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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 8th August 2022

  • IASbaba
  • August 8, 2022
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(PRELIMS & MAINS Focus)


NITI Aayog Governing Council meeting

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Polity
  • Mains – GS 2 (Polity – Federalism)

In News: Prime Minister announced the 7th meeting of the NITI Aayog Governing Council.

  • This was the first physical meeting of the Governing Council since the onset of the pandemic, with the 2021 meeting held via video conferencing.
  • Meeting was attended by 23 Chief Ministers, three Lieutenant Governors and two Administrators, and Union Ministers.
  • Addressing the meeting of the NITI Aayog Governing Council, the Prime Minister said that during the pandemic every State played a crucial role by focussing on the grassroots delivery of public services through cooperation across political lines.
  • In that process, India emerged as an example for the developing nations to look up to as a global leader.

Four key issues

This year, the Governing Council discussed four key issues:

  • Crop diversification and achieving self-sufficiency in pulses, oilseeds and other agri-commodities;
  • Implementation of the National Education Policy (NEP) in school education;
  • Implementation of the NEP in higher education; and
  • Urban governance
  • Describing India’s G20 presidency in 2023 as a unique opportunity to show to the world that India was not just confined to Delhi, but included every State and Union Territory, PM called for a mass movement for identification of the best talent available in the country.
  • During the meeting, a key demand from the States was to make the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for pulses and oil seeds more effective.

NITI Aayog

  • The National Institution for Transforming India, also called NITI Aayog, was formed via a resolution of Union Cabinet on Jan 1, 2015 and it replaced the Planning Commission.
  • NITI Aayog is the premier policy ‘Think Tank’ of GoI to bring states to act together in national interest, and therby foster Cooperative federalism.

Composition

  • Chairperson: Prime Minister
  • Vice-Chairperson: To be appointed by Prime-Minister
  • Governing Council: Chief Ministers of all states and Lt. Governors of Union Territories.
  • Regional Council: To address specific regional issues, Comprising Chief Ministers and Lt. Governors Chaired by Prime Minister or his nominee.
  • Adhoc Membership: 2 members in ex-officio capacity from leading Research institutions on rotational basis.
  • Ex-Officio membership: Maximum four from Union council of ministers to be nominated by Prime minister.
  • Chief Executive Officer: Appointed by Prime-minister for a fixed tenure, in rank of Secretary to Government of India.
  • Special Invitees: Experts, Specialists with domain knowledge nominated by Prime-minister.

Hubs of NITI Aayog

  • Team India Hub acts as interface between States and Centre.
  • Knowledge and Innovation Hub builds the think-tank acumen of NITI Aayog.
  • The Aayog planned to come out with three documents — 3-year action agenda, 7-year medium-term strategy paper and 15-year vision document.

Source: The Hindu

Indian Express

Previous Year Question

Q.1) The Government of India has established NITI Aayog to replace the (2015)

  1. Human Rights Commission
  2. Finance Commission
  3. Law Commission
  4. Planning Commission

Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV)

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Science & Technology
  • Mains – GS 3 (Science & Technology)

In News: The maiden flight of ISRO’s newly developed Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) suffered a setback, with “data loss” at the terminal stage, after three stages had “performed and separated” as planned.

  • The satellites ended up being placed in an elliptical orbit, and are “no longer usable”.
  • While the three solid fuel-based propulsion stages worked normally, the satellites were injected into a wrong orbit, due to failure of logic to identify a sensor failure.
  • The new rocket was carrying an Indian Earth Observation Satellite, EOS-02, weighing 145 kg and AzaadiSat, made by 750 schoolgirls to celebrate 75 years of Independence under SpaceKidz India, weighing 8 kg.

Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV)

  • SSLV is a rocket that is designed to orbit satellites weighing less than 500kg in Low Earth Orbit and 300 kg to Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO).
  • It is a 3 stage Launch Vehicle configured with three Solid Propulsion Stages and liquid propulsion-based Velocity Trimming Module (VTM) as a terminal stage.

