Wednesday, 21 August 2013

LIC AAO Interview

Date 20 August 2013
Time: 12:30 pm
After having a rapid shots of continuous interviews of NHB and SBI and faring badly on these put me back to square one. I have even decided to sideline the LIC interview as I came across various reviews about the hectic job profile with low salary in comparison to SBI. Further various scholars (repeaters) have said that UPSC aspirants will not get time for preparation. Anyways I somehow gained courage and decided to go for the interview.
I was called at 12: 30 pm and I reached at 12 itself. The infrastructure was not very good. It was more of an old building losing its sheen and there was not much enthusiasm in the officers who were coming and going in hustle and bustle in the lift.
I have to board the lift to the fifth floor. I got into the lift and landed on the interview floor. Much to my dismay, only 2 students of the morning batch were done with their interviews. I felt disgusted but somehow managed to sit inside that waiting room,
My Interview started at around 5:00 pm. I entered the room. A panel of 3 members was there. All sexagenarian. (Those who do not know the meaning please restrain yourself from making lewd comments).
Me: May I come in, Sir.
Chairman: Yes please.
Me: Good evening to all of you, Sirs. (Chairman was busy looking into my bio-data form, did not pay any heed to my wishes. Come what may..!!! )
M1: Good evening. Please be seated.
Chairman: So, Mr. Sahil. Your Dad is in service. Which service he is in?
Me: Sir, he is principal, DAV College in Punjab.
Chairman: You are from Sirsa?
Me: Yes Sir, actually my mother is also working. So I stay with her.
Chairman: You completed your graduation in 2011. What were you doing from the past two years?
Me: I have been preparing for competitive exams. (A departure from the regular assertion that I am preparing for IAS)
Chairman: What exams have you given till now?
Me: Sir, National Housing Bank. State Bank of India, IAS prelims. (I restraint myself from mentioning more, though results were positive).
Chairman: So what are the outcomes?
Me: I was not able to clear the interview of the NHB and SBI. I cleared my IAS prelims and am waiting for my mains; which is to be held in December.
Chairman: So, you will go for IAS this year, what are your plans?
Me: Sir, actually I have not done with my optional yet. So there are scant chances that I will clear my mains. I am thinking of preparing for IAS in the next 2-3 years so that I can clear it in one go. (I lied)
Sir: Ok, ok. So you have long term plans. Great. (Pointed toward other member).
M1: So Sahil, What is the reason for the current problems of Indian economy?
Me: Sir the free fall of the rupee and high current account deficit.
M1: tell me reason for sudden slump in value of rupee and bourses
Me: The recent announcement of the Federal Reserve to taper its quantitative easing has impacted the value of rupee. Further the recent measures announced by RBI to contain the rupee depreciation like increasing MSF is also a factor. (Blank expression, he was expecting more).  Sir, the fly of the foreign equity investors to other countries. The increased speculation in the market.
M1: Ok, what has been done to control the situation?
Me: The measures announced by RBI like MSF to contain speculation in the rupee. The issuing of quasi sovereign bonds, increasing the tax on import of gold, opening other sectors for FDI, increased interest rate on NRI accounts. (He was still expecting more). Sir the easing of ECB norms and restriction on outflow limit of the banks and corporates. (I was running out of points). Sir that’s all.
M1: Why is this speculation and fall in the value of rupee with regard to Federal Reserve decision?
Me: Sir, the quantitative easing brought the cheap foreign money into Indian share market. Now as the Federal Reserve decided to water down its eased policy, funds will not be available easily.
M1: What are quasi sovereign bonds?
Me: Sir, these are generally issued by public sector banks and they  are only second in terms of security after government bonds. As they have the backing of the government indirectly, there is a least chance of default and low risk weighted.
