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‘IAS’ Interview of Swarochish Somavanshi IAS Rank 49

UPSC BOARD INTERVIEW of Swarochish Somavanshi IAS Rank 49


Entering The Dragon-2 : My Second ‘IAS’ Interview
by My Experiments With UPSC on Friday, 13 July 2012 at 09:03 ·
Date- 13th April 2011
Session- Afternoon
Attire- Grey colored suit, Black Shoes, Hanuman Chalisa in my pocket.
Chairman- Prof. Chalam’s Board.
Nervous-o-meter Reading- Hot but not as volcanic as in earlier interview of my first attempt.
I was third or fourth to be interviewed. It was very good to meet Sh Ravindra Kumar and Sh Saurabh Singh. We were waiting for the announcement for the board’s name. I was aware of the historical importance of 13th April; Jallianwala Bagh Massacre! I had heard it too- “History repeats itself”. We were praying that two boards should not be allotted- KK Paul’s and Prof Chalam’s. A peon came and said it was Prof Chalam’s board. I knew the history was going to be repeated. Amusingly enough Ravindra ji started finding all sorts of qualities in Prof sahib. He declared Prof to be the most educated and qualified among the UPSC members. It was a good gimmick or mental conditioning whatever you may call it. It really worked and I also started praising Prof Chalam for all the good things he had done and was going to do in near future.


I must explicitly acknowledge that my newly stitched suit boosted a lot of confidence, only I was looking like an “Officer” among the “Babus”. In a mock interview I was advised to wear a suit to look like an “Officer”, as I was already in IRTS!
Then a typical Babu came in the hall, wished us all the luck. Strange! He was the Secretary to the UPSC, an IAS; and of course, he was not wearing any “suit”. :(

I was to be interviewed after Ravindra ji. He came out and I went in. Somehow the door was shut again so I asked for permission.
I – May I come in sir?
Chairman- The train has already arrived! (Smiles). What do you people do when the train arrives? (saying this the chairman looked into my eyes)
I – We unload sir.

Chairman- do you unload the passengers also? (With a bigger smile)
I – No sir, we deport them. (I too tried my best to smile back not so big though)
Chairman- So which batch is it in IRTS?
I – Sir I am in 2009 exam batch of IRTS.

Chairman- Hmm… so which news paper do you read?
(I wanted to tell the truth that I hardly and painfully read any, still I decided to choose to be a good boy and went with the most prestigious one to show off myself as a serious candidate)
I – Sir, I read The Hindu.

Chairman- Have you heard of Julian Assange?
I – Sir, he is the editor of the Wikileaks, and some even call him to be the owner of it.
Chairman- Don’t you think he should be given more stringent punishment as he has de-stabilized not only the internal affairs of the USA but also its relations with the other Nations?
I – Sir there has been no incident of violence or direct consequence which can be said to be inciting any hate fuelling incident. I think everyone including wikileaks should have the freedom to express, at the same time they should own the responsibility of the information and…

Chairman- But the parliaments have the opposite view, you see…
(I did not understand the rationale behind the question and tried to defend my point following the line of Article 19 of Indian Constitution. Chairman patiently heard me, he was going through some papers simultaneously, may be that was my bio-data, I don’t know…)
Chairman- So you are a Computer Engineer? What do the Computer Engineers do? er… I mean what is the thing they have built for nation? Name any Computer Engineer who has built a “single chip” for the country…
(I never knew Prof Chalam was so upset with the Computer Engineers, he was even more upset than I was. The question was more than a sarcasm and as I saw in his eyes, he was still waiting for my answer, I tried to think some good answer, as I clearly did not have any such name of any Computer Engineer)
I – Sir I don’t have a particular name as such but a number of Computer Engineers are working hard in our Public Sector Institutions. For example WE have built the whole supercomputer, PARAM, at C-DAC, Pune. But we don’t publicize much it in that way…

(The tone was somewhat, “humne poora super computer bana diya aur aap ek chip ki baat kar rahe hain!”)
Chairman- So you want to say that its mainly in public sector and the govt. is not as publicity oriented. Hmmm…(without waiting for my response)
Chairman- How would you use your knowledge of Computers in IRTS?
(Gotcha! I knew you people will ask this hypothetical question! I had prepared the answer and started chanting the Ramayan )
I – Sir, being an engineer I am always at in a better position to understand and appreciate the technology. I can improvise and innovate. The technologies such as Anti Collision Device and GPS can be well implemented at large.
(I kept on elaborating it long enough. At that time I had number of facts and data to supplement my answer, some of them I used there.

