Opening lines that spark curiosity

The opening lines of a book are paramount in setting the tone for the story. Here are a few riveting first lines from some of the most famous books in literature.

Pride and Prejudice

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."

These are the sarcastic opening lines from English author Jane Austen's 1813 novel ‘Pride and Prejudice.’ Set in the Regency Era (1811-1820) this novel revolves around five daughters of the Bennet family and their economic anxiety. At the time Austen was writing this masterpiece marrying into a rich and well-off family was a financial necessity for young women. Through this novel, the author explores the complexities between an individual's quest for love and the financial benefits of making a match.

Nineteen Eighty -Four

"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."

This ominous opening sentence belongs to George Orwell's 1949 dystopian novel titled Nineteen Eighty-Four. Set in a fictional vile and gritty state of Oceania where the citizens are under constant government surveillance, it story acts as a warning against a totalitarian form of government that does not promote individual freedom or the idea of free speech. Through this book, the English novelist also highlights how the written word and language can alter society and its functions.

The Metamorphosis

"As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect."

The shocking, strange and unnerving beginning of German author Franz Kafka's ‘The Metamorphosis’ (1915) draws the readers in with an uncanny grip. It summarises the premise of the novel which revolves around salesman Gregor Samsa, who wakes one morning to find himself inexplicably transformed into a monstrous vermin and narrates how he deals with the social isolation and emotional distress that he must endure because of his new state. Originally written in German, this story is one of the most successful fictional works produced by Kafka.

A Tale of Two Cities

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair."

These introductory lines from Charles Dicken's ‘Tale of Two Cities’ are easily some of the most popular lines in literary history. Set in London and Paris in the run-up to and during the French Revolution, this historic novel opens with a contrasting set of clauses to highlight the struggle between good and evil which is a recurring theme in the novel. This classic novel was originally printed in instalments in the English author's weekly periodical All the Year Round and has been estimated to have sold more than 200 million copies since its first publication.

The Hobbit

"In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit."

This intriguing first line marks the beginning of English author J. R. R. Tolkien's children's fantasy novel The Hobbit. Writing to English poet W.H. Auden in 1955, Tolkien revealed that the idea for this book came to him while correcting papers as a professor at Oxford University in the early 1930s. The book revolves around a hobbit called Bilbo Baggins, who takes up an adventurous quest to fight the dragon called Smaug and win back the stolen treasures and reclaim the home of the dwarves. Published in 1937, this book was the public's first introduction to Tolkien's elaborate imagined world of Middle Earth. The success of this novel motivated the author to pen a sequel, which would eventually lead to the extraordinary ‘Lord of the Rings series.’

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Who are Agniveers?

Agniveers are recruits for the armed forces under the short-term induction programme. Read on to find out more about them.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently interacted with Agniveers through a video conference. But do you know who Agniveers are and why they are recruited? Come, let's find out.

Agniveers and Agnipath

"Agniveer" is a new military rank. Agniveers are recruits for the armed forces under the short-term induction programme called the Agnipath scheme. The scheme was unveiled by the Government on June 14, 2022, to recruit Indian youths for the three services - the Indian Army, Navy, or Air Force.

Under the scheme, those in the age group 17-and-a-half years to 21 years are recruited below the rank of commissioned officers for a period of four years with a provision to retain 25% of them for 15 more years. However, the upper age limit was extended to 23 years as a one-time measure for 2022-23. The scheme was earlier called "Tour of Duty".

Purpose of the scheme

The main purpose of the Agnipath scheme is to strengthen the country's security forces, with a youthful, high-tech, and combat-ready military. Those recruited under the scheme are provided training and a pay package, and on completion of the term, will be given a one-time retirement package called 'Seva Nidhi, which will be exempted from income tax. However, the scheme does not include a pension or other benefits.

How do they train?

The training period, which lasts 31 weeks, is divided into two phases. The first 10 weeks are devoted to basic military training and the next 21 weeks to advanced military training. The training will focus on physical fitness, firing and handling various weapons, information technology, and the English language. Nearly 60 lakh applications were received of which 40,000 were selected. The target for this financial year is to recruit 46,000 candidates.

PM's address to Agniveers

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently interacted with the first batch of Agniveers through video conferencing. He asserted that Agnipath was a transformative policy and a game changer in strengthening the armed forces and making them future-ready.

Hailing the potential of Agniveers, he said the experience they would acquire through this opportunity, would be a source of pride for life. He said the scheme would further empower women.

The introduction of the short-term military employment scheme has faced criticism from some sections for lack of consultation and public debate.

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