Current Affairs – August 2020
Indore ranks No. 1 in Swachh Survekshan list
Indore in Madhya Pradesh has been named as the cleanest city in India for the fourth time in a row. The results of the fifth edition of the nationwide annual cleanliness survey, Swachh Survekashan 2020 were declared by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs during the ‘Swachh Mahotsav’ on 20 August. Indore is followed by Surat and Navi Mumbai at the second and third spots respectively.
Furthermore, Jharkhand topped the list of the best performing states with less than 100 Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) and Chhattisgarh topped the list of the best performing states with over 100 ULBs, Jalandhar Cantt topped the list of India’s cleanest cantonment and Varanasi was named India’s cleanest town on the banks of River Ganga.
Swachh Survekshan 2020 saw a registration of 1.7 crore citizens on the Swachhata app and was completed within a span of 28 days. The survey covered a total of 4,242 cities, 62 cantonment boards and 92 towns on the banks of River Ganga.
Satya Pal Malik appointed Meghalaya Governor
Satya Pal Malik replaced Tathagata Roy to become the governor of Meghalaya on 18 August. Prior to this, Malik was serving as the governor of Goa which has now been given as an additional responsibility to the Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari.
Previously, Malik has served as the governor of Jammu and Kashmir from August 2018 to October 2019. He has also served as the governor of Bihar from October 2017 to August 2018. In 2018, he was given additional charge to serve as the governor of Odisha. Furthermore, in August 2018, he was appointed the governor to Jammu and Kashmir.
Assam govt. launches longest river ropeway over Brahmaputra
The Assam government launched the longest river ropeway over Brahmaputra river connecting Guwahati and North Guwahati on 24 August.
The 1.82-km-long ropeway can be covered in 8-9 minutes. It comprises two cabins that can each carry 32 passengers at a time. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, only 15 passengers will be allowed in each cabin. The ropeway’s ticket fare for one-way is ₹60, while for a to and fro commute, it is ₹100.
Previously, those who needed to cross the river had two options: either travel by a ferry that takes half-an-hour depending on the season and currents, or use a bridge that usually takes around an hour depending on the traffic. The ropeway will solve all these issues as well as allow the users to witness beautiful landscapes of Guwahati city, River Brahmaputra, and the Umananda Temple.
The Assam government has invested ₹56 crores for the project.
Daughter entitled to equal property rights: SC
The Supreme Court on 11 August ruled that daughters are entitled to equal coparcenary (joint heirship) rights in joint Hindu family property even if the father died before the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 came into force. Coparcenary property is the one which is inherited by a Hindu man from his father, grandfather or great grandfather.
‘Coparcener’s right is by birth. Thus, it is not at all necessary that the father of the daughter should be living as on the date of the amendment, as she has not been conferred the rights of a coparcener by obstructed heritage’, the court explained.
However, it clarified that a daughter born before 9 September 2005 can only claim her rights with effect from the date of the amendment. Moreover, any transaction relating to the property before 20 December 2004, when the Bill was tabled before Rajya Sabha, will not be disturbed.
The judgment was delivered by a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justices Arun Mishra, S Abdul Nazeer and MR Shah.
India, Russia announced joint winners at FIDE Chess Olympiad
India and Russia were announced the joint winners of the first-ever online version of FIDE (International Chess Federation) Chess Olympiad on 30 August. It was the first time that India had reached the finals of the olympiad.
Initially, Russia was declared the winner but the Indian players Divya Deshmukh and Nihal Sarin lodged an appeal saying they had lost internet connection due to a server failure in the second round. After about an hour, the decision was reversed. The first round of finals between Russia and India ended in a 3-3 draw.
Incidentally, India’s quarterfinal victory against Armenia had also seen similar complaints of server crashes.
Table Tennis player Poulomi Ghatak retires
One of the most popular names in table tennis, Poulomi Ghatak bid adieu to her playing career. The seven-time national champion plans to now shift focus to her coaching career.
On retiring, the Kolkata-born player said, ‘I have represented the country in every tournament and at every level, but now I feel it is time to use my experience and knowledge to train youngsters who will bring bigger laurels for the country.’
She is now set to join her husband and former national champion Soumyadip Roy to turn their academy, which was inaugurated in June 2019, into a centre of excellence.
Poulomi had won a gold at the SAF Games in 2006, a bronze at the Commonwealth Games in 2006 and 2007, and a silver at the Commonwealth Games in 2010, besides others.
Anderson becomes first-ever fast bowler to take 600 Test wickets
England’s James Anderson became the first fast bowler to take 600 Test wickets on 25 August. He picked up Pakistan’s Azhar Ali’s wicket on the fifth day of the third Test match at Ageas Bowl, Southampton, to achieve this feat.
