5 Confusing Questions in UPSC Civil Services Preliminary Exam 2018

Confusing Questions in UPSC Civil Services Preliminary Exam 2018 It’s not an easy job to set questions for an exam which are unambiguous and coherent. Even with those experts who prepare questions for UPSC exams, this is the case. There were at least 5 confusing questions in UPSC Civil Services Preliminary Exam 2018, which were open to different interpretations.

1. Question about the vote of MPs in the election of President of India

Qn) With reference to the election of the President of India, consider the following statements:

  1. The value of the vote of each MLA varies from State to State.
  2. The value of the vote of MPs of the Loksabha is more than the value of the vote of MPs of the Rajyasabha

Which of the following statements given above is/are correct?

  • A. 1 only
  • B. 2 only
  • C. Both 1 and 2
  • D. Neither 1 nor 2

Why is this question confusing?

ClearIAS Prelims Online Test Series

The confusion is regarding the interpretation of statement 2. Based on its interpretation the answer choice can Option A or Option C.

As you know, Value of the vote of an MP of Loksabha = Value of the vote of an MP of Rajyasabha.

So, if you interpret the 2nd statement with respect to the value of the vote of each MP, statement 2 is false, and hence correct answer choice would be A – 1 only

However, you also know that the number of MPs of Loksabha is 545 while that of Rajyasabha is only 245.

If the 2nd statement is interpreted based on the total value of votes of all MPs of Loksabha, surely it is greater than the total value of all votes of Rajyasabha MPs, then, the option would have been C.

2. Question about Aadhaar

Qn). The identity platform ‘Aadhaar‘ provides open “Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)”. What does it imply?

  1. It can be integrated into any electronic device.
  2. Online authentication using iris is possible.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  • A. 1 only
  • B. 2 only
  • C. Both 1 and 2
  • D. Neither 1 nor 2

Why is this question confusing?

The confusion is whether Aadhar API can be integrated to ‘any’ electronic device. Yes, it can be integrated to many electronic devices like MicroATM devices, PoS devices, PDS terminals, Smartphones, laptops, tablets, access control systems, etc, but does the qualifier ‘any’ makes it a sweeping statement?

It can be YES or NO.

3. Question about the Opportunity Cost

Qn) If a commodity is provided free to the public by the Government, then

  • A. the opportunity cost is zero.
  • B. the opportunity cost is ignored.
  • C. the opportunity cost is transferred from the consumers of the product to the tax-paying public.
  • D. the opportunity cost is transferred from the consumers of the product to the Government.

Why is this question confusing?

This is not an easy question to answer. However please understand that, Opportunity Cost = Return of Most Lucrative Option – Return of Chosen Option. If the government is investing in the priority sector, somebody has to bear the cost, and it is usually the government itself. So, D seems the best option.

But there are many who think that C is the correct answer, as they feel the opportunity cost is transferred from the consumers of the product to the tax-paying public. Though it may seem correct, it may not hold true in all instances – for example, if a country does not collect taxes. Also, government revenues include tax-revenues and non-tax revenues. So option C is less likely. Anyway, let’s wait for the official UPSC key for this question.

4. Question about Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity

Qn) Consider the following phenomena :

  1. Light is affected by gravity.
  2. The Universe is constantly expanding.
  3. Matter warps its surrounding space-time.

Which of the above is/are the prediction/predictions of Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, often discussed in media?

  • A. 1 and 2 only
  • B. 3 only
  • C. 1 and 3 only
  • D. 1, 2 and 3

Why is this question confusing?

This question is about the predictions of Albert Einsteins General Theory of Relativity as often discussed in media.

Before we discuss this question, let’s first understand the background.

Einstein came up with General Theory of Relativity in 1917. Einsteins equations theoretically predicted the expansion of the universe (and contraction as well). But until 1931, Einstein believed that the universe was static!

To force his equations—which theoretically predicted the expansion of the universe—to remain still, Einstein invented the cosmological constant, λ. He multiplied the metric tensor in his equation, g, by the cosmological constant, leading to a term λg, which adjusted his metric tensor acting on space-time. This mathematical trick assured him that his equations would yield a universe that was prevented from expanding or contracting.

Only in 1931, when came to know about Hubble’s findings, he realised that he was wrong to introduce the cosmological constant, λ. Otherwise, Einstein could have theoretically predicted Hubble’s findings! (Source – DiscoverMagazine).

Ever since 1931, cosmological constant, λ was largely ignored by Einstein, until recently scientists found relevance for the same again. Yes, the man’s so-called mistakes are brilliant!

There were media reports that the Einstein’s general theory of relativity explains the expansion of the early universe. His cosmological constant, λ is believed to explain the dark energy as well. (Source – Space.com). If this is taken into account, the correct answer choice would be D – 1, 2, and 3.

Or else, if you stick to Einstein’s view before 1931, the answer would be  A – 1 and 2 only.

5. Question about Money Bill

Qn) Regarding Money Bill, which of the following statements is not correct?

  • A. A bill shall be deemed to be a Money Bill if it contains only provisions relating to imposition, abolition, remission, alteration or regulation of any tax.
  • B. A Money Bill has provisions for the custody of the Consolidated Fund of India or the Contingency Fund of India.
  • C. A Money Bill is concerned with the appropriation of money out of the Contingency Fund of India.
  • D. A Money Bill deals with the regulation of borrowing of money or giving of any guarantee by the Government of India.

Why is this question confusing?

We feel the question could have been phrased better to avoid the confusion between Option A and Option C.

Article 110 (1) says – a Bill shall be deemed to be a Money Bill if it contains only provisions dealing with all or any of the following matters, namely: – (a) the imposition, abolition, remission, alteration or regulation of any tax

However, article 110 (2) mentions that a bill is not deemed to be Money Bill by reason only that it provides for the imposition of fines or other pecuniary penalties, or for the demand or payment of fees for licences or fees for services rendered, or by reason that it provides for the imposition, abolition, remission, alteration or regulation of any tax by any local authority or body for local purposes.

If we go by 110 (1), the answer would be choice C. If we take 110 (2) and 110 (1) (c) into consideration, the answer can be choice A.

But we feel a more appropriate choice would be Choice C. This is because a Money Bill is primarily concerned with the appropriation of money out of the Consolidated Fund of India and not Contingency Fund of India.

Note: We have updated ClearIAS Answer Key for UPSC Prelims 2018 for this question from Option A to Option C. This is the only question for which we have updated the key so far, once it is released on the exam day evening.

Did you find other confusing questions in UPSC Civil Services Preliminary Exam 2018?

If you found any other confusing question, feel free to mention the same in the comment section below.

In general, we feel that ambiguous questions were less in number when compared to UPSC Civil Service Prelims 2017. It seems UPSC has raised its standards after Prelims 2017 when many candidates took the matter of ambiguous questions to the Supreme Court.

As we said in the beginning, it is not easy to set questions which would not land in any controversy. UPSC is still one of the most respected institutions in India, and we hope it will remain so for many more years. However, we strongly feel that the subject-experts who set this question paper could have rephrased some of the above questions better, to avoid ambiguity. Yes, that’s our personal opinion.

As many of you might be aware, this year, UPSC had come up with “QPRep”, an Online Question Paper Representation Portal which allowed civil service aspirants to file grievances against the discrepancies in UPSC question paper, within a time frame.

UPSC will release official answer key for Prelims 2018 only by May 2019. Until then, you can refer ClearIAS answer key for Prelims 2018, which is one of the most trusted keys in India.

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