Current Affairs Current Affairs - 22 August 2015 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 22 August 2015

General Affairs

We Stick to Commitment at Ufa, Says Home Minister Rajnath Singh
  • We Stick to Commitment at Ufa, Says Home Minister Rajnath SinghLUCKNOW:  India today asserted that it sticks to the commitment between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Ufa to engage in a substantive discussion on terrorism.

    Speaking at an event in Lucknow, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said, "We are firm on our stand that whatever talks, dialogue are held with Pakistan, that should only and only be on terrorism."

    He also said that talks and terrorism can never go together.

    The Home Minister said India's intentions are clear to have dialogue with Pakistan, but that should be only on terrorism.

    "We stick to commitment between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Ufa to engage in a substantive discussion on terrorism," he said, adding, "It is to be seen what our neighbour have to say."

    Mr Singh's remarks came against the backdrop of the upcoming Indo-Pak NSA-level talks appearing to be virtually off with the two countries locked in a confrontation over Kashmiri separatists leading to a blame game.

    India made it clear to Pakistan that a meeting between the separatists and Pakistan's National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz, who is scheduled to arrive in New Delhi on Sunday for the talks with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval, was unacceptable.

Railways to Conduct Future Examinations Online, Says Suresh Prabhu
  • Railways to Conduct Future Examinations Online, Says Suresh PrabhuKOLKATA:  Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu today said future railway recruitment examinations will be conducted online in a transparent manner so that people are not deceived.

    "Some people were complaining about the malpractices in recruitment in 2014. I have addressed that issue by making sure that all examinations in future will be online examinations," he said at an event organised by the Bharat Chamber of Commerce here.

    The Minister said his department was working on bringing in transparency in all functional aspects. "Indian Railways was undergoing changes to upgrade its services," he added.

    "Why should we have a process in which touts and others are benefited and people hoodwinked. This is again something which I am bringing in as a change," he said.

    A group of people blocked Mr Prabhu's convoy in protest against alleged malpractices in the 2014 South Eastern Railway recruitment examination. Mr Prabhu assured the protesters he will look into the issue.

BJP Takes Control of 87 Civic Bodies in Rajasthan, Congress Grabs 37
  • BJP Takes Control of 87 Civic Bodies in Rajasthan, Congress Grabs 37JAIPUR:  BJP today took control of 87 municipal bodies, helped by Independents in 21 of them, while Congress got 37 out of a total of 129 in Rajasthan civic polls.

    BJP faced a rebellion in Ajmer Municipal Corporation when one of its elected ward members Surendra Shekhawat filed nomination for the Mayor's post against the party's official candidate Dharmendra Gehlot.

    After a tie with 30 votes each, Mr Gehlot was declared the winner in a lottery, spokesman of the Rajasthan State Election Commission said. Mr Shekhawat was expelled by BJP in the evening "for gross indiscipline".

    Congress won majority in 35 and got control of two others with support from Independents.

    Independents won the chairman's post in four civic bodies of Rawatsar (Hanumangarh), Kuchera (Nagaur), Uniara (Tonk), and Bhinder (Udaipur). In the election result announced yesterday, Independents were in majority in 17 civic bodies.

    Mr Naryan Jhanwar, backed by NCP, was elected to head Nokha civic body. In Nokha, the NCP had won 19 ward members out of 35 seats.

    BJP had won majority in 66 civic bodies including the Ajmer Municipal Corporation, and was supported by Independents in the rest.

    The party lost in Dholpur, Jhalawar and Baran civic bodies, represented by Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and her MP son Dushyant Singh.

    Congress wrested control in municipal boards in Badi, Dholpur and Rajakhera, all in Dholpur district, apart from Anta and Baran civic bodies in Baran district.

    In Jhalawar, BJP got Aklera, Bhawani Mandi, and Pirawa, while Congress bagged Jhalarapatan and Jhalawar civic bodies.

    In the final tally for August 17 election, out of 3,351 wards in the civic bodies, BJP won 1,443 wards, Congress 1,164, Independents 703, NCP 19, BSP 16, CPI 5 and CPM one ward.

