Sunday, June 26, 2005
Quiz 9 (June 27-July 3, 2005): General
1. The Suez Canal connects the Mediterranean Sea with which water body?

2. At the headquarters of which international body would you find Dag Hammarskjöld Library? [Hint: The Interpreter]

3. Formed by a former professor of engineering named Hafiz Mohammed Saeed at the University of Punjab (Lahore), this organization is the militant wing of the Markaz Dawa-Wal-Irshad (the Centre for Religious Learning and Propagation). It defined its agenda as ‘the restoration of Islamic rule over all parts of India’. What are we talking about?

4. The host city of the 2012 Olympic Games will be announced on July 6, 2005. Which two out of the following cities are not contenders for the Games? Paris, Brussels, London, Madrid, New York, Tokyo and Moscow.

5. Which sprinter broke the world 100m sprint record at Athens two weeks ago to clock in at 9.77 seconds? He had finished fifth in last year’s Athens Olympic Games. Extra credit – which country does he belong to?

6. Which famous Mumbai-born film maker was buried last month at the Bada Kabrestan in Marine Lines, Bombay on 2005-05-28 in keeping with his wishes of resting with his ancestors? He shot to fame as a 25 year old with his short film ‘The Creation of Woman’, which was shown at the Cannes Film Festival and also nominated for an Oscar.

7. Fill in the gaps - The world’s first _______ was produced by NCR in Dundee, Scotland, and installed in Enfield Town in north London on June 27, 1967 by Barclays Bank. These days, it is almost a mandatory requirement to have for any bank to install several of these (in fact, the more the better its viewed by customers).

8. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is a fatal, neurodegenerative disease. It spreads not through microbes, but through infectious self-reproducing protein structures called ‘prions’. What is the disease commonly known as?

9. What is diacetylmorphine (the 3,6-diacetyl derivative of the pain killer morphine) more commonly known as? Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer of this substance.

10. Which is the largest financial services company in the world? It had a profit of $17.9B (yes billion!!) in 2003 and its subsidiaries include Smith and Barney, and Diners Club.

11. What is the capital of Uzbekistan?

12. What is Jalal Talabani’s claim to fame?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Hindu Mythology Quiz
1. In the Ramayana, who disguised as the golden deer to lure away Sita?

2. Who did Veda Vyasa enlist to write down the Mahabharata as he narrated it? Extra credit: what were the conditions laid down at this time before they agreed to go ahead?

3. Srimad Bhagavatam (sometimes also known as the Bhagavata Purana) is a narration by Suka, to a king who has been cursed to die in seven days. Name this king - a descendant of the Pandavas (the son of Abhimanyu, to be exact).

4. Who was the only one of the Kauravas who fought for the Pandavas in the battle at Kurukshetra? He was also the only son of Dhritarashtra not killed in the Great War.

5. Who was the commander-in-chief of the Pandav army in that same war?

6. How many verses and chapters (adhyaaya) does the Bhagwad Gita have?

7. Which famous Rishi has contributed the Gayatri Mantra to our scriptures? Before becoming a rishi, he was a king named Kaushika. Stories about his failures in the quest of becoming a brahmarishi are quite famous!

8. What did Vaishampayana narrate to Janamejaya, the great-grandson of Veda Vyasa's grandson? [HINT - The ultimate flashback of them all]

9. During the last part of the great war, X declared Bheema's conduct to be unworthy of a Kshatriya, and was so livid that he charged at Bheema with his own personal weapon, Y. Which act of Bheema made X so angry, and why? Also name his personal weapon Y. [Question taken from quiznet's Mahabharata quiz]

10. What was the name of the town that Bheema freed from the clutches of Bakasura by slaying him?

11. In the Ramayana, when Vaali was fighting with Sugreev , Rama couldnt distinguish between the 2 from a distance as they looked remarkably alike. What helped him distinguish Sugreeva from Vaali?

12. What is the name of Krishna"s shankha (conch)?

Sunday, June 05, 2005
India Defense Quiz
1. Who were India’s defense ministers in the 1965, 1971 and 1999 (Kargil) conflicts against Pakistan?

2. Which famous Special Forces group was formed in 1986 to fight the increasing menace of terrorism that was evident in the aftermath of Operation Bluestar in Punjab? It is probably the most well known special forces unit in India and has seen action in more than 100 missions since, including the clearing of the Akshardham complex in Gujarat (operation Vajrashakti)? They were conspicuous by their lack of action in the hijacking of IA flight IC-814 and its abduction to Kandahar airport in Afghanistan.

3. Amongst the following missiles from India’s missile armory, which is the anti-tank guided missile? Agni, Prithvi, Trishul, Nag, BrahMos and Akash.

