The Pragati Quiz

Everyone Loves A Good Selfie

This is the sixth installment of The Pragati Quiz, our weekly dose of stimulation to readers who are curious about the world.


(Answers at the bottom.)

  1. No one knows how many of these are around, but they were never intended to be stored or displayed. One is at the Aga Khan Palace, and a second was on display in a Mumbai museum. An SBI vault in Calcutta revealed a third that needed a court order. A fourth appeared in 2010 in South Africa and still another is displayed at the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine in Los Angeles. What are we talking about?
  2. Before the advent of microphones, churches used to have a structure behind the pulpit to magnify the preacher’s voice during a sermon, as shown in the picture. Today, the two-word term for this is used for someone who listens to a speaker rehearse his speech. What term? 
  3. This is a map from 1937. What is the area in dark green, which spread once from Khyber Pakhtunwalain Pakistan, all the way to Burma (Myanmar), Penang and Singapore? The adjoining area in orange was also administratively part of the same, though indirectly. 
  4. In a survey carried out by the Fuji Research Institute to determine the greatest Japanese invention of the 20th century, what came first, beating fancied contenders such as the Walkman, karaoke and the CD?
  5. What item of everyday use gets its name because it has an electrolyte of potassium hydroxide, instead of the more usual ammonium chloride or zinc chloride?
  6. What ‘nameless’ feature is common to the Unter den Linden in Berlin, the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, the Westminster Abbey in London, the Piazza Venezia in Rome, the Ryozen Bodhisattva in Kyoto, the Plaza Bolivar in Lima, and the India Gate in New Delhi? There are many others in the list.
  7. The April 2014 US edition of Vogue had one of the most controversial and talked-about covers ever for the magazine, as it depicted the first interracial couple so featured. Which real-life couple appeared on the cover?
  8. Yamīn-ud-Dawla Abul-Qāṣim Maḥmūd ibn Sebüktegīn(also known as Mahmūd-i Zābulī) ruled an extensive empire that covered most of today’s Afghanistan, eastern Iran and Pakistan, further enriched by loot from the Indian subcontinent. We know him better today by the capital he ruled from – who is he?
  9. These devices are today mandatory for large-scale commercial fishing. Other then catching fish, they have one other feature that is key to their function. What are they, or what do they do? 
  10. Which company founded by two former Facebook employees, Adam D’Angelo and Charlie Cheeve, gets its name from “Questions or Answers”?
  11. This is a man’s sketch of his first boss. Name both people. 
  12. Identify this British competitor at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in New Zealand. He failed to win a medal and thus did not get a spot in the UK Olympic team, leading to a change in career.
  13. Stoppers like these were commonly used right from medieval times to plug cannons when not in use, to ensure water did not get in. Similar stoppers are used for organ pipes in churches. Which common word originates from the French-derived name given to them?
  14. Albania’s first currency, the Lek, was introduced in 1926. From whose name is it derived? His head appeared on one side of the coin while the obverse showed him riding a horse.
  15. Only once in history have the following countries taken up arms in a common cause as part of an Eight-Nation Alliance: Austria-Hungary, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Which conflict?
  16. Which national capital of a faraway country gets its name from this 17th-century Roman Catholic wooden representation of the Blessed Virgin Mary that is venerated in the Philippines? The statue is called “Our Lady of Peace”, also known as the Virgin of Antipolo, and is in Antipolo on Luzon island.
  17. There were more than 1 trillion of these worldwide in 2014, of which Google estimated the number online to be above 30 billion. In 2013, it was also the Oxford English Dictionary’s US Word of the Year. On a more somber note, India lays claim to over 60% of deaths caused by it worldwide, according to a  recent study. What?
  18. In 1198 CE, the royal arms of England was altered to reflect the English monarch Richard I’s position as King of the English, Duke of the Normans and Duke of the Aquitaines. What resulted?
  19. When he visited the US in 1947, Eiji Toyoda was very impressed at the way local grocery stores and supermarkets had a regular and seemingly inexhaustible availability of fresh milk. Research into this phenomenon by Taiichi Ohno finally led to which manufacturing innovation, a single six-letter word that translates to ‘signboard’ or ‘billboard’ in Chinese and Japanese?
  20. These two Google Doodles ran back to back on consecutive days in 2016. In the correct order, give us the dates on which these doodles appeared. 






  1. Collections of Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes
  2. Sounding Board
  3. The Bengal Presidency. The orange area denotes the area that was not under direct control of the Crown. 
  4. Instant Noodles (or Ramen)
  5. The alkaline battery, as potassium hydroxide is an alkali. The normal zinc-carbon batteries have an acidic electrolyte.
  6. All contain a tomb or monument to the Unknown Soldier. 
  7. Kim Kardashian and Kanye West 
  8. Mahmud of Ghazni
  9. Turtle Excluder Devices (TED) – they let turtles escape from fishing nets.
  10. Quora
  11. Homi Bhabha’s drawing of Sir C V Raman
  12. Jason Statham, the action star
  13. Tampon, derived from tampion or tompion.
  14. Alexander the Great 
  15. Boxer Uprising (in China), in 1899-1901
  16. La Paz, the capital of Bolivia. The statue is called ‘La Nuestra de La Paz’ in Spanish. It commemorates the restoration of peace following the insurrection in 1544 of Gonzalo Pizarro and fellow conquistadors against Blasco Núñez Vela, the first viceroy of Peru. The capital was once called by the full name of the statue, but now just the last two words are used.
  17. Selfies
  18. The Three Lions logo used by English sporting teams 
  19. Kanban, a scheduling system for lean manufacturing and just-in-time manufacturing.
  20. Pakistan independence day — 14 August and India independence day — 15 August.

About the author

Anustup Datta

Anustup Datta lurks in Bangalore, consults for brands for a living, and quizzes to stay sane. Will happily travel to the ends of the world if there’s good food and/or single malt. Has a borderline pathological attachment to his Kindle.