Reading Comprehension

Despite their fierce reputation, Vikings may not have always been the plunderers and pillagers popular culture imagines them to be. In fact, they got their start trading in northern European markets, researchers suggest.

Combs carved from animal antlers, as well as comb manufacturing waste and raw antler material has turned up at three archaeological sites in Denmark, including a medieval marketplace in the city of Ribe. A team of researchers from Denmark and the U.K. hoped to identify the species of animal to which the antlers once belonged by analyzing collagen proteins in the samples and comparing them across the animal kingdom, Laura Geggel reports for LiveScience. Somewhat surprisingly, molecular analysis of the artifacts revealed that some combs and other material had been carved from reindeer antlers.... Given that reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) don't live in Denmark, the researchers posit that it arrived on Viking ships from Norway. Antler craftsmanship, in the form of decorative combs, was part of Viking culture. Such combs served as symbols of good health, Geggel writes. The fact that the animals shed their antlers also made them easy to collect from the large herds that inhabited Norway.

Typewriters are the epitome of a technology that has been comprehensively rendered obsolete by the digital age. The ink comes off the ribbon, they weigh a ton, and second thoughts are a disaster. But they are also personal, portable and, above all, private. Type a document and lock it away and more or less the only way anyone else can get it is if you give it to them. That is why the Russians have decided to go back to typewriters in some government offices, and why in the US, some departments have never abandoned them. Yet it is not just their resistance to algorithms and secret surveillance that keeps typewriter production lines - well one, at least - in business (the last British one closed a year ago). Nor is it only the nostalgic appeal of the metal body and the stout well-defined keys that make them popular on eBay. A typewriter demands something particular: attentiveness. By the time the paper is loaded, the ribbon tightened, the carriage returned, the spacing and the margins set, there's a big premium on hitting the right key. That means sorting out ideas, pulling together a kind of order and organising details before actually striking off. There can be no thinking on screen with a typewriter. Nor are there any easy distractions. No online shopping. No urgent emails. No Twitter. No need even for electricity - perfect for writing in a remote hideaway. The thinking process is accompanied by the encouraging clack of keys, and the ratchet of the carriage return. Ping!

The end of the age of the internal combustion engine is in sight. There are small signs everywhere: the shift to hybrid vehicles is already under way among manufacturers. Volvo has announced it will make no purely petrol-engined cars after 2019...and Tesla has just started selling its first electric car aimed squarely at the middle classes: the Tesla 3 sells for $35,000 in the US, and 400,000 people have put down a small, refundable deposit towards one. Several thousand have already taken delivery, and the company hopes to sell half a million more next year. This is a remarkable figure for a machine with a fairly short range and a very limited number of specialised charging stations.

During the frigid season... it's often necessary to nestle under a blanket to try to stay warm. The temperature difference between the blanket and the air outside is so palpable that we often have trouble leaving our warm refuge. Many plants and animals similarly hunker down, relying on snow cover for safety from winter's harsh conditions. The small area between the snowpack and the ground, called the subnivium... might be the most important ecosystem that you have never heard of.

The subnivium is so well-insulated and stable that its temperature holds steady at around 32 degree Fahrenheit (0 degree Celsius). Although that might still sound cold, a constant temperature of 32 degree Fahrenheit can often be 30 to 40 degrees warmer than the air temperature during the peak of winter. Because of this large temperature difference, a wide variety of species...depend on the subnivium for winter protection.

Creativity is at once our most precious resource and our most inexhaustible one. As anyone who has ever spent any time with children knows, every single human being is born creative; every human being is innately endowed with the ability to combine and recombine data, perceptions, materials and ideas, and devise new ways of thinking and doing. What fosters creativity? More than anything else: the presence of other creative people. The big myth is that creativity is the province of great individual geniuses. In fact creativity is a social process. Our biggest creative breakthroughs come when people learn from, compete with, and collaborate with other people.