Chairman: How many brothers and sisters do you have?
Me: Sir I am the only child of my family.
M1: (he became aggressive out of nowhere and started rapid fire round) Who is the CJI?
Me: P..P...P Sath…Sir. P. Sathasivam.
M1: Chairman of planning commission
Me: Prime Minister manmohan singh
M1: Deputy Chairman
Me: Montek Singh Ahluwalia
M1: Governor?
Me: D. Subbarao.
M1: Governor designate
Me: Raghuram Rajan
M1: What was he doing before that?
Me: Sir, he was in foreign institution name of which I don’t remember.
M1: in which Indian department?
Me: Sir, Chief economic advisor, Prime min…..(stopped in between, I was about to say PMO) M1 replied: Hmmm, finance ministry. I repeated, yes finance ministry.
I am sorry but I forgot other questions.
M2: Sahil, tell me about threats to national integration?
Me: Sir, the religious extremism, growth of regional identities and divisive politics, balkanization of states, caste biases, socio economic and development biases. Sir terrorism and naxalism, north east insurgency.
M2: But they are the reason of regionalism. No??
Me: I think regionalism is somewhat fractured nationalism.
M2: You can also give example of China. No? It is also a threat to national integration.
Me: I am sorry sir but I cannot agree with you on this. It is threat to national security not integration.
M2: Ok and you did not mention communalism.
Me: Sir religious extremism is communalism itself. (replied in humble tone, others nodded).
M2: Hmmm, right. Acha, have you heard about a regional dispute between Tamil Nadu and Kerala. What is it about?
Me: (I forgot the specific name of the dam though have read theses on that topic). Sir, the dispute is related to a dam, the name of which I cannot recall. Tamil Nadu contends for the increase of the water level from 136ft to 142 ft. However Kerala is opposing it as it will not be safe to increase water level as it will be seismologically unsafe and the dam may collapse…..
M2: (Stopped in between) Kerala is contending that instead of this dam a new dam should be formed. But Tamil Nadu is opposing it as it will deprive its people of the irrigation water provided by that dam. Further it is on lease to TN and any act to circumvent will made Kerala a major player.(explained thoroughly)
Me: Yes Sir (I was keenly listening to him as I noticed that M1 was noticing my reaction. I nodded my head with every point he told me, It helped me to understand the topic also).
M2: What else?
Me: Sir , the supreme court appointed committee headed by A.S. Anand has recommended the increase of water level and held that dam is hydrologically and siesmologically safe.
M2: Yes. (He was satisfied).
Chairman: So, you are an engineer. (ohhh, Gosh. Finally he came to know about it. I pleaded god that there should not be any technical question- am an average engineer from an average college).
Me: Yes, Sir
Chairman: what were your subjects?
Me: Sir, antenna and wave propagation, field and wave, Digital electronics, Microwave, wireless communication, VLSi and others (I mentioned 5-6 more)
Chairman: What is the difference between a ICs and VLSi?
Me: Sir, VLSI is very large scale integrated circuited consisting of capacitors, resistors, diodes, ICs etc on a very minute scale. While ICs are the integrated chips which are the heart and soul of a VLSI circuit and is programmable. What is to be performed by the circuit has to be inputted through ICs (he was nodding his head continuously.)
Chairman: Anything you want to ask.
Me: (After bit thinking). No Sir
Reviews came side by side. Member 1 changes his tone: Sahil, you should brush up more as you are going to appear for mains. You fared very good and provided some very good points but more needs to be done as ‘mains’ is very tough competition.
Me: I will definitely, Sir.
Chairman: Do you know about the job profile?
Me: A bit Sir.
Chairman: Are you ready for placement anywhere in India?
Me: Yes, Sir.
Chairman: Ok, Thank you Mr. Sahil. All the best for your future endeavors.
Me: Thank You, Sir. (I left).

