Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Preparation: 22 October 2017

Govt sets up expert group for suggestions on artificial intelligence policy

The Union ministry of electronics and information technology has set up an internal committee to advise the government on a policy on artificial intelligence (AI). The expert committee will advise the IT ministry on the most appropriate technologies for India. Members of the committee will also hold consultations with officials from Union Home Ministry as well as Union Finance Ministry.

The government’s main focus is to reduce cyber attacks with AI. The main policy will be drawn up once the committee gives its report. The committee is expected to give its report soon.

The artificial intelligence market is estimated to touch $153 billion in 2020 and expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 45.4% from 2016 to 2022.

The government has recently drawn up a seven-point strategy that would form the framework for India’s strategic plan to use AI. The strategy includes developing methods for human machine interactions; ensuring safety and security of AI systems; creating a competent workforce in line with AI and R&D needs, understanding and addressing the ethical, legal and societal implications of AI, measuring and evaluating AI technologies through standards and benchmarks, among others.


Peru Passes Legislation to Legalize Medical Marijuana

Peru has become the latest country in Latin America to allow the medicinal use of marijuana.

The nation’s conservative congress has approved a legislation allowing the drug to be produced, imported and sold. Lawmakers praised the move as a way to improve the lives of thousands of patients looking to better their quality of life. The legislation has the backing of President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski. Regulations for producing and commercializing cannabis oil will be written in 60 days.

Chile and Colombia also allow medical marijuana while Uruguay in 2013 became the first Latin America nation to allow recreational use of the drug.


Govt permits banks to sell more small savings schemes

In order to encourage savings, the government has allowed banks, including top three private sector lenders, to accept deposits under various small savings schemes like National Savings Certificate (NSC), recurring deposits and monthly income plan. Until now, most of the small savings schemes were sold through post offices.

According to a recent government notification, banks can also sell National Savings Time Deposit Scheme 1981, National Savings (Monthly Income Account) Scheme 1987, National Savings Recurring Deposit Scheme 1981 and NSC VIII issue.

As per the notification, all public sector banks and top three in the private sector — ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank — to receive subscription from the expanded portfolios. So far, these banks were allowed to receive subscription under Public Provident Fund, Kisan Vikas Patra-2014, Sukanya Samriddhi Account, Senior Citizen Savings Scheme-2004.

Increased outlets for selling small savings scheme would result in higher mobilisation under the scheme. Interest rates for small savings schemes are to be notified on a quarterly basis since April 1, 2016.


Apeda to promote north eastern products in Bangladesh, Myanmar

The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (Apeda) has taken up a programme for the promotion of north eastern products in Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Apeda, an apex organisation under the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry, proposes to organise the programme in Bangladesh and Myanmar in association with the High Commission of India in Dhaka and its Embassy in Yangon. The promotional event in Myanmar is proposed to be held in November and that in Dhaka and Sylhet in Bangladesh in the first week of December.

Export of Apeda scheduled products to Bangladesh during 2016-17 stood at $396.44 million. Major products exported to Bangladesh include rice, vegetables, fruits, wheat, maize, dairy products and pulses.

Export of Apeda scheduled products to Myanmar during 2016-17 stood at $24.15 million. The major products exported to Myanmar include rice, maize, cereal preparations, fruits, rice and vegetable seeds.