The Pragati Quiz

Hitler’s Last Laugh

This is the 9th installment of The Pragati Quiz, our weekly dose of stimulation for readers who are curious about the world.


(Answers at the bottom.)

1. A team of five was sent from India in 1938. It was led by M Atal from Allahabad and included M Cholkar from Nagpur, BK Basu and Debesh Mukherjee from Calcutta and a fifth member from Sholapur. All except the last returned safely to India. Who was the member from Sholapur who did not?

2. USA has a two-party system, and independents or candidates of a third party – such as Ralph Nader for the Green Party – have had marginal electoral impact.

Who has had the strongest performance as a third-party candidate in US election history?

3. Maria Ann had emigrated from Sussex to Eastwood, New South Wales in 1839 with her husband Thomas. The couple had eight children. Once Maria was testing French crab-apples from Tasmania for cooking, throwing the apple cores out of her window as she worked, when she found that a new hybrid had grown under her windowsill. Eventually, it became one of the most popular varieties in the world, and was named for her. What?

4. Identify A.

What exactly is B finding funny here?

5. In this clip from a 1988 film, what common mistake is Amrish Puri making?

6. What term of Yiddish origin for the two people in the background who prefer to watch and offer unsolicited advice and commentary, rather than play themselves, may ultimately derive from the German word for the talkative bird you see here? The term is most commonly used in contract bridge and chess.

7. When the book The Life of Martin Luther and the Reformation in Germany was published in 1854, it included engravings by Carl August Schwerdgeburth.

This specific image by this artist, which is in fact anachronistic, was widely copied and reproduced and led to which ‘factoid’?

8. Work this one out. Which international star promotes an apparel and accessories label called Aneres? The brand is proposing to add a new cosmetics line this year.

9. This is a piece of British equipment called the Aston, which played a key role in the development of broadcast media. The equivalent in the US was called the Chyron. Both became industry-standard generic trademarks and specialise in an area that the industry calls “lower third.”

So, what is an Aston, something we all see almost every day and have cursed roundly at some point or another?

10. Which close-fitting one-piece garment, worn by dancers or people exercising in gyms, is named after the French inventor of the flying trapeze?

11. This ethnic group from our neighbouring country follows Theravada Buddhism. Their name derives from the Sanskrit word Shaktiman (powerful) given to them by the kings who hired them as ministers, advisers and translators of Buddhist Pali texts.

Which ethnic group?

12. This is the Ice Age explanation of which scientific theory?

13. This common piece of table equipment, both in the English form familiar to us or in its native language, denotes the ‘speed’ with which it conveys the material to its destination. It has nothing to do with the process of cutting which it is singularly ill-designed to do, contrary to what its name might suggest.

What are we talking about?

14. Sir Peter Lely, the court painter to Charles I, was known for his flattering Academy portraits of famous people. When the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell commissioned a portrait from him, he told him to avoid flattery and paint him with brutal honesty. What three-word phrase resulted, which is visible in the portrait?

15. On July 31, 1667, the Treaty of Breda was signed by England,  the Netherlands, France and Denmark-Norway, bringing the Second Anglo-Dutch War to an end. According to its terms, the island on the extreme left was ‘exchanged’ for something. This has been subsequently called “the real estate deal of the millennium.” What was exchanged for this island?

16. Which experienced and trusted advisor did Odysseus leave his young son Telemachus in the care of, when he went off to fight in the Trojan War? His name has now passed into the language.

17. This is a permanent, fast-drying and long-lasting painting medium used since ancient times. It has been found on early Egyptian sarcophagi decorations, and in ancient and early medieval paintings found in caves and rock-cut temples of India. The name originates from the Latin for “to mix thoroughly”, referring to the way the pigments need to be combined with the organic, water-soluble binder. What is this painting medium, and what does it use as a binder?

18. She was the first lady to appear on a US Postage stamp as well as a US coin, both issued in 1893.  The chess piece called the ‘queen’ may have been renamed in her honour from the Persian ‘wazir’ (or minister). She helped her country dominate world politics and trade for over a century. Who?

19. A main focus of attention of ancient European monasteries was to make copies of old religious texts by hand. The process was called by a Latin word meaning ‘to make alike.’

Which piece of modern technology that essentially does the same job uses a shortened version of the same word?

20. The flag of Pakistan has a white crescent and star on a green background, all traditional Islamic symbols. But what does the white stripe on the left represent?


1. Dr Dwarkanath Kotnis – this was a medical mission to aid China in her war against Japan.

2. Theodore Roosevelt in 1912 when he came 2nd in the presidential elections with 88 electoral college votes and 27% of the popular vote running for the Progressive (or Bull Moose) Party.

3. Granny Smith apples, after Maria Ann Smith.

4. A – Ferdinand Porsche

Hitler (B) is tickled pink to see that the Volkswagen Beetle has its engine in the rear.

5. The Black Dog whisky brand is named after a fly-fishing lure, and has no canine connections.

The film is Shahenshah (1988).

6. Kibitzer, possibly from kiebitz (lapwing, called titeeri or titori in Hindi) – the bird chatters incessantly!

7. That Martin Luther was the inventor of the Christmas tree!

8. Serena Williams – ‘Aneres’ is her name spelt backwards.

9. Scroll or the graphic overlay on the bottom third of the TV screen.

10. Leotard, after Jules Leotard.

11. Chakmas of the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh.

12. The Pangaea Hypothesis – the hypothesis that the continents and oceans were formed when an earlier supercontinent called Pangaea broke up about 175 million years ago.

13. Chopsticks – ‘chop’ comes from the pidgin ‘Chop Chop’ meaning quick. The Chinese word for them, kuauzi, also means quick.

14. He told Lely to paint him “warts and all.”

15. Exchange of the island of Manhattan for Pulau Run.

16. Mentor.

17. Tempera, from the Latin distemperare. Egg yolk is most commonly used as the binder.

18. Queen Isabella of Spain, who financed Columbus’ expedition.

19. Fax, shortened from ‘facsimile’.

20. The nation’s minority non-Muslim population.

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.