Saturday, April 9, 2011


The EU's foreign policy: The test for Ashton and Europe
Foreign affairs is back at the forefront of the European Union, for the moment at
least. The euro crisis is in a chronic rather than an acute phase, and no big
decisions on the euro are expected at summit. Time, then, to consider the
political crises around the EU’s rim, from Belarus’s rigged election and violent
suppression of opposition protests, to unrest in Albania and, of course, the spread
of the anti-government protests—the “jasmine revolution”—across North Africa
and the Middle East.
These represent a big test of the ability of the External Action Service, the EU’s
“foreign ministry” headed by Catherine Ashton, to respond to unexpected events.
Twice, the baroness spoke before the cameras. On the way to a meeting for
foreign ministers in Brussels, she made no mention of the need for Egypt to hold
“free and fair elections”. Only at the end of the meeting did she come forward
with this exhortation.
One draws two lessons from this. First, for a foreign minister Baroness Ashton is
strangely allergic to the media, especially what her officials call the “Brussels
bubble". She has reluctantly had to step into its the limelight because of the
pressure of events and because of complaints about her lack of visibility. French
papers have resumed the stream of criticism of the baroness, whether for
allegedly stitching-up top jobs (in French) in favour of Britain and its allies, or
because of her alleged lack of vision. “Mme Ashton est nulle” (“Mrs Ashton is
useless”), Le Monde reports (in French) one senior French official as saying.
Second, she is averse to sharing leadership with her fellow foreign ministers.
Even as the Americans had shifted their position at the weekend to call for an
orderly transition to democracy in Egypt, and even after the leaders of Britain,
France and Germany issued a joint letter calling for elections, Mrs Ashton was
reluctant to call for a free ballot. Diplomats say this is because she feared she did
not yet have consensus among the 27 states. Is this admirable respect for
smaller member states, who had not yet expressed themselves, or is it a
worrying timidity?
The statements issued at the end of the meeting offer some intriguing contrasts.
The foreign ministers announced a visa ban and asset freeze against senior
Belarussian officials and confirmed similar measures against the Ivory Coast’s
president, Laurent Gbagbo, and his entourage. They announced their intention to
impose “restrictive measures” on members of Tunisia’s former regime. Officials
say this means a freeze of assets, starting with those of ex-president Zine al
Abidine Ben Ali and his wife, Leila Trabelsi. “The council salutes the courage and
determination of the Tunisian people and its peaceful struggle for its rights and
democratic aspirations,” said the ministers.
The words for Egyptian demonstrators were more guarded. “The council
recognizes the legitimate democratic aspirations and grievances of the Egyptian
population. These should be listened to carefully and addressed through urgent,
concrete and decisive measures.” There were no sanctions imposed on President
Hosni Mubarak, even though scores of protesters have been killed by his security
forces and even though his rule has been far from democratic.
Why the difference? In part, this is because Tunisia’s leader has fled and the
current government has asked for the seizure of his assets, while Mr Mubarak
remains in office. In part, also, the reason is that Tunisia is seen as much more
secular than Egypt. There is an unmistakeable worry that the main beneficiaries
of a genuinely free and fair election in Egypt would be the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Egyptian wing of the movement today proclaims itself to be peaceful and
democratic, but the Brotherhood has in the past produced violent jihadist
offshoots. The Palestinian branch of the Brotherhood, Hamas, turned violent in
the 1990s and popularised the use of suicide bombings—and then won Palestinian
elections. It still runs the Gaza strip, despite Israel’s blockade.
Israel is plainly alarmed by the prospect of Islamists taking power on their
border, even though its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was once a loud
advocate of democracy in the Arab world, calling it a precondition for peace.
William Hague, Britain’s foreign secretary, concedes that the situation is “fraught
with danger” but argues that, in the end, the outside world had to show “faith in


Climate change and evolution
Despite a frenzied last-minute drive involving snowstorms in Europe and the
eastern United States, planet Earth failed to save itself from another last-place
finish in 2010: once again, it was the least cold year on record. The World
Meteorological Organization announced its finding last week that global mean
temperatures for the year were 0.53°C above the 1961-1990 mean, 0.01°C
warmer than 2005 and 0.02°C above 1998. With the comparison having a margin
of uncertainty of 0.09°C, the three years are considered tied for the hottest year
on record. That followed results the previous week from NOAA, which found 2010
and 2005 tied as the hottest years ever, and NASA, which found the same thing.
(They both think 1998 was a bit colder.)
The fact that every one of the twelve hottest years on record has come since
1997 is a little harder to wave away. 2010 was also the wettest year ever,
corresponding to the expectation that higher heat means more water vapour.
More countries set national high-temperature records in 2010 than ever before,
including the biggest one, Russia. Arctic sea ice in December was at its lowest
level ever, temperatures across a broad swathe of northern Canada have been
20° C higher than normal for the past month, the record temperatures are
coming despite the lowest levels of solar activity in a century and a La Nina effect
that should be making Canada colder rather than warmer, and so on. It is of
course possible that global warming plateaued this year; it's also possible that it
plateaued this morning. One can always hope! For now, though, this is the basic
shape of things:
There have been tons of new feather-bearing fossils unearthed over the past 15
years, and scientists can now use microscopic analysis and knowledge of how
modern feathers work to actually figure out what color some of the feathers on
these dinosaurs were. It's pretty clear that the development of feathers came
long before they had anything to do with flight, but it's still not so clear whether
feathered dinosaurs evolved into birds or whether they (and feathered protocrocodiles!)
shared a common feathered ancestor. Anyway, towards the
beginning of the article comes this:
The origin of this wonderful mechanism is one of evolution's most durable
mysteries. In 1861, just two years after Darwin published Origin of Species,
quarry workers in Germany unearthed spectacular fossils of a crow-size bird,
dubbed Archaeopteryx, that lived about 150 million years ago. It had feathers
and other traits of living birds but also vestiges of a reptilian past, such as teeth
in its mouth, claws on its wings, and a long, bony tail. Like fossils of whales with
legs, Archaeopteryx seemed to capture a moment in a critical evolutionary
metamorphosis. "It is a grand case for me," Darwin confided to a friend.
Think about how that must have looked to contemporaries. Darwin publishes his
theory that species develop through evolution from other species. Many people
think, wild idea, but can one species really change so deeply over time that it
becomes a different species? Wolves into dogs, sure, but fish into lizards and so
forth? Then, two years later, a fossil is discovered that suggests dinosaurs
evolving into birds. To first have a theory presented that suggests these
outlandish transformations, and then to have an example turn up that perfectly
describes the theory's most improbable consequences, with no possibility of prior
knowledge—this is an extremely convincing sequence of evidence.
But if you grew up, say, 150 years after "The Origin of Species" was published,
you didn't experience that remarkable sequence of evidence. You get the theory
of evolution and the fossil background presented at the same time. So if you
want to be an evolution sceptic, the fossil record just becomes another set of
data you can poke holes in, along with the theory. After all, nobody understands
what function feathers served before they were used for flight. If they were for
mating displays, why did they turn out to be perfect for aerodynamics? How come
nothing has feathers anymore that doesn't fly, or isn't descended from something
that did? Darwin's theory can't explain it! And so on.
Now, back to global warming. The thesis that rising global temperature data were
due to a greenhouse effect produced by industrial emissions of CO2 and other
gases, and that this might lead to environmental disaster, was something we first
encountered as a mind-bending idea being thrown around by scientists in the
mid-1980s. If, after 1988, global temperatures had stopped rising, or had started
to exhibit a lot of volatility. Instead, for a decade and a half, global mean
temperatures kept going up and up. They bounced around a bit in the mid-2000s,
and have now resumed rising again.
For people my age or older who were paying attention over the past couple of
decades, that really ought to be convincing. But for people who just joined the
conversation when "An Inconvenient Truth" came out, things are different. For
them, the evidence of global warming was presented at the same time as the
theory. And so they're susceptible to people trying to poke holes in the data or
the theory. The temperature rise from 1998-2008 isn't statistically significant,
tree ring data is unreliable, and so forth. Give them another two decades, and
they'll probably come around. Unfortunately, by that time an enormous amount
of damage will already have been done.