Do sports mega events like the summer Olympic Games benefit the host city economically? It depends, but the prospects are less than rosy. The trick is converting...several billion dollars in operating costs during the 17-day fiesta of the Games into a basis for long-term economic returns. These days, the summer Olympic Games themselves generate total revenue of $4 billion to $5 billion, but the lion's share of this goes to the International Olympics Committee, the National Olympics Committees and the International Sports Federations. Any economic benefit would have to flow from the value of the Games as an advertisement for the city, the new transportation and communications infrastructure that was created for the Games, or the ongoing use of the new facilities.

Scientists have long recognised the incredible diversity within a species. But they thought it reflected evolutionary changes that unfolded imperceptibly, over millions of years. That divergence between populations within a species was enforced, according to Ernst Mayr, the great evolutionary biologist of the 1940s, when a population was separated from the rest of the species by a mountain range or a desert, preventing breeding across the divide over geologic scales of time. Without the separation, gene flow was relentless. But as the separation persisted, the isolated population grew apart and speciation occurred.

This year alone, more than 8,600 stores could close, according to industry estimates, many of them the brand-name anchor outlets that real estate developers once stumbled over themselves to court. Already there have been 5,300 retail closings this year... Sears Holdings — which owns Kmart — said in March that there's "substantial doubt" it can stay in business altogether, and will close 300 stores this year. So far this year, nine national retail chains have filed for bankruptcy.

I used a smartphone GPS to find my way through the cobblestoned maze of Geneva's Old Town, in search of a handmade machine that changed the world more than any other invention. Near a 13th-century cathedral in this Swiss city on the shores of a lovely lake, I found what I was looking for: a Gutenberg printing press. "This was the Internet of its day — at least as influential as the iPhone," said Gabriel de Montmollin, the director of the Museum of the Reformation, toying with the replica of Johann Gutenberg's great invention.

Understanding where you are in the world is a basic survival skill, which is why we, like most species come hard-wired with specialized brain areas to create congnitive maps of our surroundings. Where humans are unique, though, with the possible exception of honeybees, is that we try to communicate this understanding the world with others. We have a long history of doing this by drawing maps – the earliest version yet discovered were scrawled on cave walls 14,000 years ago. Human cultures have been drawing them on stone tablets, papyrus, paper and now computer screens ever since.

Every age has its pet contradictions. A few decades back, we used to accept Marx and Freud together, and then wonder, like the chameleon on the turkey carpet, why life was so confusing. Today there is similar trouble over the question whether there is, or is not, something called Human Nature. On the one hand, there has been an explosion of animal behavior studies, and comparisons between animals and men have become immensely popular. People use evidence from animals to decide whether man is naturally aggressive, or naturally territorial; even whether he has an aggressive or territorial instinct. Moreover, we are still much influenced by Freudian psychology, which depends on the notion of instinct. On the other hand, many still hold what may be called the Blank Paper view, that man is a creature entirely without instincts. So do Existentialist philosophers. If man has no instincts, all comparison with animals must be irrelevant. (Both these simple party lines have been somewhat eroded over time, but both are still extremely influential.)

Some psychologists and sociologists believe that psychopathy can be an asset in business and politics and that, as a result, psychopathic traits are over-represented among successful people. This would be a puzzle if it were so. If our moral feelings evolved through natural selection, then it shouldn't be the case that one would flourish without them. And, in fact, the successful psychopath is probably the exception. Psychopaths have certain deficits. Some of these are subtle. The psychologist Abigail Marsh and her colleagues find that psychopaths are markedly insensitive to the expression of fear. Normal people recognize fear and treat it as a distress cue, but 13 psychopaths have problems seeing it, let alone responding to it appropriately. Other deficits run deeper. The overall lack of moral sentiments - and specifically, the lack of regard for others - might turn out to be the psychopath's downfall. We non-psychopaths are constantly assessing one another, looking for kindness and shame and the like, using this information to decide whom to trust, whom to affiliate with. The psychopath has to pretend to be one of us. But this is difficult. It's hard to force yourself to comply with moral rules just through a rational appreciation of what you are expected to do. If you feel like strangling the cat, it's a struggle to hold back just because you know that it is frowned upon. Without a normal allotment of shame and guilt, psychopaths succumb to bad impulses, doing terrible things out of malice, greed, and simple boredom. And sooner or later, they get caught. While psychopaths can be successful in the short term, they tend to fail in the long term and often end up in prison or worse. Let's take a closer look at what separates psychopaths from the rest of us. There are many symptoms of psychopathy, including pathological lying and lack of remorse or guilt, but the core deficit is indifference toward the suffering of other people. Psychopaths lack compassion. To understand how compassion works for all of us non-psychopaths, it's important to distinguish it from empathy. Now, some contemporary researchers use the terms interchangeably, but there is a big difference between caring about a person (compassion) and putting yourself in the person's shoes (empathy).

