Reading Comprehension – Economists have spent most of

Reading Comprehension

Economists have spent most of the 20th century ignoring psychology, positive or otherwise. But today there is a great deal of emphasis on how happiness can shape global economies, or — on a smaller scale — successful business practice. This is driven, in part, by a trend in “measuring” positive emotions, mostly so they can be optimized. Neuroscientists, for example, claim to be able to locate specific emotions, such as happiness or disappointment, in particular areas of the brain. Wearable technologies, such as Spire, offer data-driven advice on how to reduce stress.

We are no longer just dealing with “happiness” in a philosophical or romantic sense — it has become something that can be monitored and measured, including by our behavior, use of social media and bodily indicators such as pulse rate and facial expressions.

There is nothing automatically sinister about this trend. But it is disquieting that the businesses and experts driving the quantification of happiness claim to have our best interests at heart, often concealing their own agendas in the process. In the workplace, happy workers are viewed as a “win-win.” Work becomes more pleasant, and employees, more productive. But this is now being pursued through the use of performance-evaluating wearable technology, such as Humanyze or Virgin Pulse, both of which monitor physical signs of stress and activity toward the goal of increasing productivity.

Cities such as Dubai, which has pledged to become the “happiest city in the world,” dream up ever-more elaborate and intrusive ways of collecting data on well-being — to the point where there is now talk of using CCTV cameras to monitor facial expressions in public spaces. New ways of detecting emotions are hitting the market all the time: One company, Beyond Verbal, aims to calculate moods conveyed in a phone conversation, potentially without the knowledge of at least one of the participants. And Facebook [has] demonstrated . . . that it could influence our emotions through tweaking our news feeds — opening the door to ever-more targeted manipulation in advertising and influence.

As the science grows more sophisticated and technologies become more intimate with our thoughts and bodies, a clear trend is emerging. Where happiness indicators were once used as a basis to reform society, challenging the obsession with money that G.D.P. measurement entrenches, they are increasingly used as a basis to transform or discipline individuals.

Happiness becomes a personal project, that each of us must now work on, like going to the gym. Since the 1970s, depression has come to be viewed as a cognitive or neurological defect in the individual, and never a consequence of circumstances. All of this simply escalates the sense of responsibility each of us feels for our own feelings, and with it, the sense of failure when things go badly. A society that deliberately removed certain sources of misery, such as precarious and exploitative employment, may well be a happier one. But we won’t get there by making this single, often fleeting emotion, the over-arching goal.

Q.1 The author’s view would be undermined by which of the following research findings?

  1. Stakeholders globally are moving away from collecting data on the well-being of individuals.
  2. There is a definitive move towards the adoption of wearable technology that taps into emotions.
  3. A proliferation of gyms that are collecting data on customer well-being.
  4. Individuals worldwide are utilising technologies to monitor and increase their well-being.

Q.2 In the author’s opinion, the shift in thinking in the 1970s:

  1. put people in touch with their own feelings rather than depending on psychologists.
  2. was a welcome change from the earlier view that depression could be cured by changing circumstances.
  3. introduced greater stress into people’s lives as they were expected to be responsible for their own happiness.
  4. reflected the emergence of neuroscience as the authority on human emotions.

Q.3 From the passage we can infer that the author would like economists to:

  1. correlate measurements of happiness with economic indicators.
  2. measure the effectiveness of Facebook and social media advertising.
  3. work closely with neuroscientists to understand human behaviour.
  4. incorporate psychological findings into their research cautiously.

Q.4  According to the author, Dubai:

  1. is on its way to becoming one of the world’s happiest cities.
  2. develops sophisticated technologies to monitor its inhabitants’ states of mind.
  3. collaborates with Facebook to selectively influence its inhabitants’ moods.
  4. incentivises companies that prioritise worker welfare.

Q.5 According to the author, wearable technologies and social media are contributing most to:

  1. depression as a thing of the past.
  2. disciplining individuals to be happy.
  3. making individuals aware of stress in their lives.
  4. 4. happiness as a “personal project”.

Answers

Q1: Option (1)

Q2: Option (3)

Q3: Option (4)

Q4: Option (2)

Q5: Option (2)

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Reading Comprehension – When researchers at Emory University

Reading Comprehension – When researchers at Emory University

Reading Comprehension

When researchers at Emory University in Atlanta trained mice to fear the smell of almonds (by pairing it with electric shocks), they found, to their consternation, that both the children and grandchildren of these mice were spontaneously afraid of the same smell. That is not supposed to happen. Generations of schoolchildren have been taught that the inheritance of acquired characteristics is impossible. A mouse should not be born with something its parents have learned during their lifetimes, any more than a mouse that loses its tail in an accident should give birth to tailless mice. . . .

Modern evolutionary biology dates back to a synthesis that emerged around the 1940s-60s, which married Charles Darwin’s mechanism of natural selection with Gregor Mendel’s discoveries of how genes are inherited. The traditional, and still dominant, view is that adaptations – from the human brain to the peacock’s tail – are fully and satisfactorily explained by natural selection (and subsequent inheritance). Yet [new evidence] from genomics, epigenetics and developmental biology [indicates] that evolution is more complex than we once assumed. . . .

In his book On Human Nature (1978), the evolutionary biologist Edward O Wilson claimed that human culture is held on a genetic leash. The metaphor [needs revision]. . . . Imagine a dog-walker (the genes) struggling to retain control of a brawny mastiff (human culture). The pair’s trajectory (the pathway of evolution) reflects the outcome of the struggle. Now imagine the same dog-walker struggling with multiple dogs, on leashes of varied lengths, with each dog tugging in different directions. All these tugs represent the influence of developmental factors, including epigenetics, antibodies and hormones passed on by parents, as well as the ecological legacies and culture they bequeath. . . .

