CAT 2018 Question Paper (Slot 1) - VARC Question 21

Instructions

Read the following passage and answer the questions that follow:

[The] Indian government [has] announced an international competition to design a National War Memorial in New Delhi, to honour all of the Indian soldiers who served in the various wars and counterinsurgency campaigns from 1947 onwards. The terms of the competition also specified that the new structure would be built adjacent to the India Gate - a memorial to the Indian soldiers who died in the First World War. Between the old imperialist memorial and the proposed nationalist one, India’s contribution to the Second World War is airbrushed out of existence.

The Indian government’s conception of the war memorial was not merely absent-minded. Rather, it accurately reflected the fact that both academic history and popular memory have yet to come to terms with India’s Second World War, which continues to be seen as little more than mood music in the drama of India’s advance towards independence and partition in 1947. Further, the political trajectory of the postwar subcontinent has militated against popular remembrance of the war. With partition and the onset of the India-Pakistan rivalry, both of the new nations needed fresh stories for self-legitimisation rather than focusing on shared wartime experiences.

The Indian army recruited, trained and deployed some 2.5 million men, almost 90,000 of which were killed and many more injured. Even at the time, it was recognised as the largest volunteer force in the war. . . . India’s material and financial contribution to the war was equally significant. India emerged as a major military-industrial and logistical base for Allied operations in south-east Asia and the Middle East. This led the United States to take considerable interest in the country’s future and ensured that this was no longer the preserve of the British government.

However, the Second World War played a crucial role in both the independence and partition of India and wartime developments pointed in the direction of India’s independence. In a stunning reversal of its long-standing financial relationship with Britain, India finished the war as one of the largest creditors to the imperial power. Such extraordinary mobilization for war was achieved at a great human cost, with the Bengal famine the most extreme manifestation of widespread wartime deprivation. The costs on India’s home front must be counted in millions of lives. Indians signed up to serve on the war and home fronts for a variety of reasons. . . . [M]any were convinced that their contribution would open the doors to India’s freedom. . . . The political and social churn triggered by the war was evident in the massive waves of popular protest and unrest that washed over rural and urban India in the aftermath of the conflict. This turmoil was crucial in persuading the Attlee government to rid itself of the incubus of ruling India. . . .

Seventy years on, it is time that India engaged with the complex legacies of the Second World War. Bringing the war into the ambit of the new national memorial would be a fitting - if not overdue - recognition that this was India’s War.

Question 21

The phrase “mood music” is used in the second paragraph to indicate that the Second World War is viewed as:

Solution

The author uses the phrase "mood music" to indicate that (the contribution of Indians to) the Second World War is not given the importance it deserves.  The author does not state that the war led to the rivalry. Though he mentions the ill-effects of the war on India, he does not refer to them when he uses the term "mood music".  He feels that the war is largely seen as a warmer to the Independence and partition of the country. Therefore, option D is the right answer. 


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