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Comprehension Passages – BCR Notes CA Foundation
Comprehension means understanding. An unknown passage that perturbs the candidate is not familiar with is given to judge whether the candidate understands the language and the contents. The given text is followed by a set of questions that the candidate is expected to answer.
A comprehension exercise consists of an unseen passage and the questions based on that passage. Questions are set to test the ability of students to understand the contents of the given passage and to infer information and meaning from it Students require the ability to understand the meaning of the passage and also the ability to answer the questions in their own words. They require command over English. It is often assumed that a person can grasp the meaning of a passage completely if he is familiar with the meaning of words used in it. Truly speaking, all the three components of language – sound, syntax and word contribute to meaning.
Therefore, complete understanding of a passage requires familiarity with the sound meaning, syntax meaning and word meaning of the passage. Sound meaning is particularly significant in conversation and public speaking. To comprehend a text, utmost attention should be paid to word meaning and grammar. The order of words in a sentence has a meaning of its own example.
I saw her crossing the road.
I saw her cross the road.
In science and technology, the denotation of most words is fixed. Therefore, word meaning does not offer a special problem. However, the context or situation can make a difference in meaning. For example, the word thermometer means one thing in a hospital and quite another in the chemistry lab. Similarly, the word glasses have one meaning in a bar and quite another with an old man who wants to watch TV.
Hints for Answering Questions to an unseen passage:
- Read the passage quickly to get the general idea.
- Read again but a little slowly so as to know the details in the passage.
- Study each question and underline the words in the passage which contain answer to the question. Mark the question number against the relevant lines in the passage.
- Write answers to the questions one by one.
- Use complete sentences in each answer.
- Use the same verb and tense in your answer which is used in the question.
- Never begin an answer with ‘because’.
- Answers should be brief, clear and to the point.
- If you are asked to give the meaning of any words or phrases, write the meaning as clearly as possible in your own words. Your definition should be in conformity with the part of the speech.
Gandhi does not reject machinery as such. He observes: “How can I be against all machinery when I know that even this body is a most delicate piece of machinery? The spinning-wheel is a machine; a little tooth-pich is a machine. What I object to is the craze for machinery not machinery, as such. The craze is for what they call labour saving machinery. Men go on saving labour till thousands are without work and thrown on the open street to die of starvation. I want to save time and labour not for a fraction of making but for all.
I want the connection of wealth not in the hands of a few but in the hands of Today machinery merely helps a few to ride on the backs of millions. The impetus behind it all is not the desire to save labour but greed. It is against this system that I am fighting with all my might. The machine should not cut off the limbs of man ……. Factories run by power driven machinery should be nationalised and controlled by the state. The supreme consideration is man – Mahatma Gandhi.
1. Why does Gandhiji accept machinery?
2. What are the evil effects of employers’ craze for machinery?
3. How, according to Gandhiji, can the evils of factories run by machines be avoided ?
4. How can machinery save time and labour?
5. Explain the following phrases:
(a) Not the desire to save but greed
(b) With all my might.
6. Write down the sentence wherein Gandhiji says human being is more important than the machine.
1. Gandhiji accepts machinery because even human body is a delicate machine. He gives the example of the spinning wheel which is a machine.
2. Employers’ urge for machinery causes unemployment and starvation of workers. It also leads to concentration of wealth in the hands of a few persons who exploit workers.
3. According to Gandhiji the evil effects of factories run by machines can be avoided by nation-alisation and control of factories by the State.
4. Machinery can save time and labour because machines work faster and require fewer hands.
5. (a) It means the greed of employers to maximise their gain rather than the desire to save the labour of their workers,
(b) It means with all my strength.
6. “The machine should not cut off the limbs of man”.
Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and’freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.
At the dawn of history India started on her unending quest, and trackless centuries are filled with her striving and the grandeur of her success and her failures. Through good and ill fortune alike she has never lost sight of that quest or forgotten the ideals which gave her strength. We end today a period of ill fortune and India discovers herself again. The achievement we celebrate today is but a step, an opening of opportunity, to the greater triumphs and achievements that await. Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future?