The received wisdom is that parental experiences can’t affect the characters of their offspring. Except they do. The way that genes are expressed to produce an organism’s phenotype – the actual characteristics it ends up with – is affected by chemicals that attach to them. Everything from diet to air pollution to parental behaviour can influence the addition or removal of these chemical marks, which switches genes on or off. Usually these so-called ‘epigenetic’ attachments are removed during the production of sperm and eggs cells, but it turns out that some escape the resetting process and are passed on to the next generation, along with the genes. This is known as ‘epigenetic inheritance’, and more and more studies are confirming that it really happens. Let’s return to the almond-fearing mice. The inheritance of an epigenetic mark transmitted in the sperm is what led the mice’s offspring to acquire an inherited fear. . . .

Epigenetics is only part of the story. Through culture and society, [humans and other animals] inherit knowledge and skills acquired by [their] parents. . . . All this complexity . . . points to an evolutionary process in which genomes (over hundreds to thousands of generations), epigenetic modifications and inherited cultural factors (over several, perhaps tens or hundreds of generations), and parental effects (over single-generation timespans) collectively inform how organisms adapt. These extra-genetic kinds of inheritance give organisms the flexibility to make rapid adjustments to environmental challenges, dragging genetic change in their wake – much like a rowdy pack of dogs.

Q.1 Which of the following, if found to be true, would negate the main message of the passage?

  1. A study highlighting the criticality of epigenetic inheritance to evolution.
  2. A study affirming the influence of socio-cultural markers on evolutionary processes.
  3. A study affirming the sole influence of natural selection and inheritance on evolution.
  4. A study indicating the primacy of ecological impact on human adaptation.

Q.2 Which of the following options best describes the author’s argument?

  1. Mendel’s theory of inheritance is unfairly underestimated in explaining evolution.
  2. Wilson’s theory of evolution is scientifically superior to either Darwin’s or Mendel’s.
  3. Darwin’s theory of natural selection cannot fully explain evolution.
  4. Darwin’s and Mendel’s theories together best explain evolution.

Q.3 The Emory University experiment with mice points to the inheritance of:

  1. acquired characteristics
  2. acquired parental fears
  3. psychological markers
  4. personality traits

Q.4 The passage uses the metaphor of a dog walker to argue that evolutionary adaptation is most comprehensively understood as being determined by:

  1. extra genetic, genetic, epigenetic and genomic legacies.
  2. ecological, hormonal, extra genetic and genetic legacies.
  3. socio-cultural, genetic, epigenetic, and genomic legacies
  4. genetic, epigenetic, developmental factors, and ecological legacies.

Answers

Q1: Option (3)

Q2: Option (3)

Q3: Option (1)

Q4: Option (4)

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Reading Comprehension – The Indian government has announced an

Reading Comprehension – The Indian government has announced an

Reading Comprehension

[The] Indian government [has] announced an international competition to design a National War Memorial in New Delhi, to honour all of the Indian soldiers who served in the various wars and counter-insurgency campaigns from 1947 onwards. The terms of the competition also specified that the new structure would be built adjacent to the India Gate – a memorial to the Indian soldiers who died in the First World War. Between the old imperialist memorial and the proposed nationalist one, India’s contribution to the Second World War is airbrushed out of existence.

The Indian government’s conception of the war memorial was not merely absent-minded. Rather, it accurately reflected the fact that both academic history and popular memory have yet to come to terms with India’s Second World War, which continues to be seen as little more than mood music in the drama of India’s advance towards independence and partition in 1947. Further, the political trajectory of the postwar subcontinent has militated against popular remembrance of the war. With partition and the onset of the India-Pakistan rivalry, both of the new nations needed fresh stories for self-legitimisation rather than focusing on shared wartime experiences.

However, the Second World War played a crucial role in both the independence and partition of India. . . . The Indian army recruited, trained and deployed some 2.5 million men, almost 90,000 of which were killed and many more injured. Even at the time, it was recognised as the largest volunteer force in the war. . ..

India’s material and financial contribution to the war was equally significant. India emerged as a major military-industrial and logistical base for Allied operations in south-east Asia and the Middle East. This led the United States to take considerable interest in the country’s future, and ensured that this was no longer the preserve of the British government.

Other wartime developments pointed in the direction of India’s independence. In a stunning reversal of its long-standing financial relationship with Britain, India finished the war as one of the largest creditors to the imperial power.

Such extraordinary mobilization for war was achieved at great human cost, with the Bengal famine the most extreme manifestation of widespread wartime deprivation. The costs on India’s home front must be counted in millions of lives.

Indians signed up to serve on the war and home fronts for a variety of reasons. . . . [M]any were convinced that their contribution would open the doors to India’s freedom. . . . The political and social churn triggered by the war was evident in the massive waves of popular protest and unrest that washed over rural and urban India in the aftermath of the conflict. This turmoil was crucial in persuading the Attlee government to rid itself of the incubus of ruling India. . . .

Seventy years on, it is time that India engaged with the complex legacies of the Second World War. Bringing the war into the ambit of the new national memorial would be a fitting – if not overdue – recognition that this was India’s War.

Q.1 The author claims that omitting mention of Indians who served in the Second World War from the new National War Memorial is:

  1. a reflection of misplaced priorities of the post-independence Indian governments.
  2. is something which can be rectified in future by constructing a separate memorial.
  3. a reflection of the academic and popular view of India’s role in the War.
  4. appropriate as their names can always be included in the India Gate memorial.

