Saturday, April 20, 2013

My first tryst with the dreaded agency - UPSC! My interview transcript.

The board was chaired by Mr. Venkatrami Reddy(c ). There was a senior lady on the board ( F1) and three other members – M1 ,M2 and M3.

I enterd the room and wished the panel a good afternoon, first the lady member  and then others.

ChairmanReddy sir – Please sit down..

C– So you are ……. What are your qualifications?

Me-Sir I have done my grad and masters in physics, grad from BHU and masters fromDU, Hindu college.

C- *indicates to other members to begin asking questions*

M1– Why civil services?

Me-Sir I come from a rural background, and I have always seen that we people  always have our views and grievances as to how things should be and what needs  to be done. And there are a lot of issues where a lot needs to be done. Being in the civil services gives you an excellent opportunity to bring about these changes and contribute to the society. That is why this aspiration to be in a position to bring about change and make things better.

Mr. Reddy smiled at this.Sarcastically or otherwise, I just could not gather.

M1– So, what do you think is the biggest problem in rural India.

Me-Sir I think it is the lack of opportunities. If this is addressed we directly tackle poverty & unemployment.This also will directly address issues like distressed migration.

M1-So you believe that developing rural India is all we need. What about urban areas?

Me-No sir, we need to integrate the two. Bharat and India will have to be developed together.they are interrelated. If rural areas develop it will release the pressure off urban areas and cities. We will have better urban planning.

M1interrupts – Do you know what % of delhi’s population lives in slums?

Me-I am sorry sir I am not aware of the figure.

M1– It is around 60 %. Now tell me how can we tackle problem of slums?

Me-Sir slums develop when people pour into cities in search of work. But the work they find is not sufficient to sustain an entire family. So we need a two pronged approach. The long term solution is providing enough opportunities interms of education,health,employment and urban aminities in rural areas.The short term way out is to regularize these slums and gradually turn them into colonies with basic urban utilities.At the same time we need to boost employment in the manufacturing sector… (interrupted)

M1– Will it not encourage people to migrate even more?
Me-In the near future it may.But for a family migration is a very hard decision to make and is majorly an economic decision. So both approaches need to go together- making rural life sustainable and improving the condition of slums.We are yet to see the impact of initiatives like Nat.  Rural Livelihood Mission.If it works out well, rural life can be made attractive. Earlier we have missed out an excellent initiative of PURA,which should have long tackled this problem. The idea of a ring of 5-6 villages with a School,college,hospital and other such facilities is a novel solution.We must re-energize PURA.

M1–china has been successful in tackling slums? Are u aware how they have done it?

Me-Sir not exactly. But broadly their approach has been to boost labour intensive manufacturing industries and set up SEZs where mass employment is possible. This has been combined with concrete housing and other basic facilities for these workers.With our new manufacturing policy we also can make a major impact.

M1– Ok.

M2– How many districts has planning commission has identified as highly backward?
Me– Sir it is in early 70s. seventy….(interrupted)

M2– exact figure you know?
Me– Sir 72
M2– Yesss * gives a lovely smile*
M2– Do you know the name of the guy who recently came down some building blah blah blah ?
Me– I don’t remember the name Sir, ….(interrupted)
M2– ok..asked you because you seem to be into adventure sports
·      I smile …out of courtesy.
M2– How do you tackle Bharat-India problem? * he was using some very tooti-futti angrezzi*

Me– Sir we need all our institutions to sensitise themselves to the demands of still underdeveloped and undeveloped areas.For example Sir I am working with Rbi and Rbi as the central bank has redefined its role in the last decade or so, by focusing on needs of the rural areas as well as the urban poor and starting new initiatives.We have taken up an all new developmental role as a central bank and this is unique for a central bank.Similarly, all our institutions need to develop a holistic approach and be sensitive to needs of everyone.

M2– So you are with Rbi. Nice. Tell me how FEMA has helped?