Writing is both my vocation and my avocation: that’s all I do.

You may wonder why I should write a genealogy. Well, to begin with, my story is interesting. And, next, I am a mystery - more so than a tree or a sunset or even a flash of lightning. But, sadly, I am taken for granted by those who use me, as if I were a mere incident and without background. This supercilious attitude relegates me to the level of the commonplace. This is a species of the grievous error in which mankind cannot too long persist without peril. For, as a wise man, G. K. Chesterton, observed, "We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders."

I, simple though I appear to be, merit your wonder and awe, a claim I shall attempt to prove. In fact, if you can understand me - no, that’s too much to ask of anyone - if you can become aware of the miraculousness that I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing. I have a profound lesson to teach. And I can teach this lesson better than an automobile or an airplane or a mechanical dishwasher because - well, because I am seemingly so simple.

Simple? Yet, not a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me. This sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? Especially when you realize that there are about one and one-half billion of my kind produced in the U.S. each year.

It’s taken me 60 years, but I had an epiphany recently: Everything, without exception, requires additional energy and order to maintain itself. I knew this in the abstract as the famous second law of thermodynamics, which states that everything is falling apart slowly. This realization is not just the lament of a person getting older. Long ago I learnt that even the most inanimate things we know of - stone, iron columns, copper pipes, gravel roads, a piece of paper - won’t last very long without attention and fixing and the loan of additional order. Existence, it seems, is chiefly maintenance.

What has surprised me recently is how unstable even the intangible is. Keeping a website or a software program afloat is like keeping a yacht afloat. It is a black hole for attention. I can understand why a mechanical device like a pump would break down after a while - moisture rusts metal, or the air oxidizes membranes, or lubricants evaporate, all of which require repair. But I wasn’t thinking that the non-material world of bits would also degrade. What’s to break? Apparently everything.

Brand-new computers will ossify. Apps weaken with use. Code corrodes. Fresh software just released will immediately begin to fray. On their own - nothing you did. The more complex the gear, the more (not less) attention it will require. The natural inclination toward change is inescapable, even for the most abstract entities we know of: bits.

And then there is the assault of the changing digital landscape. When everything around you is upgrading, this puts pressure on your digital system and necessitates maintenance. You may not want to upgrade, but you must because everyone else is. It’s an upgrade arms race.

I must say a word about the Eiffel Tower. I do not know what purpose it serves today. But I then heard it greatly disparaged as well as praised. I remember that Tolstoy was the chief among those who disparaged it. He said that the Eiffel Tower was a monument of man's folly, not of his wisdom. Tobacco, he argued, was the worst of all intoxicants, inasmuch as a man addicted to it was tempted to commit crimes which a drunkard never dared to do; liquor made a man mad, but tobacco clouded his intellect and made him build castles in the air. The Eiffel Tower was one of the creations of a man under such influence. There is no art about the Eiffel Tower. In no way can it be said to have contributed to the real beauty of the Exhibition. Men flocked to see it and ascended it as it was a novelty and of unique dimensions. It was the toy of the Exhibition. So long as we are children we are attracted by toys, and the Tower was a good demonstration of the fact that we are children attracted by trinkets. That may be claimed to be the purpose served by the Eiffel Tower.

