Tuesday, April 10, 2007

My UPSC Interview

These are the details of my interview here held on 4rth April 2007. I have tried to present the interview as it happened.

I was allotted a table along with four other candidates. It was a great solace to meet four other souls in same state of mind and butterflies in their stomach. We chatted and felt good. One hour passed quickly and I did not at all feel nervous.

A clerk came quietly to our table and said “Subir Dutta ka board hai”. Not all were amused by his name. Within minutes we found out he was a retired IAS, former defense secretary, and was ‘not very friendly’.

I was third to be interviewed. My heart was beating fast. I went near my chair and wished them Good Morning, wishing the lady member first. (It was a five member board with one lady member, let them be M1, M2, M3 and M4)

Subir Dutta: Sit down Mr. A
A: Thank you sir (Adapts an imposed smile on his face and gives a smile to all the members. They all have stern expressions)

Subir Dutta: So Mr. A you have done B. Tec in Mechanical Engg. from ……. (I take it as a cue for prompting)
A : IIT Kanpur Sir

Subir Dutta: You got this Outstanding B. Tech project award, what was it.
A : Explains it in brief and turns his head (somewhat like a table fan) to meet the eyes of all members

Subir Dutta: You have worked for six months in Asian Paints, why did you leave
A: Sir I always wanted to come for civil services but I wanted to get some work experience before coming here.

Subir Dutta: (looks interested) Why do you want to come to civil services?
A: Sir I learnt a lot in my engineering but I felt that my field is getting narrowed. I wanted to work not only among machines but also among human beings. Civil services offer an opportunity to work directly among people. Apart from this, it is a wonderful career opportunity with a motivation of working for the society.

Subir Dutta: And you also got this summer training scholarship form University of Stuttgart?
A : Yes sir.

Subir Dutta: When was it and for how long?
A: I explain…

M2: So how did you go?
A: Sir it was by Turkish airlines. I went to Istanbul and then to Stuttgart.

M2: Oh, so you did not take the traditional route from Frankfurt. This route must be cheaper.
A: Yes sir, this was the reason (a smile comes on my face)

M2: OK, what is the distance between Stuttgart and Frankfurt?
A: I think 200 km.

M2: Stuttgart and Berlin?
A: nearly 400 km

M2: Stuttgart and Bonn?
A: nearly 400 km

M2: Stuttgart and Hungary?
A: nearly 400 km.

Subir Dutta: Mr. A what are your 16th and 17th preference of services?
A: Sir they are IFS and IPS. I gave them this preference because I do not want to enter these.

Subir Dutta: Why?
A: Sir I have some family commitments and it shall be difficult for me to stay abroad for longer durations.
I did not fill IPS because I felt I do not have the right kind of temperament needed to be an IPS officer. I tried to know more about this service but I was not convinced. I felt if I still filled it, I shall be dishonest with myself and the service (this was a well rehearsed answer)

Subir Dutta: What is the total Income tax collected?
A: Sorry sir, I don’t know

Subir Dutta: (with a small sarcastic smile) I felt you did so much research while filling the service preferences, you would be knowing it.
A : (tries to maintain a smile on his face)

Subir Dutta gestures other members to ask their questions

M2: Mr. A, IIT’s were made to do some good research but that task has not been achieved what do you say?
A: Yes sir, this may partially be true. IIT’s were made primary for research but over the years it has been felt that the outcome is not as expected. The number of undergraduates is twice that that of postgraduates, and IIT’s could not attract students primarily for research purpose

M2: Do you think there is Brain Drain?
A: May be 20 years before there was, but not now.

M2: Define Brain Drain
A: I define it

M2: But we are using technologies invented in west. So where is this brain drain?
A: Yes sir that’s a valid point of view and we may also see things like this

Subir Dutta: Mr. A, I forgot to ask you one question. Some persons come to me with a BE degree some come with a B. Tech degree. What is the difference?
A: I explain (I had expected this so I gave the answer I found on internet)

Subir Dutta: (not very satisfied by my answer) What is the difference between engineering and technology?
A: Sorry sir, I do not know the literal difference.

M3: Mr. A, what is the temperament needed to be an IPS officer.
A: It shall be very difficult to define the temperament sir; it was more of a feeling. I tried to know more about the service but I was not convinced.

