UPSC Interview By Sundeep Shukla
In India, Civil Services are considered one of the noblest
jobs (why? …haven’t found the answer yet) perhaps, it may be one of the powerful
posts, one can move in red-beacons, there are salutes everywhere you go, you are
considered as one of the profound personalities in your society, and many
more…..however, I have also been the victim of the same (as my parents as well
as relatives always pressurised to pursue the services) and it’s always been a
mystery for me that why they think that I deserve for the services (as I have
found myself totally unorganized so-far) ……since the announcement of the mains
(written) result, I realized that yes! Miracles do happen, I did my hair-cut,
clean-shaved, started wearing trousers, full-sleeve shirts and formal shoes
(instead of Gamachhas and Chappals) …. And in-between all these I was lamenting
for no reason …I was missing my-self somewhere ….is this necessary to transform
my natural instinct for the sake of a job? …is this necessary to be artificial
in order to be a successful person? … A quiz started with my-self including such
However, the day arrived when I had to depart from Chandigarh
to Delhi for my Personality Test which was scheduled in the UPSC, I was
accompanied by my uncle-cum- friend (a day before my interview) and throughout
the journey I was thinking about my life, about my existence, what all this is
going on?...I am only a step away to realize the dream of my father, will I make
it or not?.... is this what I am made for? ….am I going to be a perfect citizen?
…..will all my evils be washed away with the grab of this job? …will all my
sorrows be diminished if I am getting selected? …….this was the second round of
quiz with my-self.
I woke up 4 in the morning (the day of my Personality Test),
there was an unprecedented silence all-around and I could hear the sound of my
breathe clearly, amid this silence, suddenly I felt being lonely on this planet,
I was scared for-a-while and then I conglomerated all my conscience and focussed
on-to my target (the artificial target), I went for a walk but could not go far
as I saw a stray dog in the way and feared over the culture of Delhi. I returned
to my room (where I stayed) and got my-self ready for the interview.
I had to report UPSC by 9 in the morning and I reached over
there half an hour earlier, I found that other mates were already there in front
of the UPSC main-gate. I glanced over them and started comparing their
personalities with mine (it was really deteriorating in-fact as they were far
more good-looking and smarter), will they overcome my personality? …..will they
be selected and I will be rejected? ….that guy in purple shirt is looking very
smart (why have I not opted for a purple shirt?) ….that girl in blue Salwar-Suit
is looking very decent (she will definitely out-perform) ….look at that person
in heavy-spectacles (he is looking very bibliophilic) will he answer all the
questions? ……look at me (I am the worst out of them) why have I come here since
there is no chance of my selection amid them? ……….this was the third round of
quiz with my-self.
By the 9 am in the clock, the gate was opened and I marked my
first step into the most aspired building of our country, I was thrilled with an
auspicious feeling, I was finally there to where my father had dreamt of to see
me. But this is not the only what he meant for, there is still a step to go (a
big step in-fact), I have to do something right now, right here and there is no
other option but to clear this ultimate level in my favour …o.k. let’s see how
I was assigned the board of Shri. I.M.G. Khan and I was the last one among
the six candidates (Nagma, Meenakshi, Dheeraj, Shupriya, Gautami and me) to be
interviewed in that board.
Dheeraj was the first candidate called for the test and it was 9:40 am when
he entered the board.
I was there with five girls in the lobby and started waiting if any of them
start talking to me and it took almost 15 minutes that Shupriya broke the
silence and soon we all were involved in the conversation with each other.
Dheeraj came out of the board at 10:05 am, he was looking confident but
little nervous. When we asked about his interview he smiled and said it was good
and then moved out of the lobby.
