(INTERVIEW) MY IAS INTERVIEW : TIRU (02 April 2007)
MY IAS INTERVIEW
I was interviewed by the UPSC by Air Marshal (Retd.) Satish Govind Inamdar's Board on 2nd of April 2007. I was scheduled to be interviewed in the afternoon session and was called to report at 1.15 PM. My interview started at 5. 30 PM in the evening and I was the fourth candidate to be interviewed that afternoon. It lasted for a little more than half an hour (in contrast to previous candidates who were interviewed for 45 or more minutes each).
I was wearing standard formal dress. A navy blue pant, white shirt with a bluish tinge and was sporting a half Windsor knot on my tie to give a confident look. My shoes were shining and my hairs and nails were neatly cut. In short, a perfectly conventional look for the job I aspired for. While waiting outside I remembered all the Gods that I have come across in my life. I did a bit of 'Baba Ramdev' brand pranayam too. That cooled me down a lot. The previous candidate came out and was wearing a sad look. I asked him what happened. He told me that the board is asking a lot of useless factual questions. In fact they asked him the per capita income of Russia (I came to know later that this guy was doing PhD on Russia). The bell rang and the peon indicated me to go in. I opened the door gently and before I finished my standard 'May I come in Sir?", the chairman called me in.
The room was quite big and the table was almost round and majestic. There were five people seated around it with one chair was empty (for me!). I walked with a smile and long steps. The table was around 7 steps from the door. The chairman told me to take the seat as I was walking down but I stood near my chair, saw that one of the members is a lady, wished her first and then wished the others and only then took my seat. (I speak loud and my voice boomed in this room or so I felt under pressure.) The chairman looked quite younger than what I had thought. He should be around 64 years as per websites but he looked not a day older than 50. He had quite a presence on the table and had a dominating appearance.
(for the sake of simplicity, CM stands for chairman, M1 is the lady member, M2, M3 and M4 are other male members)
CM: So you are Tirumala
Tiru: Yes Sir.
CM: Date of Birth?
Tiru: 23 Dec 78 sir
Tiru: Shimoga sir
CM: Tiru or Thiru?
Tiru: Tiru sir.
CM: What's the difference?
Tiru: Sir, It is not 'tha' but 'ta' (the pronunciation was in Hindi script) and my name being with 'ti' and not 'thi'
M1: OK, but how does TTD spell it?
Tiru: Sir they call it Tiru and not Thiru.
CM: What were you doing in Dhanbad?
Tiru: Sir, My father was in Central Industrial Security force and hence liable to be transferred all over India. As we stayed with him...X (I was stopped here)
CM: Oh, CISF?
Tiru: Yes Sir
CM: You are an Engineer then why do you want to be a Civil Servant?
Tiru: Sir, given an opportunity the best will move towards the best. (I had heard it from senior candidate) Moreover, the depth and breadth of experience that a person gets in civil services cannot be matched by any other job. One also gets an opportunity to serve the society in an effective way and that's why I want to become a civil servant.
CM: Do you say that non Engineers are not fit to be civil servants?
Tiru: No sir
CM: So you mean to say that non Engineers too can become civil servants?
Tiru: Sure Sir.
CM: But in order to be an Engineer, you have taken a seat which would have otherwise gone to someone else and he would have served the industry whereas you have decided to leave it? what do you say?
Tiru: Sir, In Karnataka, many seats remain vacant every year in many colleges and as such I don't think I have taken any one's share.
CM: You mean to say that the number of candidates are less than the number of seats in Karnataka?
Tiru: yes sir, it is so even in Tamil Nadu.
(Another member was nodding the head in affirmative while I said this and CM looked at him and understood that I am not lying)
CM: You passed out in 2002. This is 2007. What were you doing all these days?
Tiru: Sir, I was campus selected into Wipro fluid power in bangalore while in college and after college I worked with Wipro for two years and then changed my job and worked with Eaton Industries in Pune for 1 and half years. In Nov 2005 I quit that job and came to Delhi to prepare for civil services.
CM: Why Delhi?
Tiru: Sir, it is because in Delhi one get good material for stu...X (X symbol will mean that i was stopped at that point)
Tiru: Yes sir, study material like books, magazines etc.
CM: Fine. (Looks towards the members and gestures them to ask questions)
M1 (lady member): I see that you had psychology as one of your optionals. How did you find it? Was in interesting?
Tiru: yes mam, it was very interesting.
M1: How many papers you had in psychology?
