Reading Comprehension – 174 incidents of piracy were reported to the International


Slot – 1 – RC



174 incidents of piracy were reported to the International Maritime Bureau last year, with Somali pirates responsible for only three. The rest ranged from the discreet theft of coils of rope in the Yellow Sea to the notoriously ferocious Nigerian gunmen attacking and hijacking oil tankers in the Gulf of Guinea, as well as armed robbery off Singapore and the Venezuelan coast and kidnapping in the Sundarbans in the Bay of Bengal. For [Dr. Peter] Lehr, an expert on modern-day piracy, the phenomenon’s history should be a source of instruction rather than entertainment, piracy past offering lessons for piracy present. . . .
But . . . where does piracy begin or end? According to St Augustine, a corsair captain once told Alexander the Great that in the forceful acquisition of power and wealth at sea, the difference between an emperor and a pirate was simply one of scale. By this logic, European empire-builders were the most successful pirates of all time. A more eclectic history might have included the conquistadors, Vasco da Gama and the East India Company. But Lehr sticks to the disorganised small fry, making comparisons with the renegades of today possible.
The main motive for piracy has always been a combination of need and greed. Why toil away as a starving peasant in the 16th century when a successful pirate made up to £4,000 on each raid? Anyone could turn to freebooting if the rewards were worth the risk . . . .
Increased globalisation has done more to encourage piracy than suppress it. European colonialism weakened delicate balances of power, leading to an influx of opportunists on the high seas. A rise in global shipping has meant rich pickings for freebooters. Lehr writes: “It quickly becomes clear that in those parts of the world that have not profited from globalisation and modernisation, and where abject poverty and the daily struggle for survival are still a reality, the root causes of piracy are still the same as they were a couple of hundred years ago.” . . .
Modern pirate prevention has failed. After the French yacht Le Gonant was ransomed for $2 million in 2008, opportunists from all over Somalia flocked to the coast for a piece of the action. . . . A consistent rule, even today, is there are never enough warships to patrol pirateinfested waters. Such ships are costly and only solve the problem temporarily; Somali piracy is bound to return as soon as the warships are withdrawn. Robot shipping, eliminating hostages, has been proposed as a possible solution; but as Lehr points out, this will only make pirates switch their targets to smaller carriers unable to afford the technology. His advice isn’t new. Proposals to end illegal fishing are often advanced but they are difficult to enforce. Investment in local welfare put a halt to Malaysian piracy in the 1970s, but was dependent on money somehow filtering through a corrupt bureaucracy to the poor on the periphery. Diplomatic initiatives against piracy are plagued by mutual distrust: the Russians execute pirates, while the EU and US are reluctant to capture them for fear they’ll claim asylum.

Q.1 “Why toil away as a starving peasant in the 16th century when a successful pirate made up to £4,000 on each raid?” In this sentence, the author’s tone can best be described as being?
  1. indignant, at the scale of wealth successful pirates could amass in medieval times.
  2. facetious, about the hardships of peasant life in medieval England.
  3. analytical, to explain the contrasts between peasant and pirate life in medieval England.
  4. ironic, about the reasons why so many took to piracy in medieval times.
Answer: 4

Q.2 We can deduce that the author believes that piracy can best be controlled in the long run?
  1. through lucrative welfare schemes to improve the lives of people in affected regions.
  2. through international cooperation in enforcing stringent deterrents.
  3. if we eliminate poverty and income disparities in affected regions.
  4. through the extensive deployment of technology to track ships and cargo.
Answer: 3

Q.3 The author ascribes the rise in piracy today to all of the following factors EXCEPT?
  1. decreased surveillance of the high seas.
  2. the high rewards via ransoms for successful piracy attempts.
  3. colonialism’s disruption of historic ties among countries.
  4. the growth in international shipping with globalisation.
Answer: 1