The 38-year-old is the fourth in the list after Muttiah Muralitharan (800 wickets), Shane Warne (708 wickets) and Anil Kumble (619 wickets) to have crossed the 600 mark.
Anderson made his Test debut in 2003 against Zimbabwe. He also became the highest wicket-taker among seamers in 2018 after dismissing Mohammed Shami against India at The Oval.
MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina retire from international cricket
Former Indian captain M.S. Dhoni and veteran batsman Suresh Raina announced their retirement from international cricket on 15 August. Both the cricketers made it official through an Instagram post.
Dhoni’s Instagram post read, ‘Thanks. Thanks a lot for ur love and support throughout.from 1929 hrs consider me as retired (sic).’
Similarly, Raina posted a picture of him with his CSK teammates Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav and Karn Sharma, ‘It was nothing but lovely playing with you, @mahi7781 . With my heart full of pride, I choose to join you in this journey. Thank you India. Jai Hind!’
However, both the players will be seen playing for the franchise Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the 13th edition of Indian Premier League (IPL) in UAE.
Mysuru Literature Festival flagged off
The fourth edition of the Mysuru Literature Festival kick-started virtually on 14 August. The festival is scheduled to be held every weekend till 5 September.
On inaugurating the festival, the chairperson of Mysuru Literary Forum and Charitable Trust, Shubha Sanjay Urs said, ‘With Covid-19 locking down cities, Mysuru Literature Festival takes another plunge, this time into the digital world of the online experience. The pandemic has kept the annual confluence of authors and artists away from Mysuru. However, our first virtual festival will take Mysuru to the authors.’
Such literary festivals provide a platform to writers, readers, students, and other professionals to engage in discussions on literature and other subjects.
A few notable writers who attended the festival are Amjad Ali Khan, Nandita Das, Vikram Kirloskar, Sagarika Ghose, Vasudhendra, Kavitha Lankesh, Aroon Raman, Dharmendra Kumar, Andaleeb Wajid, Rohini Mohan, Mathangi Subramanian, V V Ganeshananthan, Soniah Kamal, Mona Kareem, Tania James, Preeta Samarasan, Venu Rajamony, Deepak Unnikrishnan and Amish Tripathi.
Neev Literature Festival goes online
The Neev Literature Festival for children (NLF) is conducting its fourth edition online this year from 15 August. Unlike previous editions, this festival will not be a two-day event. Instead, activities and events will be conducted throughout the year on social media platforms.
The theme of the festival this year is ‘Imaginary Lines’. The primary objective of this theme is to focus on the subject of Partition.
Elaborating the theme, co-founder and curator of the festival Kavita Gupta said, ‘This is a topic not often discussed with children who generally only know of the incident as a chapter from their textbooks. It is important to understand the impact of Partition in a time like this when there is a lot of divisiveness in society.’
‘Lines divide, but they also connect. We thought it fitting that on Independence Day we start a dialogue on the significance of these lines. A random line drawn by Sir Cyril Radcliffe has had lasting ramifications on thousands of families and until about three years ago, there was no book which dwelt on the topic in a way children would relate to, with perhaps the exception of ‘Chachaji’s Cup’ by Uma Krishnaswami’, she added.
Mt. Sinabung erupts in Indonesia
Indonesia’s Mount Sinabung erupted on 10 August after a year-long absence of volcanic activity. The volcano spewed a 5,000-metre (16,400 feet) column of ash and smoke into the air, covering the area with darkness and a thick layer of debris. Mt. Sinabung was a dormant volcano for almost 400 years until it roared back to life in 2010.
Indonesia’s Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Centre released a statement asking people living nearby to be on alert for the potential appearance of lava.
Indonesia is home to around 130 active volcanoes as it falls in the Ring of Fire. The Ring of Fire is a major area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean, where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur frequently.
Pollution affects honey bees, impacts pollination
A new study conducted by the scientists at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) has found how air pollution may be adversely affecting the health of honey bees in the wild.
The study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is a result of the research done on over 1,800 giant Asian bees across four sites in Bangalore with different levels of air pollution.
The researchers found that the bees exhibited lower flower visitation rates in areas of heavy pollution as compared to those with lesser pollution. Furthermore, the bees kept in the polluted areas had arrhythmic heartbeats and lower blood cell counts. In addition, they performed poorly in terms of immunity and metabolism, and exhibited signs of stress.
In order to be doubly sure, the researchers reconducted the experiment with fruit flies at the same sites and observed similar results.
Greenland ice melt past tipping point
According to a recent study released on 13 August, researchers have found that the melting of Greenland glaciers has passed the tipping point. This implies that even if global warming were to end today, snowfall would no longer be able to compensate for the loss of the melting of Greenland’s ice cap.