Key Features

  • SSLV is the smallest vehicle at 110-ton mass at ISRO.
  • It will take only 72 hours to integrate, unlike the 70 days taken now for a launch vehicle. Only six people will be required to do the job, instead of 60 people.
  • The other features include: flexibility in accommodating multiple satellites, Launch on demand feasibility, minimal launch infrastructure requirements, etc.

Significance

Seamless launch of small satellites

  • The SSLV is intended to cater to a market for the launch of small satellites into low earth orbits with a quick turn-around time.
  • Suited for launching multiple microsatellites & supports multiple orbital drop-offs.
  • Shift the burden of commercial launches from PSLV
  • The SSLV is likely to cost a fourth of the current PSLV.

Source: Indian Express

The Hindu

Previous Year Question

Q.1) With reference to India’s satellite launch vehicles, consider the following statements: (2018)

  1. PSLVs launch the satellites useful for Earth resources monitoring whereas GSLVs are designed mainly to launch communication satellites.
  2. Satellites launched by PSLV appear to remain permanently fixed in the same position in the sky, as viewed from a particular location on Earth.
  3. GSLV Mk III is a four-staged launch vehicle with the first and third stages using solid rocket motors; and the second and fourth stages using liquid rocket engines.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 and 3
  3. 1 and 2
  4. 3 only


Lumpy Skin Disease

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Science

In News: Over the last few weeks, nearly 3,000 cattle have died in Rajasthan and Gujarat due to a viral infection called the Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) that has spread across the states.

What is the Lumpy Skin Disease?

  • According to a report by GAVI, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, the Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) disease is caused by a virus called the Capripoxvirus and is an emerging threat to livestock worldwide.
  • It is genetically related to the goatpox and sheeppox virus family.
  • LSD infects cattle and water buffalo mainly through vectors such as blood-feeding insects.
  • Signs of infection include the appearance of circular, firm nodes on the animal’s hide or skin that look similar to lumps.
  • Infected animals immediately start losing weight and may have fever and lesions in the mouth, along with a reduced milk yield.
  • Other symptoms include excessive nasal and salivary secretion.
  • Pregnant cows and buffaloes often suffer miscarriage and in some cases, diseased animals can die due to it as well.

Have such outbreaks occurred earlier; and are humans at risk?

  • This is not the first time LSD has been detected in India.
  • The disease has been endemic in most African countries, and since 2012 it has spread rapidly through the Middle East, Southeast Europe and West and Central Asia.
  • Since 2019, several outbreaks of LSD have been reported in Asia.
  • According to the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH), of which India is a member, mortality rates of 1 to 5 per cent are considered usual.
  • The disease is not zoonotic, meaning it does not spread from animals to humans, and humans cannot get infected with it.
  • While the virus does not spread to humans, “milk produced by an infected animal will be fit for human consumption after boiling or pasteurisation as these processes will kill the viruses, if any, in the milk.

Successful control and eradication of LSD relies on “early detection followed by a rapid and widespread vaccination campaign”, as per the WOAH. Once an animal has recovered, it is well protected and cannot be the source of infection for other animals.

Source: Indian Express


Jal Jeevan mission

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Current Affairs
  • Mains – GS 3 (Economy – Growth & Development)

In News: Pimpalghar-Ranjnoli, a village situated in the industrial belt of Thane district has used funds under the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) to ensure that all 842 families in the village get tap water connection.

  • In other words, each of the 5,644 residents of the village has access to 55 litres of water every day.
  • Under the JJM, the central government, in partnership with states, aims to provide potable water in adequate quantity and prescribed quality on a long-term basis to every rural household, including in tribal areas of the country, through tap water connection by 2024.
  • While Pimpalghar-Ranjnoli can stand out as a model for the rest of the country, it is part of a broader effort by the state government to implement JJM.
  • Maharashtra is one of the leading states in the country in implementing the JJM.
  • As per the data from the central government, almost 71 per cent of households in Maharashtra have access to a tap connection; the national average is just under 52 per cent.
  • By this metric, Maharashtra ranks ninth after Goa, Telangana, Haryana, Andaman and Nicobar islands, Punjab, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh and Manipur.

