GRE Reading Comprehension Sample Questions

Nothing shows up the schizophrenia of the Indian mind in the face of this challenge than that the two principal leaders of the national struggle for independence Mahatma Gandhi and Mr. Nehru should have come to contrary conclusions. The Mahatma was for an outright rejection of the western civilization, which is often described as Satanic. Mr. Nehru was for all-out industrialization. Both spoke from utter conviction and were extremely articulate in stating their positions. But neither of them thought it worth his while to grapple with the troublesome details when it came to making the reality conform to the vision.

The Mahatma was, of course, most meticulous about detail and when he undertook a job, whether it was the spread of the spinning wheel, revival of village industries or helping the Harijans, he did not regard the smallest matter pertaining to the concerned organization or an individual grievance beneath his personal attention. It was a different story, however, with translating his larger vision of a non-violent society into a blueprint.

He enunciated the general principal very forcefully. But such details as the state structure the new society would build and the social legislation it would undertake, the precise industrial policy it would pursue or the defense policy it would opt for, he left alone or dealt with in bits and pieces. Did he fear that his vision would suffer by raising all these issues at one go? Or did he realize long before the day of India’s tryst with destiny that he would not count on anyone even among his closest colleagues in the Congress to back him?

Mr. Nehru was in a much better position to carry out his ideas. But the very Constitution-making process became a formal exercise. There was no attempt to think in terms of institutions, which while preserving the substance of democracy, would contain populist pressures, make government more business-like and more productive of results and make for easy and cheap access to justice. All this is not to believe his role in guiding the young republic in its formative years and setting norms which none of the regimes that came after him were also to live up to. But that does not detract from the processes of decline. The proliferation of slums had begun, and small groups were already hogging up the larger part of the gains of development. No concerted attempt was made to close the loopholes in land laws and little was done to make school education relevant to the needs of a developing society. The language policy was left to flounder.



That the people still look back to the Nehru era with a sense of nostalgia shows that even things which looked manageable in his days are now out of control. Perhaps this is the result of a deterioration in the quality of leadership, a distressing decline in the integrity of political life and an alarming build-up of populist pressure. But it also is the result of the way each government has been busy storing up trouble for future. Can one be sure after all this that the foundations on which the republic rests are durable enough?

What light does this throw on the Indian mind? The Indian mind delights in ambiguity in ambivalence, in trying to have the best of both worlds, in harboring a medley of conflicting ideas without much discomfort. Whatever the public rhetoric, the practice is always based on half- measures, of leaving things half done, of a refusal to anticipate trouble and a tendency to wake up when the crisis has already matured, this may be an exaggeration. But the slovenliness of approach to every problem is a fact of life which hits in the eye even the most sympathetic foreign observer.

It is not surprising that the Indian genius which excelled in production myths, which created works of sculpture ‘which endow the spirit with a body’ and a music which enthralls the mind as well as the spirit, was often at a loss in facing up to the problems of state building. The Indian mind still falters as it tires to come to grips with these problems.


Question 1

What is the main purpose of the writer behind writing this passage?

A)To bring out the contrast in Nehru’s and Gandhi’s dreams and vision of India.

B)To bring out the flaws in Indian democracy.

C)To trace the reasons behind the disordered state of India as one based on hollow foundation laid by leaders in the past.

D)To show the impact of Western Civilization on today’s India.

E)To bring out the past as a disordered and mismanaged government as a result of improper implementation of the job undertaken by leaders.

Answer: C

Answer explanation: Option C is the right answer. The passage seeks to find out the reason behind the present situation where no attention is paid to issues that can turn into crisis if neglected. The writer comes to the conclusion that the present state of affairs is a result of the non-implementation of the larger visions held by Indian leaders into practice. Option A is just mentioned in the passage to explain the ideas held by Indian leaders. Options B and D are obviously wrong and lie beyond the scope of the passage. Option E is a misinterpretation of the passage. It does not deal with disorder in the past, but in the present.

Question 2

What is the main idea expressed in the passage?

A)The passage expresses the vision and dreams of Indian leaders for a better future.

B)The passage expresses the shaping up of a disorganized state due to the constricted vision of our leaders.

C)The passage is an account of a successful democratic set up of the Indian government as a result of the policies made by our leaders.

D)The passage explains how the Constitution was made and what clauses it included.

E)The passage gives an account of the mismanaged government due to the formulation of faulty laws.

Answer: B

Answer explanation: B is the correct answer since the passage deals with how the present situation has resulted as a disorderly and mismanaged state. The passage explains the visions of leaders being neglected by them themselves and thus turning things out of control. Option A has a narrow scope and just mentions the visions held by the leaders. It does not mention anything about their implementation. C is wrong since the writer does not give an account of success of policies, but refers to the failures of the same. Option D is irrelevant and thus obviously wrong. Option E seems to be a likely answer, but when you compare it with option B, its scope is narrow. It does not mention the lack of efforts in putting thoughts into practice.

Question 3

Provide a suitable title to the passage.

A)Leaders of the Freedom Struggle

B)Nehru’s and Gandhi’s Vision of India

C)History of Indian Democracy

D)Reflections of the Past in the Present India

E)Lack of Effective Leaders in India Today

Answer: D

Answer explanation: The writer discusses the present situation as a result of the neglected and incomplete efforts done in the past by the leaders. Thus we can say that D is the most suitable answer option. A is obviously wrong since the passage does not deal with the leaders of freedom struggle. Similarly C is wrong since the writer does not explain what and how of Indian democracy. Option B is a part of the passage. It does not comprise the whole passage and thus it is rejected. Similarly option E also has a mention in the passage where the writer hints at deterioration in the quality of leadership that has resulted in the present situation. Thus it is not fit to be the title of the passage.

