Current Affairs Jun 26

Enhanced Pinaka Rocket

Why in News?

  • Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully test fired extended range version of indigenously developed Pinaka rocket from a Multi-Barrel Rocket Launcher (MBRL) at Integrated Test Range (ITR), Chandipur off the coast of Odisha.
  • The enhanced range version of Pinaka Rocket System can destroy targets at distances up to 45 kms.
  • The rocket system has been developed jointly by Pune based Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE) and High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL) with manufacturing support from M/s Economic Explosives Limited, Nagpur.
  • The development of Enhanced Pinaka system was taken up to achieve longer range performance.

About Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launcher

  • Pinaka is a multiple rocket launcher produced in India and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for the Indian Army.
  • The system has a maximum range of 40 km for Mark-I and 60 km for Mark-I enhanced version, and can fire a salvo of 12 HE rockets in 44 seconds.
  • The system is mounted on a Tatra truck for mobility.
  • Pinaka saw service during the Kargil War, where it was successful in neutralising enemy positions on the mountain tops.




Enhanced Range 122mm Caliber Rocket

Why in News?

  • Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully test fired enhanced range versions of indigenously developed 122mm Caliber Rocket from a Multi-Barrel Rocket Launcher (MBRL) at Integrated Test Range (ITR), Chandipur off the coast of Odisha
  • These rockets have been developed for Army applications and can destroy targets up to 40 km.
  • The rocket systems have been developed jointly by Pune-based Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE) and High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL) with manufacturing support from M/s Economic Explosives Limited, Nagpur.
  • This enhanced rocket system would replace the existing 122mm Grad rockets.




First Indigenous Aircraft Carrier

Why in News?

  • Raksha Mantri reviewed the progress of construction of first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) built by M/s Cochin Shipyard Ltd., at Kochi.
  • The IAC would be commissioned as INS Vikrant in the first half of 2022, which would be the most potent sea-based asset.
  • The ship shall operate MiG-29K fighter aircraft, Kamov-31 Air Early Warning Helicopters, the soon to be inducted MH-60R multi-role helicopter and the indigenously manufactured Advanced Light Helicopters.
  • It would offer an incomparable military instrument with its ability to project Air Power over long distances, including Air Interdiction, Anti-Surface Warfare, offensive and defensive Counter-Air, Airborne Anti-Submarine Warfare and Airborne Early Warning.




LIDAR survey of forest areas

Why in News?

  • Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change released the Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) of LiDAR based survey of forest areas in ten states namely Assam, Bihar, Chhatisgarh, Goa, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Nagaland, and Tripura.
  • The project which was awarded to WAPCOS, a PSU under the aegis of Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India is a first of its kind and a unique experiment using LiDAR technology.
  • This will help augment water and fodder in jungles areas thereby reducing human-animal conflict, help in groundwater recharge, help local communities.
  • Also asked state forest departments to use CAMPA funds towards implementation of these projects in right earnest and in accordance with the ‘Ridge to Valley’ approach of watershed management.
  • WAPCOS has prepared these DPR’s using LiDAR technology in which the 3-D(three dimensional) DEM (Digital Elevation Model), imagery and layers of the project areas are used for recommending different types of Soil & Water conservation structures
      • Such as Anicut, Gabion, Gully Plug, Mini percolation tank, Percolation Tank, Field bund, Sunken pond, Farm pond etc.
      • These structures will help in catching the rain water and prevent stream run off, which will help in recharging of Ground water.

LiDAR technology

  • LiDAR, or light detection and ranging, is a popular remote sensing method used for measuring the exact distance of an object on the earth’s surface.
  • LiDAR uses a pulsed laser to calculate an object’s variable distances from the earth surface.
  • These light pulses — put together with the information collected by the airborne system — generate accurate 3D information about the earth surface and the target object.
  • There are three primary components of a LiDAR instrument — the scanner, laser and GPS receiver.





Day of the Seafarer 2021

  • Each year, June 25 is observed as the “Day of the Seafarer.” On this day, people pay respect to Seafarers and recognize the invaluable contribution they make to international trade and the world economy.
  • The World Maritime Theme for 2021, “Seafarers: at the core of shipping’s future” seeks to increase the visibility of seafarers by drawing attention to the invaluable role they play now and will continue to play in the future.


  • Till the present date, global trade depends on ocean transport. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) once stated that almost 90% of the world’s traded good were transported via seas, which is why Seafarers and sailors are essential to the functioning of the world.
  • Day of the Seafarer celebration was first started in 2010 by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Since 2011, this special day has been celebrated.