M3: So what did you try to know?
A: I read about IPS officers who had made name. I found that they all wanted to be in police from the beginning. Reverse was the case with me.

M3: And?
A: I have also done NCC for one year

M3: and you did not like it?
A: No sir, I liked and it was a very good experience. But something similar to this as a career preference. I feel my priorities lie somewhere else.

M3: Mr. A, we have these revenue services. But research has shown that 90% taxes are collected in pre assessment stage itself. These services help only in collecting 10% taxes. Why we should not abolish these services?
A: (I have no idea what to say) Sir but these services must be providing talented human resources which must be used for that pre assessment collection.

M3: In a way repeats his question
A: Sir I was unaware of this fact…..

M3: Yes it is a fact; government of India’s white paper has said this.
A: (I smile) May be sir even this 10% that these services collect is very important for the nation.

M3: (he also starts smiling) Ok

M4: Recently online degrees have been started by IIT’s. What is your opinion about them?
A: I support this by saying now the reach of education can be improved.

M4: Do you know any other western university doing this
A: No sir, I specifically do not know, but many must be doing it.

M4: MIT is doing it. Where is MIT?
A: Boston

M4: Yes Boston, Massachusetts.

M2: A, you have seen education system in Germany and India. What difference did you observe?
A: Sir education is free there, and government is trying to attract students from all over the world as their population is declining.

M2: What else?
A: I can’t remember anything else sir.

M2: They focus more on technical education.
A: Yes sir

M1: What do you know about “Specific Energy policy of India”
A: (I had never heard about it) Madam I do not know exactly what this is but I can tell about it.

M1: (she nods)
A: I tell all major things about energy, from power sector reforms to diversification to non conventional energy sources.

M1: Do you think Jatropa farming is successful
A: Yes maam (I explain with certain problems involved)

M2: What is virtual university?
A: (I could have easily guessed it but….) Sir may I guess??

M2: No, tell only if you know for sure.
A: Sorry sir I do not know.

M3: Mr. A the services you want to enter are the most corrupt services. What will you do to curb corruption?
A: I explain by specially mentioning to use technology.

M3: (with a smile) Use technology and problem would be solved?
A: Not sir (with a smile) but use technology more often, it will help.

Subir Dutta: Ok A, you can go now.

I thanked everyone, but I do not remember them smiling back at me. They all looked busy in themselves and I came out. All this happened in just 25 minutes!

I had this strange feeling, I did not think it went very good, I did not think it went bad. I was confident; I was smiling, so I am satisfied by my performance.

I do not exactly till date what went wrong. After all the speculations the verdict is known to me. It was not a very good interview and I scored a meagre 150. But there is a silver lining too. I scored 1139 in mains so could still manage 27th rank :)


Vivek Kumar said...

Good luck for the results!!

Anonymous said...


best of luck! wasnt that bad at all..you can never say with interviews..

lets keep our fingers crossed!


Anurag said...

Thanks for the wishes :-)

chetan said...

all the best my boy!!

darius said...

not a bad interview anurag.. subir dutta apparently acts very casual with everyone on purpose.. dont worry about it

Anonymous said...

Hey HI Anurag!

I am shailesh Balkawade, an IAS aspirant. Nice to read your Interview ! Luck shall surely smile. All the best.

Last few days 2 go!keep faith in almighty, the efforts that you have taken shall surely pay the dividends 4 U !

Kiran said...

best of luck man.
pray to God that u get selected.
Interview was,as u said, not at all bad.

Kiran Potnuru(pottu)

seshu said...

not to invite tempting fate, i restrained myself(ya ya judge me ...but i still believe in these things)....... but now I wholeheartedly say.......kick ass interview..... hats off to you dude ....and of course congrats !

bigger the risk, BIGGER the reward :)
...what say thou?

Anonymous said...



karan said...


CNN IBN on IAS as it is changing. Sagarika is too good.


