Reading Comprehension for IBPS PO 2017: Part 1


As the Bharatiya Janata Party reportedly prepares for “Modifests” to celebrate the completion of three years in power the citizen would be interested in knowing how their government has performed in respect of the economy. This because in his election campaign in 2014 Narendra Modi had chosen to highlight his ability to turn the economy for the better, notably to raise its growth rate. Once he became Prime Minister, he quickly presented his idea of how this could be done. Manufacturing was to be the key and “Make in India” the government’s programme to actualise it. Pressing ahead to produce in India can hardly be faulted as an objective, for in a market economy income generation depends upon making something. As for the focus on manufacturing, its relevance cannot be exaggerated. Indian agriculture is overcrowded. With shrinking farm size, the returns to this activity is set to shrink and only manufacturing can absorb the labour that will have to be transferred out of agriculture. Also manufactures are often easier to export than the services that India specialises in. So, “Make in India” is eminently sensible of itself. But how successful has this initiative been?
Turning to the evidence, we would find that far from taking Indian manufacturing to new heights, the performance since 2014 does not match what has been achieved in the last boom in India, which was obtained during 2003-08. During this period, for the first time in decades, manufacturing had led the growth acceleration in the economy. In most of these years, annual growth of manufacturing had exceeded 10%, which has not been matched since. Interestingly, the performance of this sector in the last three years is not superior even to that at the tail end of United Progressive Alliance (UPA) II. Clearly, “Make in India” is yet to fulfil its promise.
Now, could it be that the programme has actually had a favourable impact but the fruits are yet to appear? This is possible, and would be the case if the programme has led to a surge in investment. But there is no evidence of this either. If we take a wider measure of investment — that for the economy as a whole — we see that capital formation as a share of total output has declined even more sharply since 2014 than it had been since the decline began in 2011. Private investment, seen as the bellwether of an economy, has not been forthcoming despite this government’s business-friendly orientation. As the decline in investment had commenced in 2011, the development itself cannot be laid at the present government’s door but it is unambiguously the case that it has not been able to reverse it. Part of the reason has to do with the fact that the focus of “Make in India”, such as the ease of doing business, has mostly been on the supply side. But there is demand to reckon with. Firms invest in anticipation of demand, and when they perceive slow growth of demand, they are likely to hold back.
It is clear that some part of the slow growth of demand in India is beyond the grasp of government due to the weather cycle. Two of the past three years have been years of very poor agricultural GDP growth, with the figure actually negative in 2014-15. But agriculture’s performance cuts both ways, serving also as windfall when it turns out to be buoyant. Thus, for 2016-17 the Central Statistics Office’s advance estimates indicate a more than three-fold increase in agricultural growth while industry and services register a reduction in theirs. Had agricultural growth not risen so dramatically, growth in 2016-17 would have slowed even more than it actually did. The government just got lucky.
Whatever may have been the demand-constraining impact of slow agricultural growth in the first two years of this government’s tenure, the independent role of its macroeconomic policy is evident. At a time of declining private investment the prudent thing for a government to do is to raise public investment. This has not happened on anything like the scale necessary. Indeed, with regard to fiscal policy, the government had been guided by fiscal consolidation defined in terms of deficit reduction. Admittedly, in this the National Democratic Alliance-II has only taken forward a programme initiated by UPA-I. But the slowing of capital formation was not a feature then, and economic policy is meant to respond to a changing environment. In 2016-17, gross fixed capital formation in the economy turned negative. This worrying development requires addressing. But having tied itself down to a dogmatic policy stance, the government can do little. The centrepieces of this policy package are fiscal consolidation and inflation targeting. This combination leaves no room to address concerns of growth. The government’s response to suggestions that it respond to the situation is that it will not sidetrack fiscal consolidation. Actually, no one is asking it to! It is possible to adhere to fiscal deficit targets while expanding public capital. You do this by switching expenditure from consumption to investment.

Q.1 Which of the following statement is true?
(i)During this period, for the first time in decades, manufacturing had not led the growth acceleration in the economy.
(ii) Manufacturing was to be the key and “Make in India” the government’s programme to actualise it.
(iii) “Make in India” is eminently sensible of itself.

A. (i) and (iii)
B. Only (ii)
C. Only (iii)
D. (ii) and (iii)
E. Only (i)

Q.2 How much had annual growth of manufacturing exceeded? 
A. 12% 
B. 10%
C. 15%
D. 18%
E. 20%

Q.3 Why the growth of demand in India is slow? 
A. Due to the corruption. 
B. Due to the agriculture performance.
C. Due to the demonetisation.
D. Due to the economic cycle.
E. Due to the weather cycle.

4. Which of the following statement is true? 
A. Private investment, seen as the bellwether of an agriculture, has not been forthcoming despite this government’s business-friendly orientation. 
B. Private investment, seen as the bellwether of an economy, has been forthcoming despite this government’s business-friendly orientation.
C. Private investment, seen as the bellwether of an economy, has been forthcoming despite this government’s business-unfriendly orientation.
D. Private investment, seen as the bellwether of an economy, has not been forthcoming despite this government’s business-friendly orientation.
E. Private investment, seen as the bellwether of an economy, has not been forthcoming despite this government’s business-unfriendly orientation.

Q.5 Two of the past three years have been years of very poor agricultural GDP growth, 
A. with the figure actually positive in 2014-15 
B. with the figure actually negative in 2014-15
C. with the figure actually positive in 2015-16
D. with the figure actually positive in 2013-14
E. with the figure actually negative in 2015-16

Q.6 The centrepieces of this policy package is/are: 
(i) Fiscal consolidation 
(ii) Macroeconomic policy
(iii) Inflation targeting

A. (i) and (iii)
B. Only (i)
C. Only (iii)
D. (ii) and (iii)
E. Only (ii)

Q.7 Choose the word which is MOST OPPOSITE in meaning of the word printed in bold as used in the passage. 
Prudent 
A. Reasonable
B. Vigilant
C. Wise
D. Sound
E. Careless

Q.8 Choose the word which is MOST SIMILAR in meaning of the word printed in bold as used in the passage. 
Exaggerated 
A. Actual
B. overstated
C. Sensible
D. Minimized
E. Reasonable

Answers With Explanation:

1. Ans. D. 
Solution: According to the passage the true statements are:
(ii) Manufacturing was to be the key and “Make in India” the government’s programme to actualise it
(iii) “Make in India” is eminently sensible of itself. 

2. Ans. B. 
Solution: 
In most of these years, annual growth of manufacturing had exceeded 10%, which has not been matched since. 

3. Ans. E. 
Solution: 
It is clear that some part of the slow growth of demand in India is beyond the grasp of government due to the weather cycle. 

4. Ans. D. 
Solution: 
The true statement is:
Private investment, seen as the bellwether of an economy, has not been forthcoming despite this government’s business-friendly orientation. 

5. Ans. B. 
Solution: 
Two of the past three years have been years of very poor agricultural GDP growth, with the figure actually negative in 2014-15. 

6. Ans. A. 
Solution: 
The centrepieces of this policy package are fiscal consolidation and inflation targeting.

7. Ans. E. 
Solution: 
Prudent means sensible in action and thought.

8. Ans. B 
Solution: 
Exaggerated means enlarged to an abnormal degree 

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