    Election for posts of deputy chairman would be held tomorrow.

Congress Slams Modi Government's 'Clumsiness' in Dealing With Pakistan
  • Congress Slams Modi Government's 'Clumsiness' in Dealing With PakistanNEW DELHI:  Coming down hard on Modi government's "clumsiness" in dealing with Pakistan, Congress today said it has made a "laughing spectacle" of itself by unwittingly shifting focus from terror to Kashmir ahead of the NSA level talks.

    "Government has achieved exactly the opposite of what it set to achieve," party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi told reporters in New Delhi.

    Mr Singhvi said that it was unfortunate that the government has been making a "laughing spectacle of itself on the management of talks even before talks started" with an "imploding and ostracised" Pakistan.

    Accusing the government of failing to do groundwork before the talks, he lamented that "the left hand does not know what the right is doing and head does not know what feet are doing".

    "BJP talks in one language in Jammu and Kashmir, PDP talks in another language, Jammu and Kashmir government talks in another language... and Centre does something different. Is foreign policy a joke," he said.

    Claiming that the three C's --Consistency, Coherence and Continuity -- are missing in Indian foreign policy under the Modi government, he asked, "Who is making India's foreign policy? Is it the PM alone? Or PM and PMO? Or IB? or NSA? Or subcommittee of four?"

    Besides, he asked as to where is the Foreign Minister and the External Affairs Ministry in the making of Foreign Policy.

    "Is Nagpur the remote control making India's Foreign Policy", he said in a veiled reference to RSS.

    He also questioned the utility of Ufa meeting between the Prime Minister and his Pakistan counterpart.

    "Was it just a photo-op? What was the ground work before Ufa?", he said expressing concern that there have been "thousands" of ceasefire violations from Pakistan since the Modi government took over and growing incidents of Pak sponsored terror.

    The party charged that the government's "flip-flop diplomacy is hurting the country dearly".

Business Affairs 

Govt to sell 10 per cent stake in Indian Oil on Monday
  • Govt to sell 10% Indian Oil stake on MondayThe government will sell a 10 per cent stake in state-run oil marketing company Indian Oil Corp on Monday through an auction on the stock exchanges, two television channels reported Friday, citing an unnamed government official. At the current market price of the stock, that stake would be valued at about $1.5 billion.

5 ways payments banks will change Indian banking space
  • 5 ways in which payment banks will change banking spaceThe Reserve Bank of India earlier this week gave in-principal nod to 11 entities, including Reliance Industries, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone, to set up non-lending payments banks.
    Here are five ways the niche banks will change the banking space in India -

    1. MORE COMPETITION FOR UNIVERSAL BANKS: Payments banks will be a new category of banks which will focus on deposit mobilisation and payments or transaction services like payment of utility bills, mobile recharge, remittances, ticketing etc. The current lot of universal banks can do these transactions too, but their focus on corporate and retail loans keeps them away. But now with payments banks, they are likely to feel threatened. They are now protecting their territory by launching innovative new products.  
    2. ACHIEVE FINANCIAL INCLUSION OBJECTIVES: Despite making it mandatory for universal banks to open rural branches and priority sector lending, along with other forms of banks like co-operative banks, regional rural banks, almost half of the population is still unbanked. The payments bank, a stripped down version, can help address the problem as regulatory requirement for capital is also relaxed and they can use technology to offer low-cost solutions.
    3. ENCOURAGE DIGITAL PAYMENTS: Most of the payments bank candidates came with a background of mobile wallets. They have been offering a closed or a semi-closed wallet with a tie-up with licensed bank to offer small payments like paying utility bills, mobile recharge, taxi payments, remittances etc. With RBI now licensing them to start a bank, they will be able to offer the same or more such services at lower costs.
    4. REDUCE STATUTORY LIQUIDITY RATIO (SLR) BURDEN ON COMMERCIAL BANKS: Unlike in the west, there is a heavy burden on Indian banks to park 21.50 per cent of their funds or deposits in SLR. The limit is too high and restricts banks' ability to lend to the productive sectors of the economy. While this gives the government a ready market for borrowing, this encourages lazy banking. With payments banks, this scenario would change if they become successful. By definition, payments banks are allowed to accept deposits, but not lend. They have to compulsorily invest in government securities. If payments bank becomes successful and large, the government's G-sec requirement will be absorbed by them, removing the burden on commercial banks.   
    5. CHECK ON BLACK MONEY: India is predominantly a cash economy. This creates a major hurdle for government or regulators to catch the offenders. The digital cash will create electronic footprints, which will help the tax authorities go after the evaders.