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Basic Structure and Supremacy of Parliament

Doctrine of basic structure was evolved by Supreme Court in Keshwanand Bharti Case in 1973 and held that certain principles cannot be amended by parliament under any circumstances. They are outside the purview of amending power of parliament and any law enacted to bypass those principles will be declared null and void.
Of late, political executive contended that a parliament is the representative of the people and therefore has the power to amend any provision of constitution according to will and welfare of people. In India, unlike Britain, Constitution and not parliament is supreme, Even the parliament has to work under the provisions of constitution and shall not trespass its mandate.
Supreme Court held that basic structure include supremacy of constitution, sovereignty, democratic and republican nature of India polity, secular character of constitution, separation of power between 3 organs of government etc. All these features are intrinsic for a democratic, secular setup which is free to exercise in its own capacity. Any political interference for short term gains can jeopardize the security and peace of the country and may compromise the freedom and rule of law.
Many features like sovereignty is necessary for maintaining independence from any foreign pressure, secular character is indispensable for maintaining communal harmony and a sense of brotherhood and fraternity while republic character talks about democratic head of state, separation of power brings about a sense of stability in political, judicial and social life and prevent clash of interest of various organs. Unity and integrity is necessary to counter nay external threat and for the prosperity and welfare of the people.  Any legislation which impede upon these provisions must be dealt with iron fist because compromise on the democratic and sovereign credentials may give rise to internal colonialism, suppression of freedom, gross human right violations.
Hence in order to encapsulate, doctrine of basic structure in no way impeded upon parliamentary supremacy rather it substantiated democracy and rule of law and accelerated free, fair and participative parliamentary arrangement. Parliament is still the sole authority to enact laws but it must not act malafide and in biased manner and shall not break the constitutional mandate which is the vision of constitutional makers.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Affirmative Action

Affirmative action is the positive discrimination which is based on the premise that only like should be treated alike. This is part and parcel of every society which is mainly riddled with racial discrimination, caste biases, economic inequality or any other physical inability. It is significant in bringing a sense of equality, freedom and security to underrepresented and marginalized sections of the society.
Various countries including India Constitution provides for affirmation in cases of employment, education and business activity. These actions are required to lift disadvantaged out of poverty, increase their enrolment in schools and colleges and provide employment to create a social just nation in which every section of the society is represented.
Protagonists argue that in countries like India it is necessary to avoid any unforeseen revolution and polarized mobilization like caste movement, apartheid movements. Because of historical oppression and disadvantage of being born in lower strata of society, various caste groups were not represented in decision making process, economic sphere. This could lead to social turmoil if positive discrimination is not shown.
Further affirmative actions promote a pluralization of culture and vulcanization of plurals and avoid situations when one dominant group exploits other groups. It helps in maintaining gender equity in the society and also provide a disabled friendly environment to the physically challenged to leverage their productive labour.

Hence, affirmative action is not only necessary for empowerment of disadvantaged sections but also is necessary for the evolution of a plural, participative and representative nation state driven by the principle of equality fraternity, equity and empowerment.

Saturday, 3 August 2013


The President has approved Food security ordinance which will secure atleast 75% of rural household and 50 % of urban household with quality food grains at nominal prices.. The bill seeks to tread on the path of right based approach that will guarantee that no poor sleeps hungry or no child faces malnutrition or under nutrition. There has been wide ranging criticism about the bill and people are engaging in rhetoric for different reasons ranging from political as well as economic constraints. I want to sum all of them here

1. It promises 5 Kg of food grains (wheat, rice and cereals) per person per month subject to a maximum of 25 Kg per household. However studies pointed out that a person requires atleast 10.7 Kg of food grains per month for a sustainable food needs. The FSB least fills the appetite of the people.

2. Most of the people have a desire for diversification of food basket which includes fruits and protein rich food like egg, meat, milk etc. FSB does not include any of these.

3. It has been pointed out by different studies that malnutrition and stunted growth of children are not the product of non-availability of food but also a indicator of sanitation, drinking water etc. FSB does not address this problem.

4. There are considerable loopholes and delivery gaps in PDS (public distribution system). Without plugging those loopholes and computerization of PDS, there will be large diversion of food grains to the market. This situation will be exploited by ration shop owners and political vested interest.

5. The impact of FSB on economy is wide ranging. When the growth is down to less than 5% of GDP, there is an urgent need to chart out a road map of fiscal consolidation in order to revive the economy. FSB will put an additional burden of some 50,000 crore on the exchequer in the form of storage capacity building, more additional requirement of technological improvement for maintaining the distribution and identification of beneficiaries.

6. There has not been much improvement in agricultural practices and irrigation land in under constant threat from industrial lobby for acquisition. Further the moratorium recommended by Supreme Court appointed Technical Advisory Committee on field trials of Bt crops will restraint exponential growth of the food production.
7. There is also lack of clarity on the part of government about the criteria of identification of beneficiaries. Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) is still in process and will take atleast 1 year. Until then elections will be over and it will hardly be able to sail through.

These factors are poised to be great impediments in the implementation of this historic scheme.