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A Seven Point Sure Shot Formula

 

1. Relax: Do not psyche yourself into reading fast or to get the questions quickly. Do NOT be in a hurry. Decide your technique as you approach the passage.

 

2. Read the questions first and underline keywords mentioned in the questions. For example, if a name, data or a difficult term is mentioned, underline it. When you read the passage, look for that keyword.

 

3. Spot the keywords: Read the passage quickly and try to locate the keywords you have identified in step 2. Mark the passage with your pencil so that it is easy to come back to that particular space. Make notes in the margin.

 

4. Theme, title or central idea: The quick reading will equip you to answer questions that ask about the theme or title of the passage. Answer these questions at this stage.

 

5. Read the sentence containing the keywords carefully: Look for answers to particular questions at the points where the keywords appear. Go back and forth in the passage. Make sure you understand the sentence containing the keywords because choices will be very close.

 

6. Do not read the choices: Reading the choices might confuse you, especially if they are close. Instead, make out the answer to the given question in your mind. Then look for the choice that contains the words that you have formed in your mind.

 

7. Anticipate the answer: If you understand the ideas contained in the passage, you will know the thrust of the author. At the very least, you will know whether the author supports a particular idea or is against it. The answers to some of the questions can at least be made out on the basis of the position taken by the author.

 

Let us examine our learning by doing the following passage.

Remember to:

a. Read the questions first

b. Underline the keywords

c. Read normally, without bothering about speed reading

d. Underline the keywords in the passage

e. Read for ideas. Summarise the paragraphs as you go along.

f. After understanding, write out your answer in the space provided.

Directions: Read the passage given below and write a one-line answer to the questions that follow. Remember to be as specific as possible.

 

Passage

Do we need planning in India today? This question is fre­quently asked in different forums. The free market fundamentalists project planning as antithetical to market reforms, by vulgarising the concept of planning and by obfus­cating the experience of reforms. For them, it is fashionable to say “abolish planning” and “close down the Planning Commission”.

The two are not, of course, the same and we can have “planning” without the Planning Commission. If the functions that the Planning Commission is supposed to per­form are no longer necessary or if some other institutional arrangement can perform them better, then it could be easily wound up. But are these functions really not necessary anymore? Do we not need any agency to intermediate between the Centre and the states, to monitor and provide for capital expenditure and development finance both at the Centre and in the states, eval­uate the development projects of different Central ministries and to arbitrate between the competing claims in terms of long-term national interest, guided not by political pressures of different interest groups? The Planning Commission in our federal polity serves the Na­tional Development Council, where all the chief ministers besides the senior Central cabinet ministers are represented. It prepares a 15-year perspective of national develop­ment. It formulates against that background five year programmes of development.

For long, the Planning Commission decided on investment alloca­tions in the country. In a post-reform market economy, it cannot perform that job anymore in a man­ner it used to earlier. It has to rely on market forces and devise poli­cies to provide appropriate incen­tives to stimulate, investment. But so long as we need large public investment and development expen­ditures spread over many years and many sectors, we would require them to be coordinated and planned.

Markets have failed in all capital­ist economies throughout their his­tory and governments had to inter­vene with policies to guide them to come out of the crises. For develop­ing economies, reforms for liberalising the market forces have worked only when they have been properly guided by the government. For ex­ample, East Asian countries grew at phenomenal rates for several decades with all round social devel­opment by liberalising their mar­kets, domestically and internation­ally, with active government inter­vention in policies and investment. But as the governments relaxed their regulations and interventions, in the 1990s, following the free mar­ket policies to their logical extent from current account to capital ac­count convertibility, they faced un­precedented crisis.

By now almost everybody agrees with Joseph Stiglitz that the main cause of the East Asian crisis was inadequate government regulation, either too little or too ineffective and that markets failed to anticipate developments or coordi­nate the activities. Lance Taylor, noted MIT economist, studied Latin America’s “Southern Cone” crisis, the Mexican “tequila” crisis, and the East Asian crisis. All these episodes, according to him, pivoted around the government’s withdrawal from regulating the real economy and the financial sector especially the international capital market. These created “strong in­centives for destabilising private sector financial behaviour, on the part of both domestic and external players. Feedback of their actions to the macro-economic level upset the system”.

It is high time that the debate is shifted from whether the govern­ment has a role in the market econ­omy to what that role should be and how that role can be effectively played. Planning is a way of playing that role, identifying the areas where the government should play a major role and leaving other areas where markets could quite effec­tively coordinate private activities, and formulating policies that facili­tate both the government and the private agents to play their roles ef­fectively.

 

        1. What are the functions of the Planning Commission, as can be inferred from the passage? 

        2. What are the arguments for abolition of planning?

        3. According to the author, what was the main cause of the East Asian crisis?
        4. What is the author’s recommendation about government role?

        5. What could be a suitable title for the passage?

                      

How to attempt: Looking at the questions, we see that the keywords are: functions of the Planning Commission, abolition of planning, East Asian crisis, and government role.

We go the passage now and read it, keeping the questions in mind. The structure of the passage is that first it asks several questions about Planning Commission and asks whether it should be abolished. Paragraph wise idea summation is given below:

 

Para 1. Asks the question whether Planning Commission is needed.

Para 2. In the second paragraph it explains what it actually does.

Para 3. Extension of the second para.

Para 4. Explanation of how East Asian countries collapsed.

Para 5. Views of some noted economists.

Para 6. Role of government.

 

By summing up as above, we have created a mind map of the above article. We now know what lies where. For answering the questions we need to go back to the particular paragraph and get the answer!

 

The functions of the Planning Commission are described in Para 2. Going back, we read what these are: to intermediate between the Centre and the states, to monitor and provide for capital expenditure and development finance both at the Centre and in the states, eval­uate the development projects of different Central ministries and to arbitrate between the competing claims in terms of long-term national interest, guided not by political pressures of different interest groups. This is given in the form of a question but that should not confuse us. From this we can arrive at the answer to the first question. It should something like this: to provide for and monitor capital expenditure and to be an intermediary between Centre and states.

 

The second question asks why the Planning Commission should be abolished. We go back to the third paragraph and see why the author says so: In a post-re­form market economy, it cannot perform that job anymore in a man­ner it used to earlier. So the answer to this question is that Planning Commission should be abolished because it has lost its relevance in a free marker economy. Since it does not control the expenditures, it has become quite relevant.

 

The cause of the East Asian crisis is given in the next paragraph. We read: But as the governments relaxed their regulations and interventions, in the 1990s, following the free mar­ket policies to their logical extent from current account to capital ac­count convertibility, they faced un­precedented crisis. So the main cause of the crisis was inadequate government regulation.

 

What is the author’s recommendation about government role? For this we have to go to the last two paragraph. We see that the author is not very clear what the government role should be. All he recommends is that areas be identified for government role, leaving others for the private sector. This is a typically bureaucratic answer and it means nothing. So the author’s recommendations for role of the government are not very clear.

 

The title of the passage should be related to the question asked by the author in the beginning and the answer he gives in the end. Since the author is of the opinion that planning does play a role, the proper title should be: “The Importance of Planning.”

 

 What we have learnt:

        1. Making a mind map of the passage works and answer become easier to locate.

        2. We have learnt to anticipate the answers because we have framed the answers ourselves. Locating these answers in the given choices would not be difficult.





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