Good and bad in Infosys Q3
Country's second-biggest IT company, Infosys Technologies, raised fresh
concerns over the pace and depth of recovery in the IT sector by reporting lowerthan-
expected third quarter earnings due to wage costs, currency fluctuations
and sluggish European economic growth.
However, Infosys also revised its revenue guidance for the year upwards, as it
hopes that customers will give more outsourcing orders after the Christmas
vacation. Since April 2010, Infosys has revised its revenue guidance every
financial quarter.
So, here's looking into all that is good and not-so good in Infosys third quarter
US revenue share declines
The software services provider said that it derived 65 percent of its revenues
from companies in North America, down from 67 percent a year earlier.
Customers in Europe accounted for 22 percent of sales, little changed from the
prior period. Infosys added 40 clients during the quarter, ending with a total of
612 customers.
Dip in company's cash chest
Second biggest IT company in India said that its cash and cash equivalents
declined by nearly 4 percent to Rs 14,819 crore for the quarter ended December
31, 2010.
As on December 31, cash and cash equivalents stood at Rs 14,819 crore, as
against Rs 15,401 crore on September 30, 2010, the software exporter said in a
filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange.
5,756 quit Infosys in Q3
Infosys seems to be continuing to face challenge on attrition front. The company
hired 11,067 employees in the quarter, but 5,756 left the company, so the net
addition was 5,311. Net hiring during Q2 was 7,646, and in Q4 of last year, it was
The attrition rate on an annualised basis has gone up to 17.5% this quarter from
11.6% a year ago, and 17.01% in the preceding quarter. As on December 31, the
company had an employee strength of 1,27,779, as against 1,22,468 a quarter
ago and 1,09,882 a year ago.
Infosys BPO's strength declined to 17,978, from 18,560 at the end of the
previous quarter.
Back on campus
Infosys is back at campuses in a big way. The company plans to hire 26,000
freshers from over 200 campuses this fiscal against last year's 20,000. "We have
already given offer letters to 18,000 people. Some 11,000 people are under
training in Mysore and they will move into production in the next 3 to 4 months,"
said TV Mohandas Pai, head HRD head and Education and Research Infosys.
Client additions
Infosys added 40 new clients (many of them Fortune 500 companies) during the
third quarter, taking its active clientele to 612. The company’s client list includes
BT Group, BP and Goldman Sachs.
The first half of the year also saw Infosys bag nine big contracts in the $100
million range.
Narayana Murthy's successor
The big question that who will be replacing NR Narayana Murthy as chairman of
Infosys when he retires in August this year still remains with no answer from the
company. An Infosys top executive said that the issue was not touched upon in
the board meeting held prior to the company's earnings announcement. "Murthy
is retiring only in August, so we have another couple of quarters to decide," he
Reworking employee composition
The company is reportedly reworking on its employee composition. According to
TV Mohandas Pai, head HRD head and Education and Research Infosys, almost 80
percent of the company's current talent pool consists of technologists. Infosys
aims to bring this down to 60 percent to accomodate a larger pool of employees
with 'business management acumen'. The company sees the transition taking
about 3-4 years.
Growth in high-margin business
The Q3 saw Infosys increase its contribution from the products business to 5.3
percent of revenues, up from 4.2 percent in the previous quarter.
The quarter saw the share from high-margin services such as consulting and
package implementation too going up. The growth suggests a revival in
discretionary spends of clients.
Telecom vertical lags
The telecom vertical continued to be a laggard. The segment declined marginally
during the quarter.
Files for 17 patents
During the third quarter, Infosys applied for 17 patent applications in India and
US. With this, Infosys has an aggregate of 270 patent applications (pending) in
India and the US. The company has been granted 18 patents by the US Patent
and Trademark office.
"We have been increasing our global footprint and diversifying into new areas. We
invested in research on new products and services which have been successfully
adopted and implemented by our clients," the company said.


Computing services are both bigger and smaller than assumed
Clouds bear little resemblance to tanks, particularly when the clouds are of the
digital kind. But statistical methods used to count tanks in the second world war
may help to answer a question that is on the mind of many technology watchers:
How big is the computing cloud?
This is not just a question for geeks. Computing clouds—essentially digital-service
factories—are the first truly global utility, accessible from all corners of the
planet. They are among the world’s biggest energy hogs and thus account for a
lot of carbon dioxide emissions. More happily, they allow firms in developing
countries to leapfrog traditional information technology (IT) and benefit from
advanced computing services without having to build expensive infrastructure.
The clouds allow computing to be removed from metal boxes under desks and in
firms’ basements to remote data centres. Some of these are huge, with several
hundred thousand servers (high-powered computers that crunch and dish up
data). Users pay for what they use, as with electricity. As with electricity, they
can increase their usage quickly and easily.
The “cloud of clouds” has three distinct layers. The outer one, called “software as
a service”, includes web-based applications such as Gmail, Google’s e-mail
service, and, which helps firms keep track of their customers.
This layer is by far the easiest to gauge. Many SaaS firms have been around for
some time and only offer such services. In a new study Forrester Research, a
consultancy, estimates that these services generated sales of $11.7 billion in
Going one level deeper, there is “platform as a service”, which means an
operating system living in the cloud. Such services allow developers to write
applications for the web and mobile devices. Offered by Google,
and Microsoft, this market is also fairly easy to measure, since there are only a
few providers and their offerings have not really taken off yet. Forrester puts
revenues at a mere $311m.
The most interesting layer—the only one that really deserves to be called “cloud
computing”, say purists—is “infrastructure as a service” (IaaS, pronounced eyearse).
IaaS offers basic computing services, from number crunching to data
storage, which customers can combine to build highly adaptable computer
systems. The market leaders are GoGrid, Rackspace and Amazon Web Services,
the computing arm of the online retailer, which made headlines for kicking
WikiLeaks off its servers.
This layer is the hardest to measure. It is growing rapidly and firms do not report
revenue numbers; nor are they very forthcoming with information, arguing
unconvincingly that this would help their competitors. Amazon, for instance, only
reveals that it now stores more than 200 billion digital “objects” and has to fulfil
nearly 200,000 requests for them per second—impressive numbers but not very
useful ones (an object can be a small file or an entire movie).
This reluctance to share information has inspired analysts and bloggers to find
out more, in particular about Amazon. That is where the tanks come in. During
the second world war, the allies were worried that a new German tank could keep
them from invading Europe. Intelligence reports about the number of tanks were
contradictory. So statisticians were called in to help.
They assumed that the Germans, a notoriously methodical lot, had numbered
their tanks in the order they were produced. Based on this assumption, they used
the serial numbers of captured tanks to estimate the total. The number they
came up with, 256 a month, was low enough for the allies to go ahead with their
plans and turned out to be spot-on. German records showed it to be 255.
Using this approach, Guy Rosen, a blogger, and Cloudkick, a San Francisco startup
which was recently acquired by Rackspace, have come up with a detailed
estimate of the size of at least part of Amazon’s cloud. The results suggest that
Amazon’s cloud is a bigger business than previously thought. Randy Bias, the
boss of Cloudscaling, a IT-engineering firm, did not use these results when he put
Amazon’s annual cloud-computing revenues at between $500m and $700m in
2010. And in August UBS, an investment bank, predicted that they will total
$500m in 2010 and $750m in 2011.
These numbers give at least an estimate of the size of the market for IaaS.
Amazon is by far the market leader with a share of between 80% and 90%.
Assuming that Cloudkick’s and Mr Bias’ numbers are correct, revenues generated
by computing infrastructure as a service in 2010 may exceed $1 billion.
So how big is the cloud? And how big will it be in, say, ten years? It depends on
the definition. If you count web-based applications and online platforms, it is
already huge and will become more huge. Forrester predicts that it will grow to
nearly $56 billion by 2020. But raw computing services, the core of the cloud, is
much smaller—and will not get much bigger. Forrester, reckons it will be worth
$4 billion in 2020 (although this has much to do with the fact that even in the
cloud, the cost of computer hardware will continue to drop.


Pliosaur- The Sea Monsters
The innermost secrets of a colossal “sea monster” skull are being revealed by one
of the UK’s most powerful CT scanners.
The X-rays are helping to build up a 3D picture of this ferocious predator, called a
pliosaur, which terrorized the oceans 150m years ago.
The 2.4m-long (7.9ft) fossil skull was recently unearthed along the UK’s Jurassic
coast, and is thought to belong to one of the biggest pliosaurs ever found.
The scans could establish if the giant is a species that is new to science.
Pliosaurs are aquatic reptiles belonging to the plesiosaur family. Paddle-like limbs
would have powered their huge bulky bodies through the water, and they had
enormous crocodile-like heads, packed full of razor-sharp teeth.
Pliosaurs were the top predators of the oceans
The skull, which was unearthed by a local fossil collector and then purchased by
Dorset Country Council using Heritage Lottery Funds, would have belonged to one
of the most fearsome beasts the seas have ever seen.
International Space Station
The International Space Station (ISS) is a research facility developed
internationally are currently located in low Earth orbit. On-orbit construction of
the station began in 1998 and is scheduled for completion in 2011, with
operations continuing at least until 2015. Just like the moon, the station can be
seen from Earth with the naked eye, this is the largest man-made orbiting ever in
ISS serves as a long-term research in the laboratory, and is the site of daily
experiments in the fields, including biology, human biology, physics, astronomy
and meteorology, conducted in the microgravity environment. The station
provides a safe location for testing the efficient, reliable spacecraft systems that
will be needed for long-term missions to the Moon and Mars.
New Planet named Qatar-1b!!
Qatar astronomer Dr Khalid Al Subai has become instrumental in the discovery of
a new alien planet, working in collaboration with scientists from the UK and the
US. This hot Jupiter, now named Qatar-1b, adds to the growing list of alien
planets orbiting distant stars, or exoplanets.

