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Interview Transcript UPSC CSE 2020 |

Interview Transcript 2
[UPSC CSE 2020]


Remove your shield  Remove your mask and spectacles and you
can wipe your face with the tissue
Me: Sir, I am ready.

Chair: No, you aren’t listening. I want you to remove your mask and glasses.

Member 1 (Lady):  So that we can see you face

Me: Yes Sir

Chair: Were you provided with some refreshments in the waiting area? What did you have?

Me: Yes Sir, I had coffee.

Chair (to other members): These kids come without having lunch. They have a heavy breakfast instead.

Member 2 (Lady): Yes, and how can they last till 5 o’clock?
Chair: Have you had a heavy breakfast?

Me: No sir

Chair: Did you have lunch?
Me: No Sir, I’m afraid not.

Chair: You should have lunch. We have kept it at 1 o’clock so that you can have
lunch and come. Do you know what happens to your body when you don’t have
Me: Sir, if we are used to a carbohydrate-rich diet then our blood glucose levels would drop, but I am following a low-carbohydrate diet so my body would be producing ketones right now.

Chair: This is new (Laughs). So you are following a low-carbohydrate diet?
Me: I’m trying to, Sir.

Chair: OK , we will start with the interview

So, you have a brilliant background and you have studied in a School which was even back then considered far ahead of its times. Tell me, the Delhi government has also been trying to reform education. How do you think that compares with your school?
Me: [holistic development … Krishnamurthi’s philosophy: that education does not simply mean accumulation of knowledge but means learning some skills that help us navigate our lives and also to explore who we are.. Happiness curriculum in Delhi schools follows that idea … Gave a long answer, don’t really remember everything]

Chair: In the New Education Policy, they talk about three Cs, one of which is
“collaboration”. What do you they mean by “collaboration”?
Me: May I guess, Sir?

Chair: Sure, we are having a discussion.

Me: Collaboration would mean learning to be a part of a team, to work with
others and to learn from others. In higher education it would mean developing
partnerships between academia –
Chair (Interrupted me): OK. You can take over (Gestures to M1)

Members 1 (Lady):

M1: Do you think studying at a reputed institute has helped you write Mains?
Me: Yes Ma’am. For instance in our essay paper, we had a question on … [I
proceed to a lengthy and possibly incoherent explanation. I realized that I was
fumbling a bit with my phrasing and was taking too long so I cut it short and
wrapped it up]

M1: The nation needs computer scientists … But you have chose to pursue the
civil services. Why the shift?
Me: Ma’am it is true that the nation needs computer scientists. But I have
decided to pursue the civil services because – [I change my flow]. When I was in college I was part of the Model United Nations club, and there I developed an interest in international relations and foreign policy. And there are certain things I would like to have in a career: I want to explore the world, learn new languages. I want to contribute to the nation in a way that directly impacts the people. And computer science allows for all of these but I felt that I wanted to join the civil services, especially the IFS.

M1: [Nods, may have asked me some more questions, I don’t remember]

Members 2 (Lady):

M2 (Lady): The dupatta you are wearing, do you know the tradition it
belongs to?
Me: Ma’am, the fabric is cotton with silk mix and it has a zari, but I am afraid I
don’t know the specific style [I regret not directly admitting that I don’t know]

M2: Don’t you think it looks like what people from Kerala wear?
Me: Yes, Ma’am

M2: It is … style.
Me: Thank you, Ma’am

M2: So, you were part of MUN. Do you think the politics in our neighbouring
countries affects us?
Me: Yes Ma’am. [I talk about Nepal – the recent Limpiyadura issue, Afghanistan the Taliban takeover issue. I fumbled around with my words even though it was
such an easy question]

M2: What about other countries?
Me: [Bangladesh – Teesta water issue. I said it has also been “politicized in West Bengal” – a phrase I regret using]

M2: What about China?
Me: Yes Ma’am. For instance, recently the President – I’m sorry – General
Secretary of the Communist Party of China recently visited Tibet. And that affects us because we have a large Tibetan population, we have seen demonstrations in Delhi, and of course it affects our security too. [Overall a very bad answer on my part. I could have talked about the domestic politics in China which many analysts feel has catalyzed Chinese aggression on the LAC. But at that moment I said the first thing that came to mind]

M2: If you were the DM of Chittoor, what would you do to develop mango
Me: Ma’am, I would first look at increasing production. Mango farmers have a lot of issues with pest attacks and so on, so I would address that. I would also
encourage agro-processing industries such as mango pulp. And regarding
exports I would collaborate with the Foreign Trade office under the Ministry of
Commerce to increase our exports.

