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English Questions – Reading Comprehension Set 42

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Directions (Q.1–6): Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions given below it.

A state of emergency can be directly imposed or it can creep up on you in unexpected ways. Following the Narendra Modi government’s decision to ban the Hindi news channel NDTV India for an entire day (now put on hold) as punishment for its coverage of the terror attack on the Pathankot military base, the question being asked is whether the cumulative actions of this government reflect the same mentality that led Indira Gandhi to impose a state of emergency in 1975—an inability to tolerate opposition or dissent.

The government justifies its action against NDTV India on the grounds that its coverage of the Pathankot anti-terror operation gave away vital information that could have been used by those directing the attack on the military base. It claims the channel contravened rule 6(1)(p) of the programme code under the Cable Television Networks (Amendment) Rules, 2015. But the rule itself is problematic as is the mechanism for enforcing it. The body tasked with deciding whether a channel has transgressed the rule is the Inter-Ministerial Committee. No one with a journalistic background or knowledge of how 24-hour news networks function is on the committee. Yet, the committee judges and pronounces punishment without any judicial oversight.

The provision under which NDTV India has been hauled up is the end result of a process that began after the 26 November 2008 terror attack on Mumbai. Leading television channels, including NDTV, were criticised by the government for helping the minders of the terrorists by giving away precise information even as the attack was on. No action was taken against these channels but discussions began about bringing in a provision prohibiting live coverage of such operations. A committee headed by former Chief Justice J S Verma formed by the News Broadcasters Association, a self-regulatory body, formulated guidelines on coverage of such attacks. However, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the time was not convinced that this would suffice and instead came up with amendments to the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994 that would have given the police and government officials arbitrary powers to block live transmission and confiscate equipment if they concluded that the network was going against “national interest.” Fortunately, the government heeded the strong objections of the networks and backed down. In 2009, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assured heads of news channels that no changes would be made without consultations. Yet, within a year of the Modi government assuming power, rule 6(1)(p) was added to the program code under the Cable Television Networks Rules.

The Modi government appears to have temporarily backed down in the face of strong protests from many journalistic associations and bodies and possibly also because NDTV has moved the Supreme Court. Yet, the threat remains. By picking on NDTV India, known for its critical coverage of the ruling party and government compared to other channels, the government is clearly seeking to send out a message. It is smarting from the media questioning of its recent actions such as the “surgical strikes” across the Line of Control in Kashmir. So, perhaps, it has decided that a dose of indirect censorship will have the “chilling effect on the freedom of speech and expression”.  The arbitrary use of power against NDTV India ought to be a wake-up call for the Indian media. Governments that invoke freedom of the press and national security in the same breath cannot be trusted.

  1. Yet, the threat remains what threat does the author talk of here?
    1.The threat of adding 6 (1) (p) to the program code under Cable Television Rules
    2.The threat of banning NDTV for an entire day
    3.The threat of arbitrary powers being used by Modi govt.
    4.The threat from terrorists attacking India again
    5.The threat from media covering other terrorist attacks and showing sensitive information on TV
    Answer – 3
    Explanation :
    Last para initial lines state that the govt has backed down temporarily now. Backed down from banning NDTV for an entire day. But in the larger context, ‘threat remains’ refers to use of arbitrary powers in future by the govt.

  2.  What problems are cited with using of the rule 6 (1) (p)?
    1.It has to be added to the program code under Cable Television Rules
    2.The Committee enforcing it does not have any journalist on the panel
    3.The Committee members use it without any judicial supervision
    4.Both 2 & 3
    5.All 1, 2 & 3
    Answer –4
    Explanation :
    Para 2 discusses issues with the rule. Both 2 and 3 are stated in the paragraph. 1 is wrong. Last line, para 3 states that it was added when Modi govt came to power.

  3. Which of the following is incorrect according to the passage?
    1.NDTV was being punished for its coverage of Pathankot attack
    2.UPA govt was contended with the formation of rules under by JS Verma Committee
    3.Author has been very critical of the working of Modi govt
    4.Modi govt does not like being asked questions by media for its actions
    5.None of the above
    Answer – 2
    Explanation :
    UPA govt was not contended with the work done by Verma committee, that is why they came up with amendments to Cable TV rules. Hence 2 is incorrect.

  4.  Why has ‘’Mumbai terror attacks’ been indicated in the passage?
    1.To show that NDTV is habitual of breaking the law as it was responsible in the past also for covering the Mumbai attacks in a wrongful manner
    2.Discussion regarding formation of stringent rules against coverage of live attacks were initiated after this attack
    3.It was the first major attack on an Indian base before Pathankot
    4.Both 1 and 2
    5.All 1, 2 and 3
    Answer – 2
    Explanation :
    Para 3 discusses the Mumbai attacks. Different media channels gave vital information to terrorists during their coverage of the incident. Due to this, govt had to take some step and initiated the formation of laws.

  5. What type of govt cannot be trusted?
    1.One who curbs the freedom of speech
    2.One who invokes freedom of the press and national security in the same breath
    3.One who uses arbitrary powers to curb media
    4.Both 1 and 2
    5.Both 1 and 3
    Answer – 2
    Explanation :
    Last line of the passage states that govt which invokes freedom of the press and national security in the same breath can’t be trusted. Hence 2

  6. Why the ban on NDTV could not be carried out?
    1.Due to public protests against the govt
    2.The committee does not have any journalist member and hence did not make sound decision
    3.NDTV exercised judicial rights and the ban was lifted
    4.Other channels showed solidarity with NDTV and threatened to stop their coverage also for a day
    5.None of the above
    Answer – 3
    Explanation :
    NDTV moved supreme court – implies that it exercised its judicial rights- and govt had to back down, given in last para. Hence 3

Directions (Q.7–11): Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions given below it.