Qatar-1b is a gas giant 20 percent larger than Jupiter in diameter and 10 percent
more massive. It belongs to the hot Jupiter family because it orbits 3.5 million km
from its star – only six stellar radii away. The planet roasts at a temperature of
around 1100 degrees Celsius.
Khalid, leader of the Qatar exoplanet survey and a research director at Qatar
Foundation teamed up with scientists from Universities of St Andrews, Leicester
and Keele in the UK and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA)
in the US to discover a new alien world.
Building on UK technology developed for the SuperWASP exoplanet survey, the St
Andrews and Leicester teams worked with Al Subai to establish the computer
systems used to process raw images from the Al Subai cameras, extracting and
sifting through data from hundreds of thousands of stars.
The team has submitted their results to the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal
Astronomical Society.
The National Green Tribunal Act 2010
The Union Government is to set up a National Green Tribunal for effective and
expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection, conservation
of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right
relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages.
The World’s Biggest Bank
Paris-based BNP Paribas has become the world’s biggest bank, with assets rising
34 per cent in last three years, reaching $3.23 trillion.
Indian Oil Corporation regain its position as India’s biggest refiner
State-owned Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) has surpassed Reliance Industries to
regain its position as India’s biggest refiner. This was achieved after completion
of expansion of its Panipat refinery.
Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. is India’s largest company by sales with a turnover of
Rs. 271,074 crore and profit of Rs. 10,221 crore for the year 2009-10.
IndianOil is the highest ranked Indian company in the latest Fortune ‘Global 500’
listings, ranked at the 125th position. IndianOil’s vision is driven by a group of
dynamic leaders who have made it a name to reckon with.
IOC Distinctions
Indian Oil tops the Fortune India 500 Rankings
Indian Oil in top five in Business India’s Super 100
Indian Oil is India’s Biggest Company: ET 500
Indian Oil in Platts ‘Top 250 Global Energy Company’ Rankings
Indian Oil in top ten of BT 500 PSU rankings
Indian Oil: India’s largest PSU and Highest Revenue Earner in BW Real 500
Indian Oil: One of ‘India’s Most Valuable Brands 2010’


Germany and the euro: We don't want no transfer union
“Wherever there’s a fire in the euro zone, the financial firefighters rush
to the scene. That’s us,” jokes Oliver Welke, Germany’s version of Jon
Stewart, an American comedian. Although the IMF and European Union
are acting as co-rescuers of Ireland and Greece, Germans see
themselves as rescuers-in-chief—and they resent it.
Other Europeans see Germany as an arsonist. Angela Merkel, the
chancellor, has twice dithered, arguing about conditions for a rescue
even as the flames took hold. Her demand that creditors must share in
the losses triggered what is now being called the “Merkel crash”, which
threatens to engulf not just Ireland but Portugal, Spain and even Italy.
Luxembourg’s Jean-Claude Juncker, leader of the euro group of finance
ministers, frets that the Germans “are losing sight of the European
common good”. Spain’s problems start in Germany, wrote a Spanish
analyst in the Financial Times. Joschka Fischer, a former German foreign
minister, accused Mrs Merkel of bowing to “German domestic politics”.
There is more than a grain of truth in this. Germans were loth to give up
the D-mark in 1999 and have never warmed to the euro. In 2008, some
56% of Germans wanted the mark back, according to Allensbach, a
pollster. Despite the panic about Greece, that share was down to 47% in
April, but only a third of Germans had “great faith” in the euro. Mrs
Merkel, whose coalition government has so far disappointed voters, wins
plaudits when she takes a tough line against errant euro members and
scorn when she seems soft. Her Christian Democrats fear that a
demagogic D-mark party might emerge to steal votes.
German behaviour is guided by more than petty politics. In adopting the
euro the Germans thought they were joining a condominium, in which
every member would keep order on their own property, and not a messy
commune. Now the crisis threatens that understanding. The Greek bailout
and the €750 billion ($980 billion) war chest created in May to
defend the euro look to many Germans like a violation of the “no-bailout
clause” in the Maastricht treaty that created the euro. The
government insists it is not, because the aid is voluntary and temporary.
The constitutional court is evaluating this claim. The proposed successor,
a permanent facility plus procedures to impose losses on creditors of
insolvent countries, needs a treaty revision to pass constitutional
Mrs Merkel is struggling to balance demands for European solidarity with
German notions of responsible behaviour. Aid to Greece was coupled
with fierce budget cuts. Ireland will pay higher interest rates than
Greece for its €85 billion. “We still have the feeling that others have
done everything wrong, and we have done everything right,” says Peter
Bofinger, one of the five wise men who advise the government on
economic matters. Germany wants the remedy “to hurt so next time
they don’t do it again.”
Some measures proposed to calm the markets seem unthinkable to
many Germans. Mr Bofinger wants outstanding euro-zone public debt
converted into “Eurobonds” with collective responsibility. Yet rumours
that the government was contemplating a Eurobond drew rebukes from
the Free Democrats, the junior partner in the coalition. Holger
Schmieding, chief economist of Berenberg Bank, thinks governments
should guarantee the debt of any country that submits to an adjustment
programme approved by the EU and IMF. That looks like another nonstarter.
“Save Our Money!” a new book by the former head of the Federation of
German Industries, Hans-Olaf Henkel, suggests splitting the euro zone
into a hard-currency union led by Germany and a French-led southern
group that could devalue to regain lost competitiveness. But the notion
that Germany is poised to stalk out of the euro is far-fetched. Germans
may say they want the D-mark back, but fewer than a tenth see this as
a realistic possibility, says Allensbach. “People know what they have in
the euro and in Europe,” says Nikolaus Blome, Berlin bureau chief of
Bild, the loudest media voice of German disgruntlement. “Unlike in
England, there is no Europhobia in Germany.”
The Irish rescue has sparked little of the populist ranting directed at
lazy, early-retiring Greeks, who were told to sell their islands and the
Acropolis. Ireland had a dynamic economy and (at first) a balanced
budget. Its problems were caused by a burst property bubble and can be
solved, the Germans hope, by export-led growth. When Greece was the
lone outcast, it was easier to contemplate evicting delinquent countries
from the euro, as Mrs Merkel fleetingly proposed. It is harder to
envisage a mass expulsion of Ireland, Belgium and much of the
Mediterranean, whatever Mr Henkel may say. Although fewer than a fifth
of Germans backed a Greek bail-out in April, almost half now support the
Greek and Irish rescues, according to another poll.
The economy may be steadying German nerves. GDP is expected to
grow by 3.5% or more this year and by at least 2% in 2011. With
unemployment falling and wages expected to rise, consumption is at last
starting to pick up. Retail sales jumped by 2.3% in real terms in
October, suggesting that domestic demand may provide more thrust to
an economy that is overly dependent on exports. That should help the
rest of the euro zone. When the economy is strong it is easier to believe
the politicians’ mantra that Germany is the euro’s main beneficiary. Little
as they like fighting fires, Germans do not want their own economy
consumed in the flames.


A quiz on GK & Current affairs
1. Which of the following countries is a land locked country in south
(A) Ecuador (B) Peru
(C) Uruguay (D) Bolivia
2. Canary Islands belongs to
(A) Norway (B) Spain
(C) New Zealand (D) Portugal
3. Titan is the largest natural satellite of planet
(A) Mercury (B) Venus
(C) Saturn (D) Neptune
4. Which of the following planets rotates clock wise?
(A) Pluto (B) Jupiter
(C) Venus (D) Mercury
5. A difference of 1 degree in longitude at the Equator is equivalent to
(A) 101 km (B) 111 km
(C) 121 km (D) 125 km
6. The earliest known Indian script is
(A) Mori (B) Devanagari
(C) Brahmi (D) Kharosti
7. How many times the preamble was amended
(A) once (B) twice
(C) thrice (D) four times
8. The term socialist was added in the Preamble by the...amendment
(A) 40th (B) 42nd
(C) 44th (D) 49th
9. The state with the lowest population in India is
(A) Goa (B) Tripura
(C) Mizoram (D) Sikkim
10. Which person or organisation received the Nobel Prize three
times so far?
(A) Medame Curie
(B) Linus Pauling
(C) Alexender Flemming
(D) International Committee of the Redcross
11. The Finance Commission is appointed for every... year
(A) 3 (B) 4
(C) 5 (D) 6
12. Under which five year plan did agriculture show a negative growth?
(A) 1st plan (B) 2nd plan
(C) 3rd plan (D) 4th plan
13. Who is the founder of the Capital city of Agra?
(A) Akbar (B) Babar
(C) Sikinder Lodi (D) Mubarak Shah Sayyad
14. The first tide generated electricity project was established at
(A) Vizhinjam, Kerala
(B) Mangalore, Karnataka
(C) Paradeep, Orissa
(D) Vishakapattanam
15. National Institute of Oceanography is located in :
(A) Calcutta (B) Chennai
(C) Mangalore (D) Panaji
16. The 2010 winter Paralympics were held in:
(A) Bangkok (B) Rome
(C) Canada (D) Nagasaki
17. Who headed the committee appointed on Kargil War ?
(A) Gen. V. P. Malik (B) Gen. S. K. Sinha
(C) K. Subramanyam (D) K. C. Panth
18. The C. K. Nayudu Trophy is related to the sport of
(A) cricket (B) Hockey
(C) Football (D) Chess
19. New York is situated on the river
(A) Hudson (B) Thames
(C) Danube (D) Tigris
20. "The Woman of the Millennium" selected by the British Broadcasting
Corporation (BBC) is
(A) Margaret Thacher (B) Hillary Clinton
(C) Chandrika Kumaratunga (D) Indira Gandhi
21. The General Assembly of United Nations meets
(A) Once a year (B) twice a year
(C) thrice a year (D) Once in five years
22. All India Radio commenced operations in
(A) 1926 (B) 1936
(C) 1945 (D) 1947
23. The "Killer Instinct" is written by
(A) Sulakshan Mohan (B) M.K.Santanam
(C) O.P.Sabharwal (D) Subash Jain
24. The Secretary-General of UN is appointed by the
(A) Security Council (B) Trusteeship Council
(C) General Assembly (D) World Bank
25. Postal Voting is other wise called:
(A) external voting (B) secret voting
(C) plural voting (D) proxy voting
26. The Common Wealth of Independent states (CIS) consists
(A) 10 (B) 11
(C) 12 (D) 13
27. Which of the following harbours is considered as the world's finest
natural harbour?
(A) Sydney harbour (B) Toronto harbour
(C) New Jersy harbour (D) Singapore harbour
28. Who invented Radar?
(A) Henrey Backquerel (B) Max Planck
(C) Robert Watson Watt (D) Humphrey Davy
29. Sandal Wood trees are mostly found in...
(A) Trophical Evergreen Forests
(B) Tropical most Decidous
(C) Alpine forests
(D) Trophical Thorn Forests
30. The first country to legalise medically assisted suicide is
(A) Switzerland (B) New Zealand
(C) USA (D) Netherlands
31. The tomb of Babur is at
(A) Kabul (B) Lahore
(C) Multan (D) Larkhana
32. The joint session of the two houses is presided by
(A) the speaker (B) the president
(C) chairman of Rajyasabha (D) none of these
33. The Gandhara school of Art was influenced most by the
(A) Greeks (B) Shakas
(C) persians (D) Kushans
34. The Simon Commission was appointed in
(A) 1927 (B) 1928
(C) 1929 (D) 1930
35. Sikkim became a full fledged state of the Indian Union, in the year ?
(A) 1972 (B) 1973
(C) 1974 (D) 1975
36. Who is the founder of Mahabalipuram ?
(A) Rajaraja Chola (B) Mahendra Varman
(C) Narsimha Varman (D) Narsimha Chola
37. The 189th member of United Nations is
(A) Palau (B) Tuvalu
(C) Soloman Islands (D) Nauru
38. When was Burma separated from India
(A) 1947 (B) 1942
(C) 1937 (D) 1932
39. Which of the following country has more than 55,000 lakes?
(A) Poland (B) Denmark
(C) Finland (D) Norway

