(Interview) UPSC Interview By Neelabh Rohan : AIR -322 (Vijay Singh board), CSE-2012

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 playing bridge.

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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, Assam.

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 place?

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 in future.

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 context. (Satisfied)

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 Network.

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 university there.

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 affirmative).

M2: Do you see some parks?

Me: Sir parks were there even earlier, like globe park..

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 river.

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 implemented properly.

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 the subject.

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 level.

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 are they?

"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.

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