Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 08 September 2023

G20 agrees to give African Union membership

GS Paper - 2 (International Relations)

Group of 20 nations agreed to grant the African Union permanent membership status, and leaders are expected to announce the decision during a summit in India. The move would give the 55-member African Union, which is currently classified as an “invited international organization,” the same status as the EU. It’s part of a drive to provide African countries with a stronger voice on global issues such as climate change and emerging-market debt, particularly as emerging markets in the so-called Global South take on a more prominent role in world affairs.

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  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is hosting the G20 summit, has made it a priority to grant the African Union full membership.
  • Countries like GermanyBrazil, and Canada have also expressed their support for African Union membership to the G20.
  • The G20 or Group of 20 is an intergovernmental forum of the world's major developed and developing economies.
  • The members represent around 85% of global GDP, over 75% of global trade, and about two-thirds of the world population.
  • The European Union is keen to take some credit for the G20 step. Leaders from the bloc plan to hold a high-level meeting with African leaders on the sidelines of the summit, which is being skipped by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
  • Dubbed a “mini-summit,” the Europe-Africa meeting will include a discussion of the consequences of Russia’s war against Ukraine on global food security — a situation that threatens to escalate after Putin refused to revive a UN-backed deal to allow grain shipments after talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
  • Other topics include efforts to reform the global financial architecture, improving conditions for private investments and infrastructure projects in Africa, as well as the situation in the Sahel region.


  • The African Union (AU) is a continental body consisting of the 55 member states that make up the countries of the African Continent.
  • It was officially launched in 2002 as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU, 1963-1999).

JAXA successful launch lander SLIM on Moon

GS Paper - 3 (Space Technology)

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) congratulated Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on 7 September 2023 for the successful launch of the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM).

More about SLIM

  • Japan launched its H-IIA rocket on 7 September 2023 carrying the JAXA Moon lander which is scheduled to land on the Moon early next year.
  • The rocket carried an X-ray telescope called the X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM), which will study the origins of the universeXRISM will measure the composition and speed of intergalactic space.
  • This space mission aims to help scientists to understand celestial object formation and the universe's creation.
  • This mission was conducted in collaboration with NASA, and it will involve studying light at various wavelengthstemperature assessments, and analysing the shapes and brightness of celestial objects.
  • Onboard the rocket is JAXA's Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) spacecraft also known as the "Moon Sniper" for its precision landing technology.
  • This launch follows India's recent achievement of becoming the fourth nation to successfully land a spacecraft on the Moon with its Chandrayaan-3 mission. The launch comes two weeks after India successfully landed Vikram lander on the lunar South Pole.
  • Japan had previously experienced two unsuccessful attempts to land on the Moon. The first resulted in a loss of contact with a lander carried by a NASA rocket, and the second, an attempt by a Japanese start-up, ended in a crash during the lunar descent in April.

Genome secrets of Indian oil sardine

GS Paper - 3 (Biotechnology)

In a major breakthrough in marine fisheries research, a team of scientists at the ICAR-Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) has decoded the whole genome of the Indian oil sardine, a popular food fish. This is the first time that the genome of a marine fish species from the Indian subcontinent has been decoded, a CMFRI statement said.

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  • This development is a 'milestone' in Indian marine fisheries, the decoded genome will be a valuable resource for understanding the biologyecology and evolution of the oil sardine (Sardinella longiceps).
  • This critical genome data could be used to improve the management strategies for the conservation and sustainable utilisation of this fish.
  • The decoded genome is 1.077 Gb in size and contains a total of 46316 protein coding genes.
  • This landmark research accomplishment was achieved through the cutting-edge Next Generation Sequencing technology by a group of researchers led by Dr Sandhya Sukumaran, Principal Scientist at Marine Biotechnology division of the CMFRI. This research has been published in the high-impact journal Scientific Data of the Nature Group.
  • Indian oil sardine is a vital fisheries resource in the Indian subcontinent, contributing substantially, approximately 10 per cent, to the total marine fisheries industry in India.
  • This fish is a trans-boundary resource and the whole genome information can also be utilised for certification of the fishery and identification of the origin of catch for monitoring clandestine trade and tracking the movement of this enigmatic fish.
  • Small pelagic fishes like the Indian oil sardines can be considered as model organisms to study the climatic as well as fishing impacts on the Indian Ocean resources, as they respond to variations in environmental and oceanographic parameters.

About Sardines

  • Sardines are an ecologically important part of the marine ecosystem, as they form an intermediate link in the food web and serve as prey for larger predators.
  • The genome assembly of the sardines is a valuable tool for studying how fish adapt to climate change.
  • Genetic and genomic investigations found that Indian oil sardines exist in two highly distinct stocks, one in Indian waters and another in the Gulf of Oman.
  • Understanding these genetic differences could help researchers comprehend how environmental and oceanographic conditions impact this species in different regions of the Northern Indian Ocean.
  • The CMFRI statement said the researchers have also identified the genes involved in the biosynthesis of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) of the oil sardine, offering insights into the genomic mechanisms behind the high nutritional quality of these sardines.
  • Oil sardines are a good source of these fatty acids, which play a crucial role in maintaining human health.

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