1.(D) 2.(B) 3.(C) 4.(C) 5.(B) 6.(C) 7.(A) 8.(B) 9.(D) 10.(D) 11.(C) 12.(C)
13.(C) 14.(A) 15.(D) 16.(C) 17.(C) 18.(A) 19.(A) 20.(D) 21.(A) 22.(B)
23.(C) 24.(C) 25.(D) 26.(C) 27.(A) 28.(C) 29.(D) 30.(D) 31.(A) 32.(A)
33.(A) 34.(C) 35.(D) 36.(C) 37.(B) 38.(C) 39.(C)


Green view: The shadow of climate gate
It hit just over a year ago, as ambassadors, ministers and heads of state
were preparing to descend on Copenhagen for a climate summit years in
the making. The blogosphere, American cable news and, in time, the rest
of the media lit up with discussions of a swathe of e-mails from the
moderately obscure Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East
Anglia. A person or persons still unknown had posted this e-mail archive,
as well as other computer files from CRU, on to a server in Russia, and
sent messages to various climate sceptic blogs designed to tip them off to
the treasures therein.
A year on, the shadow of climategate, as it was unhelpfully but inevitably
named, remains palpable. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger clearly had it
in mind when he recently said “Last year we had a tremendous setback
because some of the science and some of the numbers were manipulated
and that is very damaging because it gives the other side a way in.” This is
a climategate narrative that seems quite popular among many people
who, like Schwarzenegger, remain committed to the need for action
against global warming—and very popular among people who take the
opposite view: that a significant chunk of science had been frankly
fraudulent, and that the discovery of this fraud had had a very bad impact
on the fight against global warming. Its popularity, though, does not make
this story right. Climategate was not about the manipulation of numbers:
and the setback for the green cause Mr Schwarzenegger espouses was not
climategate, but Copenhagen.
The climategate e-mails led to three inquiries in the United Kingdom. All of
them were flawed in different ways. None of them, though, gave credence
to the idea that “science and numbers were manipulated”. In a report into
those inquiries for Britain’s Global Warming Policy Foundation, an
organisation opposed to action on climate change and critical of the quality
of the science behind that case, Andrew Montford, a blogger with the same
predispositions as the Foundation, sums up the principal climategate
allegations in a way that shows them to be much more about process than
about manipulated findings. He cites an exclusion of sceptical views from
the literature; a misrepresentation of primary research, and its
uncertainties, in some secondary presentations; a lack of openness to
requests for information and a willingness to contravene Britain’s freedom
of information act; a discordance between what the scientists said in
private and what they said in public. Fraud in basic science and primary
data of the sort Schwarzenegger spoke of, and which is commonly said to
have been revealed, does not make the list.
Alleged flaws—in one case, an expressly alleged fraud—in the scientific
work of the CRU researchers and some of those they corresponded with
were common currency among critical bloggers well before the emails
were leaked. Questions about the validity of reconstructions of mediaeval
climate based on treerings, about why some treerings are taken to be
good records of temperature at some points in history but not in the
recent past, about cherry-picking of data, about the traceability or
otherwise of Chinese weather station data and so on had all been aired
long before. The climategate e-mails offered little if any new information
that might move these debates on in either direction.
What they offered was colour—catchphrases like “hide the decline”—and
context. There was clear evidence of circled wagons, shared distaste for
the scientist’s critics, and unwillingness to conform to the quite high
standards of opennness that the freedom of information act—and the
ideals of their calling—seek to impose on scientists. A lot—lost, indeed—of
science would look just the same if its privacy were similarly breached
(and many other areas of human endeavour would look as bad or worse);
but to accept that this is the way of world does little to minimise the
damage. People do not want to believe that scientific knowledge of high
and lasting value is messy and human in the making; scientific culture
does its best to insulate then from that belief. The middle of a media storm
is not the place to wheel out sociologists and historians who might educate
them on the subject.
So there was a pervasive impression of disrepute. And there was evidence
of the sort of secrecy that often has something to hide. These factors
came to colour everything else—and thus to lead to a world where it is
widely thought there was lots of fraud and manipulation going on. If there
had been straightforward fraud things might, in fact, have been simpler.
Climategate did not materially effect the outcome of Copenhagen. The
reasons that the countries which met there could not agree had everything
to do with diplomacy, politics and economics. They had absolutely nothing
to do with what people in the room thought about the probity of a
particular subset of climate science.
What climategate changed was the response that came after. For those
disappointed by the results, climategate provided a focus for displaced
recrimination—something to blame. Doubt about climate change has
regularly been helped along by concerted campaigns, and the climategate
looked like more of the same. After all, no fraud had been found—but look!
The media was all over it! And Copenhagen failed! Conspiracy!
In general people don’t like to be associated with losers, and in
Copenhagen the case for strong climate action spectacularly failed to get
its preferred result. In this light, an increasing post-climategate tolerance
for doubts about warming among the media and some politicians can be
read, with just a little cynicism, as people making tactical use of
climategate to distance themselves from an agenda they had once thought
popular but which now looked increasingly lifeless.
And what of those who were happy Copenhagen had failed? For them,
climategate was a more comforting reason for that failure than the real
ones. Copenhagen did not fail because governments didn’t want action on
the climate, or even because no one is willing to take any action. It failed
because they all wanted other countries to take more and different actions
than the other countries would agree to. For people who don’t want there
ever to be action, though, it is obviously happier to think that the case had
been undermined by some dodgy emails than to recognise than that it still
stood—and indeed still stands—but had simply failed to compel action.
This reaction can be seen in its strongest form in American politics. For the
Republican party, and for those voting for it, it is no longer necessary to
argue about climate change. It has become acceptable to simply ignore it,
professing some mixture of doubt, bafflement and apathy. Don’t we all
know that the climate thing is over?
But though this looks like a reaction to climategate, and to flaws in the
products and processes of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change, those factors are, again, the sizzle not the steak. At its heart this
too is a response to Copenhagen, and the subsequent lack of momentum
on climate action, and the administration’s inability to do anything about
it. The case for action currently feels so weak that it can be held off with a
flat palm of refusal-to-engage. Perceptions of climategate doubtless make
that stance easier to hold. But they aren’t its underlying cause.


