Daily Current Affairs - 21st May 2020

Banks receive copious deposit inflows

  • Bank deposits jumped by a whopping Rs.2,87,495 crore in the March 27 o May 8 period as savers/investors turned cautious in view of the volatility in equity and debt markets and women Jan Dhan account holders and farmers receiving inflows under the direct benefit transfer system.

Bardhan and Bhaduri for Arjuna

  • The Asian Games gold-winning pair of Shibnath Sarkar and Pranab Bardhan was nominated for the Arjuna Award by the Bridge Federation of India. Bardhan and Sarkar won the gold in the bridge event at the Jakarta Asian Games with the former gaining the distinction of being oldest Asiad champion from India.

Birla orders review of House panels’ work

  • Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla has initiated an exercise to assess the effectiveness of the Parliamentary Standing Committees, from taking stock of the rate of attendance at their meetings to the list of recommendations that have not been accepted by the government.
  • This comes in the backdrop of efforts by both LS and RS secretariats to hold online panel meetings after pressure from the Opposition parties.

Brazil posts its worst toll with third highest cases

  • Brazil hit a record high for new coronavirus cases after becoming the country with the third-highest number of confirmed cases in the world earlier this week. The country's health ministry reported 19,951 new cases in the previous 24 hours, bringing the total to 291,579 confirmed cases Reported deaths caused by coronavirus also increased by 888 on Wednesday, bringing to the country's total to 18,859 deaths.

Cabinet approves proposal to launch Special Liquidity Scheme for NBFCs & HFCs

  • The Union Cabinet has given approval to the proposal of the Ministry of Finance to launch a new Special Liquidity Scheme for Non-Banking Financial Companies, NBFCs and Housing Finance Companies, HFCs to improve liquidity position of the NBFCs or HFCs.
  • The Government has proposed a framework for addressing the liquidity constraints of Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) and Housing Finance Companies (HFCs) . For this a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) would be set up to manage a Stressed Asset Fund (SAF) whose special securities would be guaranteed by the Government of India and purchased by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) only.
  • The proceeds of sale of such securities would be used by the SPV to acquire short-term debt of NBFCs/HFCs. The Scheme will be administered by the Department of Financial Services, which will issue the detailed guidelines.

Cabinet nods Sovereign portfolio guarantee of up to 20 % of first loss for purchase of Bonds

  • The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has approved the sovereign portfolio guarantee of upto 20 per cent of first loss for purchase of Bonds or Commercial Papers (CPs) with a rating of AA and below issued by NBFCs/MFCs/Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs) by Public Sector Banks (PSBs) through an extension of the Partial Credit Guarantee Scheme (PCGS).

Cambridge University moves all lectures online until summer 2021

  • Cambridge has become the first university to set out measures for the full 2020-21 academic year, announcing that it will move all face-to-face lectures online for the duration. The institution added that it was likely that social distancing would continue to be required.
  • The university said lectures would continue virtually until summer 2021, while it may be possible for smaller teaching groups to take place in person if it conforms to social-distancing requirements.

CBDT exempts some B2B transactions from deploying certain e-payment facilities

  • The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has exempted businesses not dealing with retail customers from deploying certain e-payment facilities using debit cards powered by RuPay, Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and Unified Payments Interface Quick Response Code (UPI QR Code).
  • Non-retail Rs 50 crore plus businesses are not required to provide RuPay, UPI-based payment facility, says CBDT.

Cyclone Amphan makes landfall & crossing W Bengal- Bangladesh Coast east of Sagar Island

  • Cyclone Amphan has made a landfall and it is crossing the West Bengal- Bangladesh Coast east of Sagar Island. Maximum wind speed within 74 kilometres of the cyclone centre is about 160 kilometres per hour (kmph) rising to 180 kmph in gusts.
  • The Met department has instructed all the boats and trawlers over the North bay and deep sea to take shelter immediately and not venture into the sea till further notice.

Franklin Templeton appoints Kotak Bank as advisor to wind up 6 schemes

  • Franklin Templeton Asset Management has appointed Kotak Mahindra Bank to monetize assets of six schemes of Franklin Templeton Mutual Fund that are being wound up. Kotak Mahindra Bank through its Debt Capital Markets team will work closely with Franklin Templeton Trustees, to assist with all portfolio actions in these six schemes that are being wound up.
  • This move comes after market regulator SEBI asked the fund house to focus on repaying investors at the earliest.

General Elections cannot be held on 20th of June: Sri Lanka EC informs SC

  • Sri Lankan Election Commission has informed the Supreme Court that General Elections cannot be held on 20th of June, as scheduled because of the current COVID situation in the country. The commission said, it would require nine to eleven weeks after the health authorities green signal in order to make preparations, explaining that curfew and restrictions on movement were resulting in a serious reduction of manpower and workable hours.
  • Election laws require that new Parliament would meet within three months of the dissolution which is not possible to meet.

Icra warns of deep recession, GDP to contract 5 per cent in FY21

  • Domestic rating agency Icra warned of a deep recession as it drastically lowered FY21 growth forecast for India to minus 5 percent, citing the very modest fiscal support, extension of the nationwide lockdown and looming labour shortage.
  • The agency also sharply revised downwards the growth contraction in Q1 to 25 percent as against the previous forecast of 16-20 percent and to minus 2.1 percent in Q2 from 2.1 percent growth previously, which implies a recession.

Joe Biden wins primary in Oregon

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden won Oregon’s Democratic presidential primary, outpacing Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who both suspended their campaigns earlier in the year.
  • President Donald Trump, who was unopposed, won the Oregon GOP presidential contest.

Lindores Abbey Chess: Magnus Carlsen, three others in the lead

  • Magnus Carlsen shared the lead after four rounds of USD 150,000 Lindores Abbey Rapid Challenge . The top seed followed his opening-round victory over Alexander Grischuk, with another triumph over Levon Aronian, before drawing with Ding Liren and arch-rival Hikaru Nakamura. Carlsen, Nakamura, Wesley So and Sergey Karjakin shared the lead with three points.

Locusts invade 16 districts in Rajasthan

  • Locusts, which started swarming in from the Pakistan border on April 11, have crossed the Thar desert and affected 16 of the 33 districts in Rajasthan. Locust swarms have travelled far in search of food because the Rabi crop has been harvested in the fields en route . Locust swarms were reported from Bundi, Sikar, Pratapgarh and Chittorgarh districts.
  • Rajasthan had reported a locust invasion in May last year after a gap of 26 years and the attack continued until February this year, damaging crop across 670,000 hectares in 12 districts. The state put the loss due to the locust invasion at about Rs 1,000 crore.

Russia reports record high death toll

  • Russia has reported its highest ever COVID-19 death toll of 135, bringing the country’s total fatalities to nearly 3,000. Overall infections crossed 3,00,000, but the number of active cases dropped for the first time. Russia has recorded far fewer deaths, but critics have cast doubt on the low official mortality rate and accused authorities of under-reporting.