1. Why did Tolstoy disparage Eiffel Tower?

1. Man was foolish to build it.
2. Huge man-made structures did not appeal to him.
3. Men flocked to see it.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 1 and 2 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 2 and 3 only

2. Why did Tolstoy believe that tobacco was the worst of all intoxicants?

  1. Man lost his intellectual abilities under the influence of tobacco.
  2. Tobacco kept man in a state of inebriation.
  3. People who commit crimes are invariably addicted to tobacco.
  4. Statements (a) and (b) above are correct in this context.

3. Why did men flock to the Eiffel Tower?

  1. Men were attracted to the castles built in the air.
  2. Men lost their wisdom under the influence of intoxicants.
  3. Men were attracted to childish things.
  4. Men were attracted to things of no value.

Urbanization and industrialization have often resulted in whole areas of forests being cleared to gain new land and to obtain timber for the various building projects. Large areas of fields and forests have disappeared to make way for concrete jungles many of which are fitted with huge plants and chimney stacks. Industrial growth has necessitated the increased demand for fuel oil to run the machines and in doing so produces industrial gases and fumes which belch through the chimney and pollute the atmosphere. The most evident elements in the contamination of the atmosphere are dust, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide.

1. The writer expresses the belief that

  1. there is plenty of scope for further industrialization.
  2. unplanned growth of industry has done more harm than good.
  3. the change from rural to urban growth is a change for the better.
  4. the timber obtained from the forests has been beneficially used.

2. The effect on forest areas produced by the activity described in the first sentence is called

  1. devastation
  2. deforestation
  3. disfiguration
  4. devaluation

I was abruptly awakened by a noisy scuffle. The sun, a mere fringe over the horizon, immediately chased away the grey half-darkness. I was too sleepy to notice what was happening. Yuri was rolling over on the ground. I ran up to him but was struck dumb. With his right hand he was holding a cobra by the neck. Two sharp fangs showed from its jaws. The battle was over in a few minutes. A hollow hissing and convulsive jerks were then only reminders of a just-ended tussle. The catcher half-opened the lid of the box and calmly put the quarry in.

1. When the writer saw Yuri holding a cobra by the neck, he was 'struck dumb'. This means that he was

  1. extremely delighted.
  2. very much helpless.
  3. rather surprised.
  4. absolutely shocked.

2. From the passage, Yuri appears to be a man who is

  1. calm and courageous.
  2. cunning and crafty.
  3. noisy and dangerous.
  4. active and jumpy.

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

1. The incident took place early in the morning.
2. Yuri threw the snake away.

Which of these assumptions is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

I was lying down in a dark, lonely compartment of the speeding train, trying to sleep. But, quite unusually, sleep eluded me. A vague uneasiness gripped me. It was pitch dark outside. A few points of light flashed by as we sped through a small station and in the dim light I thought I saw a hand gripping the bars of my window. Once again the train was swallowed up by the impenetrable darkness. My heart pounded. My mouth was parched. I could not get up. I do not know how long I remained thus before the train began to slow down. The reassuring bright lights of the station we were entering revealed no intruder. I breathed again.

1. The narrator could not sleep because

  1. he usually found it difficult to fall asleep.
  2. he could not find a place to lie down.
  3. he was disturbed by some unspecified thoughts.
  4. the people near him were disturbing him.

2. In the dim light he saw

  1. someone trying to climb into the train.
  2. someone clinging to the bars of the window.
  3. someone was attempting to steal his bag.
  4. someone standing outside the window.

3. Which of the following words best describes the condition of the traveller?

  1. Cautious
  2. Imaginative
  3. Observant
  4. Nervous

Vacationing on a motorcycle, you see things in a way that is completely different from any other. In a car you are always in a compartment, and because you are used to it you do not realise that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You are a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame. On a motorcycle, however, the frame is gone. You are completely in contact with it all. You are in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming.