Jal Jeevan mission

  • Launched in 2019, it envisages supply of 55 litres of water per person per day to every rural household through Functional Household Tap Connections (FHTC) by 2024.
  • It comes under Jal Shakti Ministry.
  • JJM looks to create a jan andolan for water, thereby making it everyone’s priority.
  • The mission ensures functionality of existing water supply systems and water connections, water quality monitoring and testing as well as sustainable agriculture.

Features:

  • JJM focuses on integrated demand and supply-side management of water at the local level.
  • Creation of local infrastructure for source sustainability measures as mandatory elements, like rainwater harvesting, groundwater recharge and management of household wastewater for reuse, is undertaken in convergence with other government programmes/schemes.
  • The Mission is based on a community approach to water and includes extensive Information, Education and Communication as a key component of the mission.

Implementation:

  • Paani Samitis plan, implements, manages, operate and maintain village water supply systems.
  • These consist of 10-15 members, with at least 50% women members and other members from Self-Help Groups, Accredited Social and Health Workers, Anganwadi teachers, etc.
  • The committees prepare a one-time village action plan, merging all available village resources.
  • The plan is approved in a Gram Sabha before implementation.

Funding Pattern:

  • The fund sharing pattern between the Centre and states is 90:10 for Himalayan and North-Eastern States, 50:50 for other states, and 100% for Union Territories.

Source: Indian Express

Previous Year Question

Q.1) With reference to Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, consider the following statements: (2022)

  1. Private and public hospitals must adopt it.
  2. As it aims to achieve universal health coverage, every citizen of India should be part of it ultimately.
  3. It has seamless portability across the country.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3

Q.2) Regarding ‘Atal Pension Yojana’, which of the following statements is/are correct? (2016)

  1. It is a minimum guaranteed pension scheme mainly targeted at unorganized sector workers.
  2. Only one member of a family can join the scheme.
  3. Same amount of pension is guaranteed for the spouse for life after subscriber’s death.

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3

Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2022

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Current Affairs
  • Mains – GS 3 (Economy – Infrastructure – Energy)

In News: As the dues of power distribution companies (discoms) to power generators surge to unsustainable levels, with states holding back payments to be made to discoms for electricity supplies as well as against subsidies for free power schemes, the Centre is set to give distribution reforms a renewed push.

  • The Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2022, to be introduced in the ongoing monsoon session of Parliament, is likely to push state electricity regulatory commissions to take up timely revision of tariffs and catalyse competition in the retail power distribution sector, among other provisions.

Stats

  • This comes amid a renewed debate on the freebie culture and the focus on the mounting dues of power distribution companies.
  • According to latest government data, discoms of three states — Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Telangana — owed about 57 per cent of total dues to power generating companies (gencos); followed by Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh and the UTs of Jammu & Kashmir, which account for another about 26 per cent of the total dues of Rs 1,14,222 crore owed to power generation companies.

Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2022

  • The suggested amendments are to the Electricity Act, 2003 which was enacted to consolidate the laws relating to the generation, transmission, distribution, trading, and use of electricity and generally for taking measures conducive to the development of electricity.
  • The Bill proposes that power distribution licensees will be allowed to use the networks of other licensees, which could boost competition and enhance efficiency.
  • The government also hopes to insert a new section in the Act that will enable the management of power purchase and cross-subsidy in case of multiple distribution licensees in the same area of supply.
  • These measures are expected to promote competition in the power distribution sector so that consumers benefit from competitive prices.
  • The government also proposes to enable regulators to fix a minimum tariff ceiling to discourage unhealthy pricing wars among distributors and a maximum ceiling to ensure consumers are protected against price increase shock.
  • Amendments are also being made in the Act to strengthen the functioning of the National Load Despatch Centre for ensuring the safety and security of the grid and for the economic and efficient operation of the power system in the country.

