1. Economy
  2. Polity
  3. Environment and Agriculture
  4. Science and Defense
  5. India Yearbook (IYB) 2018: Ch.1
  6. RC Comprehension: Kim’s Kerala Fans! (3 MCQ)


Q. Incorrect statement(s) about India’s Goods and services Tax (GST) regime:

  1. India has the highest GST rates in Asia.
  2. India is the only country in Asia to have four slabs in GST.
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

HINT: While the GuessmastersTM would suggest that both statements ought to be wrong as they’ve absolute-terms: “highest” and “only” respectively, But In 2018-March, World Bank’s biannual India Development Update report thehindued criticized that (1) India has the highest standard GST rate in Asia, and second highest in the world after Chile. (2) In the whole world, only five countries have GST regime with four slabs: India Italy, Luxembourg, Pakistan and Ghana. (3) Indian GST is the most complex system in the world! Mind it: in above MCQ, you had to find wrong statements, not the correct ones!

Q. Find incorrect statements about World Happiness Report 2018 which was published in March-2018:

  1. It is published annually by U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
  2. Finland has secured first rank and Central African Republic has secured the last rank.
  3. India has secured better rank than Pakistan in the Global Happiness index 2018, Global Hunger report 2017 and Ease of Doing Biz. report 2018.

Answer Codes:

  1. Only 1 and 2
  2. Only 2 and 3
  3. Only 1 and 3
  4. All of them

HINT: Burundi is the unhappiest country ranked at 156th. In Global hunger 2017 and Ease of doing 2018, India secured better ranks than Pakistan. But in Happiness 2018, Pakistan (#75) is ahead of India (#133)- which is an indigestible thing by the way. यानी की भुखमरी भारत से ज्यादा हो वो पाकिस्तान भारत से ज्यादा खुश केसे हो सकता है!? Anyways, If we go into ‘assumption-inference’ mode of RC passages, then in the (upcoming) Global hunger report 2018, India’s position will be better or worst than Pakistan? Socho!

Q. In Budget 2018, the farmers are promised 1.5 times MSP of their cost of production. This “cost of production” will be calculated from:

  1. All expenses on seeds, fertilisers, chemicals, hired labour, fuel, irrigation, etc. in the crop-production (A2)
  2. Unpaid family labour utilized in the crop-production (FL)
  3. Rent on land (R)
  4. Interest on working capital invested (C)

Answer Codes:

  1. Only A2
  2. Only A2+FL
  3. A2+FL+R-C
  4. A2+FL+C

HINT: At present, Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) formulates and recommends MSP. It computes three types of cost of production:

  • A2= Actual cost of farming including seeds, fertilisers, and hired labourers.
  • (A2+FL)= A2+ unpaid family labourers (FL)
  • C2 = A2 + FL + cost of land rentals and interest on invested capital.

National Commission on Farmers under M.S.Swaminathan (2006) had recommended that farmers be given at least 50 per cent more than the weighted average cost of production. But He had not elaborated on its internal components. Finance minister has clarified that government will use the MSP=1.5x (A2+FL) whereas PM Modi ( on 17/3/2018) has clarified that MSP=1.5x(A2+FL+C). So, depending on the final notification, the correct answer will be either ‘2’ or ‘4’.

Q. What is the objective of Specific Relief (Amendment) Bill, 2017 passed by Lok Sabha during the Budget session-2018?

  1. It provides mechanism for compensation to victims of natural and manmade disasters.
  2. It gives statutory backing to the PM Fasal Bima yojana so that the farmers are assured compensation for croploss.
  3. It provides civil remedies to a person, if other party has not performed the contractual obligations.
  4. It’s a fake news, aisa koi bill pass hi nhi hua a.k.a. None of the above.

HINT: Specific Relief (Amendment) Bill, 2017 seeks to amend the Specific Relief Act, 1963. The Act sets out the remedies available to parties whose contractual or civil rights have been violated. Gist of the matter is: if your contract is not performed by the second party, you can approach court for 1) forcing the party to do the things OR 2) getting financial compensation OR 3) hiring third party to do the things and forcing second party to pay for it. There will be special courts with powers to attach properties. बाकी तो prsIndia.org पे summary पढ़ लेना.


