9 Jul | UPSC Current Affairs: Gandaki River, BBPS, Uranium, Regenerative Braking & More


Gandaki River

  • News: A 15-year-old bridge over the Gandaki River collapsed in Bihar’s Saran district.
  • Alternative Names: Also known as the Narayani and Gandak, it is one of the major rivers in Nepal and a left-bank tributary of the Ganges in India.
  • Origin: Formed by the union of the Kali and Trisuli rivers, which rise in the Great Himalaya Range in Nepal.
  • Flow Path:
      • From the junction of Kali and Trisuli rivers to the Indian border, it is called the Narayani.
      • It flows southwest into India, then turns southeast along the Uttar Pradesh–Bihar state border, and across the Indo-Gangetic Plain.
      • It enters the Ganges River opposite Patna, Bihar, after a winding course of 475 miles (765 km).
  • Catchment Area: 
      • Bounded by the Himalayas to the north, the River Ganga to the south, the Burhi Gandak Basin to the east, and the Ghagra Basin to the west.
      • Glaciers and Lakes: The upper catchment of the Gandaki has about 1,710 glaciers and over 300 lakes.
  • Deep Gorge: Known for possessing a deep gorge in the Himalayan region, with the deepest point reaching approximately 3,000 meters (9,800 feet), making it one of the deepest river gorges in the world.
  • Tributaries: Daraudi, Seti, Madi, Marsyandi, and Budhi Gandaki.
  • Historical Mention: The Gandaki River is mentioned in the ancient Sanskrit epic Mahabharata.

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Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS)

  • News: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has mandated that all credit card payments be routed through the Bharat Bill Pay System from July 1, 2024.
  • Concept and Management:
      • It is a payment channel system conceptualized by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and driven by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
      • NPCI is a subsidiary of the RBI.
  • Aim: 
      • It serves as a one-stop payment platform for all bills, providing interoperable and accessible “Anytime Anywhere” bill payment service to customers across India.
      • The RBI aims to regulate and monitor P2P credit card transactions through third-party apps. 
      • Unlike regular transactions settled directly with banks, these payments use NEFT/IMPS or direct transfers, bypassing centralized platforms, which concerns the RBI.

Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS)

  • Features and Benefits: 
      • Transaction Certainty: BBPS ensures the certainty, reliability, and safety of transactions.
      • Payment Modes: The system supports multiple payment modes and provides instant confirmation of receipt of payment.
      • Integrated Platform: BBPS is an integrated platform connecting banks and non-banks involved in the bills aggregation business, including billers, payment service providers, and retail bill outlets.
      • Convenience: It catalogs various utility providers on one platform, offering customers the convenience of paying multiple bills through a single window.
  • Bill Collection Categories: 
      • Utilities: Includes electricity, telecom, mobile postpaid, DTH, gas, and water bills.
      • Other Payments: Will include school/university fees, municipal taxes/payments, mutual funds, insurance premiums, various government taxes, etc., as decided by the RBI over time.
  • Payment Channels: 
      • Physical Outlets: Customers can make payments at physical payment collection outlets such as bank branches and agent collection stores.
      • Digital Channels: Payments can also be made through digital channels like apps and websites across India.
      • Instant Confirmation: BBPS provides instant confirmation of payment via an SMS or receipt.



  • News: Russia and India are likely to agree on a long-term uranium supply pact for a nuclear power plant coming online in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. 
  • Definition:  
      • Uranium is a naturally occurring radioactive element with an atomic number of 92. 
      • It decays over time, releasing energy.
  • Properties:
      • Uranium is a relatively common metal, found in rocks and seawater.
      •  Uranium ranks 48th among the most abundant elements in natural crustal rock. 
      • Uranium is 18.7 times denser than water.
      • The U-235 isotope of Uranium is important due to its fissile nature, allowing it to be split under certain conditions, releasing a lot of energy (nuclear fission).
      • U-238 is the most common isotope, accounting for around 99% of natural uranium.
      • U-238 decays very slowly and is barely radioactive. 


  • Uranium Enrichment: 
      • Uranium enrichment is the process of increasing the isotopic proportion of U-235 from 0.72% to up to 94%.
  • Global Production:
      • Leading Producers: Kazakhstan, Canada, and Australia.
  • Important Mines:
      • Australia: Olympic Dam and the Ranger mine in Southern Australia.
      • Canada: High-grade deposits are found in the Athabasca Basin region. Important sites include Cigar Lake and McArthur River basin.
      • Kazakhstan: The Chu-Sarysu basin in central Kazakhstan accounts for over half of the country’s known uranium resources.
  • Uranium in India: 
      • The first uranium deposit in India was found in 1951 at Jaduguda, in the Singhbhum Thrust Belt (Jharkhand). 
      • Andhra Pradesh is the largest producer of uranium in India.
      • Other major uranium deposits: Cuddapah basin (Andhra Pradesh and Telangana), Mahadek basin (Meghalaya), Delhi Supergroup of rocks (Rajasthan), and Bhima basin (Karnataka).

