TOPIC 1 -India and Pakistan’s battle over Basmati

General Studies Paper 3: Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management  


India, the world’s largest exporter of basmati rice, has applied for protected geographical indication (PGI) status from the European Union’s Council on Quality Schemes for Agricultural Products and Foodstuffs. This would give it sole ownership of the basmati title in the EU. Pakistan, which is the only other basmati rice exporter in the world, has opposed this move as it would adversely impact its own exports, especially as the EU is a major market for its basmati.

Where does it actually grow?

  • In India, historically, the long-grained, aromatic rice has been cultivated in Indo-Gangetic plains at the foothills of the Himalayas. In modern India, this region is spread over Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Basmati has also been grown for centuries in the Kalar tract, which lies between the Ravi and Chenab rivers in Pakistan’s Punjab province.

Other cases:

  • Dispute between the Indian government and the US company RiceTec in the late ’90s. The latter had sought a patent for certain rice varieties that it had bred from basmati strains, with names like Kasmati, Texmati and Jasmati. The patent was granted in 1997.
  • A legal battle followed, after which, in 2001, the US narrowed the patent to only three variants produced by RiceTec.

TOPIC 2 – Dagmara HE Project

General Studies Paper 3: Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management  


NHPC has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Bihar State Hydro-Electric Power Corporation (BSHPCL) for execution of Dagmara HE Project in Bihar(for implementation of 130.1 MW Dagmara HE Project on the river Kosi in Supaul District in Bihar.)

  • As per agreement, the Project shall be executed by NHPC on ownership basis. The Government of Bihar shall provide a Grant of Rs 700 crore for the Project, as per Capex requirements, proportionate to equity infusion by NHPC.
  • The Government of Bihar shall purchase the entire power to be generated from the Project for its complete life at the rate as determined by CERC Tariff regulations as applicable at the time of actual Commercial Operation Date (COD) of the Project.

NHPC-National Hydroelectric Power Corporation:

  • NHPC is a Category-A Miniratna Company under Ministry of Power, Govt. of India in the field of hydropower. NHPC is the largest organisation for hydropower development in India. It has also diversified in the field of solar & wind power.
  • Currently, NHPC has 24 operational power stations with a total installed capacity of 7,071 MW.

TOPIC 3 – Southern Ocean’ as globe’s fifth ocean

General Studies Paper 3: Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management  


  • The National Geographic magazine has recognised the ‘Southern Ocean’ as the world’s fifth ocean.
  •  The magazine has followed the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) on marine names.


  • The International Hydrographic Organization is an intergovernmental organization that works to ensure all the world’s seas, oceans and navigable waters are surveyed and charted.
  • Established in 1921, it coordinates the activities of national hydrographic offices and promotes uniformity in nautical charts and documents. It issues survey best practices, provides guidelines to maximize the use of hydrographic survey data and develops hydrographic capabilities in Member States.

The Southern ocean:

  • The Southern Ocean is the only ocean ‘to touch three other oceans and to completely embrace a continent rather than being embraced by them’.
  • Its northern limit is a latitude of 60 degrees south. It is also defined by its Antarctic Circumpolar Current that was formed 34 million years ago. The current flows from west to east around Antarctica.

The Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC):

  • It is the most important current in the Southern Ocean, and the only current that flows completely around the globe.
  • The ACC, as it encircles the Antarctic continent, flows eastward through the southern portions of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans.
  • Edmond Halley, the British astronomer, discovered the ACC while surveying the region during the 1699-1700 HMS Paramore expedition. Later, the famous mariners James Cook in 1772-1775, Thaddeus Bellingshausen (Russia) in 1819-1821, and James Clark Ross in 1839-1843 described the Antarctic Circumpolar Current in their journals.
  • Cook was the first person to use the term, Southern Ocean, to describe this area.
  • Other notable expeditions were made by Sir Drake, who reached the tip of South America in 1578, Abel Tasman, who sailed south from Australia into the Southern Ocean in 1642, James Weddell in 1823, and by the HMS Challenger in 1873-74 (Deacon, 1984).

Need to protect:

The Southern Ocean is home to large populations of whales, penguins and seals. But industrial fishing on species like krill and Patagonian toothfish had been a concern for decades, the magazine said. It hoped to draw attention to these issues, in addition to the rapid warming of the Southern Ocean due to global warming by officially changing the name of the waterbody.

TOPIC 4 – New Shephard

General Studies Paper 3: Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management  


Amazon founder  Jeff Bezos’s space company called Blue Origin concluded the online auction for the first seat on New Shephard, a rocket system meant to take tourists to space. Over 7,600 people registered from 159 countries to bid for this seat, which ultimately went for a winning bid of $28 million.

Who will flyaboard New Shephard?

  • The winning bidder will get to fly aboard New Shephard along with Bezos and his brother, when it takes its first human flight on July 20, which marks the 52nd anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s moon landing.
  • New Shephard completed its seventh test launch successfully in October 2020 when it took off from Texas.


In 2018, Blue Origin was one of the ten companies selected by NASA to conduct studies and advance technologies to collect, process and use space-based resources for missions to the Moon and Mars. In 2019, both signed an agreement that gives Blue Origin permission to use NASA’s historic test stand

What is New Shephard?

New Shephard has been named after astronaut Alan Shephard – the first American to go to space – and offers flights to space over 100 km above the Earth and accommodation for payloads.

Academic Research:

Essentially, it is a rocket system that has been designed to take astronauts and research payloads past the Karman line – the internationally recognized boundary of space. The idea is to provide easier and more cost-effective access to space meant for purposes such as academic research, corporate technology development and entrepreneurial ventures among others.

Space tourist:

Apart from its academic and research-oriented goal, New Shephard will also allow space tourists to experience microgravity by taking them 100 km above the Earth.

Space tourism

Space tourism seeks to give laypeople the ability to go to space for recreational, leisure or business purposes. The idea is to make space more accessible to those individuals who are not astronauts and want to go to space for non-scientific purposes.

  • Space Adventures is the only private company to send paying customers to orbital space so far, the report says
  • In 2004, test pilot Mike Melville became the first private astronaut to fly beyond the Karman Line. which is recognised as the edge of space.
  • In 2008, the billionaire video game developer, Richard Garriott became the sixth private citizen to fly to space. 
  • Dennis Tito became the first space tourist in 2001. His flight to space was objected to by NASA citing lack of training. As per CRS, the company has sent seven paying customers to space between 2001 and 2009 and tourist visits to space came to halt in 2011, when NASA suspended its shuttle program, after which American astronauts were given seats on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to get to the ISS.

Other companies :

Apart from Blue Origin, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is also expected to begin space flights meant for space tourists this year. Elon Musk’s SpaceX is also working on sending tourists to space.

How does it work?

  • The rocket system consists of two parts, the cabin or capsule and the rocket or the booster.
  • The cabin can accommodate experiments from small Mini Payloads up to 100 kg. 
  • Further, the cabin is designed for six people and sits atop a 60 feet tall rocket and separates from it before crossing the Karman line, after which both vehicles fall back to the Earth. All the six seats in the capsule are meant for passengers, each of whom get their own window seat. The capsule is fully autonomous and does not require a pilot. The system is a fully reusable.
  • After separating from the booster, the capsule free falls in space, while the booster performs an autonomously controlled vertical landing back to Earth. The capsule, on the other hand, lands back with the help of parachutes.