Me– Sir, earlier with FERA, our basic objective was to discourage the flow of foreign exchange since it was in short supply.So Fera was a restrictive act but as our economy was liberalized we went for FEMA which is more of a facilitating mechanism.Earlier people used to stand in long queues outside RBI offices just to get a few dollars.Now that is no more there.FEMA has helped our students,our doctors, tourists and anyone who dreams of going abroad. It has been very beneficial for the economy as it an enabler of an open economy…(interrupted)

M2– ok ok,what do you feel about FDI in retail, is it good or bad?

Me-Sir FDI in itself is never a bad thing.In case of MB Retail the stakeholders involved are large in number and hence the debate on it.In my view, in the form as it was given by the government, FDI in retail is a welcome step as it is only being implemented in 51 cities and with necessary safeguards.And it has come after a lot of consultations with various groups. So we should move ahead on it.

M3– You seem to be a very active sportsman with so many achievements. How do you manage it? I mean studies and sports…

Me-Sir I come from a military school-RIMC dehradun- and the most crucial aspect we learnt there is how to balance studies and physical fitness. For me, sports is a stress buster sir. Whenever I feel down I go and play basketball and it is highly refreshing. During my graduation I pursued this game seriously and it became a part of my routine.

M3– That’s good. You were talking of opportunities in rural areas. Can sports be used for that?
Me-Yes sir. In fact in Haryana this has proved to be a major success. I once went to the SAI stadium in Sonepat and I saw that children and youth from villages were working so hard there.That is why we have so many medal winners from Haryana now. This can be replicated elsewhere. In the district that I come from, we have had a tradition of good wrestlers but they still practice on bare ground.If we can provide them modern facilties like a wrestling mat, it will be highly motivating for them.

M2– So what should we do to encourage sports?

Me– Sir to start with , we need to introduce a “sports culture” , like Australia has done. We must make sports and physical exercise a mandatory part of school hours. A change of mindset is required.Today parents think that if their son is into sports, he can not excel at studies.We need to remove this myth.And providing good facilities at all levels is a must for this.

M3– you read sportsperson’s biographies.which one is your favourite?

Me– Sir it is “every second counts” by Lance Armstrong…* and I pass a smile *

M3– Oh! Armstrong, are you still inspired by him?

Me-sir for me he was the most inspiring figure for years,how he fought back from testicular cancer and his fight to win the TDF 7 times …but his recent confession that he took to doping has left me disheartened. It was hard to believe.

M3– and how about this athlete….what’s his name Oscar..

Me– Sir Oscar Pistorius…Sir as an athlete I find him a true inspiration. He has done what people could not imagine. As a sportsperson, he is still a champion.But the recent incident is his private life and especially with doubts regarding his involvement yet to be settled it is not correct to form an opinion on him. It is too early to say that he is a criminal.

M3–Alright…. *nods towards the Chairmansaying “I am done”.

F1( lady member) – Anurag as I see you come from an area that is famous for agriculture. What are your views on Land Ceiling and abolition of jamindari?

Me-Mam I believe that jamindari was an evil that had to be removed as a first step and was rightly removed. It was a correction that history demanded…(interrupted)

F1– but don’t u think it led to land being divided and agriculture becomingunprofitable?

Me– Mam jamindari was exploitation. With land ceiling we aimed to provide ownership to people. However the fault was that land ceiling acts were not formulated and implemented in the right spirit, except for some states like Kerala and West Bengal….(interrupted)

F1– but it did lead to land fragmentation!

Me– Mam increasing population is what leads to land fragmentation. Land fragmentation and soil degradation is the biggest problem today.. (interrupted)

F1– that is why….land ceiling was bad

Me- in my view what is causing the real problem is disguised unemployment in agri. Agri will be profitable for a family of 5 people only when some of them find employment elsewhere.If all of them depend on agri for all their needs, it will not be profitable. Also, lack of private and public investment is another issue. The real problem is not land ceiling in my opinion…(interrupted)

M2– and what is your take on reservations? Should they not be abolished now? Itis having a negative effect on our society.

