170. Reading Skills Comprehension: Fascination

By | July 11, 2019

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Fascination

Read the following passage carefully and answer the followingQuestions:-                                                                           

Mankind’s fascination with gold is as old as civilization itself. The ancient Egyptians esteemed gold, which had religious significance to them, and King Tutankhamun was buried in a solid-gold coffin 3500 years ago. The wandering Israelites worshipped a golden calf, and the legendary king Midas asked that everything he touched to be turned into gold.

Not only is gold beautiful, but it is virtually indestructible. It will not rust or corrode. Gold coins and products fabricated from the metal have survived undamaged for centuries. Gold is extremely easy to work with. One ounce, which is about the size of a cube of sugar, can be beaten into a sheet nearly 100 square feet in size and becomes so thin that light passes through it. An ounce of gold can also be stretched into a wire 50 miles long. Gold conducts electricity better than any other substance except copper and silver, and it is particularly important in the modern electronics industry.

People have always longed to possess gold. Unfortunately, this longing has also brought out the worst in the human character. The Spanish conquerors robbed palaces, temples and graves and killed thousands of Indians in their ruthless search for gold. Often the only rule in young California during the days of the gold rush was exercised by the mob with a rope. Even today, the economic running of South Africa’s gold mines depends largely on the employment of black labourers who are paid about £ 40 a month, plus room and board, and who must work in conditions that can only be described as cruel. About 400 miners are killed in mine accidents in South Africa each year, or one for every two tons of gold produced.

Much of gold’s value lies in its scarcity. Only about 80,000 tons have been mined in the history of the world. All of it could be stored in a vault 60 feet square or a supertanker.

Great Britain was the first country to adopt the gold standard, when the Master of the Mint, Sir Issac Newton, established a fixed price for gold in 1717. But until the big discoveries of gold in the last half of the nineteenth century, starting in California in 1848 and later in Australia and South Africa, there simply wasn’t enough gold around for all the trading nations to link their currencies to the precious metal.

An out-of-work prospector named George Harrison launched South Africa into the golden age in 1886 when he discovered the metal on a farm near what is now Johannesburg. Harrison was given a £ 12 reward by the farmer. He then disappeared and reportedly was eaten by a lion.

One of the big gold-mining areas in the Soviet Union is the Kolyma River region, once famous for its prison camp. The camp has gone, but in a way, nothing has changed. Many ex-prisoners have stayed on to work in the mines and are supervised by ex-guards.

Despite the current rush to buy gold, 75 per cent of the metal goes into jewellery. Italy is the biggest user of gold for this purpose and many Italian Jewellers even tear up their wooden floors and burn them to recover the tiny flecks of gold.

Answer the following questions briefly:

(i)”The fascination for gold is as old as civilization.” How is it proved by the author?

 (ii) Which country is first to adopt the gold standard and When?

 (iii) Where did George Harrison discover gold?

 (iv) In what conditions do the mine labourer’s have to work in South Africa?

 (v) Why is the Kolyma River region famous?

 (vi) How did the longing to possess gold to bring out the worst in the human character?

 (vii) How is gold virtually indestructible?

 (viii) Which country is the biggest user of gold for jewellery purpose?

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