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Daily Prelims Test – 16_December_2021

1. With respect to Agreement on Agriculture, consider the following statements:

1) It is a WTO treaty that was negotiated during the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

2) It covers market access, domestic support and export competition.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

a)  1 only

b) 2 only

c)  Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: (c) Both 1 and 2

Explanation:

In NEWS: WTO dispute panel rules against India’s sugar export subsidies

●    A World Trade Organisation (WTO) panel has ruled against India’s sugar export subsidy and domestic support to sugarcane growers in a dispute filed by Australia, Brazil and Guatemala. India has said that it will appeal against the verdict.

●    There will be no impact of the panel’s findings on any of India’s existing and ongoing policy measures in the sugar sector

Violation of AoA:

●    In its report, the panel observed that for five consecutive sugar seasons, from 2014-15 to 2018-19, India provided non-exempt product-specific domestic support to sugarcane producers in excess of the permitted level of 10 percent of the total value of sugarcane production.

●    As a result, the panel found that India was acting inconsistently with its obligations under the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA).

Agriculture on Agreement:

●        The Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) is a World Trade Organisation treaty that focuses on reducing the agricultural support and subsidies given to domestic producers by countries. It is one of the most contentious agreements within the WTO.

●        The Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) is a WTO treaty that was negotiated during the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and formally ratified in 1994 at Marrakesh, Morocco. The AoA came into effect in 1995. Hence statement (1) is correct.

●        According to its provisions, developing countries were to complete their reduction commitments by 2000 and developing countries by 2004.

●        The Least Developed Countries were not required to make any reductions.

●        The Agreement covers products that are normally considered part of agriculture but excludes forestry and fishery products and also rubber, sisal, jute, coir and abaca.

●        The focus of the AoA is the elimination of what are called “trade distorting” agricultural subsidies.

●        According to the WTO, the overall aim of the Agreement is “to establish a fairer trading system that will increase market access and improve the livelihoods of farmers around the world.”

●        The WTO Agriculture Agreement provides a framework for the long-term reform of agricultural trade and domestic policies, with the aim of leading to fairer competition and a less distorted sector.

The Agreement covers:

●    Market access — the use of trade restrictions, such as tariffs on imports

●    Domestic support — the use of subsidies and other support programmes that directly stimulate production and distort trade

●        Export competition — the use of export subsidies and other government support programmes that subsidize exports. Hence statement (2) is correct.

Source: https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/markets/commodities/wto-panel-faults-indias-sugar-export-subsidies/article37955311.ece

2. Lake Chad is surrounded by which of the following countries?

1) Chad

2) Cameroon

3) Niger

4) Nigeria

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

a)  1 only

b) 1, 3 and 4 only

c)  1, 2 and 3 only

d) 1, 2, 3 and 4

Answer: (d) 1, 2, 3 and 4

Explanation:

In NEWS: Explained: Why India, Russia blocked move to take climate change to UNSC

●        A contentious proposal to authorise the UN Security Council to deliberate on climate change-related issues was rejected after veto-wielding Russia and India voted against it.

●        The Security Council, on the other hand, exists primarily to prevent conflicts and maintain global peace.

●        The draft resolution piloted by Ireland and Niger was not the first attempt at bringing climate change on the Security Council’s agenda. Last year, a similar, stronger resolution was proposed by Germany.

●        Although it is not the forum to discuss climate change, the Security Council and its secretariat has hosted a few debates and informal discussions on the subject in the past.

●        One of the UN’s visiting missions in the Lake Chad region heard from Nigerian President Mahamadou Issoufou about how the shrinking of Lake Chad, a direct consequence of climate change, had contributed to the rise of Boko Haram.

Lake Chad:

●        Lake Chad is a historically large, shallow, endorheic lake in central Africa, which has varied in size over the centuries.

●        The freshwater lake is located in the Sahelian zone of West-central Africa. Lake Chad is mainly in the far west of Chad, bordering northeastern Nigeria.

●        Lake Chad provides water to more than 30 million people living in the four countries surrounding it Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Nigeria on the central part of the Sahel. Hence option (d) is correct.

●        It is the largest lake in the Chad Basin.

●        The Chari River, fed by its tributary the Logone, provides over 90% of the lake’s water, with a small amount coming from the Yobe River in Nigeria/Niger.

Source: https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/climate-change-discussions-unsc-meet-7673342/

3. The report, titled ‘The State of the world’s land and water resources for food and agriculture’ is released by which of the following international organisations?

a)  Food and agriculture organization

b) World Food Programme

c)  International Fund For Agricultural Development

d) World Economic Forum

Answer: (a) Food and agriculture organization

Explanation:

In NEWS: Land, water resources are at breaking point: Report

●        Human pressure on land, soils and freshwater have intensified, pushing these resources to their production limits.