Smart Cities Mission

Why in News?

  • Uttar Pradesh was ranked the best State and Indore and Surat were jointly named the best cities by the Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry for their work under the Smart Cities Mission.
  • At an event to mark the sixth anniversary of the launch of the Smart Cities Mission, the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) and the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Urban (PMAY-U), the Ministry announced that Uttar Pradesh had been ranked one, Madhya Pradesh was second and Tamil Nadu third in the India Smart Cities Awards 2020.
  • 22% in terms of the total value of the projects proposed and 52% in terms of the total number of projects proposed by the 100 Smart Cities had been completed so far.
  • Under the PMAY-U, the Ministry said 1.12 crore houses had been sanctioned, of which 50 lakh had been completed.


  • Ministry – Ministry of Urban Development.
  • Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Development (earlier name JNNURM).
  • Launched on June 2015 with the focus to establish infrastructure that could ensure adequate robust sewage networks and water supply for urban transformation by implementing urban revival projects.
  • Aim of providing basic civic amenities like water supply, sewerage, urban transport, parks as to improve the quality of life for all especially the poor and the disadvantaged.
  • The focus of the Mission is on infrastructure creation that has a direct link to provision of better services to the citizens.

Mission– The purpose of Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) is to


(i) ensure that every household has access to a tap with assured supply of water and a sewerage connection;

(ii) Increase the amenity value of cities by developing greenery and well maintained open spaces (e.g. parks); and

(iii) Reduce pollution by switching to public transport or constructing facilities for non-motorized transport (e.g.walking and cycling).



PMAY-U Mission

  • Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Urban (PMAY-U) Mission has been designed to achieve the vision of “Housing For All by 2022”.
  • In order to recognize the outstanding contribution by States, UTs,Urban Local Bodies and beneficiaries, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has introduced annual awards for excellence in implementation of PMAY-Urban.




FATF ‘greylist’

Why in News?

  • Pakistan was retained on the greylist, or list of countries under “increased monitoring”, at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) once again, as the Paris-based UN watchdog judged it deficient in prosecuting the top leadership of UN Security Council-designated terror groups; the list includes Lashkar-e Toiba, Jaish-e Mohammad, Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
  • Despite completing 26 of the 27 tasks it had been handed, Pakistan’s failure to complete the last task on convicting terrorists and terror entities meant it would not be delisted for now.
  • FATF has handed down another 6-point list of tasks mainly on money laundering actions to be completed as well.


  • The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body decision-making body.
  • It was established in 1989 during the G7 Summit in Paris to develop policies against money laundering.
  • It is a “policy-making body” which works to generate the political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in money laundering.
  • It has also started dealing with virtual currencies.
  • The FATF Secretariat is located in Paris.

 What is the objective of FATF?

  • FATF sets standards and promotes effective implementation of:
  1. legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering.
  2. The FATF works to identify national-level vulnerabilities with the aim of protecting the international financial system from misuse.

 How many members are there in FATF?

  • As of 2019, FATF consists of thirty-seven member jurisdictions.

Is India a member of the Financial Action Task Force?

  • India became an Observer at FATF in 2006. Since then, it had been working towards full-fledged membership.
  • On June 25, 2010 India was taken in as the 34th country member of FATF.

FATF on terror financing

  • FATF’s role in combating terror financing became prominent after the 9/11 terror attacks in the US.
  • In 2001 its mandate expanded to include terrorism financing.
  • Financing of terrorism involves providing money or financial support to terrorists.
  • As of 2019, FATF has blacklisted North Korea and Iran over terror financing.
  • Twelve countries are in the grey list, namely: Bahamas, Botswana, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Pakistan, Panama, Sri Lanka, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and Yemen.

 What as FATF ‘grey list’ and ‘blacklist’?

 FATF has 2 types of lists:

  1. Black List: Countries knowns as Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories (NCCTs) are put in the blacklist. These countries support terror funding and money laundering activities. The FATF revises the blacklist regularly, adding or deleting entries.
  2. Grey List: Countries that are considered safe haven for supporting terror funding and money laundering are put in the FATF grey list. This inclusion serves as a warning to the country that it may enter the blacklist.



Homo Longi

Why in News?