The amendments to the act and other recent policy initiatives like the Ministry of Power’s flagship Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS) are aimed at resolving issues in the power sector by improving the performance of the distribution sectors which has been a drag on the industry.

Must Read: The problems plaguing thermal power generators

Source: Moneycontrol.com

Indianexpress


Places in News

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Geography (Map)

Cheruthoni dam

In news: The shutters of the Cheruthoni dam of Idukki reservoir were opened to release water.

  • The Cheruthoni Dam, located in Idukki District, Kerala is a 138m tall concrete gravity dam.
  • Cheruthoni is a town on the banks of Cheruthoni River, a major tributary of the Periyar River, the second longest river in Kerala state.
  • This dam was constructed in 1976 as part of the Idukki Hydroelectric Project along with two other dams Idukki and Kulamavu.

Source: Thehindu

Previous Year Question

Q.1) Consider the following pairs: (2022)

Reservoirs:                           States

  1. Ghataprabha:          Telangana
  2. Gandhi Sagar:         Madhya Pradesh
  3. Indira Sagar:          Andhra Pradesh
  4. Maithon:                 Chhattisgarh

How many pairs given above are not correctly matched?

  1. Only one pair
  2. Only two pairs
  3. Only three pairs
  4. All four pairs

Taiwan Strait, Yellow Sea and Bohai sea

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In News: China continued its live-fire military exercises in waters near Taiwan for the fourth day, while also announcing new exercises in the Yellow Sea, between China and the Korean peninsula.

  • Separately, Chinese authorities announced it will also conduct live-fire military exercises on the Yellow and Bohai seas, between China and the Korean peninsula.

Taiwan Strait

  • The Taiwan Strait, also known as the Formosa Strait, is a 180 km wide strait separating Taiwan and mainland China.
  • The strait is currently part of the South China Sea and connects to the East China Sea to the north. The narrowest part is 130 km wide.
  • The entire strait is on Asia’s continental shelf.
  • Historically both the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Taiwan espoused a One-China Policy that considered the strait part of the exclusive economic zone of a single “China”.

Yellow Sea

  • The Yellow Sea is a marginal sea of the Western Pacific Ocean located between mainland China and the Korean Peninsula, and can be considered the northwestern part of the East China Sea.
  • Its name is descriptive of the golden-yellow colour of the silt-laden water discharged from major rivers.

Bohai Sea

  • The innermost bay of northwestern Yellow Sea is called the Bohai Sea into which flow some of the most important rivers of northern China, such as the Yellow River, the Hai River and the Liao River.
  • The northeastern extension of the Yellow Sea is called the Korea Bay, into which flow the Yalu River, the Chongchon River and the Taedong River.

Source: Thehindu


Tax-GDP ratio

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Economy
  • Mains – GS 3 (Economy)

What is tax-GDP ratio?

  • It is used as a measure to determine how well the government controls a country’s economic resources.
  • The tax to GDP ratio measures the size of a country’s tax revenue compared to its GDP.
  • The higher the tax to GDP ratio, the better the country’s financial position. The ratio denotes the government’s ability to fund its expenditures.
  • A greater tax to GDP ratio indicates that the government can cast a wider fiscal net. It helps a government become less reliant on borrowing.

Tax to GDP of India

  • India consists of one direct taxpayer for every 16 voters present. Income tax is paid by only 1% of India’s population.
  • India’s Gross tax to GDP which was 11% in FY19, fell to 9.9% in FY20 and marginally improved to 10.2% in FY21 (partly due to decline in GDP) and is envisaged to be 10.8% in FY22, this is much lower than the emerging market economy average of 21 percent and OECD average of 34 percent.