Quiz on Economics and Banking
Choose the correct option from the choices given under the
1. The largest revenue in India is obtained from __________
1. Railways 2. Excise Duty
3. Sales Tax 4. Direct Taxes

2. The tax levied by Central Government and collected by State
Government is ________
1. Stamp Duty 2. Excise Duty
3. Income Tax 4. Gift Tax

3. What is the major share in revenue of State Governments?
1. Stamp Duty 2. Excise Duty
3. Sales Tax 4. Income Tax

4. The tax levied by Local Governments i.e. Municipal Corporations and
municipalities is ____________
1. Income Tax 2. Wealth Tax
3. House Tax 4. Gift Tax

5. The tax collected by the State Governments and given to local bodies is
1. Income Tax 2. Wealth Tax
3. House Tax 4. Professional Tax

6. The period for Call Money is ________
1. 10 to 15days 2. 1 to 14 Days
3. 15 to 30 Days 4. One Month

7. Who regulates the money circulation in India?
1. State Bank Of India 2. Reserve Bank Of India
3. NABARD 4. Commercial Banks

8. Which of the following is not an organized sector in India?
1. Nationalised Banks 2. Regional Rural Banks
3. Cooperative Banks 4. Chits and Money lenders

9. Who will settle the grievances of customers of banks?
1. Reserve Bank of India 2. State Bank of India
3. Local Courts 4. Ombuds Men

10. Who introduced the Banking Ombudsmen Scheme?
1. RBI 2. SBI
3. Ministry of Finance 4. NABARD

11. When was OMBUDS MEN SCHEME first introduced?
1. November 2006 2. October 1981
3. June 1995 4. January 1998

12. Which was the firth Bank corporated by the Indians? (1881)
1. Imperial Bank of India 2. State Bank Of India
3. Avadh Commercial Bank 4. Reserve Bank of India

13. When was the Avadh Commercial Bank established?
1. 1881 2. 1894
3. 1898 4. 1899

14. When was Reserve Bank of India established?
1. 1920 2. 1925
3. 1935 4. 1948

15. When was Reserve Bank of India Nationalised?
1. 1947 2. 1948
3. 1949 4. 1950

16. When was Indian Banking Act come into force?
1. 1948 2. 1949
3. 1950 4. 1951

17. Imperial Banks were amalgamated and changed as _________
1. Reserve Bank of India 2. State Bank of India
3. Subsidiary Banks 4. Union Bank of India

18. When was Imperial Bank was Changed as State Bank of India?
1. January 1st 1935 2. Feb 26 1947
3. July 1st 1955 4. July 1st 1959

19. How many banks were first nationalised?
1. 10 2. 12
3. 14 4. 16

20. When was the second phase of nationalisation of banks done?
1. 9th July 1969 2. 10th July 1968
3. 16th August 1985 4. 15th April, 1980

21. How many banks were in second phase of nationalisation?
1. 4 2. 5
3. 6 4. 7

22. Who will act as the banker to the Government of India?
1. State Bank of India 2. Reserve Bank of India
3. NABARD 4. Nationalised Banks

23. Where is the Head Quarter of Reserve Bank of India?
1. Mumbai 2. Delhi
3. Kolkotta 4. Ahmedabad

24. Who was first governor of Reserve Bank of India?
1. K.A. Narasimham 2. Malhotra
3. A.K. Vadia 4. A.B.A Smith

25. When was Lead Bank Scheme introduced?
1. 1967 2. 1968
3. 1969 4. 1974

Answer Key:
1.)2 2.)1 3.)3 4.)3 5.)4 6.)2 7.)2 8.)4 9.)4 10.)1 11.)3 12.)3
13.)1 14.)3 15.)3 16.)2 17.)2 18.)3 19.)3 20.)4 21.)3 22.)2 23.)1 24.)4


Immigration in Germany
How a fresh debate on multiculturalism in Germany clashes with the country’s need for more immigrants
Good immigrants and bad, how many and of what kind are all worrying
Germany just now. A book claiming that Muslim immigrants and the
underclass were bringing about Germany’s downfall by breeding too fast
had a print run of over a million by the end of September (and cost its
author, Thilo Sarrazin, his job on the Bundesbank board). Seeing its
success, politicians abandoned political correctness. Further immigration
from Turkey or Arabia is no longer welcome, said Horst Seehofer,
Bavaria’s premier and head of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the
Bavarian arm of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union. The CSU
asked that immigrants embrace the Leitkultur (dominant culture). Even
Mrs Merkel joined in. Multiculturalism—the idea that immigrants can
recreate their culture in Germany—has “utterly failed,” she said last
month. New polls confirm Germans’ hostility towards immigrants,
especially Muslims.
Awkwardly, Germany is bashing foreigners just when it needs them. The
workforce is shrinking and growth is raising demand for skilled labour.
Skills shortages cost the economy €15 billion ($21 billion) last year, says
Rainer BrĂ¼derle, the liberal economy minister. He wants to import qualified
workers on a Canadian-style points system. Mr Seehofer is dubious. On
November 3rd Mrs Merkel held an “integration summit” to talk about
immigrants already in Germany. Next week the government will discuss
immigration again.
Even Germans who disagree with Mr Sarrazin praise him for drawing
attention to a problem. Actually he may be making the situation worse.
Some 15m people in Germany have a “migration background” (ie,
immigrants or their offspring), second only to America. Some 4m are
ethnic Germans from the former communist block. But many others came
as guest workers in the 1950s and 1960s, especially from Turkey. On
indicators of social and economic health, these migrants lag. In Bremen,
where more than half the young children are from migrant stock, they are
less likely to go to kindergarten than native Germans. Just 8% of foreign
teenagers are in vocational training, compared with 37% of Germans. In a
city struggling to recover from a slump in shipbuilding, 16.4% of migrants
were unemployed in 2008, against 7.5% of native Germans. More than
40% live below the poverty line, three times the rate for non-migrants.
It is no surprise that joining the German mainstream is hard for children of
manual labourers who were once expected to return home. In big cities
they crowd together and go to schools from which native German children
have fled, making it harder to integrate, says Stefan Luft, a scholar at the
University of Bremen. Turks are especially prone to living in a parallel
world because there are so many of them. For too many immigrants the
dole is an acceptable alternative to work. Islam can be an additional
barrier, but only for Muslims who choose to make it one. One study
estimated that 10-12% of Muslims have radical Islamist leanings, and a
quarter of Muslim teenagers are hostile to Christians and Jews or to
Germany awoke to such problems a decade or more before Mr Sarrazin’s
screed appeared. In 2000 it opened a pathway to citizenship. Since 2005
immigrants can be required to take “integration courses,” including 600
hours of instruction in German. Spouses from poorer countries must now
acquire a smattering of German before arrival.
By some measures, indeed, Germany is in good shape. The unemployment
gap between foreigners and natives is narrower than elsewhere. The social
polarisation that Mr Luft identifies “is not nearly as bad as in France”. The
federal government has now drafted a law, long overdue, to recognise
foreign credentials. Some 300,000 underemployed immigrants could then
return to the professions for which they were trained. Rather than
importing imams from Turkey and elsewhere the government wants them
to be trained at German universities, which will impart modern values
alongside religion.
The debate provoked by Mr Sarrazin has unleashed a blast of cultural
warfare. The third of Germans who think the country is overrun with
foreigners feel vindicated, though there is no net immigration. The
majority that want the practice of Islam curtailed invoke scholarly support.
The Sarrazinites are raising the bar for judging integration a success. It
would be nice if immigrants developed a sentimental attachment to the
Fatherland and its Leitkultur, but is it necessary? “Speaking the language
and having contacts with Germans is more important than feeling
German,” says Ruud Koopmans of the Social Science Research Centre in
In Bremen the ugly turn in the debate makes it harder to achieve even
scaled-back integration. Co-operation with migrants has been “massively
damaged,” says Mr Heintze. Mrs Cengiz says “many families are seriously
thinking about going back to Turkey.” Germany’s president, Christian
Wulff, tried to undo the damage by saying that Islam “belongs to
Germany”. But he is outshouted.
Bremen, a city-state, wants a climate in which such pronouncements are
too obvious to be worth making. In its schools migrants are the norm, not
“a small group with special needs,” says Yasemin Karakasoglu of the
University of Bremen. At the city’s request she is designing a new
curriculum for training teachers, which may use a child’s mother tongue
when necessary and also look for new ways to educate Muslim pupils
about Germany’s crimes against Jews. Germans’ idea of what it is to be
German will have to change too, she thinks. Bremers may be ready for
this. Most Germans, it seems, are not.


