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25 Exercises for Precis writing for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

Exercise 1

Then one morning in Paris, in 1891, Alfred Nobel opened the papers and, to his utter astonishment read in the headlines the news of his own death. What hurt him most were the bitter comments of the entire French press in regard to his life’s work. One paper called him an”evil genius”, another described him as a “self-educated master of destruction”. They all expressed the utmost relief that “this man who devoted his life to encouragement of war and to bringing his fellow-beings to the brink of destruction had at last disappeared from the civilized world.”

Such violent feeling was too much for him. Rather than suffer the wave of hatred which his presence in France had excited, Nobel decided to leave the country…He had given all his time and energy to the development of a particular field of science and what was the result?

Exercise 2

The democratic system cannot be operated without effective opposition, for, in making the great experiment of governing people by consent rather than by coercion, it is sufficient that the party in power should have a majority. It is just as necessary that the party in power should never outrage the minority. That means that it must listen to the minority and be moved by the criticism of the minority. That means that its measures must take account of the minority’s obligations and that in administering measures, it must remember that the minority may become the majority.

The opposition is indispensable. A good statesman, like any other sensible human being, always learns more from his opponents than from his fervent supporters. For his supporters will push him to disaster unless his opponents show him where the dangers are.

Exercise 3

If this party spirit has so ill an effect on our morals, it has likewise a very great one on our judgement. We often hear a poor insipid paper or pamphlet cried up, and sometime a noble piece depreciated, by those who are of a different principle from the author. One who is activated by this spirit is almost under an incapacity of discerning either real blemishes or beauties. A man of merit in a different principle is like an object seen in two different mediums that appears crooked or broken, however straight or entire it may be in itself. Knowledge and learning suffer in a particular manner from this strange prejudice. As men formerly become eminent in learned societies by their parts and acquisitions, they now distinguish them-selves by the warmth and violence with which they espouse their respective parties.

Exercise 4

There are certain periods of time in all governments when this inhuman spirit prevails. Italy was long torn in pieces by the Guelphs and Ghibellines, and France by those who were for and against the league; but is very unhappy for a man to be born in such a stormy and tempestuous season. It is the restless ambition of artful men that thus breaks a people into factions, and draws several well-meaning persons to their interest by a specious concern for their country. How many honest minds are filled with uncharitable and barbarous notions out of zeal for the public good?

Exercise 5

The method of scientific investigation is nothing but the expression of the necessary mode of working of the human mind. It is simply the mode at which all phenomena are reasoned about, rendered precise and exact. There is no more difference but there is just the same kind of difference between the mental operations of a man of science and those of an ordinary person, as there is between the operations and methods of a baker or of a butcher weighing out his goods in common scales, and the operations of a chemist in performing a difficult and complex analysis by means of his balance and finely graduated weights. It is not that the action of the scales in the one case, and the balance in the other, differ in the principles of their construction or manner or working; but the beam of one is set on an infinitely finer axis than the other, and of course turns by the addition of a much smaller weight.

Exercise 6

Few of us, however, have lost much property on our travels through forgetfulness. The ordinary man arrives at his destiny with all his bags and trunks safe. The list of articles lost in trains during the year suggests that it is the young rather than the adults who forget things, and that sportsmen have worse memories than their ordinary serious-minded fellows. A considerable number of footballs and cricket-bats, for instance, were forgotten. This is easy to understand, for boys, returning from the games, have their imaginations still filled with the vision of the playing-field, and their heads are among the stars – or their hearts in their boots – as they recall their exploits or their errors. They are abstracted from the world outside them. Memories prevent them from remembering to do such small prosaic things as take the ball or the bat with them when they leave the train.

Exercise 7

The question whether the possession of a good memory is altogether desirable has often been discussed, and men with fallible memories have sometimes tried to make out a case for their superiority. A man, they say, who is a perfect remembering machine is seldom a man of the first intelligence, and they quote various cases of children or men who had marvelous memories and who yet had no intellect to speak of. I imagine, however, that on the whole the great writers and the great composers of music have been men with exceptional powers of memory. The poets I have known have had better memories than the stock-brokers I have known. Memory, indeed, is half the sub-stance of their art. On the other hand, states-men seem to have extraordinarily bad memories. Let two statesmen attempt to recall the same event – what happened, for example, at some cabinet meeting – and each of them will tell you that other’s story is so like a sieve or is an audacious perverted of truth.

