[CSAT Preparation] English Comprehension: Previous years paper analysis & key takeaways

Since the CSAT was introduced in the year 2011, the number of questions based on comprehension in Paper II has been steadily high and no candidate can escape attempting at least few of the passages

The range and complexity of the passages has also undergone a visible change and so has the variety of questions

Instead of writing a didactic ‘How to attempt comprehension passages” blog we have taken up the passages that appeared in CSP-2017, Paper II and show you first-hand how you can attempt the passages with accuracy. The 2017 CSP Paper II was a quintessential paper encompassing passages from a multitude of topics

But before that have a look at some of the numbers:

Now we are all set to take up the passages and try our hands at some reverse engineering:

[Passage 1] What climate change will undeniably do is cause of amplify events that hasten the reduction of resources. Competition over these diminishing resources would ensue in the form of political or even violent conflict. Resource based conflicts have rarely been overt and are thus difficult to isolate. Instead they take on veneers that appear more politically palatable. Conflicts over resources like water are often cloaked in the guise of identity or ideology.

What does the above passage imply?

(a) Resource-based conflicts are always politically motivated.

(b) There are no political solutions to resolve environmental and resource-based conflicts.

(c) Environmental issues contribute to resource stresses and political conflicts

(d) Political conflicts based on identity or ideology cannot be resolved.

Solution:

If we sum up the passage in our language it basically says that climate change will lead to resource crunch, this crunch would lead to conflicts and that many identity or ideology based conflicts are in fact conflicts engenders by resource scarcity. Now let us evaluate each option:

(a) Resource-based conflicts are always politically motivated – The passage, in fact, contends just the opposite i.e. many politically palatable conflicts are, in truth, resource-based….OUT

(b) There are no political solutions to resolve environmental and resource-based conflicts….The passage is talking about the problem and not the solution and as such is not asserting whether there can be any political situation to the looming crisis…..OUT

(c) Environmental issues contribute to resource stresses and political conflicts…This is exactly how we summed-up the passage and is indeed the needed implication….ANSWER

(d) Political conflicts based on identity or ideology cannot be resolved……The passage is not about whether and how political conflicts can be resolved…OUT

[Passage 2] The man who is perpetually hesitating which of the two things he will do first, will do neither. The man who resolves, but suffers his resolution to be changed by the first counter-suggestion of a friend—who fluctuates from opinion to opinion and veers from plan to plan-can never accomplish anything. He will at best be stationary and probably retrograde in all. It is only the man who first consults wisely, then resolves firmly and then executes his purpose with inflexible perseverance, undismayed by those petty difficulties which daunt a weaker spirit—that can advance to eminence in any line.

The keynote that seems to be emerging from the passage is that

(a) we should first consult wisely and then resolve firmly

(b) we should reject suggestions of friends and remain unchanged

(c) we should always remain broad-minded

(d) we should be resolute and achievement-oriented

Solution:

Again summing-up the passage – we should take wise consul, then take a resolution and stand our ground. If we keep vacillating we will never reach anywhere.

Now let us evaluate the options:

(a) we should first consult wisely and then resolve firmly…YES, it is a contender for answer choice but let us go on with other options first.

(b) we should reject suggestions of friends and remain unchanged….The passage is about our ability to stay focused and not about rejecting the suggestions of friends. In fact rejecting a suggestion just for the sake of it might be counter-productive as it may be a wise suggestion.

(c) we should always remain broad-minded……………It is not really clear what the option means by being ‘broad-minded’ so this option can be avoided at this stage.

(d) we should be resolute and achievement-oriented…..YES, this is another contender for the answer choice and but compared with option (a), we see that what option (a) says is stated very clearly in the passage and thus it should be preferred over option (d).

Hence option (a) should be marked as answer choice as the most appropriate among the options given.

[Passage 3] During the summer in the Arctic Ocean, sea ice has been melting earlier and faster, and the winter freeze has been coming later. In the last three decades, the extent of summer ice has declined by about 30 per cent. The lengthening period of summer melt threatens to undermine the whole Arctic food web, atop which stand polar bears.

Which among the following is the most crucial message conveyed by the above passage?

(a) Climate change has caused Arctic summer to be short but temperature to be high

(b) Polar bears can be shifted to the South Pole to ensure their survival

(c) Without the presence of polar bears, the food chains in Arctic region will disappear

(d) Climate change poses a threat to the survival of polar bears

Solution:

The passage asks for the most crucial massage. As we can see that the passage goes on to lament the conditions in the Arctic and closes the passage with the assertion that these conditions threaten the food chain atop which sits the polar bear. Basically the passage was a built-up to drive home the point that polar bears are at risk due to conditions that Arctic now faces. Now let us evaluate the options:

(a) Climate change has caused Arctic summer to be short but temperature to be high…The passage does talks about the havoc that climate change is wreaking in the Arctic region but that is not the most crucial message. The whole revelation about increasing melt and delayed winter freeze is to drive home the point of its effect on the food chain in Arctic and thus this, in itself, is not the most crucial message of the passage……………..OUT

(b) Polar bears can be shifted to the South Pole to ensure their survival…….This is one-of-a-kind solution for the survival of the Polar bears but this is not what the passage proffers. The passage is not even discussing any solution, plausible or adventurous……OUT

(c) Without the presence of polar bears, the food chains in Arctic region will disappear….Again the passage is not discussing the effect of presence or absence of Polar bear on the Arctic food chain…..OUT

(d) Climate change poses a threat to the survival of polar bears…..This is the most plausible among the options given that qualifies as the most crucial message of the passage as it syncs with what the passage eventually leads to…..ANSWER

[Passage 4] Why do people prefer open defecation and not want toilets or, if they have them, only use them sometimes? Recent research has shown two critical elements: ideas of purity and pollution, and not wanting pits or septic tanks to fill because they have to be emptied. These are the issues that nobody wants to talk about, but if we want to eradicate the practice of open defection, they have to be confronted and dealt properly.

