Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Thursday, August 9, 2012

True-False Exercise Aug 9 2012

Read the passage carefully and solve the questions that follow. (Exercise Solving time: 4 minutes)

The Union Cabinet’s decision to fix Rs 14,000 crore as the base price for 5 Megahertz of 2G spectrum in the upcoming auctions must surely bring closure to the contentious debate over exactly how much the 2G scam cost the exchequer. For one, it validates the Comptroller and Auditor General’s Rs 1.76 lakh crore upper-end loss calculation and methodology for the 2008 2G spectrum sale. Broken down, the CAG’s figures lead to a Rs 3,350 crore/MHz value for 2G spectrum. Ironically, the same government that had discredited the CAG, splitting hairs between ‘notional’ and ‘presumptive’ loss, has now itself estimated the value of spectrum at Rs 2,800 crore/MHz. Except that this is just the price at which bidding begins. The expectation is that the final bid price will be higher. The Cabinet seal for a high base price, supported by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s rigorous analysis of a near negligible increase in customer tariffs, confirms that spectrum was as valuable in 2008 as it is now. This should effectively silence the claims of Cabinet ministers and even some economists that high spectrum costs would lead to higher tariffs. If tariffs didn’t go up in 2010 after the 3G auctions, they wouldn’t have gone up in 2008, simply because the bid amount is amortized across the 20-year licence period.
Spectrum pricing should be determined by scarcity and consumer tariffs by competition and if that fails, through TRAI intervention. The government has itself established the flimsiness of its excuse that revenue must be foregone in order to subsidise consumer tariffs for spectrum and other natural resources. Another important learning is that institutions must be allowed to do their job free from political pressure. Investigating and estimating losses to the exchequer on account of flaws in policy implementation are very much in the CAG’s domain. Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal’s attempt to discredit the CAG at a press conference in January 2011 by insisting there was “zero loss” from A. Raja’s 2G spectrum sale did as much damage to the credibility of the government as the original audit report. Since the United Progressive Alliance government is reluctant to learn from the CAG — whom it has ridiculed without remorse since November 2010 — or the Supreme Court, whose licence cancellation judgment of 2012 it challenged immediately through three different petitions, it is best that it learn from itself. And the top lesson is this: if due process — including the engagement of an independent regulator and the adoption of a transparent price discovery mechanism — is followed, scams and shame can be avoided.
Which of the following statements is/are true in the light of the passage.
1. CAG’s estimate of spectrum value is exactly equal to the government’s current estimate.
2. Union Government’s decision to peg the base price at Rs. 14000 crore has vindicated Kapil Sibal’s theory of zero loss in 2008 2G spectrum auction.
3. CAG’s estimate of ideal base price for 2008 2G auction has been proved right by the current price set by the government.   
4. Consumer prices should be directly determined by TRAI.
5. The fear that tariffs would increase due to increase in auction price is not justified. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

True False Exercise July 23

Read the passage carefully and solve the questions that follow. (Exercise Solving time: 5 minutes)
Indians have been wondering whom to blame for the paralysis that has afflicted their government for the last two years. Time magazine’s cover picture of Manmohan Singh, captioned “The Underachiever”, seems to have made up their minds for them. But granted that Dr. Singh is not a natural leader can one ever, justifiably, pin the blame for the collapse of an entire governmental system on a single person?
In Dr. Singh’s case we need to look all the harder for other explanations because he is the same person who piloted a painless transition from a command to a market economy and, a decade later, brokered the coalition with Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s People’s Democratic Party — in the teeth of opposition from the Indian intelligence agencies — that gave the Kashmiris the first government they felt they could call their own. This began the marginalisation of militant separatism in the Valley.
Equally important are the things Dr. Singh prevented from happening. In 2001, the United States responded to 9/11 by invading Afghanistan. In 2002, the NDA responded to the abortive terrorist attack on Parliament by mobilising three quarters of a million soldiers on the Pakistan border. In 2008, Dr. Singh responded to 26/11 by resisting every demand from an enraged public to hit back at Pakistan, and continued to do so even after the terrorists’ phone calls revealed the role of the Inter-Services Intelligence in the attack.
History has vindicated his restraint. The U.S. is stuck in a quagmire from which it has yet to extricate itself; Operation Parakram gained a diplomatic victory for India, but asking the army to mobilise fully for a war that the political leaders never intended to wage sowed the seeds of distrust in the military that have weakened civilian control over it. By contrast, the present warming of relations between our two countries would never have begun had Dr. Singh not exercised extraordinary forbearance in 2008.
Add to all these his authorship of the proposal to resolve the Kashmir dispute by softening and eventually erasing the Line of Control that found favour with President Pervez Musharraf, and the India-U.S. nuclear agreement, and his place in history should have been secure.
Why then is it so much in doubt? The sole answer is the striking contrast between the effectiveness of the first UPA government and the ineffectiveness of the second. Failing to find any other explanation, most analysts have concluded that the change must lie in Dr. Singh himself. However seductive it is to believe that changing the Prime Minister will solve all our problems, the truth is that it will change nothing. The explanation is to be found in the growing dysfunctionality of our political system. UPA-II just happens to be in power when it has come to a head.
A clue to where the problem lies is the fact that nearly all of Dr. Singh’s successes lie in the realm of foreign policy. In this respect, Indian democracy is beginning to resemble the American more and more. Harold Laski may have been the first to note, in his definitive analysis of the American presidency three quarters of a century ago, that the absence of strict party discipline and the ubiquity of cross-voting in the U.S. Congress severely limited the power of the President to pass domestic legislation. It took a crisis of the dimension of the Great Depression of the 1930s to enact the New Deal. It was, therefore, only in foreign policy that U.S. Presidents had been able to exert their full authority.
Dr. Singh has been suffering from a similar liability. During UPA-I, India’s GDP was growing at almost 9 per cent and there was a palpable sense of well-being in the country. The challenges he faced were therefore mostly in the realm of foreign relations, and on related issues like Kashmir. Even during that period, consensus on domestic issues was conspicuous by its absence. The business community frequently expressed the disappointment that Dr. Singh was unable to reform the labour laws and open up key sectors like retail trade and insurance to foreign investment. But since the Congress depended for its survival on the Left, which had never hidden its opposition to these reforms, people did not have to look any further for the causes of its paralysis.