Q.2 The phrase “mood music” is used in the second paragraph to indicate that the Second World War is viewed as:

  1. a part of the narrative on the ill-effects of colonial rule on India.
  2. a backdrop to the subsequent independence and partition of the region.
  3. setting the stage for the emergence of the India–Pakistan rivalry in the subcontinent.
  4. a tragic period in terms of loss of lives and national wealth.

Q.3 The author suggests that a major reason why India has not so far acknowledged its role in the Second World War is that it:

  1. blames the War for leading to the momentous partition of the country.
  2. wants to forget the human and financial toll of the War on the country.
  3. has been focused on building an independent, non-colonial political identity.
  4. views the War as a predominantly Allied effort, with India playing only a supporting role.

Q.4 In the first paragraph, the author laments the fact that:

  1. there is no recognition of the Indian soldiers who served in the Second World War.
  2. India lost thousands of human lives during the Second World War.
  3. funds will be wasted on another war memorial when we already have the India Gate memorial.
  4. the new war memorial will be built right next to India Gate.

Q.5 The author lists all of the following as outcomes of the Second World War EXCEPT:

  1. large-scale deaths in Bengal as a result of deprivation and famine.
  2. independence of the subcontinent and its partition into two countries.
  3. the large financial debt India owed to Britain after the War.
  4. US recognition of India’s strategic location and role in the War.

Answer:

Q1: Option (3)

Q2: Option (2)

Q3: Option (3)

Q4: Option (1)

Q5: Option (3)

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Reading Comprehension – The only thing worse than being

Reading Comprehension – The only thing worse than being

Reading Comprehension

The only thing worse than being lied to is not knowing you’re being lied to. It’s true that plastic pollution is a huge problem, of planetary proportions. And it’s true we could all do more to reduce our plastic footprint. The lie is that blame for the plastic problem is wasteful consumers and that changing our individual habits will fix it.

Recycling plastic is to saving the Earth what hammering a nail is to halting a falling skyscraper. You struggle to find a place to do it and feel pleased when you succeed. But your effort is wholly inadequate and distracts from the real problem of why the building is collapsing in the first place. The real problem is that single-use plastic—the very idea of producing plastic items like grocery bags, which we use for an average of 12 minutes but can persist in the environment for half a millennium—is an incredibly reckless abuse of technology. Encouraging individuals to recycle more will never solve the problem of a massive production of single-use plastic that should have been avoided in the first place.

As an ecologist and evolutionary biologist, I have had a disturbing window into the accumulating literature on the hazards of plastic pollution. Scientists have long recognized that plastics biodegrade slowly, if at all, and pose multiple threats to wildlife through entanglement and consumption. More recent reports highlight dangers posed by absorption of toxic chemicals in the water and by plastic odors that mimic some species’ natural food. Plastics also accumulate up the food chain, and studies now show that we are likely ingesting it ourselves in seafood. . . .

Beginning in the 1950s, big beverage companies like Coca-Cola and Anheuser-Busch, along with Phillip Morris and others, formed a non-profit called Keep America Beautiful. Its mission is/was to educate and encourage environmental stewardship in the public. . . . At face value, these efforts seem benevolent, but they obscure the real problem, which is the role that corporate polluters play in the plastic problem. This clever misdirection has led journalist and author Heather Rogers to describe Keep America Beautiful as the first corporate greenwashing front, as it has helped shift the public focus to consumer recycling behavior and actively thwarted legislation that would increase extended producer responsibility for waste management. . . . [T]he greatest success of Keep America Beautiful has been to shift the onus of environmental responsibility onto the public while simultaneously becoming a trusted name in the environmental movement. . . .

So what can we do to make responsible use of plastic a reality? First: reject the lie. Litterbugs are not responsible for the global ecological disaster of plastic. Humans can only function to the best of their abilities, given time, mental bandwidth and systemic constraints. Our huge problem with plastic is the result of a permissive legal framework that has allowed the uncontrolled rise of plastic pollution, despite clear evidence of the harm it causes to local communities and the world’s oceans. Recycling is also too hard in most parts of the U.S. and lacks the proper incentives to make it work well.

Q.1 It can be inferred that the author considers the Keep America Beautiful organisation:

  1. a “greenwash” because it was a benevolent attempt to improve public recycling habits.
  2. an innovative example of a collaborative corporate social responsibility initiative.
  3. an important step in sensitising producers to the need to tackle plastics pollution.
  4. a sham as it diverted attention away from the role of corporates in plastics pollution.

Q.2 In the first paragraph, the author uses “lie” to refer to the:

  1. understatement of the effects of recycling plastics.
  2. understatement of the enormity of the plastics pollution problem.
  3. blame assigned to consumers for indiscriminate use of plastics.
  4. fact that people do not know they have been lied to.

Q.3 The author lists all of the following as negative effects of the use of plastics EXCEPT the:

  1. slow pace of degradation or non-degradation of plastics in the environment.
  2. air pollution caused during the process of recycling plastics.
  3. adverse impacts on the digestive systems of animals exposed to plastic.
  4. poisonous chemicals released into the water and food we consume.

Q.4 In the second paragraph, the phrase “what hammering a nail is to halting a falling skyscraper” means:

  1. relying on emerging technologies to mitigate the ill-effects of plastic pollution.
  2. encouraging the responsible production of plastics by firms.
  3. focusing on single-use plastic bags to reduce the plastics footprint.
  4. focusing on consumer behaviour to tackle the problem of plastics pollution.