The biggest threat to 'acche din': Raghuram Rajan
  • RBI governor Raghuram RajanWe all love bold economic forecasts, especially contrarian ones. And every once in a while, they turn out to be correct. Economists who correctly called great market booms and busts, global recessions, identified green shoots before sharp cyclical recoveries and predicted black swan events correctly are given legendary status. Of course, to some extent, they deserve it.
    But the truth is that these bold calls are 'black swan' events themselves! Very rarely do other predictions from these notable market commentators come true.
    Marc Faber is famous for calling the market crash of 1987. But every year since 2008, he has been predicting a bear market in US equities. Nobel laureate Robert Shiller is famous for calling the US housing bubble and the following crash of 2007-08.
    He too has been bearish on US stocks for the last three years. Market guru Jim Rogers who correctly called the commodity bull run from the late 1990s has been predicting a bull market in agri-commodities and the demise of the US dollar since the past many years. Peter Schiff, who predicted the financial crisis has been predicting gold to hit $3,000/oz since a long time. All these calls have been wrong.
    Raghuram Rajan is famous for correctly pointing out the prevailing risks in the global financial system back in the mid 2000s and warned leading policymakers at a Jackson Hole conference about a potential financial armageddon. He has been famous since then.
    I have the greatest of respect for Rajan. Nobody questions his prowess. He is as qualified as any globally renowned economist to be leading our central bank. But the fact that he correctly predicted the great financial crisis leads many to believe that he can see potential danger signals to the economy which apparently others cannot. Not only has he misread our domestic inflation prospects, his perception of the on the ground reality is also absurd. India desperately needs to see a large and a sharp fall in cost of capital.
    The transmission effect with the petty rate cuts so far has not worked as there is hardly any confidence within our financial sector of a sustained cyclical recovery in the investment cycle. Telling real estate developers that property prices must fall is not something he should be concerned about at this moment. He should rather aggressively cut interest rates so that home loans become cheaper and the housing market will find its equilibrium as they do in any free market. Similarly, it is not his job to be commenting on how there should be globally coordinated exit strategy from quantitative easing. Monetary divergence is the global macro theme right now.
    Rajan has got many themes and trends absolutely wrong.
    Firstly, Rajan has failed to understand the trend in global commodities, especially oil. Crude oil had rebounded about $10 from its March low of $45/barrel in May/June when he said that a rebound in energy prices is a key risk to growth and inflation. Rajan should note that the dynamics of the energy market have changed. Every pullback will only be temporary and will be sold into. As CLSA noted in a research note last week, "a break below $40 in the oil price is just a matter of time even if there is undoubtedly scope for a short-term bounce.
    This is because shale production is becoming ever more efficient which is why the marginal cost of production keeps falling, which is also why it cannot be assumed that Saudi Arabia will ultimately win the battle for market share. Saudi Arabia allowed America's oil fracking boom to go on too long before reacting to seek to preserve its market share." Even if oil prices do not fall further, India is in a sweet spot. But where are we seeing the benefits of a commodity bear market in India? Nowhere yet.
    Secondly, being a lonely hawk within a global deflationary environment himself, my guess is that he expected the US Fed to increase interest rates much earlier. He wanted to keep ammunition in his bag in terms of domestic rate cuts in case global markets witnessed turmoil.
    But clearly, that all has been wrong. The RBI's counterparts at the Fed are smart enough to realise that a strong labour market recovery is not sufficient for monetary tightening and are waiting to see an uptick in wage pressures and overall inflation. If only Rajan had been paying close attention to the movement of US 10 year bond yields, he would have easily concluded that the Fed was never intending to move as fast as he was expecting.
    Thirdly, while Rajan and his peers at the RBI had the right strategy of recouping FX reserves by buying back dollars at around 60-62, we aren't seeing much benefits of that either. The idea was that on a rainy day, the RBI would actively intervene and defend the rupee. But we have had the USD-INR close above 65 for the last few sessions after the spillover effects of the yuan devaluation. So, unless the RBI is now aiming for a substantially weaker exchange rate, Rajan does not score too highly on the FX policy report card either.
    I am all for gradual depreciation of INR over the years. But the fact that the rupee is getting hammered in an macro environment which should really be conducive to a commodity importing nation is a sign of how global investor perception is quickly changing. If India is to be perceived as a sound economic story with strong fundamentals, the INR would have to behave like a safe haven currency like the Swiss franc, Japanese yen and the US dollar in times of turmoil.
    Forget Greece and Europe. Forget China. Forget monetary tightening in the US. The biggest risk to the India story today is a hawkish Rajan. We urgently need a 50 basis points rate cut.