By now I was feeling a bit comfortable as till now the game was going as planned earlier. Now the chairman almost ordered the first member, M1 to ask questions, and concentrated on his tea)
M1- you have written your hobby as Photography, which camera do you have?
I – Sir, its Nikon F 55.
M1- what does SLR means in a camera, what is an SLR camera?
I – Sir its Single Lens Reflex Camera, in which we directly look through the lens to shoot the object…
(and I elaborated which I have forgotten by now )
M1- What do you write? I mean what do you mean by Creative Writing?
I – Sir, I write lots of things- poems, stories and street plays. Creative means, in my stories, even objects speak and interact. Sir I have written a story named Sikka in which…
M1- ok ok..

(seeing his distasteful face I realized he was not interested in my details actually, he expected a short answer. I had failed to judge this. Now I had a cue to cut short my answers. Point was taken well.)
M1- What changes the Kanpur city is witnessing these days?
I – Sir, earlier it was known for leather industry, now it’s moving towards Plastic industry.
(A one liner answer sir!)
M1- Is the Ganges pure there?
I – Not as earlier sir.
(A half liner answer sir!)
M1- ok

(He said and completed the formality of asking questions, then he looked towards M2. Actually he could not conceal his sigh of relief of getting rid of me, I think I successfully did so on my part with a smile. He reciprocated. M2 started.)
M2- So Mr Somvanshi what is the difference between Electrical and Electronics branches of engineering?
(I could not understand the logic behind the question as I belonged to neither of the branch)
Chairman intervened to lighten the environment, saying, “Electronics me JHATKA kam lagta hai”- in hindi- and all started to laugh.
(I smiled and waited till they finish the laughter challenge)
I – Sir, in electronics we deal with lesser amount of current, say millli ampere, and in case of Electrical it’s the order of amperes… apart from the Jhatka factor.

M2- What do you understand by Delegated Legislation?
I started with, sir it’s the authority given to the executive arm of the state to legislate in the matters needed to smoothen the task of administration. (words were different but the meaning was same)
M2- Which all Delegated Legislations will be null and void?
(now I started feeling butterflies in my stomach as I did not have sound knowledge of Public Administration, just read it for 3-4 months and could not revise many of the topics after mains, and he was getting into more and more details. Fingers were crossed, all the 20 fingers! Jai mata di!)
I – Sir I don’t know it precisely, can I guess it?
M2- OK
(and he looked to be Gurunanak Dev-like-Gentle-and Compassionate in his rin-white-beard, with a bright halo)

I – Sir, the legislations which are contrary to the Fundamental Rights.
-Hmm
-Sir, if any explicit prohibitions are laid down in the act itself.
-And??
-Sir, all the legislations which are outside of the purview of parent legislation or contrary to its spirit itself.
-Hmm and…
-Sir, any delegated legislation should not be contrary to the Constitution of the country.
-and? (started smiling)
I kept on thinking but could not get more.
-Sorry sir that’s it.
M2- its ok then he added one more point, which I can’t recall right now…
(I liked M2 the most; he was smiling throughout and apparently encouraging me. I strongly feel, in every board, there is a good member, a normal human being, to keep you alive among the brutal bullets firing all around)
M2- What are the problems of Panchayati Raj Institutions?
(this question was asked in my earlier interview also, so I answered it on the similar lines as earlier one, somewhat better this time due to my newly picked optional, Public Administration)
M2- What is the meaning of your name- Swarochish?
(Chairman once again intervened, jokingly, “Is it related to Swarovski?”)
I – No sir, Swarochish means, Self Enlightened...
( mugged up elaboration follows)

I expected the question in the beginning itself, it came so late!
Then the ball was in lady member M3’s court)
M3- How does a Loco Pilot get training?
(It was an irrelevant question. An IRTS officer is no way concerned with loco pilots’ training, that too I was undergoing training myself! Still I tried to answer it on the basis of a demo that was shown to us at our academy by two scientists of RDSO)
Then a lot of technical terms came in between eg- Depth Perception, Aspects Of Signals etc…
She was very insistent on the details with which I was feeling uneasy)

M3- What is Medical Tourism? Which countries are major source for such tourists?
I answered what I could. Not so confidently. Tried to relate it to the Rural_eco_tourism to show that I think about the rural areas also.
(Chairman intervened again, passing a comment that people from Kazakhstan came to India and Saved lots of money and went back… It was a personal opinion and I was not asked to comment on it, per se, so I decided to play safe and kept silent on it.

Here I want to append something. Here and there in interview some of the remarks are passed by the board, instantaneously or sometimes even knowingly, the answers to which do not contribute to any logical conclusion; try to avoid to pass a comment on such comments, unless until you are required and asked to express your opinion. I mean no tit-for-tat-attitude will do the good to anybody in the room. Furthermore sometimes you have to stick to your answer even the board tries to check your patience which all of us preparing for civils have in plenty. We will see it in a subsequent question regarding Harcourt Butler.)

