1. EPFO reduces interest rate to 8.55% in 2017-18
The Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) lowered the provident fund interest rate to 8.55% for 2017-18. This is the third straight year the EPF rate has been lowered and the 2017-18 rate is the lowest in five years. At an organizational level, post the payout, the EPFO is expected to end with a surplus of Rs586 crore, compared to Rs695 crore in 2016-17.
2. Manufacturing lost 87,000 jobs in April-June 2017
There was a net increase of 64,000 jobs in eight sectors in the April to June 2017 quarter, but 87,000 jobs were lost in the manufacturing sector, shows the latest quarterly report on employment scenario released by the government. The overall net increase in the two quarters preceding it was 185,000 and 122,000. In the latest reported quarter, the education and health sectors fared the best.
3. India still ‘highly corrupt’, says transparency survey
An annual corruption survey of 180 countries conducted by Transparency International ranks India at 81, with a score that deems it to be ‘highly corrupt’ for the sixth consecutive year. The Corruption Perceptions Index ranks countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople, and uses a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is ‘highly corrupt’ and 100 is ‘very clean’. In the last six years, India has improved its score from 36 to 40. New Zealand was ranked number 1 (score of 89) and more than two-thirds of countries scored below 50.
4. S&P BSE Bankex loses 8% in past month
As banks, led by Punjab National Bank, continued to assess the damage caused by the misuse of a banking instrument by companies belonging to Nirav Modi and find ways to recover it, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested the promoter of Rotomac Pens in a Rs3,700 crore loan default case. These are the latest two instances to dent sentiment in the Indian banking sector, which is reeling under the weight of indiscriminate lending and lax checks and balances. In the past month, the S&P BSE Bankex has lost 8%, against a 6% loss in the broader BSE S&P Sensex.
5. Norway lead 2018 Winter Olympics medal standings
As on 22 February, Norway led the medal standings at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The Nordic country with a population of 5.2 million was matched with Germany in golds (13 apiece), but was a country mile ahead in total medals (35 versus 25). For Norway, this showing is a significant improvement over the 2014 Sochi Olympics, when it won 11 golds and 26 medals.
6. Federer is oldest No. 1 in men’s singles
En route to winning the Rotterdam Open, Roger Federer became the oldest player in history to be ranked number one in men’s singles tennis. Federer has reclaimed the top spot at the age of 36 years, bettering Andre Agassi, who held the top spot at 33. In addition, as of 18 February, Federer was the oldest among the current top 10 players—five years more than the next oldest (Rafael Nadal) and 16 years more than the youngest (Alexander Zverev). Federer has now spent 303 weeks at the top, which is 17 weeks more than the next best, Pete Sampras.
7. India’s Internet user base to cross 500 million by June
The total number of Indians accessing the Internet increased by 61 million in the year to October 2017, an increase of 14%, according to a report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Kantar IMRB. Urban users (295 million) exceed rural users (186 million), even though only a third of India’s population lives in urban areas. The report adds that 62% of urban users and 53% of rural users access the Internet daily, and that females comprise 30% of the total user base.
8. India seventh most targeted nation for web app attacks
A report by Akamai Technologies ranks India seventh in a list of countries most targeted by web application attacks in the fourth quarter of 2017. The US remained the most targeted for web app attacks, registering an attack tally that was almost twice the aggregate of the other top nine countries. It also ranked first among countries where web app attacks originated, accounting for nearly a third of such strikes.
9. Domestic air traffic grows 19.7% in January
Continuing their run of brisk growth, domestic airlines together registered a 19.7% year-on-year increase in the number of passengers carried in January 2018. In the last 12 months, the highest growth has been 20.5% (in October 2017) and the lowest 12.4% (in July). In January, Indigo remained the market leader, with a share of 39.7%, followed by Jet Airways with 16.6% (inclusive of Jet Lite’s 2.3%) and Air India with 13.3%.
10. Tripura voter turnout crosses 90% again
Elections to the state assembly of Tripura held last Sunday witnessed, as usual, a large turnout. On the day of the polls, media reports, quoting unnamed Election Commission officials, put the voter turnout at 79%, which would have been significantly lower than the 90-plus rates recorded in the last two state elections. However, some voting was still in progress, and postal ballots had not been included. Later in the week, IANS, quoting an unnamed EC official, put the final turnout figure at 92%. The results will be declared on 3 March.
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