UPSC Interview By Abhiram G. Sankar
Name : Abhiram G. Sankar
Time: 25 Minutes
My interview was on the afternoon of 11 April 2011, and I was the second
candidate in Ms.Rajni Razdan's board. The board was cordial, except for the
chairperson who appeared to sleep after asking her quota of questions.
I entered the room, greeted the members & stood till I was offered the seat.
Thanked the chairperson Rajni Razdan (RR) & sat down smiling.
RR: What’s your name?
RR: Roll No?
RR: Date of Birth?
(Initially I was a bit confused why she was asking these things!). Then RR
read out aloud from my summary sheet – optionals, graduation, hobbies, team
activities etc. I kept smiling & nodding, with a ‘Yes Mam’ in between.
M2: Born in Tamil Nadu, but staying in Kerala?
Me: yes sir, my family is settled in Kerala.
RR: So, which is the country sharing longest border with India?
RR: The shortest?
RR: Ok, Tell me about the McMahon Line.
Me: It’s the line dividing India & China, but not accepted by china as
such. It was signed in the early 1900s by Treaty of Tibet. (I made a mistake by
unintentionally mentioning the year & name of treaty.)
RR: Which treaty & year?
Me: Repeated the same, but doubtfully.
RR: It was in Shimla, in 1913. Who were the parties to the treaty?
Me: British India & Tibet.
RR: And one more?
Me: Don’t know.
Me: Thanked her.
RR: What is Radcliff line?
Me: Line dividing India & Pakistan.
RR: Who drew it & when?
Me: 1947 by Radcliff
RR: What are the issues between India & Pakistan?
Me: gave a list – borders, Siachen, sir creek, 26/11, water sharing,
fishermen & prisoners etc.
RR: Suppose you are SDM of a district, and are traveling. You see an
accident on the road. How will you respond?
Me: I’ll stop on the spot, and get to know exactly what happened. Then
call the ambulance or police station. If the above vehicles are not available,
then take the injured in any other available vehicle.
RR: What is so special with your car that you will not take the
injured in your car first? Why wait for ambulance /police? Is your prestige more
important or the person’s life?
Me: (I was stunned briefly, as it did not occur to me while answering
that an SDM would be traveling in his/her own car. But I quickly recovered &
said,). The person’s life is most important. I should have thought of my own car
first. I apologise for my mistake.
RR sat with the same emotionless expression from beginning till end of her
question time. Now she signaled to another member, locked her palms together,
placed them to her forehead & slept leaning on the table.
M1: You are from Kerala. How is geography advantageous to Kerala?
Me: Another list – rich & productive coastal alluvium, water resources,
blessed by monsoon, fisheries, plantation sector, forests, ports etc.
M1: What about tourism?
Me: Yes sir, that too depends on Kerala’s unique geography.
M1: Since you are a computer science graduate, tell me what is cyber
Me: (Didn’t know the exact definition) It refers to the various illegal
activities performed in today’s IT-linked world like phishing, hacking,
fraudulent info, theft of data etc.
M1: How will you use computer science in development of India?
Me: Another list – efficient information dissemination to illiterate poor
about health, agriculture etc. through audio & video, adult literacy programmes,
transparency & lesser corruption.
M1: What is MIS?
Me: said don’t know after thinking.
M2: It is management information system. Don’t you people study in
Me: No sir. That paper belongs to IT branch & not CS.
M2: Name some areas which you studied in B.Tech.
Me: Some programming langs like C & C++, microprocessors, assemblers &
compilers, hardware etc.
M2: Name an important temple in Kerala.
Me: Padmanabhaswamy temple in Trivandrum.
Me: I started with Guruvayurappan temple, but was interrupted mid-way.
M2: No, no…which temple brings in most money?
Me: Sabarimala temple.
He was happy it seemed, because he smiled graciously.
M3: What is track-2 diplomacy?
Me: Talks between countries conducted by retired officers, NGOs,
activists etc. It’s very good for betterment of bilateral ties. More people to
people interaction takes place through this route.
M3: what is bus diplomacy?
Me: Cross LoC bus to improve ties..by Vajpayee Govt…
M3: So what is diplomacy?
Me: It’s the art of maintaining relations among countries at
international level. (Not exactly the same words, but not the exact definition
M3: What do you think about India’s ‘big brother attitude’ in south
Asia? what are the issues with each of the neighbouring countries?
Me: India is the largest country in south Asia, and its actions are only
perceived as big brotherly by neighbours. It is not true. India’s ties with its
neighbors carry historical baggage with it which is the cause of today’s
Again a list – partition issue with Pakistan…
M3: (Interrupted me) but partition is way back in history.
Me: but sir, our relations are based on that event. (continued above
answer)… Tamil issue with Sri Lanka…
M3: no…don’t speak about all issues…one issue at a time (in fact he
had asked me for listing out all issues!). let’s talk about Pakistan. How will
you solve Kashmir issue with Pakistan?
Me: We need an innovative solution…
M3: (Again interrupting me)…you need to talk more…
Me: Sir, I’m coming to the point. Realistically looking at the issue, I
don’t think Pakistan will hand over its part of J&K to India. Our present
borders may not be changeable. It’s better to acknowledge the same without a
formal announcement as our maps cannot be changed & territorial integrity can’t
be sacrificed. No internationalization of the same can be allowed. At the same
time, cross border links & trade have to be improved & people-to-people contacts
increased with development of J&K in mind.
M3: How should India proceed on Indo-Pak talks?
Me: Sir, instead of focusing on just Kashmir, we have talk on several
issues like Siachen, sir creek, cultural ties, trade, water sharing etc.
M3: We have been doing that for long. But no results have come out.
Me: Sir, the issues are not at fault. Talks broke down because of events
like 26/11, 2001 parliament attacks & cross border terror. India is not
responsible for the breakdowns. So it is better to continue on multiple issues.
M4: Can I also continue on Kashmir? Are you confident? (almost
Me: Yes sir, you can.
M4: Why not conduct plebiscite & solve the issue?
Me: Sir, there are some preconditions. Complete demilitarization must
take place on both borders. Kashmiri Pandits who were chased away must be
allowed to return. Only if these happen, plebiscite can be allowed.
M4: You say India & Pakistan must talk about Kashmir. But where are
the Kahmiris in the scene? Has their voice been neglected?
Me: Sir, we definitely need more Kashmiri opinion. It is heard very less.
M4: Do you mean they have been ignored completely or given inadequate
Me: sir, definitely they were heard. India did talk with separatists like
Hurriyat conference. But more needs to be done on this front. (should’ve
mentioned the pm’s interlocutors at work now, but forgot).
M4: Elections are periodically held in J&K. people vote new Govts to
power. can you consider this as a sort of plebiscite?
Me: Yes sir, they reaffirm peoples faith in our system.
M4: Do you think those elections are proper, free & fair?
Me: There have been allegations in the past about rigging.
M4: No. I don’t want other’s opinions. What do you think now?
Me: Sir, thanks to a strong election commission, I can confidently say
that recent elections have been free & fair, not only in J&K, but also in other
states of India and I am proud of this fact.
RR: Thank you. (she smiled for the only time in the whole interview!)
Me: Thanks the board & left.
The 4 male members were smiling & very attentive, unlike Ms. RR. I too tried
to keep up a smiling face through out the interview. The board was cordial on
the whole. Interview lasted for about 20-25 minutes.
Interview Date : 11-Apr-2011
Interview Board : Ms. Rajni Razdan
Place : Thiruvananthapuram
Subject : Geography & Political Science & International Relations