Which of the following ideas the author would agree with?
1) Mr. Manmohan Singh is an underachiever.
2) Dr. Singh is only interested in solving foreign problems.
3) Harold Laski identified shortcomings in the American Presidency.
4) The consensus on domestic issue which existed during UPA I is missing in UPA II.
5) One main reason for the failure of UPA-II is the dysfunctional political system as a whole.
6) Robust GDP growth veiled some of the problems during UPA I.
7) Aggression of US against terrorism was much better than the restrain shown by Dr. Singh.

Friday, July 20, 2012

True false Exercise July 20

Read the passage carefully and solve the questions that follow. (Exercise Solving time: 4 minutes)
In the eight years since he was elected to Parliament from Amethi, Rahul Gandhi has shown a lot of political promise but little else. As a leader of the new generation in the Nehru-Gandhi lineage, he was expected to play a prominent role, first in the party, and later, in government. In 2004, when his mother declined the prime ministership and instead asked Manmohan Singh to lead the country, Rahul’s reluctance to jump into governance was understandable. A quick, dramatic entry into Cabinet at that point would have undermined the Prime Minister, who had no political base of his own and who depended entirely on the Congress’s first family for his political survival. Rahul chose instead to work within the organisational ranks of the Congress; his decision was both tactical and strategic. The fact that he did not seem greedy for the fruits of power and appeared ready to go through the drudgery of field work did his public image a lot of good. But he also tried to use his leadership over the Youth Congress and students’ wing to democratise these organisations — and through them — the ‘mother party’. Though his efforts helped the Congress draw fresh talent, the grip of the old guard, sadly, remains just as firm today as it was eight years ago. More than the indifferent electoral results Rahul produced in Uttar Pradesh this year then, it is his failure to make a dent in the party organisation that must surely rankle more.

Clearly, Rahul Gandhi is not, and could never have been, the answer to all the shortcomings of the Congress. But if he is the heir-apparent, as the entire party thinks he is, and he is to be projected as a prime ministerial candidate in 2014, he must end his wanderings through the thicket of the party organisation and take on concrete ministerial responsibilities. Congress leader Salman Khursheed got it partly right when he lamented the fact that Rahul had so far only shown “cameos” of his thoughts and ideas. The answer, though, is not for him to come up with some “grand announcement” for India but to demonstrate to the people that he can actually administer, as a minister, some of the small but important infrastructure programmes of the UPA government. On Thursday, he indicated his readiness to take on a more pro-active role in the party and the government. He should forget about the party for now. In 2012, Rahul can have no excuse for staying away from the Cabinet. Anything else would appear as a shirking of responsibility, or worse, as aversion to working under Manmohan Singh. Indeed, his entry could give the Prime Minister a perfect opportunity to wield some long knives in his next Cabinet reshuffle and give younger ministers the responsibility they deserve.

Which of the following ideas the author would agree with?

1) Rahul has been forthcoming to work with Manmohan Singh.
2) Tact and strategy are not entirely same.
3) Rahul has been able to break the grip of the old guard on the party.
4) Rahul’s inclusion in the cabinet can create strife in the party.
5)  Rahul must take up a significant ministerial role to strengthen his candidature as the prime ministerial candidate for 2014.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

True-False Exercise July 14

Read the passage carefully and solve the questions that follow. (Exercise Solving time: 4 minutes)
It isn't really his brains and bravado, it seems, which has kept Batman alive and afloat all these years to fight evil. If a team of physicists from the University of Leicester are to be believed, it is but sheer luck that Batman did not drop to his death as he went around tackling an assortment of villains. The culprit, according to the researchers, is his somewhat faultily designed cape, which might let him glide across the menacing Gotham City skyline but will not let him land with any amount of safety. An urgent makeover is the need of the hour, whether it involves packing in a chute or using propulsion jets.
That researchers are interested in the flight safety of a cruising Batman liberates the superhero from more constricting confines, whether it is the covers of a book or the inaccessible reaches of the cinematic or gaming world. The larger-than-life heroism of superheroes had always owed to the fact that they could breach the restrictions of the physical world that felled their human counterparts. If the batman story-tellers over the ages made him pack a chute (and while we are at it, maybe a lunchbox and a thermos of decaf coffee?) or asked him to check the weather conditions or wait at the traffic lights before he took flight, chances are slim that he would have become the legendary do-gooder that he went on to become. Fantasy, at its best, is a flight of imagination and yoking mechanical accuracy to it is an idea whose time may never come.
But now with the research out in the public domain, there is nothing to prevent imitative efforts from being spawned. What, pray, would be the exact chemical composition of the web that Spiderman spins, which guarantees such enormous tensile strength to allow him to swing from one skyscraper to another? Is there actually a way of creating adamantium, that indestructible metal alloy that gives Wolverine his prowess? Most of us, hemmed in by our limited human abilities, will be eagerly waiting for the results.
Which of the following ideas the author would agree with?