Freedom and power bring responsibility. That responsibility rests upon this Assembly, a sovereign body representing the sovereign people of India. Before the birth of freedom we have endured all the pains of labour and our hearts are heavy with the memory of this sorrow. Some of those pains continue even now. Nevertheless, the past is over and it is the future that beckons to us now. That future is not one of ease or resting but of incessant striving so that we may fulfil the pledges we have so often taken and the one we shall take toady.
The service of India means the service of the millions who suffer. It means the ending of poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity. The ambition of the greatest man of our generation has been to wipe every tear from every eye. That may be beyond us, but as long as there are tears and suffering, so long our work will not be over.
– Jawaharlal Nehru
1. In what does the “service of India” consist, according to the author?
2. What are the ideals which India has never forgotten?
3. Mention some of the responsibilities of freedom and power.
4. This speech is concerned with the living as well as the dead. In what way does Nehru appeal to his listeners? What motive urges Nehru to rouse the India of today to action?
5. Quote the line that has a direct reference to Mahatma Gandhi.
1. According to Nehruji the ‘service of India’ consist of eradicating poverty, ignorance and dis-ease.
2. The ideals which India has never forgotten is to wipe every tear from every eye.
3. The responsibilities of freedom and power a?e to serve millions who suffer.
4. Nehruji appeals to his listeners by exhorting them with hope and bright future. The motive of service to mankind urges Nehruji to rouse the India of today to action.
5. “The ambition of the greatest man of our generation has been to wipe every tear from every eye”.
Comprehension Passages Notes Exercise Questions
Read the passage given below and answer the questions that follow:
1. The universe around us is not a continuum, a sort of a pea-soupy structure less fog. Common experience tells us that it is made up of objects, matter, and other associated phenomena that we can describe or measure. We soon realise that each of these “things” has a uniqueness that we detect through touch, taste, hearing, smell, or sight, and that each is distinguishable to a greater or lesser degree. With our unaided senses, we have no difficulty in distinguishing the sky and the land from the water, a gas and a solid from a liquid, the living from the non-living.
On a more refined level, we can discriminate degrees of roughness, intensity and shade of colour (provided we are not colour blind), and an acid taste from one that is salty, sweet, or bitter. But human powers of sensory discrimination are limited. We hear only within a certain range of sound waves, and see only a certain portion of the light spectrum. When we try to go beyond these limits, we can no longer directly comprehend the physical nature of things and must resort to instruments to pen¬etrate areas outside our naturally circumscribed sphere.
Instruments, therefore, act as extended senses. The 200 inch Hale telescope on Mount Palomar reaches across millions of light-years to bring distant galaxies of the macrocosm to reveal other wise invisible worlds. Similarly, the photographic plate, more sensitive than our eyes, extends our use of light rays. Ordinarily we can see only a minute portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, but by utilising photosensitive surfaces we can detect the long infrared rays on one side of the spectrum and the short ultraviolet rays X-rays, and even cosmic rays on the other.
(i) What does the author mean by naturally circumscribed sphere and Instruments, therefore , act as extended senses?
(ii) In how many ways each “thing” be distinguished.
(iii) Why can’t we directly comprehend the physical nature of every thing?
(iv) What is the use of instruments in perception?
(v) What do we do to gain the knowledge of “things” in the universe?
2. Read the given passage and answer the questions that follows:
The Cinema is the only art invented by science. It was born and bred in the West in a terminological environment and so its manifestations in predominantly agricultural countries are a somewhat curious phenomenon of more sociological than aesthetic interest. What is remarkable is that with political independence and the rise of a national awareness of technology, a new minority cinema appears in many of these societies and quickly acquires compelling aesthetic and humanist values. Their content is increasingly charged with aspirations for a better life and their form with delight in a new medium.