Q.5 Which of the following interventions would the author most strongly support:

  1. completely banning all single-use plastic bags.
  2. recycling all plastic debris in the seabed.
  3. having all consumers change their plastic consumption habits.
  4. passing regulations targeted at producers that generate plastic products.

Answers:

Q1: Option (4)

Q2: Option (3)

Q3: Option (2)

Q4: Option (4)

Q5: Option (4)

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Reading Comprehension – Everybody pretty much agrees

Reading Comprehension – Everybody pretty much agrees

Reading Comprehension

“Everybody pretty much agrees that the relationship between elephants and people has dramatically changed,” [says psychologist Gay] Bradshaw. . . . “Where for centuries humans and elephants lived in relatively peaceful coexistence, there is now hostility and violence. Now, I use the term ‘violence’ because of the intentionality associated with it, both in the aggression of humans and, at times, the recently observed behavior of elephants.” . . .

Typically, elephant researchers have cited, as a cause of aggression, the high levels of testosterone in newly matured male elephants or the competition for land and resources between elephants and humans. But. . . Bradshaw and several colleagues argue. . . that today’s elephant populations are suffering from a form of chronic stress, a kind of species-wide trauma. Decades of poaching and culling and habitat loss, they claim, have so disrupted the intricate web of familial and societal relations by which young elephants have traditionally been raised in the wild, and by which established elephant herds are governed, that what we are now witnessing is nothing less than a precipitous collapse of elephant culture. . . .

Elephants, when left to their own devices, are profoundly social creatures. . . . Young elephants are raised within an extended, multitiered network of doting female caregivers that includes the birth mother, grandmothers, aunts and friends. These relations are maintained over a life span as long as 70 years. Studies of established herds have shown that young elephants stay within 15 feet of their mothers for nearly all of their first eight years of life, after which young females are socialized into the matriarchal network, while young males go off for a time into an all-male social group before coming back into the fold as mature adults. . . .

This fabric of elephant society, Bradshaw and her colleagues [demonstrate], ha[s] effectively been frayed by years of habitat loss and poaching, along with systematic culling by government agencies to control elephant numbers and translocations of herds to different habitats. . . . As a result of such social upheaval, calves are now being born to and raised by ever younger and inexperienced mothers. Young orphaned elephants, meanwhile, that have witnessed the death of a parent at the hands of poachers are coming of age in the absence of the support system that defines traditional elephant life. “The loss of elephant elders,” [says] Bradshaw . . . “and the traumatic experience of witnessing the massacres of their family, impairs normal brain and behavior development in young elephants.”

What Bradshaw and her colleagues describe would seem to be an extreme form of anthropocentric conjecture if the evidence that they’ve compiled from various elephant researchers. . . weren’t so compelling. The elephants of decimated herds, especially orphans who’ve watched the death of their parents and elders from poaching and culling, exhibit behavior typically associated with post-traumatic stress disorder and other trauma-related disorders in humans: abnormal startle response, unpredictable asocial behavior, inattentive mothering and hyperaggression. . . .

[According to Bradshaw], “Elephants are suffering and behaving in the same ways that we recognize in ourselves as a result of violence. . . . Except perhaps for a few specific features, brain organization and early development of elephants and humans are extremely similar.”

Q.1 Which of the following measures is Bradshaw most likely to support to address the problem of elephant aggression?

  1. The development of treatment programmes for elephants drawing on insights gained from treating post-traumatic stress disorder in humans.
  2. Increased funding for research into the similarity of humans and other animals drawing on insights gained from human-elephant similarities.
  3. Funding of more studies to better understand the impact of testosterone on male elephant aggression.
  4. Studying the impact of isolating elephant calves on their early brain development, behaviour and aggression.

Comprehension:

Q.2 In paragraph 4, the phrase, “The fabric of elephant society . . . has[s] effectively been frayed by . . .” is:

  1. a metaphor for the effect of human activity on elephant communities.
  2. an exaggeration aimed at bolstering Bradshaw’s claims.
  3. an accurate description of the condition of elephant herds today.
  4. an ode to the fragility of elephant society today.

Q.3 Which of the following statements best expresses the overall argument of this passage?

  1. The brain organisation and early development of elephants and humans are extremely similar.
  2. The relationship between elephants and humans has changed from one of coexistence to one of hostility.
  3. Recent elephant behaviour could be understood as a form of species-wide trauma-related response.
  4. Elephants, like the humans they are in conflict with, are profoundly social creatures.

Q.4 In the first paragraph, Bradshaw uses the term “violence” to describe the recent change in the human-elephant relationship because, according to him:

  1. there is a purposefulness in human and elephant aggression towards each other.
  2. both humans and elephants have killed members of each other’s species.
  3. human-elephant interactions have changed their character over time.
  4. elephant herds and their habitat have been systematically destroyed by humans.

Q.5 The passage makes all of the following claims EXCEPT:

  1. human actions such as poaching and culling have created stressful conditions for elephant communities.
  2. the elephant response to deeply disturbing experiences is similar to that of humans.
  3. elephant mothers are evolving newer ways of rearing their calves to adapt to emerging threats.
  4. elephants establish extended and enduring familial relationships as do humans.

Answers:

Q1: Option (1)

Q2: Option (1)

Q3: Option (3)

Q4: Option (1)

Q5: Option (3)

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Reading Comprehension – Will a day come when India’s poor

Reading Comprehension

Will a day come when India’s poor can access government services as easily as drawing cash from an ATM? . . . [N]o country in the world has made accessing education or health or policing or dispute resolution as easy as an ATM, because the nature of these activities requires individuals to use their discretion in a positive way. Technology can certainly facilitate this in a variety of ways if it is seen as one part of an overall approach, but the evidence so far in education, for instance, is that just adding computers alone doesn’t make education any better.

