CAT 2019 Reading Comprehension Questions with Solutions

British colonial policy . . . went through two policy phases, or at least there were two strategies between which its policies actually oscillated, sometimes to its great advantage. At first, the new colonial apparatus exercised caution, and occupied India by a mix of military power and subtle diplomacy, the high ground in the middle of the circle of circles. This, however, pushed them into contradictions. For, whatever their sense of the strangeness of the country and the thinness of colonial presence, the British colonial state represented the great conquering discourse of Enlightenment rationalism, entering India precisely at the moment of its greatest unchecked arrogance. As inheritors and representatives of this discourse, which carried everything before it, this colonial state could hardly adopt for long such a self-denying attitude. It had restructured everything in Europe—the productive system, the political regimes, the moral and cognitive orders—and would do the same in India, particularly as some empirically inclined theorists of that generation considered the colonies a massive laboratory of utilitarian or other theoretical experiments. Consequently, the colonial state could not settle simply for eminence at the cost of its marginality; it began to take initiatives to introduce the logic of modernity into Indian society. But this modernity did not enter a passive society. Sometimes, its initiatives were resisted by pre-existing structural forms. At times, there was a more direct form of collective resistance. Therefore the map of continuity and discontinuity that this state left behind at the time of independence was rather complex and has to be traced with care.

Most significantly, of course, initiatives for . . . modernity came to assume an external character. The acceptance of modernity came to be connected, ineradicably, with subjection. This again points to two different problems, one theoretical, the other political. Theoretically, because modernity was externally introduced, it is explanatorily unhelpful to apply the logical format of the ‘transition process’ to this pattern of change. Such a logical format would be wrong on two counts. First, however subtly, it would imply that what was proposed to be built was something like European capitalism. (And, in any case, historians have forcefully argued that what it was to replace was not like feudalism, with or without modificatory adjectives.) But, more fundamentally, the logical structure of endogenous change does not apply here. Here transformation agendas attack as an external force. This externality is not something that can be casually mentioned and forgotten. It is inscribed on every move, every object, every proposal, every legislative act, each line of causality. It comes to be marked on the epoch itself. This repetitive emphasis on externality should not be seen as a nationalist initiative that is so well rehearsed in Indian social science. . . .

Quite apart from the externality of the entire historical proposal of modernity, some of its contents were remarkable. . . . Economic reforms, or rather alterations . . . did not foreshadow the construction of a classical capitalist economy, with its necessary emphasis on extractive and transport sectors. What happened was the creation of a degenerate version of capitalism —what early dependency theorists called the ‘development of underdevelopment’.


Question 1:
All of the following statements, if true, could be seen as supporting the arguments in the passage, EXCEPT:

  1. the change in British colonial policy was induced by resistance to modernity in Indian society.
  2. modernity was imposed upon India by the British and, therefore, led to underdevelopment.
  3. throughout the history of colonial conquest, natives have often been experimented on by the colonisers.
  4. the introduction of capitalism in India was not through the transformation of feudalism, as happened in Europe.
Show Answer
OPTION: 1
The points that are mentioned directly by the author in the passage will definitely support his argument. The point that is not mentioned or is opposite to what the author has to say will not support his argument. You must understand that not supporting doesn’t mean weakening. Any

Option 4 supports the author’s argument because he himself mentions historians who have argued that capitalism in India was not introduced with any modifications (2nd para paragraph)

Option 3, too, has been mentioned in the passage in the very first para where the author says that colonies were experimental labs.

Option 2 has come towards the end of the passage, in the last para wherein the author says that since modernity was externally imposed, it led to development of underdevelopment.

Option 1 is difficult because people have difficulty understanding the meaning of the term ‘induced by’. Induced by means triggered by or caused by. The change in British colonial policy was not induced by resistance to modernity. In fact, first came the change in policy, then came the resistance to modernity in Indian society. So the correct way of framing this idea would be: the resistance to modernity in Indian society was induced by the change in the British colonial policy.

Option 1 is the right choice.


Question 2:
All of the following statements about British colonialism can be inferred from the first paragraph, EXCEPT that it:

  1. allowed the treatment of colonies as experimental sites.
  2. faced resistance from existing structural forms of Indian modernity.
  3. was at least partly shaped by the project of European modernity.
  4. was at least partly an outcome of Enlightenment rationalism.
Show Answer
OPTION: 2
From the first paragraph, we can infer all of the following except 2. The experimental sites idea is visible in the first para. Similarly, we can see Enlightenment rationalism as the motivation behind the change in colonial policy.

The statement “It had restructured everything in Europe—the productive system, the political regimes, the

moral and cognitive orders—and would do the same in India” in the first para supports option 3 as well.

Thus we have evidence for 1,3 and 4. Many of you might wonder as to why 2 cannot be inferred because we have evidence for 2 as well.

But option 2 is distorted, it did face resistance from existing structural forms, but these structural forms were not of modernity. In fact there was no modernity in India, it was introduced externally by the British, as the passage argues. The existing structural forms were of society and not of modernity. Thus we can’t infer 2.


Question 3:
“Consequently, the colonial state could not settle simply for eminence at the cost of its marginality; it began to take initiatives to introduce the logic of modernity into Indian society.” Which of the following best captures the sense of this statement?

  1. The cost of the colonial state’s eminence was not settled; therefore, it took the initiative of introducing modernity into Indian society.
  2. The colonial enterprise was a costly one; so to justify the cost it began to take initiatives to introduce the logic of modernity into Indian society.
  3. The colonial state’s eminence was unsettled by its marginal position; therefore, it developed Indian society by modernising it.
  4. The colonial state felt marginalised from Indian society because of its own modernity; therefore, it sought to address that marginalisation by bringing its modernity to change Indian society.
Show Answer
OPTION: 4
To marginalise means to treat something or someone as insignificant.  The colonial state was marginalized because it was at the periphery of Indian society. Here colonial state is the small ruling elite. Since it was a small group, it was marginalized, and to come out of that marginalization, it tried to introduce modernity in Indian society, because if everyone is modernized, then the colonized state would be a part of mainstream Indian society. To get the right answer we have to understand the meaning of the word marginalized. No other option correctly captures the contextual meaning of the word ‘marginalized’, except 4. Thus 4 is the right choice.


Question 4:
Which of the following observations is a valid conclusion to draw from the author’s statement that “the logical structure of endogenous change does not apply here. Here transformation agendas attack as an external force”?

  1. Colonised societies cannot be changed through logic; they need to be transformed with external force.
  2. The transformation of Indian society did not happen organically, but was forced by colonial agendas.
  3. Indian society is not endogamous; it is more accurately characterised as aggressively exogamous.
  4. The endogenous logic of colonialism can only bring change if it attacks and transforms external forces.
Show Answer
OPTION: 2
 Here we must correctly understand the meaning of the word endogenous. Endogenous is not the same as endogamous, though there are some parallels. Endogenous means having internal cause or origin, while endogamous means marriage within a specific tribe. Option 3 has to go out.

The meaning of the word endogenous makes it clear that the right answer has to be 2.


Question 5:
Which one of the following 5-word sequences best captures the flow of the arguments in the passage?

  1. Colonial policy—arrogant rationality—resistance—independence—development.
  2. Military power—colonialism—restructuring—feudalism—capitalism.
  3. Military power—arrogance—laboratory—modernity—capitalism.
  4. Colonial policy—Enlightenment—external modernity—subjection—underdevelopment.            
Show Answer
OPTION: 4
This is the easiest question of the passage. Towards the end the author talks about the development of underdevelopment, and he opens the passage by introducing British colonial policy. Option 4 is the right choice.


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