●        Climate change has increased pressure on rain-fed and irrigation production over and above the environmental consequences of decades of unsustainable use, said the report, titled The State of the World’s Land and water resources for food and agriculture (SOLAW 2021). Hence option (a) is correct.

●        Grassland and shrub-covered areas used to graze animals or as sources of fodder have declined by 191 million hectares over two decades, to 3,196 million ha in 2019, and converted to cropland

●        Cropland increased 4 percent (63 million hectares) between 2000 and 2019. Growth in arable land, mainly for irrigated crops, doubled, while that for rain-fed cropping increased by only 2.6 per cent over the same time period.

●        The report provided new information on the status of land, soil and water resources and evidence of the changing and alarming trends in resource use.

●        Human-induced land degradation primarily affects cropland. Although cropland covers only 13 percent of the global land cover classes (11,477 million ha), degraded cropland accounts for 29 per cent of all degraded areas.

●        Almost a third of rain-fed cropland and nearly a half of irrigated land are subject to human-induced land degradation.

●        Over 60 per cent of irrigated areas are degraded in northern Africa, south Asia and the middle east-western Asia. The largest degraded areas are in the northern hemisphere, except for southeast Asia. Globally, only 38 percent of irrigated land is stable.

●        Due to increased population in the last two decades, there was a decline in global per capita internal renewable water resources (IRWR) of about 20 per cent. 

●        Internal renewable water resource (IRWR) is that part of the water resources (surface water and groundwater) generated from the precipitation received by the country. 

●        Progress made in reducing the number of undernourished people in the early part of the 21st century has been reversed. The number has risen to 768 million in 2020 from 604 million in 2014. 

●        By 2050, agriculture will need to produce almost 50 percent more food, livestock fodder and biofuel than in 2012 to satisfy global demand and keep on track to achieve “zero hunger” by 2030. 

Source: https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/agriculture/land-water-resources-are-at-breaking-point-report-80672

4. Consider the following statements:

1) The Sixth Schedule provides for the formation of Autonomous District Councils.

2) Autonomous District Councils have up to 30 members with a term of five years.

3) The Sixth Schedule applies to Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

a)  2 and 3 only

b) 1 and 2 only

c)  3 only

d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: (d) 1, 2 and 3

Explanation:

In NEWS: Explained: What is the Sixth Schedule, and can Ladakh be included under it?

●        BJP MP from Ladakh Jamyang Tsering Namgyal demanded that the region be included in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution to safeguard land, employment, and cultural identity of the local population.

What is the Sixth Schedule?

●        The Sixth Schedule under Article 244 provides for the formation of autonomous administrative divisions — Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) — that have some legislative, judicial, and administrative autonomy within a state. Hence statement (1) is correct.

●        ADCs have up to 30 members with a term of five years, and can make laws, rules and regulations with regard to land, forest, water, agriculture, village councils, health, sanitation, village- and town-level policing, inheritance, marriage and divorce, social customs and mining, etc. Hence statement (2) is correct.

●        The Bodoland Territorial Council in Assam is an exception with more than 40 members and the right to make laws on 39 issues.

●        The Sixth Schedule applies to the Northeastern states of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram (three Councils each), and Tripura (one Council). Hence statement (3) is correct.

Can Ladakh be included in the Sixth Schedule?

●        In September 2019, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes recommended the inclusion of Ladakh under the Sixth Schedule, noting that the new UT was predominantly tribal (more than 97%), people from other parts of the country had been restricted from purchasing or acquiring land there, and its distinct cultural heritage needed preservation.

●        Notably, no region outside the Northeast has been included in the Sixth Schedule. In fact, even in Manipur, which has predominantly tribal populations in some places, the autonomous councils are not included in the Sixth Schedule. Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, which are totally tribal, are also not in the Sixth Schedule.

●        Ladakh inclusion in the Sixth Schedule would be difficult. The Constitution is very clear, the Sixth Schedule is for the Northeast. For tribal areas in the rest of the country, there is the Fifth Schedule

Source: https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/ladakh-sixth-schedule-constitution-explained-7675082/

5. With respect to Di-sodium inosinate, consider the following statements:

1) It is used as a food additive.

2) It is commercially prepared from meat or fish.

