NITI aayog to frame policy for AI and cyber security
The NITI Aayog has come up with a policy on artificial
intelligence and cyber security and it would be taken up by the Union
Cabinet soon, disclosed V.K. Saraswat, member of NITI Aagyog.
At a time when the government promoted the digitisation programme
and India emerged the second country with most Internet access, the
protection of data becomes crucial — be at home, workspace or institutions.
“Digitisation has brought in enormous data and like oil, it will
impact the economies of the world. Thus, data protection becomes crucial. A
global data protection and regulation Act is coming up and in this context,
thus cyber security becomes important too,” he said.
He said those itching to cause harm are also becoming smarter with
AI necessitating 24x7 protection of the entire command and control of data
network. But the main challenge to use AI is to get highly trained manpower.
Indian forest cover increased by 1% in last 5 years claims MoeFcc
The Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting and Environment,
Forests & Climate Change, ShriPrakashJavadekar has said that India's forest
cover increased by 1% in the last 5 years and that similar progress will be
possible in the coming five years through people's participation.
The Minister said this during an interaction with the media, after
planting three saplings in the premises of GulshanMahal, the historic
building in Films Division that houses a part of NMIC, as part of the
celebration of World Environment Day yesterday.
Film personalities AnupamKher, Jackie Shroff, ShyamBenegal,
KiranShantaram, VarshaUsgaonkar and others were present on the occasion. The
Minister expressed his heartfelt gratitude to all artists for coming
together and joining the movement.
RBI reduces benchmark lending rates
The benchmark interest rate of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)
fell below 6% for the first time since 2010 as the central bank’s monetary
policy committee (MPC) cut repo rates by 25 basis points (bps) to 5.75% in
order to address growth concerns.
The stance of the policy has also been changed from neutral to
accommodative, which means a hike in interest rates is ruled out going
The decision to reduce interest rate was unanimous among the MPC
members. “The MPC notes that growth impulses have weakened significantly as
reflected in a further widening of the output gap compared to the April 2019
policy,” the RBI said.
The central bank has revised GDP growth projection for the current
financial year from 7.2% to 7%. “The headline inflation trajectory remains
below the target even after taking into account the expected transmission of
the past two policy rate cuts,” RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said, during
the media interaction.
“Hence, there is scope to boost aggregate demand, and in
particular, private investment activity, while remaining consistent with the
mandate of flexible inflation targeting,” he said.
RBI’s effort to meet Basel standards to improve lending
The Reserve Bank of India’s decision to bring leverage ratio for
banks in line with Basel-III standards will improve the lendable resources,
“Keeping in mind financial stability and with a view to moving
further towards harmonisation with Basel III standards, it has been decided
that the minimum LR should be 4% for domestic systemically important banks (DSIBs)
and 3.5% for other banks,” the RBI said, adding instructions in this regard
would be issued before the end of June 2019. The ratio was indicated to be
The leverage ratio was introduced for banks post the financial
crisis of 2008, as one of the underlying features of the crisis was the
build-up of excessive on- and off-balance sheet leverage in the banking
“The easing of the leverage ratio requirement will boost bank
lending and should serve as the much needed countercyclical stimulus,”
ZarinDaruwala, CEO, Standard Chartered Bank, India, said.
President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Russia was prepared
to drop a nuclear weapons agreement treaty with the U.S. and warned of
“global catastrophe” if Washington keeps dismantling a global arms control
Speaking to heads of global news agencies at an economic forum,
Mr. Putin said Washington showed no genuine interest in conducting talks on
extending the New START treaty, which caps the number of nuclear warheads
well below Cold War limits.
“If no-one feels like extending the agreement, New START —well, we
won’t do it then,” said Mr. Putin. “We have said a hundred times that we are
ready (to extend it),” Mr. Putin said.
Mr. Putin said the potential implications of letting New START
treaty expire would be huge, suggesting its demise could fuel a nuclear arms
race. “If we don’t keep this ‘fiery dragon’ under control, if we let it out
of the bottle God forbid — this could lead to global catastrophe,” Mr. Putin
African Union suspends Sudan amid severe crisis
Sudan has been suspended from the African Union (AU) amid growing
fears that splits among the ruling military regime could lead to civil war
The decision by the union – which has 54 other member states –
will significantly increase pressure on the country’s new military rulers,
raising the prospect of diplomatic isolation on the continent and sanctions
if they do not hand over power to a civilian-led authority to allow an “exit
from the current crisis”.
In a strongly worded statement, the AU said it deplored the loss
of innocent lives in recent days in Sudan and called for the military and
security forces to ensure the full protection of civilians and respect for
human rights and freedoms.
The AU’s decision was prompted by the deaths on Monday of more
than 120 people when paramilitaries attacked a protest camp in the centre of
Khartoum. Many hundreds were injured.
There is increasing anxiety among observers that the crisis will
exacerbate divisions within Sudan’s security establishment, raising the
prospect of armed factions battling for power.
::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::
2018 turned out to be an year of discoveries for biological scientists in
Scientists and taxonomists have documented 596 new species of
flora and fauna from India in the year 2018. The details of the discoveries
were made public on Thursday by the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) and the
Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) in the publications Plant Discoveries 2018
and Animal Discoveries 2018 .
Of the 596 species, 372 come under fauna (311 invertebrates and 61
vertebrates). The newly identified 224 plant species include seed plants,
pteridophytes, bryophytes, fungi and lichen.
About 31% of the plant species were discovered in the Himayalas.
In the case of animals, the Western Ghats remained a biological hotspot from
where about 50% of the species were found.
Other than the discoveries, 139 species of animals were added to
the fauna of India as new records. In terms of plants, 193 taxa of plants
were added to flora of India as new records.