Directions(1-10): In each of the following questions a passage is given in which there is a blank. Choose the most logical and appropriate option from the five options given that can be filled in the blank.
- The catastrophic monsoon floods in Kerala and parts of Karnataka have revived the debate on whether political expediency trumped science. Seven years ago, __________________. Madhav Gadgil, who chaired the Union Environment Ministry’s WGEEP, has said the recent havoc in Kerala is a consequence of short-sighted policymaking, and warned that Goa may also be in the line of nature’s fury. The State governments that are mainly responsible for the Western Ghats — Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Goa and Maharashtra — must go back to the drawing table with the reports of both the Gadgil Committee and the Kasturirangan Committee, which was set up to examine the WGEEP report.
given the need to balance human development pressures with stronger protection of the Western Ghats ecologythe Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel issued recommendations for the preservation of the fragile western peninsular regionpopulation estimates for the sensitive zones vary greatly, based on interpretations of the ESZsthe need to review decisions affecting the environment, in the wake of the floodsNone of theseOption B
- The Reserve Bank of India’s annual report for 2017-18 reveals that 99.3% of currency notes that were demonetised at midnight on November 8, 2016 have returned to the banking system. __________________. This makes a couple of things crystal clear. First, the hope that a large chunk of unaccounted money would not return to the system — arguably, the principal reason for the exercise — was almost wholly belied. As a result, the plan to transfer the arising surplus from the RBI to the Centre, which was not formally declared but strongly rumoured, was a non-starter.
This was perhaps why the massive disruption caused by the overnight removal of 86% of the currency in value terms did not cause agitations.Was it worth the slowdown in growth, the damage to informal sector supply chains, and job losses in sectors such as construction that were the bulwark of employment creation for the unskilled?This is only marginally higher than its provisional estimate last year that over 99% — or ₹15.28 lakh crore worth of the old ₹500 and ₹1,000 notes — out of the ₹15.44 lakh crore that were in circulation at the time had been deposited by June 30, 2017The government must not disown its biggest reform attempt or try to sidestep parliamentary scrutiny of the outcomes of demonetisationNone of theseOption C
- The Allahabad High Court on Monday dismissed a plea from private power producers seeking relief from an RBI diktat to banks to take cognisance of a stressed loan if repayments were missed even by a day. __________________. Monday also marked the deadline for several cases in which loans were declared bad due to this regulation. Across the banking system, about 70 firms with loans of around ₹3.8 lakh crore outstanding were expected to face insolvency proceedings. Thirty-four of the troubled accounts are from the power sector and constitute nearly 54% (or ₹2.02 lakh crore) of banks’ exposure in these cases, according to the credit rating agency ICRA. A Power Ministry report suggests these power producers have planned generation capacities of 39 gigawatts, and are in trouble.
Nonetheless, it is heartening that the High Court refused to entertain any obfuscation of the RBI’s regulatory powers or of the sanctity of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code to deal with stressed assetsTo be fair, the power sector has been facing some of these issues since UPA-IIThe promoters argued in court that most of the hurdles faced by the power sector were due to external factors and so they should be spared the insolvency stickThe RBI decision, of February 12, requires banks to complete insolvency resolution proceedings within 180 days of defaultsNone of theseOption D
- If the arrest of five prominent activists by the Pune police in a coordinated operation across four States has resulted in such indignation, it is because of the widespread suspicion that this is part of an orchestrated crackdown on political dissent. __________________. The focus will now be on the next hearing of the Supreme Court, but the dramatic development — which has come months after some Left-leaning activists were arrested in a case relating to the Bhima-Koregaon violence — has raised a fundamental question.
The intervention of high courts and later the Supreme Court has given rise to the hope that they will not be put away without sufficient basis, and that the case for proceeding against them will be properly scrutinisedIt is nobody’s case that activists or intellectuals are above the law, but the Maharashtra police carry the enormous burden of proof, having accused the activists of doing much more than inciting the violence that broke out in Bhima-Koregaon, near Pune, this yearHuman rights activists, particularly those working in conflict-prone areas, have been harassed and even arrested on the suspicion of being in league with extremistsThe Pune police claim that the five who have now been arrested were raising funds for the Maoists, and indulging in unlawful activities; that they had a nexus with other unlawful groups and, ominously, were plotting to “target high political functionaries”None of theseOption A
- Amid rising global trade tensions, there are some signs to hope that all is not lost. __________________. According to the new agreement, 75% of all automobile content must be made regionally, which is higher than the current level of 62.5%. Further, 40-45% of such content must be manufactured using labour that costs at least $16 an hour. The U.S. hopes that this will discourage manufacturers from moving their facilities to Mexico, where labour is available at rates lower than in the U.S. It has also invited Canada to join talks for a renegotiation of trade terms in favour of U.S. interests.