Q. In 2018-March, the first tranche of Electoral bonds were sold. Donors could buy these electoral bonds from scheduled banks to pay political parties without revealing their identities. Which among the following parties are eligible to avail funding through these Electoral Bonds?

  1. Only a political party which is recognized as “State party” or “National party” by the Election Commission of India.
  2. Only registered political party with 2% of seats in the Lok Sabha from at least 3 different States.
  3. Only registered political parties which have atleast one MP in parliament or one MLA in Vidhan Sabha.
  4. Only registered political parties which have secured not less than 1% of the votes polled in the last Lok Sabha or Vidha Sabha elections.

HINT: Victory not necessary, but 1% votes must. यानि की दाता के स्वरूप में आप चुनावी-बांड खरीदकर किसी भी ओंगे-पोंगे पक्ष को दान नही दे सकते.

Q. Aadhar card is mandatory for availing which of the following services?

  1. Opening new bank accounts
  2. Applying for Tatkal passports
  3. Availing LPG subsidy in the bank account.

Answer Codes:

  1. Only 1 and 2
  2. Only 2 and 3
  3. Only 1 and 3
  4. None of the above because SC judgement says Aadhar is not mandatory.

HINT: In the 2018-March ruling, SC only extended the deadline of linking Aadhar number with (existing) bank accounts, PAN cards and mobile phone connections from 31st March 2018 till final judgement. But the same SC order also mentioned that 1, 2 and 3 will still require Aadhar. But, half-learned idiots without basic comprehension skills will forward anything on whatsapp e.g. fake news that “SC extended Aadhar-mobile link deadline indefinitely“- which can be inferred as “SC is never going to deliver final judgement on Aadhar… only indefinite hearings!?”

Environment and Agriculture

Q. Union government has banned the sale of poppy husk from April 2016. However, in 2018-March, Madhya Pradesh state Government announced it’ll purchase poppy husks from the farmers and then destroy them. Find correct statement(s) about Poppy husk?

  1. Poppy husk is the residual matter left in cannabis plant, after removal of its capsule and seeds (khus khus).
  2. Poppy husk contains mild amount of morphine.
  3. Poppy husk is a Central Nervous system (CNS)-stimulant.
  4. All of the above.

HINT: Under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985, Cannabis (Hashish) is banned everywhere in India, but legal cultivation of Opium poppy is permitted in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Opium plant contains a medical-alkaloid “morphine”, which is a CNS-depressant. It depresses or slows down the central nervous system (CNS), thus relieving pain, especially in cancer patients and gunshot victims. So, accordingly,

  • First statement could have been right, HAD I used the word “opium” instead of “cannabis”.
  • Second statement is right.
  • Third statement can’t be right because second statement is right (i.e. morphine is CNS-depressant.)

Q. In 2018, the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MOEF&CC) notified “Dust mitigation norms” for the construction and infrastructure projects. It requires the builder / developer to:

  1. Setup wind-breakers and water-sprinklers at the construction site.
  2. Cover all vehicles carrying construction material and waste.
  3. Roads leading to construction sites must be metalled.

Answer Codes:

  1. Only 1 and 2
  2. Only 2 and 3
  3. Only 1 and 3
  4. All of them

HINT: In 2018-January, MOEF&CC made these rules under Environment Protection Act. Topic in news because MOEF sent notice to NHAI to implement this by 31/3/18 in their construction projects else face action. All three measures are mentioned.

Q. Apart from Punjab and Haryana, which of the following states are given the Geographical indicator (GI) status for cultivation of Basmati rice?

  1. Uttarakhand
  2. Andhra Pradesh
  3. Telengana
  4. All of the above.

HINT: Under WTO-TRIPS agreement, Geographical indicator status is given to a unique handicraft or agricultural product traceable to specific geographical locations. 2010: GI status was given to basmati grown only in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Uttar Pradesh (only western area) and Jammu & Kashmir (2 districts). Topic in news, because Madhya Pradesh applied for GI, but rejected in 2018-March, because existing stakeholders feel basmati prices will decline if there is oversupply.
It’s true that Hyderabad’s famous biryani prepared in Basmati rice, but neither Andhra Pradesh nor Telengana enjoys GI state for this rice. तुक्केबाजी में जवाब tick मत करो.

