Obituary - General awareness questions on current affairs

1)   Which former Punjab CM passed away on 14th Jan 2017?
- Published on 16 Jan 17

a. Surjit Singh Barnala
b. Amarinder Singh
c. Devi Lal
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Surjit Singh Barnala

Former Punjab CM Surjit Singh Barnala who took charge of the state when militancy was growing in the mid-80s passed away.

He died on 14th Jan 2017 at the age of 91 in Chandigarh.

Barnala served as Punjab's Chief Minister from 1985 to 1987.

A moderate leader of the Akali Dal, he became the CM after the Rajiv-Longowal pact to usher in peace in the state in 1985.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled Barnala's death.

A candidate for vice presidency in 1997, he was defeated by Krishna Kant. He served as governor of TN, AP, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Uttarakhand.

Barnala was also the Agriculture Minister in the Moraji Desai government and the Chemicals and Fertilizers Minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Cabinet.

Surjit Singh Barnala: Know More

  • Born: 21 October 1925, Ateli
  • Died: 14 January 2017
  • Spouse: Surjit Kaur Barnala
  • Education: University of Lucknow
  • Party: Shiromani Akali Dal

2)   Who was Germany's second President?
- Published on 13 Jan 17

a. Roman Herzog
b. Horst Kohler
c. Karl Carstens
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Roman Herzog

Roman Herzog who was Germany's second president after reunification died on 10th Jan 2017 in Bad Mergentheim at the age of 82.

Like predecessor Richard bon Weizsacker, Herzog used the presidency, largely a ceremonial post to serve as a guardian for liberal and democratic values.

He was known to stress Germany's moral responsibility for past crimes. He was also known for a 1997 speech in Berlin where he spoke about structural reasons for the malaise.

Herzog called for overhaul of the labor market, the taxation system, health insurance and management of public works.

He also stressed on reduction in regulations and reducing unemployment among low wage workers.

Fellow Christian Democrat Helmut Kohl nominated Herzog for the post of president in 1994. His successor Gerhard Schroeder pushed in measures like cuts in unemployment and pension benefits.

Reductions in income tax and labour market overhauls were also initiated by Schroeder. The changes have been credited with a boom that transformed Germany.

During Herzog's presidency, Germany was still recovering and was known as the “sick man of Europe.”

These changes have been credited with a boom that transformed Germany into a robust economy.

Political Career: Roman Herzog

From 1973 to 1978, he represented the state of Rhineland-Palatinate in Bonn, the West German capital.

From 1978 to 1980 he was minister of culture and sports in the state of Baden-Württemberg. From 1980 to 1983 he was a member of the Baden-Württemberg Legislature.

As the state’s interior minister, he developed a hard-line reputation.

As a judge on the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe, which he joined in 1983, Mr. Herzog upheld the right of protesters who had converged on a nuclear power plant in Brokdorf, in northern Germany.

He became the court’s president in 1987.

He was not especially well known when Mr. Kohl nominated him to succeed Mr. von Weizsäcker, who had been president of West Germany since 1984 and served on after reunification in 1990.

Herzog stepped down from the presidency in 1999 and was succeeded by Johannes Rau, a moderate Social Democrat.

In 2002, Herzog helped found the Roman Herzog Institute, which works to improve public policy.

Know More About Roman Herzog

  • Born: Landshut, Bavaria
  • Date: April 5, 1934
  • Educational Career: Law at Ludwig Maximilian University (1953-1957)
  • Teaching career: Taught law and politics at University of Munich, the Free University of Berlin and the University of Administrative Sciences in Spreyer.
  • Joined CDU in 1970.
  • Served as its chairman from 1978 to 1983.
  • Germany's president from 1994-1999.
  • He is best remembered for the phrase “Germany needs a jolt.”
  • This is from his 1997 Berlin speech “Moving into the 21st century”

3)   Who proposed the concept of liquid modernity in the 1990s?
- Published on 11 Jan 17

a. Zygmunt Bauman
b. Karl Marx
c. WBE Dubois
d. August Comte
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Zygmunt Bauman

Zygmant Bauman, a prominent and prolific European sociologist has died at the age of 91 on 9th Jan 2017. The Polish-origin, left wing thinker explored the fluidity of identify in the modern world.

He also carried out analysis on topics such as consumerism, globalisation, consumerism and more.

Bauman was a strong moral voice for the marginalized in a world upended by globalisation.

Renowned for an approach that integrated sociology with philosophy and other disciplines, he focused on importance of ethics in human behavior.

During the 1990s, Bauman coined the term liquid modernity to describe the contemporary world in such a flux that people are left rootless.

He wrote books such as “Liquid Times” and “Liquid Modernity.” He examined human connections in a constantly changing world.

