[T25] UPSC Mock Round#21: Current Affairs July-Aug-2018: SEEPI Index, COMCASA, STA-1, H-CNG, PARIWARTAN Scheme, OBC Subcat. & More

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Majid Hussain
  1. Prologue
  2. Polity and rights issues
  3. Economy, Banking, Finance
  4. International Relation & Defense
  5. Environment
  6. Person in News (PIN)

Prologue

  • Mitron, as such my [T25] series contains 25 Mock MCQ aimed at UPSC IAS/IPS Civil Service exam aspirants.
  • However, now that UPSC Prelims is over for this year, so I’m diluting the level of difficulty, so that T25 series can be of help in the non-IAS exams such as CDS/CAPF, Staff selection, Bank and StatePSCs etc.
  • I usually don’t give direct answer below the MCQs but indirect hints. Because, then you’ve to read the MCQ again, and apply your brain. This improves your skills of logical deduction and comprehension.
  • This 21st set focuses mainly on the current affairs from July-August-2018.
  • Timelimit: 30 minutes.
  • 2 Marks for correct answer; -0.66 marks for wrong answer.

Polity and rights issues

Q. In 2018-July, the OBC subcategorization panel asked for extension for the third time. Find incorrect statement regarding this panel:

  1. It’s headed by Retd. Justice G. Rohani
  2. It’s established under the Article 340 of our Constitution.
  3. Some of the Indian states already has sub-categorization of backward classes and most backward classes for the purpose of job reservation.
  4. None of the above.

HINT:

  • The gist of long-winded legal jargon is that PM Modi aims to sub-categorize the OBC into two groups- more affluent vs less affluent. The less affluent castes among OBCs would then be eligible for special schemes / reservation, thus helping him in the election.
  • Under Article 340- The President may by appoint a Commission to investigate the conditions of socially and educationally backward classes. Accordingly, OBC sub-categorization panel was setup in 2017-Nov under the chairmanship of former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court G. Rohini.
  • Nine States of the country viz., Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Puducherry, Karnataka, Haryana, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Bihar, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have already carried out sub-categorization of Other Backward Classes.
  • Example: Tamilandu has 30% reservation for backward classes, and 20% for most backward classes.
  • In the Indra Swahaney case (1992), SC had observed that states are empowered to sub-categorize the backward classes as ” backward vs. more backward“.

Q. Ministry of Social justice wants to set up a permanent commission for De-notified Tribes. NITI Ayog is considering to setup a panel to check its feasibility. What do you understand by the term De-notified Tribes?

  1. They’re the adivasis yet to be included in the list of Scheduled Tribes (STs) of India.
  2. They’re the tribes removed from the list of STs due to their upward social mobility.
  3. They’re the castes residing in forest area but don’t fulfill all the criteria to be classified as STs.
  4. They’re the tribes labelled as criminals through legislation during British-era, and were denotified post-independence.

HINT: 1871: The British enacted Criminal Tribes Act, and notified most of the nomadic communities as criminals. Police and revenue officials were given draconian powers to brand, penalise, segregate nomadic communities- in pretext that these communities were ‘criminal by birth and practiced crime as a profession’. 1952: Act was repealed and those tribes were ‘Denotified’. You can also read more about them in my Model Answer for Mains GS1.

Q. In 2018-July, the Election Commission of India informed the SC that it doesn’t have sufficient VVPAT machines to conduct Lok Sabha 2019 polls. What is VVPAT?

  1. VVPAT is Valid voter’s paper audit trail (VVPAT).
  2. A VVPAT produces a printout of the vote cast using an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM).
  3. A copy of VVPAT printout is handed over to the voter for his personal record keeping.

Answer Codes:

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

HINT: A voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) is a machine attached with the EVM that produces a printout of the vote cast using an EVM, which can be shown to the voter to dispel doubts. This printout is then deposited in a box and can be used to resolve any dispute regarding the poll results. You can read more about it in my ARTICLE on VVPAT and EVM Totalizer.

Q. In 2018-July, National Commission for Women (NCW) chairperson, Rekha Sharma demanded to scrap the Christian practice of confession alleging that such confessions are misuse by priests to sexually exploit women, as it happened in Kerala. In this context, find correct statement(s) in this regard:

  1. NCW is the oldest one among the statutory bodies established for the protection of women, children and minorities.
  2. Christian practice of confession falls under the purview of religious freedom defined in the article 30.
  3. According to Census-2011, Nagaland has the highest population of Christian in terms of percentage of total state population, whereas Kerala has highest population of Christian in terms of absolute figures.