3) It can be obtained from bacterial fermentation of sugars.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

a)  2 and 3 only

b) 1 and 2 only

c)  3 only

d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: (d) 1, 2 and 3

Explanation:

In NEWS: Disclose all ingredients used in food items, manufacturers told

●        The use of non-vegetarian ingredients, even in a miniscule amount, in food articles would render them non-vegetarian, which would offend the religious and cultural sentiments of strict vegetarians.

●        It ordered that food business operators, which manufacture food items, to disclose on the packaging all the ingredients not only by their code names but also by disclosing as to whether they originate from plant, or animal source, or whether they are manufactured in a laboratory, irrespective of their percentage in the food article.

Di-sodium inosinate:

●        It is used as a food additive and often found in instant noodles, potato chips, and a variety of other snacks. Hence statement (1)is correct.

●        Although it can be obtained from bacterial fermentation of sugars, it is often commercially prepared from animal products. Hence statement (2) is correct and statement (3) is correct.

●        Disodium inosinate is generally produced from meat, including chicken.

●        Though it is normally a non-vegetarian product, it also may be produced from tapioca starch without any animal products involved in the production.

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/disclose-all-ingredients-used-in-food-items-manufacturers-told/article37956257.ece

6. With respect to Solar Haman, consider the following statements:

1) It is aimed at providing clean energy solutions to households across mountainous regions.

2) It is a solar water-heating system.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

a)  1 only

b) 2 only

c)  Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: (c) Both 1 and 2

Explanation:

In NEWS: ‘Solar hamam’ taking care of heating in cold Himalayan regions

●        Aimed at providing clean energy solutions to households in the cold mountainous regions for heating purposes and also to achieve forest conservationa solar water-heating system, ‘solar hamam’, is proving popular among the villagers in Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh and Uttarakhand. Hence statement (1) is correct and statement (2) is correct.

●        In the higher Himalayan region, 50% of fuelwood is consumed for the purpose of heating and is one of the major reasons for forest degradation and also the main cause of drudgery of women.

●        Scientists at the Himalayan Research Group, an NGO, which is a part of the Government of India’s Department of Science and Technology Core Support Programme of Science for Equity Empowerment and Development (SEED) Division realised that technology interventions to conserve forests was required, and hence they devised a customized solar water and space heating system for the region.

●        It was in 2004 that with an aim to reduce dependence on fuelwood and women drudgery that we started research and development for designing a simple and cost-effective solar water and space heating system for rural households.

●        In 2008, we developed a prototype of the solar water-heating system, and it was put for evaluation.

●        It was found to be cost-effective, providing 15 to18 litres of hot water within the first solar illumination of 30–35 minutes in the morning. Successive batches of hot water are available in 15–20 minutes gap

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/solar-hamam-taking-care-of-heating-in-cold-himalayan-regions/article37948257.ece

7. Consider the following statements regarding Pressure swing adsorption:

1) It is a technology used to separate some gas species from a mixture of gases under pressure.

2) It is used in the chemical industry, iron and steel industries and refining.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

a)  1 only

b) 2 only

c)  Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: (c) Both 1 and 2

Explanation:

In NEWS:

●        The Health Ministry has directed that States should schedule and conduct mock drills of all installed and commissioned pressure swing adsorption (PSA) oxygen generating plants which are a source of medical-grade oxygen.

●        States have also been requested to complete the pending oxygen audit reports and submit them through the designated portal

●        Medical oxygen is an essential public health commodity and its uninterrupted supply in sufficient quantity is of critical importance to tackle the pandemic

●        States have now been asked to review and monitor the status of the PSA plants, oxygen concentrators, ventilators, cylinders, liquid medical oxygen (LMO) plants and medical gas pipeline systems (MGPS) on a daily basis to ensure that the gap between the equipment and systems delivered to the districts and installed at the healthcare facilities is reduced to zero.

About pressure swing adsorption

●        Pressure swing adsorption (PSA) is a technology used to separate some gas species from a mixture of gases under pressure according to the species’ molecular characteristics and affinity for an adsorbent material. Hence statement (1) is correct.

●        It operates at near-ambient temperatures and differs significantly from cryogenic distillation techniques of gas separation.

●        It operates at near-ambient temperatures which is in contrast to the cryogenic distillation techniques of gas separation, which takes place at very low temperatures.

●        Specific adsorbent materials (e.g., zeolites, molecular sieves, activated carbon, etc.) are used as a trap, preferentially adsorbing the target gas species at high pressure. The process then swings to low pressure to desorb the adsorbed material.

●        The PSA process is used in several applications across several industries.