Which among the following is the most crucial message conveyed by the above passage?

(a) The ideas of purity and pollutions are so deep-rooted that they cannot be removed from the minds of the people

(b) People have to perceive toilet use and pit-emptying as clean and not polluting

(c) People cannot change their old habits

(d) People have neither civic sense nor sense of privacy

Solution:

Let us evaluate the options:

(a) The ideas of purity and pollution are so deep-rooted that they cannot be removed from the minds of the people….If the passage were to suggest that ideas of purity and pollution, arguably the reason behind people’s preference for open defecation, are so entrenched that they cannot be altered then it shall not suggest remedy to bring out behavioral changes in people…..OUT

(b) People have to perceive toilet use and pit-emptying as clean and not polluting …..This is indeed the message of the passage that we have being about a change in the perception of the people and make them see toilet use and pit-emptying as clean……..ANSWER

(c) People cannot change their old habits……If the passage meant that people cannot change their old habits it would not go on to suggest that we should counter the people’s perceived notions to bring about a change in their preference for open defecation…OUT

(d) People have neither civic sense nor sense of privacy………The passage is not a commentary on the civic sense of the people and is rather in the nature of trying to figure out the reason behind the preference for open defecation………..OUT

[Passage 5] In the last two decades, the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) has increased 50 percent, whereas inclusive wealth has increased by a mere 6 percent. In recent decades, GDP-driven economic performance, has only harmed inclusive wealth like human capital; and natural capital like forests, land and water. While the world’s human capital which stands at 57 percent of total inclusive wealth grew by only 8 percent, the natural which is 23 percent of total inclusive wealth declined by 30 per cent worldwide in the last two decades.

Which of the following is the most crucial inference from the above passage?

(a) More emphasis should be laid on the development of natural capital

(b) The growth driven by GDP only is neither desirable nor sustainable

(c) The economic performance of the countries of the world is not satisfactory

(d) The world needs more human capital under the present circumstances

Solution:

Let us evaluate the options for the crucial inference of the passage. But before that, let us sum-up the passage: GDP driven growth – inequity – harming inclusive wealth. Now let us get back at the options:

(a) More emphasis should be laid on the development of natural capital…..Where is the passage making any such suggestion?….OUT

(b) The growth driven by GDP only is neither desirable nor sustainable…..This can be inferred from the passage as the passage mentions that GDP driven growth is harming inclusive wealth like human and natural capital. And thus we can infer that only GDP driven growth is undesirable….ANSWER

(c) The economic performance of the countries of the world is not satisfactory….The passage says GDP grew by 50 percent. If that is not satisfactory then what is?….OUT

(d) The world needs more human capital under the present circumstances…Human capital already stands at 57 percent and there is no suggestion in the passage that we need any more of it…..OUT

[Passage 6] By 2020, when the global economy is expected to run short of 56 million young people, India, with its youth surplus of 47 million, could fill the gap. It is in this context that labour reforms are often cited as the way to unlock double-digit growth in India. In 2014, India’s labour force was estimated to be about 40 per cent of the population, but 93 per cent of this force was in unorganized sector. Over the last decade, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of employment has slowed to 0.5 per cent, with about 14 million jobs created during last year when the labour force increased by about 15 million.

Which of the following is the most rational inference from the above passage?

(a) India must control its population growth so as to reduce its unemployment rate

(b) Labour reforms are required in India to make optimum use of its vast labour force

productively

(c) India is poised to achieve the double-digit growth very soon

(d) India is capable of supplying skilled young people to oil countries

Solutions:

The passage, in our words, can be re-written as – a shortage of labour force is imminent and if India wants to tap into this opportunity with its young labour force, labour reforms are a necessity. Everything else is customary paraphernalia to underscore this suggestion.

Now let us evaluate the options and check which one comes closest to our understanding of the passage:

(a) India must control its population growth so as to reduce its unemployment rate…Passage is about labour reforms and not population control…..OUT

(b) Labour reforms are required in India to make optimum use of its vast labour force productively…This is what gels well with our understanding of the passage…ANSWER

(c) India is poised to achieve the double-digit growth very soon…..Passage suggests that India can achieve double-digit growth if we take care of labour reforms and not that such growth is automatic and imminent……OUT

(d) India is capable of supplying skilled young people to oil countries……Supplying young people to other countries? And oil countries in specific??…..OUT

[Passage 7] The very first lesson that should be taught to us when are old enough to understand it, is that complete freedom from the obligation to work is unnatural, and ought to be illegal, as we can escape our share of the burden of work only by throwing it on someone else’s shoulders. Nature ordains that the human race shall perish of famine if it stops working. We cannot escape from this tyranny. The question we have to settle is how much leisure we can afford to allow ourselves.

The main idea of the passage is that

(a) it is essential for human beings to work

(b) there should be a balance between work and leisure

(c) working is a tyranny which we to face

(d) human’s understanding of the nature of work is essential

Solution:

As we understand it, the passage suggests that we should not succumb to ergophobia (aka abnormal fear or aversion to work). We have to ensure that we maintain a healthy balance between work and leisure. And that work-leisure balance is the main idea of the passage is corroborated by the last statement which ends the passage by throwing a challenge to identify how much leisure can be allowed. Now let us evaluate the options:

(a) it is essential for human beings to work…YES, this is an answer-contender

(b) there should be a balance between work and leisure…..YES, again an answer-contender. Rather a more potent answer contender as the passage ends with a call to limit leisure to healthy proportion.