The dangerous illusion of technology is that it can create stronger, top down accountability of service providers in implementation-intensive services within existing public sector organisations. One notion is that electronic management information systems (EMIS) keep better track of inputs and those aspects of personnel that are ‘EMIS visible’ can lead to better services. A recent study examined attempts to increase attendance of Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANMs) at clinics in Rajasthan, which involved high-tech time clocks to monitor attendance. The study’s title says it all: Band-Aids on a Corpse . . . e-governance can be just as bad as any other governance when the real issue is people and their motivation.

For services to improve, the people providing the services have to want to do a better job with the skills they have.  A study of medical care in Delhi found that even though providers, in the public sector had much better skills than private sector providers their provision of care in actual practice was much worse.

In implementation-intensive services the key to success is face-to-face interactions between a teacher, a nurse, a policeman, an extension agent and a citizen. This relationship is about power. Amartya Sen’s . . . report on education in West Bengal had a supremely telling anecdote in which the villagers forced the teacher to attend school, but then, when the parents went off to work, the teacher did not teach, but forced the children to massage his feet. . . . As long as the system empowers providers over citizens, technology is irrelevant.

The answer to successfully providing basic services is to create systems that provide both autonomy and accountability. In basic education for instance, the answer to poor teaching is not controlling teachers more . . . The key . . . is to hire teachers who want to teach and let them teach, expressing their professionalism and vocation as a teacher through autonomy in the classroom. This autonomy has to be matched with accountability for results—not just narrowly measured through test scores, but broadly for the quality of the education they provide.

A recent study in Uttar Pradesh showed that if, somehow, all civil service teachers could be replaced with contract teachers, the state could save a billion dollars a year in revenue and double student learning. Just the additional autonomy and accountability of contracts through local groups—even without complementary system changes in information and empowerment—led to that much improvement. The first step to being part of the solution is to create performance information accessible to those outside of the government.

Q.1 The main purpose of the passage is to:

  1. find a solution to the problem of poor service delivery in education by examining different strategies.
  2. analyse the shortcomings of government-appointed nurses and their management through technology.
  3. argue that some types of services can be improved by providing independence and requiring accountability.
  4. critique the government’s involvement in educational activities and other implementation-intensive services.

Q.2 The author questions the use of monitoring systems in services that involve face-to-face interaction between service providers and clients because of such systems:

  1. improve the skills but do not increase the motivation of service providers.
  2. are not as effective in the public sector as they are in the private sector.
  3. do not improve services that need committed service providers.
  4. are ineffective because they are managed by the government.

Q.3 Which of the following, IF TRUE, would undermine the passage’s main argument?

  1. If it were proven that increase in autonomy of service providers leads to an exponential increase in their work ethic and sense of responsibility.
  2. Empowerment of service providers leads to increased complacency and rigged performance results.
  3. If absolute instead of moderate technological surveillance is exercised over the performance of service providers.
  4. If it were proven that service providers in the private sector have better skills than those in the public sector.

Q.4 In the context of the passage, we can infer that the title “Band Aids on a Corpse” (in paragraph 2) suggests that:

  1. the electronic monitoring system was a superficial solution to a serious problem.
  2. the nurses who attended the clinics were too poorly trained to provide appropriate medical care.
  3. the clinics were better funded, but performance monitoring did not result in any improvement.
  4. the nurses attended the clinics, but the clinics were ill-equipped.

Q.5    According to the author, service delivery in Indian education can be improved in all of the following ways EXCEPT through: 

  1. recruitment of motivated teachers.
  2. elimination of government involvement.
  3. access to information on the quality of teaching.
  4. 4. use of technology.

Answers

Q1: Option (3)

Q2: Option (3)

Q3: Option (2)

Q4: Option (1)

Q5: Option (2)

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Reading Comprehension – Grove snails as a whole are distributed all

Reading Comprehension

Grove snails as a whole are distributed all over Europe, but a specific variety of the snail, with a distinctive white-lipped shell, is found exclusively in Ireland and in the Pyrenees mountains that lie on the border between France and Spain. The researchers sampled a total of 423 snail specimens from 36 sites distributed across Europe, with an emphasis on gathering large numbers of the white-lipped variety. When they sequenced genes from the mitochondrial DNA of each of these snails and used algorithms to analyze the genetic diversity between them, they found that. . . a distinct lineage (the snails with the white-lipped shells) was indeed endemic to the two very specific and distant places in question.

Explaining this is tricky. Previously, some had speculated that the strange distributions of creatures such as the white-lipped grove snails could be explained by convergent evolution—in which two populations evolve the same trait by coincidence—but the underlying genetic similarities between the two groups rules that out. Alternately, some scientists had suggested that the white-lipped variety had simply spread over the whole continent, then been wiped out everywhere besides Ireland and the Pyrenees, but the researchers say their sampling and subsequent DNA analysis eliminate that possibility too. “If the snails naturally colonized Ireland, you would expect to find some of the same genetic type in other areas of Europe, especially Britain. We just don’t find them,” Davidson, the lead author, said in a press statement.

Moreover, if they’d gradually spread across the continent, there would be some genetic variation within the white-lipped type, because evolution would introduce variety over the thousands of years it would have taken them to spread from the Pyrenees to Ireland. That variation doesn’t exist, at least in the genes sampled. This means that rather than the organism gradually expanding its range, large populations instead were somehow moved en mass to the other location within the space of a few dozen generations, ensuring a lack of genetic variety.