Answer Codes:

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Only 1 and 3
  4. None of the given statements.

HINT: Ofcourse no Public Service Commission will frame the question in this format. But I’ve given these statements to help you brush up with the factoids!

  • Chronology: National commission for Women (1990), Minorities (1993), Children (2005).
  • Article 25(c): Right to practice religion: Performance of religious worship, rituals, ceremonies and exhibition of beliefs and ideas.
  • Article 30: All minorities shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice
  • Third statement is correct. You can learn more about the minorities and their welfare schemes in my Youtube Lecture on One Dozen skill development schemes.

Q. In 2018-July, W.Bengal Vidhan Sabha passed a resolution to change the name of their state to “Bangla”. Find incorrect statements in this regard.

  1. We can find the full list of states and union territories in the Article 1 of our Constitution.
  2. A ‘State-name-changing-bill’ can be introduced in the Parliament only with prior recommendation of the President of India and the prior approval of the respective state Vidhan Sabha.
  3. A state’s name can be changed only by passing a bill with special majority in both the houses of Parliament.

Answer Codes:

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

HINT:

  • To read the full list of Indian states and UTs, we’ve to refer to Schedule 1, not Article 1. Ofcourse, some people would interpret that Article 1 subsection (2) itself says “The States and the territories thereof shall be as specified in the First Schedule”! I’ve deliberately framed the statement vaguely and open to multiple interpretation so to give you a taste of the SADISM of UPSC examiner. In real exam, should you attempt or skip such question? Well, that depends on your perceived estimation of the expected cutoffs & the probability of getting wrong answer!
  • State-name-changing bill can be introduced in the Parliament only with the prior recommendation of the President; and before recommending the bill, the President has to refer the same to the state legistature concerned for expressing its views within a specified period, but President (or Parliament) is not bound by the views of the state legislature. (Article 3)
  • A state’s area, boundary, name can be altered via Constitutional amendment passed with simple majority in the Parliament.
  • Self-Study: M.Laxmikanth’s Indian Polity | हिंदी में भी उपलब्ध: Ch. 5 on Union and its territories; Ch. 10 on Amendments

Q. In 2018-July, Parliament discussed about Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) bill, which aims to replace _ _ _ institution(s) with a HECI.

  1. UGC
  2. AICTE
  3. Medical Council of India (MCI)
  4. Only 1 and 2.

HINT:

  • To replace MCI, there is a separate National Medical Commission Bill, 2017.
  • HECI bill only aims to Repeal University Grants Commission Act, 1956.
  • All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) is a statutory body under its act in 1987. But HECI bill is mute about it.

Q. In 2018-July, Justice BN Srikrishna Committee on Data Protection released its report. Find correct statement(s) about it:

  1. This committee was setup by the Law Ministry under the directions of the Supreme Court.
  2. Committee has suggested the government to setup a statutory Data Privacy Authority.
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

HINT:

  • It was setup by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY)
  • Committee has given a draft Data protection Bill 2018, with a Data Protection Authority….not data PRIVACY authority.

Q. In 2018-July, Government of India has setup a panel to suggest measures and legal framework to effectively deal with incidents of mob violence and lynching. How is the chairman of this panel?

  1. Home minister Rajnath Singh
  2. Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba
  3. NSA Ajit Doval
  4. Justice BN Srikrishna

HINT: Group of ministers is headed by Rajnath Singh. Injeti Srinivas Committee is for Companies Act’s penal provisions. NSA Ajit Doval is the head of defense planning committee. Justice Srikrishna is associated with Andhra Pradesh Telengana bifurcation, data privacy panel, Financial Sector Legislative Reform Commission (FSLRC). Then who is left?

Q. (UGC-NET-2018-July) Leader of the Opposition is a member of committees which select:

  1. the Central Information Commissioner
  2. the Central Vigilance Commissioner
  3. the Chairperson of National Human Rights Commissioner
  4. the Chairperson of National Commission for Women.

