Monday, June 29, 2009

My Interview

Now coming to my interview:

27th March, 2009, 2nd half

I reached UPSC by 12:15 pm. I kept waiting till we were allowed to go in. It was about 1:30 pm when I went in. I reached inside and saw the other candidates who were also there for their interviews. There were 7 tables around which 5 candidates were seated. The table decides which board you are going to be in. At around 2 pm, the candidates started going to their respective interview boards. We still didn't know our board. There were 4 other candidates with me who were going to be interviewed by the same board. There were 2 ladies, one from Maharashtra and one from Rajasthan, and there were 2 guys, one from IIT Chennai and the other I can't recall.

We kept waiting, meanwhile other boards had interviewed around 2 candidates. We were getting impatient and hungry too. The lady from Rajasthan opened her bag and got out a packet of biscuits. I thanked god and started eating them. we were speculating as to which board we would get. Finally someone came and told us that we were going to be interviewed by Mr. P K Mishra.
I was so disheartened. Last year, I had been interviewed by a new board member, Mr Purushottam Aggarwal. I was the 1st one to go in on the 1st day last year. In spite of having a wonderful interview, I got just 180. So, I was a little apprehensive as Mr P K Mishra was also a new member of UPSC.

Now, coming back to the table. Everyone was nervous. We were reading all the newspapers there, in case a question comes from any of the newspapers. Then we started talking and finally we were all relaxed.

I was the 3rd one to go in. So when finally the 1st guy was called to the interview, we heaved a sigh of relief. I was assuming that since the board had started late, they would not give us adequate time. I had been suffering from throat infection just before the interview, so was taking a vicks/strepsil all the time. When the 2nd guy from IIT Chennai went in, I started anticipating the interview.

Finally at 4 o clock, someone came to lead me to the board. Suddenly to my horror I realised that my mouth was so dry due to vicks/ strepsils. I didn't have water with me. I reached there and asked someone for water, but even after drinking water, my throat won't be better. I had about 3 glasses of water, that didn't help. I was cursing vicks/strepsils. I was thinking that a heavy throat was better than a dry one. What if I needed to drink water during the interview if my mouth dried again. Anyway, after 10 mins or so, the gentleman from IIT Chennai came out and told me that they were very cool. But that he had had just 15 mins with them.

Then they called for me. I composed myself, tried to forget my dry mouth and asked for their permission to enter the room. When I entered, I saw two lady members to the left of CM and 2 gentlemen to his right. I wished the ladies first and then the gentlemen. I stood next to the chair and waited for the CM's permission to sit down. He said "please be seated". I thanked him and sat down.

Now the interview starts:

CM: What's your name?
Me: Sir, My name is Shubhra Saxena

CM:Tell us about yourself
Me: I told them about my education, prof background, my family and so on.

CM:Can you tell us the immunisation schedule of children
(Now let me tell you v frankly that I was shocked and thrown off guard. Maybe he wanted to destabilise me to see if I maintained my cool.)
Me:Sir, I am not aware of the immunisation schedule of children. But I do know some vaccines for children.

CM: Fine, go ahead.
Me: There is DPT, that prevents Diptheria, Pertussis and Tetanus. And there is OPV, Oral polio vaccine.

CM: Can't you recall any more?
Me:Sorry Sir, I can't recall any more.

CM:Isn't there a vaccine for Hepatitis B?
Me:Sir there is, But I think it can be taken as an adult because I had this vaccine when I was in college.

CM: (Smiled) Yes but it is now given to children.
Me:I said, Thank you sir.

CM: Your hobbies include teaching. Can you tell us about that?
Me:Sir, I have liked teaching since childhood. I used to teach my younger siblings and the children of my colony. Now I teach some children of my maid servants.
CM:Tell us, who is a good teacher?
(I didn't understand the question but I nevertheless tried to answer.)
Me: A good teacher is the one who can conceptually explain topics to students. Someone who can motivate students to do better. Someone who can be a friend, philosopher and guide to students.
( He was apparently not satisfied with my answer.)