Next was Meenakshi, we all gave her good-luck, she thanked
us, prayed for-a-while (she was murmuring some mantras while praying) and then
marched into the board-room (it was 10:15 am then). I pondered that whether the
mantras (which Meenakshi just murmured) will really work in her favour, then I
realized that I am wasting my time in such silly thoughts as it’s a matter of
personal beliefs and it’s not necessary that everybody should be agnostic as I
Time passed ……after Meenakshi it was Gautami, then Shupriya,
then Nagma and then my turn. By the time Nagma went, it was 11:50 am. Now, I was
alone in the lobby and felt little nervous. The guards by then, one male and the
other a lady had become acquaintances. We had even shared a joke or two and
laughed as if everything was normal. They wished me luck and smiled. The guy who
came to call me for the interview too by then had seen enough of me to share a
smile; he too wished me good-luck. He had big glasses and was a nice man to talk
to. I thanked him and asked him what time it was. He replied “Barah baj gae
hain”. I told him that then I had to greet the board with good afternoon. He
nodded in the affirmative and with a smile said “aap chinta mat kijie, khan
sahib achhe se interview lete hain” (I wondered how he reached the inference
which he drew from my face..but it did help me) We reached the board room and he
asked me to sit on a chair outside it. I realized Nagma was still inside and I
asked how long had the previous candidate (Nagma) been in? He said it had been
15 minutes. Tea was being prepared for Mr. Khan while I sat on the chair. The
guy who was preparing tea offered me some kajus and biscuits. I picked one and
said Thank You.
I focussed my attention and thoughts for a few minutes, asked myself why I
was here and felt fortunate for the opportunity.
In a few minutes Nagma came out of the board room. I mimed to ask about how
was it. She smiled and nodded positively as she walked away.
The time had arrived and I asked the big glasses guy who had
escorted me there about the time. He showed me his watch which read 12:15 pm.
The chimes of the bell rang….it was my turn. He opened one of the two planks of
the door and I stepped forward….
(A note: the demeanour of the conversation was very cordial and
conversational and I most of the while smiling as if talking to friends)
Me: may I come in Sir (while I noticed that there were five members
including a lady and Mr. Khan himself in the board)
Mr.Khan: Come in, come in.
Me: Good afternoon sir, good afternoon mam and sirs.
Mr. Khan: take a seat.
Me: Thank you sir.
Mr. Khan: (he was turning over my summary sheet at that time and had
reached the academic section) Oh! You are a master in Chemistry (and started
reading the title of stream) Applied Chemistry Pharmaceutical. So what does
applied means here?
Me: Sir applied chemistry means using the scientific knowledge of
Chemistry in solving human problems.
Mr.Khan: can you cite some examples?
Me: yes Sir! Apllied Chemistry has been used in developing new and
Mr.Khan: ok. Ok. Can you also cite any segment from Chemistry which is
related with the service you have opted for?
Me: Sir, May I take some time to recollect that?
Me: (after-a-while I came to a point) Sir, Aufbau Principle can be used
in the civil Services as it corresponds the distribution of benefits in an
orderly-fashion, from lower to higher hierarchy.
Mr.Khan: what does this principle say in terms of Chemistry?
Me: Sir, it says that electrons fill orbitals starting at the lowest
available energy levels before filling higher levels.
Mr.Khan: so! Why you haven’t worked yet, it’s been more than 2 years
of your masters and you could have got a decent job in a pharmaceutical firm.
Me: (I knew they will ask this for sure) Sir, I did my masters in
Chemistry because at that time I was fascinated with it but later on I inspired
by the Civil Services, hence , I decided to pursue the same.
Mr.Khan: what so fascinating about Civil Services and not about
Me: Sir, In chemistry I could only credit for the development of a better
drug or a novel compound for a disease but in Civil Services I can work to
annihilate the disease of the society.
Mr.Khan: (smiled in a sarcastic way) but some countries do not have a
civil service, like USA (a member intervened that a few services exist in USA
but not exactly the civil services), shouldn’t India also abolish the civil
Me: Sir, I do not have any clear explanation on it and if you allow then
I can try to formulate my own opinion.
Mr.Khan: ok. Go ahead.
Me: Sir, our country is not as evolved as the USA and we are still
developing so we need a system like civil services to have poised governance and
to move forward becoming a developed one …
Mr.Khan: Why is it so? I mean why USA is so rich and India is so poor?
Me: Sir, the rich prosperity behind the USA is because of its currency
i.e. dollar which is being used as a standard currency in the international
trades, hence, the countries like ours park a fraction of their money in the
USA-Federal Banks in the form of bonds, so USA enjoys the interests incurred
from these parked moneys besides its own growth.
Mr.khan: isn’t it that USA people spend more and we believe in
Me: yes sir, this is also one of the reasons behind this.
Mr.Khan: (gave a lengthy lecture over the supremacy of USA then looked
at member 1 for asking questions.)
M1: What is budget?
Me: sir it’s the gross monetary management which includes the total
fiscal receipts and total expenditures as the two main figures.