The Future Of Farming
  • Video production of women farmers sowing paddy seedlings at Thane district in Maharashtra.Kishor Jagtap, Project Manager at the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), is working on a novel initiative in rural Maharashtra. His team is working with Digital Green, an international non-profit development organisation, to spread the use of clean technologies among women farmers in the Wardha and Yavatmal districts of the state.
    MSSRF rolled out the Digital Green model - video-based demonstration of the best farm practices - in 2013 across 30 villages in these two districts. Buoyed by the initial response, the outfit has scaled up the programme, reaching out to almost 3,300 women farmers in some 60 villages in the region. "There is a sense of identification. The fact that they can see women farmers like themselves being featured in these videos makes them believe that they too can adopt best practices and benefit from them," says Jagtap. "Also, these model farming techniques are shared very clearly, narrated through a story in a step-by-step manner in Marathi, which makes it easier for them to replicate on their farm."
    Today, Digital Green reaches 7,645 villages across Rajasthan, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Odisha and Bihar. It has already made and disseminated 3,782 videos. Rikin Gandhi, CEO, Digital Green, says that they essentially work with agencies already training farmers. "We then serve as a trainer of trainers to build the capacity of their field professionals and community-level intermediaries to produce and share locally produced videos. The communities are both creators and consumers of knowledge products such as digital videos."
    Indeed, Digital Green's initiative is one among the several underway in India to promote low cost, sustainable and organic agricultural practices among farmers. All this is planned with the extensive use of information and communications technologies (ICTs). The efforts are geared towards decreasing the dependence on chemical fertilisers and pesticides, while also reducing input cost and ensuring the farmers get more yield per acre of cultivation. "This also helps improve the quality of soil and dependence on water intensive chemical-based farming," says Gandhi.
    Wardha and Yavatmal, for instance, are rainfed areas and the farmers grow cotton, soyabean, toor dal and chana. Farmers in the region are heavily dependent on rain and chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Here, one of MSSRF's key focus has been on promoting sustainable agricultural practices, seed management, pest and nutrient management and other post harvest best practices. "Over time, farmers have started to understand the adverse impact of using excessive chemical fertilisers and pesticides on soil fertility and crop's harvest and nutrition, and have now started using alternatives such as organic compost etc.," says Jagtap. And the impact is visible. The cost of cultivation has gone down in the project area by 20 per cent. The input cost of soybean, traditionally around Rs 10,000 per acre, has now plunged to Rs 7,000 to Rs 8,000 per acre while for cotton it has gone down from Rs 12,000 to Rs 8,000-Rs 9,000 per acre. In addition, judicious use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides has improved the water retention capacity of the soil. "This year, despite a long dry spell in the monsoon period, the crops have survived and are still standing," says Jagtap.
    Rajat Wahi, Partner, Management Consulting, KPMG, says that Indian agriculture is facing multiple challenges. "On one hand there is stagnant acreage and yields. In addition, water stress is taking a toll with per capita water availability likely to fall year on year," he says. "Also, unsustainable usage of inputs, especially inputs application skewed towards urea is leading to soil fatigue and lower yields". Soil nutrition depletion is becoming a cause of concern and "so the use of clean technology in the context of India's agriculture is becoming even more relevant," adds Wahi.
    Clearly, experts believe the time has come for large-scale adoption of clean technologies. Such technologies can be both basic - such as drip irrigation, rainwater harvesting and natural pesticide use - to more sophisticated - such as precision agriculture and reprocessing technologies. Experts believe that no matter what the clean technology is, ICTs would play a pivotal role in disseminating them to more than 55 per cent of India's population which is dependent on agriculture.
    "As ICT becomes more accessible to the farmer, with the penetration of mobile networks and through the Digital India initiative, the potential coverage and benefits are expected to become more significant for the agriculture sector," says Wahi. It is estimated that mobile and smartphone-enabled information services alone can reach up to 67 million farmers by 2020. It would result in an additional $8 billion revenue for these farmers and a reduction of water and fertiliser usage by up to 40 billion cubic metre and 1.5 million tonnes, respectively, according to industry estimates.
    Farmers checking weather advisory on their phones at Rajawas village, Jaipur
    Already, innovative companies are building solutions to improve small and marginal farmers' access to timely and relevant information. Mobile phones, with their growing penetration of rural India, are becoming the fastest and most cost effective way to disseminate clean technology. Leveraging the mobile platform is Ekgaon, a Delhi-based technology and management services company. The company, through its OneFarm advisory services, is reaching out to farmers in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Tamil Nadu. Vijay Pratap Singh Aditya, CEO of Ekgaon, explains that farmers have customised need for information based on the soil type, local ecosystem and crop. Small farmers do not have access to latest agro-technology and hence adopt farm practices which are usually not optimal, leading to soil depletion, excess use of fertilisers and water. "Agricultural inputs such as pesticides and fertilisers impact the soil health and affect ground water or water bodies. However, the risk of that can be reduced through timely farm advisory services which can reduce the use of fertilisers, pesticides while promoting a very rationalised and appropriate use of the same," says Aditya.