A) Batman urgently needs a chute to save himself from an imminent landing disaster.
B) The power of scientific research can strengthen the super heroes.
C) Fantasy consists of ideas that will be implemented in the future.
D) Paying attention to details and safety would spoil the effectiveness of Batman stories.
E) Admantium is the strongest metal on the earth.
F) There should be a research to find out the chemical composition of the Spiderman web.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

True-False Exercise July 10

Read the passage and answer the question that follows.
A recent report from the London School of Economics (LSE) titled “India: The Next Super Power?” — and, very surprisingly, given excessive mileage by various sections of the media — reflects a new obsession among certain global think tanks and research institutions of the need to remind India that it has a long way to go before it can join the “high table.”
The report posed the question in the context of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's 2009 visit to India when she said she considered India to be a global rather than a regional power. Do we really need to take cognizance of preachy sermons on how “India has miles to go before it can sleep,” or would we rather be driven by Rabindranath Tagore's dream of an India “where the mind is without fear and the head is held high … Into that heaven of freedom let my country awake?” I think most Indians would still prefer the latter. So let me try and explain why this argument of India aspiring to be a superpower is both historically and contextually a “no-brainer” argument.
A superpower, according to many international relations theorists, should have the ability to both exert influence and exercise power in its areas of interest, wherever that may be across the globe. Today, that area has extended into the realms of outer space. More importantly, modern neo-realists also believe that true superpower status is reflected in a willingness to engineer regime changes to protect your own way of life or interests, or even to pursue altruistic agendas of “keeping the world a safer place to live in.” No Indian in his right mind, leave alone policymakers and strategists, could ever dream of subscribing to such fanciful ambitions. I would even go to the extent of wagering my entire savings that even if all the fissures and cracks cited by the panel of LSE experts were to be filled up in a few decades, India could never get around to becoming a superpower of the likes of the U.S. of today or the yesteryear Soviet Union, or for that matter, an emerging China.
This argument of mine has historical backing. Unlike the Greeks, Romans, Mongolians, the participants of the Crusades, Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union or the U.S. which had their own reasons for conquest or “expansive doctrines,” India, for centuries, was a “potpourri” of small nation states, satisfied within the boundaries of its geographical expanse, religious tolerance, cultural diversity and abundant natural/water resources. Modern India, ravaged for two centuries by colonial exploitation, is still a nation in the making, benignly looking outward in recent times, primarily to seek energy resources and develop its vast human capital. Nothing exemplifies this aspiration more than the consistent statements of the strategic establishment that all current national strategies including those relating to security would first revolve around India's progression from a developing to a fully developed nation — a tall order by any yardstick.
Let me now dwell a bit on “hard power” and see how it is factored into this whole business of fingerprinting a “superpower.” Capability is never equal to power unless it is backed by intent and willingness to use the power in pursuit of national interests. The development cycle of hard power in respect of superpowers or potential superpowers usually commences with a preponderance of deterrent capabilities, re-enforced as time passes with significant coercive or offensive capabilities, until a stage is reached when this coercive capability offers prospects of widespread “compellance.” Incidentally, compellance is a term propagated by the eminent political scientist, Thomas C. Schelling, during the Cold War and is still widely discussed in the global discourse on power equations. Going by these characteristics, where does India stand in this imaginary and premature quest for superpower status? India's development of force projection capability has always been governed by an overarching strategic direction of responsibility, restraint, resilience and respect for sovereignty. This has meant that deterrence has always occupied pole position, with coercive and expeditionary capabilities taking a back seat.

On the basis of the passage state whether the following statements are True or false.

1) LSE regards India as the next Super Power.
2) The author believe that with respect to becoming a super power Indians are driven by “India has miles to go before it can sleep,”
3) Capability is never equivalent to power.
4) It is only a matter of time before India emerges as a super power.
5) India has started to look outward to dominate its neighbors.
6) The idea of India as a super power is not realistic.
7) The reason of India not being a serious contender for the super power title is that Indians generally have a  feeling of respect for human freedom.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Critical Reasoning Exercise July 9

Read the following passage and answer the following question.

Indian officialdom and civil society are quick to cry hoarse and demand immediate action when Indian students come under attack in Australia or other countries. But when it comes to offering help to foreign students in a similar situation in India, the official machinery is depressingly slow to act. Sadly, the situation is worse when the students are from Africa or poorer Asian countries. Like the shabby prevarication we saw in Australia earlier, the Punjab administration would like us to believe racism was not a factor in the attack on the young Burundian. Even if it wasn’t, it is hard to believe Yannick’s race and African origin were not factors in the tardy response of the system. Indeed, the Central and State governments woke up to the issue only after wide coverage in the media. The callous attitude of government authorities in such cases betrays a mindset that concerns itself only with the concerns of the rich and the powerful. All projections of a rising India count for nothing if the country cannot ensure the rule of law and the safety and security of its citizens and residents, including overseas visitors and students. India is becoming an attractive destination for higher education, especially for students from countries in the global south. If a repeat of the Jalandhar-type attack is to be avoided, the authorities will have to learn to be responsive and quick. And universities and colleges, whether private or State-funded, will have to work with the government to strive to create a welcoming and nurturing environment for foreign students.

