Current Affairs Jun 8

Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) MK III

Why in News?

  • The induction ceremony of ‘322 Dega Flight’ was held with three indigenously built Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) MK III helicopters flying into Naval Air Station, INS Dega.


  • ALH MK III helicopters feature an array of systems previously seen only on heavier, multi-role helicopters of the Indian Navy.
  • These helicopters are fitted with modern surveillance radar and electro-optical equipment, which enable them to undertake the role of maritime reconnaissance in addition to providing long-range Search and Rescue, both by day and night.
  • In addition to special operations capabilities, ALH MK III is also fitted with a heavy machine gun to undertake constabulary missions.
  • A removable Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) is also fitted on ALH MK III helicopters to airlift critically ill patients.
  • The helicopter also has a host of advanced avionics, making it truly an all-weather aircraft.



E-booklet on 20 MoD reforms in 2020

Why in News?

  • Raksha Mantri released an E-booklet titled ’20 Reforms in 2020’, highlighting the major reforms undertaken by Ministry of Defence (MoD) in 2020.

Chief of Defence Staff & Department of Military Affairs

  • The appointment of India’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and creation of Department of Military Affairs (DMA) were among the major decisions taken by the Government.
  • The post of CDS was created to increase efficiency & coordination among the Armed Forces and reduce duplication, while DMA was established to ensure improved civil-military integration.

AatmaNirbharta in Defence

  • To promote ‘Make in India’ in defence sector, a list of 101 defence items was notified in August 2020, while Defence Acquisition Procedure 2020 was unveiled in September 2020. Rs 52,000 crore budget was earmarked for indigenously made defence equipment in 2020-21.
  • Corporatisation of Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) was approved in May 2020 for greater efficiency and productivity.
  • In November 2020, Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile, indigenously designed & developed DRDO, hit bullseye at medium range and medium height, while indigenously built Pinaka rocket system cleared test of 45-60 km range.

Modernisation & increased transparency in Defence Acquisition

  • In highest-ever thrust towards modernisation in last 10 years, there was 10 per cent budget increase in 2020-21 over the previous year.
  • Policy reforms for increased transparency included launch of new Defence Acquisition Procedure in September 2020 and revision of DRDO Procurement Manual in October 2020.
  • To encourage start-ups, a provision was introduced for procurement as Buy Indian-IDDM, while leasing for non-mission critical requirements was introduced for the first time.

Defence Acquisitions

  • First five Rafale fighter aircraft arrived in India in July 2020 and several more since then, adding firepower to the arsenal of the Indian Air Force.

Reforming Defence R&D

  • To promote innovation by young minds, five Young Scientists Laboratories of DRDO were launched in 2020 in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad.
  • DRDO has joined hands with the private sector in design & development and identified 108 Systems & Subsystems for the industry to design, develop and manufacture.

Stree Shakti in Armed Forces

  • In 2020, Ministry of Defence took some historic decisions to increase participation of women in the Armed Forces. Ten streams of Indian Army were opened for giving Permanent Commission to Short Service Commission (SSC) Women officers, while women pilots of Indian Navy were operationalised for the first time. All Sainik Schools were thrown open for girl students from academic session 2020-21.




World Food Safety Day

  • Celebrated on June 7 every year, World Food Safety Day aims to spread awareness, detect and prevent foodborne risks, contributing to food security, human health, economic prosperity, agriculture, market access, tourism and sustainable development.
  • In 2018, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed that every June 7 would be celebrated as World Food Safety Day.
  • The observance is jointly facilitated by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
  • Foodborne illnesses, caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites, are infectious and toxic. They can enter the body through contaminated food and water. It is, therefore, important to ensure the food stays safe at every step of the food chain, from production to consumption.
  • This year’s theme for World Food Safety Day is ‘Safe food today for a healthy tomorrow’ which stresses that production and consumption of safe food have “immediate and long-term benefits for people, the planet and the economy”.






Ratle Hydroelectric Power Corporation Limited

Why in News?