    OneFarm advisory service is based on facilitating information on 'when I need' delivery model, thus hand-holding the farmers during the cropping season. A farmer is charged Rs 150 for a crop in a season and is provided services such as weather forecast, crop management, soil nutrient management, disease alert, and market prices in local languages on their mobile phones. The advisory is customised for every farmer. Interactivity is enabled in the system to monitor usage of advisory by the farmers - a farmer confirms using advice provided by sending an SMS. "Our impact studies show that the services have improved livelihoods of farmers by helping them reduce agri-input costs by up to 30 per cent and increase productivity by 15 per cent, thus cutting down on wastage at every step," says Aditya.
    With smartphone sales surging, mobile apps too are expected to playing a vital role in spreading awareness about clean technologies in agriculture. Karnataka-based Jayalaxmi Agrotech Pvt Ltd is developing apps to bridge the information gap among farmers. "Due to the information gap, farming has become 'input intensive' and 'less knowledge intensive'. Illiteracy and language diversity are major bottlenecks in information dissemination," says Anand Babu, co-founder of Jayalaxmi Agrotech.
    The company has developed 30 mobile apps for agricultural crops (such as pomegranate, banana, potato, onion, etc.) and even for animal husbandry, and these apps are being used by 20,000 farmers since their launch last year. "Our applications are crops specific. Farmer can choose a crop of interest and download on the android phone either from Internet or from peer to peer transfers. This makes the app very light weight and hence can work on any basic android phone, says Babu. "These apps have audio visuals and are designed to break the literacy barrier. Once downloaded, they can work offline and hence there is no recurring data or Internet cost." While smartphone penetration is good in rural areas, Internet penetration is still quite low. Hence, they get very few downloads from Internet. Maximum downloads come from farmer to farmer transfers.
    Once downloaded, the farmer gets information about the varieties of a crop, seasons to grow them in and the optimum quantities of fertiliser, water and pesticides to be used. Babu says that 90 per cent of farmers are not aware of fertiliser dose calculation procedure - it leads to erratic use of chemical fertilisers spoiling the soil fertility. "The app has inbuilt intuitive fertiliser dose calculator. It recommends the optimum use of fertilisers. It also helps farmers in measuring important elements such as sunlight, altitude, etc using their mobile." The apps also educate farmers on symptomatic diagnosis of crop diseases and managing pest emergence along with early precautions. As a result, overall usage of pesticides has come down.
    According to a preliminary survey conducted by the company on app users, overall agri-input cost was pared by 14 per cent and productivity increased by 17 per cent. Indeed, superior quality of sugarcane has been reported by some of the sugar factories in North Karnataka region (where they have highest number of app users). "Our analytics platform tracks the farmer app usage patterns," says Babu.
    Interestingly, these ICTs are also introducing farmers to new crops. They were not being grown earlier due to lack of information. For example, in Belgaum and Bagalkot districts of Karnataka farmers predominantly grew sugarcane but things are gradually changing with the growing popularity of the apps developed by Jayalaxmi Agrotech. "Despite friction between farmers and sugar factories, farmers were not able to switch to other crops due to lack of knowledge," says Babu. "Since we launched our agriculture apps, we have been noticing a gradual shift. Several farmers in two districts are not just downloading other crop apps but have also started growing them."
    Jayalaxmi Agrotech's apps are reaching one new farmer every eight minute, according to Babu. Clearly no agri-extension programme can ever spread at this rate. No wonder then, experts believe that a second green revolution in India will be facilitated by ICTs and revolutionise Indian agriculture. Even in the case of precision agriculture, which uses modern technologies such as geolocation and remote sensing, ICTs will play a key role in disseminating best practices. "Karnataka State Agriculture and Horticulture Department has 10,000 plus field staff who are equipped with smart phones. If they include our agriculture mobile app dissemination as a part of their agri-extension programme, and even if each staff transfers the app to three farmers a day (through Bluetooth), 30,000 farmers across the state will become digitally literate every day. This will lead to the next green revolution," sums up Babu.
    The Indian government too is waking up to the potential of information and communication technologies (ICTs). It is keen to use them extensively to reach out to the nine crore farm families. It has, in partnership with the states, zeroed in on a host of ICTs to introduce clean technologies in rural India. These include Internet, touch screen kiosks, agriclinics, private kiosks, mass media, Kisan Call Centres, and integrated platforms in the departmental offices.

