Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 07 June 2019


Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 07 June 2019


::NATIONAL::

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.

  • Communication is digitised in every sector and the C.R. Rao Advanced Institute has been focusing on cyber security, which is undergoing paradigm changes due to induction of AI and ML, he explained.

  • 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.

  • He said that when compared with the amount of oxygen we consume in a lifetime, all of us must plant and help grow at least 10 trees; he said it is the way forward for environment protection.

  • The Minister had launched a people’s campaign #SelfiewithSapling on Environment Day eve, urging everyone to plant a sapling and to post the selfie with the sapling on social media. On Environment Day, ShriJavadekar planted saplings in the premises of Environment Ministry in New Delhi.

  • 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.

::ECONOMY::

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 forward.

  • 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, bankers said.

  • In the second bi-monthly policy review, the central bank has mandated leverage ratio of 3.5% for all the banks except for the domestic systemically important banks (D-SIBs), which will have a 4% ratio.

  • “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 4.5% earlier.

  • “On the regulatory front, the decision to lower the leverage ratio will augment the lendable resources of the banks,” Rajnish Kumar, chairman, SBI said.

  • 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 system.

  • “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.

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::INTERNATIONAL::

Russia plans to drop new START pact with U.S

  • 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 regime.

  • 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 said.

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 and anarchy.

  • 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 the country

  • 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.

  • “The plants discovered this year includes close wild relatives of many potential horticulture, agriculture, medicinal and ornamental plants. The discoveries include plants belonging to groups Amomum (wild cardamom), Cycads, Rubus (raspberry), Syzygium (wild jamun), Terminalia, Balsams, Zingibers and also seven trees and 10 orchids,” said A.A. Mao, director of BSI.

  • He added that the BSI has placed emphasis on molecular DNA technology and phylogeny to confirm the discoveries.

  • 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.

::SPORTS::

Magnus carlsen wins over Anand in chess

  • ViswanathanAnand suffered defeat against world champion Magnus Tournament.

  • It turned out to be a difficult day as Anand survived an inferior middle game and then a subsequent endgame against Carlsen for a long time, but then fell prey to some finely disguised manoeuvres in the Armageddon game where the Indian played another black.

  • As a result of the Armageddon rule invented for a super tournament for the first time, the event had five decisive results coming in the shorter format of the game.

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