4. Who was the Army chief during Operation Bluestar in 1984, when the Indian Army launched the assault on the Golden Temple in Amritsar? He too suffered a similar fate as Indira Gandhi a couple of years later, when Sikh terrorists assassinated him in Pune in 1986.

5. ‘Operation Shakti’ in 1998 was a defining moment in India’s military history and permanently changed the rules for all future conflicts. What was Operation Shakti?

6. A week ago, India opened its new naval base INS Kadamba, which when fully operational will be India’s largest naval base, and one of the largest in Asia. Where is this base located?

7. Which French-made aircraft of the Indian Air Force (named ‘Vajra’) was a key player in the high altitude bombing operations in the heights of Kargil in 1999? The IAF obtained 49 of these aircraft from manufacturer Dassault in 1985.

8. Named ‘Tejas’, this aircraft being developed jointly by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. and the Aeronautical Defense Agency (ADA) has seen long delays and cost over runs. Development started in 1983, and its first maiden flight was in 2001, but is nowhere close to production. What are we talking about?

9. Between 1987 and 1990, the Indian Army was thrust into a civil war on foreign soil, where it suffered severe losses of personnel, material and a big loss of face, thanks primarily to a big political gaffe by the government of India. It has come to be referred to as India’s Vietnam – what are we referring to?

10. Name the highest battlefield in the world, whose ownership was left undecided by the 1972 India-Pak Simla agreement because it was thought to be uninhabitable. Since 1984, this has not been true, and it is estimated that both sides currently deploy about 3000 soldiers each in the frozen heights. It has cost us more than 2000 soldiers, mostly from weather issues and not from the conflict itself.

11. What is the premier inter-services institute for training of officers of the armed forces? Setup initially in Dehradun in 1948 as the Joint Services Wing and moved to its present destination in 1954. Recruitment takes place after the 10+2 examinations, and cadets graduate with scientifically designed academic training for BA/B. Sc. degree of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

12. This special forces unit is the only one in the Indian military where non-Sikh personnel are allowed to grow a beard! Sounds rather hilarious, but these are some of the best special forces units – having started out with 3 officers sent for training with US Navy Seals and British special forces. What are they commonly known as?

Saturday, June 04, 2005
India Quiz (general)
After an extended hiatus, I'm back. Here is a new one, diverse topics - but one underlying theme: India.

1. What is the tree scientifically called Ficus benghalensis more commonly known as? It is widely found in India and can grow into a giant covering several hectares.

2. Which financial institution of the Indian government, established in 1935, had Sir Osborne A. Smith as its first head. Its first chief in independent India was Sir Chintaman D.Deshmukh, and the present head of this organization has his office at the Central Office Building, Shahid Bhagat Singh Road, Mumbai?

3. How many companies comprise the BSE Sensex? Which of the following is NOT a member of that list: Hindalco Industries Ltd., Cipla Ltd., Tata Chemicals Ltd., Bharti Tele Ventures Ltd., Zee Telefilms Ltd. [Effective March 24, 2005]

4. Which 87-year old freedom fighter was the lone opposition to APJ Abdul Kalam in his presidential election?

5. Which Indian scientist was recently awarded the $1M Dan David prize from Israel (shared with MIT’s Robert Langer and Harvard’s George Whitesides) for his outstanding contributions to materials science? He is currently Linus Pauling Research Professor and Honorary President of Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore and has also been Chairman of the Science Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India. [for udct junta – he was the main speaker at MM Sharma’s felicitation function at the time of his retirement from udct]

6. Which actress won the Miss India contest in 1979? She starred with Amol Palekar in ‘Naram Garam’ and is presently married to Paresh Rawal.

7. What is the name of the supersonic cruise missile being developed by a company setup as part of a Joint Venture through an Inter-Governmental Agreement between India and Russia? The name of the missile is derived from the names of two major rivers – one Indian and the other Russian, and is supposed to represent the confluence of two great nations. Needless to say, the Indian effort is conducted through the DRDO. It is touted to be superior to the Tomahawk cruise missiles of the US, and recently ran into issues over intellectual property rights between India and Russia.

8. Who captained India’s women cricket team to the finals of the world cup in South Africa earlier this year?

9. Which paramilitary force was formed in 1990 for the exclusive role of fighting insurgency in Kashmir? Although raised as a paramilitary force, it comprises exclusively of soldiers on deputation from the Indian Army, and now has more than 40,000 soldiers in J&K.

10. Who was appointed Chief Justice of India, exactly one year ago, on June 1, 2004?

11. What was the most significant change brought about in the preamble to the constitution of India by the 42nd Amendment of 1976?

12. In 1992, which corporate watchdog body based in Mumbai did the govt. of India establish following the Harshad Mehta stocks scandal to regulate the functioning of the financial markets?

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