  • NHPC limited, India’s premier hydropower company under Ministry of Power has formed a joint venture company, “Ratle Hydroelectric Power Corporation Limited” for the implementation of 850 MW Ratle Hydroelectric Project.
  • The JVC has been incorporated with NHPC and Jammu & Kashmir State Power Development Corporation Ltd (JKSPDC).
  • Ratle Hydoelectric Project (850 MW), is a Run of River Scheme located on River Chenab, Kishtwar district, Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Run-of-river hydropower: a facility that channels flowing water from a river through a canal or penstock to spin a turbine. Typically a run-of-river project will have little or no storage facility. Run-of-river provides a continuous supply of electricity (base load), with some flexibility of operation for daily fluctuations in demand through water flow that is regulated by the facility.




Animal Challenge Study Platform


  • Animal models that closely resemble the pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2−induced disease in humans are essential for research on disease mechanisms and for the evaluation of potential vaccines and antiviral drugs.
  • Small animals like mice and Syrian hamster are advantageous to study SARS-CoV-2, as they reproduce faster and faithfully reproduce COVID-19 pathology in humans.
  • Among different available animal models, so far hamsters have been widely utilized in SARS-CoV-2 infection studies.
  • Hamster model of COVID-19 mimics a mild pattern of human disease with full recovery.


  • The experimentation with these animals needs people with multiple expertise and specialised animal biosafety level 3 laboratories (ABSL3).
  • Realising the importance of these requirements for developing antiviral and vaccine candidates for SARC-COV-2, scientists at the Institute of Life Sciences, Bhubaneswar have established these animal models and a ABSL3 laboratory.
  • This platform at ILS has been established with the support from Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) under Mission COVID Suraksha.




Black Carbon over the Himalaya

Why in News?

  • Accurate estimation of black carbon (BC), the second most important global warming pollutant after CO­2, will now be possible using optical instruments in the Himalayan region.
  • Because of a parameter called the mass absorption cross-section (MAC) specific to the Himalayan region that scientists have estimated. It will also improve the performance of numerical weather prediction and climate models.
  • Scientists at the Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES) in collaboration with scientists from the University of Delhi, IIT Kanpur and Space Physics Laboratory, ISRO have made extensive observations of black carbon and elemental carbon and estimated monthly and wavelength-dependent values of MAC over the central Himalayan region for the first time.
  • The researchers have derived the values of MAC – an essential parameter which is used for obtaining Black Carbon mass concentrations.
  • According to the ARIES team, these higher resolutions multi-wavelength and long-term observations used in calculating MAC will help improve the performance of numerical weather prediction and climate models in estimating the warming effects caused by BC emissions.
  • The precise knowledge on BC at various wavelengths will help in source apportionment studies done to constrain the sources of BC emissions.
  • This can thus serve as important information to form the mitigation policies.


  • Black carbon, or soot, is part of fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) and contributes to climate change.
  • Black carbon is formed by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, wood and other fuels.
  • Complete combustion would turn all carbon in the fuel into carbon dioxide (CO2), but combustion is never complete and CO2, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, and organic carbon and black carbon particles are all formed in the process. The complex mixture of particulate matter resulting from incomplete combustion is often referred to as soot.
  • Black carbon is a short-lived climate pollutant with a lifetime of only days to weeks after release in the atmosphere. During this short period of time, black carbon can have significant direct and indirect impacts on the climate, the cryosphere (snow and ice), agriculture and human health.




Fatigue life of aluminium alloy used in aerospace components

Why in News?

  • Indian Scientists have developed an environmental-friendly process, which can provide excellent corrosion resistance to the high-strength aluminium (Al) alloys extensively used in aerospace, textile, and automotive applications.
  • It involves an electrochemical method for the production of an oxide film on the metallic substrate.
  • High-strength aluminium (Al) alloys are extensively used in aerospace, textile, and automotive applications owing to their low density and high specific strength.