1. The writer likes travelling on the motorcycle. What is the most likely reason for this?

  1. The motorcycle has no windows.
  2. The motorcycle does not go as fast as a car.
  3. As the traveller is used to cars, travelling by motorcycle is a change.
  4. Travelling by motorcycle, the writer feels that he is part of the scenery.

2. Which of the following statements is closest to the truth?

  1. The writer does not like TV as it gives a narrow view of things.
  2. The writer likes TV but he does not like watching it from car windows.
  3. The writer does not like TV because the picture is in a frame.
  4. The writer does not like TV because the programmes are boring.

When Jonathan (the seagull) came, it was well after dark, and he floated in moonlight on the surface of the ocean. His wings were ragged bars of lead, but the weight of failure was even heavier on his back. He wished, feebly, that the weight would be just enough to drag him gently down to the bottom, and end it all. But soon he came back to normal. He pushed wearily away from the dark water and flew towards the land, grateful for what he had learned about work-saving low-altitude flying.

1. The word "wearily" means

  1. tireless
  2. exhausted
  3. sadly
  4. unconscious

2. The seagull suffered because

  1. he had tried to do something that other seagulls had not done.
  2. probably he had been attacked by a stronger bird.
  3. probably he had been attacked by some strong creature in the sea.
  4. he had swooned and fallen into the water.

Brown and his men, huddling round a fire, ate the last of the food that Kassim had brought them that day. Cornelius sat among them, half- asleep. Then one of the crew remembered that some tobacco had been left in the boat, and said he would go and fetch it. He didn't think there was any danger in going to the creek in the dark. He disappeared down the hillside, and a moment later he was heard climbing into the boat and then climbing out again.

1. Consider the following statements:

  1. Brown and Cornelius sat round the fire.
  2. Cornelius lay half-asleep at a little distance from the fire.
  3. All the people sat round the fire.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 3 only
  2. 1 and 2
  3. 1 and 3
  4. 2 only

2. “He didn’t think ...in the dark.” This sentence actually implies that he

  1. was bold and adventurous
  2. would face some trouble
  3. was the only person who knew where in the boat tobacco was
  4. was addicted to smoking

The prisoner awaited his chance. For three solid years he had schemed for this opportunity. Now that escape seemed to near at hand, those three years lost some of their monotony. But he would never forget the lashes, the close confinement, low diet, and worse still the mental strain of those black days. Suddenly the warden did what he had hoped. He stopped to unlock the lower padlock. With a dull thud he slumped forward with keys in his hands. Swiftly the prisoner seized his keys, unlocked the cell and ran into the courtyard. It took him four seconds to reach the rope-ladder secretly placed there by his accomplices, five more to clamber over the wall, and three more to jump into the waiting car to be whisked away to freedom. Even though he was guilty, the prisoner felt he had paid for his crime, for the man he had robbed three years ago was still a millionaire.

1. For what crime had the prisoner been punished

  1. Robbery
  2. Kidnapping
  3. Arson
  4. Murder

2. What did the prisoner suffer the most during imprisonment

  1. Physical torture
  2. Poor health
  3. Mental strain
  4. Absence from his family

The first day out we met our first rhino, two of them, and I had the fright of my life. The pair had got our scent before we spotted them, and being bad tempered beasts, they rushed towards where they thought we were. Now it just happened that we were about fifty yards to one side of where they expected to find us - which was just as well, for I must say I did not like their look. As they thundered past, we crouched low and let them go. It did not strike me as a good opportunity for rhino photography. Anyhow I was much too frightened to have been able to hold the camera steady.