In many of these countries, television is limited in its spread and its creative abilities, either by the lack of resources or by the constrictions of governmental ownership or both. The cinema on the other hand reflects a more vital and spontaneous expressing of the secret hopes and fears, ideals and enthusiasms of a country’s people. A small serious-creative cinema grows alongside the larger more conventional product and begins to engage the attention of select national and international audience. Examples of this can be seen in Sri Lanka, the Philippines. Hong Kong, Thailand, Korea and that is by no means an exhaustive list.
(i) Why is Cinema called an ‘art invented by science’?
(ii) How is cinema in third-world countries of more sociological than ‘aesthetic’ interest?
(iii) What is meant by ‘minority cinema’? What has led to the rise of this cinema?
(iv) What do you understand by ‘content’ and ‘form’?
(v) How are television and cinema contrasted?
(vi) What are the two kinds of cinema to be seen in developing countries?
(vii) In line I, ‘was’ has been used as …………..
(viii) Give Present and Past forms of ‘born’ and ‘bred’.
(ix) Which parts of speech are reflected by the following words (as underlined in the passage):
By, increasingly, conventional, attention, Sri Lanka.
3. Read the following passage and answer the questions that follow:
The main justification advanced for capital punishment is that it deters others from committing the same crimes. But statistics show that capital punishment is not a deterrent. Every state that has abolished capital punishment has actually had a decline rather that an increase in capital crimes.
And in England, where there has been a long decline in the use of capital punishment, there has been a similar decline in capital crimes. It is a well-known joke that when pick pockets were publicly hanged in England, other pickpockets plied their trade among the crowds watching the hanging. A deterrent indeed! Surely life imprisonment would be at least an equal deterrent.
On the other hand, (capital punishment is an absolute hindrance to rehabilitation and to the correction of a mistake). All modern criminologists recognize that the purpose of punishment is to bring about rehabilitation, but how can you rehabilitate a dead man? Furthermore it is being more and more realized that most criminals are sick. It certainly seems more reasonable to treat them than to kill them.
Additionally, it happens occasionally that an innocent man is put to death. What restitution can there be for such a horrible mistake? A compassionate society should not legalize murder, but should carry on programmes of rehabilitation. The constitution forbids cruel and inhuman punishment.
Certainly sentencing someone to die is inhumane and cruel. Seldom does the condemned know his executing date until it is close at hand. Thus he is in agony about his fate. If he is to be punished, he should be imprisoned only. He should not be condemned to die at a specific date. Capital punishment is a relic of a barbarous age. There has been a continuous decline in its use for centuries. Surely the time has come to abolish it altogether. It may be a one hundred per cent deterrent as far as the victim is cornered, but it does no other good, and it does degrade our society.
(i) What does the author feel about capital punishment as a deterrent?
(ii) How according to author, should a com-passionate society deal with criminals?
(iii) What does the author want to prove with his joke about pick pockets?
(iv) What are the bad effects of capital punishment?
(v) What are the author’s objections to this kind of punishment?
(vi) What has been the justification for capital punishment?
(vii) What has been the experience of states abolishing capital punishment?
4. Read the passage below and answer the questions that follow:
All warm-blooded animal are incredibly help-less at first. Young birds and young bats must be taught to fly. Thousands of young seals and young sea lions are drowned every year. They never learn to swim “naturally”, the mother has to take them out under her flipper and show them how, birds sing without instruction, but they do not sing well unless they have had an opportunity of hearing older and more adept members of their species.
Older harvest mice build better nests than beginners. It is said that the young elephant does not seem to know at first what his trunk is for; it gets in his way and seems more of a hindrance than a help until his parents show him what to do with it. Insects, indeed, seem to start life completely equipped with all necessary reflexes, but even there the concept of “instinct” seems to require some modification, for they improve their talents with practice. Young spiders, for example, “begin by making quite primitive little webs, and only attain perfection in their art in course of time” and older spiders, if deprived of their spinnerets, will take to hunting.
