I had my civil services interview on 28th April 2016 in forenoon session. Chairman of my board was Mr. Arvind Saxena. Sir was very cordial and other board members were also very supportive. I had a pleasant interview experience compared to my previous two. Writing down my interview experience. Words are not exact as but general interaction is reflected.
I entered the room said good morning to chairman and all the board members present. One of the seat to my right was empty at that time. Arvind Sir asked me to sit down. Then he started reading my profile. So you did your schooling from Noida then Electrical engineering from IIT Kanpur then you worked for 5 years. In between a lady member came I just nodded and smiled she did the same.
C: So I assume you left your job last September.
Me: Yes Sir, last year I got selected in civil services so I left that job.
C: This is not reflected in your profile. Which service ?
Me: Indian Postal Service, I joined it 10 days back… (Before I could complete the answer he himself gave some answer to his question of why I joined late and then moved to next question. )
C: OK even though you are only 10 days into academy I am going to ask about the postal services. Now in the world of social media , telephone etc. who is using postal service. What future you see of this.
Me: Sir, what you said is correct. But I see the potential of this department. It has over one lakh fifty thousand post offices. 90% of them are in the rural areas. The government’s current focus is financial inclusion. And Postal department is the only department in the country which has the capability and experience to implement financial inclusion across the length and breadth of the country. It has been providing savings bank account and insurance since 1882 and 1884 respectively.
C: Tell me two strengths and two weaknesses of postal department. One you have already said the reach of the postal department.
Me: Sir the second strength would be Postman. Postman is the walking KYC. He knows everybody in the village and his/her locality. People trust postman and this trust has developed over centuries. He is the right man to lead financial inclusion. Talking about weaknesses. The type of mail which is been handled is changing. Personal mail has given way to commercial mails and packages from online retail are bigger and bulkier so to handle this mechanization and technology induction is required which is lacking now.
Second weakness would be that when we want to have financial inclusion then we would require a workforce which understands the intricacies of banking system. For which retraining of work force and additional hiring would be required. The required workforce for implementing financial inclusion is rightnow lacking.
C: Private couriers allege that India post is able to provide such cheap services because it is heavily subsidized. How can they compete against you. How will you counter this.
Me: Sir, the objective of postal department is different from other courier services. Postal department is providing public service. Providing cheap means of communication to poorest of poor and farthest of farthest person residing in the country. For courier service their motive is pure profit.
C: Still you are subsidized and they cannot compete against you.
Me: Yes Sir in that sense market is a little distorted.
C: Ok this would be easy for you. Say you have a friend in US and he wants to visit you via land route for Christmas how can he come to you.
Me: (Paused for few seconds) Sir he can come via America Alaska to Russia then to India.
C: … Yes, I specifically gave you the Christmas information. ( Couldn’t heard properly what he said at the start and I am not sure whether it was a positive or negative comment. He can not visit because it would be too cold or he can because the seas would be frozen. I just nodded)
C: Have you read today’s newspaper?
Me: Yes Sir. I have seen the headlines.
C: In today’s newspaper there was a news that Telenor is thinking of exiting the market the base price set for spectrum is unsustainable. Initially we had first come first serve system now we are having auction. And we have also seen 2g 3g scam. Which is better system.
Me: Sir I have not read this particular article but I can comment on the same.
C: But you can answer …. It’s a general question.
Me: Sir when first come first serve policy was introduced times were different. Country needed investment and establish telecom sector. These kinds of sops were required to attract investment from private players. Now the market is established. There are multiple players. Competition is best for the market, consumers and the companies themselves. Discretion may lead to corruption. As you rightly pointed out the 2g scam.
C: So the base price would increase.
Me: Yes Sir.
M1: China is rising. How do you see them in future.
Me: Sir China has grown at a tremendous pace in past few decades but now it is showing signs of slowing down..(got interrupted)
M1: It’s temporary.
Me: Sir the rising wages in China will lead to losing of its competitiveness and slowing down of its economy. It may not grow at the same rate as it has been in the past but still it will be one of the largest economy in the world and engine of growth for the world.
M1: Will the difference between India and China would grow or what will happen.
Me: Sir government has taken several inititatives to boost the economy and the consensus among the political parties is also for rapid economic growth … (Interrupted)
M1: Tell me about the gap between India and China, would it increase or decrease?