In the light of the above passage, classify the following students as Strengthening Statements (SS), Weakening Statements (WS), Inference Statement (IS) or No Impact Statements (NIS)
1) Author doesn’t believe in Punjab administration’s claim that racism was not a factor in the attack.
2) The world views this attack as a rare exception and not as a regular practice.
3) There is no precedent of such an attack on a foreign student in India.
4) There are a number of students in India from the global north.
5) In the last few years, there has been an increase in the number of students from African nations.
6) In case of an attack on a British student the administration swung into action within hours and nabbed the culprits.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Reading Exercise July 2

Read the following passage and identify the paragraphs from which the subsequent questions have been taken.
1.       Ever since the Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade closed for renovations in 2008, the chief curator Dejan Sretenovic has been asked when the museum will reopen.
2.       Sitting in the museum’s temporary administrative digs earlier this spring, Mr. Sretenovic said that, unfortunately, he doesn’t know.
3.       The museum, which opened in 1965 and is one of Europe’s oldest contemporary art museums, has a fantastic collection of modern and contemporary art spanning the 20th century, including works by artists like Andy Warhol, David Hockney and Joan MirĂ³, as well as some of the former Yugoslavia’s most important artists and sculptors, including Marina Abramovic, Rasa Todosijevic and Milica Tomic.
4.       The situation the run-down museum finds itself in — long on enthusiasm but short on funds — is emblematic of the contemporary art scene in Belgrade. It has world-class artists and thought-provoking art, but not much of a market and not many appropriate showcases for the work.
5.       In bad need of maintenance and updating, the contemporary museum space was closed and the administrative offices were moved to space near the memorial complex that houses the tomb of Marshal Josip Broz Tito in Belgrade. Three small galleries scattered across the Serbian capital are being used to exhibit parts of the collection and shows by contemporary artists.
6.       Construction hummed along the first year, with the roof and the underground space reconstructed, but by 2010 budget cuts and the global financial crisis had combined to bring work on the museum to a halt. The €6.5 million, or about $8 million, needed to finish the project has proved hard to come by.
7.       Because of frustration over its future, the museum is staging an exhibition in the partially reconstructed space of the museum titled “What Happened to the Museum of Contemporary Art?” The show (through Sept. 30) includes a timeline with documentation and debate about the reconstruction from newspaper articles, photographs, interviews, government statements and a video with curators talking about the problems of working in a museum without a building.
8.      Mr. Sretenovic also commissioned artists and designers to intervene in the space, which still has remnants — including floor installations, posters and wallpaper by the artist Phil Collins — from the last show the museum held on British contemporary art in 2008.
9.       “Even for a poor country in a deep crisis, I do no think it is a big amount of money to finish this reconstruction,” Mr. Sretenovic said. “It is more a matter of political will. We need the public to support our pressure on the government and decision makers to finally decide if they need a museum of contemporary art or not.”
10.   The situation with the museum is not an isolated example; Belgrade’s National Museum, which includes in its collection works by Matisse, van Gogh, Titian and Picasso, closed its permanent collection to the public 10 years ago. It remains unclear when reconstruction on the floors where the collection is housed will begin, though the museum still holds exhibitions in its foyer and in various spaces across the city.
11.    Many artists and curators, frustrated by the lack of institutional support for contemporary art and a nonexistent art market, have either left the country or spend a good portion of their time seeking exhibitions, residencies, commissions and gallery representation outside of Serbia.
Read each of the the following questions and identify the paragraph where you can the find its answer.  
Q1. In which country is Belgrade located?
Q2. Is the Museum of Contemporary Art, the only one affected in Belgrade?
Q3. According to Mr. Sretenovic is money the only problem for the Museum of Contemporary art?
Q4. What is the general state of art market in Serbia?
Q5. Who is Marina Abramovic?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Reading Exercise June 29

Read the following passage and identify the paragraphs from which the subsequent questions have been taken.

Many rich countries have struggled for three years to emerge fully from the Great Recession of 2008-09. Alas, the world is slipping into a new recession. No global authority has dared say so, but the writing is on the wall.

A classic lead indicator of a global recession is a crash in commodity prices, which is evident today.

Brent crude, the benchmark variety that determines Gulf oil prices for India, has fallen from $125/barrel in January to barely $ 90/barrel. Major global commodity indices have slumped over 20%. Mittal and Tata are closing some global steel plants because of falling demand. Prices of non-ferrous metals, cotton, coal and iron ore have crashed.

This reflects decelerating or falling GDP growth across the globe, and growing realization that conditions will remain depressed for some time. Europe has long been a troubled zone, but the US economy is stalling while ominous negative signs emanate from China.

The Eurozone was predicted to have a mild recession starting October 2011 and ending by the summer of 2012. The region slid down in the October-December quarter and then, thanks to a good German performance, stabilized in the January-March quarter. But the latest data show European growth plummeting in the April-June quarter, with even German factories suffering the sharpest contraction since June 2009. The UK, which is outside the Eurozone, is deeply in double-dip recession.

Optimists think that even if rich countries get into trouble, the strength and resilience of fast-growing emerging markets - above all China - will stem the rot. Alas, China is slowing down too. The HSBC Purchasing Managers' Index shows that Chinese manufacturing has actually fallen in May and June.

China's slowdown has hit Japan, which depends on exports to that destination. Japan is now running trade deficits month after the month, for the first time in decades. This is a game-changer.

The global fall in commodity prices has sent shock waves through all countries that prospered by riding the commodity boom, including Brazil and Russia. India, a net commodity importer, should gain from falling prices. Yet its GDP growth has plummeted too.

There is a standard remedy for recessions. Governments cut interest rates, provide easy money, and run large fiscal deficits to revive demand. Alas, these strategies have very limited scope today because the world is already replete with loose monetary and fiscal policies thanks to attempts to regain momentum, after the 2008-09 Great Recession.

Interest rates are at or below 1% in Europe, Japan and the US. The US Federal Reserve and European Central Bank (ECB) have injected trillions of dollars and euros respectively into their regions, breaking all records in easy money.
Recent elections have brought to power parties in France and Greece saying there is too much austerity, so the region must aim for growth too. The IMF and several economists across the world echo this sentiment. Yet the claim of excessive austerity has been debunked by Josef Joffe in the Financial Times. The ECB Bank has injected trillions of Euros into the region, including ultra-cheap money to banks, massive contributions to rescue funds, and large-scale purchases of government bonds.