“There is a very clear pattern, which is difficult to explain except by involving humans,” Davidson said. Humans, after all, colonized Ireland roughly 9,000 years ago, and the oldest fossil evidence of grove snails in Ireland dates to roughly the same era. Additionally, there is archaeological evidence of early sea trade between the ancient peoples of Spain and Ireland via the Atlantic and even evidence that humans routinely ate these types of snails before the advent of agriculture, as their burnt shells have been found in Stone Age trash heaps.

The simplest explanation, then? Boats. These snails may have inadvertently traveled on the floor of the small, coast-hugging skiffs these early humans used for travel, or they may have been intentionally carried to Ireland by the seafarers as a food source. “The highways of the past were rivers and the ocean–as the river that flanks the Pyrenees was an ancient trade route to the Atlantic, what we’re actually seeing might be the long lasting legacy of snails that hitched a ride…as humans travelled from the South of France to Ireland 8,000 years ago,” Davidson said.

Q.1 In paragraph 4, the evidence that “humans routinely ate these types of snails before the advent of agriculture” can be used to conclude that:

  1. 9,000 years ago, during the Stone Age, humans traveled from the South of France to Ireland via the Atlantic Ocean.
  2. the seafarers who traveled from the Pyrenees to Ireland might have carried white-lipped grove snails with them as edibles.
  3. rivers and oceans in the Stone Age facilitated trade in white-lipped grove snails.
  4. white-lipped grove snails may have inadvertently traveled from the Pyrenees to Ireland on the floor of the small, coast-hugging skiffs that early seafarers used for travel.

Q.2 The passage outlines several hypotheses and evidence related to white-lipped grove snails to arrive at the most convincing explanation for:

  1. how the white-lipped variety of grove snails might have migrated from the Pyrenees to Ireland.
  2. why the white-lipped variety of grove snails are found only in Ireland and the Pyrenees.
  3. how the white-lipped variety of grove snails independently evolved in Ireland and the Pyrenees.
  4. why the white-lipped variety of grove snails were wiped out everywhere except in Ireland and the Pyrenees.

Q.3 Which one of the following makes the author eliminate convergent evolution as a probable explanation for why white-lipped grove snails are found in Ireland and the Pyrenees?

  1. The absence of genetic variation between white-lipped grove snails of Ireland and the Pyrenees.
  2. The distinct lineage of white-lipped grove snails found specifically in Ireland and the Pyrenees.
  3. The coincidental evolution of similar traits (white-lipped shell) in the grove snails of Ireland and the Pyrenees.
  4. The absence of genetic similarities between white-lipped grove snails of Ireland and snails from other parts of Europe, especially Britain.

Q.4 All of the following evidence supports the passage’s explanation of sea travel/trade EXCEPT:

  1. archaeological evidence of early sea trade between the ancient peoples of Spain and Ireland via the Atlantic Ocean.
  2. the coincidental existence of similar traits in the white-lipped grove snails of Ireland and the Pyrenees because of convergent evolution.
  3. absence of genetic variation within the white-lipped grove snails of Ireland and the Pyrenees, whose genes were sampled.
  4. the oldest fossil evidence of white-lipped grove snails in Ireland dates back to roughly 9,000 years ago, the time when humans colonised Ireland.

Answers

Q1: Option (2)

Q2: Option (2)

Q3: Option (1)

Q4: Option (2)

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Reading Comprehension – The complexity of modern problems

Reading Comprehension

The complexity of modern problems often precludes any one person from fully understanding them. Factors contributing to rising obesity levels, for example, include transportation systems and infrastructure, media, convenience foods, changing social norms, human biology and psychological factors. . . . The multidimensional or layered character of complex problems also undermines the principle of meritocracy: the idea that the ‘best person’ should be hired. There is no best person. When putting together an oncological research team, a biotech company such as Gilead or Genentech would not construct a multiple-choice test and hire the top scorers, or hire people whose resumes score highest according to some performance criteria. Instead, they would seek diversity. They would build a team of people who bring diverse knowledge bases, tools and analytic skills. . . .

Believers in a meritocracy might grant that teams ought to be diverse but then argue that meritocratic principles should apply within each category. Thus the team should consist of the ‘best’ mathematicians, the ‘best’ oncologists, and the ‘best’ biostatisticians from within the pool. That position suffers from a similar flaw. Even with a knowledge domain, no test or criteria applied to individuals will produce the best team. Each of these domains possesses such depth and breadth, that no test can exist. Consider the field of neuroscience. Upwards of 50,000 papers were published last year covering various techniques, domains of enquiry and levels of analysis, ranging from molecules and synapses up through networks of neurons. Given that complexity, any attempt to rank a collection of neuroscientists from best to worst, as if they were competitors in the 50-metre butterfly, must fail. What could be true is that given a specific task and the composition of a particular team, one scientist would be more likely to contribute than another. Optimal hiring depends on context. Optimal teams will be diverse.

Evidence for this claim can be seen in the way that papers and patents that combine diverse ideas tend to rank as high-impact. It can also be found in the structure of the so-called random decision forest, a state-of-the-art machine-learning algorithm. Random forests consist of ensembles of decision trees. If classifying pictures, each tree makes a vote: is that a picture of a fox or a dog? A weighted majority rules. Random forests can serve many ends. They can identify bank fraud and diseases, recommend ceiling fans and predict online dating behaviour. When building a forest, you do not select the best trees as they tend to make similar classifications. You want diversity. Programmers achieve that diversity by training each tree on different data, a technique known as bagging. They also boost the forest ‘cognitively’ by training trees on the hardest cases – those that the current forest gets wrong. This ensures even more diversity and accurate forests.

