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Reading Comprehension for IBPS Clerk Mains 2017: Set – 40
Directions: (1-5) Read the passage below and answer the questions.
Xi’an is a central China city with long historical roots, dating at least three millennia. For much of its history the city has also been of exceptional contemporary importance, as 13 different (and significant) dynasties made it their capital. In China, Xi’an is known as the eternal city, and it has indeed recorded the great changes that have swept the country for thousands of years. Visitors are inevitably attracted to the site of the terracotta warriors, as they are known, but they also come to see some of the remaining famous relics of the Tang era: the Changan city walls, the Bell Tower and Drum Tower, the Wild Goose Pagoda built to house the Sanskrit and Prakrit manuscripts brought from India back to China by the Buddhist traveller Xuanzang.
With such a long and variegated history, visitors can be forgiven for expecting to see at least some of the various historical phases reflected in the architecture of the city, with perhaps an “old town” that preserves some of the flavour of the past and certainly monuments and buildings of varied vintages dotting the city. But they will be disappointed, even in a place so full of potential heritage locations.Other than a few individual monuments randomly surrounded by the usual urban confusion and one charming “Muslim street” full of traditional street food and craft, Xi’an bears little trace of its once glorious past.
Instead, the city is typical of most of urban China today: endless skylines of high-rise buildings of almost unrelenting sameness and persistent ugliness. The greyness of the concrete structures is matched by the greyness of the polluted air, as huge but congested avenues of concentric ring roads intersecting radial grids mark out separated areas for different districts that all still look just the same.
The only colour comes from neon signs, as green spaces are few and far between, and the very vastness of the proliferating monotony of the buildings creates a sense of constriction.
The model of urban development that has been adopted recently in China takes little from the preserving and conserving approaches found in Europe that provide aesthetic value, pleasant public spaces for residents and varying and mixed use of urban locations. Instead, it copies the model of the United States where entire cities of segregated segments were created out of dusty plains where there was little to preserve in the first place. In contemporary China, the modern and the urban are seen as necessarily “new”, which typically implies the destruction of older buildings without much regard for their individuality and little desire to create variegated and heterogeneous urban settlements.
Because of this orientation, the drabness and uniformity of the greater number of spanking new cities and towns in China today are startling. But this may reflect the sheer scale and rapidity of the entire project of urbanisation. It coincides with one of the most rapid and extensive processes of urbanisation in human history. Since 1980, more than 500 million people in China have moved to cities and towns.By 2011, more than half of China’s population lived in urban areas, a transition that occurred much more quickly than anyone expected. At current rates, it is projected that more than a billion people will live in urban China by 2030.
This reflects a major policy change, from the state strictly controlling migration to gradually loosening the internal controls that have prevented people from moving from their place of birth. For much of its post-revolution history, the Chinese government (unlike in India where people were always free to move across States and urban and rural areas) used the household registration system or hukou as residence permits that served to define people’s rights, including the right to reside in particular localities and their abilities to access their entitlements as citizens. From the 1980s, some controls on movement of people to live and work in other areas were progressively lifted, although rural migrants still typically lack many of the rights and public entitlements that those with urban hukou take for granted.
The past decade has seen a significant geographical spread across the country of this relatively unimaginative design of urban spaces. Whether it is Harbin in the cold north-east of China or Chongqing in the west-central region or Tianjin near the capital Beijing, all new urban development is similar, based on the proliferation of repetitive concrete structures (with the occasional glass building) so that it is really hard to distinguish one city from another. In the process, the past has been unceremoniously trashed, except for a few iconic buildings here and there, and the less regimented and more colourful neighbourhoods that characterised the residential patterns of the working class have been bulldozed and turned into a series of new Lego-lookalikes.
A new book by Tom Miller (China’s Urban Billion: The story behind the biggest migration in human history, Zed Books 2012) captures this extraordinary process that is simultaneously impressive and depressing. Miller notes that in terms of both speed and extent, the urbanisation of land has far outpaced the urbanisation of people: since 1980, the urban population has increased by 120 per cent, but the amount of land that can be classified as urban because its built-up space has increased by 120 per cent, but the amount of land that can be classified as urban because its built-up space has increased by more than 300 per cent.
Urban ugliness and unremitting architectural monotony are only some of the negative fallouts of this speedy transition. While the rural-urban migration has lifted many boats, it has done so unevenly, and involved deteriorating or more fragile conditions for many, both older residents and newer (typically younger) migrants. The economic model generates problems of pollution, congestion and overextraction of natural resources that are making this process unsustainable. And this boom is also closely associated with rapidly increasing inequalities and a growing urban underclass.
