English Quiz for RBI Assistant Main
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Directions (1-10): Read the passage carefully and answer the questions given below it. Certain words/ phrases have been given in bold to help you locate them while answering some of the questions.
Traditional knowledge has been used for centuries by indigenous local communities to manage natural resources under local laws, customs, and traditions. Many traditional societies all over the world revere and worship nature and consider certain plants and animals sacred. The sacred groves in the Western Ghats are small patches of ancient forest dedicated to local animistic deities. These groves are a rich source of fruit bearing trees and small water bodies and act as habitat for several birds and reptiles. Resource extraction in the groves is limited by a variety of rules to placate the deity. This has resulted in the development of relict patches of climax forest. Cultural and biological diversity is even today relevant as a tool for nature conservation that is foremost for sacred grove conservation in Maharashtra.
The Western Ghats of India are one of the 34 globally important biodiversity hot spots. In 2006 the Western Ghats were proposed as a protected “World Heritage Site” and this has now been accepted by UNESCO. Mulshi District nested in the Ghats is a key site for conservation action. In Maharashtra the “sacred groves” in the Ghats which are locally called “Devrai” are key hot spots of biological diversity. The Devrai word came from two local words; that is, Dev means ‘God’ and ‘Rai’ means forest. So it means god’s forest is Devrai. Such forest patches are considered a sacred forest by locals so they are called sacred groves. The groves thus act as key benchmarks of less disturbed vegetation in a mosaic of other traditional and modern forms of land use. The groves play a role in maintenance of the local ecological balance, conservation of watersheds, and preservation of bio-resources. Sustainable use of resources and use of management principles for different landscape elements are frequently linked to culturally distinct sentiments.
In the villages in which groves are protected, regionally relevant folk knowledge supports traditional conservation practices. Local people have evolved their own traditional rules and management based on ancient practices which led to conservation and maintenance of the groves as relatively intact patches of forests as a by-product of their religious sentiments. During the last two decades farmers have sold large pieces of land to speculators for urbanization. This is due to the enormous rise in the price of land. This change has triggered several socioeconomic and cultural aspects in the region with a consequent loss of protective sentiments for the sacred groves.
This study has been carried out in and around the sacred groves of Mulshi region in Maharashtra. The research data has been collected through transects walks and discussions with local people. Seven detailed expert interviews with local priests and ninety-three semi-structured interviews were carried out with elders and local village folk, to understand the local relevant institutional management used for protecting their sacred groves. Semi-structured interviews are the ones that have a flexible and fluid structure, unlike structured interviews that have a prepared sequence of questions to be asked in the same way of all interviewees. The semi-structured interviews can modify or deflect from topic as per the requirement of study. During the interviews mostly the locals diverted from the topic but the given information was also useful. So in such case the formal interviews sessions were avoided and we had supple interview session with the locals.
The fifteen sacred groves studied are linked to tribal deities and often occur in inaccessible areas at higher elevations near the crest line of the Ghats at a considerable distance from the villages. Among the fifteen sacred groves, ten are dedicated to female deities and five to male deities. The female deities of the groves are unshaped stones painted with red color (sindhur) and the male deities are often roughly sculpted black stone figures. The names of the animistic deities are frequently related to the ferocious tigers or tigresses that once roamed these forests which had to be appeased.
Each village is located around their sacred grove. So that villagers can access the grove for worship and resource extraction. The tribal communities Dhangar and MahadeoKoli and the agro-pastoral community Maratha worship the deities and look after the groves. They are forest dependent communities and Marathas carry out agricultural practices. Dhangar and MahadeoKoli survive by extracting forest resources and sometimes also work on agricultural field of Marathas, such as on their agricultural field, and take care of their cattle.
Transect walks were made with local stakeholders to study the utilization of resources from the groves which are commonly collected by local communities for consumptive and productive uses from within and outside the grove. The knowledge of the resources that can be collected from the groves and those that are considered taboo is spread from one person to another without any written rules. The groves vary from one to eight hectares in size but are occasionally much larger. The forest patches contain a rich repository of plant species, massive old trees, covered with lianas and climbers. They are frequently associated with an emergent stream and have better soil as compared to adjacent areas.