(c) working is a tyranny which we to face….The passage has used nature’s tyranny as a simile to drive home the point that we must work and this is not the main idea of the passage..OUT

(d) human’s understanding of the nature of work is essential…The passage is not about the understanding of nature of work but about its necessity…OUT

Thus between option (a) and option (b), option (b) seems to be more appropriate as it combines both leisure and work, the two themes touched upon in the passage.

[Passage 8] There is no harm in cultivating habits so long as they are not injurious. Indeed, most of us are little more than bundle of habits. Take away our habits and the residuum would hardly be worth bothering about. We could not get on without them. They simplify the mechanism of life. They enable us to do a multitude of things automatically, which, if we had to give fresh and original thought to them each time, would make existence an impossible confusion.

The author suggests that habits

(a) tend to make our lives difficult

(b) add precision to our lives

(c) make it easier for us to live

(d) tend to mechanize our lives

Solution:

Let us evaluate the options:

(a) tend to make our lives difficult…The passage suggests just the opposite…OUT

(b) add precision to our lives…..The passage talks about making our lives easy and not precise…OUT

(c) make it easier for us to live…This is definitely suggested in the passage in the statement, They simplify the mechanism of life…..YES…but before locking it as answer we will also look at option d

(d) tend to mechanize our lives…The passage does mentions that habits enable us to handle several chorus automatically but it does not suggest that habits make our life mechanical which is sort of a pessimistic view of the author’s view and the passage does not seem to be a pessimistic take on habits….OUT

[Passage 9] We have hard work ahead. There is no resting for any of us till we redeem our pledge in full, till we make all the people of India what destiny intends them to be. We are citizens of a great country, on the verge of bold advance, and we have to live up to that high standard. All of us, to whatever religion we may belong, are equally the children of India with, equal rights, privileges and obligations. We cannot encourage communalism or narrow-mindedness, for no nation can be great whose people are narrow in thought or action.

The challenge the author of the above passage throws to the public is to achieve

(a) a high standard of living, progress and privileges

(b) equal privileges, fulfilment of destiny and political tolerance

(c) spirit of adventure and economic parity

(d) hard work, brotherhood and national unity

Solution:

In first glance, the passage seems to be some kind of exhortation by the author to work for the achievement of the high ideals. Now let us evaluate the options:

(a) a high standard of living, progress and privileges….The tone and tenor of the exhortation suggests that is not about standard of living but is about greater things…OUT

(b) equal privileges, fulfilment of destiny and political tolerance…..privilege and political tolerance is not what the challenge is about. The author does use the word destiny but the usage appears to be more figurative in the sense that people should achieve what they are capable of….OUT

(c) spirit of adventure and economic parity….spirit of adventure? The passage does not exhort people to become adventurous…OUT

(d) hard work, brotherhood and national unity….This gels most with the tone of the passage…ANSWER

[Passage 10] “The individual, according to Rousseau, puts his person and all his power in common under the supreme direction of the General Will and in our corporate capacity we receive each member as an indivisible part of the whole.”

In the light of the above passage, the nature of General Will is best described as

(a) the sum total of the private wills of the individuals

(b) what is articulated by the elected representatives of the individuals

(c) the collective good as distinct from private wills of the individuals

(d) the material interests of the community

Solution:

In common parlance, the passage means, individuals are part of a whole which is guided by the ‘General Will’ or, in more general terms, by the collective good that overrides the individual good. Hence the answer option is option (c).

(c) the collective good as distinct from private wills of the individuals

[Passage 11] In a democratic State, where a high degree of Political maturity of the people obtains, the conflict between the will of the sovereign law-making body and the organized will of the people seldom occurs.

What does the above passage imply?

(a) In a democracy, force is the main phenomenon in the actual exercise of sovereignty

(b) In a mature democracy, force to a great extent is the main phenomenon in the actual exercise of sovereignty

(c) In a mature democracy, use of force is irrelevant in the actual exercise of sovereignty

(d) In a mature democracy, force is narrowed down to a marginal phenomenon in the actual exercise of sovereignty

Solution:

A tangential look at the option leads to the consternation about what is the relevance of words like ‘force’ and ‘sovereignty’ which find no mention at all in the passage. But if we read the passage again and try to connect it with the options, we realize that the passage is really about the fact that conflict seldom occurs in mature democracy and the use of ‘force’ is minimal and yet again the force is not obliterated completely. Now under the aegis of our such mature understanding of the passage let us evaluate the options:

(a) In a democracy, force is the main phenomenon in the actual exercise of sovereignty…force as main phenomenon?…OUT

(b) In a mature democracy, force to a great extent is the main phenomenon in the actual exercise of sovereignty…force to great extent?….OUT

(c) In a mature democracy, use of force is irrelevant in the actual exercise of sovereignty…force is irrelevant?..OUT

(d) In a mature democracy, force is narrowed down to a marginal phenomenon in the actual exercise of sovereignty…force is there but is minimal…ANSWER

[Passage 12] A successful democracy depends upon widespread interest and participation in politics, in which voting is an essential part. To deliberately refrain from taking such an interest, and from voting, is a kind of implied anarchy, it is to refuse one’s political responsibility while enjoying the benefits of a free political society.

This passage relates to

(a) duty to vote

(b) right to vote

(c) freedom to vote

(d) right to participate in politics

Solution:

The passage is in the form of a commentary on the people who take democracy for granted and shy away from their responsibility and duty to vote to ensure a healthy vibrant democracy. Here there is no need to evaluate each option separately and the answer is clearly option (a).

(a) duty to vote…ANSWER

[Passage 13] In a free country, the man who reaches the position of leader is usually one of outstanding, character and ability. Moreover, it is usually possible to foresee that he will reach such a position, since early in life one can see his qualities of character. But this is not always true in the case of a dictator; often he reaches his position of power through chance, very often through the unhappy state of his country.