1. From the above passage it appears that rhinos

  1. stand still if they are not attacked
  2. rush to attack when they smell human scent
  3. hide under the bushes at the sight of human beings
  4. run away when they see human beings

2. The author could not take the photographs of the rhinos because

  1. he did not like the look of rhinos
  2. he was too far away from rhinos
  3. he was not carrying a good camera
  4. it did not occur to him that he had a chance to do so

When Ibbotson returned from Pauri, I told him of the leopard's habit of going down the road between Rudraprayag and Golabrai on an average once in every five days, I convinced him that the only hope I now had of shooting the man-eater was by sitting over the road for ten nights; for, the leopard would be almost certain to use the road at least once during the period. Ibbotson agreed to my plan reluctantly, for I had already sat up many nights, and he was afraid that another ten nights on end would be too much for me.

1. Ibbotson was reluctant to agree to the narrator's plan because he was afraid that

  1. the leopard would kill him
  2. the narrator would kill the leopard
  3. the narrator would become very tired
  4. the leopard might not come

2. The narrator wanted to

  1. frighten the leopard
  2. see the leopard
  3. shoot the leopard
  4. capture the leopard

My father was passionate about two things: education and socialism. He was himself a born teacher. Indeed, he could never restrain himself from teaching, and as a small boy I was frequently embarrassed by his desire to instruct everybody - people in railway carriages, for instance - though I realized even then that it was an innocent desire, quite free from vanity. He was equally ready to receive instruction. Education, to men of his generation and temperament, was something it has largely ceased to be nowadays. It was the great golden gateway to the enchanted realms of the mind.

1. From the passage it is clear that the author

  1. loved and admired his father
  2. disapproved his father's love of teaching
  3. thought of him as vain
  4. considered his father's education inadequate

2. The author often felt embarrassed by the behaviour of his father because

  1. he taught badly
  2. he lost self-control while teaching
  3. he taught even at odd places
  4. he wanted to show off his learning

We are witnessing a dangerous dwindling of biodiversity in our food supply. The green revolution is a mixed blessing. Over time farmers have come to rely heavily on broadly adapted, high yield crops to the exclusion of varieties adapted to the local conditions. Monocropping vast fields with the same genetically uniform seeds helps boost yield and meet immediate hunger needs. Yet high-yield varieties are also genetically weaker crops that require expensive chemical fertilizers and toxic pesticides. In our focus on increasing the amount of food we produce today, we have accidentally put ourselves at risk for food shortages in future.

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

  1. In our agricultural practices, we have become heavily dependent on expensive chemical fertilizers and toxic pesticides only due to green revolution
  2. Monocropping vast fields with high-yield varieties is possible due to green revolution
  3. Monocropping with high-yield varieties is the only way to ensure food security to millions
  4. Green revolution can pose a threat to biodiversity in food supply and food security in the long run

Microfinance in India started in the early 1980s with small efforts at forming informal self-help groups (SHG) to provide access to much-needed savings and credit services. From this small beginning, the microfinance sector has grown significantly in the past decades. National bodies like the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) and the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) are devoting significant time and financial resources to microfinance.

I was recently shocked to read that several city councils in the UK are getting ready to expunge everyday Latin words from the English lexicon. Along with ‘via’ and ‘etc’ would be banished ‘viz’ and ‘i.e.’, not to speak of ‘inter alia’ and ‘bona fide’. There goes away that exotic literary advantage. It was only recently that Amrita, my 10-year-old, fighting against a tide of domestic protestations voted against romantic French and prevalent Spanish and chose Latin as her second language in middle school. I had cheered her and actually promised to help out with the homework, given that three out of five words in English are of Latin origin. Blame this vicarious decision on my formative years but growing up in Mumbai, Latin was never an option in my school, as our national language Hindi was strictly enforced. Shiv Sainiks had decreed that local Marathi was de rigueur for all citizens of the city. I therefore ended up needing to speak three additional languages, not to forget Tamil, my mother tongue.

Union Carbide’s in-house investigation of the accident will probably not be completed before the end of February. But an inquiry under way in India is already reaching some initial conclusions. The investigation has identified a combination of design flaws, operating errors and managerial mistakes that helped cause the accident and intensified its effects. In addition, the accident has stirred serious questions about placing modern technology in less industrialized Third World nations.

