The Pragati Quiz

Elementary, My Dear Watson

This is the 12th installment of The Pragati Quiz, our weekly dose of stimulation for readers who are curious about the world.


(Answers at the bottom.)

  1. It was handwritten by Prem Behari Narain Raizada, and includes images of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana, Buddha and Mahavira, as well as of historical personalities such as Akbar, Tipu Sultan, Rani Lakshmibai, etc. What are we talking about?
  2. After the death of William III of England, why did Jacobite supporters of his ousted rival James II drink toasts to ‘the little gentleman in the black velvet waistcoat’?
  3. A committee in a certain country has initiated a “green campaign” asking people to donate their obsolete electronic devices such as computers and mobile phones. These will be recycled to create what highly coveted and collectible items next year?
  4. This is Rodin’s monumental The Thinker (Le Penseur), among the best-known pieces of sculpture in the world. Which 13th century man of letters is it supposedly a representation of? (If it helps, its original name was The Poet.) 
  5. Name the star of this ad. What 1990 work is this Google’s homage to?
  6. Swedish botanist and taxonomist Carl Linnaeus, who created the binomial system of nomenclature for all living creatures, proposed this kind of arrangement for what purpose? (The picture has been slightly edited.)
  7. This is the Esplanade Performing Center in Singapore. What is it called by the locals because of its strong resemblance to something whose consumption in public places is regulated by strict laws in that country? 
  8. This is the original logo for what? We are more familiar with a modern version designed by Art Paul. 
  9. Sinhala Desha (the original name of Ceylon or Sri Lanka) literally means “of lions” or “lion-hearted.” The flag of the country depicts a lion as well. Given that there are no lions in Sri Lanka and never have been, how did this name come into being? 
  10. In 1964, Arno Penzias and Robert Woodrow Wilson of Bell Labs in New Jersey had built a radiometer for radio astronomy and satellite communication experiments. On 20 May they made their first measurement, but found their instrument antenna hotter by 4.2 K than they could account for. What had they discovered, which provided landmark evidence for the Big Bang Theory?
  11. In medieval Europe, what was referred to as ‘Indian saffron’, as it was widely used as a substitute for the far more expensive saffron?
  12. In August 2017, the Pantone Color Institute announced the creation of a new shade of purple – PANTONE PQ-7448C – inspired by the custom-built Yamaha piano shown. What is the name given to the new colour, or who was it inspired by? 
  13. Etymologically speaking, what specifically connects the common phrases – Bite the dust, A leopard cannot change its spots, Fly in the ointment, Go the extra mile, The Powers that Be, Pride comes before a fall, The Root of the matter, See eye to eye, Sign of the times – among many others?
  14. A small Pacific island nation won Gold at the Rio games in 2016 when a certain sport was played at the Olympics for the first time. The nation is obsessed with the sport and of its 180,000 men between the ages of 14-40, some 155,000 are registered players. Which nation and which sport?
  15. This architectural term literally means “outside the works,” and originally referred to an outbuilding not incorporated into the architect’s main design. It was borrowed into French cuisine in the 17th century to denote appetizers that were “outside the main meal.” What?
  16. The Marathon des Sables (Marathon of the Sands) is a six-day, 251 km ultramarathon, which is approximately the distance of six regular marathons. It is regarded as one of the toughest footraces on Earth .Why is there a camel in the race? 
  17. The common words for foods such as tomato, chili, avocado, cocoa, chocolate, and chia (seeds) all originate in which ancient language?
  18. A Jain version of this is called the Paumachariyam. In Laos, it is called Phra Lak Phra Lam while in Myanmar it is called Yama Zatdaw. The Philippines has a version called Maharadia Lawana.What do we call the original in India?
  19. Which popular game of physical skill and mental concentration created by Leslie Scott and marketed by Hasbro is named from the Swahili word for “to build”? Robert Grebler possibly holds the record in this, having reached 40 ⅔ while playing against the game’s creator in 1985.
  20. About what did the Irish Nobel laureate W B Yeats write in 1912 – “I have carried the manuscript of these translations about with me for days, reading it in railway trains, or on the top of omnibuses and in restaurants, and I have often had to close it lest some stranger would see how much it moved me.”?



  1. The Constitution of India. The artwork was by Nandalal Bose and his team. 
  2. William III died when his horse stumbled over a mole’s burrow and threw him. The ‘little gentleman in black velvet’ was the mole.
  3. Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games medals will be partially made of the metals recycled from these electronic devices. The new medals will be unveiled in the summer of this year.
  4. Dante Alighieri, the author of The Divine Comedy
  5. A grown-up Macaulay Culkin, the child star of Home Alone 
  6. He called it the “Horologium florae” –  a ‘flower clock’ where one could roughly tell the time of the day by checking which flower set was in bloom. 
  7. The Durian Building 
  8. Playboy magazine. The rabbit endures!
  9. After the legendary prince Vijaya Sinha, who arrived in 543 BCE from Sinhapura in Bengal (according to the Mahavamsa). The present Sinhalese are descended from these settlers.
  10. Cosmic Background Radiation left over from the creation of the universe. Penzias and Wilson won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1978 for this discovery.
  11. Turmeric
  12. Love Symbol #2 (below), inspired by Prince
  13. All have entered common usage from the King James Version of the Bible, first published in 1611. 
  14. Fiji and Rugby Sevens. They even issued a 7-dollar (!) currency note to commemorate their victory.
  15. Hors d’oeuvre
  16. Any runner passed by the camel before they reach a checkpoint is disqualified.It ensures that all runners are able to keep up with the challenge.
  17. The Nahuatl language of the ancient Aztecs. All these foods are from the New World. Varieties of Nahuatl are spoken by about 1.7 million people today, mostly in central Mexico.
  18. The Ramayana
  19. Jenga, from the Swahili word kujenga. 
  20. Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali – Yeats wrote the introduction to the English translation (“Song Offerings”)


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.