Below is the Interview Transcript of Kirthi - Rank-440 (CSE 2013, First Attempt). She got 215 - one of the highest scores this year (or May be the Highest Score). She was active at ‘Daily Answer Writing Challenge‘. She also wrote few very good articles on this site (links are provided at the end of this post).
She is very humble, and humility personified. Along with her answers in her interview, academic background, I think her simplicity and humility were major factors in getting her very good marks in the Interview.
Interview: Mrs. P. Kilemsungla board
Date: 13th May 2014
Entered UPSC, forgot to bring in ID card, and forgot photo copy of documents. Wasn’t a big issue though, managed to enter in. I was the 5th person according to the roll no. Tried reading paper and recollect stuff on profile, but mind was numb.
A sense of relief had set in when the 3rd person who had come back after interview said the board was cordial, however he said the entire interview was on his optional history. I was also a little scared because I would be screwed if the entire interview would be on anthropology (tried recollecting some anthro stuff on races, issues in NE, recent Bodo conflict since the board chairperson from NE) My turn came in, waited outside for 10 minutes, was nervous but somehow I wasn’t really comfortable till the second member of the interview started questioning.
Chairman: You’re from AP. The division is going on, you must be very excited about it.
Me: Yes mam, but I think the manner in which it was done and unnecessary emotional appeals and divide among the people could’ve been avoided.
Mam: you feel Division should be avoided?
Me: No mam, not among the states but among the people. The unnecessary fears about the safety of people in Hyderabad and regional appeals etc. could’ve been avoided.
Mam: What are the prospects of development in both states?
Me: Mam in Telangana, the fiscal surplus from Hyderabad should be used for the development of the rest of the regions, which are backward which are more..
Mam: Which institutions should be used? (I didn’t get the question, still nervous and not really thinking and just wanted to answer something)
Me: Mam, rest of the Telangana is backward in human developmental indicators be it IMR MMR literacy rate etc. The money should be used for development on this front and a more balance regional form of development should be pursued.
Mam: What about Andhra?
Me: Mam, It’s a challenge for Andhra Pradesh to develop the residual state but I think they’ve learnt the lessons of concentration of development (I felt I used the word development too many times, I’m still in auto mode, just blabbering whatever came to my mind) There is a proposal for more de-concentrated form of development and 4-5 regional centres to be developed, there is special development package for north coastal Andhra which is backward so that it could be brought on par with rest of the state and there is also special category status to Andhra (I did not pause but she moved on)
Mam: from IIT, what about counselor, GCU?
Me: told that counselor for first year students
Mam: She asked something on IITs
Me: I said something on suicides (don’t remember)
Mam: She asked me if there is some drug abuse in IIT?
Me: Yes mam, there is drug abuse
Mam: A very long question on these lines – what would you do to address the situation
Me: I blabbered, wasn’t really thinking, merely uttering some words – Mam there are already some rules on no smoking etc. which should be implemented so that people would be afraid to use them and also involve parents at the time of admission… ( didn’t finish the answer when she moved on.. )
Mam: In South India, though educated, women are less emancipated, why? Don’t you think so? (I was thinking about the status of women being better off in southern rather than north India due to cultural reasons like cross cousin marriages, matriarchy in Kerala etc. and still very uncomfortable with the situation)
Me: Mam, I think women in southern India are better off than in Northern India.. (She paused and said yes yes and repeated her question) I said something very unsatisfactorily which I don’t remember at all..
Mam: How would you sensitize society as there are many dowry deaths etc. happening
Me: Mam we can sensitize society by educating them but ultimately we should remove all the blocks to women empowerment so that presence of women increases and blah blah (Still in default mode, not thinking, answered whatever came to mind)
Mam: Dowry is present in patriarchal society, you are student of anthropology, from anthropological point of view, tell me why? (When she used the word anthropology, because of the absence of feel for the subject and varied other reasons, my mind went blank and I was thinking, when she said, doesn’t matter and asked other member to continue)
Till now, the interview was out of my control, I was unable to think and went very very unsatisfactorily and I felt the chair person wasn’t satisfied with me too. Can’t help.
Second Lady Member: Very long question. Something like Capitalist countries have given rights to women quite late, not so with the socialist country. Tell me there is one socialist country which is first constitution to have equal rights to women etc. etc. and she said I had already given you a hint and what is the status of rights to women in India
Me: Lost track of what she had asked, she spoke for so long. I said India is one nation where our women did not have to fight for the franchise, we have given UAF right at the time of independence not so with UK, US and Switzerland etc. where women have had to fight for their rights. So situation for women at the time of independence is better, there is declining political participation in women and mam there is a paradoxical situation which on hand women are entering different fields like armed forces blah blah at the same time we see skewed sex ratio honour killings etc. And mam since you said socialist country my guess is that it is Russia ( In my mind, I was thinking of favourable sex ratio of women in Russia, could’ve pointed that out)
Mam: Yes yes, Russia was the one to give in 1920s, Labour force participation rate, any idea?