Exercise 8

India must break with much of her past and not allow it to dominate the present. Our lives are encumbered with the dead wood of this past; all that is dead and has served its purpose has to go. But that does not mean a break with, or a forgetting of, the vital and life-giving in that past. We can never forget the ideals that have moved our race, the dreams of the Indian people through the ages, the wisdom of the ancients, the buoyant energy and love of life and nature of our forefathers, their spirit of curiosity and mental adventure, the daring of their thought, their splendid achievements in literature, art and culture, their love of truth and beauty and freedom, the basic value that they set up ,their understanding of life’s mysterious ways, their toleration of ways other than theirs, their capacity to absorb other peoples and their cultural accomplishments, to synthesize them and develop a varied and mixed culture. If India forgets them she will no longer remain India.

Exercise 9

Truth, as ultimate reality, if such there is, must be eternal, imperishable, unchanging. But that infinite, eternal and unchanging truth earned be apprehended in its fullness by the finite mind of man which only grasp, at most, some small aspect of it, limited by time and space, and by the state of development of that mind and the prevailing ideology of the periods. As the mind develops and enlarges its scope, as ideologies change and new symbols are used to express that truth, new aspects of it come to light, though the core of it may yet to sought and renewed, reshaped and developed, so that, as understood by man, it might keep in line with the growth of his thought and the development of human life. Only then does it become a living truth for humanity, supplying the essential needs for which it craves, and offering guidance in the present and for the future.

Word-meanings:eternal-living forever. Imperishable-that which cannot be destroyed.

Exercise 10

Religions have helped greatly in the development of humanity. They have laid down values and standards and have pointed out principles for the guidance of human life. But with all the good they have done, they have also tried to imprison truth in set forms, and dogmas, and encouraged ceremonials and practices which soon lose all their original meaning and become more routine. While impressing upon man the awe and mystery of the unknown that surrounds him on all sides, they have discouraged him from trying to understand not only the unknown but what might come in the way of social effort. Instead of encouraging curiosity and thought, they have preached a philosophy of submission to nature, to the established churches, to the prevailing social order, and to everything that is. The belief in a supernatural agency which ordains everything has led to a certain irresponsibility on the social plane, and emotion and sentimentality have taken the place of reasoned thought and enquiry. Religion, though it has undoubtedly brought comfort to innumerable human beings and stabilized human beings and stabilized society by its values, has checked the tendency to change and progress inherent in human society.

Exercise 11

It is, therefore, with the temper and approach of science, allied to philosophy, and with reverence for all that lies beyond, that we must face life. Thus we may develop an integral vision of life which embraces in its wide scope the past and the present, with all their heights and depths, and look with serenity towards the future. The depths are there and cannot be ignored and always by the side of the loveliness that surrounds us is the misery of the world. Man’s journey through life is an odd mixture of the joy and sorrow; thus only can he learn and advance. The travail of the soul is a tragic and lonely business. External events and their consequences affect us powerfully, and yet the greatest shocks come to our mind through inner fears and conflicts. While we advance on the external plane, as we must if we are to survive, we have also to win peace with ourselves and between ourselves and our environment, a peace which brings satisfaction not only to our physical and material needs but also those inner imaginative urges and adventurous spirits that have distinguished man ever since he started on his troubled journey in realms of thought and action. Whether that journey has its ultimate purpose or not we do not know, but it has its compensation, and it points to many a nearer objective which appears attainable and which may again become the starting point for a fresh advance.

Exercise 12

Science has dominated the western world and everyone there pays tribute to it, and yet the west is still far from having developed the real temper of science. It has still to bring the spirit and the flesh into creative harmony. In India in many obvious ways we have a greater distance to travel. And yet there may be fewer major obstructions on our way, for the essential basis of Indian thought for ages past, though not its later manifestations, fits in with the scientific temper and approach, as well as with internationalism. It is based on a fearless search for truth, on the solidarity of man, even on the divinity of everything living, and on the free and cooperative development of the individual and the species, ever to greater freedom and higher stages of human growth.

Word-meanings:obvious-clear, evident.

Exercise 13

Democracy is a faith. Democracy asks us to adopt persuasion, restraint, consent in the settlement of our problems. Have we understood the implications of the principle that freedom means restraint? Wherever we have a quarrel, we resort to direct action. We are full of anger, we have violence; we exhibit passions and do not behave like human beings. When we emphasize the ethical character of democracy, we mean that every human being has an element of rationality, that it is possible for us to appeal to it. We must believe that we may not always be right, our opponents may sometimes be right. We should be modest enough to believe that there may be some virtues in our opponents also. It is this sense of humility, this sense of restraint that democracy imposes on us.

Exercise 14

Before we tell the world to live in peaceful co-existence, we should settle the problems of our country in the same spirit. Example is better than precept. This is what we should attempt to do. We have problems staring us in the face, linguistic feuds, provincial jealousies, domestic quarrels. These have undermined our stability over the centuries: we do not seem to have learned anything from our past history. The only lesson history teaches us is that we learn nothing from history. Time and again, on account of our feuds, our jealousies, our quarrels with neighbours, we have lost our independence. We seem to be again falling apart.

Exercise 15

So I do not think it is altogether fanciful or incredible to suppose that even the floods in London may be accepted and enjoyed poetically. Nothing beyond inconvenience seems really to have been caused by them; and inconvenience, is an accidental aspect of a really romantic situation. An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered. The water that girdled the houses and shops also in-creased their previous witchery and wonder. For as the Roman Catholic priest in the story said: “Wine is good with everything except water.” and on a similar principle, water is good with everything except wine.

Word-meanings:incredible-unbelievable

Exercise 16

This brings us to a seeming paradox. Acutely aware of the smallest constituent particles of time-of time, as measured by clock-work and train arrivals and the revolutions of machines -industrialized man has to a great extent lost the old awareness of time in its larger division. The time of which we have knowledge is artificial, machine-made time. Natural or cosmic time, is measured out by sun and moon. We are for the most part almost wholly unconscious of this. Pre-industrial people knew time in its daily, monthly and seasonal rhythms. They are aware of sunrise, moon and sunset; of the full moon and the new; of equinox and solstice; of spring and summer, autumn and winter. All the old religious, including catholic Christianity, have insisted on this daily and seasonal rhythm. Pre-industrial man was never allowed to forget the majestic movement of cosmic time.

Word-meanings : Cosmic-pertaining to cosmos, universe.

Exercise 17

Democracy is a political arrangement which treats people as equals. It is an economic approach which requires us to raise the economic condition of the masses of this country and of this world. It is an ethical way of life where we have to treat other people as friends, potentially friends of ours though at the moment they may happen to be our enemies. A defeated enemy remains an enemy and waits for his opportunity to wreak his vengeance. A reconciled foe becomes a friend. Hatred is the greatest danger. It is our greatest enemy. Our whole attitude should be one of reconciliation. To make our country a truly democratic one, hard work, efficiency and organization are needed. When an American was shown a beautiful farm in the Middle East he exclaimed: “Look, what magnificent work is possible if God and man cooperate.” The owner of the farm said: “You should have seen the farm when God alone was running it”. God expects us to put in hard and honest work. He helps those who help themselves.

Exercise 18

Once, in St.James’s Hall, London, at a meeting in favour of women’s suffrage, I ventured on a curious trick with success. Just before I spoke a hostile contingent entered the room; and I saw that they were socialists of the antifabian persuasion, led by a man whom I knew very well and who was at that time excitable almost to frenzy, worn out with public agitation and private worries. It occurred to me that if, instead of carrying an amendment, they could be goaded to break up the meeting and disgrace themselves, the honours would remain with us. I made a speech that would have made a sheep fight. The leader, stung beyond endurance, dashed madly to the platform to answer me. His followers, thinking he was leading a charge, instantly stormed the plat-form; broke up the meeting; and reconstituted it with their leader as chairman. I then demanded a hearing, which was duly granted me as a matter of fair play; and I had another innings with great satisfaction to myself. No harm was done, nor any blow struck; but the papers next morning described a scene of violence and destruction that left nothing to be desired by the most sanguinary school boy.

Exercise 19

Still, I am not sure that even that is not better than the fate of the people who manage to persuade ‘themselves that they enjoy the book. What happens to them is truly terrible. Once they get into the way of this kind, they cease to have any taste of their own at all. They do not know what they think. Their real feelings, their real tastes are all stoppered down under this sense of duty, which tells them that whatever Mr. Thingumabob or Miss what’s-her-name recommends to them is good, and that therefore, of course, they like it.

That has happened to a very good number of men and women of my acquaintance. They do not know what is good; they know only what is supposed to be good. They do not know what they like; they know only what they ought to like. If you show them a book or a picture, if you play them a piece of music or put a record on the gramophone, you see them desperately trying to recognize it if it is music, and looking quickly to see authors name if it is a book. Because, until they have seen the label, they do not know whether they ought to like it or not. Give them something without a label, and they are lost. They have long been without any power they ever had to judge a thing on its merits.

Exercise 20

You cannot take a good book as if it were medicine. It is rude to the book, and very silly from your own point of view. By approaching it in that way you make sure of losing anything it might give you. You only begin to get good from a book when your spirit and the book’s spirit come together. A book is like a living person. You must meet it as a friend, and actively like it, if any good is to pass between you.

A reason why people at school read books is to please their teacher. The teacher has said that this, that or the other is a good book and that it is a sign of good taste to enjoy it. So a number of boys and girls, anxious to please their teacher, get the book and read it. Two or three of them may genuinely like it, or will persuade themselves that they like it. And that does a great deal of harm. The people who cannot like the book run the risk of two things happening to them. Let us suppose the book was David Copperfield – either they are put off the idea of classical novels, or they take a dislike to Dickens, and decide firmly never to waste their time on anything of the sort again: or they get guilty conscience about the whole thing, They feel that they do not like what they ought to like and that therefore is something wrong with them.

Word-meaning: genuinely-truly,actually.

Exercise 21

And yet India with all her poverty and degradation had enough of nobility and greatness about her, and though she was overburdened with ancient tradition and present misery, and her eyelids were a little weary, she has “a beauty wrought from within upon the flash, the deposit little cell by cell, of strange thoughts and fantastic reveries and exquisite passions”. Behind within her battered body one could still glimpse a majesty of soul. Through long ages she had travelled and gathered much wisdom on the way, and trafficked with strangers and added them to her own big family and witnessed days of glory and of decay and suffered humiliation and terrible sorrow, and seen many a strange sight but through-out her long journey she had clung to her immemorial culture, drawn strength and vitality from it, and shared it with other lands.

Exercise 22

The dismal performance of Indian players at the Barcelona Olympics has been criticised by one and all. It has also been debated in Parliament. The Minister of state for Sports, Ms. Mamta Banerjee, has been asked to resign, accepting the responsibility for the poor performance. It has also been suggested that India should not participate in international games in the future till international standards are attained.

Undoubtedly, it is shocking and demoralising for a country of our size and potential to come empty-handed from the Olympics, more so when countries like China, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Surinam have done so well. But will our non-participation in international games help the cause of sports in India?

It is time for introspection. What is our attitude towards sports? Is there any parent in the country who would wish his or her child to become a sports-person in the first instance? At what stage do our players start getting groomed for national and international events? What about sports politics?

It is a tragedy that we give the least importance to sports. It is only when we are defeated, great discourses are given. The grooming of Indian players begins at a much later age, whereas in countries like Japan, China, Russia and South Korea children start practising right from the first year of their age.

That sports are getting affected by politics has been clearly admitted by the Sports Minister. Who will eliminate politics? We cannot fare well unless competent players are sent to participate in international events.

Exercise 23

India’s financial system will emerge stronger and healthier in the wake of the securities scam, which is an accumulated by-product of the weakening of internal control mechanism in the banks.

Although the securities scam is an unfortunate aberration it is totally unconnected with the process of economic reforms launched by the Government. The scams point to the inadequacy of the supervisory arrangement and to the need for strengthening them. India had an over-regulated but undergoverned banking system. Over the years, a growing proportion of bank deposits came to be invested in low yielding government securities.

Moreover, 40 per cent of bank credit had to be earmarked for priority sectors with varying elements of concessionality built into it. Thus banks got involved in unconventional means of improving their profitability which, in the absence of effective control mechanism and collusion between some bank officials and stock market operators, led to diversion of bank funds into the stock market.

The scam which occurred in a regime of seemingly tight controls, strengthens the case of financial sector reforms.

Exercise24

The system of parliamentary democracy and the proper functioning of democratic governance are of central importance to the realization of the goals before the nation.

The power of the people, guided by leaders and parliamentarians of outstand-ing stature has taken India to its present position and strength.

We are proud of the kisans, the jawans, the mazdoors, our artisans and the wealth of talented and dedicated men and women comparable with the rest of the world.

The tremendous strength of human resource and ability has its greatest positive effect in tasks of national construction when exerted in an environment of true democracy. It is crucial that all participate wholeheartedly to safeguard and magnify the gains of freedom.

Terrorism in insidious with the narcotics trade wreaks brutality on innocent children, women and men under the pretence of religion. We must reiterate our solidarity with the families of the victims and fight this menace to the finish.

In India’s pluralistic society and in keeping with ancient traditions of tolerance and understanding, there is a need to appreciate the true meaning and value of secular-ism. Amidst wide-ranging diversities of topography, climate, ethnicity, languages, local traditions and customs, the people need to understand the supreme values of national unity and oneness of India that imbues all its diverse elements.

In a polity yet stratified in terms of income distribution and ownership of wealth, it is important to respect concepts of social justice, democracy and the rule of law.

Exercise 25

Modern agricultural chemical fertilizers and pesticides have harmed humanity. When the farmer sprays the chemical fertilizers in the field, his action desertifies the land as chemical fertilizers have the destructive tendency to take more water and reduce the productivity of the land.

When fertilizer is applied again on the same field, the farmer has to increase the dose by a minimum of 10 to 20 per cent. In this way, soil and the drinking water is polluted.

The nutrients escape from the fields and are found in excessive quantities in rivers, lakes and coastal waters. This affects the flora and fauna. Nitrogen chemical fertilizers cause more harm as they damage the ozone layer in the atmosphere.

Several insecticides, “dirty dozens” that have been banned in other countries, are being used and misused here. The residue of toxic materials in these fertilizers and pesticides goes to our body along with the food grains produced using them. This is causing concern everywhere.

Increased environmental awareness is now bringing scientists and progressive farmers to experiment with and sometimes adopt organic fanning to replace the modern agricultural methods.

Exercise 26

Food irradiation is being falsely promoted as a means to reduce food spoilage and help feed the starving millions in the Third World.

The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Bombay, has standardised irradiation technology to preserve perishable agricultural commodities such as potatoes, onions, cereals, fruit and spices.

Irradiation is costly and affects the quality of the food and the environment. According to a report regarding a study by the National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, on feeding freshly irradiated wheat to mal-nourished children, the children developed genetic abnormalities in blood cells while those fed normal wheat did not show any problems. Once the children were taken off the irradiated food, the blood patterns returned to normal.

Several scientific studies have raised questions over the safety of eating irradiated foods. These studies conclude that gamma irradiation affects fertility, destroys vitamins and minerals and promotes growth of natural cancer causing agents called aflatoxins and some bacteria.

Food irradiation is a technology in which food is passed through a beam of ionizing radiation from radioactive sources or machines to inhibit sprouting or to sterilise or hill insects and micro-organism present in food. It was heralded as “an unused weapon against hunger.” But several consumer health and environmental organisations, even the European Parliament, have opposed the process on safety grounds.

Exercise 27

On this particular afternoon not very long after they had eaten their cold meat and salad and summer pudding, these window-doors were wide open but all three of them were still indoors. The storm wasn’t as bad as it had been – and there had been a lot of thunder and lightning but it was still rolling and grumbling around. So there was no point in going out until it had really stopped. James. who was keen on tennis, was standing not far from the window, practising his service, just swinging his racket and not using the balls. And being ridiculously solemn about it too. Robin was lolling as best he could on the bumpy wreck of a sofa, reading a book about astronomy or space travel or something of that sort. He was so crazy about that stuff that he was hardly on the earth at all except during meal times. Peg herself was sitting at the small table, facing the window, but at the opposite end of the room, and was trying to write a poem, something she Often did when she couldn’t go out.

She wasn’t getting on very well. The thunder decided to start all over again, producing a sudden loud clap, so that she looked up and spoke to it sharply. `Ch-do shut up!’

`Nobody’s saying anything,’ said James between serves.

‘I mean that silly thunder, I want to concentrate.’

James went through a verse again. `Another poem?’ he asked in a teasing tone. Then when Peg ignored him: ‘About wanting to be a tree again?’

Now-you can shut up,’ Peg told him, not angrily though.

Exercise 28

What do we mean by leisure, and why should we assume that it represents a problem to be solved by the arts? The great ages of art were not conspicuous for their leisure-at least. Art was not an activity associated with leisure. It was a craft like any other, concerned with the making of necessary things. Leisure, in the present meaning of the word, did not exist. Leisure, before the Industrial Revolution, meant no more than ‘time’ or ‘opportunity’. ‘If your leisure served, I would speak with you,’ says one of Shakespeare’s characters. ‘Your leisure,’ preserve this original meaning.

But when we speak of leisure now-a-days, we are not thinking of securing time or opportunity to do something; time is heavy on our hands, and the problem is how to fill it. Leisure no longer signifies a space with some difficulty secured against the pressures of events: rather it is a pervasive emptiness for which we must invent occupations. Lei-sure is a vacuum, a desperate state of vacancy – vacancy of mind and body. It has been commandeered by the sociologists and the psychologists: it is a problem.

Exercise 29

We have to live art if we would be affected by art. We have to paint rather than look at paintings, to play instruments rather than go to concerts, to dance and sing and act ourselves, engaging all our senses in the ritual and discipline of the arts. Then some-thing may begin to happen to us: to work upon our bodies and our souls.

It is only when entertainment is active, participated in, practised, that it can properly be called play, and as such it is a natural use of leisure. In that sense play stands in contrast to work, and is usually regarded as an activity that alternates with work. It is there that the final and most fundamental errors enter into our conception of daily life.

There does not seem to be any factor common to all these diverse occupations, except that they consume our time, and leave us little leisure.

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