M1: Sir China opened its economy much earlier and had lead over India. We were late in liberarizing our economy. China grew at a rapid pace and the gap has widen and still widening. But presently government has taken several inititatives to boost Indian economy. Thinking we would be able to match China in near future would be too hopeful but I am opportunist (Paused. This is not the word I wanted to say. Thinking of the right word but nothing clicking)
M1: You wanted to say optimistic.
Me: Yes Sir, Thank you sir. I am optimistic that with the initiatives taken India would be able to decrease the economic development gap between India and China.
M1: What is Washington consensus?
Me: Sorry Sir I am not aware of that.
M1: What could be the reason for India’s slow growth. …. (negative points about India highlighting lacunae in India’s growth.)
Me: Sir, I would like to differ from you. We had an impressive GDP growth of 7.5% when the whole world is slowing down. Even world bank …(interuppted).
M1: Figures are disputed.
Me: Sir but we cannot deny the general trend.
M1: What is the reason for such slow growth. Is it political …
Me: Sir it is because of the way we Indians have developed over thousands of years (interrupted)
M1: So it is an attitude problem.
Me: Sir we Indians are cautious people (interrupted)
M1: Even when we have such large scale poverty …. it is our weakness.
Me: Sir I don’t think it as our weakness rather I see as our strength. We have built robust systems. This has allowed us to face tough times. Other nations which grew at a rapid pace crashed and burned. Our growth has been sustainable and has led to development of all.
M1: Don’t you think democracy is our weakness. China because of its authoritarian character has led to a rapid development whereas it has slowed us down.
Me: Sir what China could do can not be done in India. India is a multi-cultural multi-religious multi-lingual country. Here rule of stick would be very difficult to maintain. It is our democracy which has helped us in keeping united. So democracy is our strength. Even if our development would be slow but will be for all.
M1: In some textbooks Bhagat Singh and Rajguru described as revolutionary terrorists. Do you think they were terrorist.
Me: No Sir they were not terrorist. To differentiate we need to see the definition of terrorist. A terrorist uses terror to terrorize to acheive it’s goals (interrupted).
M1: What is the basic difference between them and terrorists of today.
Me: They didn’t targeted the civilians.
Now the next member took over he again read major points from my DAF.
M2: So you were weightlifter.
Me: Yes Sir, I was the captain of my college weightlifting team too.
M2: Tell me one weightlifter from Manipur.
Me: Sonia Chanu from Manipur.
M2: Tell one more.
Me: Sorry Sir I am unable to recall at this moment.
M2: So you play cricket.
Me: Yes Sir.
M2: You are good with statistics ?
Me: I would try to answer your questions.
M2: When was the first test match was played in India.
Me: Sorry Sir, I don’t remember this.
M2: What is superconductivity ?
Me: At very low temperature resistance of conductor becomes negligible and free flow of electrons can occur. This is known as superconductivity.
M2: Where is it used?
Me: Sorry Sir not able to recall.
M2: Is Uttar Pradesh 100% electrified?
Me: Yes Sir it is.
M2: In many parts of UP people … steal the electricity … How do they do it.
Me: Electricity is stolen by use of hooklines.
M2: No I am talking of stealing of electric wires. How do they do it and how to prevent it.
Paused and thinking, about to answer, M2 said ok leave it but when he saw I was going to give answer he asked “Do you want to attempt the question”.
Me: Yes Sir , I don’t know how exactly they do it but I can provide a theoretical explanation how to do the same. Wire between two transformers can be deenergised by switching off the line and then steal it. To prevent it we can have smart meters to monitor electric supply. Abnormal switching and flow of current can be monitored to detect stealing of electrical wires.
M2 doesn’t seemed satisfied with the answer said something I just nodded.
M2: What is the importance of First Day cover.
Me: They are published by postal department on important occasions.
M2: What is the importance.
Me: People like to collect them. Philately.
M3(lady member): I don’t remember the question what she asked but remember the answer.
Me: Mam, before taking Maithili literature I was not aware of the richness of Maithili literature and Indian literature in general. Vidyapati one the greatest writer of Maithili literature wrote about the love of Radha and Krishna. And in contemporary times one the writers I like Raj kamal Choudhary writes about the daily struggles of people (interrupted)
M3: Which particular story of Raj Kamal Chowdhury you are referring to.