Q. In 2018-March, ‘Nyepi’ Hindu festival was celebrated, in which an entire island of Indonesia kept a “day of silence”, even internet and public transportation were shut down. This island is:

  1. Java
  2. Sumatra
  3. Bali
  4. It’s a fake news, Indonesia is an Islamic country aka None of the above.

HINT: While the Hindu festival of ‘Nyepi’ is a public holiday everywhere in Indonesia, Bali is the only island where the rituals of silence are strictly observed. For 2018, English newspapers have shown unprecedented coverage of this festival, in the backdrop of “religious” noise-pollution and associated court judgements, UP government instructions, and playback singer tweets in India. In the grander scheme of things, these are fodder points of essay on “Tolerance and Secularism”.

Q. Which of the following step(s) has/have been taken by the Union government against the overuse of Urea in recent years?

  1. Allocations for urea subsidy have been gradually reduced in the budgets of 2016, 2017 and 2018.
  2. Soil health card scheme has been launched (in 2015).
  3. Size of urea bags have been reduced from 50kg to 45kg (in 2018).

Answer Codes:

  1. Only 2
  2. Only 2 and 3
  3. Only 1 and 3
  4. All of them

HINT: UPSC is fascinated with urea since last three prelims: 2015- asked about the impact of excessive nitrogen fertilizer use? 2016- asked how neem coating of urea helps in cultivation? 2017- asked about soil health card benefit? So, to replicate the obsession and sadism of UPSC examiner, I’ve deliberately kept first statement open to multiple interpretations: The Budget Estimates for urea subsidy in 2016: 51k cr, 2017: 49k cr, 2018: 45k cr. So, prima-facie statement is correct but whether it’s a ‘step’ to reduce urea-overuse or it’s a ‘proof’ of declining urea consumption!? Think!
Second statement is right: Soil Health Card (SHC) scheme helps the farmers to know the major and minor nutrients available in their soils which will ensure judicious use of fertiliser application.
Third statement is also right from 2018-March, urea is being sold in 45 kg bag instead of 50kg. Government took this step because illiterate farmers are very rigid on using a certain number of bags per hectare of land and do not generally reduce the urea usage despite the advisory given in soil health card. कुछ जाहिल किसान बात समजने को तैयार ही नही, इसलिए सरकारने बेग का वजन कम किया है.

Q. Correct statement(s) about Global Energy Transition Index 2018:

  1. This index is prepared by IPCC with funding from UNFCCC’s adaptation fund.
  2. It’s a simple index that ranks countries according to their ratio of renewable : non-renewable power generation compared to previous year.
  3. Finland has secured first rank, whereas India secured 100th rank.
  4. None of the above.

HINT: World Economic Forum’s Energy Transition index is not a simple ratio of renewable to non-renewable energy generation in country. It measures country’s performance in three dimensions 1) whether energy available to all at affordable prices (access and security) 2) whether it’s environmentally sustainable 3) whether energy generation is sufficient for country’s economic development and growth? For 2018, Sweden got first rank, Zimbabwe last rank, India got 78th Rank and Pakistan got 86th rank in this Energy index out of 114 nations.
While this would seem to be an atarangi MCQ but UPSC does have a proven bad habit of asking random “About us” type of questions related to global environmental funds, treaties and organizations.
BTW, India has got 100th rank in doing biz report 2018 (by World bank- rank improved over last year) and 100th rank in Global Hunger 2017 (by IFPRI, rank degraded than last year.)

Q. In 2018-March, a cloned male buffalo named “Sach-Gaurav” was born in Haryana. Which of the following statements are correct in this regard:

  1. It’s India’s first cloned buffalo.
  2. It was produced using the parental genes of an Assamese female buffalo.
  3. Cloned offspring has better milk-yield production and disease resistance than its parent.

Answer Codes:

  1. Only 1 and 2
  2. Only 2 and 3
  3. Only 1 and 3
  4. None of them

HINT: As the ‘GuessmastersTM‘ would suggest: the first statement ought to be wrong because it contains absolute term ‘first’. Sach-Gaurav is India’s first cloned “Assamese” buffalo, otherwise in past too we’ve produced cloned buffalos- Garima, Cirb Gaurav etc.
Second statement is wrong because clone of a female will be a female and the clone of a male will be a male. Here the question itself has given that “male buffalo born” so its ‘parent-gene’ can’t be female.
Cloning creates genetically similar organism from a single parent without sexual reproduction and without loss of parental traits. So, cloned offspring will not have better milk production / disease resistance than its parent cattle, unless we modified the parent-genes before creating embryo.

