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CAT 2021 Reading Comprehension Solution 07


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.

I have elaborated . . . a framework for analyzing the contradictory pulls on [Indian] nationalist ideology in its struggle against the dominance of colonialism and the resolution it offered to those contradictions. Briefly, this resolution was built around a separation of the domain of culture into two spheres - the material and the spiritual. It was in the material sphere that the claims of Western civilization were the most powerful. Science, technology, rational forms of economic organization, modern methods of statecraft - these had given the European countries the strength to subjugate the non-European people . . . To overcome this domination, the colonized people had to learn those superior techniques of organizing material life and incorporate them within their own cultures. . . . But this could not mean the imitation of the West in every aspect of life, for then the very distinction between the West and the East would vanish - the self-identity of national culture would itself be threatened. . . . The discourse of nationalism shows that the material/spiritual distinction was condensed into an analogous, but ideologically far more powerful, dichotomy: that between the outer and the inner. . . . Applying the inner/outer distinction to the matter of concrete day-to-day living separates the social space into ghar and bāhir, the home and the world. The world is the external, the domain of the material; the home represents one's inner spiritual self, one's true identity. The world is a treacherous terrain of the pursuit of material interests, where practical considerations reign supreme. It is also typically the domain of the male. The home in its essence must remain unaffected by the profane activities of the material world - and woman is its representation. And so one gets an identification of social roles by gender to correspond with the separation of the social space into ghar and bāhir. . . .

The colonial situation, and the ideological response of nationalism to the critique of Indian tradition, introduced an entirely new substance to [these dichotomies] and effected their transformation. The material/spiritual dichotomy, to which the terms world and home corresponded, had acquired . . . a very special significance in the nationalist mind. The world was where the European power had challenged the non-European peoples and, by virtue of its superior material culture, had subjugated them. But, the nationalists asserted, it had failed to colonize the inner, essential, identity of the East which lay in its distinctive, and superior, spiritual culture. . . . [I]n the entire phase of the national struggle, the crucial need was to protect, preserve and strengthen the inner core of the national culture, its spiritual essence. . .

Once we match this new meaning of the home/world dichotomy with the identification of social roles by gender, we get the ideological framework within which nationalism answered the women's question. It would be a grave error to see in this, as liberals are apt to in their despair at the many marks of social conservatism in nationalist practice, a total rejection of the West. Quite the contrary: the nationalist paradigm in fact supplied an ideological principle of selection.

Question: 1

Which one of the following explains the "contradictory pulls" on Indian nationalism?

  1. Despite its scientific and technological inferiority, Indian nationalism had to fight against colonial domination.

  2. Despite its fight against colonial domination, Indian nationalism had to borrow from the coloniser in the material sphere.

  3. Despite its fight against colonial domination, Indian nationalism had to borrow from the coloniser in the spiritual sphere.

  4. Despite its spiritual superiority, Indian nationalism had to fight against colonial domination.

Option: 2

To answer this question correctly, we have to pick a choice that has contradiction in it. There is no contradiction in 1. Fighting against something or someone in spite of being inferior is not a contradiction. 2 has contradiction because the colonists, in their fight against the coloniser, are borrowing something from the latter. 3 is factually incorrect, the borrowing was done in the material sphere, not the spiritual. 4 is wrong because the passage talks of the material superiority, not the spiritual superiority.

Question: 2

Which one of the following best describes the liberal perception of Indian nationalism?

  1. Indian nationalism's sophistication resided in its distinction of the material from the spiritual spheres.

  2. Indian nationalist discourses provided an ideological principle of selection.

  3. Indian nationalist discourses reaffirmed traditional gender roles for Indian women.

  4. Indian nationalism embraced the changes brought about by colonialism in Indian women's traditional gender roles.

Option: 3

The liberal perception, the author says in the last paragraph, has error in it, suggesting that their perception that there was social conservatism in nationalist practice, is incorrect. Only 3 reflects social conservatism as it talks of reaffirming traditional gender roles for Indian women. Thus 3 is the best choice. No other option has social conservatism in it.

Question: 3

Which one of the following, if true, would weaken the author's claims in the passage?

  1. The colonial period saw the hybridisation of Indian culture in all realms as it came in contact with British/European culture.

  2. Indian nationalists rejected the cause of English education for women during the colonial period.

  3. The Industrial Revolution played a crucial role in shaping the economic prowess of Britain in the eighteenth century.

  4. Forces of colonial modernity played an important role in shaping anti-colonial Indian nationalism.

Option: 1

This is the easiest question of the passage. The passage says that Indian nationalist borrowed from the material sphere, not the spiritual sphere. 1 says that "there was hybridization of Indian culture in all spheres". This weakens the author's claims in the passage.

Question: 4

On the basis of the information in the passage, all of the following are true about the spiritual/material dichotomy of Indian nationalism EXCEPT that it:

  1. constituted the premise of the ghar/bāhir dichotomy.

  2. represented a continuation of age-old oppositions in Indian culture.

  3. helped in safeguarding the identity of Indian nationalism.

  4. was not as ideologically powerful as the inner/outer dichotomy.

Option: 2

Option 4 is true, as it can be verified from the first sentence of the second paragraph. Option 1 is easy to eliminate as it is the very theme of the passage. The second last paragraph provides ample evidence for option 3. There is no evidence for choice 2. It is the right answer.

CAT 2021 RC passage with solution

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