(i) What is the main idea in this paragraph?
(ii) Are warm-blooded animals dependent on being taught survival skills?
(iii) Do insects have instincts? Why do you say so?
(iv) Describe two things that warm-blooded animals must learn.
(v) Do you think the author is serious or is he writing tongue-in-cheek? Why?
(vi) What would an elephant use his trunk for?
(vii) What part of speech are the following:
(viii) Rewrite the entire passage in the simple past tense.
5. Read the following passage and answer the questions given at the end:
Nehru’s decision to opt for the mixed economy has almost universally been misunderstood and has been seen as the result to foreign influence.
Fabian socialism and Soviet centralized planning. But Nehru was always searching in every facet of his life and activity for the middle path that Lord Buddha has commended. His policy of non-alignment with its accent on negotiations and mediation was one expression of such a temperament and so also his concept of secularism that did not deny the life of the spirit and all that it implies.
His preference for a mixed economy falls in the same category. He genuinely believed that this path would help promote economic growth and social peace at the same time. No one can possibly claim that his total approach- a mixed economy, secularism, democracy and non-alignment-has not been productive of results.
It is a tribute to Nehru’s foresight that unlike most Third World countries, we are still a functioning democracy and a reasonable human society where the rulers feel obliged at least to profess high standards of public morality. I am emphasizing the essentially Indian origin of the concept of mixed economy in order to make the point that we can deviate from the search for a middle path for long only at the cost of grave violence to ourselves. The forms may differ. But the search for a middle path between capitalism and socialism has to go on. A Latin American type of economy and society is inconceivable in India.
(a) Why has Nehru’s policy of mixed economy been misunderstood?
(b) Why did Nehru advocate mixed economy for India?
(c) What does, in the passage, prove that Nehru’s approach was right?
(d) What would happen if mixed economy were discarded?
(e) What was Nehru searching for in every facet of life?
6. Read the passage below and answer the questions following it:
There are situations in which we may not wish to use the most technically accurate language because it could hurt or offend our audience. For example, when breaking the news of a death to a close friend or member of the family, many people avoid blunt words such as died and prefer expressions such as passed away. This use of language is referred to as EUPHEMISM.
Euphemistic language is commonly used by people when talking about death, certain kinds of illness (e.g. cancer), sex and other bodily functions such as excretion. It even affects the languages used to describe certain parts of the body. For example, that part which is most accurately referred to as the belly is much more frequently called the stomach (inaccurate) or tummy (euphemistic). There is another way in which you can unintentionally offend your audience, and that is by exhibiting linguistic ‘tics; and using hackneyed phrases, or tired once-fashionable expression as CLICHES.
In the good old days it was all down to the private individual to earn an honest penny and make ends meet, but in this day and age all that’s gone by the board, Life’s a lottery and when push comes to solve, it’s every man for himself. Everybody uses cliches from time to time. They are formulate that save time and thought. Usually they either add nothing to what we are saying or just give a general impression of the line we are taking or the attitude we are presenting.
(a) What is euphemism?
(b) In what circumstances is euphemism used?
(c) What is the other way in which one can offend his audience?
(d) How is cliche useful?
(e) Explain the underlined sentences.
7. Read the following passage and answer the questions given at the end:
We have now to consider mass movements in which the principles of non-violence are applied to the relations between large groups or entire populations and their governments. Of these, the movements best known to English speaking readers are those organized by Gandhiji in South Africa and later in India. The South African movement may be described as completely successful. The discriminatory legislation against the Hindus was repealed in 1914, entirely as the result of non-violent resistance and non-co-operation on the part of the Indian population.
In India, several important successes were recorded, and it was shown that very large groups of men and women could be trained to respond to the most brutal treatment with a quiet courage and equanimity that profoundly impressed their persecutors, the spectators in the immediate vicinity and, through the press, the public opinion of the entire world. The task of effectively training very large number in a very short time proved, however, too great and rather than all his movement degenerate into civil war, Gandhiji suspended the activities of his non-violent army.