Select the correct answer from the code given below :

  1. (a), (c) and (d) only
  2. (a), (b), (c) and (d)
  3. (a), (b) and (d) only
  4. (a), (b), and (c) only

HINT: This is an example of poorly-framed MCQ by the UGC-NET. Because all options contain (a), therefore we must accept (without knowing or checking) that indeed Leader of Opposition is in the selection for the CIC! kher, let’s check other options to refresh the memory from M.Laxmikanth’s Indian Polity | हिंदी में भी उपलब्ध:

  • CVC is a multi-member body consisting of a Central Vigilance Commissioner (chairperson) and not more than two vigilance commissioners. They are appointed by the president on the recommendation of a 3-member committee of PM, Home Minister and Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
  • NHRC chairman and members are appointed by the president on the recommendations of a 6-member committee of the PM, Home minister, Lok Sabha Speaker, Rajya Sabha Dy.Speaker, leaders of the Opposition in both the Houses of Parliament.
  • NCW chairperson, members and member-secretary are all nominated by the Central Government (Ministry of Women and Child Development). Their salaries, allowances and other service conditions are also prescribed by the Central Government.

NCW, Child commission and some other statutory, regulatory, quasi-judicial bodies are not given in detail length in M.Laxmikanth’s Polity book,. But they’re available in his other book, “Governance in India”.

Economy, Banking, Finance

Q. In 2018-August, RBI increased the repo rate by 0.25% to counter the inflationary impacts of _ _ _ .

  1. Hike in the minimum support prices of the crops.
  2. Hike in salaries and allowance by 7th Pay commission.
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

HINT: MSP hike = foodgrains prices increase in the market. Pay commission hikes = government employees have more money to spend = lead to further demand side inflation. RBI aims to contain both.

Q. PARIWARTAN Scheme and SAMADHAN Scheme are associated with:

  1. Resolutions of bad loans among the public sector banks.
  2. Resolutions of bad loans in power sector.
  3. Disinvestment of the public sector enterprises.
  4. Proposed Voluntary retirement scheme packages for the employees of soon to be privatized Air India and IDBI Bank.

HINT: Topic was in news during 2018-July, because RBI made some comments about the technical mechanisms of PARIWARTAN Scheme.

  • Power Asset Revival through Warehousing and Rehabilitation (Pariwartan) = Financial intermediaries will setup a company, that will take over the bad loans of power sector from the other banks / NBFCs- to prevent these loans from falling into the Insolvency and Bankruptcy code. [Otherwise, the said power company might get liquidated- then it’ll affect longterm power generation in India]
  • Scheme of Asset Management and Debt Change Structure (SAMADHAN) = Power company’s stressed loan amount is divided into two parts- the manageable amount kept as debt, while unmanageable amount (debt) converted into equities (shares) and given to the respective lender bank. So, IF & when power company makes profit, they’ll share dividend with the banks. If this MECHANISM doesn’t go into your head don’t worry- UPSC focuses on basics like what is the objective of this scheme, rather than its ‘MECHANISM’.

Q. In 2018-July, Government of India decided to drop the FRDI Bill after the public outcry. Find correct statement:

  1. Full name of this bill was: Financial Redressal and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill.
  2. It aimed handover the powers of DICGCI to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) into a resolution corporation (RC).
  3. This bill covered the deposit holders only in the banks, but not in the non-banking financial companies.
  4. None of the above

HINT:

Q. In 2018-July, the Lok Sabha passed a bill to provide 20% interim compensation to the victim in cheque dishonor cases. Which of the following act deals with this type of crime?

  1. Securities contracts regulation Act
  2. Negotiable Instruments Act
  3. Financial transactions Act
  4. Cheque dishonor Act

HINT: Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881. You can learn more about the types of cheques and other negotiable instruments in my Youtube Lecture Video.

Q. In 2018-July, the TRAI chief posted his Aadhar Number on Twitter and challenged users to do him any harm. Subsequently, UIDAI advised people to refrain from posting Aadhar numbers online. Find correct statement in this regard:

  1. Aadhar is a twelve digit unique alpha-numeric number, whereas PAN is a eleven digit unique alpha-numeric number.
  2. Chairman of TRAI is Ram Sewak Sharma, whereas Chairman of UIDAI is Nandan Nilekani.
  3. UIDAI is an non-statutory body whereas TRAI is a statutory body.
  4. None of the above.

HINT:

  • Aadhar = 12 numbers only. PAN = 10 figure code containing both alphabets and numbers.
  • UIDAI chairman is ex-IAS J. Satyanarayana.
  • UIDAI was initially an administrative body, but got statutory status under the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, benefits and services) Act, 2016.
  • TRAI is a statutory body under Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is a statutory body under its act of 1997

International Relation & Defense

Q. In 2018-July, UN Secretary-General has warned the member states that UN is facing financial troubles, and will run out of cash. Find correct statement in this regard:

  1. The present Secretary-General of UN is a Mexican citizen Antonio Guterres.
  2. UN is facing financial crisis because G4 nations have refused to contribute money until they’re given permanent seats in UN security council.
  3. While USA is the largest contributor to UN budget, India is the largest contributor to UN peacekeeping forces.
  4. UN has total 182 member states, and headquarter in NewYork, USA.