Barack Obama and the United States are both doing a little better than Americans seem to believe
It takes an effort these days to recall the thrill that surged through the
world when Barack Obama was elected America’s president. It was not
only that he was the first black person to assume the globe’s greatest
office. He seemed to be preternaturally thoughtful, dignified and decent; a
man who could heal America’s wounds at home and restore its reputation
abroad. Though too many were swept away in a collective longing to see
hope triumph over experience, none of it seemed wholly unreasonable at
the time. Yes, many thought, he can.
Two years later, the magnitude of the let-down is palpable everywhere;
and at home the president is caught in a vice. To many on the left, he is a
cowardly compromiser, whose half-baked plans to get America back to
work have done little to help those who voted for him, and whose healthcare
and financial reforms were gutted at the behest of special interests.
To many on the right, he seems a doctrinaire spendthrift who has
squandered trillions of dollars on wasteful bureaucracy, mortgaging the
future while failing to grapple with the present. To centrists who backed
him, including this newspaper, he has been a disappointment, his skills as
a president falling far short of his genius as a campaigner.
Awaiting a thumping
Consider the main reason why Americans are angry: the economy. The
slow pace of job re-creation is primarily the result of consumers and
companies trying to rebuild their finances. Balance-sheet recessions
always take time to recover from. Mr Obama is guilty of promising that the
pain would be over sooner than was ever likely. But he did not cause the
bust, and he deserves more credit than he is getting for steering America
clear of a much worse fate, especially considering the constraints of a
political system designed to make big changes difficult. He was right to go
for a big, bold and immediate stimulus plan. He has been right to resist,
with minor exceptions, calls for a wave of protectionism. He is guilty of
having no credible medium-term plan to reduce the deficit. But then nor
do the Republicans; and it was they, after all, who oversaw the tax cuts,
the entry into two wars and the financial collapse that are the source of
most of America’s gigantic deficit.
In other policy areas, too, Mr Obama has got some big things right. He
was correct to try to deal with a dreadful system that leaves tens of
millions of Americans without access to health cover, though he should
probably have postponed doing so until the economy had recovered. In
foreign policy, he has made generally sensible decisions about Iraq and
Afghanistan. Many of the people he has retained or put in place have done
well, including his ex-rival, Hillary Clinton.
So what went wrong? The answer is a series of smaller things—rhetoric,
details, execution, even an aloof vagueness—that have cumulatively
undermined his presidency. He has made enemies of the businessmen who
are needed to drive forward America’s recovery, haranguing them as fat
cats and speculators. He has even, as we report here, forfeited the
goodwill of America’s most dynamic and entrepreneurial asset. Silicon
Valley, which once saw Mr Obama as a promising start-up, now sees him
as a bad investment.
His decision to leave details to others has also cost him dearly. By
choosing to subcontract the stimulus, health reform and finance reform to
the Democratic leadership, he ended up with shoddy bills that Republicans
could safely vote against and that many Democrats are now anxious to
distance themselves from. A more accomplished president would have
controlled that process better, and found ways to make the Republicans
offers that they could not refuse. Mr Obama’s macroeconomic soundness
has been undermined by the Democrats’ tendency to meddle with
microeconomics, leading to a health bill that imposes onerous
requirements on business and a stimulus bill larded with pro-union
America is now an uncharacteristically uncertain place. Abroad it seems
unsure of who its friends and enemies are. At home there are too many
imponderables: over how the health bill will play out in practice; over what
might happen to energy prices if carbon-pricing is resurrected via
executive action; most of all, over what Mr Obama can do about those
yawning deficits. People do not like uncertainty; so if Americans are angry,
it is hardly surprising.
Cheer up
Mr Obama seems curiously unable to perceive, let alone respond to, the
grievances of middle America, and has a dangerous habit of dismissing
tea-partiers and others who disagree with him as deluded, evil or just
bitter. The silver tongue that charmed America during the campaign has
been replaced by a tin ear. Some blame this on an emotional detachment
his difficult upbringing forced on him, others on the fact that he has lived
all his life among tribal Democrats. Whatever the reason, he does not
seem to feel America’s pain, and looks unable either to capitalise on his
administration’s achievements or to project an optimistic vision for the
Which ought not to be so hard. Despite its problems, America has far more
going for it than its current mood suggests. It is still the most innovative
economy on earth, the place where the world’s greatest universities meet
the world’s deepest pockets. Its demography is favourable, with a high
birth rate and limitless space into which to expand. It has a flexible and
hard-working labour force. Its ultra-low bond yields are a sign that the
world’s investors still think it a good long-term bet. The most enterprising
individuals on earth still clamour to come to America. And it still has a
talented president who can surely do better than he has thus far.


G K Questions on World Organisations
1. The office of the UN General Assembly is in
(A) Vienna
(B) New York
(C) Paris
(D) Zurich
2. Which is the principal organ of the United Nations that has virtually
accomplished its objective?
(A) The Security Council
(B) The General Assembly
(C) The International Court of Justice
(D) The Trusteeship Council
3. The headquarters of the UNESCO is at
(A) Rome
(B) Geneva
(C) New York
(D) Paris
4. Which UN body deals with the population problem?
5. Besides UK, USA, Germany and Japan, the G-7 countries include
(A) Canada, France and Russia
(B) Canada, Italy and Netherlands
(C) France, Netherlands and Russia
(D) Canada, France and Italy
6. The headquarters of World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) is
located in
(A) Paris
(B) Madrid
(C) New York
(D) Geneva
7. SAARC is observing the decade (1991-2000) of which of the following?
(A) Girl child
(B) Literacy
(C) Health services to rural poor
(D) Shelter for all
8. The headquarters of Food and Agriculture Organisation is in
(A) Washington
(B) Paris
(C) Madrid
(D) Rome
9. Which of the following countries is not a member of Group 15 developing
(A) Mexico
(B) Malaysia
(C) Brazil
(D) Bolivia
10. Which one of the following is not related to disarmament?

Answer Key
1.(B) 2.(D) 3.(D) 4.(A) 5.(D) 6.(D) 7.(A) 8.(D) 9.(D) 10.(D)


The Logic Behind The Libya Decision
Did India do the right thing in abstaining from the vote on UN Resolution 1973 on
Libya? It is easy to criticise India for being foolish and cowardly. However, the
decision is defensible and may prove to be a sensible one.
Those who argue that India should have voted for the no-fly zone and for the
authorisation to use all means, short of occupation, to protect the Libyan people
base their case on three main contentions.
The first is that Colonel Muammar Gaddafi is busy killing defenceless people, and
India should have supported what is a morally proper move to protect those who
cannot protect themselves.
The second contention is that since the Arab League and Muslim opinion in many
places were behind 1973, India, as a member of the UN Security Council for the
next two years, would have earned the understanding, if not gratitude, of these
countries by voting for the resolution.
The third contention is that India would have done well strategically. New Delhi
would have been regarded as a power player, as a ‘constructive’ member of the
global community, and would have built bridges to the US and other western
powers (as a ‘responsible stakeholder’). This would have strengthened India’s
case for permanent membership of the Security Council.
This is not a trivial case. Yet, abstaining is defensible on moral, political and
strategic grounds (voting against the resolution would have been almost
Morally speaking, the question is: if the world is to intervene against Gaddafi, why
not against others who may be as bad or worse? Indian diplomats at the UN
argued it would have been proper to get more evidence of the situation in Libya.
Clearly, Gaddafi’s men are killing ordinary unarmed citizens as well as those who
might be lightly armed. Yet, there are places in Africa where the situation is
harrowing. Is Gaddafi’s Libya worse? Furthermore, what if rebellions such as
Libya’s explode into violence in several other places? Will the world rush to defend
those peoples as well? This seems unlikely, given the pool of resources to deal
with such problems.
There is another moral quandary. Will the opposition in Libya be more democratic
and respectful of human rights? The groups fighting Gaddafi are, reputedly,
drawn from diverse clans and tribes. Will they live in peace with each other and
other Libyans? No leadership worth the name has emerged, and no party or
council with a vision for the future has made its appearance to help us decide
these questions. Bad as Gaddafi is, are we even reasonably sure that intervention
would leave Libyans happier?
Politically, while many Muslims are calling for Gaddafi to be stopped, there are
also many others fearful of what an intervention by largely western forces will
mean politically. In the wake of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, westerners
fighting Muslims and killing them (even if unintentionally in their bombing raids
against Gaddafi) could be destabilising for a whole range of governments – and
worrisome for liberal modernisers in various countries who will be identified as
pro-western because of their liberalism.
Finally, Indian strategic caution over Libya is not incomprehensible. Libya could
become an unending military quagmire and help radicalise many Muslims who will
increasingly see intervention as a West-versus-Islam war, if it drags on. India will
not be helped by a world in which Islamic extremists gain ground. There is also
the ingress of China into Africa and other regions, as Beijing presents itself as a
bulwark against bullying western democracies. Voting with the West and allowing
China to stand as the champion of the weak in Africa, Asia and Latin America is
not a strategic plus for India.
Finally, and most crucially, there is India’s insistence on the sanctity of
sovereignty. With so many internal dissidents in India, New Delhi unsurprisingly is
extremely wary about supporting intervention, even on humanitarian grounds, for
fear that this might be turned against India someday.
Whether or not India has done right will become clear in the months and years
ahead. But to say that New Delhi’s decision was senseless and base is unfair.


G K Questions on World History
1. Saint Simon, Charles Fourier and Robert Owen were
(A) Renaissance artists
(B) Portuguese navigators
(C) early Socialists
(D) activists in the American War of Independence
2. In which of the following battles did Napoleon defeat the allied forces of
Russia and Austria?
(A) Battle of Austerliz
(B) Battle of Waterloo
(C) Battle of Sedan
(D) Battle of Sadowa
3. The Battle of Nations in which Napoleon faced a disastrous defeat was
fought in
(A) 1805
(B) 1814
(C) 1815
(D) 1866
4. The Battle of Waterloo was fought in
(A) 1815
(B) 1866
(C) 1857
(D) 1777
5. Which of the following battles was fought in question of abolition of slavery?
(A) Battle of Nations
(B) American civil war
(C) Battle of Waterloo
(D) French Revolution
6. Who among the following was the Austrian Chancellor from 1815 to 1848
(A) Metternich
(B) Louis Philippe
(C) Cavour
(D) Bismark
7. Who among the following was known as the 'Citizen King' because he
shunned traditional symbols of monarchy?
(A) King John II
(B) Louis Philippe
(C) Napoleon
(D) Cavour
8. Who among the following great military general of France was exiled to St.
Helena Island?
(A) Charlemagne
(B) Captain James Cook
(C) Napoleon Bonaparte
(D) Robespierre
9. Who among the following was a Black American leader who led a non
violent movement to obtain full civil rights for American Negroes?
(A) Martin Luther King
(B) Muhammad Ali
(C) Ben Kingsley
(D) Rosa Luxemburg
10. Who among the following Austrian born-German dictator played a very
significant role in the Second World War?
(A) Bismarck
(B) Mussolini
(C) Adolf Hitler
(D) Giueseppe Garibaldi

Answer Key
1.(C) 2.(A) 3.(B) 4.(A) 5.(B) 6.(A) 7.(B) 8.(C) 9.(A) 10.(C)