Yet the fallacy of meritocracy persists. Corporations, non-profits, governments, universities and even preschools test, score and hire the ‘best’. This all but guarantees not creating the best team. Ranking people by common criteria produces homogeneity. That’s not likely to lead to breakthroughs.

Q.1 Which of the following conditions, if true, would invalidate the passage’s main argument?

  1. If it were proven that teams characterised by diversity end up being conflicted about problems and take a long time to arrive at a solution.
  2. If assessment tests were made more extensive and rigorous.
  3. If a new machine-learning algorithm were developed that proved to be more effective than the random decision forest.
  4. If top-scorers possessed multidisciplinary knowledge that enabled them to look at a problem from several perspectives.

Q.2 Which of the following best describes the purpose of the example of neuroscience?

  1. Unlike other fields of knowledge, neuroscience is an exceptionally complex field, making a meaningful assessment of neuroscientists impossible.
  2. Neuroscience is an advanced field of science because of its connections with other branches of science like oncology and biostatistics.
  3. In narrow fields of knowledge, a meaningful assessment of expertise has always been possible.
  4. In the modern age, every field of knowledge is so vast that a meaningful assessment of merit is impossible.

Q.3 The author critiques meritocracy for all the following reasons EXCEPT that:

  1. diversity and context-specificity are important for making major advances in any field.
  2. modern problems are multifaceted and require varied skill-sets to be solved.
  3. criteria designed to assess merit are insufficient to test expertise in any field of knowledge.
  4. an ideal team comprises of best individuals from diverse fields of knowledge.

Q.4 Which of the following conditions would weaken the efficacy of a random decision forest?

  1. If the types of ensembles of decision trees in the forest were doubled.
  2. If a large number of decision trees in the ensemble were trained on data derived from easy and hard cases.
  3. If a large number of decision trees in the ensemble were trained on data derived from easy cases.
  4. If the types of decision trees in each ensemble of the forest were doubled.           

Q.5 On the basis of the passage, which of the following teams is likely to be most effective in solving the problem of rising obesity levels?

  1. A team comprised of nutritionists, psychologists, urban planners and media personnel, who have each performed well in their respective subject tests.
  2. A team comprised of nutritionists, psychologists, urban planners and media personnel, who have each scored a distinction in their respective subject tests.
  3. A specialised team of nutritionists from various countries, who are also trained in the machine-learning algorithm of random decision forest.
  4. 4. A specialised team of top nutritionists from various countries, who also possess some knowledge of psychology.

Answers

Q1: Option (4)

Q2: Option (4)

Q3: Option (4)

Q4: Option (3)

Q5: Option (1)

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Reading Comprehension – More and more companies, government

Reading Comprehension

More and more companies, government agencies, educational institutions and philanthropic organisations are today in the grip of a new phenomenon: ‘metric fixation’. The key components of metric fixation are the belief that it is possible – and desirable – to replace professional judgment (acquired through personal experience and talent) with numerical indicators of comparative performance based upon standardised data (metrics); and that the best way to motivate people within these organisations is by attaching rewards and penalties to their measured performance.

The rewards can be monetary, in the form of pay for performance, say, or reputational, in the form of college rankings, hospital ratings, surgical report cards and so on. But the most dramatic negative effect of metric fixation is its propensity to incentivise gaming: that is, encouraging professionals to maximise the metrics in ways that are at odds with the larger purpose of the organisation. If the rate of major crimes in a district becomes the metric according to which police officers are promoted, then some officers will respond by simply not recording crimes or downgrading them from major offences to misdemeanours. Or take the case of surgeons. When the metrics of success and failure are made public – affecting their reputation and income – some surgeons will improve their metric scores by refusing to operate on patients with more complex problems, whose surgical outcomes are more likely to be negative. Who suffers? The patients who don’t get operated upon.

When reward is tied to measured performance, metric fixation invites just this sort of gaming. But metric fixation also leads to a variety of more subtle unintended negative consequences. These include goal displacement, which comes in many varieties: when performance is judged by a few measures, and the stakes are high (keeping one’s job, getting a pay rise or raising the stock price at the time that stock options are vested), people focus on satisfying those measures – often at the expense of other, more important organisational goals that are not measured. The best-known example is ‘teaching to the test’, a widespread phenomenon that has distorted primary and secondary education in the United States since the adoption of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

Short-termism is another negative. Measured performance encourages what the US sociologist Robert K Merton in 1936 called ‘the imperious immediacy of interests … where the actor’s paramount concern with the foreseen immediate consequences excludes consideration of further or other consequences’. In short, advancing short-term goals at the expense of long-range considerations. This problem is endemic to publicly traded corporations that sacrifice long-term research and development, and the development of their staff, to the perceived imperatives of the quarterly report.

To the debit side of the ledger must also be added the transactional costs of metrics: the expenditure of employee time by those tasked with compiling and processing the metrics in the first place – not to mention the time required to actually read them.

Q.1 Which of the following is NOT a consequence of the ‘metric fixation’ phenomenon mentioned in the passage?

  1. Finding a way to show better results without actually improving performance.
  2. Short-term orientation induced by frequent measurement of performance.
  3. Improving cooperation among employees leading to increased organisational effectiveness in the long run.
  4. Deviating from organisationally important objectives to measurable yet less important objectives.

Q.2 Of the following, which would have added the least depth to the author’s argument?