The passage seems to suggest that

(a) a leader foresees his future position

(b) a leader is chosen only by a free country

(c) a leader must see that his country is free from despair

(d) despair in a country sometimes leads to dictatorship

Solution:

Our understanding of the passage: leader show signs from childhood while dictators may be incidental.

Now lets us evaluate the options:

(a) a leader foresees his future position……The passage does not talk about the clairvoyant skills of a leader…OUT

(b) a leader is chosen only by a free country……The passage is not discussing who chooses a leader and who chooses a dictator…OUT

(c) a leader must see that his country is free from despair….The passage is not about what a leader should or should not do…OUT

(d) despair in a country sometimes leads to dictatorship….This gels really well with the passage which suggests that dictatorship is often result of despairing conditions of a country…ANSWER

[Passage 14] The greatest blessing that technological progress has in store for mankind is not, of course, an accumulation of material possessions. The amount of these that can be effectively enjoyed by one individual in one lifetime is not great. But there is not the same narrow limit to the possibilities of the enjoyment of leisure. The gift of leisure may be abused by people who have had no experience of making use of it. Yet the creative use of leisure by a minority in societies has been the mainspring of all human progress beyond the primitive level.

With reference to the above passage, the following assumptions have been made:

  1. People always see the leisure time as a gift and use it for acquiring more material possessions.
  2. Use of leisure by some people to produce new and original things has been the chief source of human progress.

Which of these assumptions is/are valid?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Solution:

Our reading of the passage is : material possessions is not everything as no one can have every material possession and still enjoy it. But the possibility to enjoy leisure is unbounded. And during this leisure time, a minuscule population gets sucked up in creative and original pursuits that engender human advancement.

Now if we evaluate the two assumptions we can see that the word ‘always’ makes the assumption one a sweeping generalisation and is thus out.

Assumption 2 is almost verbatim from the passage and is thus valid. So the answer option is (b):

(b) 2 only

[Passage 15] There is more than a modicum of truth in the assertion that “a working knowledge of ancient history is necessary to the intelligent interpretation of current events”. But the sage who uttered these words of wisdom might well have added something on the benefits of studying particularly the famous battles of history for the lessons they contain for those of us who lead or aspire to leadership. Such a study will reveal certain qualities and attributes which enabled the winners to win—and certain deficiencies which caused the losers to lose and the student will see that the same pattern recurs consistently, again and again, throughout the centuries.

With reference to the above passage, the following assumptions have been made:

  1. A study of the famous battles in history would help us understand the modern warfare.
  2. Studying the history is essential for anyone who aspires to be a leader.

Which of these assumptions is/are valid?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Solution:

Here we are evaluating the validity of the assumptions made. Now, see that eventually assumptions may or may not come out to be true but we need to only check whether we can make these assumptions from the passage or not without bothering about their eventual outcome. For example, if we consider the second assumption, we cannot discard it by countering it by claiming that it is not true that every leader must study history but we can certainly say from the passage that for an aspiring leader a study of history is essential! Did that make sense? I hope it did.

As for the first assumption, the passage does not make out a case suggesting that studying past battle shall help us understand modern warfare.

Hence answer is

(b) 2 only

[Passage 16] Disruption of traditional institutions, identifications and loyalties is likely to lead to ambivalent situations. It is possible that some people may renew their identification with traditional groups whereas others align themselves with new groups and symbols emergent from processes of political development. In addition, political development tends to foster group awareness of a variety of class, tribe, region, clan, language, religion, occupation and others.

Which one of the following is the best explanation of the above passage?

(a) Political development is not a unilinear process for it involves both growth and decay

(b) Traditional societies succeed in resisting positive aspects of political development

(c) It is impossible for traditional societies to break away from lingering loyalties

(d) Sustenance of traditional loyalties is conducive to political development

Solutions:

Alignment along traditional and new groups may lead to ambivalent situations. Political development creates new identities along which people may align themselves severing ties with traditional institutions. Now let us evaluate the options:

(a) Political development is not a unilinear process for it involves both growth and decay…That is not a unilinear process can be made out from the fact that it creates multitude of group awareness. This option is still in race and now let’s checkout other options.

(b) Traditional societies succeed in resisting positive aspects of political development…No, infact people align themselves along new groups and symbols..OUT

(c) It is impossible for traditional societies to break away from lingering loyalties…’Impossible’ is too strong a word especially when passage sage people do align with new symbols and groups engendered by political development….OUT

(d) Sustenance of traditional loyalties is conducive to political development…The passage does not make any case for continuation of traditional loyalties…OUT

Since option (b), (c) and (d) have been ruled out, we can mark option (a) as the answer.

[Passage 17] There has been a significant trend worldwide towards regionalism in government, resulting in a widespread transfer of powers downwards towards regions and communities since 1990s. This process, which involves the creation of new political entities and bodies at a sub-national level and an increase in their content and powers, is known as devolution. Devolution has been characterized as being made up of three factors—political legitimacy, decentralization of authority and decentralization of resources. Political legitimacy here means a mass demand from below for the decentralization process, which is able to create a political force for it to take place. In many cases, decentralization is initiated by the upper tier of government without sufficient political mobilization for it at the grassroots level, and in such cases the decentralization process often does not fulfil its objectives.

Which among the following is the most logical, rational and critical inference that can be made from the above passage?