In Poland, he was controversial because a 2006 document showed he had served in the Internal Security Corps. Some nationalists saw him as an enemy of the country.

Bauman's theories were a massive influence on the anti-globalisation movement, focusing on outcasts and the marginalised.

Know More About Zygmunt Bauman

  • Born: November 19, 1925
  • Location: Poznan, Poland,
  • After the war, he rose quickly in the military ranks.
  • By the early 1950s had become one of the youngest majors in the Polish army.
  • During these years he was a communist and a member of the Polish Workers’ Party.
  • Bauman studied sociology, then philosophy, at the University of Warsaw, and was teaching there when the communist regime emerged.
  • Bauman lived and taught for a short time in Israel.
  • He lectured at universities in Tel Aviv and Haifa from 1969 to 1971.
  • Following this, he and his family settled in Britain.
  • Bauman headed the Department of Sociology at the University of Leeds.
  • Awards: European Amalfi Prize for Sociology in 1992, the Theodor W. Adorno Award in 1998 and the Prince of Asturias Award in 2010.
  • The University of Leeds also created the Bauman Institute in his honor.

4)   Which former Portugal president was known for being part of the Socialist International movement?
- Published on 09 Jan 17

a. Antonio Guterres
b. Martin Soares
c. Both of the above
d. Neither of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Martin Soares

Mario Soares, a former prime minister and president of Portugal who helped steer his country toward democracy after a 1974 military coup and grew into a global statesman through his work with the Socialist International movement, has died at age 92.

Soares died on 7th Jan 2016. A moderate Socialist, he returned from 12 years of political exile after the almost bloodless Carnation Revolution toppled Portugal's four-decade dictatorship in 1974.

As a lawyer, he had used peaceful means to fight the country's regime, which eventually banished him. Soares was elected Portugal's first post-coup prime minister in 1976 and thwarted Portuguese Communist Party attempts to bring the NATO member under Soviet influence during the Cold War.

He helped lead his country from dictatorship to parliamentary democracy and a place in the European Union.

Soares' role as an international statesman was solidified through his work with the International Socialist movement. As a vice president from 1976, he led diplomatic missions that sought to help resolve conflicts in the Middle East and Latin and Central America.

In 1986, Soares became Portugal's first civilian president in 60 years. His broad popularity brought him two consecutive five-year terms.

Soares belonged to a generation of influential European Socialist leaders that also included Francois Mitterrand of France, Germany's Willy Brandt, Olof Palme in Sweden, and Felipe Gonzalez in Spain. He also led the Carnation Revolution, called so because people stuck the flowers at the end of gun barrels of soldiers during the Communist regime.

The Communist Party's influence surged following the coup, prompting fears in the West that Portugal–a founding member of the Atlantic military alliance – would come under the Soviet Union's influence and encourage other radical leftist movements in western Europe.

Soares, who led the Socialist Party, won the country's first entirely free elections and became prime minister. He was instrumental in quickly granting independence to Portugal's five colonies in Africa.

All of them - Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, and Sao Tome and Principe - became single-party Marxist states supported by the Soviet Union and Cuba after their independence.

About Martin Soares

  • Born in Lisbon in 1924, Soares started out as a radical student organizer.
  • He became a renowned defense lawyer.
  • He was a relentless opponent of Salazar's regime, which along with Franco's roughly contemporary rule in neighboring Spain, shut off the Iberian peninsula to outside influences.
  • Salazar's secret police, known by acronym PIDE, jailed Soares 12 times and exiled him twice, once to the island of Sao Tome off west Africa.
  • After democracy, Soares served four times as the country's foreign minister and three times as prime minister.
  • He was also the most well known president of Portugal of his times.

5)   Which professor of economics was called “the godfather of modern scholarship on the distribution of income and wealth?”
- Published on 09 Jan 17

a. Tony Atkinson
b. Thomas Pikatty
c. John Maynard Keynes
d. JB Pareto
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Tony Atkinson

Tony Atkinson, a professor of economics at University of Oxford well known for his stellar work on poverty and inequality as well as income distribution died on Jan 1, 2016 at age 72. His work led the fields of inequality, income distribution, and poverty for many decades, bringing clarity and practical insight to pressing social issues.

Atkinson was called “the godfather of modern scholarship on the distribution of income and wealth” by fellow economist Thomas Piketty. The Atkinson index has been named after him.

The index measures which end of the distribution has contributed most to observed inequality.

Atkinson published one co-authored article in the Indian Journal of Human Development on data for policy.

He was knighted in 2001 for services to economics and was also awarded the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur.

At the London School of Economics, Mr. Atkinson held the title of Centennial Professor.

The author of more than 40 books, Mr. Atkinson was mainly known for his creative and exacting use of empirical methods besides revolutionary ideas like minimum inheritance.