(a) Where did the non-violent movements take place?
(b) What was Gandhiji’s achievement in South Africa?
(c) What was the reaction in India?
(d) Why did Gandhiji suspend his movement?
(e) Give the meanings of any two words:
8. Read the following passage and answer the questions that follow:
Economists, ethicists and business sages persuade us that honesty is the best policy, but their evi¬dence is weak. We hoped to find data that would support their theories and thus, perhaps encour¬age higher, standards of business behaviour. To our surprise, our pet theories failed to stand up. Treachery, we found, can pay. There is no compelling economic reason to tell the truth or keep one’s word punishment for the treacherous in the real world is neither swift nor sure.
Honesty is, in fact, primarily a moral choice. Business people do tell themselves that, in the long run, they will do well by doing good. But there is little factual or logical basis for this conviction. Without values, without a basis preference for right over wrong, trust based on such self-delusion would crumble in the face of the temptation. Most of us choose virtue because we want to believe in ourselves and have others respect and belief in us.
And for this, we should be happy, We can be proud of a system in which people are honest because they want to be, not because they have to be. Materially too, trust based on morality provides great advantages. It allows us to join in great and exciting enterprises that we could never undertake it we relied on a economic incentives alone.
Economists tell us that trust is enforced in the market place through retaliation of reputation. If you violate a trust your victim is apt to seek revenge and others are likely to stop doing business with you, at least under favourable terms. A man or woman with a reputation for fair dealing will prosper. Therefore, profit maximizers are honest. This sound plausible enough until you look for concrete examples. Cases that apparently demonstrate the lawful consequences of trust turns out to be few and weak, while evidence the tracery can pay seems compelling.
(i) What does the another think about the theory “honesty is the best policy”.
(ii) Why does the another say that one can be proud of the present situation?
(iii) Why do economists and athieists want use, to believe?
(iv) Which is the material advantage which the author sees in being honest?
(v) Why do businessman, according to economists, remain honest?
(vi) Explain the use of words/phrases – ‘stand up’, ‘self-delusion’, ‘retaliation of reputation’.
(vii) Give the passage an appropriate title.
9. Read the following passage and answer the questions that follow:
Education, taken in the most extensive sense, is properly that which makes the man. One method of education, therefore, would only produce one kind of men, but the great excellence of human nature consists in the variety of which it is capable. Then instead of endeavouring, by uniform and fixed systems of education, to keep mankind always the same, let us give free scope to everything which may bid fair for introducing more variety amongst us. The various character of the Athenians was certainly preferable to the uniform character of the Spartans or to any uniform national character whatever Uniformity is the characteristic of the brute creation.
Among them every species of bird build their nests with the same materials and in the same forms the genius and disposition of one individual is that of all and it is only education which men give them that raises any of them much above others. But it is the glory of human nature that the operations of reason, though variable and by no means in-fallible, are capable of infinite improvement. We come into the world worse provided than any of the brutes but when their faculties are at a full stand and their enjoyments incapable of variety or increase our intellectual powers are growing apace, were are perpetually deriving happiness from new sources, and even before we leave this world are capable of testing the felicity of angels.
(i) What is the author’s notion of education?
(ii) What is the problem that confronts us?
(iii) How were Athenians preferable to Spartans?
(iv) How can we constantly derive pleasure from new source?
(v) Bring out the difference between uniform and fixed systems of education.
(vi) What contributes to the capability of infinite improvement?
(vii) Explain the italicised portion.
10. Read the following passage and answer the questions that follow:
Ever since after the discovery of transistor by Brattain and Shockley in 1948, attempts are being , made of make smaller and smaller transistors. And in 1959, it was Richard R Feynman who predicted a technological world composed of self repheating molecules whose purpose would be the production of nanosized objects. Almost 40 years after Feynman’s initial proposition, the nanometic scale looms large on the research agenda. This was about the same time that Ari Aviram and Mark Ratner, at IBM, proposed the idea of a single molecules rectifier.