The study published in Communications Earth & Environment took into consideration 40 years of satellite data, tracking outlet glacier velocity, thickness, and calving front position over time to determine the rate of ice loss. In the 1980s and 1990s, the ice cap was losing about 450 gigatonnes of ice per year which was replaced by snowfall. But 2000s onwards, the melting accelerated to 500 gigatonnes and was not compensated for by snowfall.
The melting of Greenland ice sheet is considered to be the largest single contributor to rising sea levels worldwide.
Science & Technology
Chandrayaan-2 completes one year in lunar orbit
India’s second lunar mission, Chandrayaan-2, completed one year in orbit around the moon on 20 August. ISRO informed that the orbiter has completed 4,400 orbits around the moon so far and all the eight scientific instruments aboard are working well. It further informed that the orbiter has adequate fuel to keep the operation going for the next seven years.
Chandrayaan-2 was launched on 22 July 2019 in an attempt to soft-land the Vikram lander carrying the Pragyaan rover. Although the attempt was unsuccessful, the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter was successfully placed into lunar orbit on 20 August 2019.
The main objective of the Chandrayaan-2 mission is to expand lunar scientific knowledge through detailed studies of topography, mineralogy, surface chemical composition, thermo-physical characteristics and the lunar exosphere.
Tiny asteroid makes record
An SUV-sized asteroid, known as 2020 QG, set a record by passing 1,830 miles over the Southern Indian Ocean on 16 August. 2020 QG, about three to six metres across, is very small by asteroid standards. If it had been on an impact trajectory, it most likely would have become a fireball on entering the Earth’s atmosphere.
The asteroid which flew past Earth closer than any other NEA (near-earth asteroids) was spotted by the Zwicky Transient Facility, a robotic camera that scans the sky in search of a variety of objects.
Elated by the news, the Director of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, Paul Chodas said, ‘It’s really cool to see a small asteroid come by this close, because we can see the Earth’s gravity dramatically bend its trajectory.’
‘Our calculations show that this asteroid got turned by 45 degrees or so, as it swung by our planet’, he further added.
ISRO names moon crater after Vikram Sarabhai
ISRO named a crater on the moon after renowned Indian astrophysicist, Vikram Sarabhai on the occasion of his 101st birth anniversary on 12 August. The crater was captured by Chandrayaan-2, ISRO’s second lunar mission.
The Sarabhai Crater is approximately 250 to 300 kilometres east of the crater where Apollo 17 and Luna 21 missions had landed. The images of the crater captured in 3D show that it has a depth of around 1.7 kilometres taken from its raised rim and the slope of the crater walls is between 25 to 35 degrees. These findings will help scientists further explore the lunar region filled with lava.
Dwarf planet Ceres is an ocean world
According to a recent study published as a series of papers in Nature Astronomy, Nature Communications and Nature Geoscience, scientists have found a huge reservoir of salt water 25 miles below the surface of Ceres. The dwarf planet is the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
The team also discovered the presence of the compound hydrohalite, a material common in sea ice, which has been found only on Earth until now. Furthermore, the team said the salt deposits looked like they had accumulated over the last two million years, which is equivalent to a blink of an eye in space time.
Ceres has a diameter of about 950 kilometres. It even has its own gravity, which enables NASA’s Dawn spacecraft to capture high-resolution images of its surface.
Five dwarf planets have been found in our solar system till date. These are Pluto, Eris, Makemake, Haumea and Ceres. The sixth claimant for a dwarf planet is Hygiea, which is so far considered an asteroid.
Japanese PM Shinzo Abe resigns
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced his resignation on 28 August due to health concerns. The 66-year-old prime minister has been suffering from chronic ulcerative colitis since he was a teenager. Abe had previously resigned from his first stint in office in 2007 due to his deteriorating health, but later returned for a second term in December 2012.
According to Article 9 of Japan’s Cabinet law, if the post of the prime minister is vacant due to any reason, then a minister of state he has designated in advance is temporarily responsible for performing the duties on his behalf. Japan is likely to witness an extra session of parliament from October regarding the same.
On 24 August this year, Abe surpassed the record for the longest consecutive tenure as premier set by his great-uncle Eisaku Sato, who served from 1964 to 1972.
The long-serving PM has not named any successor; his term ends in September 2021.
Africa becomes polio-free
The Africa Regional Certification Commission declared the 47 nations of the WHO African Region as wild polio-free on 25 August, four years after the continent’s last known case was recorded in Nigeria. According to WHO, about 95% of the population of Africa has now been immunised.
WHO had launched the polio eradication campaign in Africa in 1996. At that time, about 75,000 children used to be affected by polio on the continent each year. Following this, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) was launched by Rotary, an international nonprofit organisation in 1988 to battle and end polio.
Eventually, the WHO, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and UNICEF also partnered with Rotary in the mission. Later, in 2007, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also joined the initiative, followed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.Only two countries – Pakistan and Afghanistan – have cases of wild poliovirus transmission now.