Me– Mam centuries of historical discrimination can not be washed away in 4 or 5 decades * I tried so hard to stop myself from saying this filmy line but somehow I just went barging in We need a base to provide the underprivileged with a headstart and enable them to rise upwards. And for that our constitution makers provided for reservations.But the impact has not been as was desired. Yet we can not say that they have not helped.they have provided hope to these sections and a lot of people have benefitted from it…(interrupted)

F1– But reservations divide the leads to violence…

Me– yes mam the recent trend has been such. I believe that the OBC reservations were politically motivated and from then on we have seen this issue getting politicized. We need to restrict and put a moratorium on any further additions to castes that are covered under reservations…(interrupted)

M2– Do you think the caste census will help us or will it lead to division in society ?

Me-Sir to the extent it gives us an exact position of how various castes havebenefitted from reservations and others have lost out,it will be veryuseful.But if we are faced with demands for reservations from everywhere thenit can do some harm.We need to strictly lay out a policy that no furtheradditions shall be done.Only modifications or removal shall be intitiated basedon census figures.

F1– Anurag since you come from that region I have to ask you your views on Khap Panchayats… * This is the first time she smiled *

Me- *Smile* Maam I tried to sincerely pursue this issue and what I have found isthat centuries back in time, when there was no codified law, no law courts andno means of transport, in those times Khaps were a free of cost and easilyavailable medium of justice delivery.they were also a tool of social control.But with the changing times, they failed to change themselves.Khaps were theproduct of a highly patriarchial society where knowledge was associatd with ageand experience.But today things have totally changed, we have formallaws,courts,schools, and people are more aware and educated.Age is no more asign of knowledge.So khaps have outlived their utility. They have also been politicized and with their decreasing acceptability among the people, they will slowly die out.

F1– O.K.

·       Then there is total silence,but suddenly Madam Straight Face raises a finger towards I don’t know what and says…oh one more thing..since you come from that area… *“That area”- I felt like telling her madam aisa kya gunah kar dia “that area” walo ne!!

Anyway, she goes on :

Suppose you are travelling in a bus and a gunda is trying to misbehave with a girl and he has a gun, what will you do –
Me – Mam I will first try to talk him out of it…(interrupted)

F1 – no no there is no time to talk,he has a gun pointedat you, he will shoot…

·       Then suddenly all of them start saying somethings. I hear M2saying “madam what do you think, with such health and physical fitness,…hahahaha..he will just thrash him”……M3 also says something I don’t knowwhat..Chairman says ‘Discretion is the better part of valour right!’…

Amidst all this all I can say is “ PARDON SIR”….

· reddy sir smiles….
F1 – So now what will you do, and you are not armed..

Me – Mam I will go and ask the driver to take the bus towards a place that is habitated and may have a police post….(interrupted)

F1 – There is no police post….

Me – Mam if he starts misbehaving with the girl then I will have to fight him with the help of fellow passengers because we can not be helpless witnesses to such ….(interrupted)

F1 – yeah..that is what……

·       Now they all calm down…and look at the chairman*
Chairman – What did …are you working somewhere?

Me – yes sir, with the reserve bank of India..

Chair. – okay..and you qualified this nda exam?

ME – yes sir

Chair. – got selected finally -?

Me – yes sir

Chair – Ok,,,thank you..

Me - Thank you mam, thank you sirs.

P.S – I have tried to be as exact in recollecting my answers and sentences ,and their questions of course, as was possible. There may not be more than say 5% deviation from the actual interview. I have a gut feeling that i will be handed out very average marks, and so hopes are not too high. I just did not get positive vibes from the Chairman and to some extent the lady on the panel. M1,M2,and M3 were pretty happy.

1 comment: