Sunday, 17 May 2015

My Civil Service Interview 2014: A Transcript

Date of interview was 07/05/2015 - FN. I was allocated D. K. Diwan Board.

Graduation: Electronics and Communication Engineering.
Place : Haryana.
Past Employment: Asstt Admin Officer in LIC
Present Employment: Officer Trainee(OT) in Indian Post and Telecom Account and Finance Service (IPTAFS) Group A

Chairman: Can you please tell me your roll no.?
Me: Sir, it is ******

Chairman: So, you are working in LIC as Administrative Officer as I can see from your profile.
Me: No Sir. I left LIC last year after getting selected in Civil Service Examination 2013. Now I am currently in IPTAFS

Chairman: Yes, Yes. You are right. So, where are you posted?
Me: Sir, presently I am undergoing training. (Where?)  In National Institute of Financial Management. It is in Faridabad.

Chairman: Ok. So you want to become a police officer?
Me: Yes Sir

Chairman: But at the same time you also want to become an administrator. (Yes Sir). So tell me some of the qualities of a police officer requires.
Me: Sir, it is integrity, honesty (No, Tell me a distinctive important quality that is most required in a police officer). Sir, empathy. Its because many people for petty cases keep on visiting various police stations for justice and in many cases they belong to the poor sections of the society. (Stopped in between. This is also required in IAS, if you are a DM. Though you are right that empathy is important in this case, it is the most important reason. Tell me only the important ones). I said something I don’t remember.

Chairman: Ok, if you become a police officer what will be the most important thing you would like to change and why?
Me: Sir, I would like to change the overall image of the policing system. It is because most of the people are more apprehensive about going to the police as they see it as a system of the establishment and inward looking. Further, due to the image of police, they tend to avoid getting into troubles. Sensitizing the police and people working under me about the concerns of people and change their attitudinal mindset. (What else?) Sir, (after a pause) the structure of the police system.

Chairman : He smiled, “ that you will do in the later part of your career. So you have already decided that you will reach higher post in that”. Again laughed. What about the control of police. (I said yes Sir) He said what is this? (I said , about the overreaching nature of police in many cases etc etc.

Chairman: Tell me an institution where police officers are provided training.
Me: Sir, it is NPA. National Police Academy. (No, tell me full name) Sir, it is Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel National Police Academy. (Where is it). Sir Hyderabad. (He smiled)

Chairman: You know Media is called as the fourth pillar of democracy. (Yes Sir) Do you think it has acted as a pillar of democratisation and how? There are many problems with it also. Kindly explain this as well.
Me: Yes Sir. Media has a major role to play in the overall democratic process. This is because it helps in dissemination of the policies and social security schemes of the government. It also creates the awareness among the general public and sensitizes them about various issues. It helps in informed choices with regard to political ideology and thus deepen the democratic process. However, sometimes for increasing the news TRP and profit margins, many media houses also resort to sensationalization of the news or faking news. (So, what should be done for that) Sir, the corporatization of the news should be decreased though it is impossible to eliminate it as even these houses require funds to grow. Further politicization should be avoided and they should keep in mind the overall collective interest.

Chairman: Tell me the three qualities of media that are needed for their proper functioning. These are three F’s.
Me: (I only remembered fund, function and functionaries) Sir, the funds.(He made a face in negative) As only funds can ensure “fairness” of the media and thus decrease the outsider impact.(Ya, I took that. What else). I talked about functionaries like who is at board members and decisions making body and all. (I don’t think this can be the qualities. What about free and fearless.) I said, Yes Sir. Thank You Sir.

Chairman: Now tell me why media is so strong in America even when it is owned by corporates and all?
Me: Sir, I think it is because of more education among the public and thus they are not swayed by sensitive news. (No, no. Media always have a wide impact. It is independent of that. ) Then he gave me some explanation and I let it go.

Then he asked other member to question. M1 asked me about the fourth estate. I was confused as to answer that it is media again. I said I don’t know and he said it is media. (What the hell). Then he asked me about yellow journalism. Though I read it a week back but I forgot and so I said, I don’t know Sir.