(a) Emergence of powerful mass leaders is essential to create sub-national political entities and thus ensure successful devolution and decentralization

(b) The upper tier of government should impose devolution and decentralization on the regional communities by law or otherwise

(c) Devolution, to be successful, requires a democracy in which there is free expression of the will of the people at lower level and their active participation at the grassroots level

(d) For devolution to take place, a strong feeling of regionalism in the masses is essential

Solution:

Our understanding of passage: decentralization due to grass-root demand seems good but that which is initiated in the upper levels may miss its target. Now let us evaluate the options:

(a) Emergence of powerful mass leaders is essential to create sub-national political entities and thus ensure successful devolution and decentralization….The passage is not talking about the emergence of strong leaders to create sub-national entities thus ensuring devolution…OUT

(b) The upper tier of government should impose devolution and decentralization on the regional communities by law or otherwise….The last statement of the passage counters this option by stating that the devolution initiated by upper tier my miss its objective..OUT

(c) Devolution, to be successful, requires a democracy in which there is free expression of the will of the people at lower level and their active participation at the grassroots level…The passage suggests that devolution engendered by mass demand from below has political legitimacy and for it can be inferred that it can happen when people at lower level should be able to freely express themselves and participate actively in the process….ANSWER

(d) For devolution to take place, a strong feeling of regionalism in the masses is essential…The passage suggests that devolution can happen if initiated by upper tiers as well, even though it may not work as intended, and thus strong regional feeling is not a prerequisite for devolution ……OUT

[Passage 18] We live in digital times. The digital is not just something we use strategically and specifically to do a few tasks. Our very perception of who we are, how we connect to the world around us, and the ways in which we define our domains of life, labour and language are hugely structured by the digital technologies. The digital is everywhere and; like air, invisible. We live within digital systems, we live with intimate gadgets, we interact through digital media, and the very presence and imagination of the digital has dramatically restructured our lives. The digital, far from being a tool, is a condition and context that defines the shapes and boundaries of our understanding of the self, the society, and the structure of governance.

Which among the following is the most logical and essential message conveyed by the above passage?

(a) All problems of governance can be solved by using digital technologies

(b) Speaking of digital technologies is speaking of our life and living

(c) Our creativity and imagination cannot be expressed without digital media

(d) Use of digital systems is imperative for the existence of mankind in future

Solution:

The passage is about the omnipresence of digital world. That it has come to shape the context that defines our understanding i.e. it may appear invisible but has become an integral part of our existence. Now let us evaluate the options:

(a) All problems of governance can be solved by using digital technologies…..’All’ ? Sweeping statement. Nevertheless, the passage is about the permanency of the digital world and not about how digital tech can solve governance problems….OUT

(b) Speaking of digital technologies is speaking of our life and living…YES..when we talk of life and living we unconsciously also talk of digital techs which have so smoothly entered our lives that we do not even notice their existence..but let us evaluate remaining options first.

(c) Our creativity and imagination cannot be expressed without digital media..Again sweeping statement! We may have to love with digital tech all around us but that does not mean our creativity cannot be expressed without digital means. What about our creativity on the walls of the archaeological sites that we so lovingly adorn (aka desecrate) with our drawings?….OUT

(d) Use of digital systems is imperative for the existence of mankind in future….That digital tech has become part of our daily living does not mean we cannot survive without it i.e. it is not imperative!…OUT

In the light of above, the answer choice is option (b).

[Passage 19] The IMF has pointed out that the fast growing economies of Asia face the risk of falling into ‘middle-income trap’. It means that average incomes in these countries, which till now have been growing rapidly, will stop growing beyond a point—a point that is well short of incomes in the developed West. The IMF identifies a number of causes of middle-income trap—none of which is surprising—from infrastructure to weak institutions, to less than favourable macroeconomic conditions. But the broad, overall cause, says IMF, is a collapse in the growth of productivity.

Which among the following is the most logical, rational and critical inference that can be made from the above passage?

(a) Once a country reaches middle-income stage, it runs the risk of falling productivity which leads to stagnant incomes

(b) Falling into middle-income trap is a general characteristic of fast growing economies

(c) There is no hope at all for emerging Asian economies to sustain the growth momentum

(d) As regards growth of productivity, the performance of Asian economies is not satisfactory

Solution:

Our understanding : Asian economies – risk of income being plateau out – due to collapse of productivity growth. Now let us evaluate the options:

(a) Once a country reaches middle-income stage, it runs the risk of falling productivity which leads to stagnant incomes…Yes, the passage is about the middle-income trap phenomenon which befalls the growing economies if corrective action is not taken. So this is an answer-candidate. But before marking it as the final answer let us evaluate other options.

(b) Falling into middle-income trap is a general characteristic of fast growing economies….No, the passage says that economies of Asia face this risk and not that it is a general characteristic of fast growing economies….OUT

(c) There is no hope at all for emerging Asian economies to sustain the growth momentum….’no hope’ ? Again very strong uncorroborated statement. Of course there is light at the end of the tunnel by boosting productivity growth….OUT

(d) As regards growth of productivity, the performance of Asian economies is not satisfactory …The passage is making an assertion based on past experience that fast growing economies are facing a risk of falling into middle-income trap. The passage is no where commenting that these economies are not performing well. In fact, it says that they are fast emerging economies….OUT

Thus based on above elimination of options (b), (c) and (d), we get option (a) as the answer.

[Passage 20] An innovative India will be inclusive as well as technologically advanced, improving the lives of all Indians. Innovation and R&D can mitigate increases in social inequality and relieve the pressures created by rapid urbanization. The growing divergence in productivity between agriculture and knowledge-intensive manufacturing and services threatens to increase income inequality. By encouraging India’s R&D labs and universities to focus on the needs of poor people and by improving the ability of informal firms to absorb knowledge, an innovation and research agenda can counter this effect. Inclusive innovation can lower the cost of goods and services and create income – earning opportunities for the poor people.

Which among the following is the most logical and rational assumption that can be made from the above passage?