    However, the government is most enthused by mobile telephony. With over 38 crore mobile telephone connections in rural India, officials believe it is the most effective medium to ensure the spread of clean technologies. It is trying to leverage mobile messaging in a big way. An SMS portal was launched in July 2013 and since its inception nearly 210 crore messages have been sent to farmers across the country.

Battling the Downturn
  • Valuable lessons: EasyFinance CEO Marshall Ma taking a classThe 2008 global financial crisis resulted in many unexpected and dramatic challenges for the CEO of EasyFinance. Leading one of the best Chinese finance training companies, not only did Marshall Ma have to cope with a significant slowdown in revenue growth, he also had to deal with increasingly low morale among his management team who had just experienced four years of fast growth and were not used to operating in a downturn. In the midst of flat revenues and shrinking margins, how could Marshall and his partners retain, motivate, develop, and empower their key team members? The management team knew it would have to deal effectively with this challenge if EasyFinance was to have any chance of returning to growth when the economic cycle turned again in its favour.

    Professional training companies began emerging in China in the 1990s. The first group was from overseas, subsidiaries of large multinationals - most of their clients were also multinational companies. Language and price barriers made the foreign training companies inaccessible for local Chinese companies. This fostered a group of small local training companies. Though their quality and price were initially much lower than those of their foreign counterparts, by 2000 some of the top Chinese training companies began to compete against foreign rivals. Low entry barriers and high gross margins made this industry one of the most competitive in China.
    Guo Yan and her friend Lu Linping established EasyFinance in 2004. Both were professional trainers and had considerable experience as finance managers in multinational companies. They believed a company specifically focused on finance training would serve a niche market with strong potential that had been neglected by both Chinese and foreign training firms. The former lacked advanced training skills and international perspectives while the latter lacked in-depth knowledge of the Chinese market and the country's finance and taxation policies. The founders priced their company's services above other Chinese training firms but below those offered by international companies. Business picked up quickly and before long their courses were considered the best in China. Other competitors emerged after 2007, but none was big enough to threaten EasyFinance until 2009.
    Guo Yan's husband, Marshall Ma, joined EasyFinance a year after launch as the third partner. He took responsibility for management issues so that Guo Yan and Lu Linping could focus on course design and delivery.
    EasyFinance's training model required trainers to invest more time in class design and preparation. Therefore, the company could not rely on freelance trainers as many other Chinese training companies did, because they would not dedicate the time and effort needed to adapt their content and course delivery method. In its marketing, EasyFinance emphasised the company, not the individual trainers. The partners believed this would build the company's brand, and would make it easier to provide training services at a larger scale in the future.
    EasyFinance enjoyed rapid growth in the four years following its 2004 launch. Its sales revenues almost doubled every year, and it became the leading brand in the niche finance training market. EasyFinance had revenues of RMB 13.5 million for 2007. It attracted 2,646 participants to attend 121 open seminars in six major Chinese cities. Among participants, 63 per cent were from foreign or joint venture companies, and many were Fortune 500 companies. EasyFinance also offered 118 company-specific programmes, which accounted for about 40 per cent of revenues.
    As 2008 began, the partners were projecting that annual revenue growth would again double. They planned to continue brand building efforts and hoped to offer career development and profit sharing for staff. To achieve these long-term goals, the partners decided to increase investment in talent development, brand building, and IT.
    Marshall considered people development his first priority. He spent a considerable amount of time to recruit, develop and retain team members. Marshall also sought to optimise the efficiency, capacity and competitiveness of the organisation.
    Expecting business would double again in 2008, the partners decided to further expand the team and improve organisational competencies. EasyFinance recruited more than 30 people in 2008, across all departments. That summer, Marshall implemented key compensation structures for sales, administration and training staff. "We know our business relies heavily on our people, so we really do not want to underpay our staff. This is one of our general principles," said Marshall.