  • Aerospace components made out of Al alloys include landing gear, wing spar, which is the main structural part of the wing, fuselage (main body of an aircraft), aircraft skins or outer surface and pressure cabins.
  • These parts often need resistance against wear, corrosion damages, and enhanced fatigue life.
  • The widely used technique for Al alloys to improve corrosion resistance called hard anodizing (HA) process is an electrolyte-based coating deposition.
  • It involves sulphuric/oxalic based electrolytes, which emits not only toxic fumes but are also hazardous to handle during processing.

Recent Development

  • In order to cater to the growing demand for cleaner industrial processes, an environmental-friendly process called micro-arc oxidation (MAO) has been developed at International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI).
  • The process which involves an alkaline electrolyte is capable of providing better wear and corrosion resistance compared to the HA process.
  • MAO is a high-voltage driven anodic-oxidation process, which through an electrochemical method, produces an oxide film on a metallic substrates.
  • ARCI team has further designed and developed a duplex treatment of shot peening (process used to modify the mechanical properties of metals and alloys) followed by MAO coating deposition.
  • The duplex treatment has led to the remarkable enhancement in aerospace Al alloys’ fatigue life while retaining the outstanding corrosion and wear resistance of MAO coating.
  • The efficacy of duplex treatment has been validated for different Al alloys and extended to impart superior corrosion fatigue life.




Supreme Court e-Committee

Why in News?

  • Draft Rules released by the Supreme Court e-Committee for live-streaming and recording court proceedings propose a 10-minute delay in transmission and exclusion of communally sensitive cases and matters that involve sexual offences and gender violence against women.
  • The Rules are part of the National Policy and Action Plan for implementation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the judiciary.
  • Now, the Supreme Court has invited inputs and feedback on the ‘Draft Model Rules for Live-Streaming and Recording of Court Proceedings’.
  • The Rules would cover live-streaming and recording of proceedings in High Courts, lower courts and tribunals.
  • Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, heads the Supreme Court e-Committee.
  • A sub-committee consisting of judges of the Bombay, Delhi, Madras and Karnataka High Courts was constituted to frame the model draft Rules.
  • The Rules intend to balance between access to information and concerns of privacy and confidentiality.
  • Matrimonial matters, cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) and under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act would also be exempted from livestream.
  • The final decision as to whether or not to allow the live-streaming of the proceedings or any portion thereof will be of the Bench, however, the decision of the Bench will be guided by the principle of an open and transparent judicial process.

No personal information

  • Personal information such as date of birth of parties, home address, identity card number, bank account information, and the personal information of related parties, such as close relatives, witnesses and other participants, will be deleted or muted during live-streaming.
  • No person/entity (including print and electronic media, and social media platforms) other than an authorised person/entity shall record, share and/or disseminate live-streamed proceedings or archival data.





Scientists saving endangered salmon

Why in News?

  • A gene-editing tool that has led to new cancer therapies and a rapid test for COVID-19 is now helping scientists find endangered species of salmon in the San Francisco Bay.
  • The CRISPR-based Sherlock tool can identify four types of Chinook salmon, including Sacramento winter-run and Central Valley spring-run, which are both protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.
  • They’re visually very similar and the current method to identify the different types is based on what length they are at a particular age and it’s not very accurate.


  • Sherlock, which stands for Specific High-sensitivity Enzymatic Reporter Unlocking, identifies the fish using their genomic sequence. Researchers begin by taking swabs of mucus from the fish and combining with reagents that will glow if certain snippets of DNA are present.
  • The battery-powered fluorescent reader gives results in 30 minutes, ideal for field research.
  • By identifying the species, researchers believe they can better monitor population sizes and habitats.





GM crops

  • As the name suggests, GM food involves the editing of genes of a crop in such a way that it incorporates beneficial traits from another crop or organism.
  • This could mean changing the way the plant grows, or making it resistant to a particular disease. Food produced using the edited crop is called GM food.
  • This is done using the tools of genetic engineering.

How is it done?