Me: Mam I’m not sure but I think it is either 10 or 30 percent. She said it was second
Mam: But there is also 33 percent reservation, and many women have entered…
Me: Yes mam, in some states even 50 percent was given (she said yes yes) , though it was alleged that women were made proxies etc. I think the second generation of women in PRIs are really asserting themselves which is a good thing and also 33 percent reservation in parliament should be given so that women presence increases
M3: Throwball, assume we don’t know anything about it, tell me how the game is played?
M3: What happened in 1971? (he said war I guess but I didn’t hear it) (I was thinking of 1969 elections, congress split, kamaraj plan blah blah and confused.)
Me: Sir about elections?
M3: You know a war happened in 1971 right ? he said laughingly
Me: Realized the blunder I’ve made and said sorry sir, and said It was Bangladesh liberation war sir, the Awami league of erstwhile Pakistan had won but the head of the party name I can’t recall now ( Mujibur Rahman ) was confined and not allowed to form govt. and that was the trigger for the war sir. There were calls for help from Bangladesh and refuge problem and India had helped Bangladesh and one of the first countries to recognize the nation of Bangladesh and It also entered into Shimla agreement with Pakistan which made the issue of JK a bilateral one rather than resolving in multilateral forum like UN
M3: That’s okay but what the help by Indian govt. like Mukti bahini etc etc.. Do you know there was an other country that was involved?
Me: Hesitatingly, sir the US naval fleet?
Sir and 2nd lady member both nodded their heads and said yes yes
M4: So there is lot of allegation on brain drain and subsidized education etc. What do you think on this, is it right or wrong blah blah and do we need any policies to attract them back etc.. ?
Me: Sir the objective of Nehru in setting up IITs is that they can help solve the problems of nation like poverty illiteracy and hunger (The issues of India I really had feel for) and I personally think it is the moral responsibility (stressed moral of every IIT’an to contribute back to the society as it is also hugely subsidized but some also opine that because of this, we have good relations with US today. However sir, after 1990s the brain drain reduced, and hardly 20 percent leave to states now. If they leave, it is because of opportunities but not for the love of other countries sir. And sir there is really a need for using the expertise of them for our country. For eg in electronic sector, if the present trend continues, we would be importing more electronic hardware than we import oil/ gold in future.
M4: Do you think they’ll come
Me: Definitely sir, many are willing to come and we should incentivize them and use their expertise ( Not sure if these are the exact words used and could’ve justified their presence already in scientific and defense establishments and also as professors in IIT)
M4: Tell me recent development in Meta (Meta – negative triggers)
Me: Sir, we’ve had stone bronze and Iron Age, next is carbon age. In 1990s, discovery of CNTs with exceptional properties – high strength, elec cond, thermal cond. Etc. helps in miniaturization of devices etc. etc. and also materials are limiting factors in making forays in space sector etc. cause fuel consumption would be less if we use lighter materials
M4: In defense?
Me: Yes sir, in defense too, here self-reliance is very important sir, we depend for some critical materials on other countries and I think we should have a strategic plan where we should not export our materials resources to other countries just for the purpose of foreign exchange ( too general answer)
M4: In Nuclear too?
Me: Yes sir, definitely but I am not sure what the exact material used…..
M4: You never thought of entering into private sector?
Me: No sir, not after 3rd year when I decided to appear for civil services.
M4: What motivated you to enter into CS?
Me: Sir, my ambition is to get into IAS. The human element in the sense that working with the people, the diversity of experiences in service and personally for me sir, the tremendous job satisfaction
M4: How is metallurgy knowledge useful in admin?
Me: Sir Exposure to technical background is helpful in administration in inducing tech in admin and being more open to it and also analytical and rational skills could be utilized in admin sir but as far as meta know is involved, it is useful only in sectors like iron steel mining industries
M4: Oh yeah those skills of analytical and blah blah … which could be useful in admin. (Something which I lost of track of and I was not really listening and I said yes sir yes sir)
M4: Federation what are the changes happening in the last 50 years and there is talk of federal front, what do you think?