General Awareness

    • 1. Which of the following produces the best quality graphics reproduction?
      a) Laser printer
      b) Ink jet printer
      c) Plotter
      d) Dot matrix printer
      e) All the above
      2. Computers with 80286 microprocessor:
      a) XT computer
      b) AT computer
      c) PS/2 computer
      d) PS/3 computer
      e) PS/4 computer
      3. An application suitable for sequential processing:
      a) Processing of grades
      b) Payroll processing
      c) Both a and b
      d) Sometimes a or b
      e) None of the above
      4. Which of the following is not processing?
      a) Arranging
      b) Manipulating
      c) Calculating
      d) Gathering
      e) Sorting
      5. The digital computer was developed primarily in ___
      a) USSR
      b) Japan
      c) USA
      d) UK
      e) India
      6. Software in computer:
      a) Enhances the capabilities of the hardware machine
      b) Increase the speed of central processing unit
      c) Both a and b
      d) Either a or b
      e) None of the above
      7. Which of the following option in File pull down menu is used to close a MS Word document?
      a) Quit
      b) Close
      c) Exit
      d) New
      e) Insert
      8. Before a disk drive can access any sector record, a computer program has to provide the record’s
      disk address. What information does this address specify?
      a) Track number
      b) Sector number
      c) Surface number
      d) All of the above
      e) None of the above
      9. Arranging of data in a logical sequence is called:
      a) Sorting
      b) Classifying
      c) Reproducing
      d) Summarizing
      e) Coding
      10. What is the responsibility of the logical unit in the CPU of a computer?
      a) Producing result
      b) Comparing numbers
      c) Controlling flow of information
      d) Performing mathematical operations
      e) None of the above
      11. Bluetooth is a type of radio wave information transmission system
      that is good for about __
      a) 30 feet
      b) 30 yards
      c) 30 miles
      d) 300 miles
      e) 3000 miles
      12. The telephone is an example of a(n) ____ signal.
      a) Analog
      b) Digital
      c) Modulated
      d) Demodulated
      e) a and b
      13. Acredit card-sized expansion board that is inserted into portable computers that connects the modem
      to the telephone wall jack:
      a) Internal modem
      b) External modem
      c) PC Card modem
      d) Wireless modem
      e) Router
      14. A modem that is contained within the system unit is called a(n) ____ modem.
      a) external
      b) internal
      c) wireless
      d) Wi-Fi
      e) Bluetooth
      15. A modem that doesn't need to be connected to a telephone line is the _____ modem.
      a) external
      b) internal
      c) wireless
      d) DSL
      e) Broadband
      16. Aspecial high-speed line used by large corporations to support digital communications is known as ___
      a) satellite/air connection service lines
      b) cable modems
      c) digital subscriber lines
      d) T1, T2, T3 and T4 lines
      e) b and d
      17. An affordable technology that uses existing telephone lines to provide high-speed connections is called ____
      a) ISDN
      b) Microwave
      c) Cable modem