U.S. stocks rallied after news of the deal, with the Nasdaq Composite index moving above the 8,000 level for the first time ever and the Dow Jones index breaking above 26,000The United States and Mexico on Monday reached a breakthrough bilateral trade agreement replacing the decades-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) after Mexico agreed to concessions demanded by the Donald Trump administrationIt is worth noting that Mexico had earlier joined hands with other economies such as Canada, China and the European Union to impose retaliatory tariffs against the U.SThe reason for such a response is simple. Retaliatory tariffs can only cause further harm to the world economy by increasing the burden of taxes on the private sector, which is crucial to spur growth and create jobsNone of theseOption B
- In appropriating the political legacy of his father M. Karunanidhi, and emerging as the undisputed leader of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, M.K. Stalin faced the greatest challenge from within his immediate family than from the wider party organisation. That he was Karunanidhi’s son helped him in ways small and big right through his political career, but Mr. Stalin also needed to beat back the challenge from his elder brother, M.K. Alagiri. __________________. However, the general council meeting in Chennai that elected him president served as an opportunity for Mr. Stalin to demonstrate his support within the organisation.
While the Lok Sabha election is less than a year away, the election that matters most for him, the Tamil Nadu Assembly election, is not due for another three yearsMr. Alagiri cannot hope to win back any support within the partyIn the event, his elevation as the president of the DMK on Tuesday was an uncontested process as Mr. Alagiri had been expelled from the party in 2014 on the suggestion of Karunanidhi himselfMr. Stalin, in contrast, played the waiting game, never violating party discipline or exceeding his briefNone of theseOption C
- Iran is reeling under the impact of reimposed sanctions after the U.S. walked out of the nuclear deal in May. But the crisis is exposing the strains between the moderate and hardline sections within the Islamic Republic’s leadership. Masoud Karbasian, who was removed as Finance Minister on Sunday, is the latest high-profile political casualty in Iran’s attempts to counter the effects of a weakening currency and crippling U.S. sanctions. The rial has lost over 50% of its value this year, pushing up prices and compelling consumers to convert their savings into gold and other assets. __________________. In a prelude to Mr. Karbasian’s sacking, through impeachment by parliament, President Hassan Rouhani had in July dropped Valiollah Seif as the central bank governor, for incompetence in handling the fallout from the currency crisis.
It would disrupt supplies and cause panic in global marketsThere is little appetite in the U.S. for a direct military confrontation; Iran too is under no illusion about its military capabilityIn an effort to mitigate their impact, Abdolnaser Hemmati, the new central bank chief, has announced a relaxation of foreign exchange rules, creating access to subsidised hard money for purchase of essential commodities. He also declared the reopening of currency marketsWith mounting public anger over high inflation and alleged corruption, any additional squeeze could worsen domestic tensionsNone of theseOption D
- It has long been a blot on Indian society that while leprosy is completely curable, there lingers a social stigma attached to it. __________________. These were unconscionably discriminatory from the beginning, but even in independent India, where the law has been an instrument for social change, the process of removing them has been bafflingly slow. The Lepers Act of 1898 was repealed only two years ago. It is time for concerted action to end the entrenched discrimination in law and society against those afflicted by it. Two recent developments hold out hope.
Even more shocking is that colonial laws that predate leprosy eradication programmes and medical advancements remain on the statute bookIt may mark the beginning of the end to the culture of ostracisation that most of them face and help remove misconceptions about the disease and dispel the belief that physical segregation of patients is necessarythe Supreme Court has been hearing a writ petition by the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy seeking to uphold the fundamental rights of people with leprosy and the repeal of discriminatory laws against themThe resolution sought the abolition of laws, rules, regulations, customs and practices that amounted to discrimination, and wanted countries to promote the understanding that leprosy is not easily communicable and is curableNone of theseOption A
- U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s speech last week at the conference for central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming was a strong defence of the current gradual approach to raising interest rates. With the American economy growing at a strong pace, inflation being close to the Fed’s 2% target and unemployment at a 20-year low, President Donald Trump has been so sharply critical of this approach of raising interest rates that it has led to suggestions that he is encroaching on the Fed’s independence. __________________. Mr. Trump, however, has not been the only one critical of the Fed’s policy. Coming from another perspective, some are concerned that the Fed may in fact be raising interest rates too slowly, despite strong signals of an overheating economy.
He emphasised the imprecise nature of economic variables such as unemployment and inflation in the modern economy in drawing attention to the risks of raising rates either too fast or too slowMr. Trump is worried that rising interest rates could derail the country’s economic growth, check the stock market boom, and thereby affect his own popularity and electoral chancesMr. Powell seemed to suggest that much of monetary policy-making is simply about groping in the darkThe Fed’s tightening policy stance has rattled several emerging markets, most notably Turkey and Brazil, which have seen their currencies tank under selling pressureNone of theseOption B
- If there was any real benefit in having a Legislative Council, all States in the country should, and arguably would, have a second chamber. The fact that there are only seven such Councils suggests the lack of any real advantage, apart from the absence of a broad political consensus on the issue. Now Odisha wants to join the group of States that have an Upper House. The State Cabinet has approved a 49-member Legislative Council, accepting the report of a committee set up in 2015 to study the functioning of the second chamber in other States and make recommendations. The process of creating an Upper House is lengthy. __________________. Thereafter, Parliament has to enact a law to create it.
The objections to the second chamber are varied. Rather than fulfilling the lofty objective of getting intellectuals into the legislature, the forum is likely to be used to accommodate party functionaries who fail to get electedIt also favoured a review of the provision in the law for Councils to have seats for graduates and teachers.The State Assembly has to pass a resolution for the creation of the Council by a majority of its total membershipA parliamentary committee that went into these Bills cleared the proposals, but struck a cautionary noteNone of theseOption C