Scientific discoveries and inventions have, in fact, propelled man to challenge new frontiers. Nanotechnology is one such technological wonder that we are experiencing now. Coverage of various events led to the recognition of nanotechnology as an area for special emphasis. These included recognition of new phenomena that would be necessary to extend the progress associated with the general area of information technology, scientific discoveries of new instruments and materials, and an awareness of an information frontier that offered a rich supply of new principles, phenomena, materials and opportunities to enrich social functions.
In fact, with the evolving strength of disciplines, the fertile frontier of discoveries requiring knowledge across discipline boundaries had been some-what neglected for decades. This is where the concept and trust in nanotechnology represents a substantial difference to the manner in which knowledge and technological innovation is pursued. Semiconductor behaviour has provided the electronics engineers with remarkably productive developments and semiconductor industry is edging closer to the word of nanotechnology where components are miniaturised to the point of individual molecules and atoms. Miniaturisation is known to follow Moore’s law since its depiction in 1960.
Nanotechnology was originally defined in the 1970s as the science of manipulating atoms and single molecules. Its remit has since expanded to embrace all technologies capable of building ‘ structures at the scale of a billionth of a metre. Until the 1990s, atomic manipulations were developed with sustainability in mind. Hope was that building machines from the bottom up atom by atom, rather than top down, etching them from larger blocks, would minimise the energy and materials expended in manufacturing. US industrial lobbies then broadened the definition as a way of accessing public funds earmarked for materials and chemistry research and development. These Answer the following questions based on your comprehension of the above passage:
(i) Who discovered transistor and in which year?
(ii) What did Feynman predict in 1959?
(iii) What are the three major areas, the recognition of which could benefit from nanotechnology?
(iv) What had been neglected for decades?
(v) Describe the developing relationship between semiconductors and nanotechnology
(vi) Give the original definition of nanotechnology and its present extended meaning.
(vii) What did the National Nanotechnology Initiative (1999).
10 A. Read the following passage and answer the questions that follow:
Science deals with the positive world, the visible world that we can see and hear and touch. It applies positive methods of experiment and ob¬servation. Nehru is convinced that methods and approach of science have revolutionized human life more than anything else in the long course of history. Science has opened doors and avenues leadings up to the very portals of what has long been considered the unknown. The technical achievements of science have transformed an economy of scarcity into one of abundance.
It has made the world progress by reaps and bounds and helped man to build up a glittering civilization. It has added so much to the power of man’that since time he appeared on this earth, he has begun to feel that he can triumph over his physical environment and shape it as he likes it. Indeed man has become a geological force. He is changing the face of this planet chemically, physically and in many other ways.
But science ignores the ultimate purposes and looks at face alone. Not to speak of the ultimate purposes, science does not understand even the immediate purpose. So when man has acquired so much power and knowledge to mould the world after his heart’s desire, he does not know how to do it. Though science has made man so powerful in the control of nature, he has no power to control himself.
Perhaps new developments in biology, psychology and similar sciences may help man to understand and control himself more than he has been able to do so far. But it is also possible that before that time arrives the progress of science, unconnected with moral discipline and ethical considerations will lead to the concentration of power in the hands of few evil and selfish men. In their ambition to dominate others, they will destroy this glittering civilization and the very achievements of sciences.
It is the critical temper of science that searches for truth and knowledge. It is the courage to refuse to accept anything without test and trial and the capacity to change the previous result in the light of new evidence. It is essential not only for application of science but for the solution of many problems of life also. There are scientists who apply methods of science in their sphere of work, but lack the critical temper of science in their day-to-day life. The scientific temper needs to be the way of life. The ultimate purposes of man may be said to be to gain knowledge, to realize and to appreciate goodness and beauty. The methods of science are applicable to these. Therefore to face life, we need and temper and approach of science, allied of course, to philosophy, metaphysics and all that lies beyond. Questions
(i) What are the benefits of science?