M3- What is Jeevan Vidya?
I – I don’t know ma’am.
M3- Are you sure? One Professor from HBTI, your college is related to it!
I – I am sorry, I don’t know about it ma’am. I will certainly check it.
M3- Tell me something about the industrial problems of Kanpur?
I – I had prepared it before hand. I answered it on the basis of closure of industries, migration and power shortage etc.
M3- good!
(I was very happy hearing this. The lady was very encouraging)

(Now the last member was to play his role)
M4- Who was Harcourt Butler?
I – He was the first governor of United Province, sir.
M4- Are you sure?
I – yes sir.
M4- I think he was the Lt. Governor? What do you say?
I – No sir, I am quite sure. I had read it on the foundation stone of our college (HBTI) laid down by Harcourt Butler himself.
M4- I don’t think so. I think he was the Lt Governor… when was the post of Lt Governor abolished?

(This tail part of the question he asked to not less than the Chairman!!!
He was adamant, and looked towards chairman for his approval. Chairman was as calm as hill. I understood the mind game well. Fairly strongly I was looking to his face and tried my best to show that I would not argue but I was sure and I had shown the foundation stone of the college itself, to him.
Note it please! Here, there is no scope to retreat. It’s a factual question, that too about your College so you have to be sure and more importantly you should appear to be sure. M4 remained dissatisfied. I had no option so did not speak further )

M4- Oh! You have Pali literature also.
(He was trying to catch me by neck. Saying this he again looked to Chairman and told via eyes he is not only an computer engineer but he has Pali also! Do do nishaniyan of shortcut! It was a tough moment, to smile. I did not know for how long I had to wait for the next question)
M4- So what’s the difference between Pali and Sanskrit?
I had studied it well. Explained.
M4- I don’t think these are the main differences…
I – Sir, as far as my knowledge goes… I know some more but I think these are the main differences… (smile)

(M4 smiles sarcastically and looked towards the Chairman, as if he was saying, “Look I have caught him, he is not a PhD in Pali!” Chairman was dead still. I sensed that perhaps the chairman was also thinking for M4 similarly, to get a knife and… :(

M4- Tell me one shloka in Pali in which all these differences come.
It was easy as every GATHA (shloka) in pali has it. So I replied.
(he was not happy at all. Did not acknowledge me. Now the room was filled with negativity, I was searching for a knife eagerly)
M4- What do you understand by Theory X?

(I was amazed by his sharp U-turn to Public Administration. He has blasted my info about my college, crushed my Unfathomable Knowledge of Pali and now he will ask about Public Administration!!! For the first time in my life I felt like Draupadi, I tried to recall Krishn Ji)

I explained it. Did not forget to attach the name of Mc Gregor to show off.
Then he asked about theory Y and Z. I tried my best to recall the name of William Ouchi to substantiate theory Z, but of no avail.
(I thought I fared well, still M4 was proving me as flop as MI-4! Still I was firm to march on in front of the General Dyre )
M4- What are the characteristics of Bureaucracy?
I – I started Hierarchy, written records, impersonal attachment, separation of official and personal property, rule bound attitude, rationality and efficiency…
(I don’t remember all I spoke but he remained perfectly aloof, all eligible to be killed by the rusted knife)

Chairman- its OK Mr Somvanshi, your interview is over. Thank you.
I – thank you sir

I wanted to sit there to clear the air, that I was the best candidate they were searching for, that M4 was jealous of my Suit, that Harcourt Butler actually was the Governor, that I knew Pali, that my Gatha was appropriate and I was the Chhora fir Kaahe nagar bhar me dhindhora!!....

I tried to say all this by my eyes. I looked towards Chairman and once again said ’’Thank YOU sir!” but I think the Chairman heard it right ”PLEASE SIR!!!”

I walked out of the room. Again the time just slipped by. Interview lasted for around 35 minutes. I did not get “the feel” that I had got last time. I thought the interview to be a bit of middle-of-the-road types. Prof Chalam was nice but that did not guarantee good marks. I thought I would be getting around 150- 170. That’s it.

Marks Obtained- 189/ 300 (so 9 marks more than last year; obviously, for wearing a suit)

PS: I have tried to describe the “Mental Game”, played that day as I feel it’s far more important to describe the candidate’s actual mental condition apart from the questions asked. Personality Test is not a question answer session/ cross examination, and that was the core assumption I made while choosing the writing style here.

About the title-
The dragon, the only mythical creature among the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac, is regarded as a symbol of might and intelligence. Boys born in the year of the dragon, especially, are said to be destined to be successful. So was I desired to get a birth in the Prestigious Civil Services of India.
Thanks, with best wishes, to the sacred journey to our much awaited dream ie IAS.

With best wishes,
Swarochish Somavanshi
AIR-49 (CSE 2011)
AIR-575 (CSE 2009)

NB- its an humble request to all those handful of readers who have reached till the last line to SHARE THIS STATUS so as to benefit the maximum as I have invested a lot of time to conceptualize and type this write-up. Thanks.

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