Tiru: 2 papers mam
M1: What were they?
Tiru: The first paper was on principles and theories of psychology and the second paper was on applied psychology.
M1: How will you apply psychology in administration?
Tiru: Mam applied psychology deals extensively in organizational behavior. The knowledge will come in handy to run any part of the administrative setup. The knowledge of various motivation theories will give me a chance to motivate my team to perform better. I also know community psychology. It is the application of psychological principles to solve social problems so that people can grow and realize their potential....X
M1: Why did you leave your job? Do you think you were a misfit there and that's why you want to move to civil services?
Tiru: No mam, in fact i was doing very well. I was a certified green belt in Six Sigma and my roles and responsibilities were growing every day...X
M1: What's your first option?
Tiru: IAS mam
M1: Why not IFS?
Tiru: (thinking for two seconds). Mam, to tell it in engineering terms, it all boils down to the leverage effect. An IAS (i lift my hands and place one finger of one hand on another finger of other hand to form a see saw lever) officer has a bigger leverage to work for society compared to IFS. The fulcrum position is better in his case. And mam, though I am proud to represent my country as an IFS, still I would prefer IAS due to this reason. However, it doesn't mean that I look down upon IFS. I consider both equally respectful. However the canvas to paint for an IAS is much bigger in scope due to the breadth and depth of the job.....X
CM: what is this breadth, depth and such terms? Did they teach you this in mock interviews or is it your own words? You know, coaching institutes and such places.
Tiru: (Smiling), Sir I don't believe in mocks or coaching as they are run now. These words are very much my own. In fact even to understand psychology I went to a reputed professor in Delhi University rather than going to run of the mill institutes. (The CM was looking at me as if he was expecting some more words on it but I kept quiet. I felt I had already spoken too much. He looked towards M2 and M2 takes over)
M2: So Tirumala, I saw that you said you can serve the society in an 'effective' way. What do you mean by that. What is effective?
Tiru: Sir, as an engineer I have a scientific approach towards any issue. As I said sir, I am a green belt in six sigma and that gives me a very effective tool to tackle processes....X
M2: Do you know anything about inflatable solar collector?
Tiru: I am sorry sir, I don't know.
M2: It's OK. Do you know about C A D and C A M. Can you tell me what is the advantages by using it?
Tiru: Sir, CAD stands for computer aided design and CAM stands for computer aided manufacturing but the latest buzz is CIM which stands for computer integrated manufacturing. It utilizes the synergies of CAD and CAM with an automated manufacturing setup. One can make a model using a CAD tool like Unigraphics and can readily export it after converting it to NC codes which is an inbuilt feature of the regular CAD tools and it goes to manufacturing....X
M2: You are explaining the process. I know it, can you tell me the advantages?
Tiru: yes sir, the errors comes down as the NC programming is automatic, that's number one. Number two, the total time from design to manufacturing comes down in such a setup and number three, because of these two the turnover time decreases and customer satisfaction increases.
Tiru: thank you sir.
(when i was answering i was looking at all the members one by one and when i looked at the chairman, he indicated by hand to look at the member who asked the question and i devoted more time to M2 while answering his question)
M2: Tirumala, Rajiv Gandhi once said that out of every rupee allotted for the schemes, only 17 paise reaches the intended and remaining is wasted. What is your take on this sentence?
Tiru: Sir, When Raviv Gandhi said that, he was talking about our system. What he meant was that the system is so huge that the inertia and friction itself takes up so much money. He was not talking of corruption here but about the size of the system, the salaries to be given to people in it, the money that goes in maintaining files etc...X
M2: Don't call it system, call it delivery mechanism...and yes you are correct there but do you have any suggestions to bypass this mechanism so that this wastage is not there?
(I took a moment to think...around 2 seconds)
M2: Don't worry, you can take your own time...write it down if you wish..
Tiru: Thank you sir, I think decentralization is one answer. Sir, the funds can be directly allotted to grass root level panchayats. They can directly work on the schemes. That's one solution. Apart from that, one can also think of funding the NGOs who are working directly with people.
Tiru: thank you sir.
M2: How can you apply IT in governance or in administration. And tell me very specifically how can it reduce wastage, time and corruption?
