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1. Which of the following is/are considered as the objectives of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)?

  1. To strengthen relations among member states.
  2. To safeguard regional peace, security, and stability.
  3. To create a democratic, equitable international political and economic order.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

  • 1 and 2 only
  • 3 only
  • 2 and 3 only
  • 1, 2 and 3

Answer: (d) 1, 2 and 3

Explanation:

In news: Positioning India in a chaotic world

India’s foreign policy mandarins are all set to go into overdrive in the wake of new challenges. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting (September 15-16) in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, was a test case for governments on how to deal with current conflicts and attempt new guidelines for the future. Along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi were Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese Premier Xi Jinping, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the leaders of Pakistan and other SCO nations. The special significance of this in-person SCO meeting lay in the fact that it was taking place when the world stood at the crossroads, in the wake of the Russia-Ukrainian conflict.

The main objectives of the SCO are to

(i) strengthen relations among member states.

(ii) promote cooperation in political affairs, economics and trade, scientific-technical, cultural, and educational spheres as well as in energy, transportation, tourism, and environmental protection.

(iii) safeguard regional peace, security, and stability and

(iv) create a democratic, equitable international political and economic order. Hence option (d) is correct.

Source: The Hindu

2. Consider the following statements regarding Parliamentary Standing Committees:

  1. Currently there are 45 members in each Parliamentary standing committee.
  2. The members of these committees will be from both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
  3. These Committees do not consider matters of day-to-day administration of the concerned Ministries/Departments.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  • 1 and 2 only
  • 3 only
  • 2 and 3 only
  • 1, 2 and 3

Answer:(c) 2 and 3 only

Explanation:

In news: Congress, Trinamool to lose chairmanship of House committees

Departmentally Related Standing Committees Till 13th Lok Sabha, each Standing Committee consisted of not more than 45 members 30 to be nominated by the Speaker from amongst the members of Lok Sabha and 15 to be nominated by the Chairman, Rajya Sabha from amongst the members of Rajya Sabha. However, with restructuring of DRSCs in July 2004 each DRSC consists of 31 Members – 21 from Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha. Hence statement (1) is incorrect and (2) is correct.

With reference to the Ministries/ Departments under their purview, the functions of these Committees are:- (a) consideration of Demands for Grants; (b) examination of Bills referred to by the Chairman, Rajya Sabha or the Speaker, Lok Sabha as the case may be; (c)consideration of Annual Reports; and (d) consideration of national basic long term policy documents presented to the Houses and referred to the Committee by the Chairman, Rajya Sabha or the Speaker, Lok Sabha, as the case may be and make reports thereon.

These Committees do not consider matters of day-to-day administration of the concerned Ministries/Departments. Hence statement (3) is correct.

The Departmentally Related Standing Committee System is a ground-breaking endeavour of Parliamentary surveillance over administration. With the emphasis of their functioning to concentrate on long-term plans, policies guiding the working of the Executive, these Committees are providing necessary direction, guidance and inputs for broad policy formulations and in achievement of the long-term national perspective by the Executive.

Source: The Hindu

3. Which of the following factors influence the onset of Southwest Monsoon in India?

  1. Intense heating of the Tibetan plateau during summer months.
  2. Permanent high-pressure cell in the South Indian Ocean.
  3. Subtropical Jet Stream.
  4. Tropical Easterly Jet.
  5. Inter Tropical Convergence Zone.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

  • 1, 2 and 3 only
  • 1, 2 and 5 only
  • 2, 3, 4 and 5 only
  • 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

Answer: (d) 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

Explanation:

In news: Southwest monsoon begins early withdrawal in Rajasthan

Factors that influence the onset of south-west monsoons

  • Intense heating of the Tibetan plateau during summer months.
  • Permanent high-pressure cell in the South Indian Ocean (east to north-east of Madagascar in summer).
  • Subtropical Jet Stream (STJ).
  • Tropical Easterly Jet (African Easterly Jet).
  • Inter Tropical Convergence Zone. Hence option (d) is correct.

Source: The Hindu

4. With reference to Qutub Minar, consider the following statements:

  1. It is made of red sandstone, marble and sandstone.
  2. Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque is located at the foot of Minar is the first mosque to be built in India.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  • 1 only
  • 2 only
  • Both 1 and 2
  • Neither 1 nor 2

Answer:(c) Both 1 and 2

Explanation:

In news: Intervention plea in Qutub Minar row dismissed

Qutub Minar is a soaring, 73 m-high tower of victory, built in 1193 by Qutab-ud-din Aibak immediately after the defeat of Delhi’s last Hindu kingdom. The tower has five distinct storeys, each marked by a projecting balcony and tapers from a 15 m diameter at the base to just 2.5 m at the top. The first three storeys are made of red sandstone; the fourth and fifth storeys are of marble and sandstone. At the foot of the tower is the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, the first mosque to be built in India. An inscription over its eastern gate provocatively informs that it was built with material obtained from demolishing ’27 Hindu temples’. A 7 m-high iron pillar stands in the courtyard of the mosque. It is said that if you can encircle it with your hands while standing with your back to it your wish will be fulfilled. Hence statements (1) and (2) are correct.