Mr. Atkinson’s book “The Distribution of Personal Wealth in Britain” (1978), co-written with A. J. Harrison, examined inheritance tax records in Britain between 1911 and 1975 to describe changes in the distribution of wealth.

That book and an earlier book - “Shares of Upper Income Groups in Income and Savings” (1953) by Simon Kuznets, which drew on income tax records and national accounts in the United States between 1913 and 1948 - originated research on inequality.

His final book, “Inequality: What Can Be Done?,” published in 2015, summed up decades of findings and offered 15 proposals for tackling inequality.

Among his suggestions: a guaranteed interest rate on savings, via bonds; higher marginal income tax rates, with a top rate of 65 percent (it is currently 39.6 percent in the United States and 45 percent in Britain); and a progressive, rather than uniform, property tax rate.

Perhaps his boldest proposal was to use inheritance taxes to finance a minimum inheritance, payable to all citizens on reaching adulthood.

Among other major works, Mr. Atkinson was the author, with Joseph E. Stiglitz, of the seminal 1980 textbook “Lectures on Public Economics,” recently reissued by Princeton University Press.

Mr. Atkinson helped organize the World Wealth and Income Database, a resource for the comparative study of inequality.

He served on many boards, and was chairman of the World Bank Commission on Global Poverty, which issued recommendations in October toward the goal of eradicating extreme poverty by 2030.

He was also the president, since 2012, of the board of the L.I.S. (formerly the Luxembourg Income Study), which manages a database widely used by researchers.

About Professor Tony Atkinson

  • Anthony Barnes Atkinson was born on Sept. 4, 1944, in Caerleon, a town in southern Wales near the border with England.
  • He attended the Cranbrook School in Kent and then Churchill College, Cambridge, where he received a bachelor’s degree in 1966.
  • He was a fellow at St. John’s College, Cambridge, from 1967 to 1971.
  • He was a professor of economics at the University of Essex from 1971 to 1976.
  • He held the post of a professor of political economy at University College, London, from 1976 to 1979.
  • He joined the London School of Economics in 1980 and taught there until 1992.
  • He was warden, or head of Nuffield college, from 1994 to 2005. He remained a fellow of Nuffield until his death.

6)   Which ex-Iranian president passed away in 2017?
- Published on 09 Jan 17

a. Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
b. Hassan Rouhani
c. Mahmoud Ahmednijad
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani

Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a staunch political survivor despite his support for moderates, died on Sunday after suffering a heart attack, at the age of 82.

He was a pivotal figure in the foundation of the Islamic Republic in 1979, and served as President from 1989 to 1997.

He was part of the Expediency Council, Iran’s main political arbitration body which Mr. Rafsanjani chaired.

Mr. Rafsanjani’s death is a huge loss for both reformists and moderates, as he stood as a pillar for the two camps.

Born on August 25, 1934, in the village of Nough in southern Iran into a wealthy family, Rafsanjani studied theology in the holy city of Qom before entering politics in 1963 after Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s police arrested the founder of the Islamic republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

A confidant of Khomeini, Mr. Rafsanjani was the Speaker of Parliament for two consecutive terms until Khomeini’s death in 1989. Towards the end of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, his presidency was marked by reconstruction, cautious reform and repairs to Iran’s relations with its Arab neighbours.

But it was also marred by human rights violations, rampant inflation and difficult relations with Europe, not least with Britain after the “death sentence”, or fatwa, handed down to writer Salman Rushdie by Khomeini.

Serving a maximum of 2 consecutive terms, he supported reformist Mohammad Khatami, who succeeded him as President from 1997 to 2005.

Mr. Rafsanjani was always a member of Iran’s top clerical body, the Assembly of Experts, charged with appointing - and if required dismissing - the country’s supreme leader.

7)   Which eminent jurist was the first Sri Lankan to be appointed to the ICJ?
- Published on 09 Jan 17

a. CG Weeramantry
b. BG Weetamantry
c. DG Weeramantry
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: CG Weeramantry

Well known jurist CG Weermantry passed away on 5th Jan 2016 at the age of 90. He was the first Sri Lankan to be appointed to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

He began his judicial career in the 1950s, and became Sri Lanka’s youngest Supreme Court judge.

He later was appointed as a senior judge there before moving to Australia as the Sir Hayden Stark Professor of Law at Monash University.

In the early 1990s, he was part of the ICJ when the WHO sought information on nuclear deal legality.

Justice Weeramantry set up the Colombo-based Weeramantry Centre for International Peace and also served as president of the International Association of Lawyers against Nuclear Arms, a non-governmental organisation headquartered in The Hague.