  • Scientists announced that a skull discovered in northeast China represents a newly discovered human species they have named Homo longi, or “Dragon Man” — and they say the lineage should replace Neanderthals as our closest relatives.
  • The Harbin cranium was discovered in the 1930s in the city of the same name in Heilongjiang Province, but was reportedly hidden in a well for 85 years to protect it from the Japanese Army.
  • The skull dates back at least 146,000 years, placing it in the Middle Pleistocene.
  • It could hold a brain comparable in size to that of modern humans but with larger eye sockets, thick brow ridges, a wide mouth and oversized teeth.
  • The name is derived from Long Jiang, which literally means “Dragon River”.
  • The team believe the cranium belonged to a male, around 50 years old, living in a forested floodplain. This population would have been hunter-gatherers, living off the land.
  • Given the location where the skull was found as well as the large-sized man it implies, the team believe H. longi may have been well adapted for harsh environments and would have been able to disperse throughout Asia.





Why in News?

  • In the past few weeks there have been two cases where the Mumbai Police has arrested five persons trying to sell Ambergris or whale vomit.

What is Ambergris?

  • Ambergris, French for grey amber, is generally referred to as whale vomit.
  • A sperm whale eats several thousand squid beaks a day.
  • Occasionally, a beak makes it way to the whale’s stomach and into its looping convoluted intestines where it becomes ambergris through a complex process, and may ultimately be excreted by the whale.
  • It is a solid waxy substance that floats around the surface of the water body and at times settles on the coast.

Is it Ambergris valuable?

  • This excretion is so valuable it is referred to as floating gold. As per the latest estimates given by Mumbai Police, 1 kg of ambergris is worth Rs 1 crore in the international market.
  • The reason for its high cost is its use in the perfume market, especially to create fragrances like musk. It is believed to be in high demand in countries like Dubai that have a large perfume market. Ancient Egyptians used it as incense. It is also believed to be used in some traditional medicines.

Why are the laws on Ambergris?

  • Due to its high value, Ambergris has been a target for smugglers especially in coastal areas.
  • Since the sperm whale is a protected species, hunting of the whale is not allowed.
  • However, smugglers are known to have illegally targeted the fish in order to obtain the valuable Ambergris from its stomach.
  • Ambergris is produced only by an estimated one per cent of sperm whales.




Key process needed for cells to recover from stress

  • The researchers showed the process, called ubiquitination, is involved in stress granule disassembly.
  • The team also revealed detailed mechanistic insights showing the protein G3BP1 is key to the process. Stress granules are known to form in response to some neurodegenerative diseases, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also called Lou Gehrig’s disease.
  • Cells have to respond to changes in their environment such as heat, toxins, UV light or other damaging factors that cause stress.
  • They do so by either triggering cell death or adapting until the stress is removed.
  • To adapt, cells can shut down their protein production machinery, metabolomic processes and cell cycle. The cells can also form structures called stress granules. In stress granules, RNAs and the machinery for translation and protein production coalesce into new cell structures.

Study reveals a different function for ubiquitination

  • The researchers wanted to know how ubiquitination is involved in stress response.
  • To do that, they conducted a proteomic screen to compare the landscape of ubiquitin modified proteins and normal cells experiencing different stresses.
  • The findings indicate that all stresses increased ubiquitination overall. But the list of proteins modified through the process was distinct for each kind of stress.
  • When the researchers block ubiquitination in cells experiencing heat shock, translation shuts down, nuclear-cytoplasmic transport is still disrupted, and stress granules still form. However, the team was surprised to find that when the stress was removed, none of these processes reversed.
  • These findings suggest that ubiquitination is priming the cell to recover from stress.

Mechanistic insights shine light on G3BP1

  • The researchers used the dataset generated through their prior work to focus on G3BP1, a protein that is involved in regulating stress granules. Their study showed that G3BP1 is modified by ubiquitin during heat shock, but not during other types of stress.
  • When the researchers blocked ubiquitination of G3BP1, they found that the stress granules formed normally but did not disassemble when the stress was removed. The team also identified several other critical protein factors that interact with G3BP1 in the process of stress granule disassembly by ubiquitination.


  • Ubiquitin is a small regulatory protein found in most tissues of eukaryotic organisms, i.e., it is found ubiquitously.
  • The addition of ubiquitin to a substrate protein is called ubiquitylation.
  • Ubiquitylation affects proteins in many ways: it can mark them for degradation via the proteasome, alter their cellular location, affect their activity, and promote or prevent protein interactions.