involved in piracy at sea.
The main objective of the anti-maritime piracy bill is to have a domestic anti-piracy legislation to provide the necessary legal framework within the country for the prosecution of those involved in piracy-related crimes. The bill calls for a harsh punishment, as the government feels that the current punishment is not very harsh.
The decision was taken in the wake of rising incidents of piracy in critical sea lanes.
18. Madras HC orders CBSE to publicise 'no homework, no bag' rule for Class I & II
The Madras High Court on August 20, 2018 ordered the Central Board of Secondary Education to publicise in media that stringent action would be taken against institutes not following the board's 'no homework' rule for class I and II students.
The court had earlier directed the Centre to instruct the state governments and Union Territories to make sure that no school in the country, irrespective of the educational board it was affiliated to, prescribed homework for students in Classes I and II, in accordance with the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) recommendations.
The court also asked the Centre to instruct state governments to reduce the weight of children's school bags. The judge said, “neither children are weightlifters nor school bags load containers.”
19. Chhattisgarh to rename Naya Raipur as Atal Nagar
The state government of Chhattisgarh has decided to rename the state’s new capital city Naya Raipur as Atal Nagar in the memory of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The decision was taken during the state’s cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Raman Singh on August 21, 2018.
The Chhattisgarh government has decided to develop an Atal Memorial in an area of five acres at the state’s new capital. It has also decided to install a statue of the former Prime Minister in the state capital and district headquarters of all 27 districts. It will also be renaming few other places and institutions including Bilaspur University and Rajnandgaon Medical College after Vajpayee.
20. Health Insurance companies to cover mental illness under medical insurance policies: IRDAI
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) on August 16, 2018 directed all the insurance companies to make a provision to cover mental illness also in insurance policies.
The authority referred to Section 21(4) of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2O17 which states that every insurer shall make provision for medical insurance for treatment of mental illness on the same basis as is available for treatment of physical illness. The Act came into force on May 29, 2018.
Thus, all insurance companies were directed to comply with the aforesaid provisions of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 with immediate effect.
21. Chandrayaan-I data confirms presence of ice on Moon: NASA
The NASA scientists, using data from the Chandrayaan-I spacecraft, on August 21, 2018 confirmed that there are frozen water deposits in the darkest and coolest parts of Moon’s Polar Regions. The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Scientists have directly observed definitive evidence of water ice in the darkest and coldest parts of Polar Regions of the Moon. At the southern pole, most of the ice is concentrated at lunar craters, while the northern pole’s ice is more widely and lightly spread. With enough ice sitting at the surface within the top few millimeters, water would possibly be accessible as a resource for future expeditions to explore and even stay on the Moon.
22. India observes 76th anniversary of Quit India movement
The 76th anniversary of Quit India movement was observed across India on August 8, 2018. On this day in 1942, father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi gave the famous clarion call of ‘Do or Die’ to all Indians to drive the British away from the country.
The movement, also known as the August Kranti Diwas, was launched at the Bombay session of the All-India Congress Committee (AICC), at the height of the Second World War. Mahatma Gandhi had drafted a resolution on the occasion calling for the British to Quit India. The draft proposed that if the British did not agree to the demands, a massive civil disobedience movement would be launched.
23. Former Chilean President, Michelle Bachelet to be next UN human rights chief
The United Nations on August 8, 2018 announced that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has chosen former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet to be the UN’s new human rights chief. Bachelet would be succeeding Jordanian diplomat Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, who had been one of the most outspoken critics of abuses by the governments in many countries.
The 66-year-old has served as the President of Chile twice, from 2006 to 2010 and from 2014 to 2018. Her second four-year term as President ended earlier this year. She was the first woman in her country to occupy the top position and is known to be a strong advocate for women’s rights.
24. NASA launches Parker Solar Probe mission to study Sun’s corona
US space agency NASA on August 12, 2018 launched Parker Solar Probe, a historic mission to touch the sun. The main aim of the mission is to send a satellite closer to the Sun than any before.