(ii) What is the negative impact of science?
(iii) Why the author recommends the scientific approach despite the fact that it ignores the ultimate purpose of life?
11. Read the given passage carefully and answer the questions that follow:
Our Earliest Ancestors
(a) The story of our ancestors on their long road to human civilization begins in East Africa, at a gorge called Olduvai, where scientists stumbled across the fossilized remains of animals that provide an invaluable link with past. What is more, quantities of strangely shaped stones were found nearby, which could have been crude tools for cutting and slicing meat. Then came other significant discoveries – the fossilized remains of skills, not altogether human, but with features markedly similar to those of humans. Such finds, together with the strangely-shaped, stones, were likely evidence of creatures which were developing a primitive intelligence, and not relying just on jaws and teeth to get their food.
(b) Even so, discoveries such as these are pain¬fully few. This is not surprising when we consider how rare it is to find a few bones of anything that perished countless years ago. When a creature died on the open plains of Africa, the scent of its decay sooner or later attracted other animals of all kinds. They devoured the soft tissue and crushed the bones in their jaws. Hardly any trace of its existence would be left. A very few carcass¬es, however, sank into the muddy shores of lakes or rivers where they lay hidden from other animals. Then the gradual process of fossilization began. Ever so slowly, bone and tissue turned into stone.
(c) Fossil finds alone will not tell the whole story, however. Scientists have to take into account what the world was like when our earliest ancestors began to appear. Two million years ago, the gorge at Olduvai would have held a great lake, and around its shores animals would have swarmed in abundance. But their world was slowly changing as the planet underwent major alterations of climate. A drastic cooling of the earth’s surface meant that the rich forests of Africa began to die off, and the almost endless canopy of trees broke up into scattered areas, each isolated from the other.
So, too, the lush plants and vegetation began to dwindle; the forests no longer provided an ever ready supply of food for the creatures that roamed them, as bare, open grassland took over the landscape. Now, in their struggle to survive, they had to keep moving to where food could be found. It was about that time, so scientists believe, that our ancestors emerged. They faced the same problems as their fellow creatures; they, too, had to learn how to search out food in the wide plains of Africa and acquire essential skills of survival.
(d) But these ancestors of ours did not acquire – these skills overnight, nor did they enter these open plains like people rushing to stake a claim in empty territory; they were competing for a place in environment already significantly populated with other animals, experts by now in exploiting the food re-sources of the open plains Our ancestors shared the same habitat with creatures that would snap at their feet, trying to steal their meal as they were eating it, or would pace menacingly around nearby. It was physically , impossible to master them: our ancestors simply had to stay out of their reach.
(e) Besides, life on the African plain was very much at the mercy of the different weather seasons. The dry season meant lean times, and many animals had to be content with tough, low-quality vegetation, which was the only food around in any quantity. But our ancestors did not go on depending on this poor quality food. They began looking for new opportunities to get at tastier foods.
(f) What they discovered was that the African plains contained plants that hid their juicier parts underground. In the dry season, when other edible plants above ground grew scarce, the roots and bulbs of these special plants provided rich and healthy eating-but all of it below the surface, available only to animals that could claw it out. Lacking the specialized claws and teeth needed to get at these prized foods, our ancestors learnt how to fashion a stick or stone to dig out the succulent roots of plants.
(g) By now our ancestors were clearly acquiring an even more valuable skill, that of knowledge-not just in knowing how to make simple instruments, but in knowing their own habitat in close detail. They came to recognize the habits of other creatures, and to turn them to their advantages.
Circling vultures promised the remains of some animal killed not far away, a meal for the taking if they got there soon enough. They knew that adult antelopes, while impossible to catch, sometimes left their young in grass and went off to browse. Our hungry ancestors could pluck die infant like, ready fruit, if they knew here to look.
(h) In time they probably came to relay a great deal on communicating knowledge such as this to one another. This communication undoubtedly gave them the edge over many of their four-footed rivals in prizing out the secret scraps of energy-giving food that dotted the landscape.
They could make something of a living that way, if they relied on each other and carefully avoided known dangers. Our early ancestors managed to survive, if too only barely. A hard road lay ahead on their progress towards dominion over the Earth. (875 words)
(i) On the basis of your reading of the passage answer the following questions as briefly as possible.
- Why did it take a long time to discover evidence of our ancestors?
- What is the discovery that led the scientists to believe that the primitive man was not an unintelligent creature?
- What are fossils? Why do scientists study fossils?
- How did the dwindling forests affect the life of our ancestors?
- What threat did the wild animals pose for our ancestors?
- Why was is not possible for our ancestors to master the animals around them?
- How did knowledge of their habitual help our ancestors?
- How did our ancestors manage to survive in the hostile conditions?
(ii) Pick out the words/phrases from the passage which mean the same as: (Do any 2).
- Discovered, something by chance (para 1).
- Got control of (para 3).
- In a situation where someone or something has complete power over you (para 5).
12. Read the passage given below carefully and answer the questions that follow:
(a) So great is our passion for doing things for ourselves, that we are becoming increasingly less dependent on specialized labour. No one can plead ignorance of a subject any longer, for there are countless do it-yourself publications. Armed with the right tools and materials, newly-weds gaily embark on the task of decorating their own homes. Men of all ages spend hours of their leisure time installing their own fireplaces, laying-out their own gardens; building garages and making furniture.
Some really keen enthusiasts go so far as to make their own record players and radio transmitters. Shops cater for the do-it- yourself craze not only by running special advisory services for novices, but by offering consumers bits and pieces which they can assemble at home. Such things provide an excellent outlet for pent up creative energy, but unfortunately not all of us are born handymen.
(b) Wives tend to believe that their husbands are infinitely resourceful and versatile. Even husbands who can hardly drive a nail in straight are supposed to be born electricians, carpenters, plumbers and mechanics. When lights fuse, furniture gets rickety, pipes get clogged, or vacuum cleaners fail to operate, wives automatically assume that their husbands will some how put things right. The worst thing about the do-it-yourself game is that sometimes husbands live Under the delusion that they can do any¬thing even when they have been repeatedly proved wrong. It is a question of pride as much as anything else.
(c) Last spring my wife suggested that I can in a man to look at our lawn mower. It had broken down the previous summer, and though I promised to repair it, I had never got round to it. I wouldn’t hear of the suggestion and said that I would fix it myself. One Saturday afternoon I hauled the machine into the garden and had a close look at it.
As far as I could see, it only needed a minor adjustment: a turn of a screw here, a little tightening up there, a drop of oil and it would be as good as new. Inevitably the repair job was not quite so simple. The mower firmly refused to mow, so I decided to dismantle it. The garden was soon littered with chunks of metal which had once made up a lawn mower. But I was extremely pleased with myself. I had traced the cause of the trouble. One of the links in the chain that drives the wheels had snapped.
(d) After buying a new chain I was faced with the insurmountable task of putting the confusing jigsaw puzzle together again. I was not I surprised to find that the machine still refused to work after I had reassembled it, for the simple reason that I was left with several curiously shaped bits of metal which did not seem to fit anywhere. I gave up in despair.
The weeks passed and the grass grew. When my wife nagged me to do something about it, I told her that either I would have to buy a new mower or let the grass grow. Needless to-say that our house is now surrounded by a jungle. Buried somewhere, in deep grass there is a rusting lawn-mower which I have promised to repair one day. (539 words)
(1) Answer the following questions briefly.
- Why do people not rely on specialized labour so much now-a- days, according to the writer?
- How do business organizations encourage people to do things for themselves?
- What do wives tend to believe about their husbands?