(a) Innovation and R&D is the only way to reduce rural to urban migration

(b) Every rapidly growing country needs to minimize the divergence between productivity in agriculture and other sectors

(c) Inclusive innovation and R&D can help create an egalitarian society

(d) Rapid urbanization takes place only when a country’s economic growth is rapid

Solution:

Our understanding of the passage: Invest in R&D as it can stem inequality. Now let us evaluate the options:

(a) Innovation and R&D is the only way to reduce rural to urban migration….R&D is essential as made out by the passage but that it is the ‘only way’ has not been mentioned anywhere in the passage….OUT

(b) Every rapidly growing country needs to minimize the divergence between productivity in agriculture and other sectors….The passage is concerned about R&D and inequality and not about agriculture and other sectors, so it cannot be most logical assumption….OUT

(c) Inclusive innovation and R&D can help create an egalitarian society….Yes, this is the case that the passage intends to make. It claims that inclusive innovation and R&D can reduce inequality and create a just society…now let’s check out last option before finalizing this as answer choice.

(d) Rapid urbanization takes place only when a country’s economic growth is rapid…Urbanization is not even what the passage is about. Only reference to is while claiming that R&D can tackle the issues arising out of rapid urbanization…OUT

Thus our final answer is option (c).

[Passage 21] Climate change is likely to expose a large number of people to increasing environmental risks forcing them to migrate. The international community is yet to recognize this new category of migrants. There is no consensus on the definition and status of climate refugees owing to the distinct meaning the term refugees carry under international laws. There are still gaps in understanding how climate change will work as the root cause of migration. Even if there is recognition of climate refugees, who is going to provide protection? More emphasis has been given to international migration due to climate change. But there is a need to recognize the migration of such people within the countries also so that their problems can be addressed properly.

Which of the following is the most rational inference from the above passage?

(a) The world will not be able to cope with large scale migration of climate refugees

(b) We must find the ways and means to stop further climate change

(c) Climate change will be the most important reason for the migration of people in the future

(d) Relation between climate change and migration is not yet properly understood

Solution:

Our understanding of the passage: The passage is essentially about the environmental refugees. The passage suggests that such categorization of migrants is still not commonplace as it lacks a consensus definition and the intra-country migration is to be recognised as well. And even when such migration is recognised who will provide for the refugees? Now let us evaluate the options:

Now let is evaluate the options:

(a) The world will not be able to cope with large scale migration of climate refugees…The passage does not mention if the world would be able to cope or not..OUT

(b) We must find the ways and means to stop further climate change…Well indeed we must find ways but this passage is about environmental refugees and how to provide for them and not about finding ways to contain climate change…OUT

(c) Climate change will be the most important reason for the migration of people in the future….That climate change will lead to migration is true as per passage but passage does not vouch for the fact it shall be the ‘most important’ factor for migration of people…OUT

(d) Relation between climate change and migration is not yet properly understood …Yes, it is indeed the case as this is the reason why the world has been unable to recognize and define this category of migrants properly..ANSWER

[Passage 22] Many farmers use synthetic pesticides to kill infesting insects. The consumption of pesticides in some of the developed countries is touching 3000 grams/hectare. Unfortunately, there are reports that these compounds possess inherent toxicities that endanger the health of the farm operators, consumers and the environment. Synthetic pesticides are generally persistent in environment. Entering in food chain they destroy the microbial diversity and cause ecological imbalance. Their indiscriminate use has resulted in development of resistance among insects to insecticides, upsetting of balance in nature and resurgence of treated populations. Natural pest control using the botanical pesticides is safer to the user and the environment because they break down into harmless compounds within hours or days in the presence of sunlight. Plants with pesticidal properties have been in nature for millions of years without any ill or adverse effects on the ecosystem. They are easily decomposed by many microbes common in most soil. They help in the maintenance of biological diversity, of predators and the reduction of environmental contamination and human health hazards. Botanical pesticides formulated from plants are biodegradable and their use in crop protection is a practical sustainable alternative.

# On the basis of the above passage, the following assumptions have been made:

  1. Synthetic pesticides should never be used in modem agriculture.
  2. One of the aims of sustainable agriculture is to ensure minimal ecological imbalance.
  3. Botanical pesticides are more effective as compared to synthetic pesticides.

Which of the assumptions given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Solution:

Our summary of the passage: The passage is about synthetic Vs botanical. And we underline the properties, this is what we get –

Synthetic: toxic, enter food chain, persistent, destroy diversity, cause imbalance, insects develop resistance

Botanical: in use for millions of years, break down into harmless compounds in presence of sunlight, no ill/adverse effects on ecosystems, maintain biodiversity, easily broken down by microbes, reduced contamination and health hazard , practical sustainable alternative.

  1. Synthetic pesticides should never be used in modem agriculture….Nowhere mentioned
  2. One of the aims of sustainable agriculture is to ensure minimal ecological imbalance….True
  3. Botanical pesticides are more effective as compared to synthetic pesticides…No comparison of respective efficacies.

Since only the second statement is correct the answer is option (b).

(b) 2 only

# Which of the following statements is/are correct regarding biopesticides?

  1. They are not hazardous to human health.
  2. They are persistent in environment.
  3. They are essential to maintain the biodiversity of any ecosystem.

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

(a) 1 only

(b) 1 and 2 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Let us look at the given statements:

  1. They are not hazardous to human health…Yes, as per the passage
  2. They are persistent in environment….No, they breakdown fast
  3. They are essential to maintain the biodiversity of any ecosystem…They maintain biodiversity as mentioned in the passage but passage nowhere claims that they are ‘essential’ for maintaining the biodiversity.

Since only statement 1 is correct answer is option (a):

(a) 1 only

[Passage 23] An air quality index (AQI) is a way to combine measurements of multiple air pollutants into a single number or rating. This index is ideally kept constantly updated and available in different places. The AQI is most useful when lots of pollution data are being gathered and when pollution levels are normally, but not always, low. In such cases, if pollution levels spike for a few days, the public can quickly take preventive action (like staying indoors) in response to an air quality warning. Unfortunately, that is not urban India. Pollution levels in many large Indian cities are so high that they remain well above any health or regulatory standard for large part of the year. If our index stays in the Red/Dangerous’ region day after day, there is not much any one can do, other than getting used to ignoring it.