HINT: Ofcourse, such longwinded and complex statements may not be given in the real exam but the objective of this [T25] is not to replicate a real exam like MCQs but rather to jog your memory for the factoids that may appear in real exam.

  • Antonio Guterres is a Portuguese politician. To learn more about UN Secretary General election process, read my article.
  • G4 countries consists of India, Japan, Germany and Brazil who want permanent seats at UNSC. However, UN facing financial crisis because US, Syria, Venezuela and other member states not paid their contribution in time; and not because of any G4-financial-blackmailing.
  • USA is the largest contributor to UN budget. India is the SECOND or THIRD largest contributor to UN peacekeeping forces. Number varies according to time period but usually Bangladesh and Ethiopia are contributing more troops than India. This was even mentioned in PM Modi’s ‘Mann ki Baat’ in 2017.
  • UN has total 193 members, HQ in NewYork. Do update the figure in your textbook / notes.

Q. Find the correct statement about the annual BRICS summit, 2018.

  1. 2018’s summit was held at Cape Town, South Africa
  2. Its theme was ‘Ten years of BRICS partnership’.
  3. In this BRICS summit S.Africa was represented by Jacob Zuma and Brazil was represented by Dilma Rousseff.
  4. None of the above

HINT:

  • BRICS was formed in 2018, so this was 10th summit but the theme was ‘BRICS in Africa.’
  • Exact venue was Johannesburg in S.Africa, not Cape town.
  • S.Africa current President is Cyril Ramaphosa, Brazil- Michel Temer.

Q. In 2018-July, India and USA declared intention to sign COMCASA agreement. What is its objective?

  1. an economic framework for cooperation in maritime commerce and trade.
  2. a defense framework for maritime security.
  3. a legal framework for the transfer of military communication equipment and technology.
  4. a legal framework for civil aviation.

HINT:

  • In 2016, India had signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) with USA, which allows the military of each country to replenish from the other’s bases.
  • Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) will enable Indian military to obtain communication security equipment and technology from USA.

Q. In 2018-July, USA granted ‘STA-1’ status to India. Find correct statement(s) in this regard:

  1. It deals with mutual recognition and enforcement of intellectual property rights.
  2. It will allow India to import USA material and technology having dual-use in civilian and defense sector.
  3. India is the only SAARC country who got this status.

Answer Codes:

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

HINT:

  • STA-1 allows countries to import US equipment and technology having dual use.
  • Strategic Trade Authorization-1 (STA-1) list has 36 countries, either they are major US allies or NATO allies or members of all four multilateral export control regimes,
  • India will be the third Asian country, after Japan and South Korea, to avail of this exemption.
  • SAARC has 8 countries: Afghanistan. Bangladesh. Bhutan. India. Maldives. Nepal. Pakistan. Sri Lanka. HQ at Kathmandu, Nepal.

Q. In 2018-July, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said we are soon to purchase S-400 Triumf missiles. What are they?

  1. These missiles are produced by Israel.
  2. They are intercontinental ballistic missiles that can deliver nuclear warheads weighing upto 400 kilos.
  3. They can destroy incoming hostile aircraft, missiles and at ranges of up to 400 kilometres.
  4. These missiles can be fitted on the fighter planes like MiG and Rafael.

Answer Codes:

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

HINT:

  • Russia developed these surface-to-air missile that can simultaneously track numerous incoming aircraft, missiles and UAVs and destroy them upto range of 400 kms.
  • USA has CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act), under which the Donald Trump has imposed sanctions on military deals with Russia. But India hopeful to get exemption here, just like the STA-1.

Environment

Q. In 2018, World Health Organisation’s (WHO, Geneva) adopted a resolution for global efforts to control snakebites. Who among the following are the most common poisonous snakes of India? 1) Cobra, 2) Common Krait, 3) Rat Snake, 4) Viper.

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

HINT: Rat-snake non-poisonous.

Q. In 2018-July, Environment Pollution Prevention and Control Authority (EPCA) recommended to the Supreme Court that Delhi’s buses switch from CNG to H-CNG within the next two or three years. Find correct statement(s) about H-CNG?

  1. It is a mixture of the CNG with clean hydrocarbons obtained from biofuels.
  2. It is a mixture of the CNG with hydrogen.
  3. H-CNG is both cleaner and cheaper than CNG.