M2: Isn’t there a specific agency for agri-exports?
Me: Yes Ma’am, APEDA [ I gave an approximation of the full form and said:
Agricultural Produce Export Development Authority]

M3: You were talking about mango pulp. Do you know other uses of mango?
Me: Sir we can use it in pickles, make a powder that can be used as a spice in
curries. [He was expecting more] And I suppose we can use the wood too.

M3: What about the seed?
Me: Sir, we can use it to make a powder for curries

M3: What about the peel?
Me: [Thought for two seconds] I’m afraid I don’t know, Sir [M1 nodded]

M3: Why do you think people choose political science …. [long question on
political science I don’t remember] Me: Sir, by political science do you also include international relations? [Stupid
counter question, but again, I truly am an idiot]

M3: Yes, yes, of course. OK tell me why people in your state used to prefer public administration a lot but now they don’t take that subject any more?
Me: [earlier govt was a major source of employment … Now with reforms in the
economic sector and globalization we have diverse employment opportunities
and the youth naturally prefer to take a diverse range of subjects …]

M4: What is the INSPIRE Scholarship?
Me: Sir, it is by the Ministry of Science and Technology and it is to encourage
students to pursue science in higher education.

M4: How would you develop Chittoor as a DM?
Me: [agriculture: mango, tomato (it is the only place in India where tomatoes
grow in summer)… manufacturing: Sri City, ties with South East Asia …]

M4: Chittoor is also famous for sugarcane no?
Me: Yes, Sir, although I don’t know the specific place you are referring to.

M4: Why haven’t you taken science in your optional?
Me: Sir, computer science is not an option –

M4 (Interrupts): But there is mathematics, there are other science subjects.
Me: Yes Sir, but I felt that since UPSC was giving us an opportunity to learn an
entirely new subject, and I had a year – a little more than a year – , and I thought
Political Science was extremely fascinating, and I want to be in the IFS. This was a natural option [Again my sentences were not structured but I was quite loud and energetic at this point and I think my passion must have clearly come
through. M1 nodded again and smiled and the Chairman who had walked into
the antechamber at some point during M3’s questions came back in the middle of this answer.]

M4: Do you think China is encircling India?
Me: One could say that Sir. [I explained the String of Pearls theory]

M4: Name them
Me: Gwadar Port in Pakistan that is part of CPEC, Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka, Chittagong Port in Bangladesh – Although I am not aware of its current
development (then M4 said Chittagong is right), Sihanoukville in Cambodia, the base in Djibouti

M4: What is India doing to counter this?
Me: [Indo-Pacific … Quad … relations with Indian Ocean island countries… I
fumbled again and spoke quite fast while answering this basic question]

M4: What about economic and political angles?
Me: Sir, regarding the economic angle, we are providing development assistance to states in the region. For eg $400 million loan to Maldives [In hindsight I don’t know whether I said million or billion]. Regarding the political angle, we are trying to soft balance China in international fora. For instance our Prime Minister recently in the UNSC has talked about maritime security and freedom of the high seas and this specifically means China even though has not specifically mentioned China. [Again towards the end I fumbled with my phrasing and had to course correct in the middle of my reply]

M4: What about Act East?
Me: Yes, Sir. We are trying to improve our relations with ASEAN countries and
East Asian countries like Japan and South Korea.

Chair: OK, your interview is over. Before you go, tell me what this quote
means [He quoted someone called Armish (?). It was about how happiness is not enough but purpose is what gives meaning to life] Me: [I thought for a few seconds and explained the quote. Then I continued with why I thought the saying was not always true…] So I have a mixed opinion about that, Sir.

Chair: No, I am asking you to explain it.
Me: [I explain it again just rephrasing it]

Chair: You have given a good explanation. So, what are your plans for today.
Where are you staying?

Chair: OK, thank you. You can leave

Me: Thank you sir, Thank you [to other members] Chair: Isn’t that your visor? [I had forgotten to take my face shield] Me: Yes Sir, Thank you. [Thanked other members again] [And I walked out.]

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