CM: No, tell me if you are teaching students in a class, how would you make sure that they followed what you were teaching?
Me: Sir, I would first try to understand the level of cognitive maturity of students. Then I would try to adjust the speed of teaching to suit most of the students because at any level of teaching not all students would be satisfied. I would include practical examples to make them understand the concepts better. The students who have somehow not grasped the things I taught them, I would give them time other than the class to make sure they understood it.
(he apparently was satisfied. So he let it go. He gestured to the 1st lady member on his left)

M1: Your hobby is teaching. So can you tell me about a few education schemes of GOI
Me: I told her about SSA. She inturrepted me.

M1: Can you tell us about SSA?
Me: I told her about a few provisions under SSA as I did not know all.

M1:Can you tell me if there are any provisions for handicapped children under SSA.
Me:Ma'm I am not sure if there are any. But there mustbe.

M1:(Looks at other members) aren' there? (Others nod)
Tell me about other education schemes?
Me: I told about MSA, MDM, KGBV , scholarship schemes for disadvantaged and backward students.

M1: (Interrupts)..That's fine. Your extra curricular activity said Debating. I will give you a topic. Can you debate on that.
Me: Yes ma'm.

M1: The topic is "Women should empower themselves"
Me: Ma'm should I debate in favour or against the topic?

M1: Whichever way you want
Me: May I speak both in favour and against the topic?

(I was a little apprehensive if this gamble would pay off. But it did. She didn't look offended.)

M1: Yes, go ahead.
Me:Argued first against the topic. Then later in favour of the topic.

M1:(looking very happy) Excellent Shubhra. You have argued well in both directions. But you forgot to mention the role of husbands.
Me:(I smiled) yes Ma'm. Thank you.

She now passed the charge to the next lady member..

M2: So Shubhra, you have stayed in many states. Which state have you stayed maximum in?
Me: Ma'm I have stayed for 16 years in Jharkhand and 12 years in UP and 2 years in AP.

M2: So can you please compare Jharkhand and UP?
Me: Yes Ma'm. Jharkhand and UP are topographically very diffrent states. Whereas JH has a hilly and forested terrain, UP is part of the Gangetic plain and very sparsely forested. UP is densely populated whereas JH has a low population density. JH has a sizeable tribal population mainly consisting of tribes like Santhal and Munda whereas UP has a low tribal population. Both the states primarily speak Hindi. In terms of HDI, both perform poorly.

M2: No, tell me what diff did you find on a personal level?
Me: Ma'm both states are culturally complex and offer a variety of ways of life. While I was growing up in Jharkhand I used to stay in isolated forested lands where sometimes wild animals like tiger would come into our colony. This is something I have never come across in UP. The food of these 2 states is more or less the same with a few regional variations. The people in both the states are very tolerant and loving and make one feel at home.
(Everyone smiled at the tiger comment)
She nods then asks.

M2: Tell me what is India's equation with Nepal?
Me: Ma'm Nepal has traditionally been a good friend of India's and India has always supported Nepal in many ways. But with the coming of Maoist government in Nepal, the equations are changing as Maoists are more sympathetic towards China. And therefore the hegemony of India in Nepal is weakening.
(She draws her eyebrows together as if frowning at me. I am telling you it was a scary moment)

M2: Do you think we should be using words like hegemony in context of international relations. India is a big country and shouldn't it allow her neighbour countries autonomy rather than dominating them?
Me: Ma'm, (how to redefine the meaning of hegemony???) , I didn't mean hegemony in the sense of controlling a smaller country for one's vested interests. I meant primacy in international relations.
India is a very big country and that is the reason most of her neighbours are insecure about India's intentions. But India is a very peaceful country and instead of dominating its neighbours she extends whatever support it can to her neighbours.

(again frowning....I am so scared now...)

M2: It is you who are saying that India is a peaceful country.But other countries don't think so.
Me: Ma'm, I have had the fortune to work abroad in many countries and everywhere I meet people they always say that India is perhaps the most peace loving country in the world.

(She looks satisfied now...I heave a sigh of relief)

M2: Tell me about India's relations with Myanmar.
Me: Relations between India and Myanmar haven't been very positive ever since the military junta took over control of that country since India had never supported the junta's rule in Myanmar. But lately, the contours of relations are changing for the better because India needs Myanmar for access to ASEAN route, for development of NE and to curb insurgency in NE. But even despite many efforts, Myanmar is more inclined towards China, that is using Myanmar territory for its naval base as a part of its String Of Pearls strategy to encircle india in the Indian Ocean. This is a concern in Indo Myanmar relations.

