UPSC Interview By Pawan Kadyan
Interview/Personality Test Date: 22nd March, 2012.
Slot: Afternoon; Reporting Time 1315 hours.
Interview order: Last of the 6 persons to be interviewed by that board
in that slot.
The Board was known at 1445 hours when the first candidate to face the
board from our group (name: Vivek Chaudhary) was told about it. Our board was
that of Sh. I.M.G. Khan.
Time passed...after Vivek it was Rupak, then
Hari, then Nidhi, then Jackson...and then my turn. By the time Jackson went
it was 1640 hours. In a few minutes all other candidates left in the waiting
hall had also gone for their interviews in their respective boards. Mine was
the last interview of the day across all boards. I was called to come and
sit outside the Board's Room after about 15 minutes from when I was the only
one left in the Waiting room. The guards by then, one male and the other a
lady, had become acquaintances. We had even shared a joke or two and laughed
with the Voice-repeating-cat application on the mobile. 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 and good wishes, and he too wished me
good luck. He had a squint and big glasses, and was a nice man to talk to. I
thanked him and asked him what time it was. He replied, “5 baj gaye hain.” I
asked whether it'd be better if I greeted the board with a 'Good Evening'
rather than a 'Good Afternoon' to which he nodded in the affirmative and
with a smile said, “Aap chinta mat keejiye, Khan Sahab achhe se interview
lete hain”. (I wondered how he reached the inference that he drew from my
question, but his reply did help me :)) We reached the Board room and he
asked me to sit on a chair outside it. I realized Jackson was still inside
and I asked how long had the previous candidate (Jackson) 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. Candidate ko to chai nahin di jaati hai
na”. He said, “Kya aap chai lenge?”. I said, “Nahin nahin, main nahin loonga”,
and smiled. “Khan Sir ki chai mere andar jaane se pehle de dijiyega.” And he
nodded with a smile, “Theek hai”, and in a few moments went inside the Board
room with the tray.
I practiced sitting into and standing off the
chair a few times (by the way I was wearing a deep blue suit), focused my
attention and thoughts for a few minutes, asked myself why I was here, and
thanked God for the opportunity and felt happy for it.
In a few minutes Jackson came out of the Board
room. I mimed to ask about how was it. He looked at me looking a little
nervous but happy, and nodded positively as he 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 1710 hours. 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 demeanor of the conversation was
very cordial and conversational and I was most of the while smiling as if
talking to friends.)
Me: May I come in Sir. (while I noticed that
the table was to the right of the door with the Chairperson, Mr. Khan,
facing away from the wall having the door; that I had to walk a circular arc
of 90 degrees to face them, and that there was a lady member in the board.)
Mr. Khan: Come in, come in.
Me: Good Evening Ma'am. Good Evening Sir. Good
Evening to you Sirs.
Mr. Khan: Take a seat.
Me: Thank You Sir. (I jovially sat down and
acknowledged all the members and the Chair by eye contact)
Mr. Khan: (he was turning over my summary sheet
at that time and had reached the last section having job details). Oh! You
worked somewhere (and started reading the address) PP Service..where was
Me: Sir it is in the Raigad district of
Mr. Khan: What does it manufacture? (he would
have read the words 'Manufacturing Division' in the address)
Me: Sir, it manufactures low and high density
Mr. Khan: So why did you leave the job? Didn't
you like it?
Me: No Sir (happily), it was immensely
satisfying and I liked it. But while I was there I used to go to a school
nearby to help students. Slowly I started feeling more inclined towards
that, so I decided to pursue a career that is more challenging and where I
can connect directly with people.
Mr. Khan: So Pawan, (smiling) what have you
been doing since then?
Me: Sir, I've been preparing for the civil
Mr. Khan: You left the job in 2009. Its more
than two and a half years, close to 3 years now. You could have done so much
at a school by now!
Me: Yes Sir, (emphatically & empathetically) I
feel that pain too and want to start contributing as soon as possible.
Mr. Khan: (smiles) But some countries do not
have a Civil Service. Like the US (a member intervened to add that a few
services do exist in the US but not a civil service) and some other
countries like (he told a few names that I don't remember) do not have a
permanent civil service. Shouldn't India also abolish the civil services?
Me: Sir, every country has its own parameters
to judge that. India has evolved in a manner that we need a civil service.
The US has had a long history and time to develop (Mr. Khan interrupts: But
we've had a longer history.) Sir, I mean since independence. We need more
time before we can do away with the civil service if that is indeed needed.