Among the initiatives launched with much fanfare by the NDA government is the one titled “Digital India”, which is slated to use high speed internet as a core utility and provide citizens entitlements, documents and a host of services on the cloud. While digital literacy is crucial for the success of such an initiative, a more fundamental requirement is access to and use of the Internet. How far does the government have to go to ensure access and use to be successful with this digital mission?

According to recently released survey results from India’s official National Sample Survey (NSS) Organisation, the proportion of Indian households in which at least one member had access to the Internet was 16.1 per cent in rural areas, 48.7 per cent in urban areas and 26.7 per cent in rural and urban areas combined. Needless to say, this is far short of the near universal connectivity envisaged by the Digital India mission. If yet there is an unstated belief in certain circles that the foundations for a Digital India already exist, it is partly attributable to India’s success as an Information Technology (IT) and IT-enabled services provider to the rest of the world. The oft-quoted website (www.internetworldstats.com) reports that the number of Internet users in India rose from around 5 million in 2000 to 243 million in June 2014, which makes the 300-million December 2014 figure quite plausible.

However, before launching celebrations based on these figures, a degree of caution is called for. These high and rising figures conceal the fact that in relation to India’s population, Internet penetration is still low. If we go by the figures from Internet World Stats, Internet penetration within the population in India amounted to 19.7 per cent at the end of June 2014, as compared with 86.9 per cent in the U. S., 86.2 per cent in Japan, and 47.4 per cent in China. One problem is, of course, that of providing access to the hardware through which individuals get access to the Internet. Options here have increased hugely in recent years, but few seem to be willing to pay for access. Thus, the ITU estimates that only 3.1 per cent of Indian households had access to the Internet at home in 2011, whereas that figure for China in 2012 was 23.7 per cent. Thus, Indian internet users would have to rely on connections of friends and acquaintances, or at the work place or in cyber cafes to access the internet.

Even here the government has made an effort. Almost a decade back it announced a policy initiative to bridge India’s widening digital divide by increasing physical access to computers connected to the Internet. As part of that initiative it had promised to put in place in rural India a hundred thousand Common Service Centres (CSCs) – broadband-enabled computer kiosks that will offer a range of government-to-citizen and business-to-customer services, besides providing sheer access to the Internet. The CSCs were expected to begin servicing all of India’s 600,000 villages by mid-2008. However successful the government has been, it does not seem to have helped universalise access.

The challenge here seems enormous. The NSS survey quoted earlier suggests that there is an unusual relationship between internet access, computer access and literacy. As is to be expected the extent of literacy across the states of India is higher than the extent of access to the Internet through at least a single member of the household. That suggests there is still some slack in terms of getting literate people to take to the Internet. However, there is a strong association between household access to computers (or proportion of households with access) and household access to the Internet. While one survey may be inadequate to arrival at any causal suggestions let alone conclusions, if this relationship proves robust it could imply that increasing internet access is predicated on increasing hardware access to a far greater degree than the CSC programme envisaged. That makes the Digital India challenge not just more difficult, but more expensive.

  1. Why only a very small percentage of Indian households have Internet?
    1.Rural areas have no access to Internet
    2.Internet is costly and only few rich people can afford it
    3.Few people are willing to pay for access to the Internet
    4.It is cheaper to use Internet at cafes
    5.Both 1 & 2
    Answer – 3
    Explanation :
    3rd paragraph – “Options here have increased ……………..Internet at home in 2011”. None of the other options are justified to provide answer to our question, hence 3.

  2. Why does the author of the passage infer that Digital India challenge will be expensive?
    1.Govt has to spend a lot of money on increasing hardware access
    2.Broadband-enabled computer kiosks or CSCs require huge expenditure
    3.Govt will incur lot of expenditure on spreading computer literacy
    4.Increasing internet penetration has always been expensive
    5.Both 2 & 3
    Answer – 1
    Explanation :
    Last paragraph, second last line “increasing internet access is ………………. but more expensive”. Hence option 1.

  3.  Why do people believe that foundations for a Digital India already exist?
    1.Previous govts. have already popularized internet to citizens
    2.Internet penetration is increasing in India at a rapid pace
    3.Computers as a subject has been taught in every school
    4.India’s success as an Information Technology services provider to the rest of the world
    5.Not mentioned in the passage
    Answer – 4
    Explanation :
    2nd paragraph “If yet there ………………………………… rest of the world.” Hence 4

  4.  How does the author view the ‘300-million December 2014’ figure?
    1.It is too low considering Indian population
    2.Author is completely pessimistic about the future of Internet penetration
    3.Author is optimistic but also cautionary
    4.Author is optimistic because of such a rapid increase in number
    5.Figure is deceiving and author does not pay any attention to it
    Answer – 3
    Explanation :
    Last line, para 2 – author is very optimistic about reach the 300 million mark. Hence 1 and 2 can be eliminated. In the next paragraph, author cautions about focusing too much on the figure only. Hence the answer 3. 5 would be next best choice.

  5. Which of the following is true about ‘Digital India’ initiative?
    1.High speed internet will be used as a core utility
    2.It will provide many a service to the citizens online
    3.More broadband-enabled computer kiosks need to be installed
    4.Both A & B
    5.Both B & C
    Answer – 4
    Explanation :
    1&2 have been discussed in the first paragraph. 3 is wrong because author has criticized this strategy of govt to increase internet penetration. Last paragraph – “if this relationship proves …………………………… the CSC programme envisaged.”