In 2011, fiscal deficits as a proportion of GDP were 13% in Ireland, 9% in Greece, 8.5% in Spain, and 4% in Portugal and 
Italy. Even France and Holland, supposedly non-crisis countries, had fiscal deficits of 5%. The Maastricht Treaty forbade anything over 3%. When Maastricht rules are so massively violated, is the problem really excessive austerity? No, the real problem is the structural madness of creating the Eurozone, a monetary union without a political union.

This fundamental blunder remains intact with no prospect of early resolution. A Euro zone break-up would cause massive chaos and misery for a year or two, after which economies would pick up. Trying to save the Eurozone will mitigate immediate misery, but ensure that it continues for years till it becomes politically intolerable.

Europeans refuse to confront the dilemma squarely. Instead, they are devising quick-fixes for the immediate problems of Eurozone banks and governments. Germany may approve some growth measures, and relax objections to direct ECB lifelines to stricken banks and debt-ridden governments. This can put off the day of reckoning, but cannot cure the underlying disease of an ill-conceived monetary union.

Many analysts (including me) have said that India's GDP growth slump to 5.3% in the January-March quarter cannot be blamed on the Euro zone crisis alone, and reflects paralysis and bad policy at home. This will now be compounded by a new global slump. We can hardly expect any miraculous action from the moribund UPA government . We need a fresh election and fresh government.

Identify the paragraphs from which the following questions have been taken.

Q1). What is the main premise on which the author’s fears of recession are based?
Q2) Why according to author the standard remedies for fighting recession will not work?
Q3) Why is author disagrees with the idea that ‘there is too much austerity”?
Q4) What solution the author proposes to solve the Euro crisis?
Q5) What is author’s assumption behind drawing the conclusion in the last sentence of the passage?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

True-False Exercise June 28

Read the passage and answer the question that follows.

It was an event that included sky divers, stunt bikers and people rappelling down the side of a building. Then came another spectacle: watching Google, the Web search giant, re-imagine itself as a hardware maker.
On Wednesday at Google I/O, the company's annual conference for developers, Google unveiled a new 7-inch tablet computer, called Nexus 7, and a sphere-shaped device for streaming music and video that it is calling Nexus Q.
Both debuts paled in comparison to the company's ramped-up demonstration of Project Glass, a device that puts a camera and a tiny video screen into a kind of eyeglass frame. This involved Sergey Brin, Google's co-founder, jumping on stage wearing the device and engaging in a live video chat on Google's social network with a couple of wing-suited sky divers as they jumped out of a plane. They were followed by stunt bikers and rappellers who dropped down the face of the Moscone West convention center, all the while sharing what they were seeing through experimental versions of the glasses.
Brin said Google would make a $1,500 prototype of the glasses - which it calls the Google Glass Explorer Edition - available to developers from the United States who attended the conference. He said the glasses were slated to ship early next year.
Google's focus on hardware is a strategic shift for the company, which makes the vast majority of its revenue from advertising. Google is likely to sell the Nexus 7 and Nexus Q at cost, or even at a loss, but hopes to make up for those losses - and then some - with additional revenue from purchases made on Google Play, its app and content store; additional traffic to its YouTube video site; and the advertising it reaps from all of its Internet products.
By selling Google-branded devices, the company also aims to protect its core search business as competitors hover. Facebook is deepening its partnership with Microsoft's Bing search engine and Microsoft just announced plans for its own branded tablet. Apple is moving to cut Google out of its mobile and desktop operating systems with its own cloud, search and mapping services.
"Google is a hardware company now," said Colin Gillis, an Internet analyst with BGC Partners. "Hardware is becoming the doorway to products and services. If you're going to use the Internet, you are going to have to use a device. Whoever makes that device controls what services and products are offered to you, and those nickels and dimes add up over time."
Google's Nexus 7 tablet, which will be manufactured by Asus, the Taiwanese hardware maker, features a lightweight design, 7-inch screen and high-definition display. Google priced its tablet at $199, which puts it in direct competition with Amazon's Kindle Fire. The cheapest version of Apple's latest iPad sells for $500.
The Nexus 7 will feature Google's new version of its Android mobile operating system, called Jelly Bean, which was made available to developers Wednesday and will come to some Android devices next month.
Joe Britt, an engineering director at Google, said the Android updates include a simpler and more accurate on-screen keyboard and a smarter auto-correct feature. The new software will also transcribe speech even when the device is not online.
State whether the following statements are true or false.
1) Google IO is a new hardware device.
2) Nexus Q is a new tablet device.
3) Nexus 7 is going to compete with Kindle Fire.
4) Google Play is gaming device being launched by Google.
5) Google has a plan ready for making up the losses it will deliberately make through the sales of Nexus 7 and Nexus Q.
6) Jelly Bean is new operating system.
7) With new focus on hardware, Google is not giving priority to its search engine anymore.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

CR Exercise June 27 2012

In the following passage there are four sentences that are not part of the original writing and hence disrupt the flow. Read the passage carefully and identify these sentences.

