UPSC Civil Services Interview 2015

Home state – Haryana
Hobbies – Cartooning, Kitchen Gardening
Sports etc – Yoga, Jogging
Optional – Sociology
Education – BE and MBA
My board was David Sir's board. Unlike last year, there were some different arrangements. I didn't have to wait as I was called only after the earlier candidate was out. I had heard that David sir is cool in interview, so I was a bit assured.
I was the fourth candidate to go in the morning session and it was around 11:45 when I entered. My interview room was in the left of the building (from entrance, 3rd room with a wooden facade – unlike other rooms which have just a door) and the members were sitting at the fag end of the room.
I was ushered in by my escort and with the first eye contact with David sir and other members, I gently wished and bowed my head. David sir asked me to have a seat and I said thank you. I was not even settled when he said – 'Won't you like to say 'Good morning'?' (Though we had an eye contact as I entered and I thought he received my wishes, but apparently he didn't). I replied in a 'Good morning sir'. To this he said 'Other members as well' and I obliged. (I wanted to say that I have wished when I entered, but didn't want to engage in argument or sound rude at the very beginning, so I humbly wished them).
Chairman: From where did you do your graduation?Me: Sir, ****** of Engineering, ******, Haryana.
C: You are currently working as a Tehsildar?Me: No, Sir, I am in DANICS.
C: Ok. You must have mentioned that in your DAF (and he picked up my DAF from the documents) Where are you posted right now? Me: Sir, currently I am under probation at UTCS, Shadara.
C: Which place would you like to serve in your first posting?Me: Sir, I would like to be at Lakshdweep.
C: Why?Me: Sir, working there involves a lot of challenges like – (and I found it difficult to recall many of them) as there are scarce resources, unforeseen requirements and…
C: Communication is also one. I heard ships go there once a week or so and there is also problem of tide water going up submerging land (I nodded and smiled).Me: Yes Sir, communication is a challenge.
C: What are the challenges that you face in your current job… Ok… when did you join?Me: Sir, March this year.
C: Ok, then you have no work experience, leave it. Which service would you like to go into (I confused a bit here as I thought, he wanted to ask which service in DANICS. Though I also felt at the same time that it may be regarding Civils choice)?Me: Sir, regarding this exam?
C: Yes, for the the exam for which you are now sitting in interview now.Me: Sir, IAS… Indian Administrative Services.
C: What is your preference of cadre?
Me: Sir my first choice is Haryana and my second choice is Punjab.
C: So, you don't wish to join one of these places (referring to my DANICS profile and the related places of postings i.e. union territories).
I was a bit confused and he rephrased the question.
C: That is you don't wish to join AGMUT cadre?
Me: Yes sir, I do want to join that as well and I have put that almost in the middle of my preferences.
C: (I forgot the context in which he said this, but he said) Very few people put the service (which I am currently in i.e. DANICS) on a very high preference in order.
Me: Sir, actually last year I had got 3**th rank and even I had put DANICS in top of my preferences and had put it even above IRS. Since I wanted join a service which provide opportunity to work at grassroot level, I opted it.
C: I have seen your DAF meticulously, I didn't find DANICS as your current job. Have you filled it in DAF?
Me: Yes sir, I have filled it.
Member 1: I see you have cartooning as your hobby. And you do blogging and have an interesting title of your blog –
Me: Sir, this is actually my cartoon blog. I make cartoons and put there along with a writeup on that. The title reflects my cartoons which are about social issues. I try to explore the various dimensions of social issues beyond what is apparent.
M1: What do you blog upon? What did you write recently?
Me: Sir, last week I drew a cartoon on the noodles controversy. I tried to highlight that there is more to what is apparent i.e. the lead content in the noodles. The report of the regulator i.e. FSSAI's objections on other products as well shows that all is not well. I tried to highlight that it is about our water and air which are being degraded. So, this is the larger issue of our environment conservation. Secondly, I also wanted to highlight the hypocrisy of the MNCs which at times treat the people of developing and the developed countries with different standards.
M1: You have also mentioned tree plantation promotion as your hobby. Don't you think they need care and water after planting them. And they may have low chances of survival.
Me: Sir, in fact, this is one of the reasons that I was attracted to this hobby as the area from which I come is a semi-arid area and water availability is low. So, I promote trees like – Sheesham, Keekar and Neem which have very low water requirement and are very hardy. I plant them during monsoon season and they generally take care of themselves after them. I also involve children in that.
M1: Did you opt for Indian Forest Services as well?
Me: No sir.
M1: Can I ask a few questions from economics.
Me: Yes Sir (with a smile)
M1: Can you tell in simple terms what is fiscal deficit?
Me: Sir, suppose we are a household, fiscal deficit would be the difference of our income and expenditures. Similarly, for a government or economy fiscal deficit is the difference of its revenue and expenditure.
M1: What is primary deficit?
Me: Sir, it is a recently introduced concept and while calculating deficit it excludes capital expenditure which is actually done to create long term assets.
M1: Is there any equation to represent that?
Me: I am not sure, but I can give it a try.
M1: Sure.
Me: Sir, it is equal to 'Revenue – expenditure+capital expenditure'.
M1: I read a statement of ****, defense/finance secretary of USA (I don't remember the exact statement, but its gist was that the discipline of economics while ascertaining development in society remains narrow in its approach). What is your take on this.
Me: Sir, I believe that is true. Economics is more of a science and less of an art. It uses quantifiable parameters and uses certain principles. The base to such calculations is provided by a metric which in modern times is money. Hence, sometimes, economists in their calculations ignore various aspects like education, health and even things like morality and values.
Member 2: You have mentioned Yoga and Jogging in the 'Team/Games/Sports..' section, but they are personalized things that you do alone.
