Current Affairs – May 20, 2009

1. SBI has slashed lending rates for new SME (Small and Medium Enterprises) loans up to Rs 5 lakh to eight per cent and those for loans Rs 5-25 lakhs to 10 per cent. The rate reduction will be available for the next two years and will be applicable for working capital and term loans provided they are covered under CGTMSE (Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises). After two years, the bank will review the rates according to the prevailing market conditions. SBI has also extended the SME Help and SME Care schemes, under which it offers loans at eight per cent to SMEs from April to September 30, 2009.Moreover, loans under SME Help will now be available for a period of two years at eight per cent, it said. The banks currently has 12-lakh SME customers. (April 11, 2009)

2. As many as 20 public sector banks, including big ones like Canara Bank, Bank of Baroda and Union Bank, have failed to achieve the annual farm sector lending target. The Reserve Bank has mandated banks (both in public and private sector) to provide 18% of of Adjusted Net Bank Credit to agriculture sector, of which 13.5 per cent is to be disbursed as direct credit and 4.5 per cent towards indirect credit to agriculture. (March 31, 2009)

3. Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India on May 17, 2009 announced the appointment of Prashant Saran as its whole time member. Prior to this assignment, Saran held the position of chief general manager in Reserve Bank of India and was heading the department of banking operations and development. (May 17, 2009)

4. Giving a clear indication of poor broadband penetration in the country, India has been ranked 115th among 223 countries in terms of average internet connection speeds. This State of the Internet report is in the latest quarterly study by Akamai Technologies, the US-based internet content distribution giant.

And, at the end of 2008, approximately 19 per cent internet connections around the world were at speeds greater than 5 Mbps — a 21 per cent increase over the average global connection speed at the end of 2007. In line with their average connection speed of 15 Mbps, and their appearance at the top of the list for the prior three quarters, South Korea once again ranked as the country with the highest percentage of connections on high broadband (greater than 5 Mbps).
India ranks 93rd globally for broadband adoption (with 3.74 per cent connections at speeds over 2 Mbps) and is positioned at 55th globally for narrowband adoption (with 25.8 per cent of connections at speeds below 256 Kbps). South Korea, Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway had more high broadband IPs per capita than in the prior quarter studied. This is consistent with what would be expected from the initiatives to bring higher-speed connectivity, including fibre-to-the-home efforts, to consumers in these countries, notes the Akamai report.

The report also notes that the number of unique IPs or internet addresses from India grew 42.91 per cent year-on-year, to 2.63 million. Globally, the number of unique IPs grew 20 per cent. In terms of broadband penetration, India had 0.0001 broadband IPs per capita. India ranked 17th globally on another parameter called attack traffic — a measure of rogue activity on the Internet, such as DNS attacks, bots, spam activity and hackers.

5. With the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation pushing electronic booking of tickets and scores of online travel portals entering the business, the share of tickets sold online in the total ticket revenues of the railways has doubled to nearly 30 per cent this year.

6. OECD, a group of rich nations, has found that nine in 10 employees in India do not have a formal labour contract and social security benefits such as advance dismissal notices. As per a study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, nearly 370 million people in India do not have “formal social security”, which translates into nine out of ten employees in the country working without such benefits.

7. Columbia University’s Center for International Earth Science Information Network and Yale University’s Center for Environmental Law and Policy developed the index to highlight the cleanest countries, and give laggards the opportunity to benchmark efforts to improve their own environments and the health of their citizens. Switzerland tops the list with an overall EPI score of 95.5 out of 100, while European countries account for 14 of the top 20 environmental performers. Europe has the infrastructure to provide clean drinking water and treat waste water, lowering the likelihood that Europeans will suffer from waterborne disease. Europe scores consistently well in EPI’s environmental health ranking, which measures the effects of pollution on human health.

8. About 20 per cent of India’s manufacturing firms in sectors like engineering, textiles and aviation are not able to produce quality products due to obsolete machinery and technology, according to a study by industry body Assocham. The defect rates of final products are between 5 to 10 times more than those manufacturing units in bigger economies such as the US, EU and Japan. (April 19, 2009)

9. The Indian equity market has emerged as third biggest after China and Hong Kong in the emerging Asian region, with a market capitalisation of nearly $600 billion, a latest ADB report says. According to the report , the combined market capitalisation of all the equity markets in the Emerging Asia region stood at $5,770 billion (about Rs 290 lakh crore) at end of March 2009. Indian equity market’s capitalisation at the end of March 2009 stands at $598.3 billion (Rs 30.13 lakh crore) which accounts for about one-tenth of the combined valuation of the entire emerging Asia region. However, People’s Republic of China is at the top of the chart with a marketcap of $2,347.4 billion followed by Hong Kong with $1,293.7 billion, the data compiled in the ADB report revealed. (April 22, 2009)

10. Software czar Bill Gates, legendary investor Warren Buffett and Apple’s Steve Jobs, have been named among the 20 best American CEOs of all time. The list of ’20 Best CEOs’ complied by US publication Conde Nast Portfolio is topped by auto maker Ford Motor’s Henry Ford, while financial services major J P Morgan’s J P Morgan has cornered the second place. Jobs, Gates and Buffett are placed at 7th, 10th and 16th positions, respectively. Wal-Mart’s Sam Walton is ranked third, followed by car maker General Motors’ Alfred Solan at the fourth and Lou Gerstner of IBM at the fifth spot. Other names include iron and steel baron Andrew Carnegie (9th), New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (11th), Walt Disney (14th) and Washington Post’s Katharine Graham (17th) and famous Oprah Winfrey Show’s Oprah Winfrey at the 20th place.

11. Oracle’s Lawrence J Ellison has emerged as the highest paid chief executive in the US with a pay packet of $556.58 million in 2008, even as the total compensation of CEOs at 500 biggest American companies declined by 11 per cent last year. Business publication Forbes has ranked Ellison as the top paid chief executive in America followed by Occidental Petroleum’s Ray R Irani at the second spot with a compensation of $222.64 million. Among the India-origin chief executives, the list features soft drinks maker Pepsico’s Indra Nooyi, banking entity Citigroup’s Vikram Pandit, financial services firm Hartford Financial Services’ Ramani Aiyer and software company Adobe System’s Shantanu Narayen, among others.

12. The economic downturn in the world’s jewellery markets has checked the growth of India’s diamond export industry, cutting the workforce by as much as 25 per cent and forcing one of the country’s most promising export sectors to seek government help. India has a 55 per cent market share of the world’s diamond cutting and polishing business. The industry imports more than half of its rough diamonds from Belgium and has strong links with De Beers, the global diamond group, Alrosa, the Russian diamond producer, and BHP Billiton, the resources group. The bulk of the diamonds, once cut, are then exported again to big markets such as the US, the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong.

The above 5 questions are part of Daily Current Affairs 20 MCQs Series in GKToday Android Application. This series can be subscribed in the app only for Rs. 799/- for entire year. Download Now



1 Comment

  1. shakshi

    September 8, 2009 at 11:25 am

    Very useful notes. Thank a lot for these notes.Kindly give these kind of notes with every quiz because it helps so much in improving the concepts and hence gives a strong base. Thanks a lot for your efforts


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *