UPSC Interview By Neelabh Rohan : AIR -322
Name : Neelabh Rohan
Interview Date: 21-03-2013
Interview Board: Vijay Singh board
Attempt No.: 2nd Attempt
Rank (CSE 2012): AIR 322
Interview Marks: 195 marks
IAS interview (2nd attempt) on 21 March 2013 in the afternoon
session. My interview was in Vijay Singh board. The board was very cooperative
but I heard from one of the candidates on my table that he does not give good
marks. I thought to face it and show my worth without thinking how many marks he
is giving. I had already faced several interviews earlier for various jobs
(including one of K K Paul Board in UPSC for Indian Statistical Services) so I
did not have any interview fear.
I was the only candidate in that interview room who was in a
semi- formal dress. My shirt was of dark greenish colour with red lines (not
sober as all the other candidates were wearing, but I was looking good in that
shirt), I was the only person who was not wearing a tie and was wearing a semi-
formal shoe. I am telling all these because candidates fear this interview a lot
and wear formal dresses, tie (some even suits in the summer) in the hope that
this will make an impression on the board. My experience says that it does not
matter at all (But it does not mean that you wear jeans and T-shirt).
I was the second candidate to be called in. A girl came out
of the interview room smiling and told me that the board is very nice. I was not
scared but this relaxed me completely. Before I proceed with the interview, I
should inform you that I am a Ph.D. in Statistics, had my optional subjects as
Statistics and Philosophy and my hobbies are mountain trekking in Sahyadri and
This is how it went.
The bell rang, I said ""May I come in sir?""
CH (Chairman): Please come in.
I said ""Good afternoon to all of you."" (I felt no need to
wish separately to the lady member).
CH: Please take your seat. (I was not thinking
anything at that time and was looking at the chairman).
CH: What is your current status?
Me: Sir, currently I am working as a visiting
scientist at Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), North East Centre in Tezpur,
CH: When did you join there?
Me: Sir I joined on 15th Jan this year.
CH: Is this North East Centre governed by ISI Kolkata?
Me: Yes sir.
CH: What course is going on there?
Me: Currently a PG diploma course is going on in
Statistics, but next year they are going to start a course which will be
exclusively for the north east students. It is aimed at benefiting the students
from the North East
CH: Are you getting good students there?
Me: Sir we are not getting very good students but yes
they are doing reasonably well.
CH: What is the status of Assam?
Me: Sir it really needs development. The ISI is
located in a village in Tezpur, which is far away from the town. When I walk in
that village, I notice that people are deprived even of the basic facilities
like food, health, education and transport. There is no transport facility
available in the night time. There is a basic need to improve the governance in
especially in the rural areas.
CH: How is the place? Are there tea gardens near your
Me: Yes sir tea gardens are there and are very
beautiful. Not only this, Kaziranga national park is very near to Tezpur, Tawang
is also near.
CH: Oh yes Tawang is there. Have you been there?
Me: No sir I have not yet been there, but I have plans
CH: You have a hobby of trekking in Sahyadri. Which
place did you like the most in Sahyadri?
Me: Sir I have gone trekking several places in
Maharashtra like Bhimashankar, Ratan gad, Raj Gad, Purandar, Harishchandra gad
etc, but Out of these I like Ratan gad in Ahmednagar district the most beacuse
of its natural beauty and the close cooperation that one feels with the nature.
CH: There are some Mughal forts in MP which are also
famous trekking spots. Have you been there any time?
Me: No sir, I have not gone trekking in MP anywhere.
CH: Are you involved in any other activity, other than
your job at ISI?
Me: Sir, as I have mentioned, I do trekking whenever I
get time. I also play Bridge and I have played in some national level
tournaments in Pune. Apart from this every day in the evening at tea time I take
a walk in the village where ISI is located and try to notice their problems,
interact with the people there. Sir, this was also one of the reasons that I
came to assam. I was also getting an offer from University of Pune, where I
studied, but I chose to go to assam as it was a unique opportunity for me to see
the conditions of the people of north east. I had been to many places in India
but had never seen north east and I went there.
He passed the baton to his right.
M1: What do you think about ""lies, damn lies and
statistics"" (in taunting tone (statistics is my optional)).
Me: Sir I do not agree with this. The whole world is
based on statistics, how it can be a lie. We are the only science which allows
the possibility of an error. We never say that we are perfect like mathematics.
In this way we are closer to reality. But at the same time we say with
confidence, with 95% or 99% confidence that the conclusion we have drawn is
correct. Apart from this, there are some technical factors like sample size, or
the error may creep in from the wrong data collection method. But it is just a
misperception of statistics which has branded it as a lie. (Chairman nodding in
affirmative, everyone seems to be impressed)
M1: How can statistics be used in quality management.
(For two seconds it did not click me, he explained the question further).
Me: Sir in any manufacturing industry or production
process, statistics plays a very important role in minizing the number of
defects to almost zero. Use of 3-sigma and 6-sigma limits is very famous in this
M1: You have studied at Pune. What are the institutes
of National importance in Pune?
Me: Sir, there is C-DAC, Centre for development of
advanced computing…(M1 interrupted)
M1: What does it do?
Me: Sir it is playing a very important role in the
National Knowledge Network development where various institutes are being linked
with broadband connection.. .(again interrupted)
M1: CDAC has nothing to do with National Knowledge
Me: (I was confident about it) Sir, the Garuda network
in National Knowledge Network is built by CDAC. (Chairman stepped in)
CH: Is there a supercomputer..?
Me: Yes sir the Param supercomputer is there in my
Passed to Member 2.
M2: You also studied in Lucknow. What changes do you
see in Lucknow?
Me: Sir, I studied in Lucknow from 2003-2006. Today
when I go there, I do not see several changes except some new industrial
developments. One thing that I notice is that at the time I was studying there,
there were several people who used to lie down on the bridges of Gomti, drining,
smoking etc which posed threats to people in the night time. I see that it has
been removed now. Otherwise, the encroachments are still there, the governance
needs to be improved, law and order needs to be improved. (Chairman nodding in
M2: Do you see some parks?
Me: Sir parks were there even earlier, like globe
M2: Recently some parks were broken and new parks were
built. What do you think about it.
Me: Ok sir you mean Ambedkar park..Yes those areas
have indeed become very beautiful. I think beauty is also necessary, but the
extravagance should not be allowed. Had that money been used for the benefit of
the common man, for improving the governance, for improving the law and order
situation, or to build the infrastructure, it would have much better impact.
M2: Asked something about the cleanliness of Gomti
Me: Sir Gomti has indeed become very polluted and
needs to be cleaned. The waste treatment technology needs to be employed. The
effluents that pass into the river need to be treated. JNNURM needs to be
M3 (lady): You have the other optional as philosophy.
What prompted you to take philosophy?
Me: Ma’am, being in mathematics, I was always
fascinated by the names like Descartes and Leibnitz and it attracted me towards
M3: What have you read in Philosophy?
Me: In western philosophy, I have studied several
philosophers from Plato to Kant. I have also learnt about the six schools of
Indian Philosophy. In paper 2, I have thoroughly studied the concepts like
Equality, Justice, Liberty etc which are the essential parts of the life of a
common man. I have also read the philosophy of religion.
M3: Which philosopher you like the most.
Me: Ma’am, In Western philosophy, I like Kant and in
Indian I like Jainism (Surprised at Jainism).
M3: Is it? Why so?
Me: Ma’am Jainism talks about the equality of souls.
It says all souls are equal. It gives me a solution to the problems of
untouchability and gender inequality which are still prevailing in our society.
Then it says that there are several ways to know the reality. All are correct.
It gives me an inspiration to live peacefully in this multicultural society.
Also, its triratnas and panchmahavratas are the sources of ethics and morality.
Its teachings are the solutions to the problems of corruption and immorality.
M3: What do you think about Multiculturalism in India
(derived from my answer).
Me: We have been living in a multicultural society
peacefully for more than 60 years after independence. There were some problems
recently for example in Assam, a conflict between Bodos and Muslims or in
Godhara, but still we are an example of the peaceful coexistence. There are some
problems but they can be tackled in future and I am very much hopeful about it.
M3: What was the conflict in Assam?
Me: Ma’am due to the illegal migration of muslims from
Bangladesh near Assam Bangladesh border, the conflict had arisen. But the
situation is quite in control now and the area is quite peaceful. Even Naxalism
is also in control now a days and area is peaceful (I wanted her to ask on
Naxalism, but she didn’t).
M4: You have completed your schooling in UP board in
Hindi medium. Hmm. You were talking about the possibility of error in
Statistics. There is a subject Econometrics with similar concept.
Me: Yes sir I know, in fact my research is based on
Econometrics. It is about modelling the variation in the financial market data
in the event of financial turbulences.
M4: Ok, so you know about Econometrics. (Looking at
summary form) It seems you have completed your overall schooling in Hindi medium
in UP board, good (Perhaps he was impressed that I was speaking very good
English even after studying in Hindi medium till 12th standard). Have you heard
about C R Rao?
Me: Sir, he is one of the greatest statisticians of
the presently. He has won several awards including the Padma awards. In fact I
met him in a conference in Vizag, met him in the sense that he had come there in
the conference and I listened to him talking. (M3 interrupted)
M3: Oh, is he still alive? How old is he?
Me: Ma’am, In June 2010 was his 90th birthday.
M4: You are working in ISI. Who established it?
Me: Sir, it was established by Prof P C Mahalanobis.
M4: He has a very significant contribution at national
Me: Sir, he was a planning commission member in the
second five year plan which focused at the industrial developments in our
country. (Nodding in affirmative).
M4: There are two types of errors in Statistics. What
"Before I say anything, I want to extend my deep sense of gratitude to Dinesh Pandey sir for the guidance that he provided me for the interview."
It was a technical question, but at this time chairman seemed
to be satisfied with my interview and he was in a mood to finish it. I started
explaining the answer in as layman terms as I could but still technicalities
came and chairman started feeling restless and looked at M4. The M4 then
interrupted me and asked which error is more important. I explained it and he
was satisfied. Chairman picked up his pen, said thank you and started writing
something (I think filling up the marks). I wished thanks to everyone and walked
out happily. Overall, everyone seemed to be impressed, all of them were agreeing
and smiling on many of my answers.
I think the interview was very general, and all the questions
were from my biodata. But the answers I gave were very effective and I was fully
confident, did not stagger at any point and I must agree that I had very good
practice. More than half the questions I had already faced in mock interviews
that I used to have with my friends every day. It helped me a lot.