Unmanned U.S. aircraft now routinely fly over Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. Their cameras record the presence of men in motion. A commander sitting in a base thousands of kilometres away gives the kill order. The U.S. President had previously been over lists of alleged terrorists and marked off those who can be killed. This is the “kill list”. If only one person is to be killed, the execution is called a “personality strike”. There are a wide variety of drone shapes, sizes, configurations, and characteristics. If the drone kills more than one person, it is called a “signature strike”.
On September 30, 2011, two U.S. Predator drones fired Hellfire missiles at a car in Yemen's al-Jawf province. The missiles destroyed the car. Among the four dead were two U.S. citizens, the cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and the editor of Al Qaeda's English language magazine Inspire, Samir Khan. Two weeks later, on October 14, another U.S. drone fired at a group who were on their way to dinner. Among the 10 dead were 16-year-old Abdul Rahman al-Awlaki, the son of the cleric, and his 17-year-old cousin Abdulrahman.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) estimates that between 2001 and 2012, the U.S. launched about a hundred drone strikes in Yemen, killing between 317 and 826 people. The civilian casualty is estimated to be anywhere between 58 and 138, of them 24 being children. These are all very poor numbers, as the Bureau acknowledges. The U.S. has not released any firm data; indeed the U.S. continues to have an ambiguous attitude regarding its assassination policy. Many people have mistakenly used the term Unmanned Aerial System, or Unmanned Air Vehicle System, as these designations were in provisional use at one time or another. It takes credit for the killings, but does not take responsibility for the programme itself.
In a stinging 29-page report in 2010, former United Nations special representative on extrajudicial executions Philip Alston asked the major powers to lay out the legal limits to extrajudicial assassinations. In a statement that accompanied the report, Alston described the political problem for the U.S.: “I'm particularly concerned that the United States seems oblivious to this fact when it asserts an ever-expanding entitlement for itself to target individuals across the globe. But this strongly asserted but ill-defined licence to kill without accountability is not an entitlement which the United States or other states can have without doing grave damage to the rules designed to protect the right to life and prevent extrajudicial executions.” The Bureau of Investigative Journalism is a British not-for-profit news organisation backed by a number of prominent journalists. In the quiet rooms of the U.N., such language is rare: it asserted that the continual U.S. use of drones was not only a violation of current norms but a threat to the architecture of conflict resolution and the rules of war.
The BIJ collected data not only from Yemen but also from Pakistan and Somalia. In Pakistan, U.S. drones have killed between 2,462 and 3,145 people, among whom 482 to 830 were civilians (including 175 children). The numbers of those injured are upwards of 3,000. After the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) summit in Chicago, the U.S. struck in Waziristan about seven times (by June 3). In Somalia, the U.S. conducted a handful of drone strikes, with deaths reported in the hundreds (among them three children). The BIJ's method is eclectic; it uses news reports and speeches. These are, therefore, not exact numbers, only indications of a trend. With no information forthcoming from the U.S., there is no way to have better figures.
The first public admission of extrajudicial executions came with the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011, and the first public admission of the use of drones came from President Barack Obama in an Internet interview on January 30 this year. Of the drone attacks, Obama said, “This is a targeted, focussed effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists who are trying to go in and harm Americans, hit American facilities, American bases and so on.” He said geographical conditions necessitated these attacks. These  Unmanned Aircraft Systems range in cost from a few thousand dollars to tens of millions of dollars, with aircraft ranging from less than one pound to over 40,000 pounds. According to him, the alleged terrorists are in a region in Pakistan that is not amenable to a simply military operation. “Obviously a lot of these strikes have been in the FATA [Federally Administered Tribal Areas] and going after Al Qaeda suspects who are up in very tough terrain along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.” The key phrase in his statement was that he had a “list of active terrorists” who could be killed by the unmanned drones.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Critical Reasoning June 26

Read the following excerpt from an interview. Different answers given by the expert have been labeled as A, B, C etc. followed by the questions that were asked.(labeled as 1,2 3 etc.) Match the questions with the answers.
A] I have worked during one round of the selection process, when Amartya Sen was the Jury Chair. The charter of the Prize is in keeping with what I would like it to achieve. The Prize has established itself, but frankly, it has to be given much greater attention in India.
In India, there is such an obsession with the day’s news, with politics and the policy-making process. The kind of attention I get makes me convinced that these things get disproportionate attention (laughs). We ought to give much greater attention to the fundamental sciences. I actually mean fundamental thinking. I mean writers, poets, fundamental mathematics, fundamental economics — all these people and their work deserve much more attention in India.
I must say that The Hindu does probably more than any other newspaper in India in terms of focusing on these things. The paper’s attention to the life of the mind is distinctly more than most others. Of late, there are others like theHindustan Times, which are doing more, but we really need to go much further.
In contrast, America gives huge attention to these things. The obituaries in The New York Times on people in the arts and sciences are more substantial than articles on people in politics or policy making.
When eminent Indian statistician Raghu Raj Bahadur [considered to be one of the architects of modern mathematical statistics] died in 1997, the longest obituary was in the NYT, not in any Indian newspaper.
B] The gap in subjects like economics may have widened now, but about 15-20 years ago, when we had Amartya Sen, Jagdish N. Bhagwati and Prasanta K. Pattanaik, the gap in cutting edge research was much narrower. People in the sciences also tell me the same thing.
C] I am glad that Infosys is giving a reasonable amount of money. But, as in things like this, if the prize is properly projected, the money will become relatively minor. The Nobel Prize is big money, but people will be willing to give money to get the prize.
D] Once the awards are announced, the media must follow-up to find out what the winners have achieved. One of the great things after the Nobel announcements every year is the fun in reading in lay language the contributions of the winners.
I believe that the pursuit of knowledge and aesthetic beauty — in poetry, literature, mathematics and in many other fields — is an end in itself. Just harping on the utilitarian aspects of these branches is no good. People must be motivated by the pure pursuit of aesthetics, like a music composer or artist is, or like Pythagoras did when he discovered the triangle theorem. The sheer beauty of triangles caught his imagination. It is indeed arguable that Pythagoras’ Theorem has contributed more than the biggest of the business houses. It gave us the instrument, which made it possible for rockets to fly. But Pythagoras himself was never distracted by these possibilities.
E] Just as there is the concept of Corporate Social responsibility for business, there ought to be the concept of Media Scientific Responsibility. The media should make a deliberate contribution to science, even if it is unprofitable.
F] No. We need multiple actions. Government funding is very critical, but we also need to create space for the scientists. University nurture is extremely important. But take the case of the Delhi School of Economics. Even in its heyday, its success was not because of government nurture. Greater autonomy played a huge part in its success. Amartya Sen was made full professor of economics at the age of 30. Prasanta K. Pattanaik became professor at 29. Part of the tribute would have to go to people like Dr. V.K.R.V. Rao and K.N. Raj, who were, what I would call, academic entrepreneurs. They may not have been the greatest researchers but they built the Delhi School of Economics.
1) Do you see the Infosys Prize as one way of doing this?
2) But can even a Prize of this stature help in the absence of government funding for research?
3) How do you plan to set about getting more attention for the awards?
4) Do you see the gap in coverage as a reflection of the gap in the advancement of the fundamental sciences in India and in the advanced countries?
5) What should the media do?
6) You took over the Jury Chair of the Infosys Prize for Social Sciences in April. What are your plans for the Prize in the social sciences?

