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CAT 2021 Reading Comprehension Solution 04


Direction for Reading Comprehension: The passages given here are followed by some questions that have four answer choices; read the passage carefully and pick the option whose answer best aligns with the passage.

The sleights of hand that conflate consumption with virtue are a central theme in A Thirst for Empire, a sweeping and richly detailed history of tea by the historian Erika Rappaport. How did tea evolve from an obscure "China drink" to a universal beverage imbued with civilising properties? The answer, in brief, revolves around this conflation, not only by profit-motivated marketers but by a wide variety of interest groups. While abundant historical records have allowed the study of how tea itself moved from east to west, Rappaport is focused on the movement of the idea of tea to suit particular purposes.

Beginning in the 1700s, the temperance movement advocated for tea as a pleasure that cheered but did not inebriate, and industrialists soon borrowed this moral argument in advancing their case for free trade in tea (and hence more open markets for their textiles). Factory owners joined in, compelled by the cause of a sober workforce, while Christian missionaries discovered that tea "would soothe any colonial encounter". During the Second World War, tea service was presented as a social and patriotic activity that uplifted soldiers and calmed refugees.

But it was tea's consumer-directed marketing by importers and retailers - and later by brands - that most closely portends current trade debates. An early version of the "farm to table" movement was sparked by anti-Chinese sentiment and concerns over trade deficits, as well as by the reality and threat of adulterated tea containing dirt and hedge clippings. Lipton was soon advertising "from the Garden to Tea Cup" supply chains originating in British India and supervised by "educated Englishmen". While tea marketing always presented direct consumer benefits (health, energy, relaxation), tea drinkers were also assured that they were participating in a larger noble project that advanced the causes of family, nation and civilization. . . .

Rappaport's treatment of her subject is refreshingly apolitical. Indeed, it is a virtue that readers will be unable to guess her political orientation: both the miracle of markets and capitalism's dark underbelly are evident in tea's complex story, as are the complicated effects of British colonialism. . . . Commodity histories are now themselves commodities: recent works investigate cotton, salt, cod, sugar, chocolate, paper and milk. And morality marketing is now a commodity as well, applied to food, "fair trade" apparel and eco-tourism. Yet tea is, Rappaport makes clear, a world apart - an astonishing success story in which tea marketers not only succeeded in conveying a sense of moral elevation to the consumer but also arguably did advance the cause of civilisation and community.

I have been offered tea at a British garden party, a Bedouin campfire, a Turkish carpet shop and a Japanese chashitsu, to name a few settings. In each case the offering was more an idea - friendship, community, respect - than a drink, and in each case the idea then created a reality. It is not a stretch to say that tea marketers have advanced the particularly noble cause of human dialogue and friendship.

Question: 1

Today, "conflat[ing] consumption with virtue" can be seen in the marketing of:

  1. travel to pristine destinations.

  2. ergonomically designed products.

  3. sustainably farmed foods.

  4. natural health supplements.

Option: 3
This is an easy question. To answer it, we have to understand the meaning of the phrase "conflate consumption with virtue". To conflate means to combine. In the choices we have to find an option that has both virtue and consumption. 1 has consumption but no virtue attached to it. 2 has neither consumption nor virtue. 3 has implied consumption because "foods" are meant to be consumed, it also has virtue because those farm foods are sustainable. Thus 2 is the best choice. Natural health supplements might be a good choice, but it is just a supplement and does not have as much consumption attached to it as sustainably farmed food has.

Question: 2

This book review argues that, according to Rappaport, tea is unlike other "morality" products because it:

  1. was actively encouraged by interest groups in the government.

  2. was marketed by a wide range of interest groups.

  3. appealed to a universal group and not just to a niche section of people.

  4. had an actual beneficial effect on social interaction and society in general.

Option: 4
The answer to this question can be found in the second last paragraph, where the author says "tea is a success story... because tea marketers succeeded in conveying moral elevation ....and advance cause of community". Option 4 is the best choice. All the others are not connected with these lines of the passage.

Question: 3

According to this book review, A Thirst for Empire says that, in addition to "profit-motivated marketers", tea drinking was promoted in Britain by all of the following EXCEPT:

  1. the anti-alcohol lobby as a substitute for the consumption of liquor.

  2. factories to instill sobriety in their labour.

  3. manufacturers who were pressing for duty-free imports.

  4. tea drinkers lobbying for product diversity.

Option: 4
This is a factual question and the option that is not present in the passage is the right answer. The second and the third paragraphs have options 1,2 and 3 mentioned in them. The passage does not have any clue for "tea drinkers lobbying for product diversity". Option 4 is the right answer.

Question: 4

The author of this book review is LEAST likely to support the view that:

  1. tea became the leading drink in Britain in the nineteenth century.

  2. the ritual of drinking tea promotes congeniality and camaraderie.

  3. tea drinking has become a social ritual worldwide.

  4. tea drinking was sometimes promoted as a patriotic duty.

Option: 1
We have to pick a choice that the author is least likely to agree with. The right option should not find any mention in the passage. The last paragraph has evidence for options 2 and 3. The fact that tea is consumed in many places means tea drinking has become a social ritual worldwide. And the fact that it advances human dialogue and friendship means that it promotes congeniality and camaraderie. The last sentence of second paragraph has evidence for 4. Option 1 finds no mention in the passage and is thus the right answer.

CAT 2021 RC passage with solution

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