Science and Defense

Q. Which of the following disease was Stephen Hawking suffering from?

  1. Paralysis of the entire body
  2. Neuroendocrine Tumour
  3. Trigeminal neuralgia
  4. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

HINT: Salman Khan suffered from #3 also known as facial nerve disorder / suicide disease. Irfan Khan and Steve Jobs suffering / suffered from #2. Stephen Hawking had #4.

Q. Professor Stephen Hawking:

  1. Was an American physicist.
  2. Who won Nobel for discovering black holes.
  3. Who authored books (1) A Brief History of Time (2) My Brief History.
  4. All of the above.

HINT: To win Nobel for physics, theoretical scientific discovery has to be confirmed by observational data. Einstein got Nobel (1921) for photoelectric effect and not for gravitational waves because the instruments and technology necessary to prove his gravitational waves could only materialize in 2016. Similarly the technology required to observe “Hawkings radiation” from blackholes is yet to be developed. He was a British physicists. Books are correct.

Q. Find correct pair(s) of indigenously manufactured defense equipment(s):

  1. Aditya: Mine-Protected Vehicle (MPV) built by DRDO
  2. NETRA: Airborne early warning and control system (AEW&C) built by DRDO
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

HINT: Both are right and in news during 2018-March. 1) Maoists used IED explosives to kill 9 CRPF personnel riding in MPV in Sukhma. 2) DRDO chief said NETRA is better than the Swiss system used by Pakistan.

Global Energy Transition Index
Q. Which of the following is/are LWE affected area(s) of Chhattisgarh?

  1. Sukma
  2. Dantewada
  3. Jangalmahal
  4. Gadhchiroli

Answer Codes:

  1. Only 2
  2. Only 1 and 2
  3. Only 3 and 4
  4. Only 1 and 3

HINT: Jangalmahal: W.Bengal, Gadhchiroli: Maharashtra. Read full list at PIB.

India Yearbook (IYB) 2018: Ch.1

Since nowadays not many UPSC prelim level worthy current-affairs news is occurring, so to reach the fabled target of 25 MCQ, I’ve drafted these five MCQs from Chapter 1: Land and People, of India 2018, available at amazon in English and Hindi, including Kindle editions which can be read on desktop / laptop / mobile app also.

Q. In which of the following part of India will you find diluvial forests?

  1. Foothills of Himalaya
  2. Foothills of Vindhya hills
  3. Deccan plateau
  4. Andaman

HINT: Diluvial forests occur on diluvial deposits of deep sandy soil lying between the mangrove forests and the hills. As per IYB, Andamans have evergreen, mangrove, beach and diluvial forests.

Q. In which of the following systems will you find rivers of ephemeral nature?

  1. Himalayan rivers
  2. Deccan rivers
  3. Coastal rivers
  4. Inland drainage basin rivers

HINT: Himalayan rivers flow 24/7/365. No. 2 and 3 are perennial in nature. The streams of inland drainage basin of western Rajasthan are few and far apart. Most of them have ephemeral nature i.e. water lasting for a very short time during the year.

Q. The official seasons of India designated by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) are:

  1. Winter, Summer, Monsoon
  2. Winter, Summer, Monsoon, Post-Monsoon
  3. Spring, summer, monsoon, autumn, winter.
  4. Spring, summer, monsoon, early autumn, late autumn and winter

HINT: While traditionally, Indians note six seasons: spring, summer, monsoon, early autumn, late autumn and winter. Each of them about two months long. The Himalayan states, being more temperate, experience two additional seasons: autumn and spring. But, IMD designates four official seasons: (i) Winter, from December to early April. (ii) Summer or pre-monsoon season, lasting from April to June (April to July in north-western India). (iii) Monsoon or rainy season, lasting from June to September. (iv) Post-monsoon season: October to December.