Monday, June 25, 2012

True-False Exercise June 25

Read the passage and answer the question that follows.

Studies on Subhas Chandra Bose's flirtation with the Axis powers, first Hitler's Germany and Mussolini's Italy and next Tojo's Japan, vary a lot in their approach from the denunciatory to the apologetic and hagiographic, so typical of Indian nationalistic writings. Some have emphasised his activities in South-East Asia – with its Azad Hind government and the rest, which the brilliant advocate Bhulabhai Desai so ably described at the Indian National Army (INA) trial in the Red Fort in New Delhi – to the neglect of the crucial phase in Germany, which preceded it.Romain Hayes' work, based on massive research, deserves wide readership in India because it is scrupulously fair and richly nuanced. It covers the background to Bose's adventure – his outlook on democracy and/differences with Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. All of which explain, but do not justify, why he sought and took help from the fascists. The author's emphasis on Bose's sturdy independence is writ all over the book. He was incapable of being anybody's stooge; only an opportunistic, albeit fierce, nationalist. That said, the author is unsparing in his censures of Bose's moral blindness to the crimes of his deliberately chosen allies.There is a record of such opportunism and not in India alone. The Irish patriot, Sir Roger Casement, was tried for treason and hanged. The Italian scholar Marzia Casolari has revealed, on the basis of archival evidence, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh's (RSS) links with and admiration for Mussolini's fascist regime (“Hindutva's foreign tie-up in the 1930s”, Economic & Political Weekly, January 22, 2000. One wonders when her studies will emerge in book form). At one time, Churchill expressed his admiration for Mussolini.So did Gandhi. Indeed Bose and Gandhi's mistakes fed on each other. Were it not for Gandhi's shabby treatment of Bose – forcing an elected Congress president to vacate his office and then treating him with scorn – Bose would not have left India in December 1940. “Bose left no doubt that the attitude of Gandhi had been central to his leaving India.” Maulana Azad noted with some astonishment that Gandhi's “admiration for Subhas Bose unconsciously coloured his view about the whole war situation”, especially on Cripps' proposals of March 30, 1942, for a settlement of India's political impasse.As early as in 1941, “Sardar Patel felt convinced that the Allies were going to lose the war” (K.M. Munshi; Pilgrimage to Freedom, 1967; page 75). Singapore fell to Japanese arms on February 15 and Rangoon on March 7, 1942. However, on June 22, 1941, Hitler attacked the Soviet Union and on December 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbour bringing the “unsinkable aircraft carrier”, the United States, into the war. Historians are agreed that by mid-June 1942 “the limit of Japanese power [was] reached”.Nirad C. Chaudhuri had a poor opinion of Nehru's and Bose's understanding of international affairs. He analysed the 1942 episode in detail in an article in The Times of India of February 28, 1982, aptly titled, “They were ignorant of International Politics”. This was a reference to “the two Cambridge men” in the Congress, Nehru and Bose, “who were always talking about the international situation. They were also regarded by their political colleagues as expert authorities on international affairs… (but) their ideas on international politics were only a projection of their nationalism, which prevented their seeing any international situation for what it was.” This is true also of Indian writers on foreign affairs.The failing persists, still. South Asia has produced world-class economists, historians, scientists and diplomats. It has not produced a single world-class scholar on international affairs. Nationalist self-absorption is no help in scholarly pursuits. The myopic outlook on world affairs was laid bare in all its unreality at a historic meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) in Allahabad from April 27 to May 1, 1942.On the first day, Gandhi's draft resolution declared: “Britain is incapable of defending India…. Japan's quarrel is not with India. She is warring with the British Empire.… If India were freed her first step would probably be to negotiate with Japan.” Nehru disagreed. “Gandhiji's draft is an approach which needs careful consideration. Independence means, among other things, the withdrawal of British troops. It is proper; but has it any meaning, our demanding withdrawal? Nor can they reasonably do it even if they recognise independence. Withdrawal of troops and the whole apparatus of civil administration will create a vacuum which cannot be filled up immediately.“If we said to Japan that her fight was with British imperialism and not us she would say, ‘We are glad the British army is withdrawn; we recognise your independence. But we want certain facilities now. We shall defend you against aggression. We want aerodromes, freedom to pass our troops through your country. This is necessary in self-defence.' They might seize strategic points and proceed to Iraq, etc. The masses won't be touched if only the strategic points are captured. Japan is an imperialist country. Conquest of India is in their plan. If Bapu's approach is accepted we become passive partners of the Axis powers. This approach is contrary to the Congress policy for the last two years and a half. The Allied countries will have a feeling that we are their enemies…. “The whole background of the draft is one which will inevitably make the world think that we are passively lining up with the Axis powers. The British are asked to withdraw. After the withdrawal we are to negotiate with Japan and possibly come to some terms with her. These terms may include a large measure of civil control by us, a certain measure of military control by them, passage of armies through India, etc…. Whether you will like it or not, the exigencies of the war situation will compel them to make India a battleground. In sheer self-defence they cannot afford to keep out. They will walk through the country. You can't stop it by non-violent non-cooperation. Most of the population will not be affected by the march. Individuals may resist in a symbolic way. The Japanese armies will go to Iraq, Persia, etc., throttle China and make the Russian situation more difficult…. But the whole thought and background of the draft is one of favouring Japan. It may not be conscious. Three factors influence our decisions in the present emergency: (i) Indian freedom, (ii) sympathy for certain larger causes, (iii) probable outcome of the war; who is going to win? It is Gandhiji's feeling that Japan and Germany will win. This feeling unconsciously governs his decision. The approach in the draft is different from mine” (emphasis added throughout). (Congress Responsibility for the Disturbances 1942-43, Government of India, 1943, page 43.)