Which among the following is the most logical and rational inference that can be made from the above passage?

(a) Our governments are not responsible enough to keep our cities pollution free

(b) There is absolutely no need for air quality indices in our country

(c) Air quality index is not helpful to the residents of many of our large cities

(d) In every city, public awareness about pollution problems should increase

Solution:

Our take on the passage – AQI works well when levels are low because in that case spikes are easily identifiable. However it is not much useful in Indian cities as levels are perpetually high making the indicator redundant. Now let us evaluate the options in fresh air:

(a) Our governments are not responsible enough to keep our cities pollution free…The passage is taking about the pollutions levels and the utility of AQI and not a commentary on the lackadaisical attitude of governments….OUT

(b) There is absolutely no need for air quality indices in our country…..Absolutely no need is tantamount to stretching the argument too far. That it is not working optimally is no reason to cast it aside altogether…OUT

(c) Air quality index is not helpful to the residents of many of our large cities…Exactly. This is what the passage says that AQI’s utility is under cloud….ANSWER

(d) In every city, public awareness about pollution problems should increase…This is what should happen but this is not what the passage seeks to perpetuate….OUT

[Passage 24] Productive jobs are vital for growth and a good job is the best form of inclusion. More than half of our population depends on agriculture, but the experience of other countries suggests that the number of people dependent on agriculture will have to shrink if per capita incomes in agriculture are to go up substantially. While industry is creating jobs, too many such jobs are low-productivity non-contractual jobs in the unorganized sector, offering low incomes, little protection, and no benefits. Service jobs are relatively of high productivity, but employment growth in services has been slow in recent years.

Which among the following is the most logical and rational inference that can be made from the above passage?

(a) We must create conditions for the faster growth of highly productive service jobs to ensure employment growth and inclusion

(b) We must shift the farm workers to the highly productive manufacturing and service sectors to ensure the economic growth and inclusion

(c) We must create conditions for the faster growth of productive jobs outside of agriculture even while improving the productivity of agriculture

(d) We must emphasize the cultivation of high-yielding hybrid varieties and genetically modified crops to increase the per capita income in agriculture

Solution:

Our take on the passage: people engaged in agriculture should come down in order for agricultural per capita incomes to go up. Jobs created by the industry are mostly low income jobs in unorganized sector. Growth in high productivity service sector is slow.

Let us evaluate the options now and evaluate our productivity to identify the right option:

(a) We must create conditions for the faster growth of highly productive service jobs to ensure employment growth and inclusion…..YES that is a plausible inference from the passage but before marking it as the answer let us evaluate other options as well.

(b) We must shift the farm workers to the highly productive manufacturing and service sectors to ensure the economic growth and inclusion……The passage says that manufacturing/ industry sector is not really highly productive and shifting the farm workers (assuming options meant all of the) is not viable method to occasion high growth as where would agriculture go then?…OUT

(c) We must create conditions for the faster growth of productive jobs outside of agriculture even while improving the productivity of agriculture…Another contender for answer choice as everything seems to be right with the option. Comparing it with option (a), this option (a) seems more germane as it talks of jobs and inclusion, something with which the passage opens and hence option (a) is more appropriate inference. Moreover the passage nowhere mentions what should be done with agriculture sector as is mentioned in option (c).

(d) We must emphasize the cultivation of high-yielding hybrid varieties and genetically modified crops to increase the per capita income in agriculture….The passage is not talking about hybrid varieties and modified crops…OUT

[Passage 25] A Landscape-scale approach to land use can encourage greater biodiversity outside protected areas. During hurricane ‘Mitch’ in 1998, farms using eco agricultural practices suffered 58 percent, 70 percent and 99 percent less damage in Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala, respectively, than farms using conventional techniques. In Costa, vegetative windbreaks and fencerows boosted farmers’ income from pasture and coffee while also increasing bird diversity. Bee pollination is more effective when agricultural fields are closer to natural or seminatural habitat, a finding that matters because 87 percent of the world’s 107 leading crops depend on animal pollinators. In Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Colombia silvopastoral systems which integrate trees with pastureland are improving the sustainability of cattle production, and diversifying and increasing farmers’ income.

Which among the following is the most logical and rational inference that can be made from the above passage?

(a) Agricultural practices that enhance biodiversity can often increase farm output and reduce the vulnerability to disasters

(b) All the countries of the world should be encouraged to replace ecoagriculture with conventional agriculture

(c) Ecoagriculture should be permitted in protected areas without destroying the biodiversity there

(d) The yield of food crops will be very high if ecoagricultural practices are adopted to cultivate them

Solution:

Our understanding: Eco-agricultural activities are better then conventional activities. Enough examples and figures given to ingrain the idea into our head. Now let us evaluate the options:

(a) Agricultural practices that enhance biodiversity can often increase farm output and reduce the vulnerability to disasters….Yes certainly an answer-contender. Now move on to other options.

(b) All the countries of the world should be encouraged to replace ecoagriculture with conventional agriculture…..No. Just the opposite in fact…OUT

(c) Ecoagriculture should be permitted in protected areas without destroying the biodiversity there….Passage is not making out a case for allowing ecoegricultural activities inside the protected areas…OUT

(d) The yield of food crops will be very high if ecoagricultural practices are adopted to cultivate them….The passage is silent about the yield….OUT

Ruling out the other three options, we are left with option (a) as the most plausible inference from the passage and that is thus the answer option.

[Passage 26] The medium term challenge for Indian manufacturing is to move from lower to higher tech sectors, from lower to higher value-added sectors, and from lower to higher productivity sectors. Medium tech industries are primarily capital intensive and resource processing; and high tech industries are mainly capital and technology intensive. In order to push the share of manufacturing in overall GDP to the projected 25 per cent, Indian manufacturing needs to capture the global market in sectors showing a rising trend in demand. These sectors are largely high technology and capital intensive.

