Mains Exam

1.India Tackles Plastic Waste Pollution


  • The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) amended the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2024.

New Definition of Biodegradable Plastic

  • Biodegradable plastic must:
    • Degrade by biological processes in specific environments (soil, landfill).
    • Not leave behind microplastics.
  • This clarifies ambiguity around labeling disposable plastic ware as “biodegradable.”

Need for the Amendment

  • The 2022 single-use plastic ban led to confusion about what constitutes “biodegradable plastic.”
  • The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) refused to certify some products due to strict degradation time requirements.

Biodegradable vs. Compostable Plastics

  • Biodegradable plastic:
    • Treated before being sold.
    • Expected to decompose naturally, but complete degradation is unproven.
  • Compostable plastic:
    • Requires industrial facilities for breakdown.
  • Both are seen as solutions to India’s plastic waste problem.

Understanding Plastics and Microplastics

  • Plastic: Synthetic or semi-synthetic materials using polymers as a main ingredient.
    • Key characteristic: plasticity (ability to be shaped).
    • Made from monomers that join to form long chains (polymers).
  • Microplastics: Plastic pieces less than 5 millimeters in diameter.
    • Found everywhere, from oceans to mountains.
    • Humans consume an estimated 50,000 microplastic particles annually.

Environmental Concerns of Microplastics

  • Marine Pollution: Microplastics harm marine life through ingestion and potential toxin transfer.
  • Freshwater Contamination: Microplastics pollute rivers, lakes, and streams.
  • Bioaccumulation and Biomagnification: Microplastics accumulate in organisms and magnify in the food chain, reaching humans.
  • Habitat Degradation: Microplastics disrupt ecosystems by affecting nutrient cycling, sediment stability, and organism behavior.
  • Global Distribution: Microplastics are found worldwide, highlighting the need for global solutions.

India’s Efforts to Address Plastic Waste

  • Ban on single-use plastics in many states.
  • Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR): Makes plastic manufacturers responsible for waste management.
  • Plastic Waste Management Rules (2016 & 2022): Provide a framework for managing plastic waste through recycling and waste-to-energy initiatives.
  • Swachh Bharat Abhiyan: A national cleanliness campaign that includes plastic waste collection and disposal.
  • Plastic Parks: Specialised industrial zones for plastic waste recycling and processing.
  • Beach clean-up drives.
  • Signatory to MARPOL (International Convention for the Prevention of Marine Pollution).
  • India Plastic Challenge – Hackathon 2021: Encourages innovation for solutions to plastic pollution


2.Managing Indus, Ganga & Brahmaputra Rivers: Need for Multilateral Treaties


  • A new report by ICIMOD and Australian Water Partnership highlights the need for integrated management of Indus, Ganga & Brahmaputra rivers.


  • These rivers are lifelines for millions in South Asia. (Indus – 268 million, Brahmaputra – 114 million, Ganga – 629 million)
  • Erratic rainfall and flooding pose threats to water security in the region.
  • No multilateral treaties exist for managing these rivers.
    • Bilateral agreements exist (e.g., Indus Water Treaty between India & Pakistan) but lack regional cooperation.
  • Substantial data gaps exist on water usage, socio-economic realities, and environmental factors across the Ganga basin.


  • Plug data gaps: Better data is needed for informed water management, early warnings, and disaster preparedness.
  • Whole basin research: Collaborative research across the entire basin is crucial for:
    • Reliable water accounting
    • Strategic basin planning
    • Understanding long-term climate impacts
    • Securing water supplies under uncertain conditions
  • Hydro-solidarity and climate diplomacy: Building trust and promoting dialogue among countries for better water management.
  • Utilize indigenous knowledge: Local communities often have valuable insights for crisis management. Empowering them with knowledge and technology can strengthen resilience.
  • Integrated River Basin Management (IRBM): A holistic approach for managing water resources, sustainable development, and basin-wide strategies.

What is IRBM?

  • IRBM coordinates the conservation, management, and development of water, land, and related resources across a river basin.
  • It integrates ecological, social, and economic aspects for sustainable water use.
  • Examples: EU’s Water Framework Directive and Flood Risk Management Directive.

Challenges of IRBM

  • Cross-sectoral coordination: Balancing competing interests (agriculture, industry, environment) can be difficult.
  • Data and knowledge gaps: Adequate data is essential for informed decision-making.
  • Legal and institutional frameworks: Harmonizing policies and regulations across borders is crucial.
  • Climate change: Adapting IRBM strategies to a changing climate is a challenge.
  • Public participation: Engaging communities in decision-making processes is important.

Measures for Effective IRBM

  • Holistic planning: Develop comprehensive river basin plans that consider environmental, social, and economic factors.
  • Stakeholder engagement: Involve local communities, NGOs, and industry representatives in decision-making.
  • Ecosystem-based approaches: Prioritize ecosystem health and resilience.
  • Monitoring and assessment: Regularly assess water quality, quantity, and ecosystem status.
  • Adaptive management: Continuously adjust strategies based on new information and changing circumstances.