On the basis of the passage state whether the following statements are True or false.

1) ‘Unsinkable aircraft carrier’ title has been used for Japan.
2) Nirad C Chaudhari had a poor opinion about Nehru’s and Gandhi’s understanding of international affairs.
3) Nehru was not in favour of immediate troop withdrawals by the British.
4) Nehru felt that in case of British withdrawals, the Japanese would exploit Indian for their strategic pursuits.
5) Gandhiji opposed the British in favour of Japan and Germany as he thought that the latter were morally superior.
6) RSS, Churchill and Gandhiji are known to have expressed admiration for Mussolini. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Critical Reasoning Exercise June 18, 2012

Read the following excerpt from an interview. Different answers given by the expert have been labeled as A, B, C etc. followed by the questions that were asked.(labeled as 1,2 3 etc.) Match the questions with the answers.
A] Desertification is a huge global environmental problem — like climate change. Desertification adds to, and worsens the impact of climate change. Currently, some two billion people are affected by desertification and the degradation of land; 41 per cent of the landmass worldwide is prone to desertification. The major deserts in the world are expanding at an alarming rate. Deserts in China, Mongolia and Africa are all invading their neighboring regions. In your own country, the deserts in western India are expanding. Hundreds of thousands of hectares in the arid and semi-arid regions and drylands around the world are becoming sand dunes every year. This means fewer and fewer hectares are available for agriculture, livestock rearing and allied activities that offer livelihood sources to hundreds of millions of world population, especially the poor. Desertification cuts on the availability of food and water even as the global population is increasing. It also causes disasters such as sandstorms which wipe out large swathes of habitable lands. Aquifers vanish and biodiversity is greatly reduced.
If we do not rehabilitate the degraded lands and stop the march of the deserts, there will be huge global shortages of food, water and fuels and unprecedented mass migrations.

B] Land degradation and desertification is a long process. They involve a host of issues such as deforestation, over-grazing, over-cultivation, logging, pressure of population, industrialisation and poor land-use practices. A naturally dry climate, long spells of droughts and heavy winds add to the anthropogenic causes.
C] The Rio+20 role will be very crucial as world leaders can take a bold decision of setting a sustainable development goal for “zero net land degradation.” We are pushing for an agreement on zero net land degradation by 2030. Setting up of an Intergovernmental Panel on Land and Soil will be very helpful in speeding up efforts to check desertification. Desertification is nearly as critical as climate change and international initiative on climate change and biodiversity loss should have linkages and synergies with steps against desertification. Unfortunately, people are not as aware of the impact of desertification as they are of climate change. The Rio+20 meeting can bring in desertification on the sustainable development agenda. It can also agree to give more legal teeth to the UNCCD.
D] Of course, the battle against desertification calls for long-term commitment and investment. There is no alternative. Regional, sub-regional and country-level plans are necessary for Africa and Asia to reclaim deserts and restore them to fertile farmlands. Developing countries need to integrate their poverty eradication programmes with strategies to fight desertification. They could also earmark a certain share of their annual budgets for the efforts. The soil and land preservation efforts should be prioritised and mainstreamed. The funds for climate change mitigation and adaptation could be dovetailed to the anti-desertification programme. In Africa, several countries have come together to form a 12,000 sq.km “great green wall” extending from Senegal to Djibouti with the participation of local communities. People's participation is crucial in reclaiming lands. China's “great green wall” project is on a massive scale and is now starting to show results.
E] More than two billion hectares of degraded land in various parts of the world can be rehabilitated. The techniques include agro-forestry and farmer-managed natural regeneration. Small community initiatives like closure of degraded lands for grazing, curtailing farming, growing fast-growing plants, raising tall trees that serve as a barrier against winds and sandstorms are very effective. National governments could consider building large green belts, prioritise forestry programmes and launch projects of fixing and stabilising sands. In China, where deserts comprise 27 per cent of the landmass, lots of money has been invested in anti-desertification programmes. The country has realised that desertification — and its spin-off, the sandstorm — has to be tackled to sustain its economic development.
Match the following questions with their corresponding answer.
1] Steps to check desertification and rehabilitating degraded lands are expensive and time-consuming. How can poor countries rise to the challenge?
2] How do you assess the threat of desertification?
3] What are some of the ways to rehabilitate degraded lands?
4] What will be the role of the upcoming Rio+20 conference in the fight against desertification?
5] What causes desertification?