Regenerative Braking

  • News:  Electric vehicles, boosted by state incentives and subsidies, are advancing rapidly. A key feature is regenerative braking, which enhances energy efficiency.
  • What is Braking?
      • Braking is the mechanism by which an automotive vehicle in motion slows down.
      • It removes kinetic energy from the vehicle.
  • Kinetic Energy
      • Kinetic energy is the energy an object has because of its motion. 
      • A vehicle moving faster has more kinetic energy than one moving slower. 
      • The process of braking converts kinetic energy to another form due to the law of energy conservation.
      • Examples : 
      • A disc brake is a type of mechanical brake that presses brake pads against a spinning disc, using friction to convert kinetic energy into heat. The discs have holes to dissipate heat more effectively.
      • An induction brake uses a magnet to induce circular electric currents in a spinning metal wheel, creating a magnetic field that opposes the external magnet. This opposition slows the wheel and dissipates energy as heat.
  • What is Regenerative Braking?
      • Definition: Regenerative braking converts the wheels’ kinetic energy into a storable form, allowing the energy to be recovered and used later when the vehicle doesn’t need it.
      • Dynamic Braking: Regenerative braking is a type of dynamic braking.
      • Electric Vehicle Process:
      •  In electric vehicles, a battery stores electric power from the grid. 
      • This battery powers a traction motor, converting electrical energy to mechanical energy to propel the vehicle.
      • During braking, the motor operates as a generator, turning mechanical energy back to electrical energy.
      • The electric current produced during braking is stored in a battery or, in some vehicles, fed back into the traction motor.
  • Rheostatic Braking: Another type of dynamic braking where the current is sent to resistors that dissipate the electrical energy as heat.
  • Problems with Regenerative Braking:
      • It often can’t stop an electric vehicle alone and must be used with a conventional system that dissipates kinetic energy as heat.
      • Conventional system is also required to prevent vehicles from backsliding downhill, which many regenerative brakes won’t prevent.
      • The amount of energy a regenerative brake can recover drops as the vehicle’s velocity drops as well.
  • Advantages of Regenerative Braking: 
      • It improves the fuel economy of the vehicle. The amount of fuel consumed can be dramatically reduced.
      • It allows for traditional friction-based brakes. A friction braking system is included with a regenerative system to ensure a vehicle is able to stop in time.
      • It prolongs the charge of the battery. 
      • It reduces the wear and tear on the braking system

Carcinogenic Agents In Food

  • News: Karnataka has cracked down on sellers of food staples, such as gobi manchurian and pani puri due to use of carcinogenic chemicals  in food items.
  • Banned Artificial Colouring Agents:  
      • Rhodamine-B, tartrazine dye, and sunset yellow colouring. 
  • Rhodamine B: 
      • It is a chemical colour used in dyeing clothes, paper, leather, printing, and plastics. 
      • It is used to give red and pink colours.
      • Rhodamine B is not one of the permitted food colouring agents under India’s food safety regulation.
  • Tartrazine
      • Tartrazine is a lemon yellow dye. 
      • It is found in confectionery, cotton candy, soft drinks, instant puddings, flavored chips (Doritos, Nachos), cereals (corn flakes, muesli) etc.
  • Sunset Yellow Colouring
      • It is a synthetic azo dye permitted to be added to a variety of beverages and foods. 
      • An azo dye comprises two amines joined together through their amino groups by means of an azo bond.
  • Carmoisine
      • It is a synthetic red azo dye, commonly added to food, beverages, medicine, and cosmetics.
  • Risks
      • Rhodamine-B is carcinogenic(causing cancer). 
      • Rhodamine B may also damage the eye and cause irritation in the respiratory tract.
      • Rhodamine B is not fit for consumption and may lead to acute toxicity. 
      • Tartrazine & Sunset Yellow can cause allergic or pseudo-allergic reaction.
      • Carmoisine can cause skin rashes & respiratory allergies. 
      • Consumption of snacks containing these artificial colours may pose long-term health risks, including cancer.
  • Punishment on Violation: 
      • Using these harmful chemicals violates the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products, Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011.
      • Violation attracts imprisonment of up to 7 years and fine of up to Rs 10 lakhs. 
  • Food Colours Allowed by FSSAI:
      • The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), India’s apex food safety regulator, allows the use of very few natural and synthetic colours in food items. 
      • There is also a restriction on which colours can be used in what type of food product.
      • Natural Food Colours: The natural food colours whose use is allowed includes: carotene and carotenoids (yellow, orange), chlorophyll (green), riboflavin (yellow), caramel, Annatto (orange-red, derived from the seed of an American tree), saffron, and circumin (yellow, from turmeric).
      • Synthetic Colours: The synthetic colours allowed include red from Ponceau 4R, Carmoisine, and Erythrosine; yellow from Tartrazine and Sunset Yellow FCF, blue from Indigo Carmine and Brilliant Blue FCF, and green from: Fast Green FCF.
      • Permitted Food Items: 
        • Permissible food colourings are not allowed in all food items.
        • Food items that can use these colours include ice creams, biscuits, cakes, confectionaries, fruit syrups and crushes, custard powder, jelly crystals, and carbonated or noncarbonated beverages.