Q. Which of the following organization publishes a book on endangered plants, titled “Red Data Book”?

  1. IUCN
  2. Wildlife Institute of India
  3. Forest Survey of India
  4. Botanical Survey of India

HINT: BSI, Kolkata publishes Red Data book, whereas IUCN publishes Red list.

Q. Which of the following definitions are incorrect regarding the Census of India 2011?

  1. Literacy: A person aged five and above, who can both read and write with understanding in any language.
  2. Sex Ratio: Number of female per one thousand males.
  3. Reference date for the population of India under Census-2011: 1st April 2011.

Answer Codes:

  1. Only 1 and 2
  2. Only 2 and 3
  3. Only 1 and 3
  4. None of them

HINT: Literacy counted at the age of 7 and above, Sex ratio at 1,000 males and Census reference date: 1st March 2011. Mind it: You’ve to find incorrect statements.

RC Comprehension: Kim’s Kerala Fans! (3 MCQ)

Ok, so far reached 22 MCQ, so here comes a reading comprehension passage with three MCQs to reach the T25 target.

The Communists in Kerala are having a bit of trouble finding an ambassador. Lenin is dated, Stalin discredited, Fidel passed away and Che has been appropriated. They need icons against “global capitalism”. And creeping his way into the pantheon of the champions of scientific socialism in Kerala is, wait for it, Kim Jong Un, the hereditary authoritarian ruler of North Korea- who is neither scientific nor socialist, and is an authoritarian megalomaniac who shows off his hand on the “nuclear button”.
This sudden valorisation of Kim began in December 2017, when the CPM local committee in Pampadumpara in Idukki district put up flex boards with Kim Jong Un’s photographs. Idukki district secretary K.K. Jayachandran had said then that “the party does not attest to the stand that the North Korean despot is someone who should be revered as challenging the US. As Marxists ideologues, we conduct concrete analysis of concrete conditions before framing policies and postures.” But something has changed in the new year. CPM politburo member and Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan stated the “US is exerting pressure on North Korea because of its strong anti-American stance, yet that country could effectively resist US pressure”. CPM Kerala secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan went a step further to declare that “to prevent North Korea from emerging as an economic force and for its socialist policies, the US is arming South Korea”. [~230 words]

Q. According to author, who among the following is valorising Kim?

  1. K.K. Jayachandran
  2. Pinarayi Vijayan
  3. Kodiyeri Balakrishnan

Answer Codes:

  1. Only 1 and 2
  2. Only 2 and 3
  3. Only 1 and 3
  4. All of them

HINT: Read K.K. Jayachandran’s statement carefully. He is the odd man in this fandom of Kim.

Q. Author will agree with which of the following statements?

  1. Kim Jong un is a poor choice as CPM’s icon of anti-US imperialism.
  2. Even Stalin could be a better choice than Kim Jong un as CPM’s icon of anti-US imperialism.
  3. In CPM, there is growing gulf between the lofty maxims of Marxism versus its actual practice.

Answer Codes:

  1. Only 1
  2. 1, 2 and 3
  3. Only 3
  4. Only 1 and 3

HINT: Passage doesn’t indicate whether Stalin was better or worst than Kim, only that Stalin was “discredited”. A ‘true’ Marxist should do “concrete analysis” but the passage indicates they’ve hastily selected Kim – who is a poor choice because he’s a megalomaniac dictator who has nothing to do with Marxism or Socialism. Meaning, there is gulf between CPM’s lofty maxim vs actual practice. वरना तो वे लोग नाप-तौल कर concrete analysis के बाद ही किसी योग्य नेता को अपना आइकोन बनाते.

Q. (SSC-CGL Vocabulary) From the passage, which of the following pair is/are not antonyms?

  1. Valorize: Discredit
  2. Megalomaniac: Vainglorious
  3. Pantheon: Temple

Answer Codes:

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 1 and 2
  3. Only 2 and 3
  4. Only 1 and 3

Megalomaniac is a a pathological egotist. Vainglorious is also a person feeling too self-important. Hence they’re synonyms. Pantheon is a temple created for a particular group of Gods. so both terms are not antonyms. Valorize means assign higher value to someone or something whereas discredit means damage reputation of someone / something- so they’re antonyms. Mind it: here you’ve to find pairs that are not antonyms.