●        It is used in hydrogen recovery and purification, oxygen production, carbon dioxide removal and purification, helium recovery, nitrogen generation, methane recovery, etc.

●        It is used in the chemical industry, the petrochemical industry, iron and steel industries and refiningHence statement (2) is correct.

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/ensure-medical-grade-oxygen-plants-are-fully-operational-states-told/article37962507.ece

8. Consider the following statements regarding Rustom-2:

1) It has been designed and developed by Aeronautical Development Establishment.

2) It is part of the rustom line of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

a)  1 only

b) 2 only

c)  Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: (c) Both 1 and 2

Explanation:

In NEWS: Rustom-2 indigenous UAV crosses a milestone

●        The indigenous Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) development programme by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has crossed a milestone by reaching an altitude of 25,000 feet and an endurance of 10 hours. Hence statement (2) is correct.

●        It has advanced capabilities and meets the requirements of the three Services

●        It technologically matches contemporary UAVs available and will also be cheaper than the imported ones

●        High endurance UAVs are a priority requirement for the armed forces especially in the standoff with China in Eastern Ladakh.

●        The armed forces rely heavily on the Israeli Searcher and Heron drones and need more such UAVs.

●        The Services have embarked on a major upgrade project of the Heron UAVs. A separate proposal for 30 armed Predator drones, 10 for each Service, from the U.S. is also at advanced stages.

●        The ‘Fire entry suit’ will be able to withstand the fire for 150 seconds and is in the advanced stages of development.

●        The work is on to reduce the weight from 25 kgs and increase the indigenous content in it

What is Rustom 2 drone?

●        Rustom 2 is part of the Rustom line of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)  that includes Rustom-I, Rustom-H and Rustom-C. Hence statement (1) is correct.

●        The drone was developed for use by all three services of the Indian armed forces, primarily for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) operations.

●        The medium-altitude prototype can fly at over 22,000 ft and is a long-endurance (MALE) UAV that has an approximate flight time of 20 hours.

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/rustom-2-indigenous-uav-crosses-a-milestone/article37963891.ece

https://indianexpress.com/article/what-is/what-is-rustom-ii-drone-5077614/

9. Consider the following statements:

1) Durga Puja in Kolkata has been inscribed on the UNESCO’s Intangible Heritage list.

2) Currently, India has 14 intangible cultural heritage elements on the UNESCO list.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

a)  1 only

b) 2 only

c)  Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: (c) Both 1 and 2

Explanation:

In NEWS: Kolkata’s Durga Puja gets UNESCO heritage tag

●        The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) inscribed “Durga Puja in Kolkata” on the “Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity”. Hence statement (1) is correct.

●        According to UNESCO, the festival was the only Indian one to make it to its list of 20 events and traditional activities.

What is the Intangible Cultural Heritage list?

●        As per UNESCO, inscriptions to the Representative List are one of the several ways by which UNESCO advocates the promotion and safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage.

But what is cultural heritage?

●        As per the UNESCO website, the term ‘cultural heritage’ has changed content considerably in recent decades, partially owing to the instruments developed by UNESCO.

●        Cultural heritage does not end at monuments and collections of objects.

●        It also includes traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts.

Other Intangible Cultural Heritage elements recognised by UNESCO

●        At least 14 intangible cultural heritage elements from India have been inscribed till date on the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of HumanityHence statement (2) is correct.

●        These include the Kumbh Mela, Novruz, Tradition of Vedic chanting, Ramlila, Kutiyattam, Sanskrit theatre; Ramman, religious festival and ritual theatre of the Garhwal Himalayas; Kalbelia folk songs and dances of Rajasthan; and Chhau dance.

Source: https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/kolkatas-durga-puja-gets-unesco-heritage-tag-101639593998012.html

10. A Parliamentary System of Government is one in which

a)  all political parties in the Parliament are represented in the Government

b) the Government is responsible to the Parliament and can be removed by it

c)  the Government is elected by the people and can be removed by them

d) the Government is chosen by the Parliament but cannot be removed by it before completion of a fixed term

Answer: (b) the Government is responsible to the Parliament and can be removed by it

Explanation:

●        The Constitution of India has opted for the British Parliamentary form of Government. It is based on the principle of cooperation and coordination between the legislative and executive organs.

The features of the Parliamentary government in India are:

●        Presence of nominal and real executives

●        Majority party rule

●        Collective responsibility of the executive to the legislature. Hence option (b) is correct.

●        Membership of the ministers in the legislature

●        Leadership of the Prime Minister or the Chief Minister

●        Dissolution of the lower house