  1. A comparative case study of metrics- and non-metrics-based evaluation, and its impact on the main goals of an organisation.
  2. An analysis of the reasons why metrics fixation is becoming popular despite its drawbacks.
  3. Assessment of the pros and cons of a professional judgment-based evaluation system.
  4. More real-life illustrations of the consequences of employees and professionals gaming metrics-based performance measurement systems.

Q.3 What is the main idea that the author is trying to highlight in the passage?

  1. All kinds of organisations are now relying on metrics to measure performance and to give rewards and punishments.
  2. Performance measurement needs to be precise and cost-effective to be useful for evaluating organisational performance.
  3. Long-term organisational goals should not be ignored for short-term measures of organisational success.
  4. Evaluating performance by using measurable performance metrics may misguide organisational goal achievement.

Q.4 What main point does the author want to convey through the examples of the police officer and the surgeon?

  1. Critical public roles should not be evaluated on metrics-based performance measures.
  2. Metrics-linked rewards may encourage unethical behaviour among some professionals.
  3. The actions of police officers and surgeons have a significantly impact on society.
  4. Some professionals are likely to be significantly influenced by the design of performance measurement systems.

Q.5 All of the following can be a possible feature of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, EXCEPT:

  1. standardised test scores can be critical in determining a student’s educational future.
  2. the focus is more on test-taking skills than on higher order thinking and problem-solving.
  3. school funding and sanctions are tied to yearly improvement shown on tests.
  4. 4. assessment is dependent on the teacher’s subjective evaluation of students’ class participation.

Answers

Q1: Option (3)

Q2: Option (4)

Q3: Option (4)

Q4: Option (2)

Q5: Option (4)

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Reading Comprehension – NOT everything looks lovelier

Reading Comprehension

NOT everything looks lovelier the longer and closer its inspection. But Saturn does. It is gorgeous through Earthly telescopes. However, the 13 years of close observation provided by Cassini, an American spacecraft, showed the planet, its moons and its remarkable rings off better and better, revealing finer structures, striking novelties and greater drama. . . .

By and large the big things in the solar system—planets and moons—are thought of as having been around since the beginning. The suggestion that rings and moons are new is, though, made even more interesting by the fact that one of those moons, Enceladus, is widely considered the most promising site in the solar system on which to look for alien life. If Enceladus is both young and bears life, that life must have come into being quickly. This is also believed to have been the case on Earth. Were it true on Enceladus, that would encourage the idea that life evolves easily when conditions are right.

One reason for thinking Saturn’s rings are young is that they are bright. The solar system is suffused with comet dust, and comet dust is dark. Leaving Saturn’s ring system (which Cassini has shown to be more than 90% water ice) out in such a mist is like leaving laundry hanging on a line downwind from a smokestack: it will get dirty. The lighter the rings are, the faster this will happen, for the less mass they contain, the less celestial pollution they can absorb before they start to discolour. . . . Jeff Cuzzi, a scientist at America’s space agency, NASA, who helped run Cassini, told the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston that combining the mass estimates with Cassini’s measurements of the density of comet-dust near Saturn suggests the rings are no older than the first dinosaurs, nor younger than the last of them—that is, they are somewhere between 200m and 70m years old.

That timing fits well with a theory put forward in 2016, by Matija Cuk of the SETI Institute, in California and his colleagues. They suggest that at around the same time as the rings came into being an old set of moons orbiting Saturn destroyed themselves, and from their remains emerged not only the rings but also the planet’s current suite of inner moons—Rhea, Dione, Tethys, Enceladus and Mimas. . . .

Dr Cuk and his colleagues used computer simulations of Saturn’s moons’ orbits as a sort of time machine. Looking at the rate at which tidal friction is causing these orbits to lengthen they extrapolated backwards to find out what those orbits would have looked like in the past. They discovered that about 100m years ago the orbits of two of them, Tethys and Dione, would have interacted in a way that left the planes in which they orbit markedly tilted. But their orbits are untilted. The obvious, if unsettling, conclusion was that this interaction never happened—and thus that at the time when it should have happened, Dione and Tethys were simply not there. They must have come into being later.

Q.1  Based on information provided in the passage, we can conclude all of the following EXCEPT:

  1. Thethys and Dione are less than 100 million years old.
  2. none of Saturn’s moons ever had suitable conditions for life to evolve.
  3. Saturn’s lighter rings discolour faster than rings with greater mass.
  4. Saturn’s rings were created from the remains of older moons.

Q.2 The phrase “leaving laundry hanging on a line downwind from a smokestack” is used to explain how the ringed planet’s:

  1. atmosphere absorbs comet dust.
  2. rings discolour and darken over time.
  3. moons create a gap between the rings.
  4. rings lose mass over time.

Q.3 Based on information provided in the passage, we can infer that, in addition to water ice, Saturn’s rings might also have small amounts of:

  1. rock particles and comet dust.
  2. methane and rock particles.
  3. helium and methane.
  4. 4. helium and comet dust.

Q.4 The main objective of the passage is to:

  1. provide evidence that Saturn’s rings and moons are recent creations.
  2. demonstrate how the orbital patterns of Saturn’s rings and moons change over time.
  3. highlight the beauty, finer structures and celestial drama of Saturn’s rings and moons.
  4. establish that Saturn’s rings and inner moons have been around since the beginning of time.           

Q.5 Data provided by Cassini challenged the assumption that:

  1. all big things in the solar system have been around since the beginning.
  2. new celestial bodies can form from the destruction of old celestial bodies.
  3. Saturn’s ring system is composed mostly of water ice.
  4. 4. there was life on earth when Saturn’s rings were being formed.

Answers

Q1: Option (2)

Q2: Option (2)

Q3: Option (1)

Q4: Option (1)

Q5: Option (1)

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