But I wonder how much real attention Dickens’s books will get. In America at least, he seems to be an author more known than read. (Find me someone who claims to have read “Martin Chuzzlewit” and I will show you a goddamned liar.) Yet even if you’ve read only one of his books, his stamp is such that it feels like you’ve read them all. The virtues that kept him famous, prosperous and never out of print - that he is easily grasped and eternally inventive in his visuals and jokes - have served to make him iconic. His characters, of course, deserve most of the credit. They possess those funny allegorical names, behave just as fixedly, and get thrown into one melodramatic scene after another. But taken as a whole, those 989 characters make up an unforgettable universe of humanity matched only by Shakespeare, whom Dickens worshipped.

Hofstadter approaches the “Mind” from the perspective of the computer sciences, in that there are both hardware and software aspects of human intelligence. He looks at the enactment of intelligence in terms of a formal system. In turn, Hofstadter declares that in primal, natural systems, formal systems are embedded. He infers that in relation to what we perceive as explicit in such formal systems, there is also an aspect that is intrinsically implicit. The idea of an embedded implicitness ultimately suggests a “Within” in the heart of things.

To begin, there is a need for a descriptive presentation of Hofstadter’s brain system model. He uses the ant colony as an analogy of the human brain system. Hofstadter relays that individual ants seem to be able to cooperate as teammates and not randomly wander off. After billions of years of evolution, these ants have passed a critical threshold...reinforcing themselves into a collective behaviour that results in an ant colony. Hofstadter likens ant teams to signals; and, basically, “the effect of signals is to transport ants of various specialization to approximate parts of the colony.” Ultimately, the fully evolved ant colony takes on a holistic aspect, and emerging molecular mechanisms take form.

"We are our narratives" has become a popular slogan. “We” refers to our selves, in the full-blooded person constituting sense. “Narratives” refers to the stories we tell about our -selves and our exploits in settings as trivial as cocktail parties and as serious as intimate discussions with loved ones. We express some in speech. Others we tell silently to ourselves, in that constant little inner voice. The full collection of one’s internal and external narratives generates the self we are intimately acquainted with. Our narrative selves continually unfold.

State-of-the-art neuro-imaging and cognitive neuropsychology both upholds the idea that we create our “selves” through narrative. Based on a half-century’s research on “split-brain” patients, neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga argues that the human brain’s left hemisphere is specialised for intelligent behaviour and hypothesis formation. It also possesses the unique capacity to interpret - that is, narrate - behaviours and emotional states initiated by either hemisphere. Not surprisingly, the left hemisphere is also the language hemisphere, with specialised cortical regions for producing, interpreting and understanding speech. It is also the hemisphere that produces narratives.

How would one search for knowledge? The things which he knows requires no search, for he already knows. The things which he does not know, he does not know what he’s going to search for - this is Meno’s Paradox, also called the Sophistic Paradox.

In Meno, Plato eliminates the paradox by developing his theory of recollection through Socrates. A contradiction is an always-false statement. For example, if P is any statement, then P and the negation of P is a contradiction. A contradiction cannot be made true. A paradox, however, is a set of statements that leads one into a contradiction. So a paradox misleads us.

Plain speaking is necessary in any discussion of religion, for if the freethinker attacks the religious dogmas with hesitation, the orthodox believer assumes that it is with regret that the freethinker would remove the crutch that supports the orthodox. And all religious beliefs are “crutches” hindering the free locomotive efforts of an advancing humanity. There are no problems related to human progress and happiness in this age which any theology can solve, and which the teachings of free thought cannot do better and without the aid of encumbrances.

If you read only one book about the causes of the recent financial crisis, let it be Michael Lewis’, “The Big Short”.