Me: Sir, by that particular column I inferred that it include sporting activities also, that's why I filled there.
M2: After two days government is organizing an even on Yoga. What is your comment on that?
Me: Sir, Yoga is part of our cultural heritage and government is doing the right thing in promoting it. In fact, in past we have for some reasons failed to do so and it also led to patents of Yogasanas by other countries. Even our constitution requires us to preserve and promote our cultural heritage. So, I think the government is doing the right thing in promoting it.
M2: You mentioned cartooning as your hobby. Can you name a few cartoonists?
Me: Yeas sir. The most prominent of them is Shri R K Laxman who passed away recently. There are other famous cartoonists like – Sudhir Tailang, Ajit Ninan, Satish Acharya, Kirtish Bhatt and so on.
M2: Do you know Abu Abraham? (I said yes on this) Unny?
Me: Yes Sir.
M2: Are they political cartoonists or social cartoonists, as you draw social cartoons.Me: They are political cartoonists.
M2: I will ask a few questions from economics. What is 'import substitution'?Me: Sir, it is a strategy under which we discourage imports and instead we produce the goods and services locally. So, it is about encouraging local production.
M2: What do you think is required for increasing production in economy?
Me: Sir, first and foremost, capital investment is required. Secondly, we need certain amount of basic infrastructure as well. We also need a skilled workforce to produce that. We also need a conducive tax environment and fiscal policy. Finally, we also need a market for the produce to be sold.
M2: But, in India, you need not to care about the market at least.
Me: Sir, we need right products as per the demand.
M2: Ok, fine. Government has done something recently to promote this. Can you tell that.
Me: Sir, government has recently launched 'Make in India' campaign to promote manufacturing. Government has also launched 'Skill India Mission', under which it plans to provide training to 5 crore youth. Government has also taken many steps towards improving the doing business environment. It has reformed labor laws, for example – Factory Act and Apprenticeship Act have been amended, it has also brought many other schemes like Atal Innovaation Mission and SETU to promote entrepreneurship and so on. Thus, it has taken several steps to address various aspects.
M2: This is my personal belief and purely personal. Instead of focusing on the skill training, we should focus on the creating corporate leaders.
Me: Sir, you are right. Both the skilled workforce and the leaders are required as both are in fact complementary. Skilled workforce work at ground level and the leaders provide vision and direction to the energy of the workforce. But we need to focus more on skill development as there are many public as well as private institutes in India which produce top leaders. IIMs are among the top institutions in Asia and similarly private institutes like ISB are among top apart from lot of other such institutes. But if we talk of skill development, less than 2% of our youth get formal skill training and hence situation is skewed here. So, more focus should be on skill development.
Member 3: You mentioned values in your answer. Do you think that now a days older people are less respected in society.
Me: Sir, yesterday I was traveling in the Metro and I observed that a senior citizen asked for a sit from a young lad and the lad refused. This was a shock to me. There are many reasons like – growing individualism in society, breakdown of joint family and the values associated with it, changing priorities of the youth and so on. So, there is a decline in the respect they receive.
M3: How do you see the industry and university relations presently?
Me: Sir, apart form a few premier institutions like IITs and IIMs, industry-university relations are not as good. A study was conducted by NASSCOM and McKinsey which highlighted that 75% of our graduates are not employable. This is because they don't have the requisite skill sets which are required in industry. Graduate have little idea about what is required in industry and there is a mismatch in the two.
M3: What are the subjects on which you draw cartoons?
Me: Sir they are mostly contemporary social issues.
M3: In that what you draw?
Me: Sir, they have a wide range – from UPSC, to technology to social evils and other issues like poverty on which I have drawn many cartoons.
M3: Ok, what was the cartoon that you drew about UPSC?
Me: Sir, it was a cartoon that I drew last year when there was an increase in number of attempts to 6. I wanted to highlight some other dimensions of this step like – 6 period is a very long time and it will also mean that a significant chunk of our educated and skilled workforce will remain engaged in this. 4 years is sufficient time and the energy of youth can instead be utilized in other productive activities.
Member 4: Can you mention the context in which the NASSCOM study which you mentioned was conducted.
Me: Actually sir, this is a bit old study and was done at the time of my graduation and that's the reason I still remember it as I took a bit personal at that time. I am not sure about the exact context, but it was related to IT industry and technology firms.
M4: You mentioned that a large section of youth graduating from the technological institutes is unemployable. What is the reason?
Me: Sir, there are various reasons. First of all, many of the private institutions and medical colleges in India were open all of a sudden and as a result, the quality was compromised. Many government appointed committees have even recommended that these so called 'deemed universities' be closed down. Secondly, there is also a grave faculty crunch as even premier institutions like IITs and IIMs also suffer from faculty crunch. Thirdly, teaching is no longer the preferred choice of the talent especially after the liberalization of the economy when corporate sector started to attract talent. So, there are issues related to basic infrastructure and these factors which led to this situation.
M4: Why you didn't opt for a corporate job and chose civil services?
Me: Sir, I have worked in corporate, namely Infosys and ABB – an MNC, and I used to involve myself into a lot of CSR activities and I enjoyed them a lot. Further, I come from a very small town – almost a rural area – where there are a lot of problems. One has to struggle for even a small thing like an FIR and I have personally faced such problems many a time. So, I would like to work at grass root level and it gives me immense satisfaction.
Chairman: What was your date of appointment?
Sir: *******
(By this time, he had located the column where I have indicated my current service as DANICS)
C: So, you were not in DANICS when you were appointed.
Me: Sir, at that time, result was declared and I was allotted this service.
C: Ok, thank you, your interview is over.
I said thank you in reply and walked.

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