(She looks much happier now....Passes the charge to 3rd member.

M3: So, you have been a student of IIT Roorkee. Can you tell me the history of IIT Roorkee?
Me:Yes Sir. IIT Roorkee initialy known as Thomason College of civil Engg.It was named after Lt Governor of Agra Province whose name was Thomason. It was created in 1847 after a famine in British times led to large revenue losses. The British decided to construct a canal from Haridwar to western UP to irrigate these lands. Therefore a need was felt for Civil engineers. And therefore under Lord Hardinge, this instn was created. After independence it was renamed University of Roorkee. In 2000, after Uttarakhand was separated from UP, it was named IIT Roorkee.

M3: Can you tell me what is this structure in Roorkee where there is a canal over river?
Me: Sir, it's called aqueduct.

M3: Tell me about Ganga Canal.
Me:I told him about the famine of 1837-38. The canal consists of an upper ganga canal from Har-Ki-Pauri in Haridwar to Aligarh and Lower Ganga Canal from Aligarh to Kanpur. Told them the distance of Canal and which governor general started its construction(now I can't recall)

M3:What is the river over which the canal is passing?
Me:Sir it's known as Solani. Similar to the aqueduct structure there are structures like superpassage wherein river flows over canal and a structure called siphon.

(He is looking visibly glad all the research paid off)

M3: So you are an engg in Paper technology?
Me:Yes sir.

M3:Can we make paper out of weeds?
Me: Yes sir, if the weeds have vascular structure that will yield fibres.

M3: That would solve the problem of weeding then.(smiles to himself )
Me: I smile back.

M3:So where was paper first made.
Me:Sir, it was first made in Egypt from a plant called Papyrus, that's why the name paper.

M3:But people say it's China.
Me:Yes sir China later followed this practice and made it more sophisticated so that paper came in daily use.

M3: When was this?
Me: Sir it was around 2nd or 3rd century BC.

M3: Tell me something, who invented printing?
Me:(AAAAAAAAARRRGH) Sir I don't know. But I know that the person who invented the prniting press was Gutenberg.

M3:No, you tell me one thing. Why did it take printing to travel from China to Europe 400 years?
Me:(I am thinking...what?.. what is this question. The CM i slooking impatient as well) Sir,I am not aware of the reason.
(Thankfully the CM interrupts and said it's ok.)

M3:Tell me your hobby is teaching. Why does ragging take place ? there was a committee created for tackling ragging.
Me:I told him it was Raghavan committe. I told them the psychological and sociological reasons for ragging.

M3: Since your hobby is teaching,Tell me, what was the committe recently created for higher education reforms? (I am wondering why they are all fixated on my hobby only)
Me: Sir I am not very sure. But I think it was Yashpal committee.
(Everyone murmurs..yes yes)

M3: What were it's rcommendations?
Me: I told him about improving UGC affiliations, Deemed univ and so on.

CM interrupted- Enough. He gestured to the last member to start.
Somewhere I was getting apprehensive why the CM was getting impatient. Did he think I was no good and wanted to end the interview? But I found the answer in the end. You will also see that)

M4: Your extra curricular activities include athletics. What all did you participate in?
Me: I told them the activities I had participated in.