  • Let us assume that scientists want to produce wheat with high protein content and they decide to incorporate the high protein quality of beans into wheat.
  • To make this possible, a specific sequence of DNA with protein-making trait is isolated from the bean (which is called the donor organism) and is inserted into the gene structure of wheat, in a laboratory process.
  • The new gene or the transgene thus produced is transferred into the recipient cells (wheat cells).
  • The cells are then grown in tissue culture where they develop into plants. The seeds produced by these plants will inherit the new DNA structure.
  • A DNA from a plant that has high resistance to pests can be introduced into another so that the second plant variety will have the pest-resistant trait.

What are the advantages of GM crops?

  • GM crops are perceived to offer benefits to both producers and consumers. Some of them are listed below…
  • Genetic engineering can improve crop protection. Crops with better resistance to pest and diseases can be created. The use of herbicides and pesticides can be reduced or even eliminated.
  • Farmers can achieve high yield, and thereby get more income.
  • Nutritional content can be improved.
  • Shelf life of foods can be extended.
  • Food with better taste and texture can be achieved.
  • Crops can be engineered to withstand extreme weather

Why is there stiff opposition to GM crops?

  • Genetically engineered foods often present unintended side effects. Genetic engineering is a new field, and long-term results are unclear. Very little testing has been done on GM food.
  • Some crops have been engineered to create their own toxins against pests. This may harm non-targets such as farm animals that ingest them. The toxins can also cause allergy and affect digestion in humans.
  • GM crops are modified to include antibiotics to kill germs and pests. And when we eat them, these antibiotic markers will persist in our body and will render actual antibiotic medications less effective over a period of time, leading to superbug threats. This means illnesses will become more difficult to cure.
  • Besides health and environmental concerns, activists point to social and economic issues. They have voiced serious concern about multinational agribusiness companies taking over farming from the hands of small farmers. Dependence on GM seed companies could prove to be a financial burden for farmers.
  • Farmers are reluctant because they will have limited rights to retain and reuse seeds.
  • Their concern also includes finding a market that would accept GM food.
  • People in general are wary of GM crops as they are engineered in a lab and do not occur in Nature.





Why in News?

  • The U.S.’s pharma regulator, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), made a much anticipated ruling recently, in conditionally approving the use of an Alzheimer’s drug, called aducanumab, the first such approval since 2003.
  • The drug, which goes by the brand name Aduhelm, has been granted ‘accelerated approval’, meaning it will need to verify expected clinical benefits in a new trial.
  • The drug’s approval had become controversial, with growing pressure from those impacted by the debilitating degenerative brain disease on one hand and opposition from many in the scientific community who were not convinced that the drug had demonstrated efficacy in trials, on the other.
  • Aducanumab is based on the amyloid hypothesis of the disease — that plaques made of beta amyloid peptide (a type of protein) form in the patients brain leading to cognitive decline and problems with thinking.
  • The drug supposedly binds to beta amyloid molecules and removes them.


  • Amyloid is an amorphous, extracellular, eosinophilic material deposited in various body tissues and organs giving the disease known as amyloidosis.
  • Amyloid may be present as microscopic deposits, as plaques, or as confluent masses that may progressively replace the parenchyma of affected organs, which may become enlarged, firm, and pale in macroscopic appearance, with progressive loss of function leading to eventual organ failure and death.

Amyloid beta

  • Amyloid beta (Aβ or Abeta) denotes peptides of 36–43 amino acids that are the main component of the amyloid plaques found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.







UN Economic and Social Council

Why in News?