Me: Like Raj Kamal Chowdhury’s “Aprajita” talks about the devastating floods by river kosi. By reading Maithili literature I came to know about how rich is our literature. I feel more connected to the stories of Indian literature. I have read English literature but never felt same deep connection. I face the same situations and emotions in my day today life which our Indian literature talks off. It has allowed me to better understand my culture, my society, my family even myself.
M3: So you have started reading Maithili literature.
Me: I have started reading Hindi literature because I am more comfortable in that.
M3: Which writers you read.
Me: I am reading the same authors who have written in Maithili too. I have read Rajkamal Choudhary’s Hindi writings. I have read other Hindi stories and novel but I remember the titles but not author.
M3: Have you read Premchand.
Me: I have read few stories but I have not yet started Premchand.
M3: Amit whenever I open news channel I see only shouting, its difficult to find a good news channel to watch. Which channel would you recommend me.
Me: Mam I would recommend the same channel which I watch. The Rajya Sabha TV. The discussions are thoughtful and helps in my preparation too.
M3: Why didn’t you say DD News it’s also a very old channel.
Me: Mam, I have limited time So I watch RSTV only.
M3: The news shown by many channels is some time very misleading. It is very difficult to discern from news and opinion. What they are doing is wrong what you have to say.
Me: Mam, I partially agree with you.
M3: Partially. Tell me what part you agree with and what part you don’t agree with.
Me: Mam what you said is correct. It has become difficult to discern between news and opinion of the channel. Sometimes the reporting is so twisted that viewer cannot know what was the original news. But on the other hand there are multiple channels representing multiple views so viewer has a choice to see what channel he want to watch and subscribe to which idea. These are like opinion pages of newspaper (interrupted).
M3: Any special reason for using analogy of opinion pages of news paper.
Me: Mam, opinion page shows the opinion of editor and newspaper and rest of the pages are news item. So these talks shows and debate on news channels are like opinion pages of news channel.
M4: You worked in Kalinganagar. There you would have seen agitations.
Me: Yes Sir, I was once myself gheroed by people.
M4: What was the situation and how you came out of it.
Me: My area of work was near the boundary beside the village. Once or twice in a month some disturbance would always happen. People will come and steal rods and iron items and we can’t do anything. On that particular day I reached my site at 8am and I saw no worker there. As per norms by 8 am work should start. My contractor was nowhere to be seen. The office was locked. I was looking for my contractor how come he has not yet started the work. So I went and opened the lock. The moment I unlocked the door, group of people came and surrounded me. From nowhere contractor came and said to me Sir you leave don’t stay here. He told the people that I am a Tata Steel officer. The people themselves asked me to leave the Site. They said we have nothing to do with you. Our diffrences are with the Tata Steel and administration. I believe people have grievances from institutions and processes. They don’t have emenity towards an individual. And if you show genuine concern towards their problem they would not harm you. They didn’t had any personal enmity towards me. So I came out of the situation unharmed.
M4: So if the greviances of people are handled properly then there would be no agitations.
Me: (Paused for few seconds) Sir I fully agree with you.
M4: You fully agree with me !
Me: Yes Sir people agitate when there core interests are violated. If those are preserved then I don’t see any reason for them to agitate.
M4: What about a theif. He wants to steal would you allow him.
Me: Sir I would like to quote from a Maithili novel “Prithviputra” in which a character says something.
M4: As long as you properly translate for us.
Me: Sir the person has land with very low productivity. His not able to grow enough for him and his family. He says “Jeena jyada zaroori hai baki sab baad mein”
M4: You said this in Hindi.
Me: Yes Sir, I am not fluent in speaking Maithili but can write and understand. The person who is stealing is forced to do so. If a person is theif then it is the failure of society too, it failed to provide educational opportunities economic opportunities to lead a better life.
M4: So administrator has a role in improving society.
Me: Yes Sir, if administrator have been given this power then they should use it judiciously for betterment of society.
M4: You have to choose a person for a job one is B.Com Economic Honors and other is B.SC Arts whom will you choose.
Me: Sir it would depend on the kind of work to be done. If the works involve creativity like banner making , popularization and propagation of programs and policies them I would be inclined that candidate from arts background would be a better choice. And if the work involves number crunching , accounting etc then I would choose the other person.
C: That all Amit, your interview is over.
I thanked everyone and exited. Good thing about my interview expereince was that I was never stressed and gave all answers with confidence.
Hoping for the best 🙂