Know About About CG Weeramantry

  • Sri Lankabhimanya Christopher Gregory Weeramantry, AM was a Sri Lankan lawyer.
  • He was a Judge of the International Court of Justice from 1991 to 2000, serving as its Vice-President from 1997 to 2000.
  • Born: November 17, 1926, Colombo, Sri Lanka
  • Died: January 5, 2017
  • Education: University of Ceylon, University of London, Royal College, Colombo, King's College London
  • Awards: Sri Lankabhimanya

8)   Which veteran film actor won the national film award for best actor in 1982?
- Published on 09 Jan 17

a. Naseeruddin Shah
b. Om Puri
c. Amitabh Bachchan
d. Saeed Jaffrey
Answer  Explanation 


Veteran film actor Om Puri has passed away after suffering a heart attack. The 66-year-old Puri was known for his acting in films like Ardh Satya, Aakrosh, Jane Bhi Do Yaaron, Bhavni Bhavai, Mirch Masala and Dharavi.

He was a graduate of Film and Television Institute of India, Pune, and he won the National Film Award for Best Actor for Arohan in 1982.

The famous actor delivered some stellar performances in mainstream commercial Pakistani, Indian and British cinema.

He also entered Hollywood with his roles in 'City of Joy', 'Gandhi' and 'The Reluctant Fundamentalist'.

Puri lent his voice for the character Bagheera, the black panther in the popular television animated Hindi series “Mowgli” and for the Hollywood movie, “The Jungle Book.”

Among the British films that earned him name are “My Son the Fanatic,” “East Is East” and “The Parole Officer.” He appeared in Hollywood films such as “City of Joy,” “The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” and most recently in Steven Spielberg’s comedy drama “The Hundred-Foot Journey.”

He also made a cameo in Richard Attenborough’s “Gandhi.”

Puri was awarded the Padma Shri, one of India’s highest civilian honors, in 1990 and received an honorary OBE for his contribution to the British film industry in 2004.

9)   Who is associated with the thumri Mora Piya, Mose Bole Na?
- Published on 06 Jan 17

a. Ustad Fateh Ali Khan
b. Ustad Vilayat Ali Khan
c. Ustad Bismillah
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Ustad Fateh Ali Khan

Ustad Fateh Ali Khan, the classical singer known for the Thumri “Mora Piya Mose Bole Na” has passed away on Jan 4, 2016 at the age of 82.

Ustad was under treatment at Islamabad’s PIMS Hospital for the past 10 days and was suffering from a lungs disease.

Nephew and famous singer Shafqat Amanat Ali took to his social media handle to share the news along with a picture of the legendary Qawal.

Born in 1935 in Patiala, Ustad Fateh Ali Khan, at the age of 12, and his elder brother Amanat Ali Khan, at the age of 14, became the king’s chosen singers at his darbar/ court.

The music legend received the President’s Pride of Performance and many other awards.

10)   Which noted Manipur based historian was a member of the North Eastern Council?
- Published on 06 Jan 17

a. Ganmunei Kamei
b. Gangmunei Kamei
c. Gangmumei Kamei
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Gangmumei Kamei

Noted Manipur-based historian, litterateur and scholar Gangmumei Kamei, who had also served as a minister, passed away in Imphal on 5th Jan 2016 following protracted illness.

Kamei was currently a member of the North Eastern Council (NEC). Born on October 21, 1939 in Imphal. He specialized in history.

Kamei, who had specialised in the history of the North-eastern region, had served as a professor of History in Manipur University, and was also elected president of the Northeast India History Association (NEIHA) in its Kohima session of 1986.

Kamei was also a member of the Advisory Committee of the Anthropological Survey of India (1984-87), and a member of the ICSSR panel on Tribal Studies.

In 2010 he was awarded the Platinum Jubilee Samman by the Manipuri Sahitya Parishad for his contribution to history and tribal culture.

He was also awarded a National Fellowship by Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla in 2010-2012.

He hailed from the Zeliangrong community which exists across Manipur, Nagaland and Assam, and was also into active politics and public life, having founded the Federal Party of Manipur in 1993.

He was also elected to the state assembly twice, in 1995 and 2001, and had also served as a minister on two occasions.

In 2013 Kamei joined the BJP, to contest as the party’s candidate for Lok Sabha from the Outer Manipur constituency in the 2014 general election. In July 2015, the Narendra Modi government appointed him as a member of the NEC.

As president of the Manipur History Society and coordinator of the Centre for Manipuri Studies & Tribal Research of Manipur University he had guided several major research projects in history.

Well Known Books of Gangmumei Kamei

  • A History of Modern Manipur (1826-2000),
  • A History of Manipur: Pre-colonial Period,
  • On History and Historiography of Manipur,
  • History of Zeliangrong Nagas: From Makhel to Rani Gaidinliu
  • Ethnicity and Social Change, Lectures on History of Manipur.

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