The origins of Qutub Minar are shrouded in controversy. Some believe it was erected as a tower of victory to signify the beginning of the Muslim rule in India. Others say it served as a minaret to the muezzins to call the faithful to prayer.

No one can, however, dispute that the tower is not only one of the finest monuments in India, but also in the world. Qutab-ud-din Aibak, the first Muslim ruler of Delhi, commenced the construction of the Qutab Minar in 1200 AD, but could only finish the basement. His successor, Iltutmush, added three more storeys, and in 1368, Firoz Shah Tughlak constructed the fifth and the last storey.

Source: The Hindu

5. Consider the following pairs:

  1. Satpura National park             –           Madhya Pradesh
  2. Sanjay Gandhi National Park –           Gujarat
  3. Nauradehi forest                     –           Maharashtra
  4. Kuno National Park                –           Madhya Pradesh

Which of the pairs given above is/are correct?

  • 1 and 3 only
  • 1 and 2 only
  • 3 and 4 only
  • 1 and 4 only

Answer: (d) 1 and 4 only

Explanation:

In news: ‘No spotted deer brought to Kuno as prey for cheetahs’

“No chital has been brought from Rajasthan into Kuno. There are already close to 20,000 chital in the forest here. There are several wildlife parks in Madhya Pradesh with surplus chital population. During summers, many spots see a scarcity of water and fodder and these animals are sometimes relocated to help them access food and water,” Madhya Pradesh Chief Wildlife Warden Jasbir Singh Chauhan said in a statement.

As part of these relocations, chital were being moved to the Satpura National Park (MP), Sanjay Gandhi National Park (MH), Nauradehi forest (MP) and KNP (MP). These animals were also moved around because they would graze on standing crops and cause losses to those who lived in the vicinity, he added. Hence option (d) is correct.

6. Extended Fund Facility (EFF) is recently seen in news is associated with

  • World Bank
  • Asian Development Bank
  • International Monetary Fund
  • Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank

Answer: (c) International Monetary Fund

Explanation:

In news: China keeps Sri Lanka, Pak. waiting for loans

Beijing asked both countries ‘to tide over difficulties together, fully trust each other, and support each other’s core interests on the way forward’, but did not detail any offers of assistance

Staff level agreement

On September 1, Sri Lanka and the IMF reached a staff level agreement with the Fund set to support Sri Lanka with an Extended Fund Facility (EFF) of $2.9 billion, contingent upon Sri Lanka’s successful debt restructuring efforts, which will hinge in part on China’s agreeability.

Sri Lanka’s creditors also include International Sovereign Bond (ISB) holders, multilateral lending agencies and other bilateral partners such as Japan and India.

While Japan and India have been very supportive of the IMF process from the beginning, all eyes were on China to see if it would play ball, although some analysts in Sri Lanka expressed hope citing China’s willingness to work on a debt relief deal in Zambia.

In response to Sri Lanka’s IMF agreement, Beijing said that as a “traditional friendly neighbour” of Sri Lanka and a “major shareholder” of the IMF, China has “always been encouraging” the IMF and other international financial institutions “to continue to play a positive role in supporting Sri Lanka’s response to current difficulties, efforts to ease debt burden and realise sustainable development.”

EFF:

The EFF was established to provide assistance to countries experiencing serious payment imbalances because of structural impediments or slow growth and an inherently weak balance-of-payments position. An EFF provides support for comprehensive programs including the policies needed to correct structural imbalances over an extended period. Hence option (c) is correct.

Longer engagement and repayment periods

As structural reforms to correct deep-rooted weaknesses often take time to implement and bear fruit, EFF engagement and repayment cover longer periods than most Fund arrangements.

Extended arrangements are typically approved for periods of three years but may be approved for periods as long as 4 years to implement deep and sustained structural reforms. Amounts drawn under an EFF are to be repaid over 4½–10 years in 12 equal semi-annual instalments. By contrast, credits under a Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) are repaid over 3¼–5 years.

7. Consider the following statements:

  1. It is a pact between two or more nations to reduce barriers to imports and exports among them.
  2. Under this, goods and services can be bought and sold across international borders with little or no government tariffs, quotas, subsidies, or prohibitions to inhibit their exchange.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

  • 1 only
  • 2 only
  • Both 1 and 2
  • Neither 1 nor 2

Answer:(c) Both 1 and 2

Explanation:

In news: Trade officials have no bandwidth to take up fresh FTAs: Goyal

Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal signalled on Tuesday that India’s trade negotiators did not have ‘bandwidth’ left to negotiate any fresh free trade agreements or FTAs beyond those already in the works, even as more and more countries were keen to engage with India for such pacts.

