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Who is the Author of a Passage-Part II
In the last article on this topic, I had briefed you on how you could spot the author of a particular article i.e. whether he was a newspaper reporter, a professor or expert in a particular field, a social activist, a company official etc. I had described the characteristics of articles written by a newspaper reporter and an expert/ professor.
This week, I shall outline how you can spot an article written by some other type of people.
An article written by a Social or Consumer Activist
Now let us move on to another type of article: that written by a social activist. How would you spot such a piece? Not very difficult-consider the following:
• A social activist is likely to use certain hyperbolic words, sometimes to hype up an issue. This is to create an impact and make people sit up and take notice. Indeed, the usage of certain kinds of words/ phrases or sentences is the defining characteristic of articles written by social or consumer activists.
• Consider the articles written by Arundhati Roy and other such activists. They have a distinctive style and are prone to the usage of hyperbole.
• Very often, these kinds of articles have a dramatic start-once again designed to make people sit up and take notice. For example, I have read an article that could have been written by a social activist who, will writing on a particular issue, commenced his article by stating, "In some ways, it was a re-run of the August 6, 1945 horror." Now what happened on this day in 1945? The atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in Japan, leading to mass destruction. Thus, the social activist was trying to create a big impact by stating that the event that he/ she was writing about was as serious as the dropping of an atomic bomb. No doubt a bit of an exaggeration, but that is often how social activists write!
• This also brings us to another related point: social activists will often link up the issue they are speaking about to another bigger, more known issue to capture the attention of the public. Very often, they may portray the issue which they are writing about as even worse to a more well-known issue-this is so that the public grasps the significance of the issue.
For example, another article I read that had possibly been written by a social activist stated that the local people felt that even the British colonizers were not as bad as the local mafia in their area. This example adequately highlighted the sense of alienation and resignation that the locals felt: we may think that the British were cruel and exploitative, but the local mafia was far worse; the local people therefore felt that they were better off under the British. It was a telling comment on how the local people felt
• Similarly, social activists often pose rhetorical questions. They may also ask probing questions. This is another characteristic of such articles.
Here is an example. A social activist, while writing about an issue, wrote the following: "Does this help the environment? Does this help the people? Is it in the long-term interest of the people? The answer is: No, no and no".
Articles written by corporate executives or company officials
You may be given articles written by corporate executives or company officials. How will you recognize these? Keep these points in mind:
• A company official is likely to write an article favouring a particular view, aim or goal-often that which helps his company.
Indeed, this is the defining characteristic of such articles. Such articles thus will have a clear tilt-favouring one view over the other.
• Another way to identify the author here would be to look at the subject of the article. Is it on an issue relating to a business or economic domain? In particular, is it about an issue of economic or business policy? Rules and regulations?
Articles pertaining to policies dealing with foreign investment, Government intervention etc could have been written by a corporate executive or a company official, for example
• Such articles could also be written to outline the company's views on a particular issue or in defence of a company's actions.
For example, a corporate executive may write a piece on what his company wants the Government to do-maybe in the next Budget. Or, if the company has been attacked or criticized for any reason, a company official may try and defend his company. An example here could be articles written by the executives of Coke or Pepsi defending their firm when the controversial 'pesticides in cola bottles' issue arose.
- SIDHARTH BALAKRISHNA
The author, an alumnus of IIM Calcutta, is an MBA preparation expert and has been involved in MBA coaching for almost six years. He has written the best-selling 'An Introduction to CAT-Tips from an IIM Alumnus' published by Pearson Education as well as several articles for reputed publications. He has also held seminars across the country and can be contacted at: email@example.com
Link to his book: http://www.pearsoned.co.in/web/books/9788131733400_An-Introduction-to-the-CAT_Sidharth-Balakrishna.aspx
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