The groves have not been measured or demarcated by the Forest Department, Revenue Administration, or by the local Panchayats (local government). This makes the boundary rather flexible and denoted only by the change in vegetation. There was no evidence to show that the groves were maintained for their biodiversity conservation potential or for protecting their natural resource for the future. The preservation of groves is a result of strong ancient beliefs that any damage to the grove would anger the deity who would take revenge on the intruder who desecrates its integrity. In Mulshi most groves cannot be entered by local women. Incidentally women are the main resource collectors in this region and this norm may act as an additional protection against overexploitation of resources within the groves.
Levels of sustainability have been considered in terms of the different local consumptive and productive uses of resources and ecological services provided by the grove. There has been a perceptible loss of protective sentiments and religious perceptions of local people towards the preservation of these groves during the last couple of decades. New strategies for their management must thus attempt to drive unsustainable practices towards sustainable levels through local specific management by enhancing local community initiatives if the groves are to be conserved in the future.
Need for conservation of sacred groves: Most authorities in the past and others emphasized that extraction of resources from the grove was strictly prohibited. This is not so today in the groves of the Mulshi District where development in the form of land use change is increasing rapidly over the last decade. These groves are important today as they are potential banks of genetic diversity that must be preserved. In the local context the sacred groves have ecological values, economic concerns, societal functions and use of traditional sacred rituals, and customs for management. The long-term economic value of sacred groves is difficult to assess as it will only become overt when new uses are found for its rare and endemic species of flora and fauna. Conservation of sacred groves however acts as a contributor to maintenance of local and regional biodiversity and maintenance of the comprehensive health of a landscape and preservation of the sociocultural integrity of local communities.
Policy and institutional aspects of resource management in the sacred groves: In the sacred groves resource use is controlled by local institutional arrangements that have protected the groves through many generations. These norms are known not only to the presiding priests, but also to most of the villagers of all the different local communities in each village. This includes complete protection in one grove and partial protection in twelve groves. Two of the groves have been completely destroyed due to construction of a dam. For example, complete protection is observed in the Kalkai sacred grove where nothing can be taken or used. In the Bhiravwadi and Wadwathar groves “toddy” (liquor) is tapped. In the Kanguram sacred grove medicinal plants such as “ringni” is used to cure dental problems. From the eight groves fruits such as Mangiferaindica and Artocarpusheterophyllus are collected. The seasonal collection of flowers from the grove includes over extraction of Curcuma elata, a flower used for rituals at the Ganesh festival. These flowers are extensively collected in eight groves from August to October. In six of the groves grazing cattle is permitted. In nine groves dead fallen branches of the trees can be used as fuel wood.
Q1. Which of the following statements is correct according to the passage?
(a) Local people have developed their own traditional rules and management techniques which have their origins in the ancient age.
(b) The Western Ghats is the most important biodiversity hotspot in India.
(c) Sustainable resources are always linked to cultural sentiments.
(d) The study that the author mentioned in the fourth paragraph resulted in more than a dozen detailed interviews with priests.
(e) The information collected from the locals in the interviews was hardly useful.
Q2. What can be the most likely profession of the author?
(a) An author
(b) A politician
(c) A tourist
(d) A critic
(e) An environmentalist
Q3. Which of the following options can be a possible title for the passage?
(a) The close relationship between the bio-diversity of Mulshi district and the local people.
(b) The rich biodiversity of the Western Ghats.
(c) The poverty of Mulshi.
(d) The cultural heritage of the Marathas.
(e) Policies pertaining to resource management.
Q4. According to the author, why are the groves so religiously maintained?
(a) The local people maintained the groves because of their conservation potential.
(b) The locals wanted to preserve the groves for future generations.
(c) The locals considered the groves to be religious and hence, sacred.
(d) The local people are often threatened by the forest department if they cut down trees.
(e) The groves help in earning valuable foreign revenue and so, they are maintained.
Q5. According to the author, why is each village located around a sacred grove?
(a) Villagers often sell the logs to dealers.
(b) Villagers often use the groves for recreational purposes.
(c) The groves act as a natural defense against natural catastrophes.
(d) The groves make the surrounding areas cool even in summer.
(e) Villagers can use the grove for religious sites.
Q6. Which of the following options would come closest to the word printed in bold as used in the passage?
Q7. Which of the following options would come closest to the word printed in bold as used in the passage?
(d) Gardening tool
Q8. Which of the following options would come closest to the word printed in bold as used in the passage?
(a) A form of tiles
(b) Building material
Q9. Which of the following options would come opposite to the word printed in bold as used in the passage?
Q10. Which of the following options would come opposite to the word printed in bold as used in the passage?
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