The United Kingdom, Mr. Goyal said at a FICCI event, had informed him two days earlier that they still wanted to seal the trade deal with India by Deepavali. “The world wants to engage with us,” he asserted. “The world has more confidence in us than I think we have in us.”

Free Trade Agreement (FTA):

  • It is a pact between two or more nations to reduce barriers to imports and exports among them.  Hence statement (1) is correct.
  • Under a free trade policy, goods and services can be bought and sold across international borders with little or no government tariffs, quotas, subsidies, or prohibitions to inhibit their exchange. Hence statement (2) is correct.
  • The concept of free trade is the opposite of trade protectionism or economic isolationism.

India and FTAs:

  • After India opted out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in November 2019, the 15-member FTA grouping that includes Japan, China and Australia, FTAs went into cold storage for India.
  • But in May 2021 came the announcement that India-European Union talks, which had stalled in 2013, would be resumed.
  • Both sides are now engaged in internal preparations to take these various strands of work forward.
  • Bilateral free trade agreements of India are being negotiated with the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada.
  • The agreement with the UAE was ‘close to finalisation’ while the FTA with Australia was at a ‘very advanced stage.’

8. Consider the following statements regarding the Coffee Board of India:

  1. It was established through a constitutional act “Coffee Act VII of 1942”.
  2. It is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  3. The Board functions through six statutory committees which are appointed for one year term each and the functions of each committee.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  • 1 and 2 only
  • 3 only
  • 2 and 3 only
  • 1, 2 and 3

Answer:(d) 1, 2 and 3

Explanation:

In news: Coffee Board to develop sustainability code

The Coffee Board is coming out with a sustainability code for Indian coffee, said K.G. Jagadeesha, Chief Executive Officer and Secretary of the Board. Hence option (d) is correct.

In an interview, Mr. Jagadeesha said Indian coffee was grown uniquely in the midst of thick flora and fauna, handpicked and sun dried. But, these features were not highlighted when the coffee was shipped.

  • During 1940’s, the coffee industry in India was in a desperate state due to the II World war resulting in very low prices and ravages of pests and diseases.
  • At this time, the Government of India established the ‘Coffee Board’ through a constitutional act “Coffee Act VII of 1942” under the administrative control of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  • The Board comprises 33 members including the Chairman and the Secretary & Chief Executive Officer.
  • The remaining 31 members represent the various interests such as coffee growing industry, coffee trade interests, curing establishments, interests of labour and consumers, representatives of governments of the principal coffee growing states, and Members of Parliament.
  • The Board functions through six statutory committees which are appointed for one year term each and the functions of each committee as per the Coffee Act

9. With reference to H1N1 influenza, consider the following statements:

  1. Influenza A (H1N1) virus is the subtype of influenza A virus that is the most common cause of human influenza.
  2. H1N1 influenza is a highly contagious acute respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza virus that regularly causes outbreaks of influenza in pigs.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  • 1 only
  • 2 only
  • Both 1 and 2
  • Neither 1 nor 2

Answer:(c) Both 1 and 2

Explanation:

 Swine flu (H1N1):

  • Also called pig influenza, swine flu, hog flu and pig flu. It is an infection caused by any one of several types of swine influenza viruses.
  • Swine influenza virus is any strain of the influenza family of viruses that is endemic in pigs.
  • Influenza A (H1N1) virus is the subtype of influenza A virus that is the most common cause of human influenza. It is an orthomyxovirus that contains the glycoproteins haemagglutinin and neuraminidase. Hence statement (1) is correct.
  • Haemagglutinin causes red blood cells to clump together and binds the virus to the infected cell. Neuraminidase is a type of glycoside hydrolase enzyme which helps to move the virus particles through the infected cell and assist in budding from the host cells.

H1N1 – symptoms

Spread and Effects:

  • H1N1 influenza (or swine flu) is a highly contagious acute respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza virus that regularly causes outbreaks of influenza in pigs. Hence statement (2) is correct.
  • Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans. However, sporadic human infections with swine flu have occurred.
  • Most commonly, these cases occur in people with direct exposure to pigs (e.g., children near pigs at a fair or workers in the swine industry).
  • However, there have been cases of human-to-human spread of swine flu.

10. With reference to Indian History, the Members of the Constituent Assembly from the Provinces were

(a) directly elected by the people of those Provinces

(b) nominated by the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League

(c) elected by the Provincial Legislative Assemblies

(d) selected by the Government for their expertise in constitutional matters

Answer:(c) elected by the Provincial Legislative Assemblies

Explanation:

The Constitution of India was drafted by the Constituent Assembly, and it was implemented under the Cabinet Mission Plan on 16 May 1946. The members of the Constituent Assembly were elected by the provincial assemblies by a single, transferable-vote system of proportional representation. Hence option (c) is correct.