M4: Can you tell me some type of athletic events in which more than 2 types of athletic events are there.
Me: I told them 2.
M4: What are the special features of Indian Democracy?
Me: Parliamentary democracy, quasi federal structure, Independednt judiciary, Written constitution, supremacy of constitution etc etc.( I explained these also)
M4: Can you tell me the independent agencies under Indian Constitution?
Me: Told him SC, HC, EC, CAG, UPSC(along with the articles)
CM interrupted and said " enough". He apparently wanted to ask more questions.
CM: So you are from UP. Tell me the districts in Bundelkhand.
Me: (I remembered only 3) Sir, they are Jhansi, Mahoba and Banda. There are 2 3 more But I can't recall them.
CM: There are 4 more. Can you recall them?
Me: Sorry Sir, I can't.
CM: Do you know Hamirpur?
Me: Yes sir, its in Bundelkhand ( He then told me 3 more distts)
Me:Thank you sir.
CM: So, UP has been bifurcated . Most of the forest cover has gone to Uttarakhand. How would you go about reforestation in UP?
Me: Since the land-man ratio in UP is very low, we will need to find fallow land that can't be used for agricultural purposes. Also, we can promote social forestry.
Agricultural land can be bordered with trees. That would not just reduce soil erosion but also improve the water table. In addition, the local populace can benefit from Minor forest produce and timber.
CM: No Shubhra. These are conventional measures. I am looking for an innovative solution. An out-of -the-box solution. If you give me an innovative solution, you will make my day.
(To be honest, I had not felt this much pressure in the entire interview. My entire performance would be gauged by this last answer. I tried to think of a novel and innovative solution. But nothing worthwhile came to my mind. I took about 2 min to think but they seemd like hours as the board was waiting for my answer)
Me: Sir, i think we can make planting and maintaining trees an incentive scheme from the govt side. For eg, if one planted and maintained a tree, they can get subsidies on land, property, govt. schemes. There could be monetary incentives for people who took ownership for planting and maintaining trees.
(I was nervous if this solution clicked. To me, it was a very mediocre solution. In fact on my way back home, I thought of much more innovative solutions for this problem. But under that pressure, that was the best I could do. )
He smiled and said. "Thank you. Your interview is over."
I thanked them, got up and left.
The interview lasted 35 mins.
I got 210 out of 300.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

One video

This is my favourite. So thought of sharing with you.

Writing Skills

Now let's come to writing answers in mains.
IN GS you have a huge range of answers to write, from 20 word to 250 word answers. each type of question demands separate treatment.
20 word/ 2markers
try to write as much information in less space.Write in phrases and not full grammatical sentences, punctuate these phrases with ";" , The idea is to write maxmum possible stuff about the topic under question.

10 marks
These kind of question require writing about 100-120 words. Now you don't have much space to manouver around. Please do not write an introduction in these answers as that takes a lot of words. Start your actual answer with the first word.

20 marks/30 marks
These questions appear in ur optional papers as well.
The word limit is aout 200-275 words. For these questions, write an introduction that is small and sweet. Try to mould the question itself in an answer format giving the examiner an idea that you know what you are talking about.For eg. If there is a question about President being a ceremonial position and noting else, You can start by stating that, Indian constitution has provided for a President as the head of the state, But the real position of importance is that of the PM who is the head of the govt. But while saying this, you should also continue and say that, Calling the institution of President merely a ceremonial one would be wrong because the constitution has provided some discretionary powers to the president. Now your 1st para ends.

Your introduction should be about 25-35 words.
In the next para, start with why president is a nominal head. quote art 74, 42nd amenment act, 44th AA and so on. Then in the next para write why he is not just a ceremonial head.

Do not waste words. every sentence should have relevance to the answer.

Then conclude the answer in about 20-30 words. But do not write a conclusion that is similar to your introduction.

60 Marks
These appear only in optional papers.
For these answers you have no word limit whatsoever. I have written some answers as long as 950 words. But remember you can't do that to every answer. Maybe the 1st and 2nd 60 marker you can write upto this length, but your last 60 marker would somehow suffer. So choose your best 2 60 markers initially and try to wind them in 1:20 to 1:30 hours. Try to treat them the best. After that in something like 1.5 hours you have to finish 6 20 markers and 1 60 marker. That's how I wrote my papers.

In a 60 marker you have a lot of space. Write a good and lengthy introduction, something like 60 to 80 words or so. Then every paragraph should have a theme or idea. Please do not write in points a 60 marker answer. avoid writing in points your optional answer papers, even 20 markers.

Finish with a conclusion about 40-50 words long. Also underline the words or phrases that are instrumental to the answer. The underlining should not be overdone. I think one shoud refrain from using red or green clour pens to underline. I used either the same colour or black/blue combination.

Try to make figures if they are relevant to the answer. If you can, create your own figures.
you can make them even in a 20 marker.