Reasons for Low Tax to GDP Ratio in India

  • There is the presence of a large informal/unorganized sector in India which makes it vulnerable, causing greater tax evasion.
  • There is greater dominance of the agriculture sector, for instance out of 25 crore households in India, 15 crores belong to the agricultural sector which is exempted from paying taxes.
  • There are a high number of disputes between tax authorities and taxpayers, with one of the lowest proportions of recovery of tax arrears.
  • The direct to indirect tax ratio in India is around 35:65, which is lower than most of the OECD economies where the ratio is 67:33 in favor of direct taxes.
  • There have been a number of generous government policies which benefited the richer private sector by providing various tax exemptions.
  • Another factor that contributes to the low tax to GDP ratio is low per capita income and high poverty.

Implications

  • Due to a decrease in tax revenues, the Indian State becomes incapable of spending on national security, welfare system, public goods, etc.
  • There is heavy borrowing due to the low tax revenue of the government, this causes a persistent deficit bias in fiscal policy.
  • Such a system creates political incentives for the government to borrow money to buy votes rather than work on building an effective tax system that will lead to economic growth and development.
  • Widespread tax evasion goes unchecked which hampers growth and most of the tax burden falls on the high-productivity sectors that need growth.
  • Lower tax collections decrease the capacity of the government to incur expenditure for welfare schemes.
  • There is increased dependence on indirect taxes which are regressive in nature.
  • There is an increase in social inequality due to the asymmetric distribution of economic resources in society.

Measures to be taken

  • The individual taxpayer base should be widened to increase revenue collection.
  • Exemptions provided under various provisions such as transfer pricing, base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS), etc should be re-assessed.
  • Providing effective dispute settlement mechanisms.
  • Citizens’ attitudes must be changed by instilling a feeling of national responsibility.

It is essential that in order to increase the tax to GDP ratio India’s informal sector is brought into the formal fold and there should be progressive income taxes, complemented by indirect taxation, property taxes, and capital taxes, etc. Thus focus should be on widening the tax base rather than simply deepening it.

Source: Indian Express


Minor mineral plunder

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Current Affairs
  • Mains – GS 1 (Geography); GS 2 (Governance)

In News: India has grossly underestimated the issue of illegal mining, which damages the environment and causes revenue loss.

  • With the increase in the pace of development, the demand for minor minerals such as sand and gravel has crossed 60 million metric tons in India.
  • This also makes it the second largest extractive industry on the planet, after water.
  • However, while laws and monitoring have been made stringent for the mining of major minerals consequent to the unearthing of several related scams across the country, the fact is that rampant and illegal mining of minor minerals continues unabated.

Issue of regulation

  • Unlike major minerals, the regulatory and administrative powers to frame rules, prescribe rates of royalty, mineral concessions, enforcement, etc. are entrusted exclusively to the State governments.
  • The Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notifications of 1994 and 2006 made environmental clearance compulsory for mining in areas more than or equal to five hectares.
  • However, the SC of India after taking cognisance of a report by the Ministry of Environment, on Environmental Aspects of Quarrying of Minor Minerals (2010) directed all State governments to make the requisite changes in the regulatory framework of minor minerals, requiring environmental clearance for mining in areas less than five hectares.
  • Consequently, the EIA was amended in 2016 which made environmental clearance mandatory for mining in areas less than five hectares, including minor minerals.
  • The amendment also provided for the setting up of a District Environment Impact Assessment Authority (EIAA) and a District Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC).
  • However, a State-wise review of EACs and EIAAs in key industrial States such as Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, shows that these authorities review over 50 project proposals in a day and the rejection rate at the State level has been a mere 1%.
  • The situation now indicates that the problem is even more complex and widespread and that a robust technology-driven enforcement approach is required.