M1: Why railway budget separated from general budget?
Me: Sir, Railway is not a PSU rather a departmental undertaking, hence a
separate budget is necessary to utilize its revenues for its own projects.
M1: (nodded positively) so, on whose recommendations it was separated
from general budget?
Me: I am sorry sir but I can’t tell.
M1: it’s alright, can you tell me the year in which it was separated
from the general budget?
Me: Sir, again I am sorry for not being aware of this.
M1: (smiled sarcastically) it was 1921. (Then he looked at the lady
member to ask questions)
Lady member: you have mentioned Public Administration as one of your
optional, (a member intervened saying Mam, “it’s been a general choice by most
of the aspirants”, then both smiled), and so, who was Woodrow Wilson?
Me: He was the 28th president of USA and is also considered as the
profounder of the Public Administration.
Lady member: in which year he became president?
Me: I am sorry mam, I don’t know.
Lady Member: Who was Max Waber?
Me: He was one of the influential scholars of sociology and public
administration of 19th century.
Lady member: Can you name any book written by Max Waber?
Me: Yes mam, it was “The spirit of capitalism”.
Lady member: Isn’t it “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of
Me: Yes, yes mam …I am sorry, I missed that.
Lady member: have you read this book?
Me: No mam, I could not get the access of this book.
(Mr Khan intervened “Dhoondhne se to khuda bhi mil jata hai Shukla Ji)
Lady member: this book can be accessed in any University Library (she
then turned to member 2 to ask questions)
Member 2: why Public administration is a hot choice among the civil
Me: Sir, Public Administration has relevant elements required for the job
and there may also be a reason that it envisages the word “administration” in
its title explicitly which attracts a large mass of aspirants to go for it.
Member2: I think you are also a victim of the second reason (everybody
laughed then) Isn’t it?
Me: No sir, I choose this because of the first reason.
Member2: ok, ok. You are sticking to your point ….it’s good…so, what
Me: Sir, I don’t know exactly but it’s something related with the
knowledge and the ways to acquire it.
Member2: you were going right (then he gave a lengthy explanation over
it) … What is methodological antipositivism?
Me: Sir, I don’t have any idea about this term.
Member2: ok. Can you elaborate the Gettier problem?
Me: I am sorry sir, but I don’t have any idea about this also.
Member2: (smiled sarcastically) it’s ok. Gentleman …then he turned to
member 3 to ask questions.
Member3: do you agree that executives are merely puppets in the hands
of the legislatives?
Me: No Sir.
Me: Sir, civil service is an autonomous body as provided in our
constitution (memeber1 murmured to Mr khan he is defining the services) …I am
sorry sir, but I was just explaining my opinion.
Member1: ok. Ok. Continue..
Me: Since we have got the immunity so we should not ……. (Lady Member
intervened: stop. Stop. You are using “we” as if you are already a civil servant
…..Everybody laughed) ….
Me: I am sorry mam, for the mistake …
Lady member: Oh come on! I was just having a light note …..Don’t feel
sorry too often ….now continue..
Me: I do accept that we can’t deny the intervention of legislature in
the bureaucracy but we do have the best provisions for our functionaries and the
only thing required is their proper utilization in their best possible ways.
Member3: (nodded in an affirmative manner)…. You come from Chandigarh,
so, what is so special about Chandigarh amid other states and UTs?
Me: Sir, it’s a dual capital of two states Haryana and Punjab.
Member3: Good! So, you must also be aware of the fact that both the
states are after the inclusion of Chandigarh in their respective territories.
Me: yes sir
Member3: what’s your take over the issue?...where should Chandigarh be
included? In Punjab or in Haryana?
Me: Sir, Chandigarh should remain UT and both the states should search
for some other options in their own territories.
Mr.Khan: is that so easy? (then he smiled)….well you are a young-man
and you might have your own views over the social issues, there have been a long
discourse in our society about the Love marriage and arranged marriage….what is
Me: Sir, to remain unmarried is the safest option (Mr. khan laughed quite
loudly and other board-members too and it really made the entire environment
quite light), However, I will prefer arranged marriage, Sir!
Mr.Khan: why?...what’s the harm in a love marriage?
Me: Sir, there is no harm and if both the parties are agree then it’s ok.
Mr,Khan: thank you (smiled) your interview is over…you may go.
Me: Thank you sir, thank you mam, thank you sirs…..
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