Creative Writing – 124 – Comprehension Exercise

Creative Writing – 124

Comprehension Exercise

Read the following passages from the BBC and answer the questions underneath

Passage 1

India’s capital Delhi recorded its worst November air in at least six years, according to official data. The city recorded 11 days of “severe” pollution, up from 10 days in November 2016. Data also showed that the residents of Delhi didn’t experience even one “good” day of air quality through the month. Experts blame the burning of crop stubble in neighbouring states and the festival of Diwali for the alarming levels of pollution in November. The numbers are the worst Delhi has seen since 2015, when the Central Pollution Control Board started recording air quality data. A prolonged monsoon pushed the stubble burning and Diwali into November, Dr Gufran Beig, founder of air quality forecast agency SAFAR, told local media. “This is the major reason why November saw poorer air quality this year as compared to the last few years,” he said. Satellite data from Nasa shows that there were 90,984 fires from stubble burning in three states – Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh – between 1 October and 28 November. This was the highest number in five years, according to a report from the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW). Air quality in Delhi had also dipped to hazardous levels the day after Diwali as people defied a ban to burst firecrackers for hours.


1. What happened in Delhi in November 2021?
2. “Air quality in Delhi was acceptable for a week in November.” – Is this statement true or false? Cite the reason from the passage.
3. What are the findings from the satellite data?


1. For exceptional students – Delhi suffered a calamitous spike in air pollution. The spell, worst in six years, continued for 11 days at a stretch.

For ordinary students – Delhi’s pollution rose dangerously, and continued in that level for 11 days. Such high pollution was not seen in the last six years.

2. For exceptional students – ‘Good’ quality air eluded Delhiites for the entire November month. So, the claim of seven days of ‘good air’ is far from true. The passage mentions it clearly.

For ordinary students – No, it’s not true. This is clear from the sentence, “Data also showed that the residents of Delhi didn’t experience even one “good” day of air quality through the month.” of the passage.

3. For exceptional students – Satellite data made available by NASA shows that smoke emanating from nearly 90,000 stubble burning fires in Punjab, Haryana, and U.P blighted Delhi’s atmosphere in November.

For ordinary students – NASA satellites provided images of fire burning around Delhi. In nearly 90,000 places, stubbles were burned releasing huge amount of pollutants to the atmosphere.

Passage 2

Stubble burning – where crop residue is burnt every year to make way for planting wheat – turns the city’s air toxic every year. It’s banned but enforcement has been weak. The levels of PM2.5 – tiny particles that can clog people’s lungs – are far higher in Delhi than the World Health Organization’s (WHO) safety limit. Several studies have warned of the health risks of breathing such toxic air. Recently, a joint study by the Lung Care Foundation and Pulmocare Research and Education found that exposure to high levels of air pollution can make children obese and put them at greater risk of developing asthma. The study was the first in India to establish a link between overweight children, asthma and air pollution.


1. What is stubble burning? Why is it banned?
2. What risks does above normal levels of air pollution carry?
3. Exactly how toxic was Delhi’s air in the month of November?


1. For exceptional students – Stubbles are the portion of paddy or wheat plants that are left on the ground after the top portion is cut and taken away for further processing. It proves to be nuisance for the farmers who have to till the ground soon to prepare it for the next crop. The farmers are left with no option but to burn the stubbles to clear their fields.

For ordinary students – Stubbles are the left-overs of the paddy or wheat plants that are reduced to ashes through burning.

2. For exceptional students – Inhaling polluted air for prolonged periods chokes the respiratory system causing an array of diseases like itchy eyes, coughing, asthma and breathing problems. Children and old people are particularly more vulnerable to the hazards of polluted air.

For ordinary students – Breathing polluted air causes sneezing, coughing, asthma and other such diseases.

3. For exceptional students – The toxicity of the air over Delhi had soared to extremely high levels in November. The count of PM2.5 reached alarming levels, way above the limit set by World Health Organization (WHO). This was really catastrophic.

For ordinary students – The air quality in Delhi deteriorated dangerously because the PM 2.5 rose sharply to levels much above WHO limits.

Passage 3

“We don’t have a sense of humour,” quips stand-up comic Sanjay Rajoura, in the opening scene of I Am Offended, a documentary on humour in India. He’s possibly both right and wrong. Indians have a tangled relationship with humour. They love a staple of family and community jokes. Political comedy – gags and mimicry – go down well. Young, liberal audiences prefer hard-hitting satire. Yet people continue to enjoy body shaming and disability jokes in tone-deaf Bollywood comedies. They laugh aloud to TV comedy awash with slapstick gags and sexist humour. Cuss words don’t work with his audiences, says popular Hindi language comic Deepak Saini, who does more than 200 shows a year. Yet Vir Das, one of India’s most well-known comedians, says his “filthiest, most obscene show of the year” is one he does for the Rotary Club for 65-year-olds and above. Clearly Indians consume a diverse range of comedy – from the cringeworthy to the ribald to the acerbic – across ages. “To each his own. All kinds of humour co-exist in India. It’s a big country,” says Balraj Ghai, who owns The Habitat, a popular stand-up venue in Mumbai. Comedy has moved from films and poetry sessions to cafés, clubs, bars, corporate shows, festivals, TV, YouTube and streaming services. A single comedy cafe in Mumbai hosts some 65 shows a month. Fans mob comics and take selfies with them. Many comedians have millions of followers on Twitter. So, on the face of it, it appears that all’s well.