Observations by agencies

  • The United Nations Environment Programme, in 2019, ranked India and China as the top two countries where illegal sand mining has led to sweeping environmental degradation.
  • It is not just damage to the environment. Illegal mining causes copious losses to the state exchequer.
  • As per an estimate, P. is losing revenue from 70% of mining activities as only 30% area is legally mined.
  • Similarly, the absence of royalty has caused a loss of ₹700 crore in Bihar while non-payment of various cesses due to unregulated mining has resulted in a loss of ₹100 crore to Karnataka and ₹600 crore to Madhya Pradesh in 2016-17.

Judicial orders, state response

  • Judicial orders are often neglected by State governments.
  • A State-wide review of the reasons behind non-compliance suggests a malfunction of governance due to weak institutions, a scarcity of state resources to ensure enforcement, poorly drafted regulatory provisions, inadequate monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, and excessive litigation that dampens state administrative capacity.
  • Protecting minor minerals requires investment in production and consumption measurement and also monitoring and planning tools.
  • To this end, technology has to be used to provide a sustainable solution.

The power of technology

  • Satellite imagery can be used to monitor the volume of extraction and also check the mining process.
  • Even for past infractions, the NGT and administrative authorities can obtain satellite pictures for the past 10 to 15 years and uncontrovertibly show how small hillocks of earth, gravel or small stone dunes have disappeared in an area.
  • Additionally, drones, the internet of things (IoT) and blockchain technology can be leveraged to monitor mechanisms by using Global Positioning System, radar and Radio Frequency (RF) Locator.

Source: The Hindu

Previous Year Question

Q.1) Consider the following minerals: (2020)

  1. Bentonite
  2. Chromite
  3. Kyanite
  4. Sillimanite

In India, which of the above is/are officially designated as major minerals?

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 4 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 2, 3 and 4 only

Baba’s Explainer – The workings of the Supreme Court collegium

The workings of the Supreme Court collegium

Syllabus

  • GS-2: Structure, organization and functioning of the Judiciary

Context: The Chief Justice of India (CJI) N.V. Ramana’s tenure is drawing to an end in a few days. The Ramana Collegium has been particularly successful. Meeting frequently and working quickly, they took the perennial problem of judicial vacancies by its horns and turned it around.

  • The collegium, as a united front, was able to recommend numerous judicial appointments and scripted history by getting nine Supreme Court judges appointed in one go.
  • Of the nine, Justice B.V. Nagarathna, is in line to be the first woman CJI in 2027.

Read Complete Details on The workings of the Supreme Court collegium


Daily Practice MCQs

Daily Practice MCQs

Q.1) Consider the following statements

  1. Formosa Strait separates Taiwan and mainland China.
  2. The Yellow Sea is a marginal sea of the Western Pacific Ocean located between mainland China and the Korean Peninsula.

Choose the incorrect statements:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.2) Consider the following statements about Jal Jeevan mission

  1. It envisages supply of 55 litres of water per person per day to every rural household through Functional Household Tap Connections (FHTC) by 2026.
  2. The Mission is implemented by Ministry of Rural Development.
  3. It is a central sector scheme.

Choose the correct statements:

  1. 1 only
  2. 1 and 2
  3. 2 and 3
  4. None

Q.3) Consider the following statements Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV)

  1. SSLV is a rocket that is designed to orbit satellites weighing less than 300 kg to Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO).
  2. It is a 3 stage Launch Vehicle configured with three Solid Propulsion Stages and liquid propulsion-based Velocity Trimming Module (VTM) as a terminal stage.

Choose the incorrect statements:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Comment the answers to the above questions in the comment section below!!

ANSWERS FOR ’8th August 2022 – Daily Practice MCQs’ will be updated along with tomorrow’s Daily Current Affairs.


ANSWERS FOR 6th August 2022 – Daily Practice MCQs

Answers- Daily Practice MCQs

Q.1) – c

Q.2) – d

Q.3) – d

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