Q.4 “A more eclectic history might have included the conquistadors, Vasco da Gama and the East India Company. But Lehr sticks to the disorganised small fry . . .” From this statement we can infer that the author believes that?
  1. Lehr does not assign adequate blame to empire builders for their past deeds.
  2. . colonialism should be considered an organised form of piracy
  3. Vasco da Gama and the East India Company laid the ground for modern piracy.
  4. the disorganised piracy of today is no match for the organised piracy of the past.
Answer: 2

Solutions:
Q.1
The author has written the sentence in a mocking or ironical tone. He is certainly not advocating an illegal occupation such as piracy for the 16th century peasant. His words are intended to convey a meaning that is opposite of its literal meaning. Thus, option 4 is the correct answer.
The author has not been indignant or facetious (lacking serious intent or humorous) in his tone when he has used the sentence in the question. Nor has he been analytical – although it may seem so at first glance. But since he is intending a meaning opposite of the literal meaning, ironic is the correct tone for the sentence.
Hence, the correct answer is option 4.

Q.2
Refer to the following extract, “Lehr writes: “It quickly becomes clear that in those parts of the world that have not profited from globalization and modernisation, and where abject poverty and the daily struggle for survival are still a reality, the root causes of piracy are still the same as they were a couple of hundred years ago.” This extract clearly indicates that piracy thrives in regions where there is abject poverty. Thus, option 3 is the correct answer.

Option 1 is close. Refer to the following extract, “Investment in local welfare put a halt to Malaysian piracy in the 1970s, but was dependent on money somehow filtering through a corrupt bureaucracy to the poor on the periphery” but the success of this initiative depends on money filtering through a corrupt bureaucracy to the poor – which is not feasible in all the affected regions. Secondly, it clearly indicates that poverty is the root cause of piracy which brings us back to option 3.

Option 2 is incorrect. According to the author, “Diplomatic initiatives against piracy are plagued by mutual distrust: the Russians execute pirates, while the EU and US are reluctant to capture them for fear they’ll claim asylum.” This implies that there is little to no international cooperation in enforcing stringent deterrents.

Option 4 is also incorrect. According to the passage, “Robot shipping, eliminating hostages, has been proposed as a possible solution; but as Lehr points out, this will only make pirates switch their targets to smaller carriers unable to afford the technology.” This extracts highlights the fact that technology would not be able to eliminate piracy.
Hence, the correct answer is option 3.

Q.3
Option 2 is a reason for the rise in piracy. Refer to the extract, “After the French yacht Le Gonant was ransomed for $2million in 2008, opportunists from all over Somalia flocked to the coast for a piece of the action. . . .”

Option 3 is also a reason for the rise in piracy, “European colonialism weakened delicate balances of power, leading to an influx of opportunists on the high seas.”

Option 4, to, is a reason for an increase in piracy. Refer to the following extract, “Anyone could turn to freebooting if the rewards were worth the risk . . . .Increased globalisation has done more to encourage piracy than suppress it.”

Option 1 has not been mentioned in the passage with regard to the rise in piracy today.
Hence, the correct answer is option 1.

Q.4
In the above sentence the author means to say that the actions of the conquistadors, Vasco da Gama and the East India Company who colonized and ruled over vast swathes of territories through conquests could also be considered as a form of piracy but that the author focuses on piracy on the high seas only. The following extract buttresses this explanation, “According to St Augustine, a corsair captain once told Alexander the Great that in the forceful acquisition of power and wealth at sea, the difference between an emperor and a pirate was simply one of scale. By this logic, European empire-builders were the most successful pirates of all time.” Thus, option 2 is the correct answer. Lehr does not talk about empire builders at all as his subject of specialization is piracy on the high seas. It is the author who has quoted a historical figure who in turn compares empire building to piracy but on a far larger scale. The entire passage is solely about piracy on the high seas. Nowhere has the author explicitly or implicitly implied that Lehr has not assigned adequate blame to empire builders for their past deeds. Thus, option 1 is eliminated.

Option 3 is incorrect. Vasco da Gama and the East India Company colonized or used piracy on a large scale to conquer vast swathes of land but this did not lay the ground for modern piracy.

Option 4 cannot be inferred from the passage in any way.
Hence, the correct answer is option 1.


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