1. Explain the humor of Indians according to the passage.
2. What does ‘Cuss word’ mean? Does everybody hold the same opinion about it? Cite your reason from the passage.
3. What gives off the vibe that ‘all is well’ in the world’s of comedy?


1. For exceptional students – There is an innate sense of humour among people along the length and breadth of India. People of all ages relish humour irrespective oof their age, gender or religion. They throng cafes, theatres etc. to sit through a comic artist’s jokes and satires and applaud him for his creativity. Seldom, such comic artists face the wrath of their targets.

For ordinary students – Indians, young and old, like humour. They see it on stage and in films and TV serials. The comic artists have large fan followings.

2. For exceptional students – ‘Cuss words’ are generally coarse and crude words that have the potential to irk the person being targeted at. Nevertheless, some comedians use these swords liberally to titillate the audience and generate laughter.

For ordinary students – ‘Cuss words’ are generally offensive in nature. Comedians use them in their shows.

3. For exceptional students – The storm of indignation and protests that swept through India after Vir Das’s Washington show was hard to tolerate for liberal-minded Indians who love such innocent fun in life. It appears, India is becoming increasingly intolerant towards any kind of criticism. Possibly, a small group of right wing ultra-nationalists unleashed the tirade against Vir Das, but it surely showed that ‘all is not well’ in India.

For ordinary students – India saw large scale protests against Vir Das for his comedy show in Washington. The anger and bitterness of the protesters was surprising to many. It showed that all was not well in India.

Passage 4

Except, it isn’t. Last fortnight, a monologue by Das in Washington DC triggered a storm of protest, prompting complaints to police and censure from peers. Das said it was “about the duality of two very separate Indias” that he lived in; his critics scorned him for vilifying the country. Munawar Faruqui, a Muslim comedian who spent a month in jail this year for a joke, has now hinted at quitting comedy after a dozen shows were cancelled in Mumbai and Bangalore following protests from right-wing Hindu groups. Kunal Kamra, a stand-up comic who has done savage impersonations of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, fell foul of Supreme Court judges when he cracked a joke about them. The Habitat was first targeted in 2017 by a bunch of youngsters who wanted Ghai to remove a comic from his line-up because it was misconstrued that he had cracked jokes about Shivaji, a 17th Century warrior king who is now a symbol of Hindu identity. Again, in 2020, another group entered the cafe, shouting and screaming. They wanted the organisers to take down a comedienne, who they said had insulted the same king. In October, activists of a right-wing group turned up at the cafe seeking a ban on Faruqui’s shows. Ghai’s employees have received anonymous threatening calls. “There is a worry that all this outrage can translate into a threat to life and liberty. It kills your hopes and frustrates you,” Ghai says.


1. What led to the protest against Vir Das?
2. Why is Shivaji’s name mentioned in the passage? Write about the two instances involving his name.
3. Where does religion stand in the comedy?


1. For exceptional students – Vir Das staged a show in the Kennedy Centre in Washington. The 15-minute show was quite witty, but satirical. It tore through India’s socio-political scene under the present government. The audience erupted in applause, but back home, some people felt it was an affront to national honour, and unduly critical of the present leaders oof India. They felt Vir Ds’s intention was wicked and meant to belittle his own motherland and its leaders. So, Vir Das faced a salvo of angry protests.

For ordinary students – Vir Das’s show had plenty of satire that appeared to mock the present political set up of India and the country itself. Many people thought such a show to be offensive and humiliating for the country. So, they rose in protest against Vir Das.

2. For exceptional students – Shivaji is idolized in Maharashtra and rest of India for his valour and military acumen that he displayed in his successful forays into Aurangzeb’s empire. Vir Das had made a critical reference to Shivaji in his presentation. This touched a raw nerve of the ultra-national right-wing elements. They exploded in anger and excoriated Vir Das for his indiscretion. Viir Das was vilified and demonized by these groups.

For ordinary students – Scores of Indians hold Shivaji in high regard for the way he fought the oppressive Moghul Emperor Aurangzeb. No one dares to criticize him in India. Vir Das made some satirical mention of Shivaji in his show. Naturally, he angered many right-wing groups in India.

3. For exceptional students – Without meaning it, Vir Das said something that can be construed as an attack on Hinduism. Such inference is just a coincidence, and not a deliberate attempt to malign Hinduism. Nevertheless, Vir Das incurred the wrath of some elements who brook no criticism, direct or indirect of their religion.

For ordinary students – The comedy was intended to make people laugh, not get angry and protest. Religion was needlessly dragged into the show, and the artist drew a lot of flak.

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