  • India has been elected to the Economic and Social Council, one of the six main organs of the United Nations, for the 2022-24 term.
  • The 54-member Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is at the heart of the United Nations system to advance the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental.
  • It is the central platform for fostering debate and innovative thinking, forging consensus on ways forward, and coordinating efforts to achieve internationally agreed goals.
  • It is also responsible for the follow-up to major UN conferences and summits.
  • India was elected in the Asia-Pacific States category along with Afghanistan, Kazakhstan and Oman in the elections
  • From the African states, Côte d’Ivoire, Eswatini, Mauritius, Tunisia and the United Republic of Tanzania were elected while from the eastern European states, Croatia and the Czech Republic and from the Latin American and Caribbean states, Belize, Chile and Peru were elected.
  • India is currently serving the 2021-22 term as a non-permanent member of the powerful UN Security Council and will assume the Presidency of the 15-nation UN organ in August.
  • The UN Charter established ECOSOC in 1945 as one of the six main organs of the United Nations.
  • ECOSOC’s 54 members are elected for three-year terms by the General Assembly.
  • Seats on the Council are allotted based on geographical representation with 14 allocated to African states, 11 to Asian states, six to eastern European states, 10 to Latin American and Caribbean states and 13 to western European and other states.




Supersonic Plane

Why in News?

  • Nearly two decades since the last supersonic passenger flight, of the British-French airliner Concorde, took off, the planes are set to return to the runways by 2029.
  • United Airlines recently ordered 15 planes with the ability to travel at Mach 1.7, faster than the speed of sound, from the Denver-based startup Boom.
  • The new supersonic “Overture” aircraft will become the world’s fastest commercial airliner, reducing travel time by about half of today’s planes.
  • Supersonic vehicles in the past have been flagged for their high use of jet fuels, causing extensive environmental damage.

What is a supersonic plane?

  • Supersonic aircraft are planes that can fly faster than the speed of sound. The technology for supersonic flights is actually over 70 years old, but only recently has been used for commercial flying. Before 1976, when the first commercial supersonic flight took off, the planes were used entirely for military purposes.
  • Concorde, the British-French turbojet-powered commercial airliner, was the first aircraft to carry passengers at supersonic speed, but eventually had to discontinue, due to cost and other concerns.
  • Usually, supersonic planes can travel at the speed of around 900 kmph, twice the speed of normal aircraft.

What are some of the challenges with supersonic planes?

  • Firstly, the costs of making “sustainable” supersonic planes are extremely high. The very nature of its flying — using excessive amounts of fuel and energy — is likely to have high environmental costs. Despite the use of sustainable fuels, the greenhouse gas emissions are not nullified. The Concorde used eight times the amount of oil per passenger mile used in a modern day Boeing.
  • Secondly, the very speed of the planes result in producing excessive amounts of noise pollution in the environment. The “Sonic Boom” created by these planes feels like an explosion to the human ear.
  • Lastly, it would not be economically feasible for everyone. Only the very rich can afford supersonic planes, as a ticket is likely to be way more costlier than a first class ticket of a regular plane.




‘Sea Snot’

Why in News?

  • There has been growing environmental concern in Turkey over the accumulation of ‘sea snot’, a slimy layer of grey or green sludge in the country’s seas, which can cause considerable damage to the marine ecosystem.
  • Turkey’s Sea of Marmara, that connects the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea, has witnessed the largest outbreak of ‘sea snot’. The sludge has also been spotted in the adjoining Black and Aegean seas.
  • As the slimy layer spreads across the country’s seas, there are urgent calls now to tackle the crisis.

What is causing ‘sea snot’ in the seas of Turkey?

  • ‘Sea snot’ is marine mucilage that is formed when algae are overloaded with nutrients as a result of water pollution combined with the effects of climate change. The nutrient overload occurs when algae feast on warm weather caused by global warming. Water pollution adds to the problem.
  • Overproduction of phytoplankton caused by climate change and the uncontrolled dumping of household and industrial waste into the seas has led to the present crisis.

How badly can the crisis affect the marine ecosystem?

  • The growth of the mucilage, which floats up on the surface of the sea like a brown phlegm, is posing a severe threat to the marine ecosystem of the country.
  • It has caused mass deaths among the fish population, and also killed other aquatic organisms such as corals and sponges.
  • If unchecked, this can collapse to the bottom and cover the sea floor, causing major damage to the marine ecosystem.