1-2 January 2017 Current Affairs

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02 Jan, 2017

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1) Antonio Guterres’ tenure as the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) started from 1 January 2017 as he officially took charge from outgoing Ban Ki-moon. Guterres is ……….UN Secretary General – 9th

Explanation: The 10 year long term of Ban Ki-moon (South Korea) ended on 31 December 2016 and Portugal’s Antonio Guterres took charge as the 9th Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) on 1 January 2017.

With this Guterres became the first Secretary-General from Western Europe since Kurt Waldheim (1972–1981) and the first Secretary-General born after the establishment of the United Nations. It is worth mentioning that he was the Portuguese Prime Minister from 1995 to 2002.

The 8 Secretary Generals of the UN (in chronological order) are – 1) Trygve Lie (Norway) – 2 Feb 1946-10 Nov 1952. 2) Dag Hammarskjöld (Sweden) – 10 April 1953 to 18 September 1961. 3) U. Thant (Burma) – 30 November 1961 – 31 December 1971. 4) Kurt Waldheim (Austria) – 1 January 1972 – 31 December 1981. 5) Javier Pérez de Cuéllar (Peru) – 1 January 1982 – 31 December 1991. 6)  Boutros Boutros-Ghali (Egypt) – 1 January 1992 – 31 December 1996. 7) Kofi Annan (Ghana) – 1 January 1997 – 31 December 2006 and 8) Ban Ki-moon (South Korea) – 1 January 2007 – 31 December 2016.

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2) Country’ largest commercial bank State Bank of India (SBI) on 1 January 2017 decreased the benchmark interest rate across various maturities by 0.9%, a move that is expected to be shortly followed by other banks. What is the new interest rate for SBI’s 1-year tenure instruments? – 8.0%

Explanation: With effect from 1 January 2017, State Bank of India (SBI) reduced marginal cost of funds based lending rate (MCLR) by 0.9% from 8.90% to 8% for 1-year tenure. MCLR has been reduced by 0.9 percentage points to 8.10% for two years and 8.15% for three years.

Banks have moved to MCLR as their new benchmark lending rate from June 2016, replacing the base rate system for new borrowers. It is calculated on the marginal cost of borrowing and return on net worth for banks. It was introduced by RBI to ensure fair interest rates to borrowers as well as banks.

It is worth mentioning that Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the nation on 31 December 2016 had asked banks to pay special attention towards poor and middle-class.

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3) What is the name of the Ordinance approved by the President of India that seeks to cancel the legal tender character of the existing series of banknotes in the denominations of Rs.500 and Rs.1000 in circulation? – Specified Bank Notes (Cessation of Liabilities) Ordinance, 2016

Explanation: The President of India on 30 December 2016 approved the promulgation of the Specified Bank Notes (Cessation of Liabilities) Ordinance, 2016. The Ordinance is a follow-up to the decision taken by the Government of India to cancel the legal tender character of the existing series of banknotes, as on 8 November 2016, in the denominations of Rs.500 and Rs.1000 (Specified Bank Notes-SBNs) in circulation.

The main objectives of the Ordinance are (i) to provide clarity and finality to the liability of the Reserve Bank of India and the Government of India for the SBNs; (ii) to provide an opportunity to those persons who were unable to deposit the SBNs within the time provided; and (iii) to declare holding, transferring or receiving SBNs as illegal, with provisions for penalty for contravention of any of the provisions of the Ordinance.

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4) Which entity has recently received RBI’s in-principle approval to pick up a 51% stake in Catholic Syrian Bank and thus is poised to become the first-ever non-banking financial entity to takeover an Indian bank? – Fairfax Financial Holdings

Explanation: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has given an in-principle approval to Canadian billionaire Prem Watsa’s Fairfax Financial Holdings picking up a 51% stake in Kerala-based Catholic Syrian Bank (CSB).

This will be the first takeover of an Indian bank by a non-banking financial entity, after the central bank tweaked ownership norms in May 2016. The last takeover of a private sector lender by a foreign bank happened when ING picked up majority stake in Vysya Bank in 2002-03.

RBI’s approval requires Fairfax Financial Holdings to bring down its stake in CSB to 15% over a period of 12 years. It also mandates that the foreign investor cannot sell its shares in the first five years.

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5) India’s star singles tennis player Somdev Devvarman on 1 January 2017 announced his retirement from professional tennis. Injuries thus brought an abrupt end to what was once a promising career. In which year he won two Asian Games gold medal? – 2010

Explanation: Somdev Devvarman was India’s star singles player since he first broke into the scene in 2008. He was a regular in India’s Davis Cup squad. He appeared in 14 rubbers and played a crucial role in India reaching the World Group back in 2010.

He reached zenith of his career by winning the singles and doubles gold medals at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China. His 44-1 win-loss record in 2008 at the NCAA Men’s Tennis Championship remains unmatched so far.

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6) Who was named the new Prime Minister of Romania recently thus bringing to end the political turmoil in the country after left front’s win in the parliamentary elections? – Sorin Grindeanu

Explanation: 43-year-old former communications minister Sorin Grindeanu was named the new Prime Minister of Romania by centre-right president Klaus Lohannis in a decree signed by him.

The election of Grindeanu thus brought to end weeks of uncertainty since the left won a parliamentary vote on 11 December 2016. He now faces a confidence vote in parliament on his programme and cabinet nominees.

It is worth mentioning that President Lohannis had earlier rejected a previous candidate (Sevil Shhaideh) who would have been the country’s first female and first Muslim prime minister.

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