Civil services are the drivers of the car the country is. We play a critical
role, perhaps the most critical role in taking the country forward. (M4
interrupts while looking at Mr. Khan: Sir, he is identifying with the
Me: (in an embarrassed, humble, jovial &
conversational tone with a smile) Sir, I didn't mean that. I am extremely
sorry (and a big smile).
Mr. Khan: I never thought of this analogy
before (looks excited and inquisitive). So, if the civil services is driving
the car (smiled) then what are the politicians doing?
Me: Sir, they along with many others are
sitting in the back of the car. Civil services decide how well and at what
speed the country moves forward.
Mr. Khan: Hmm...(and acknowledges with a bigger
smile. And asks inquisitively..) So, when did the civil services start in
Me: Sir, they started in the British era. The
Office of the District Collector came up in the 1770s.
Mr. Khan: But the names Tehsil, Taluka, Zilla,
Mansabdari still exist. What are they then if the services started in the
Me: Sir, the names exist to mark a continuity
in the governance system. So that people feel connected to it. There were
administrative systems before too, but the present day professional civil
services started in the British era.
Mr. Khan: So we have them because of the
Me: No Sir. We have them because we need
them...(He interrupts me here, smiles and says: OK..OK..you are sticking to
your point. Good. He now looks at Member 1 as if to tell him that he can ask
M1: What is the Indo-US Strategic partnership?
Me: Sir, if my memory is serving me right it
started in 2004. I might be incorrect. It is a partnership covering many
areas from defence, science & technology, education, trade, civil nuclear
energy and many more.
M1:What benefit is India getting out of it?
Me: Sir, the US is the world leader in
technology, defence equipment and many other areas. We can learn from them
in these fields.
M1: So, what benefit is the US driving from it?
Me: Sir, every country has its own experience
and share of successes & failures. India too can offer the US such
knowledge, and this knowledge sharing can create a new synergy and a higher
level of progress for both the countries. India is also an emerging world
leader and the US would benefit from this engagement.
M1: Wasn't it because the US wanted to use
India against a particular country?
Me: No Sir. No one can use India for its
interests. We entered the partnership on our own terms.
M1: What is AFSPA? What are the controversies
related with it?
Me: Sir its the Armed Forces Special Powers Act
which came into force in the late 1950s. Its applied in disturbed areas,
declared so by the Governor of the State. It was applied initially to
regions in the North-East and extended to J&K in the 1990s. It gives the
Army the power to take suo moto action in matters of national security,
countering terrorism and other such activities which include searching
premises, opening fire etc. The recent controversies relate to the human
rights violations in J&K by the Army and the decade long fast by a lady (I
intentionally didn't name Irom Sharmila to avoid questions on her or
Manipur) in the North-East.
M1: What are the problems in the civil aviation
Me: Sir, the individual operators in the sector
have different problems and business models, but their business models are
not the ones that are best suited to make profit. In case of Air India it
being the national carrier, it has to operate flights between less
profitable or liability creating routes and airports. Kingfisher's Mr. Mallya is funding his airlines from his other avenues. His model was never
profitable and required him to pump money from his other avenues. The
operators in the sector are more than what India requires in terms of
demand. The induced competitiveness has led to very low fares but the losses
have begun to show. (I could feel the answer was getting long and the Member
was losing attention).
M1: So in short what is the problem?
Me: Sir, its the improper business models of
the different operators.
(M1 acknowledges that positively and looked at
Member 2 to hand it over to him. M2 had a stern look to begin with but that
M2: Pawan, you are a sportsperson. You come
from a sports school. You have been doing sports regularly. Tell us, what
according to you are the problems in Sports in India?
Me: Sir, the biggest problem is in the way we
perceive sports. Its seen as a hindrance to academics. Sports is not seen as
an economically viable career. Then the Govt incentives and focus on sports
has been low. Sports infrastructure is lacking. Private investment in sports
is also low. But Sir, the past few years our sportspersons have performed
very well in various international competitions and have shown us the way
M2: What can be done to tackle these problems?
Me: Sir, the first thing we need is a strong &
balanced Sports Policy and Sports Law. Also academics should integrate
sports in it for the overall development of children. The government
spending should increase and infrastructure be built using existing schemes
and new schemes. And the private sector should promote sports persons as
role models through advertisements and sponsorships. Talent hunting and
improvement in coaching facilities should also be important focus areas.
M2: What about hockey?