CAT 2018 Question Paper (Slot 1)


Read the following passage and answer the questions that follow:

The only thing worse than being lied to is not knowing you’re being lied to. It’s true that plastic pollution is a huge problem, of planetary proportions. And it’s true we could all do more to reduce our plastic footprint. The lie is that blame for the plastic problem is wasteful consumers and that changing our individual habits will fix it.

Recycling plastic is to saving the Earth what hammering a nail is to halting a falling skyscraper. You struggle to find a place to do it and feel pleased when you succeed. But your effort is wholly inadequate and distracts from the real problem of why the building is collapsing in the first place. The real problem is that single-use plastic—the very idea of producing plastic items like grocery bags, which we use for an average of 12 minutes but can persist in the environment for half a millennium—is an incredibly reckless abuse of technology. Encouraging individuals to recycle more will never solve the problem of a massive production of single-use plastic that should have been avoided in the first place.

As an ecologist and evolutionary biologist, I have had a disturbing window into the accumulating literature on the hazards of plastic pollution. Scientists have long recognized that plastics biodegrade slowly, if at all, and pose multiple threats to wildlife through entanglement and consumption. More recent reports highlight dangers posed by absorption of toxic chemicals in the water and by plastic odors that mimic some species’ natural food. Plastics also accumulate up the food chain, and studies now show that we are likely ingesting it ourselves in seafood. . . .

Beginning in the 1950s, big beverage companies like Coca-Cola and Anheuser-Busch, along with Phillip Morris and others, formed a non-profit called Keep America Beautiful. Its mission is/was to educate and encourage environmental stewardship in the public. . . . At face value, these efforts seem benevolent, but they obscure the real problem, which is the role that corporate polluters play in the plastic problem. This clever misdirection has led journalist and author Heather Rogers to describe Keep America Beautiful as the first corporate greenwashing front, as it has helped shift the public focus to consumer recycling behavior and actively thwarted legislation that would increase extended producer responsibility for waste management. . . . [T]he greatest success of Keep America Beautiful has been to shift the onus of environmental responsibility onto the public while simultaneously becoming a trusted name in the environmental movement. . . .

So what can we do to make responsible use of plastic a reality? First: reject the lie. Litterbugs are not responsible for the global ecological disaster of plastic. Humans can only function to the best of their abilities, given time, mental bandwidth and systemic constraints. Our huge problem with plastic is the result of a permissive legal framework that has allowed the uncontrolled rise of plastic pollution, despite clear evidence of the harm it causes to local communities and the world’s oceans. Recycling is also too hard in most parts of the U.S. and lacks the proper incentives to make it work well.

Question 11

It can be inferred that the author considers the Keep America Beautiful organisation:

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Question 12

Which of the following interventions would the author most strongly support:

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Question 13

The author lists all of the following as negative effects of the use of plastics EXCEPT the:

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Question 14

In the second paragraph, the phrase “what hammering a nail is to halting a falling skyscraper” means:

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Question 15

In the first paragraph, the author uses “lie” to refer to the:

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Read the following passage and answer the questions that follow:

When researchers at Emory University in Atlanta trained mice to fear the smell of almonds (by pairing it with electric shocks), they found, to their consternation, that both the children and grandchildren of these mice were spontaneously afraid of the same smell. That is not supposed to happen. Generations of schoolchildren have been taught that the inheritance of acquired characteristics is impossible. A mouse should not be born with something its parents have learned during their lifetimes, any more than a mouse that loses its tail in an accident should give birth to tailless mice. . . .

Modern evolutionary biology dates back to a synthesis that emerged around the 1940s-60s, which married Charles Darwin’s mechanism of natural selection with Gregor Mendel’s discoveries of how genes are inherited. The traditional, and still dominant, view is that adaptations - from the human brain to the peacock’s tail - are fully and satisfactorily explained by natural selection (and subsequent inheritance). Yet [new evidence] from genomics, epigenetics and developmental biology [indicates] that evolution is more complex than we once assumed. . . .

In his book On Human Nature (1978), the evolutionary biologist Edward O Wilson claimed that human culture is held on a genetic leash. The metaphor [needs revision]. . . . Imagine a dog-walker (the genes) struggling to retain control of a brawny mastiff (human culture). The pair’s trajectory (the pathway of evolution) reflects the outcome of the struggle. Now imagine the same dog-walker struggling with multiple dogs, on leashes of varied lengths, with each dog tugging in different directions. All these tugs represent the influence of developmental factors, including epigenetics, antibodies and hormones passed on by parents, as well as the ecological legacies and culture they bequeath. . . .

The received wisdom is that parental experiences can’t affect the characters of their offspring. Except they do. The way that genes are expressed to produce an organism’s phenotype - the actual characteristics it ends up with - is affected by chemicals that attach to them. Everything from diet to air pollution to parental behaviour can influence the addition or removal of these chemical marks, which switches genes on or off. Usually these socalled ‘epigenetic’ attachments are removed during the production of sperm and eggs cells, but it turns out that some escape the resetting process and are passed on to the next generation, along with the genes. This is known as ‘epigenetic inheritance’, and more and more studies are confirming that it really happens. Let’s return to the almond-fearing mice. The inheritance of an epigenetic mark transmitted in the sperm is what led the mice’s offspring to acquire an inherited fear. . . .

Epigenetics is only part of the story. Through culture and society, [humans and other animals] inherit knowledge and skills acquired by [their] parents. . . . All this complexity . . . points to an evolutionary process in which genomes (over hundreds to thousands of generations), epigenetic modifications and inherited cultural factors (over several, perhaps tens or hundreds of generations), and parental effects (over single-generation timespans) collectively inform how organisms adapt. These extra-genetic kinds of inheritance give organisms the flexibility to make rapid adjustments to environmental challenges, dragging genetic change in their wake - much like a rowdy pack of dogs.

Question 16

The passage uses the metaphor of a dog walker to argue that evolutionary adaptation is most comprehensively understood as being determined by:

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Question 17

Which of the following options best describes the author's argument?

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Question 18

Which of the following, if found to be true, would negate the main message of the passage?

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Question 19

The Emory University experiment with mice points to the inheritance of:

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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 20

The author suggests that a major reason why India has not so far acknowledged its role in the Second World War is that it:

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