Which among the following is the most logical and rational inference that can be made from the above passage?

(a) India’s GDP displays high value-added and high productivity levels in medium tech and resource processing industries

(b) Promotion of capital and technology intensive manufacturing is not possible in India

(c) India should push up the public investments and encourage the private investments in research and development, technology upgradation and skill development

(d) India has already gained a great share in global markets in sectors showing a rising trend in demand

Solution:

In our words passage means: manufacturing should move from lower to higher end and that we should make inroads into booming global sectors. Let us evaluate the options now:

(a) India’s GDP displays high value-added and high productivity levels in medium tech and resource processing industries…If this were true why would we need to shift from medium to high end?…OUT

(b) Promotion of capital and technology intensive manufacturing is not possible in India…Passage is in the form of what we should do and is not talking about if it is possible to do or not…OUT

(c) India should push up the public investments and encourage the private investments in research and development, technology upgradation and skill development….This is what can be inferred from the passage doing this would lead to what the passage seems to suggest…ANSWER

(d) India has already gained a great share in global markets in sectors showing a rising trend in demand…No we have not gained a firm ground in global markets and hence passage suggests that we should make foray into such sectors….OUT

[Passage 27] Over the last decade, Indian agriculture has become more robust with record production of food grains and oilseeds. Increased procurement, consequently, has added huge of food grains in the granaries. India is one of the world’s top producers of rice, wheat, milk, fruits and vegetables. India is still home to a quarter of all undernourished people in the world. On an average, almost half of the total expenditure of nearly half of the households is on food.

Which among the following is the most logical corollary to the above passage?

(a) Increasing the efficiency of farm-to-fork value chain is necessary to reduce the poverty and malnutrition

(b) Increasing the agricultural productivity will automatically eliminate the poverty and malnutrition in India

(c) India’s agricultural productivity is already great and it is not necessary to increase it further

(d) Allocation of more funds for social welfare and poverty alleviation programmes will ultimately eliminate the poverty and malnutrition in India

Solution:

Before we start evaluating the options let us understand what is meant by ‘corollary’. For our purpose it simply means what follows from what is given i.e. which of the given options can follow from the arguments presented in the passage.

Now our take on passage: It presents an irony. Water, water everywhere not a drop to drink. Enough production, enough storage still high levels of hunger.

(a) Increasing the efficiency of farm-to-fork value chain is necessary to reduce the poverty and malnutrition…YES this should indeed happen if the arguments of the passage are true. So this is a contender for answer choice. But let us evaluate other options.

(b) Increasing the agricultural productivity will automatically eliminate the poverty and malnutrition in India….The passase is arguing just the opposite. That there is enough productions still malnutrition and hunger and it is not getting eliminated automatically…OUT

(c) India’s agricultural productivity is already great and it is not necessary to increase it further…Passage is presenting a case for handling malnutrition and not agricultural production and adjectives likes ‘great’ are too good to be trusted…OUT

(d) Allocation of more funds for social welfare and poverty alleviation programmes will ultimately eliminate the poverty and malnutrition in India…..The passage is trying to relate production and storage with hunger and malnutrition and not discussing welfare programmes….OUT

Thus the only option that fits the bill is option (a) and is the answer.

[Passage 28] The States are like pearls and the Centre is the thread which turns them into a necklace; if the read snaps, the pearls are scattered.

Which one of the following views corroborates the above statement?

(a) A strong Centre and strong States make the federation strong

(b) A strong Centre is a binding force for national integrity

(c) A strong Centre is a hindrance to State autonomy

(d) State autonomy is a prerequisite for a federation

Solution:

The passage is in the form of figurative speech whether the author is stating that without the thread pearls shall get scattered and that the centre is a binding form to keep them together. This view is presented in option (b). The other options can be ruled out as the passage is not discussing about State autonomy or strength of federation. Thus the answer is option (b):

(b) A strong Centre is a binding force for national integrity

[Passage 29] Really I think that the poorest he that is in England has a life to live, as the greatest he, and therefore truly, I think it is clear that every man that is to live under a government ought first by his own consent to put himself under the government, and I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that government that he has not had a voice to put himself under.

The above statement argues for

(a) distribution of wealth equally to all

(b) rule according to the consent of the governed

(c) rule of the poor

(d) expropriation of the rich

Solution:

The passage goes on to claim that ‘poorest man’, the representative of the governed used by the author, should be governed by those who have been chosen by the those being governed. Hence the option choice (b) is the right answer. Expropriation of rich, rule by poor and distribution of wealth to all is not what the passage is implying.

(b) rule according to the consent of the governed

* * * * * * *

After this lengthy blog, here is the list of takeaways

1. Read all answer choices even if you think a particular option is correct

2. The passages are pretty easy. Get over the dread

3. At least two option choices in many passages are clearly wrong. Rule them out first

4. Summing up the passage in our words helps a ton

5. Few of the above passages have already appeared in previous year NDA/CDS exams. Therefore, there is no harm in practicing on the passages of past 4-5 years of CDS and NDA papers.

6. The passages are getting more diverse but still, you shall find some sitting ducks. Shoot them first

7. Answer the question as per the information in the passage. What you already know may not be in consonance with what the passage proffers but what matters is that you answer the question as per the passage only

8. Use elimination of choices to zero in on the answer choice. It is quite effective, especially in comprehension tests

9. When you have to decide between two options, choose the one where the words used are same as those used in the passage

10. Only 33% percent marks are required to qualify CSAT, Paper II. Still attempt all questions you correctly and confidently attempt

11. Do not take CSAT, Paper II for granted. The cake-walk may morph into quick-sand

So this is Good-Bye and Good Luck for now!

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