Tiru: Sir, IT as a process can be an integral part of administration. To answer corruption, in India corruption is basically what one calls speed money. The files goes into the system, one doesn't know where the file is, or how to move it and hence pays money to move the file or to know the status. Once the process is computerised, the whole process can be tracked online e.g. our passport system where a number is given and the status can be tracked online. That might weed out corruption. Coming to wastage, as the complete data is online it saves a lot of paperwork and trees and also the manual labor of calculations. Due to these two, the efficiency increases and will certainly lead to decrease in total turnover time for customers.
M2: How can you improve the process?
Tiru: Sir, if the process is already established one like our administrative setup, then one can use tools like DMAIC from six sigma which stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control. The process has to be studied in detail, to start with customers have to be identified which in this case might be the citizens using the services....X
M2: The customers are well known here.
Tiru: That's good sir. Now the Critical to quality issues for customers have to identified which....X
M2: Ok, how much time do you think will take to improve the whole system....is two or three years sufficient?
Tiru...mmmmmm in fact sir, I believe the system is too huge to change in one go, in say two or three years, it would take time.
M2: Look at your whole career or say 30 to 35 years...would that the enough?
Tiru: Certainly sir, that's quite enough time to completely overhaul the system but it has to be a joint effort by all.
Tiru: thank you sir.
(Till this point the interview was dominated by me...or so I felt, as i was talking aloud, in clear tone and the board members were very supportive. From this point onwards, they tested my composure in adverse conditions. My voice didn't change and i didn't waver. But yes, it was really tough to maintain my poise as situation took a turn for worse)
M3: OK, Tirumala there is some issue with currency exchange rate, something to do with dollar to rupee and things like that...any idea what is it?
Tiru: yes sir, the rupee is appreciating with respect to dollar and that is a cause for concern for exporters and at the same time a good news for importers. And sir, I am not sure how it works but I read that it would also bring down inflation.
M3: No, no...this is not what I meant....Tell me specifically, how would it affect IT industry?
Tiru: Sir, the IT industry bills their overseas customers in dollars or in Euros and hence for the same amount of euros or dollars coming in, they will have less rupees after conversion. That would decrease their margin.
M3: And what would happen to Auto industry?
Tiru: Sir, using the same logic the Auto exporters too will take a hit.
M3: No, that is wrong. Think like a mechanical engineer, the auto industry has anicilliary and main makers etc...can you now tell?
Tiru: I am extremely sorry sir but I don't know the answer.
M3: Ok leave it. There is some issue with petrol and diesel and there is some arguments going on..what is it?
Tiru: Sir the petrol and diesel prices are going up.
M3: No no, I mean there is some other issue. Using it in automobiles etc..think in that line.
Tiru: Sir the last century was oil century and this would be gas century. We will have more use of gases in automobiles and less and less petrol and diesel as we go along.
M3: No no. that won't happen for next thirty years. Think in lines of pollution.
Tiru: Yes sir, both are polluting in nature as they produce....X
M3: No no, you are a mechanical engineer, think in terms of the engines.
Tiru: Sir, in past thirty years or so, diesel technology has made a lot of progress due to improvement in fuel injection technology and they have become silent and hence all major car manufacturers are now releasing a diesel versions...X
M3: No no...i was not asking that. OK, leave it. Do you have any idea as to how many cars India produces each year?
Tiru: Sorry sir, I don't have the figures.
M3: Do you have any idea how big is our auto industry?
Tiru: I am sorry sir, I don't know.
M3: Looks like you don't know anything about industries. Tell me which industry do you know about.
Tiru: Sir, I have worked in hydraulic industry for more than 3 and half years. You can ask about that.
M3: (he had a pencil in hand all the time which he put it down now as if giving up): I don't know anything about hydraulic industry.
(I was quite relieved)
M4: Tirumala, I see that you do bodybuilding. Do you still do bodybuilding?
Tiru: No sir, that was during college days. I now concentrate more on maintaining my fitness.
M4: So you go to gym?
Tiru: Yes sir.
M4: How much weight do you lift?
Tiru: 90 kgs in bench press. 80 kgs in squats and 130 kgs in dead lift sir.
M4: What is the world record in olympics?
Tiru: Sir, powerlifting is not an olympic sport.
M4: Ok, in commonwealth?
Tiru: Not ever here sir but there are competitions at other places and in dead lifts people are lifting around 700 pounds and that works out around 320 kgs.
CM: What is difference between bodybuilding and powerlifting?
Tiru: Sir, powerlifting is all about strength and bodybuilding is about beauty of muscles. In powerlifting one has to perform squat, deadlift and benchpress and the combined total weight is taken to judge the strength and in bodybuilding one has to pose and show his muscles.