M1: So, you play basketball. At which level have you played? (Sir, mostly college and once at University for inter college sports meet.) So why sports apart from cricket are not that popular in India. Tell me the main problems like in basketball. Whether there will be any improvement in the other sports.?
Me: Sir, the major problem is lack of infrastructural facilities. As in my college, once the court was broken, it took them months to make it right. Further there is no fund disbursal at the local level for these sports. Also there is lack of proper training for the same. However, with the start of domestic leagues like HPL, BPL, there is definitely a rise in the overall awareness about other sports. This is helping to find out new talent from among the struggling players as well as corporates are investing money in their training and all. Etc etc

M1: There is a famous player in basketball who was recently in news and media has been covering him again and again. Can you tell me his name?
Me: Sir, it is Satnam Singh Bhamara who is selected for NBA. (They nodded in negative. I was wondering who else). Then I said I don’t know any other person who was in news.

M1: Ok, if you are made the secretary of sports, what will you do to increase the talent in various other sports?
Me: Sir, the national youth policy can be used as an overall framework. Various sports can be made as a part of curriculum to inculcate the habit and values of sports. (Don’t we have sports as a part of curriculum?) I think we have but not on a regular basis like Physical training examinations among other things. These also help in recreational and thus must be included in overall curriculum for all classes. (What else) Various regional level sports meet can be organised on the lines of ranji trophy.

M1: That is way later. When you said there is lack of infrastructural facilities, how can you organise regional level events?
Me: Yes Sir. Sorry Sir. I mean first we have to set up sports infrastructure at various places with state of art facilities. Then the next thing is coaching and training which must be provided by people who are already retired and have know how of the same. On the basis of that we can select sports person for various local and national events later

M1: So, you worked in insurance sector. Do you think it is untapped and if yes why and if no why.
Me: Yes Sir, insurance sector is one of the most untapped sector and it offers huge potential for the growth and bringing huge amount of people under its scheme. It is because many people see insurance as a mode of saving as well as tax benefits. However the major principle of insurance sector is to save the dependents of the life assured from any exigency that may arise. It seeks to fulfil the financial needs of the family.

M1: Ok, then tell me what government is doing about it?
Me: Sir, the government has launched various schemes. Yesterday only the government launched two schemes viz Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana for Life insurance and Suraksha Bima yojana for accident insurance in the country.

Passed the baton to M2. She was a lady and has no reaction on her face.

M2: There has been talks of climate change. Can you tell me the reason why there is rise in global temperature in 21st century?
Me: Mam, it is because of the industrialisation and increase in emission. (Stopped. But it was there in 19th century also. Then I explained about GHG and deforestation. Increase in sea level and melting of glaciers which has decreased the albedo effect of earth also and thus more heating. Explained a bit deep.

Chairman: What is this albedo?
Me: Sir, the rays of sun coming to earth is reflected back by the earth surface. Due to melting of glacier there is an overall decrease in the earth’s albedo. (Chairman: How ice reflects it back) Sir, ice is white in colour and does not absorb heat to that extent. (He said it is wrong. I don’t know why).

M2: Ok, you are a sociology student. Tell me the position of women and relationship with marriage in terms of kinship in north and south India.
Me: I answered something and something. (Tell me about the exogamous and endogamous marriages). I was unable to listen to what she asked and skipped the question.

Chairman asked member M3 to question. He was a bit nice and very humble.

M3: You are a blogger and you write blogs. You must be writing your opinion on various issues. Tell me your opinion on SC judgement on scrapping section 66 of IT Act. Why it was struck down and what others were saying about it? What should be done?
Me: Sir, freedom of speech and expression is a fundamental right under article 19(1)(a) and every person must be given the right to tell his/her opinion without any fear. This helps in many ways for an informed citizenry and rise of social media has substantiated it. (But there is some article as 19(2)). Yes sir, I am coming to that (replied humbly, he nodded) But many times it has been misused by various vested interest to propagate their agenda or create enmity among various sections of the society. Thus the state has been given powers under the said article to impose reasonable restrictions for overall public order, morality, maintaining foreign relations. However, various arrests have been undertaken and misused by the police machinery. This has led to erroneous use of certain ambiguous words. Thus SC struck down the article on that basis. There should be a proper balance between the two so that while maintaining public order, the FRs are not violated.