      d) DSL
      e) DSN
      18. The capacity of a communication channel is measured in ___
      a) Bandwidth
      b) Bit capacity
      c) Baud rate
      d) Data flow
      e) Baud flow
      19. What is the name given to the values that are automatically provided by software to reduce keystrokes
      and improve a computer user's productivity?
      a) Defined values
      b) Fixed values
      c) Default values
      d) Special values
      e) Function values
      20. In MS-DOS 5.0, which is the number that acts as a code to uniquely identify the software product?
      a) MS
      b) DOS
      c) MS DOS
      d) 5.0
      e) 4.2.0
      21. A page fault:
      a) Is an error in a specific page
      b) Occurs when a program accesses a page of memory
      c) Is an access to a page not currently in memory
      d) None of these
      e) All the above
      22. The process of transferring data intended for a peripheral device into a disk (or intermediate store) so that it can be transferred to peripheral at a more convenient time or in bulk, is known as ___
      a) Multiprogramming
      b) Spooling
      c) Caching
      d) Virtual programming
      e) Clearing
      23. An instruction in a programming language that is replaced by a sequence of instructions prior to
      assembly or compiling is known as ___
      a) procedure name
      b) macro
      c) label
      d) literal
      e) mini
      24. Banker's algorithm for resource allocation deals with:
      a) Deadlock prevention
      b) Deadlock avoidance
      c) Deadlock recovery
      d) Mutual exclusion
      e) None of these
      25. The state of a process after it encounters an I/O instruction is ___
      a) Ready
      b) Blocked/Waiting
      c) Idle
      d) Running
      e) Coding
      26. The number of processes completed per unit time is known as _____.
      a) Output
      b) Throughput
      c) Efficiency
      d) Capacity
      e) Input
      27. Which of the following file name extension suggests that the file is Backup copy of another file?
      a) TXT
      b) COM
      c) BAS
      d) BAK
      e) BAT
      28. Which technique was introduced because a single job could not keep both the CPU and the I/O devices busy?
      a) Time-sharing
      b) Spooling
      c) Preemptive scheduling
      d) Multiprogramming
      e) Multi tasking
      29. A sequence of instructions, in a computer language, to get the desired result, is known as:
      a) Algorithm
      b) Decision Table
      c) Program
      d) All of the above
      e) None of these
      30. Information in a memory that is no longer valid or wanted is known as:
      a) Non-volatile
      b) Volatile
      c) Surplus
      d) Garbage
      e) Dustbin
      31. Which of the following is not a method of accessing the web?
      a) ISDN
      b) CPU
      c) DSL
      d) Modem
      e) Router
      32. Yahoo( is a ___
      a) Super Computer
      b) Portal
      c) Organization that allocates web addresses
      d) Website for Consumers
      e) Beam
      1) c 2) b 3) c 4) d 5) c 6) a 7) b 8) d 9) a 10) b
      11) a 12) a 13) c 14) b 15) c 16) d 17) d 18) a 19) c 20) d
      21) c 22) b 23) b 24) b 25) b 26) b 27) d 28) d 29) c 30) d
      31) b 32) b 33) d

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