Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 19 September 2023

Navy’s new project for ‘stitched ship’

GS Paper - 3 (Defence)

In another move among the series of steps taken by the government “to reclaim India’s long-lost heritage in different sectors”, the Centre now plans to revive the ancient maritime heritage. The Ministry of Culture has recently joined hands with the Indian Navy and Goa-based Hodi Innovations to reconstruct an ancient stitched ship – reminiscent of the ships that sailed the oceans on India’s ancient maritime trade routes as many as 2,000 years ago.

More about the Project

  • The project entails collaboration across several ministries and departments. While the Indian Navy is overseeing the ship’s design and construction and would also be sailing the ship along ancient maritime trade routes, the Ministry of Culture has fully funded the project.
  • The ministries of Shipping and External Affairs will be supporting the project in its execution stage.
  • The project was approved by the National Implementation Committee, chaired by Home Minister Amit Shah, in December 2022.
  • The stitching work will be undertaken by a team of traditional shipwrights led by Babu Sankaran, considered an expert in the stitched ship technique.
  • This age-old technique involves shaping the wooden planks using the traditional steaming method to conform to the shape of the hull.
  • Each plank will then be stitched to another using cords/ ropes, sealed with a combination of coconut fibreresin, and fish oil – akin to the ancient Indian shipbuilding practice.
  • The project is set to cost Rs 9 crore and is expected to take around 22 months to complete.
  • Sankaran has been roped in for the project since he is considered as a master craftsman who has recently built ships using the stitching technique in the Gulf countries.
  • The most famous of them is the Jewel of Muscat, built for Oman, which sailed from Oman to Singapore.

The Voyage

  • Once the ship is ready, the voyage with a seam of 13 Indian Navy crew from Odisha’s Cuttack will be sent to Bali in Indonesia, in November 2025, to coincide with Kartik Purnima, on the full moon night of the Kartik month as per Hindu calendar.
  • The voyage will be a part of the initiative to revive and honour India’s old maritime trade routes.
  • This also fits in with the larger decolonisation project undertaken, in the run-up to 2047, when independent India turns 100. Officials say the ancient stitching technique almost became extinct after the Britishers came to India, where the wooden planks were nailed to support the recoil of canons.

What is Project Mausam?

  • This initiative is in synergy with the Ministry of Culture’s Project Mausam, which aims to reconnect and re-establish communications between countries of the Indian Ocean world, to create an understanding of cultural values and concerns.
  • In fact, initiated by India Project Mausam aims to rebuild maritime cultural connections with the 39 countries bordering the Indian Ocean.
  • Project Mausam is said to be India’s answer to the Maritime Silk Road of China, and India plans to move for UNESCO to award transnational heritage status to Project Mausam, which was launched by India at the 38th World Heritage Session at Doha in June 2014. Several countries including the UAE, Qatar, Iran, Myanmar, and Vietnam have expressed great interest in this multifaceted cultural project.

Unique way to detect and kill cancer cells

GS Paper - 3 (Nanotechnology)

Scientists at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have made a significant breakthrough in cancer research by developing a new method to detect and kill cancer cells. The team has created hybrid nanoparticles, composed of gold and copper sulphide, which can destroy cancer cells through heat generation and enable their detection using sound waves.

How will it work?

  • The hybrid nanoparticles exhibit photothermaloxidative stress, and photoacoustic properties.
  • When exposed to light, these particles absorb it and generate heat, effectively killing cancer cells. Additionally, they produce toxic singlet oxygen atoms that further contribute to the destruction of cancer cells.
  • Beyond their therapeutic potential, these nanoparticles also offer diagnostic capabilities.
  • They can absorb light and generate ultrasound waves, enabling the detection of cancer cells with high contrast.
  • This property could enhance the accuracy of cancer diagnosis as sound waves scatter less than light when passing through tissues, providing clearer images and more precise measurements of oxygen saturation in tumors.


  • The IISc team's innovation addresses a key limitation of previously developed nanoparticles - their large size.
  • By employing a unique reduction method, the researchers were able to deposit tiny seeds of gold onto the copper sulphide surface, creating hybrid nanoparticles less than 8 nm in size.
  • These minuscule particles can potentially navigate through tissues easily and reach tumors, while also being small enough to leave the human body naturally without accumulating.
  • So far, the nanoparticles have been tested on lung and cervical cancer cell lines in laboratory settings.
  • The next step for the IISc team is to advance these promising results towards clinical development, marking a significant stride in the fight against cancer.

Juno captures spectacular portrait of Jupiter

GS Paper - 3 (Space Technology)

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Juno mission completed its 53rd close flyby of Jupiter, it sped past the gas giant’s volcanic Moon Io and captured this stunning frame of both of them together.

More about Moon Io

  • Io is the most volcanically active world in our solar system and it has hundreds of volcanoes that often erupt with molten lava and sulphurous gases.
  • The Juno mission has given scientists the closest look at Io since 2007 and it will continue to gather images and science data during even close flybys later this year and early in 2024.
  • Io is slightly larger than the Earth’s Moon and has a diameter that is about one-quarter that of our planet.
  • Io is tidally locked to Jupiter, meaning that one side of the Moon always faces the planet. It takes around 1.8 Earth days to both rotate on its axis and revolve once around Jupiter.
  • It has a very thin atmosphere that is primarily made of sulphur dioxide but one of the most interesting features of the Jovian moons is its volcanoes.
  • The most volcanically active world in the solar system has hundreds of volcanoes with some erupting fountains of lava that are dozens of kilometres high. It even has lakes of molten silicon lava on its surface.

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