The Middle-East Bias
The divisions within the international community over how to deal with events in
the Arab world, particularly Libya, underscore the sensitivity that has accrued
around the issue of intervention in a sovereign nation. The problem now is what
to do in the event of a stalemate in Libya, with fighting continuing, and
comparatively under-equipped opposition forces unable to take advantage of the
air strikes and push back Gaddafi's forces.
The idea of a de facto divided country is being bandied around as a possibility.
That, per se, would be undesirable. It would recall the Iraq experience -
difficulties associated with continually enforcing a no-fly zone and sanctions - as
well as invite charges of western countries working to keep oil flowing from
opposition areas. True, with Gaddafi having issued ominous threats, and his
forces attacking opposition-held cities, the immediate need was to stop a
But the West has remained quiet on, and maybe passively colluded with, Saudi
Arabia's intervention in Bahrain. If the underlying principle of the widespread
protests in the region has been the removal of autocratic regimes, that applies
just as well to Bahrain as to Libya. The Saudis may have sent in their forces
under the legality of a regional pact, but that does not take away from the fact
that Bahrain is also witnessing protests for democracy.
There is an open but never-admitted partisan approach, based on big-power
strategic considerations, at work in the region. That ambiguity has also reflected
itself in India's stand on enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya. After abstaining
from the vote at the UN, New Delhi has voiced opposition to the air strikes being
carried out against forces loyal to Gaddafi but has remained largely silent on the
clampdown against peaceful protestors in Bahrain.
The cause of freedom and democracy must be upheld unreservedly. True, tribal
complexity, like in Yemen and Libya, might complicate the picture. But an
international consensus on first exerting pressure, and using force only to prevent
civilian deaths, while seeking a negotiated, peaceful transition, must emerge.


1. The 2008 NAM summit was recently held at
(A) Tehran
(B) Colombo
(C) New Delhi
(D) Lahore
2. Who among the following was recently appointed the United Nations
High Commissioner for human rights?
(A) Navanethem Pillay
(B) Dayana Mendoza
(C) Vijay Nambiar
(D) None of these
3. Which country has the highest number of internet users today?
(A) China
(C) India
(D) Japan
4. Google recently launched its own online encyclopedia. What is the
name of this project?
(A) Wikipedia
(B) Knol
(C) Encyclopedia
(D) None of these
5. Dr Ram Baran Yadav was in news recently for
(A) being the first President of Republic Nepal
(B) being first Prime Minister of Nepal
(C) winning the Magsaysay Award
(D) winning the Kalinga Award
6. What is Space Ship Two?
(A) World's first civilian passenger spacecraft
(B) NASA’s lunar explorer
(C) ESA's craft to study Mars
(D) None of these
7. Sir Richard Branson was in news recently. Who is he?
(A) Founder of Virgin group of companies
(B) Winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics
(C) Winner of the Booker Prize
(D) None of these
8. Europa is a moon of which planet?
(A) Mars
(B) Saturn
(C) Pluto
(D) Jupiter
9. The WTO Ministerial Meeting of 30 trade ministers was recently held
(A) Geneva
(B) Stockholm
(C) Paris
(D) Seattle
10. Who won the Men's singles title at Wimbledon this year?
(A) Rafael Nadal
(B) Roger Federer
(C) Andy Roddick
(D) None of these
11. Who won the Men's singles title at French Open this year?
(A) Rafael Nadal
(B) Roger Federer
(C) Mahesh Bhupathi
(D) None of these
12. Which country won the Azlan Shah Hockey tournament in 2008?
(A) Spain
(B) Argentina
(C) Netherlands
(D) India
13. Which country won the Euro Cup 2008 Football tournament?
(A) Spain
(B) Germany
(C) Italy
(D) France
14. According to the worldwide Corruption Perceptions Index, which
country is the least corrupt in the world?
(B) Finland
(C) Myanmar
(D) Denmark
15. India recently made aviation history by sealing a $51 million deal with
which country for the sale of seven Dhruv advanced light helicopters.
(A) Egypt
(B) Israel
(C) Ecuador
(D) Vietnam

Answer Key
1.(A) 2.(A) 3.(A) 4.(B) 5.(A) 6.(A) 7.(A) 8.(D) 9.(A) 10.(A)
11.(A) 12.(B) 13.(A) 14.(D) 15.(C)


Can Bengal Change?
How the Trinamool can show it’s different
There will be some sighs as the Trinamool and Congress parties finally
seal their seat-sharing deal for the upcoming Bengal elections, the allies
sighing in relief, the incumbent CPM in resignation at the challenge posed.
With the Congress settling for 65 of 294 seats, some aspects of realpolitik
come to light. Aware of the crest Mamata Banerjee is riding, the Congress
has made a wise decision to not squabble over numbers but give in to its
more powerful regional partner. On its side, the Trinamool recognises the
advantages of the alliance, keeping the anti-Left vote together and
retaining its link with the national-level party. Why the last is a plus is
connected to the Left’s history in Bengal.
The CPM came to power in 1977, riding a tide of hope and achieving
accomplishments like Operation Barga, land transferred to sharecroppers,
while maintaining communal harmony in a state that experienced horrific
rioting at Partition. However, it also choked much of Bengal’s civil society,
party politics dominating everything – whether college entrances, job
allocations, law and order, the last a terror tactic used by party
musclemen snatching rights and resources. Bengal once held myriad
businesses and manufacturing. Over the years, faced with regimented
bullying, these dried up. Meanwhile, the state’s performance in poverty
reduction and education dipped, its fiscal debt rose, its professionals
migrated and the desperation around land intensified. Recently attempting
to rejuvenate industry, the Left blotted its copybook severely. Its ‘official’
goondas terrorised locals at sites like Nandigram, handing Mamata a moral
Currently, while her own precise vision for Bengal’s development is yet to
fully emerge, Mamata’s electoral strategy has been astute. The Trinamool
first broke open the CPM’s rural bastion, performing well in panchayat, zila
and civic elections. It won over intellectuals, roped in software guru
Sabeer Bhatia to help its cyber campaign and announced FICCI secretarygeneral
Amit Mitra’s candidature, sending encouraging signals to industry.
In all this, its link with the Congress remains significant, for it sends a
message that Bengal’s days of isolation may be over. A government
working with the Centre, not constantly opposing it, could serve popular
aspirations well. The implementation of poverty reduction strategies, such
as NREGA, could improve in an environment divested of patronage politics
and ideological wars. And being linked to a party often in central
government, answerable to Parliament, could help reduce political violence
in the state. It is through moves like these that Mamata can show that the
Trinamool Congress isn’t just about realpolitik but also about real change,
providing the break that Bengal longs for.


G K Questions on Honors ad Awards
1. Who among the following was the first to win the Booker Prize?
(A) William Golding
(B) PH Newby
(C) JM Coetzee
(D) Peter Carey
2. Which one of the following awards instituted by KK Birla Foundation is
given to an individual for outstanding work on Indian philosophy, culture
and art?
(A) Saraswathy Samman
(B) Vyas Samman
(C) Shankar Puraskar
(D) Kalidas Samman
3. When was the Nobel Prize for literature instituted?
(A) 1956
(B) 1969
(C) 1972
(D) 1975
4. Contribution to which field is honoured by Dhanvantari award?
(A) Physics
(B) Space research
(C) Literature
(D) Medicine
5. Which of the following is India's highest honour in the field of literature?
(A) Vyas Samman
(B) Kalidas Samman
(C) Jnanpith Award
(D) Saraswathi Samman
6. Which one of the following is India's highest civilian honour?
(A) Bharat Ratna
(B) Padma Bhushan
(C) Padama Vibhushan
(D) Padma Shri
7. Who was the first to win the Nobel Prize for literature?
(A) Albert Camus
(B) Ernest Hemingway
(C) Knut Hamson
(D) Rene Sully Prudhome
8. Men from which nation have won the highest number of Nobel Prizes?
(A) England
(B) France
(C) America
(D) Italy
9. Which of the following awards is given to the Best Parliamentarian?
(A) Gujar Mal Modi Award
(B) JB Pant Award
(C) Nehru Award
(D) None of these
10. When did Amnesty International win the Nobel Prize?
(A) 1917
(B) 1949
(C) 1977
(D) 1982
11. Who was the first woman to win the Jnanpith award?
(A) Ashapurna Devi
(B) Mahasweta Devi
(C) Amrita Pritam
(D) Sarojini Naidu
12. In terms of prize money, which of the following is the highest literary prize
in India?
(A) Vyas Samman
(B) Saraswathy Samman
(C) Jnanpith Award
(D) Kalidas Samman
13. Which of the following awards was instituted by the Indian National
Congress in its Centenary Year?
(A) Gandhi Peace Prize
(B) Nehru Award
(C) Indira Gandhi award for National Integration
(D) Mahatma Gandhi Peace Award
14. Which one of the following awards was instituted by the KK Birla
(A) Saraswati Samman
(B) Kabir Award
(C) Kalidas Samman
(D) Jnanpith Award
15. When did Red Cross win the Nobel Peace Prize for the first time?
(A) 1917
(B) 1977
(C) 1949
(D) 1956

Answer Key
1.(B) 2.(C) 3.(B) 4.(D) 5.(C) 6.(A) 7.(D) 8.(C) 9.(B) 10.(C)
11. (A) 12. (B) 13. (C) 14. (A) 15. (A)