To the casual visitor to China, this may seem surprising. Chinese cities do not seem to have the festering slums and destitute urban underclass that are so openly evident in countries such as Brazil or Nigeria, and do not show the obvious contrasts between glittering opulence and degraded squalor that characterise Indian cities. But, in fact, China’s urbanisation has also generated slums, albeit those that are more effectively hidden from public view and more confined to a shifting migrant category. Some are shanty areas, others are crowded and hastily built apartment blocks, but the control over movement and social mobility render them more amenable to repression and easier to keep out of public sight. This may be another reason why Miller argues that “China’s cities will continue to shock and awe —but they will struggle to inspire hearts and minds.”
Clearly, a more inclusive, less polluting and congested, and more healthy and pleasant model of urban development is required. Otherwise, China risks becoming a country where the inequality gets solidified in its urban structures: with “pockets of extreme wealth and an educated middle class, but whose cities teem with enormous slums and suppurate with entrenched social divisions”. In turn, what happens in China matters not only for that country, since China is currently seen as a model worthy of emulation by so many developing countries. For a really sustainable and attractive urban future, we all need a very different model.
1.Why has Xi’an been explicitly mentioned in the passage?
a. Because it the oldest of all Chinese civilizations
b. Because of its long historical roots
c. Because it is the city which linked China to the rest of the world through the silk route
d. Because it has chronicled the most changes through the history of Chinese Development
e. Because of its economic importance in the ancient Chinese civilizations
2.Why does the author criticize China for its modern structure?
a. Because it has led to the increasing unemployment.
b. Because it is not built on a sustainable model, and also lacks individuality.
c. Because this urban structure has been erected on excessively borrowed debts.
d. Because this structure prevents the entry of immigrants.
e. Because it is not built according to the guidelines of the Disaster Management Authority in China.
3.According to the passage, what has enabled the rapid urbanization of China?
a. Undertaking of the One Belt One Road (OBOR) project.
b. Rapid industrialization
c. The State adopting policies which would enable the migration of people from the rural to the urban areas.
d. China opening up its trade routes and promoting global trade.
e. All of the above
4.What are some of the problems mentioned as the consequence of rampant urbanization in China?
(A) The process of migration has been troublesome for many.
(B) It tries to emulate the US model, and not the European model.
(C) It has led to the deterioration of land, air and water resources.
(D) It had led to the widening of the gap between the rich and the poor.
a. Only (A)
b. Only (A) and (B)
c. Only (B) and (C)
d. Only (C)
e. Only (A), (C) and (D)
5.Why does Tom Miller describe the process of urbanization in China as ‘simultaneously impressive and depressing’?
a. Because the rapid development has given rise to crony capitalism.
b. Because the model of urban development is raised on a pile of debts.
c. Because while it creates urban spaces, it also has a hidden dark side to it which houses the migrants and the poor.
d. All of the above.
e. None of the above
Directions: (6-10) Read the passage below and answer the questions.
Ensuring safe and healthy conditions for the reproduction of the population is obviously the most fundamental requirement of any society. So the progress of a society can be determined (and indeed is routinely judged) by the extent to which mothers and young children experience safe, healthy and nutritious conditions of existence and childbirth. In most countries, ensuring such conditions is seen as a most basic obligation of the state.
India is different. In fact, it is one of the few countries in the world (and perhaps the only one that prides itself on becoming an emerging giant on the world stage) in which the provision of services to ensure safe reproduction is not treated as an automatic and essential part of public service delivery, but rather as a special “scheme”, and now in so-called “mission mode”.
The very existence of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme as a separate “scheme” rather than an essential element of the basic functions of government is not just an anomaly but a reflection of the peculiar socio-political configurations prevailing in the country. Policies are still not based on the acceptance of the fundamental rights of all citizens, which the government is beholden to deliver, and if anything, the period of neo-liberalism has been one in which the state’s duties have been undermined progressively in various ways.
It is true there has been a recent upsurge of popular demands based on notions of human rights, but these movements have been successful only in limited and sporadic ways. The thrust of state policies continues to be in terms of corporatising and privatising the provision of essential services —evident now in the current attempts to privatise the ICDS.
The Integrated Child Development Services scheme was started by the Government of India in 1975. It began with 33 pilot projects in different parts of the country and the aims were to improve the nutritional and health status of pregnant and lactating mothers and children in the 0-6 years age group, to reduce infant mortality, morbidity, malnutrition and school drop-out rate and to lay the foundation for the proper psychological, physical and social development of the child. Subsequently, it was expanded to become an all-India programme run by State governments with finances from the Centre.