Me: Sir, India is a union of states not federation of states though there is federal distribution of powers. Sir, in the first twenty years, congress was the party at both centre and states and hence relations with the states are easily managed. But after 1967 elections, in more than half of the state, non Congress govt. formed, because of which the idea of federation strengthened. And also sir, to Lok Sabha, the 5 major states of AP TN UP Bihar WB which contributes to majority of the Lok Sabha doesn’t have large presence of national parties which shows the strengthening of federation. But sir, the importance of Land Boundary agreement with Bangla which is very important to nation cause of the connectivity to NE and also sir recently the terrorist attacks and NCTC need are real issues sir. I think evolution of political culture should happen ultimately sir with electoral reforms etc. where leaders in politics who have national vision should come sir rather than a narrow parochial and regional view.
M5: Divorce rates are increasing, which I don’t think is a good trend, why is it so?
Me: yes sir, it is because of increasing individualism, after this LPG, where the premium is on individual and companies hire individuals rather than in agricultural societies where presence of joint family and collectivistic nature of work is there, apart from that there is greater societal acceptance of marriage sir, in previous days, absence of divorce doesn’t mean everything is alright in marriage but people are afraid cause of society to divorce, but that is not the case now and also more financial independency for the women.
M5: Do you feel it is a good trend?
Me: In cases in some marriages where women are suffering for eg. Marital rape, it is good to come out of such marriages and I don’t think it is wrong but as far as the general incompatibility issues are concerned, it feel it is bad trend (with smile and hesitatingly)
M5: RTI you know? How is it helpful in admin regarding transparency etc. (I did not really get his question, I thought he was more of asking my opinion on RTI)
Me: I said it is a step in right direction, transform culture of govt. from one of secrecy to that of openness. Now if a person cannot get his entitlements like birth certificate etc. in time, he can apply RTI and know the status and that pressurizes administration to perform. But sir there is provision in RTI mandating voluntary disclosure ( I was searching for words here, use some word which isn’t appropriate) of information in public domain, which should be used and also sir the purpose of RTI is to make it redundant so that all info that people want is in public domain.
M5: But some say there is misuse of it?
Me: Sir I am not aware of it, sir but my opinion is that there are some exceptions to not revealing information on RTI for commercial and economic interests, national security etc. and I think taking out file notings etc. out of purview of RTI isn’t a step in right direction, which anyways is not the case now ( I Don’t know why I said the second line, shouldn’t have pointed out which is not appropriate to the question)
M5: You said in 3rd year you’ve decided to come for civils, why?
Me: Sir 3rd year we had an orientation session, in which people from all professions like Civils, Management etc. had come and talked about their careers and It was then that one IAS officer of TN cadre whose name I do not remember sir, he said that there is human element in civils and there is diversity of experience ( repeated those points I said previously to M4) and sir he also said be it whatever area you’re working in, there is a plenty to contribute back sir and that was the reason I had then decided.
M5: Your role models? (Apart from parents)
Me: Sir I have many role models (actually I’m thinking of all controversial angles to all the role models – like mother Teresa, JP etc. )
M5: Tell me any two
Me: Sir different perspectives in different personalities (Still thinking what to answer)
M5: Yea yeah any two
Me: Sir Jaya Prakash Narayan from Andhra Pradesh, it is because of him I realized that politics is noble, before him I had a very cynical view of politics, now I think politics is very important and essential for social change and people with impeccable credentials should come to politics
And I wanted to say Sumit Sharma IAS in generic medicine but thinking that both would be from the same profession- civils; I said sir Harish Hande, entrepreneur with the help of solar energy he was responsible for electrify un electrified places near Bangalore, I said a single person could bring that change and hence I like him ( rather naively)
M5: One last question from me from mild steels, I smiled and he said you don’t know? I just wanted to avoid any kind of uncomfortable questions from Meta and I said sir I’ve read but I forgot now.. He said oh. Forgot leave then and everyone laughed (didn’t know why)
And some member from them said your interview is over, you can leave. Said thank you mam and sirs but couldn’t really see Chair Person’s face again after initial debacle, the rest of the members were not intimidating and threatening and that’s probably the reason why the pressure did not build up during the interview even after not doing initial questions with the chair person well. I did not know the pace at which I spoke but I am hoping it isn’t too fast and intelligible, and I did not make it a point to smile deliberately or artificially at any point in interview. So probably my natural self-had come out as far as expressions are considered, and I really felt pathetic while answering the questions with the chair person initially and I felt good while answering the question on federation and on moral responsibility of IIT.
No questions on my hobbies (reading and diary writing), no questions on my district and AP, no questions on current affairs, foreign policy, no questions on project in IIM Bangalore, no threatening and embarrassing basic questions in Metallurgy ( keeping Dhandapani award in mind)
Her Articles on Insights
- Elderly in India – Issues
- On Disability Bill and the Plight of Disabled in India
- On Elections In India
You can search for her Answers at Daily Answer Writing Challenge, Here.