That’s not because Lewis has put together the most comprehensive or authoritative analysis of all the misdeeds and misjudgements and missed signals that led to the biggest credit bubble the world has known. What makes his account so accessible is that he tells it through the eyes of the managers of three small hedge funds and a Deutsche Bank bond salesman, none of whom you’ve ever heard of. All, however, were among the first to see the folly and fraud behind the subprime fiasco, and to find ways to bet against it when everyone else thought them crazy.

The Global Financial Stability Report finds that the share of portfolio investments from advanced economies in the total debt and equity investments in emerging economies has doubled in the past decade to 12 per cent. The phenomenon has implication for Indian policy makers as foreign portfolio investments in the debt and equity markets have been on the rise. The phenomenon is also flagged as a threat that could compromise global financial stability in a chain reaction, in the event of United States Federal Reserve's imminent reversal of its 'Quantitative Easing' policy.

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

  1. Emerging economies are at a risk of shock from advanced economies
  2. India should desist from accepting foreign portfolio investments in the future
  3. Advanced economies undermine the global financial stability
  4. Foreign portfolio investments are not good for emerging economies

Climate change is already making many people hungry all over the world, by disrupting crop yields and pushing up prices. And it is not just food but nutrients that are becoming scarcer as the climate changes. It is the poorest communities that will suffer the worst effects of climate change, including increased hunger and malnutrition as crop production and livelihoods are threatened. On the other hand, poverty is a driver of climate change, as desperate communities resort to unsustainable use of resources to meet current needs.

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

  1. All the countries of the world must unite in fighting poverty and malnutrition and treat poverty as a global problem
  2. We must stop unsustainable agricultural practices immediately and control food prices
  3. Poverty and climate impacts reinforce each other and therefore we have to re-imagine our food systems
  4. Government should allocated more funds to poverty alleviation programmes and increase food subsidies to the poor communities

India has suffered from persistent high inflation. Increase in administered prices, demand and supply imbalances, imported inflation aggravated by rupee depreciation, and speculation - have combined to keep high inflation going. If there is an element common to all of them, it is that many of them are the outcomes of economic reforms. India's vulnerability to the effects of changes in international prices has increased with trade liberalisation. The effort to reduce subsidies has resulted in a continuous increase in the prices of commodities that are administered.

What is the most logical, rational and crucial message that is implied in the above passage?

  1. Under the present circumstances, India should completely avoid all trade liberalisation policies and all subsidies.
  2. Due to its peculiar socio-economic situation, India is not yet ready for trade liberalisation process.
  3. Economic reforms can often high inflation economy.
  4. There is no solution in sight for the problems of continuing poverty and inflation in India in the near future.

The conflict between man and State is as old as State history. Although attempts have been made for centuries to bring about a proper adjustment between the competing claims of State and the individual, the solution seems to be still far off. This is primarily because of the dynamic nature of human society where old values and ideas constantly yield place to new ones. It is obvious that if individuals are allowed to have absolute freedom of speech and action, the result would be chaos, ruin and anarchy.

The author's viewpoint can be best summed up in which of the following statements?

  1. Old values, ideas and traditions persist despite the dynamic nature of human society.
  2. Constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech is not in the interest of society.
  3. The conflict between the claims of State and individual remains unresolved.
  4. Anarchy and chaos are the obvious results of democratic traditions.

Set against a rural backdrop, 'Stench of kerosene' is the story of a couple, Guleri and Manak, who have been happily married for several years but do not have a child. Manak's mother is desperate to have a grandchild to carry on the family name. Hence, she gets Manak remarried in Guleri's absence. Manak, who acts as a reluctant but passive spectator, is meanwhile, informed by a friend that Guleri, on hearing about her husband's second marriage, poured kerosene on her clothes and set fire to them. Manak is heartbroken and begins to live as if he were a dead man. When his second wife delivers a son, manak states at a the child for a long time an blurts out, "Take him away! He stinks of kerosene."

This is a sensitive issue-based story which tries to sensitise the readers about

  1. Male chauvinism and infidelity
  2. Love and betrayal
  3. Influence of patriarchal mindset
  4. Lack of legal safeguards for women

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