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English Reading Comprehension Set 169

Directions (11- 15): Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions given below it. 

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The stubborn persistence of child malnutrition in India is one of the tragedies of our time. Many of us have long agonised over this preventable problem, and we continue to ask: why do half of our children not get enough or the right food or adequate care? Even in sub-Saharan Africa, only 30 per cent of the children are malnourished, versus 50 per cent in South Asia. And this gap exists despite our much higher levels of per capita income, education and even safer water access. One-third of the babies in India are born with low birth weight compared to one-sixth in sub-Saharan Africa. This is heartbreaking given the dramatic improvements in our agriculture, advances in literacy, and great strides in economic growth. For more than 20 years India has even sustained the greatest effort in history to improve nutritional standards, according to UNICEF, through its Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Programme. So it is not for lack of effort. Nor is it due to poverty, which has been steadily declining by one per cent a year for two decades. What accounts for this puzzle? In 1996, India’s famous physician nutritionist wrote aground-breaking article on this called ‘The Asian Enigma’. After considering different factors, including access to food and income and our vegetarianism, he concluded that the lower status of women might be the reason. The link between women’s status and child nutrition seems plausible. In many Indian homes, men eat first; women have to make do with leftovers. This is perhaps why 83 per cent of women in India suffer from iron deficiency-anaemia versus 40 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa. A malnourished mother will give birth to a baby with low birth weight. Moreover, domestic work often forces a mother to delegate the chore of feeding solid food to her baby to older siblings. If women had more control over family income and decisions, they would devote them to better pre and post-natal care and to their children.
So far this was the theory. But now a study by the International Food Policy Research Institute and Emory University seems to confirm this hypothesis. It brought together data from 36 developing countries, spanning over one hundred thousand children under the age of three and an equal number of women. It measured a woman’s position in the home—whether she works for cash, her age at marriage, and the difference in age and education between spouses. The study concludes that the lowly position of women in the family is the single most important reason for the gap in children’s nutrition between South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, followed by sanitation (lack of latrines) and urbanisation (slum living).
I wonder why the position of women in India is worse than that of women in other societies. The report seemed to suggest that South Asian women were not so far behind African women as their inferior status too limited their ability to nurture children. I also wonder whether children’s well being is only a woman’s issue or a family concern where men play a crucial role. I suspect there are no easy answers. Women everywhere suffer from lower status, but in India it appears to have devastating consequences. The policy implications are clear: if we want to reduce child malnutrition, we must combine our child programmes with efforts to improve the situation of women. To succeed, we need healthy children who’ll become tomorrow’s innovative adults. If we ignore gender inequality, we will continue to produce stunted children, wasted lives, and untold misery.

Q11. A hypothesis related to low birth weight has now been confirmed. According to this, the major reason for this state is
(a) Vegetarianism
(b) Illiteracy
(c) Illiteracy of women
(d) Status of women
(e) Slum living

S11. Ans. (d)
Sol. Refer the last sentence of the first paragraph “If women had more control over family income and decisions, they would devote them to better pre and post-natal care and to their children.”


Q12. Which type of scheme indicates that there was no lack of efforts in India for the last two decades to improve the situation?
(a) Literacy
(b) Rural Development
(c) Child Development
(d) Family Planning
(e) Poverty Alleviation

S12. Ans. (c)
Sol. Refer the seventh sentence of the first paragraph “For more than 20 years India has even sustained the greatest effort in history to improve nutritional standards, according to UNICEF, through its Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Programme. So, it is not for lack of effort.”

Q13. In which of the following areas is South Asia’s performance better than that of sub-Saharan Africa?
(a) Safer drinking water
(b) Lower infant mortality rate
(c) Higher status of women
(d) Higher birth weight of children
(e) None of these

S13. Ans. (a)
Sol. Refer the fourth sentence of the first paragraph “And this gap exists despite our much higher levels of per capita income, education and even safer water access.”

Q14. According to the author, the crux is
(a) women have lower status everywhere as compared to men.
(b) improvement of sanitation and slum conditions.
(c) that in India, the per capita income and education level of women is very low.
(d) low status of women has a horrifying result on child malnutrition.
(e) None of these

S14. Ans. (d)
Sol. Refer the last sentence of the second paragraph “The study concludes that the lowly position of women in the family is the single most important reason for the gap in children’s nutrition between South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, followed by sanitation (lack of latrines) and urbanisation (slum living).”

Q15. Which of the following was one of the measures of women’s position in the home?
(a) Number of children
(b) Difference in husband’s and wife’s income.
(c) Weights of child at birth
(d) Age of marriage
(e) None of these

S15. Ans. (d)
Sol. Refer the second last sentence of the second paragraph “It measured a woman’s position in the home—whether she works for cash, her age at marriage, and the difference in age and education between spouses.”
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