Now, most of the students face this problem. When they first strat writing answers, they can't start the introduction. So please practice introduction writing for as many questions as you can. that will make it easier in the exam to start.

Secondly, your handwriting should be legible if not beautiful. Practice on it if you have a bad one. I had a v bad one. I worked on it.

Thirdly, you should practice answer writing regularly, if possible try to get them evaluated by a good teacher or a good student. Now, when you practice answer writing, write them in the time limit that the exam will offer you. A well written 20 marker in 2 hours won't serve any purpose whatsoever.

Last, try to write grammatical and sensible sentences. Do not go for the myth that flowery language or exotic vocabulary helps score better. write simple and meaningful sentences.

one more thing. before starting to answer a question, understand the demand of the question. Do not presuppose the demand of the question. Often we start writing w/o understanding the question correctly.

Then after understanding the question rightly, you should make a framework of your answer somewhere as to what all you want to write. This will help as in the process of writing you tend to forget points easily.

I hope this will help you in your mains.
I will follow this post with essay post.


Friday, June 19, 2009

General queries

Please post queries of general nature here.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Pub Ad Prelims

Take a basic book for paper 1 and 2 like: mohit bhattachaya/sharma sadana and arora goel and d d basu for polity. Keep syllabus in your right hand.

then start with laxmikanth after finishing studying basic books.

supplement this with nicholas henry, stephen robbins( org behaviour) and arora goel(indian administration)

do current part like recomm of committees and any commissions that have been constituted.

meanwhile, buy a good test series or question paper set and solve unitwise questions and then full syllabus papers later on.

You are all set to get abt 85-90 in pub ad after negative marking.

Some guidelines

Hello Everyone,

I hope this forum is helping you all.
Please try to follow these guidelines while using this forum:
1) Please do not post ads of anything here as this website is not commercial in nature.
2) please search for the answers to your queries in already existing posts and queries. That would save your and my energy and time.
3) I am not in a position to answer questions about any optionals other than pub ad and psychology.
4) please refrain from asking frivolous and meaningless questions. I just delete/ignore these queries.
5) please post queries under the relevant post.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Regarding magazines


My interview has been published in many magazines by now. Even though I have been interviewed by only 2 magazines- Chronicle and Competition Wizard.

I just want to clarify that I read the following magazines only:

Competition Wizard for Current Affairs
Pratiyogita Darpan- economics spl.
Yojana, Kurukshetra and Frontline.

I did not consult any other magazines.
But please make your own decision to choose the magazine you like. Do not go by my statement.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Pub Ad strategy

First read basic books for both paper 1 and 2 keeping syllabus next to you. For eg. Arora Goyal and Sharma Sadana.

Paper 1:
Introduction: IGNOU Notes, IIPA
Theories: Adm thinkers-prasad and prasad
adm behaviour: sharma sadana and stephen robbins
comparative adm: adm thinkers and comparative administration(cant recall the author, it was ramesh arora i think, someone plz confirm)
development adm: Mohit Bhattacharya spl on dev adm.
accountability and control- IIPA journals, sharma sadana
rest of the topics can be studied from any basic book like sharma sadana or fadia fadia or mohit bhattacharya

Paper 2:
IIPA journals, Arora Goel, D D basu.

Any topics that you can't find in these sources, refer internet.

Pub Ad classes

Final details:
Course date: 17th aug 09-26th aug 09
Time: 12:00-2:30 pm
Venue: ALS, Mukherjee Nagar

This blog is not an endorsement of my classes in august. I wish to dissociate this blog from the classes that I would be taking in august. I just want the information to go across so that students know about it and if they feel like they can come and attend classes.

Secondly, I again emphasise that attending my classes is not required for anyone. You can do it yourself. So please do not think that my Pub ad classes are indispensable for anyone.


After appreciating the fact that there is no guidance available to students in PA, I have decided to help PA students by taking a short term course for PA students. The course will be of 10 days starting in August at ALS. In the course, I aim to do the following:

Overall orientationfor prelims as well as mains
Framework of the 20-25 most importatnt topics of Pub Ad for mains
Answer writing skill improvement

I would be coming back to India in August when I will take these classes.
Hope this would make it easier for students.
Please don't confuse this course with the actual PA classes that are already happening at ALS.