Answer Codes:

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

HINT: Cleaner yes, Cheaper no- because you’ve to mix it CNG with hydrogen. H-CNG has not yet gained worldwide currency. Trials have been held in countries such as the US, Canada, Brazil and South Korea.

Q. In July each year, Van Mahotsav is celebrated across India. Find correct statement(s) about Indian Forest:

  1. The concept of ‘Van Mahotsav’ was initiated by Sundarlal Bahuguna.
  2. India’s total forest cover is about 22% of its total geographical area.
  3. Indian Forest Act classifies forest into five types: Reserve Forests, Protected Forests, Village Forests, Open Forest and Very Dense Forest.
  4. Areawise, majority of the Indian forest is ‘Tropical deciduous’ type.

Answer codes:

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

HINT:

  • According to PIB: Van Mahotsav began in 1950, by Dr. K.M. Munshi, the then Union Minister for Agriculture and Food to create enthusiasm among masses for forest conservation and planting trees.
  • Indian Forest Act, 1927 classifies forests into Reserve Forests, Protected Forests, Village Forests and Private Forests. Ref: NIOS environment FREE PDF Page 148.
  • According to Government’s ‘India State of Forest Report 2017’: the total forest cover 21.54% of the total geographical area of the country. Forest and tree cover combined is 24.39% of the total geographical area.
  • Observe the following map from NCERT, and identify which type of forest is prevalent in India?

State Energy Efficiency Preparedness Index (SEEPI)
Q. In 2018-August, Government launched the State Energy Efficiency Preparedness Index (SEEPI). Find correct statement(s) about this index:

  1. This index is prepared jointly by the Ministry of Renewable Energy and NITI Ayog.
  2. It classifies the states into five categories: front runner, achiever, contender and aspirant.
  3. Telengana has secured the first rank in this index.
  4. All of the above.

HINT:

  • Don’t leap to MNRE just because index contains keyword “Energy Efficiency”. This is jointly prepared by NITI Aayog and Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE). And it was released in the presence of power minister.
  • Telangana secured first rank in the ‘State Ease of Doing Biz’ report by World Bank and Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP). However, in the SEEPI index, it fell into third tier i.e. “contender” category. You can check the list here: http://www.aeee.in/state-ee-index/.

Q. (UGC-NET-2018-July) In terms of their contribution to the total power generation in India, identify the correct sequence of energy sources – Thermal Power Plants (TPP), Large Hydropower Projects (LHP), Nuclear Energy (NE) and Renewable Energy (RE).

  1. LHP > TPP > RE > NE
  2. LHP > TPP > NE > RE
  3. TPP > RE > LHP > NE
  4. TPP > LHP > RE > NE

HINT: Look at the हेकड़ी (arrogance) of UGC-NET! Its own existence is in “endangered” by HECI bill, yet asking about Environment MCQs to ‘showoff’ ke ‘we are like UPSC’.

Anyways, let’s check the total power generation on 31/3/2018 by Power ministry website.

  • 65% from Thermal: within that Coal > Gas > Oil based power plants
  • 20% from Renewable sources
  • 13% from Large Hydro Projects
  • 2% from Nuclear energy.

Person in News (PIN)

Q. Find correct statement(s) about the Fields Medal:

  1. It’s considered to be the ‘Nobel prize’ in mathematics.
  2. Fields Medal is awarded on annual basis.
  3. Manjul Bhargava is the ONLY person of Indian origin to have won this award.
  4. All of the above.

HINT:

  • John Charles Fields was a Canadian mathematician who started this award in 1932, and its given every four years.
  • 2014: Canadian-Indian Manjul Bhargava won it.
  • 2018-August: Australian-Indian Akshay Venkatesh won it.
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4 Comments on “[T25] UPSC Mock Round#21: Current Affairs July-Aug-2018: SEEPI Index, COMCASA, STA-1, H-CNG, PARIWARTAN Scheme, OBC Subcat. & More”

  1. Can u plz let me know when do you post these tests? Like do you have a fix routine/date on which i can find these tests?
    Or maybe a link to find all these tests in one place.
    They are really helpful.

  2. Plz sir

  3. Please look at Q on power generation- question specficallly talks about power generation and not installed capacity. The website link has data wrt installed power capacity.
    My understanding is Hydro > RES in terms of power generation
    Of course UGC erred in this but there is ambiguity wrt the question.

  4. Koti Koti Pranaam! :)

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