Budget Rollbacks and Promise
The smooth passage of the Finance Bill by Parliament was facilitated by the slew
of concessions extended by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. As many as 47
amendments to the original bill were passed. The concessions aggregate Rs.1,500
crore, a large portion of this attributable to procedural changes in the method of
levying and collecting taxes. For instance, the deferment by three months of a
new procedure to collect service tax on an accrual basis instead of on actual
receipts will mean less revenue than what was envisaged in the budget.
Manufacturers of readymade garments, especially those in the small-scale
segment, have got relief by way of higher excise duty abatement. By far, the
most anticipated announcement was the rollback of the 5 per cent service tax on
certain grades of hospitals and diagnostic services in the private sector. This
budget proposal drew a good deal of flak. Had it been implemented, it would have
increased the already high health care costs. However, while the government will
now forgo around Rs.300 crore, it was not just revenue considerations that were
behind the proposal. The idea of bringing the various entities in the booming
health care segment under the tax net has been around for quite a while.
Besides, as the Finance Minister said, the move was meant to prepare the ground
for the Goods and Services Tax (GST). It is unlikely that this sector will be
exempted when the GST is finally in place. The principal idea behind the GST and
the Direct Taxes Code (DTC) — the two key reforms measures — is to have a tax
structure with moderate taxes, minimum exemptions, and wide coverage.
Mr. Mukherjee has kept the promise which he made in the budget speech by
introducing a Constitution Amendment Bill to pave the way for the GST.
Essentially, the Bill seeks to give powers to the States to tax services and to the
Centre to levy duties beyond the factory gate. The Bill incorporates features that
seek to resolve the sharp differences between the Centre and the States over the
implementation of the far-going structural change. A GST Council, headed by the
Union Finance Minister and a GST Dispute Settlement Authority are proposed. In
bringing the Bill before Parliament, Mr. Mukherjee may have kept his word. But it
will be over-optimistic to expect the GST to become a reality on April 1, 2012.
The legislation, which will now go to a standing committee, requires two-thirds
support in both houses of Parliament and to be ratified by at least half the
number of State legislatures.


G K Quiz on Current Affairs
1. Who was recently re-elected the President of the People's Republic of
(A) Hu Jintao
(B) Jiang Zemin
(C) Ma Ying-jeou
2. Who recently won the 'Person of the Year' award by the India Abroad
newspaper in New York?
(A) Indra Nooyi
(B) Mira Nair
(C) Deepa Mehta
3. Mr David A Paterson was in news recently for what reason?
(A) For being the first legally blind person to become the governor of a US
(B) For winning the Booker Prize
(C) For conquering Mt Everest
4. Who recently became the first ever woman to become the Speaker of
Pakistan's parliament?
(A) Fahmida Mirza
(B) Fahtima Bhutoo
(C) Razia Mirza
5. Who won the Femina Miss India Universe title in 2008?
(A) Parvathy Omanakuttan
(B) Simran Kaur Mundi
(C) Harshita Saxena
6. Who won the WTA Tour Player of the Year 2007 award?
(A) Maria Sharapova
(B) Justin Henin
(C) Venus Williams

7. Which Indian cricketer recently became the third cricketer in history to
score two triple Test centuries?
(A) Sachin Tendulkar
(B) Virender Sehwag
(C) Rahul Dravid
8. Who/what won the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, disarmament and
Development for 2007?
(A) Aung Saan Suki
(B) Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
(C) Medha Patkar
9. The Anglo-Dutch steel company Corus was recently taken over by
(A) ArcelorMittal
(B) Jindal Steel
(C) Tata Steel
10. Who is the President of India?
(A) APJ Abdul Kalam
(B) Somnath Chatterjee
(C) Pratibha Patil
11. Which is the first Indian bank to get approval to start normal banking
operation in China?
(A) Indian Bank
(B) State Bank of India
(C) Corporation Bank
12. Which Indian company manufactures automobiles for Mitsubishi?
(A) Tata Motors
(B) Bajaj Tempo
(C) Hindustan Motors
13. Which one of the following is the world's busiest port today?
(A) Port of Rotterdam
(B) Port of Shanghai
(C) Port of Singapore
14. For international payments, the Indian currency is linked to
(A) British sterling
(B) American Dollar
(C) International oil price
15. Which of the following countries is the top source of FDI inflows to India at
(A) Mauritius
(C) UK

Answer Key
1.(A) 2.(B) 3.(A) 4.(A) 5.(B) 6.(B) 7.(B) 8.(B) 9.(C) 10.(C)
11.(B) 12.(C) 13.(C) 14.(B) 15.(A)


A possible breach at Japan's troubled nuclear plant has escalated the crisis anew,
two full weeks after an earthquake and tsunami first compromised the facility.
The development suggested that radioactive contamination may be worse than
first thought, with tainted groundwater the most likely consequence.
Japanese leaders defended their decision not to evacuate people from a wider
area around the plant, insisting that they are safe if they stay indoors. But
officials said that residents may want to voluntarily move to areas with better
facilities, since supplies in the tsunami-devastated region are running short. The
escalation in the nuclear plant crisis came as the death toll from the quake and
tsunami passed 10,000. Across the battered northeast coast, hundreds of
thousands of people whose homes were destroyed still have no power, no hot
meals and, in many cases, no showers for two weeks.
The uncertain nuclear situation delayed efforts to stop the overheated Fukushima
Dai-ichi nuclear plant from leaking dangerous radiation. Work was under way till
Saturday to inject fresh water into one unit, said Hidehiko Nishiyama, a
spokesman for Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, or NISA, amid
concerns about dumping large amounts of potentially corrosive seawater onto the
reactors. Low levels of radiation have been seeping out since the March 11 quake
and tsunami knocked out the plant's cooling system, but a breach could mean a
much larger release of contaminants. The most likely consequence would be
contamination of the groundwater. "The situation today at the Fukushima Dai-ichi
power plant is still very grave and serious. We must remain vigilant," a somber
Prime Minister Naoto Kan said. "We are not in a position where we can be
optimistic.We must treat every development with the utmost care."
The possible breach in the plant's Unit 3 might be a crack or a hole in the
stainless steel chamber of the reactor core or in the spent fuel pool that's lined
with several feet of reinforced concrete. The temperature and pressure inside the
core, which holds the fuel rods, remained stable and was far lower than what
would further melt the core. Suspicions of a possible breach were raised when
two workers suffered skin burns after wading into water 10,000 times more
radioactive than levels normally found in water in or around a reactor, NISA said.
Water with equally high radiation levels was found in the Unit 1 reactor building,
Tokyo Electric Power Co. officials said.
Water was also discovered in Units 2 and 4, and the company said that it suspects
that, too, is radioactive. Officials acknowledged that the presence of water would
delay work inside the plant. Radioactivity in seawater just outside one unit tested
some 1,250 times higher than normal, probably from both airborne radiation

released from the reactors and contaminated water leaked into the sea,
Nishiyama said.
But the amount posed no immediate health risk. Plant officials and government
regulators say that they don't know the source of the radioactive water
discovered at units 1 and 3 of the six-unit complex. It could have come from a
leaking reactor core, associated pipes or a spent fuel pool. Or it may be the result
of overfilling the pools with emergency cooling water.
The prime minister apologized to farmers and business owners for the toll the
radiation has had on their livelihoods: Several countries have halted some food
imports from areas near the plant after elevated levels of radiation were found in
raw milk, sea water and 11 kinds of vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower and
Elevated levels of radiation have turned up elsewhere, including the tap water in
several areas of Japan. In Tokyo, tap water showed radiation levels two times
higher than the government standard for infants, who are particularly vulnerable
to cancer-causing radioactive iodine, officials said. The scare caused a run on
bottled water in the capital, and Tokyo municipal officials are distributing it to
families with babies. The nuclear crisis has compounded the challenges faced by a
nation already saddled with a humanitarian disaster.
Much of the frigid northeast remains a scene of despair and devastation, with
Japan struggling to feed and house hundreds of thousands of homeless survivors,
clear away debris and bury the dead. "It's still like I'm in a dream," said Tomohiko
Abe, a 45-year-old machinist who was in the devastated coastal town of Onagawa
trying to salvage any belongings he could from his ruined car. "People say it's like
a movie, but it's been worse than any movie I've ever seen." The official death
toll stood at 10,151, with more than 17,000 listed as missing, police said. With
the cleanup and recovery operations continuing, the final number of dead was
expected to surpass 18,000. Officials have evacuated residents within 12 miles
(20 kilometers) of the plant and advised those up to 19 miles (30 kilometers)
away to stay indoors to minimize exposure.
The U.S. has recommended that people stay 50 miles (80 kilometers) away from
the plant. Government spokesman Yukio Edano insisted that people living 12 to
20 miles (20 to 30 kilometers) from the plant should still be safe from radiation as
long as they stay indoors. But since supplies are not being delivered to the area
fast enough, he said that it may be better for residents to voluntarily evacuate to
places with better facilities. "If the current situation is protracted and worsens,
then we will not deny the possibility of (mandatory) evacuation," he said.
One Fukushima government official said that some commercial trucks were
refusing to enter the area because of radiation fears, resulting in a shortage of

goods. "We are not ordering people to leave. But we have told residents that we
will help you leave voluntarily," Takeshi Ishimoto said.