M3: Do you think dowry is still prevalent in India?
Me: Yes Sir. (But we have laws with respect to this) Sir, it is present in implicit manner in terms of gifts given or demanded. It is not given out rightly. Explained something more he asked.
Some more questions he asked which I forgot. Then the last member was asked to interrogate me.

M4: You are from Electronics and Communication Engineering. So tell me what is microwave?
Me: A set of frequency (I forgot the range) He smiled and said smart.
M4: Tell me a practical application of microwave?
Me: Sir, Microwave oven. He smiled again

M4: You did you engineering but joined LIC in 2013. Why you didn’t opt for private organisation. From which college did you pass out? (I told him about the name of my college)
M4:  So were there any campus placements? (I said No Sir). Why dint you apply off campus or you did? Why did not you join then? (I answered) Was it a private college or public?
Me: It is Private Sir.

M4: What do you think is the problem with these colleges? Do they actually serve the purpose? All these private institutions are for money purposes only?
Me: There are many private engineering colleges that are offering good courses and giving good knowledge as well as practical aspects of the module. So we cannot out rightly reject the importance of private institutions. However many colleges lack infrastructure in terms of practical training, modern laboratories as well as tie-ups with industries. I explained a bit more but he did not show any positive signal.

M4: See you are in Account and Finance Services. So you will be working as accountants and finance managers of the particular department. Do you think we need a specialised service like that when we have CA, MBA(Finance). First we recruit generalist and then give them specialised training. Why should government spend so much? Shouldn’t it be scrapped?
Me: No Sir. (Everyone laughed) Chairman: Are, it is his employment. How can you ask a question like this? He will say no only.

M4: (He laughed). Still give it a thought.
Me: I think no sir. It is because we have a social obligation also and it is not only limited to financial and accounting as it has managerial functions and all. I explained a bit about it. (I never understood whether he was satisfied or not).

M4: Ok, then tell me something about Double Accounting System. Do you know about it. (Yes Sir) What is it?
Me: Sir, it is way of representing a transaction both as a credit and debit in book of accounts. (He nodded)

M4: Do you think these are used in government accounting.
Me: I think Yes . (He replied in negative. what else in basic accounting they teach you). Sir, ledger, trial balance, balance sheet, P/L account etc

M4: Why they teach them all this when it is of no use.
Me: That is the part of overall training module, Sir. (Chairman was smiling, actually laughing).

M4: Have you read today’s newspaper? (I said, Yes Sir) There was a report about attacks on Indian minorities by some US think tank. Have u read it today? (No sir). Ok, but still what do you think whether it is right for US think tank to talk about problems in India. Tell me the reason of your stand.
Me: No Sir. The US has no right to comment on the internal affairs of India. As according to our foreign policy as well as NAM, India always respects the sovereignty of a country and no meddling in the internal affairs of a country. In India, we have a democratically elected government and for any increase in the tension between various communities, the government should take such steps to maintain the social fabric.

M4: Why there is increase in communal violence?
Me: I think it is because of fear psychosis among the minorities and this apprehension has led them to grow exponentially which is seen by others as a threat to their existence. (Yes, you are right but Can you tell me any report about it?) I said I don’t remember.

Chairman: Ok, Thank you. Your interview is over. I thanked everyone and came out.

It went for 35 minutes around. They may have asked many other questions which I don’t remember for the time being.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

UPSC CSE 2014 Interview Transcript (A Friend's Experience)

I got my interview scheduled for the afternoon session of 15th May 2015. With the wishes of my family and friends, and carrying loads of hopes of my dear ones, I prepared myself for the big day. I reached UPSC with My pillar of support - the one who is more confident about me than myself.

Loads of thoughts crossed my mind but one gentle touch gave me all the strength in the world. I entered in. The gate separated the smiles.

I was allotted Mr. Manbir Singh’s board. After the verification of documents we moved to the waiting hall. Below that dome of the Dholpur house which remains the dream of lakhs of aspirants. After hours of wait, chats and discussions, I was called in at around 4.45 pm.

I entered the room, wished the Chairman and the members. He told me to take my seat. I dragged the chair and settled down.

C: So you are already in a Group-A service. You must be following the current issues. Which newspaper do you read? What was in the editorial today?
Me: Sir I read the one about the high productivity of this budget session after almost 15 years, due to the majority this government has got.