Question 4

What are the writer’s feelings towards the subject of the passage?

A)The writer is not satisfied with the present situation of mismanagement.

B)The writer is comfortable with the medley of conflicting ideas present in today’s world.

C)The writer is nostalgic about the times when Nehru led India.

D)The writer is depressed because of lack of efforts on part of Indian leaders to implement their ideas into practice.

E)The writer is unaffected with the past or present.

Answer: A

Answer explanation: The option A is the best option. We find hints of dissatisfaction of the writer with the disorderly situation and careless attitude of people. He expresses this throughout the passage, partly by holding Indian leaders responsible and partly by referring to the approach of people as ‘slovenliness’ towards the state of affairs. The writer refers to people of India being comfortable with the medley of conflicting ideas but does not share this feeling himself. Thus we reject B. Similarly we reject C since the writer mentions the nostalgic feelings, as people get sentimental about Nehru’s era. However, this is not the feeling that comes out in the passage as a whole. Option D refers to the feelings of the writer as depressed, but there is no hint of the writer being depressed about the lack of efforts. He is surely not happy and is concerned, but it cannot be concluded that he is depressed. The option E is also rejected, since we feel the writer’s emotions while reading the passage, thus we cannot say that he is unaffected.

Question 5

What is the purpose of the writer behind mentioning Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru?

A)To give an example of effective leadership to today’s incompetent leaders.

B)To explain that they were incapable of putting their vision into practice which has resulted in the present situation.

C)To bring out a contrast in the thinking of the two leaders towards the industrialization.

D)To explain their policies and vision they held for all around development of India.

E)To explain that they had high dreams and vision for the country which could take India to a bright future.

Answer: B

Answer explanation: In the passage, the writer mentions Gandhi’s and Nehru’s vision and refers to them while explaining a lack of efforts in putting them into practice. The larger visions held by such leaders were not put into action by them. Thus option B is the best choice. A is wrong since the writer does not glorify their achievements. C is rejected since the contrasting ideas of the leaders are mentioned just to explain the principles held by them, but the writer intends to explain more than that. Options D and E are rejected since the writer does not give an account of their policies and dreams for the development, rather he brings out the hollowness in the implementation of these ideas.

Question 6

What is the writer’s interpretation of the way Indians have accepted the situations?

A)Indians are delighted with the excellent conditions present.

B)Indians are proud of the leaders of freedom struggle.

C)Indians are sentimental about the glorious past of Nehru’s times.

D)Indians are disappointed by non-implementation of the dreams of leaders into reality.

E)Indians have comfortably accepted the existing state of India along with its shortcomings and disorder.

Answer: E

Answer explanation: In the sixth paragraph, the writer goes on to examine the Indian mind. He believes that the Indians have accepted the present situation and are happy about the way things are moving, regardless of their being moving or not. Thus option E is the best answer choice. We reject A since it mentions the present situation as ‘excellent’, but nowhere does the writer refer to the situation in that sense. Option B is obviously wrong and is out of the scope of the passage. Option C is rejected since it does not refer to the feelings of Indians with respect to the present situation. D is also a wrong answer since the writer does not show disappointment from the side of Indians, but uses words like ‘delighted’ to express their attitude.

Question 7

Which of the following lies beyond the scope of the passage?

A)Mahatma Gandhi favored the use of spinning wheel in place of western culture.

B)Mahatma Gandhi dealt with the formation of the structure of the state in bits and pieces.

C)The government did not make an effort to remove the deficiency in the laws of land.

D)Mahatma could not give personal attention to the revival of village industries since he felt that his vision would not materialize as a whole.

E)It is a custom in India to leave things incomplete till it becomes dangerous.

Answer: D

Answer explanation: We get a proof of option A in the first two paragraphs of the passage, according to which Gandhi opposed the western civilization and wanted to spread the spinning wheel. Thus option A is rejected. Option B also lies well within the scope of the passage since the writer says that Gandhi did not deal with such details forcefully, but in bits and pieces. C is also mentioned in the passage where the writer goes on to explain the process of decline due to things like increase in slums, little attention given to school education etc. Here the writer also mentions that no attempts were made to close the loopholes existing in land laws. Thus C is rejected. E is also mentioned in the end of passage where the writer refers to the Indian mind, thus it is rejected. Option D is false since according to the passage, Mahatma dealt with issues like revival of village industries with most meticulous detail. He did not ignore it, but the larger visions of structure of state as a whole. Hence we reject option D on account of its being false or an untrue statement.

Question 8

Complete the following sentence according to your understanding of the passage.

According to the writer, the things are mismanaged today since_________

A)Indians do not have leaders like Gandhi and Nehru to control the situations leading to a disorderly state.

B)the population of India has increased manifold and enough attention cannot be paid to the grievances of all.

C)small groups are consuming the larger part of the gains of development.

D)the government did not form an easily accessible judiciary.

E)the government has been ignoring issues and piling up problems for the future.

Answer: E

Answer explanation: Option A is rejected since the writer does not express the need of leaders like Gandhi to mend the situations. Option B does not come under the scope of the passage and thus is rejected. C is also false since it is only one of the reasons for the decline of the system. Similarly D is rejected since it refers to one of the areas which was not given due attention by the leaders. E is the best answer option since it sums up the reasons behind the things being out of order in today’s world. The writer mentions this in the fifth paragraph as the government’s being busy storing up trouble for future.

GRE Reading Comprehension Sample Questions


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