  • Promoting IRBM at all levels of planning is essential for managing water resources in the Indus, Ganga, and Brahmaputra river basins.
  • Multilateral treaties can facilitate cooperation and ensure sustainable water management in the region


3.Nuclear Energy: A Low-Carbon Energy Source for Climate Change Goals

Nuclear Energy Summit

  • First ever Nuclear Energy Summit held in Brussels to highlight nuclear energy’s role in reducing fossil fuel dependence.
  • Follows the inclusion of nuclear energy in the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) Global Stocktake, calling for its deployment with other low-carbon sources.
  • A declaration signed by 22 world leaders aims to triple nuclear energy capacity by 2050.
  • The summit is part of a multilateral approach to decarbonization.

What is Nuclear Energy?

  • Energy released from the nucleus of atoms through fission (splitting atoms) or fusion (fusing atoms).
  • Current nuclear power uses fission, while fusion technology is under development.

Importance of Nuclear Energy

  • Low-carbon source of energy: Nuclear power plants don’t produce CO2 during operation.
  • Contributes to one-third of the world’s carbon-free electricity.
  • Reliable energy source regardless of geographical location.
  • Low operating costs, smaller land footprint, and longer life cycle compared to other renewables.
  • Boosts energy security and economic development.

Recent Developments

  • Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), radiation proofing, and extended fuel cycles aim to reduce nuclear risks.
  • IAEA study predicts half of carbon reductions by 2050 will come from currently developing technologies.
  • Globally, there are 440 nuclear reactors, accounting for a quarter of low-carbon energy.
  • The number of reactors is increasing, with 60 under construction and 110 planned, mostly in Asia (China is a leader).

Challenges and Concerns

  • Uncontrolled nuclear reactions can cause widespread contamination.
  • Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) and private investors haven’t significantly contributed to the industry.
  • Radioactive waste generation from nuclear power plant operations.

Nuclear Power in India

  • India’s first nuclear power plant offers reliable energy at a lower cost than solar power.
  • Newer plants offer electricity comparable to coal-fired plants.
  • Nuclear power contributes only 1.6% of India’s total renewable energy mix due to:
    • Stigma
    • Weaponization risk
    • Radiation leak concerns
    • Regulations
    • High upfront costs
    • Long project delays

Conclusion and Way Ahead

  • The nuclear industry is undergoing liberalization with ambitious growth plans.
  • India aims to triple nuclear capacity by 2031-2032 and has invited private investments.
  • The Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) marks a significant advancement for India’s nuclear industry.
  • MDBs need to reassess nuclear financing policies to enable private capital or blended finance models.
  • Financial creativity and market support can unlock nuclear energy’s potential.
  • Successful cooperative funding models from France, South Korea, Russia, and the U.K. can be replicated.

Prelims Exam 

1.India’s Basmati Rice Cultivated Illegally in Pakistan

  • IARI demands legal action against Pakistani seed firms cultivating Indian basmati varieties.
  • High-yielding basmati varieties account for 90% of India’s projected $5.5 billion basmati rice exports in 2023-24.
  • IARI varieties like Pusa Basmati-1121, PB-6, and PB-1509 are being cultivated illegally in Pakistan.

Legal Protection of Basmati Rice in India

  • All Indian basmati varieties are notified under the Seeds Act, 1966, for cultivation in designated areas.
  • They are also registered under the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001.
    • This act restricts sowing, saving, or selling seeds of protected varieties by unauthorized individuals.

Key Facts about Basmati Rice

  • India is the world’s leading exporter of Basmati rice.
  • Major export destinations (2022-23): Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
  • Cultivation areas in India: Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttarakhand, and western Uttar Pradesh.


2.Project Gaia: AI for Analyzing Climate Disclosures

  • Project Gaia, launched by European Central Bank and others, uses AI to analyze corporate climate disclosures.
  • Large Language Models (LLMs) are integrated into the application to extract data efficiently.

What are Large Language Models (LLMs)?

  • LLMs are AI algorithms trained on massive datasets to understand, generate, and predict content.
  • Deep learning techniques enable them to analyze unstructured data and recognize patterns without human intervention.

3.Great Indian Bustard: Conservation Efforts

  • The Supreme Court formed an expert committee to balance conservation and development for the Great Indian Bustard.

About the Great Indian Bustard

  • Scientific Name: Ardeotis nigriceps
  • Appearance: Black crown, pale neck and head, brownish body, black, brown, and grey wings.
  • Diet: Grass seeds, insects, small rodents, and reptiles.
  • Habitat: Flat, open landscapes with minimal obstructions (grasslands).
  • Distribution: Mainly Rajasthan and Gujarat, with smaller populations in Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Threats: Poaching, collisions with power lines, vehicles, and dogs, habitat loss.
  • Conservation Status:
    • Schedule I of Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972
    • Appendix I of CITES
    • Critically Endangered on IUCN Red List

4.Sound Laser Developed in China

  • Chinese researchers built a device creating a laser beam from sound particles.
  • Unlike regular lasers using photons (light particles), this device uses phonons (sound particles).
  • Also known as Sound Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation (SASER), it produces a focused beam of sound waves on a nanoscale.

Significance of Sound Lasers

  • Potential applications in optoelectronics, terahertz-frequency ultrasound, signal modulation, and manipulating nanoparticles.
  • Ability to move through liquids without distortion could be useful in biomedicine and underwater imaging.

5.Operation Indravati: Evacuating Indians from Haiti

  • India launched Operation Indravati to evacuate Indian nationals due to violence in Haiti.

Background on Haiti

  • Located in the Caribbean Sea, east of Cuba and Jamaica, and south of The Bahamas.
  • Capital: Port-au-Prince
  • Experiencing violence since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July 2021.


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