Brown Palm Civet  (Paradoxurus Jerdoni)

  • News: A rare sighting of the Brown Palm Civet has been reported in Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • Common Names: Also known as Jerdon’s palm civets, they are endemic to the Western Ghats.
  • Ecological Role:
      • Brown Palm Civets play a vital role as seed dispersers in their habitat.
      • Their presence is crucial in areas where other large seed dispersers are either non-existent or rare due to human-induced factors, promoting native rainforest growth in the Western Ghats.

Brown Palm Civet (Paradoxurus Jerdoni)

  • Behavior and Habitat:
      • Solitary and Nocturnal: Brown Palm Civets are solitary and nocturnal small carnivores.
      • Habitat: They thrive in high-altitude tropical rainforests.
      • Distribution: It is endemic to the Western Ghats. 
        • Found in Anamalai, Periyar, Parambikulam, Kalakkad Mundanthurai and Meghamalai Tiger Reserves; Kodaikanal, Munnar forest divisions; and Srivilliputhur.
        •  Also found from Castle Rock in Goa. 
      • Elevation: Inhabit rainforest tracts at elevations of 500–1,300 meters.
  • Food Habits: 
      • Diet: Predominantly frugivorous, they forage widely but have one of the smallest diet ranges among South Asia’s small carnivores.
  • Conservation Status: 
      • IUCN Status: Least Concern
      • CITES Listing: Appendix III
      • Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972:  Schedule II
  • Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary: 
      • It is situated in the Western Ghats of Maharashtra.
      • It is an important protected area within the larger Western Ghats, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
      • Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary area is known as the renewable energy capital of Maharashta because of its hydro electric and wind energy projects.
      • It is closely associated with the Koyna Dam, which is one of the largest dams in Maharashtra. 
      • Flora: Evergreen forests, semi-evergreen forests, and deciduous forests, teak, shisham, and ain, along with a diverse understorey of shrubs and herbs.
      • Fauna: Indian bison (gaur), Indian elephants, Indian leopards, sloth bears, sambar deer etc.

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Pearl Spot Fish (Etroplus suratensis) 

  • News:  The Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (Kufos) is preparing to launch a genome editing mission to enhance pearl spot fish production.
  • Common Name:  
      • Known as “Karimeen” in Kerala, it is an indigenous fish found along the east and south-west coasts of Peninsular India.
      • The Government of Kerala declared pearlspot as the official fish of Kerala.
      • It belongs to the family Cichlidae.
  • Habitat:
      • Pearlspot is a euryhaline fish, thriving well in brackish waters and has the ability to live both in fresh and saline waters.
      • It is also an important candidate species for aquaculture in ponds.

Pearl Spot Fish (Etroplus suratensis)

  • Physical Characteristics:
      • Elevated, laterally compressed body.
      • Small cleft mouth.
      • Light green color with eight vertical bands in its natural habitat.
  • Year-Round Availability: Seed of pearl spot is available throughout the year along the east and south-west coasts of India.
  • Peak Seasons: May-July and November-February are the peak seasons of abundance.
  • Geographical Range: Widely available in the South, especially in the Kerala backwaters, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Nutrient-Rich: Low-fat, high-protein food, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for heart and brain health.
      • Rich in Vitamin D and riboflavin.
      • Contains minerals such as calcium and phosphorus.
  • IUCN Status: Least Concern
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