Mali President resigns after mutiny soldiers detain him at gunpoint
Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita dissolved the parliament by announcing his retirement on 19 August after reportedly being detained at gunpoint by mutinying soldiers.
The military units of Mali began a mutiny on 18 August and arrested several ministers and high-ranking officers. The military officials seized President Keita as well as PM Cisse from their homes. The mutiny is aimed at addressing the financial grievances of the military servicemen.
Mali has been witnessing months of protests against alleged corruption and worsening security due to increased militant activity.
Certain countries as well as international organisations, such as France and the African Union, are fearful that Keita’s fall could further destabilise the former French colony and West Africa’s entire Sahel region.
Lebanon’s PM Hassan Diab announces resignation
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab announced his resignation on 10 August amid public outrage over the Beirut blast, which rocked Lebanon on 4 August. The explosion was caused by a warehouse fire at Beirut’s port, where 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate explosives had been stored for years. The massive explosion killed more than 160 people and left about 6,000 injured.
Thereafter, several reports emerged that on multiple occasions between 2014 and 2017, Lebanese custom officials had requested the disposal of the highly combustible materials. The tragedy triggered widespread outrage in Lebanon, where people see it as a result of government corruption and neglect.
In a speech announcing the resignation, the PM said, ‘Today, we follow the will of the people in their demand to hold accountable those responsible for the disaster that has been in hiding for seven years.’
‘I said before that corruption is rooted in every level of the state, but I have discovered that corruption is greater than the state’, he added.
Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun accepted the resignation of the Diab government but asked it to stay as a caretaker government until a new cabinet is formed.
Mahinda Rajapaksa sworn in as Prime Minister of Sri Lanka for the fourth time
Former President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa took oath as the Prime Minister of the country for the fourth time on 9 August. Rajapaksa’s party Sri Lanka Podujana Permauna (SLPP) received 6,853,693 votes in the parliamentary elections held on August 5. The party won 145 seats in the 225-member parliament in the election.
The 74-year-old leader was administered the oath by his younger brother and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the sacred Rajamaha Viharaya in Kelaniya in Colombo.
Mahinda Rajapaksa completed 50 years of parliamentary politics in July this year. He was elected as a Member of Parliament at the age of 24 in 1970. Previously, he had served as the President of Sri Lanka from 2005 to 2015. He also served as the country’s prime minister between 2004 and 2005 and for a brief period between 2018 and 2019.
Spanish mountaineer names peak after Uttarakhand IAS officer
Juan Antonio, a Spanish mountaineer, recently climbed the Virgin Peak in his country and named it after a former district magistrate of Uttarkashi, Ashish Chauhan. Antonio took this decision to show his gratitude towards the Uttarakhand IAS officer for his help during the 2018 expedition in the Gangotri Himalayas.
Announcing the news, the mountaineer said, ‘We just decided that the top will be called “Magistrate’s Point” and the road will be called “Via Ashish”.
‘It will be registered in climbing books of Gredos (Central Mountain System), Spain.’ he further stated.
On receiving the honour, Chauhan, who happens to be the present Additional Secretary (Civil Administration) in Uttarakhand said, ‘I am overwhelmed and really grateful by the honour the mountaineer has showered on me. Atithi Devo Bhava (Guest is God) is our Indian culture and being a government official, it is my duty to provide help to any person who needs it.’
The Virgin Peak is situated near Avila city of Spain at an altitude of 2,950 metres and is one of the toughest to climb in the country.
National Sports Awards 2020 announced
The Government of India announced the National Sports Awards 2020 on 22 August.
A total of 27 sports persons were selected for the Arjuna Award, 5 for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, 13 for the Dronacharya award, 15 for Dhyan Chand award, 8 were shortlisted for the Tenzing Norgay National Adventure award, one person was chosen for the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad trophy and 4 were chosen for the Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar.
The virtual ceremony was attended by many dignitaries, such as President Ram Nath Kovind and Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju. The event began with the sports minister’s address, followed by the award ceremony honouring the country’s athletes and coaches and organisations working towards promoting sports in the country.
Gajanand Yadava wins Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award 2019
Wing Commander Gajanand Yadava won the Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award 2019 in the air adventure category on 29 August. The Indian Air Force (IAF) congratulated Yadava by sharing the news through a post on Twitter. Yadava is a parachute jump instructor and has undertaken more than 2,900 jumps till date.
Other winners include Anita Kundu, Keval Hiren Kakka, Sarfraz Singh, Taka Tamut (land adventure category), Magan Bissa (lifetime achievement category), Satendra Singh Lohiya (water adventure category).The Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Awards are regarded as India’s highest national awards for adventure sports. The awards are conferred annually in four categories: air adventure, land adventure, water adventure and lifetime achievement. The awardees are presented with statuettes, certificates, and a cash prize worth ₹5 lakh each.