C: Productivity in terms of what?
Me: Sir, in terms of the working time, bills passed, discussions, question hours

C: Okay, So what were the bills passed by the Parliament in this session? Parliament, not Lok Sabha.
Me: Sir, Black money bill. Some bills like LARR amendment, GST have been sent to committees.

C: Is Black money bill really needed in India?
Me: Yes sir it is definitely a progressive legislation as black money leads to a parallel economy. In most cases the money laundered is diverted to terrorism financing which makes it all the more important for India due to its sensitive and strategic location.

C: Will the bill serve the purpose?
Me: Sir curbing black money will of course be achieved in the long term but the present need is to create deterrence since huge amounts of money are involved.

C: So you feel it won’t bring immediate changes?
Me: Sir on an immediate basis the aim is to bring back the black money stashed abroad. Since the issue is a complex one involving political corridors and other vested interests, curbing it may not happen immediately. The bill is very essential but its implementation will decide its effectiveness.
I was a little relaxed by then as the Chairman had finished shooting his questions.

M1: What is BPR? Sam Pitroda who headed NKC said that BPR is essential while computerization of government departments. Your comments.
didn't know much about the question and so answered vaguely.

M1: What is BCP? What is going concern? Government accounting? Types of accounts?
One thing that I confidently said for all the above questions were – Sorry Sir, I don’t know.(Lol)

M1: Tell me what is cut motion? What is token cut?
I explained in my words. Couldn't recollect any bookish ones.

M1: Explain the budgetary process.
I felt a truckload of polity questions bulldozing me. Finally the next member shifted to a different arena – even more dreadful. It was based on my graduation - Electronics & Communication Engineering.

M2: What is GSM? CDMA? What are the differences between them?
Some random preparation helped me answer them pretty decently.

M2: What is broadband? Potential in India. What are the government initiatives for rural connectivity?
I explained internet and mobile penetration with reference to the National Telecom Policy 2012 and broadband for service delivery. I also explained NOFN.

M2: What is USOF?
It was asked as USOF finances NOFN, so answered it.

M2: Let me give you a case study. Give your comments.
He explained a labour union issue in a very elaborate manner. If you are the DM will you order police firing? Yes/No.

The 3rd member was a lady. Again it was a round of Indian polity.

M3:    Which bills were referred to the joint and the select committees?
         What are the proposed changes in the child labour law?
         What is a private member bill? Recent example. When was the previous such instance?
         What does the 8th schedule of the constitution contain?

She then asked what is Vedaranyam plan? I didn't have any idea about it except its location.

Another random question – Who was Ibn Battuta? Which emperor did he meet in India?

M4: I will ask you simple questions (He smiled).
I thought - Simple? So he feels the questions till now were not simple! (It was a great feeling)

M4: Lightning and thunder. What are the values of the speed of light and sound?
  Hot water or steam – which causes more burns?
  Will tubelight continue to glow even after the starter is removed?

I answered all of them and explained the science behind them. Felt relieved with that stream of simple questions.

M4: What is MCB?
Me: Sorry Sir, I don’t know.

M4: Explain the Evolution of IT in India.
I said about internet , smart phone based apps etc.

M4: How does mobile technology function?
I explained geographically divided cells (hexagonal), mobile towers, hand-offs

M4: What are the differences between TVs of older times and the present?
Me: Sir, miniaturization. Earlier CRTs were used for display while now we have shifted to LCD and even LEDs.

M4: Abbreviate LCD and LED. Which is better in terms of image quality?
I just answered his question without explaining much.

M4: What is 3D TV?
I again kept my answer short as I didn't know the technical details of 3D TV.

C: Thank you
I thanked everybody and left.

Outside the gate there were eager eyes waiting to see me. I got back to those patient yet anxious ones that waited for four long hours. Blessing in my life!

P.S: The only aspect from my DAF on which questions were asked was my Graduation. It was a totally unexpected kind of test I faced. My kind suggestion to aspirants is to have a very open mind while going for Personality Test. Don’t have preconceived thoughts about what kind of questions you will face, but that shouldn't stop one from preparing one’s DAF well.

Expect the unexpected. Those 25-30 minutes is like a roller coaster ride – you will experience many emotions. Enjoy the thrill. All the very best. :-)