Many independent studies found that the ICDS was effective in combating child malnutrition and improving school enrolment. Nevertheless, the government was extremely lethargic in moving to universalise the scheme, and provided only pathetic amounts to finance it and enable it to function properly. In 2001, the Supreme Court, in a landmark judgment, noted that the ICDS was very important in the overall development of children in India and ordered the Central government to universalise the scheme to cover all children in the country. The court stipulated the nutritional norms for the beneficiaries and directed the government to give periodic reports on implementation and improvement in the functioning of the ICDS.
Despite this judgement, the slow pace of expansion of the ICDS, and the niggardly amounts provided to it continued, and the Supreme Court was forced to chastise the Central government in several consecutive orders before a more determined attempt at universalisation took off from around 2005. By now, the ICDS has expanded to cover almost all 14 lakh defined habitations in 7,076 blocks across the country.
However, notwithstanding the recognised contributions made by the ICDS programme where it functions well in improving maternal and child survival prospects and overall health, India remains a poor performer in this area. Nearly half of India’s children are undernourished, making it the country with the largest number of malnourished children in the world.
The National Sample Survey (NSS) data suggest that things may be getting worse, as calorie consumption is declining, both on average and for the bottom half of the population. Data from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3) conducted in 2005–06 indicated that nearly half of Indian children under five were underweight and nearly four-fifths of the children aged between 6 and 35
The prevalence of anaemia was 56 per cent among married women and 58 per cent among pregnant women. Other sources suggest that the infant mortality rate in the country as a whole was 63 per 1,000 live births in 2010, more than double the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of 30 and much higher than in neighbours such as China (17) and Sri Lanka (14).
So, this strategy does not seem to be a success—some have even argued that these figures reflect the failure of the ICDS. But this is the wrong interpretation. Rather, over the entire period, funds expended on this programme were very inadequate in a broader macroeconomic context of livelihood crises and inadequate employment generation. This did not allow the ICDS programme to deliver to its potential. This conclusion is confirmed by a recent report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on the functioning of the ICDS. The performance audit covered 2,730 anganwadi centres (AWCs) in 67 districts of 13 States from 2006-07 to 2010-11 in terms of their delivery of services of supplementary nutrition, preschool education and nutrition and health education. The report’s main conclusions speak volumes about the niggardly treatment that the programme has received in terms of lack of essential infrastructure and grossly inadequate resources for proper functioning.
6.Why does the author refer to the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme as an anomaly?
a. Because it only takes into consideration the well-being of the child, and not the mother.
b. Because it only takes into consideration pre-natal care, and not post-natal care.
c. Because a fundamental right is posited as a scheme or a privilege.
d. Because this scheme requires a monthly deposit of Rupees 50,000 for nine months before the birth of the baby.
e. Because this scheme is limited to those who fall below the poverty line.
7.What critique does the passage offer regarding the implementation of the scheme?
a. The scheme lacks the requisite infrastructure and resources for its proper functioning.
b. The scheme was not financed adequately.
c. The scheme did not attain a universal status until very late.
d. All of the above.
e. None of the above.
8.What does the National Sample Survey (NSS) data indicate?
a. It cites that the prevalence of anemia was 56 per cent among married women and 58 per cent among pregnant women.
b. It states that the infant mortality rate in the country as a whole was 63 per 1,000 live births in 2010
c. It indicates that the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme was not timely universalized.
d. It indicates that the social welfare schemes are increasingly being privatized in India.
e. It indicates that the cases of malnutrition are on a rise in India.
9.Which of the following is not true according to the passage?
(A) The primary focus of the state policies is the corporatising and privatizing of essential services.
(B) Nearly half of India’s children are undernourished, making it the country with the largest number of malnourished children in the world.
(C) The increasing number of cases of malnourish and anemia is indicative of the failure of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme.
a. Only (B)
b. Only (A) and (C)
c. Only (C)
d. Only (A) and (B)
e. Only (B) and (C)
10.Which of the following is not a benefit provided under the Integrated Child Development Services scheme?
(A) It aims to improve the nutritional status of pregnant and lactating mothers.
(B) It seeks to reduce infant mortality rate.
(C) It aims to improve the health of children in the 0-6 years age group.
(D) It provides expectant mothers with Rupees 5,000 every month.
a. Only (A) and (B)
b. Only (B) and (C)
c. Only (A), (B) and (D)
d. Only (C) and (D)
e. Only (D)
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