CM: You do blogging? What is it? What do you do?
Tiru: Sir, blogs are online diaries which can be used to express one's thoughts or events. Even to share points of view on issues of general nature. I maintain three blog sites sir.
CM: What kind of books do you read?
Tiru: Sir I read any book as long as it is interesting which I judge by reading first few pages. If you ask what i am reading right now, I am reading Malgudi days by R K Narayan and before that I was reading Foundation by Isaac Asimov which is a science fiction and before that I read The inscrutable americans by anurag mathur and before that mritunjaya by shivaji savant and and few novels by John Grisham...X
M4: Ok, tirumala have you seen the roads and the highways?
Tiru: yes sir,
M4: How are they?
Tiru: good sir.
M4: No I mean, what is the shape, convex, concave or straight...how does it look like. (makes shapes with hands and shows)
Tiru: (I make my hands convex and show the shape): Sir it is convex.
M4: What's that called?
Tiru: Banking....no sir, it is not banking....I am sorry I don't know.
M4: It is called camber.
Tiru: thank you sir.
M4: Now tell me, why is this camber there?
Tiru: I am not sure sir.
M4: Take a guess.
Tiru: Maybe sir because the wheels give loads on ends of the roads and over a period of time....X
M4: No no that's not the reason.
Tiru: I am sorry sir, I don't know.
M4: It is for drainage purposes. That way, the water will flow sidewards and not collect at the centre.
Tiru: yes sir, that's logical. Thank you sir.
M4: Why is banking given on turns?
Tiru: To avoid vehicles from toppling over or skidding while taking a turn.
M4: and why does vehicle topple or skid?
Tiru: Sir the centrifugal force acting on the vehicle makes them do so. The reaction force tries to balance the centrifugal force acting inwards and when centrifugal force is more the vehicle topples.
M4: Centrigual force acts inwards?
M4: How does the vehicle topple?
M4: Then how should the centrifugal force act?
Tiru: yes sir, I was wrong, it actually acts outwards and in fact centripetal is the one acting inwards.
M4: Think again. I think you were right earlier.
Tiru: (I was really confused now...and though i knew i was wrong earlier but i took a moment here. All the members on the board broke into smiles and started laughing slowly. I too looked at them and we all laughed): Sir...X
M4: So you are confused.
Tiru: Sir I accept that I am confused.
CM: But you should know this. This is basic.
Tiru: yes sir, I accept I should know this. I agree.
CM: Do you know about the differential gears used in two wheelers?
Tiru: Sir as per my knowledge they are used in four wheelers.
CM: yes yes, wahi wahi. Tell me why is it used?
Tiru: sir when a vehicle takes a turn the radius of turn for the outer wheels is more than that for inner wheels due to which the number of effective turns required for the outer wheels is more than that required for inner wheels....X
CM: Why do engineers speak so technically. Tell me what will happen?
Tiru: Sir the tyres will wear faster.
CM: That's all? What's the major effect? That's just a minor effect.
Tiru: I am sorry sir, I can't recall any other effect.
CM: The axle will break. Remember the horse drawn carriages? Have you seen bailgadis? (Bailgadi = bullock cart)
Tiru: yes sir, bailgadis don't have differentials.
(I don't know why but when i said that all members in the board laughed.)
CM: Ok, tell me what differential mechanism do they use in trains.
Tiru: I am not sure sir.
CM: Think again. Don't you think they need differentials?
Tiru: To take a guess sir, the effective turning radius is very big for trains and they may not need them.
CM: But the load is very high. So they do need them.
Tiru: yes sir, that's logical.
CM: Ok, then take a guess. There are many types of differentials. Hydraulic, pneumatic, mechanical etc. What type they are using?
Tiru: I am afraid sir, I don't have any idea. However it sounds interesting to me and next time I am on a train, I will make it a point to bend down and see what differential mechanism they are using.
CM smiles at me.
CM: Tirumala, your interview is now over. Good. Do you have any suggestions for the board?
Tiru: No sir.
CM: Do you have any suggestions for the exam system?
Tiru: No sir.
CM: You may leave now. Thank you.
Tiru: Thank you sirs. thank you mam.
I get up from the chair. Take two steps back. Turn around and walk out of the door.
I come out. I meet the last candidate who is waiting outside the room. I wish him all the best and come out of UPSC. Now I am waiting for the results. It all depends on how much I score in mains and in this interview. Hopefully things will work out well. Fingers crossed till then. The results are expected around Mid May.