The mission is named after astrophysicist Eugene Parker, 91, the physicist who first theorised the existence of the solar wind in 1958. It is the first space craft to be named after a living person.
The probe, which is the world’s first-ever mission to touch the Sun, is expected to unlock the mysteries of the star's fiery outer atmosphere and its effects on space weather during its seven-year long journey.
The Supreme Court on August 21, 2018 ruled that the ‘None of The Above’ (NOTA) option will not be applicable for voting in the Rajya Sabha elections. The ruling was made by a bench of Justices comprising CJI Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud.
The bench held that the NOTA option is meant only for universal adult suffrage and direct elections and not for the polls held by the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote as done in the Rajya Sabha.
The judgment came on a petition filed by Gujarat Congress leader Shailesh Manubhai Parmar to do away with the ‘NOTA’ option in Rajya Sabha elections. The petition was filed in connection with the Rajya Sabha election in 2017, in which Congress leader Ahmed Patel was contesting.
The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi on September 1, 2018 launched the India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) at Talkatora Stadium in New Delhi. The initiative seeks to leverage the expansive network of the postal department to ensure financial inclusion for the masses.
In fact, simultaneous launch events were held for the IPPBs at 650 branches and 3,250 access points. The objective of IPPB is to build the most accessible, affordable and trusted bank for the common man, spearhead the financial inclusion agenda by removing the barriers for the unbanked and reduce the opportunity cost for the under banked populace through assisted doorstep banking.
27. Government dismisses Allahabad Bank CEO Usha Ananthasubramanian from service
The Union Government on August 13, 2018 dismissed Usha Ananthasubramanian, former CEO/ MD of Allahabad Bank and scam hit Punjab National Bank (PNB), from service.
Though the Allahabad Bank had divested Ananthasubramanian of all her powers as MD three months back, after she was named in the CBI charge-sheet in the Rs 14,000 crore PNB fraud case, she had continued to be an employee of the bank.
The removal action comes in the wake of her having failed to exercise proper control over PNB ’s functioning while serving as its MD & CEO that had enabled misuse of SWIFT at PNB's Brady House branch leading to one of the country’s biggest bank frauds.
The Supreme Court on August 13, 2018 approved a proposal to have hologram-based coloured stickers on vehicles which would indicate the nature of fuel being used in Delhi- National Capital Region (NCR).
The apex court ruling allows for blue stickers to be used for vehicles running on petrol and CNG, and orange stickers for diesel vehicles. The colour coding will help authorities identify vehicles running on high-polluting fuel from specified routes on particular days. The hologram-based stickers will also contain the registration date of the vehicle.
The ruling was made by the bench while hearing the petition filed by noted environmentalist MC Mehta, seeking a direction to take proper steps to deal with pollution in Delhi and NCR.
29. SC directs Assam NRC coordinator to submit data of excluded people
The Supreme Court on August 16, 2018 asked the Assam National Register of Citizens (NRC) coordinator to submit the data of district-wise percentage of the population excluded from the NRC draft in the state.
The bench directed the state NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela to make the copies of draft NRC available at all panchayat offices so that public can access it easily. The apex court said that the claim and objection forms on the Assam NRC issue will be made available to the general public from August 20.
Earlier on July 31, 2018, the Supreme Court had ruled that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) prepared for the state of Assam was only a draft, and hence it cannot be the basis of any action by any authority against anyone.
The 115th meeting of the India-Pakistan Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) was held in Lahore, Pakistan during August 29-30, 2018. The Indian delegation was led by PK Saxena, the Indian Commissioner for Indus Waters.
During the meeting, technical discussions were held on implementation of various hydroelectric projects under the provisions of Indus Waters Treaty 1960 including Pakal Dul (1000 MW) and Lower Kalnai (48 MW) projects in Jammu and Kashmir. Both the countries agreed to undertake the Treaty mandated tours of both the Indus Commissioners in Indus basin on both sides.
They deliberated on further strengthening the role of the Permanent Indus Commission for matters under the Treaty. It was also agreed by both the sides to hold the next meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission in India on mutually convenient dates.
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