IAS Topper link

Alok Srivastava said...

hi anurag, congratulations, for not having to undergo d rigmarole of studying 4 d prelims ;-). there's one anurag srivastava @ 27th position in d final merit list. i sincerely hope it is u, and in a way m convinced it's to b u, going by d way u steered d interview. ur name reminds me of an incidence in d past, which suddenly sprang back from d memory. when i was in d 10th std., i chanced upon a copy of csr. it being my first brush with any literature related to civil services, i almost read all that was contained in d magazine. there was one anurag srivastava who had won essay writing competition. an iit-ian. i went thru subsequent issues off n on, n at least 2-3 times i came across this same person winning d essay-writing competition in d same magazine. thereafter, pressure of 12th std., kept me away from csr, and i almost stopped reading it. a few years after while in college, i casually picked up d magazine n guess wat did it contain on d cover page. it said..."Anurag Srivastava - IAS topper talks to u". that year, must be 1997 or 1998, he ranked 1st in d civil services. wid dat, i cudn't have forgotten that name. wid such a compelling history that ur name carries, 27th rank was just waiting to happen...lolz.

Btw, m at 294th rank in d same list. a little clueless as to what lies in store for me. i wud rather wait for d details in d mark sheet before passing d buck for d debacle onto prof. d.p.agarwal's board....though m sure he has something to do wid pushing me down to d rock bottom. however, let me resist d temptation of shedding my tears on ur weblog, n rather leave d web-space for deluge of others' congratulatory msg-es. here's once again wishing u great career ahead....don't know ur co-ordinates, but if u r in n around old raj_ngr, lets catch up ovr a cuppa coffee....vivek's a busy (or elusive???) man (btw, it's from vivek's weblog dat i got d link to urs). let's c how much available u r...lolz. just kidding vivek (n certainly no offence, just in case if u ever come across this piece i've scribbled for anurag)...so long anurag

Anurag Srivastava said...

So now the prayers have been answered, thanks a lot to everyone for his/her wishes. They did work :)

@Shailesh: Best of luck man for your preparations

@karan what was your point of giving me those links?

Anurag Srivastava said...

@ Alok: Thanks for your wishes and congrats for your selection. I hope you get a proper service and we meet at LBS.

I shall be leaving for Kanpur tomorrow, though my coordinates were very much near rajendra nagar :) and I am not all elusive. I shall meet you soon whenever I come back(most probably in first week of June). Drop me a mail at anurag.ansh@gmail.com and we shall fix the details.

Anurag Srivastava said...

@seshu: I was seriously wondering how you had left no comments on the interview blog

I dont need to judge you buddy, you are already an Ivy League scholar :)

Sumeet said...

I am not sure if you have omitted significant content of the interview in the blog posting, but, based on the blog it appears to be a very mediocre performance. The answer for choosing IPS as a low order preference does not appear to be very convincing.
Good luck with the training and hope you do your part to weed out corruption from the most sought after goverment service.

Anurag Srivastava said...

@Sumeet: Thanks for your wishes

Since I got 150 marks,that is very mediocre, I agree mine was a 'very mediocre performance' :)

But yes the answer that I gave for IPS was the true answer, and if board did not accept temperament as an answer, I accept the blame. I had no choice as I did not want to enter IPS.

That was the weakest area and now in the microanalysis, I feel that it gave a bad impression.

I certainly will do my part to weed out corruption

Anonymous said...

Congrtas ...
Wish u a bright career ahead.

Shatru said...

Hi Anurag,
We have a similar history regarding UPSC preparation. I also started it in October 2005. But I was not as gutsy as you as I decided not to leave my job with NTPC. In hindsight, your decision seems to have paid off much more as now I am stuck up with rank 75 (could not expect more with written marks 1086 and an interview board of Mr. Inamdar). Mr. Inamdar interrogated me for one hour and I could come up with only 165. Hoping to see you soon.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anurag,
i am planning to give Civil next year. I have done engg from REC and planning to take Geography as one of my optional and OTHER i am confused between psychology and public admin. I am new to both psychology and pub-ad.

2 of my frens[seniors] is opting for pub-ad and so i ll get some guidance from them but i think psychology ll be more interesting to me seeing the last question paper as this paper is more scientific oriented.

Please suggest....

Anurag Srivastava said...

@Shatru: You did it along with job, thats very commendable. But yes, in hindsight my decision proved right :) Looking forward to meet you too.

@Anonymous: I have no idea of Psychology so whatever I say shall be what I have heard from friends.

I do not think you should take a subject because you will be able to take guidance from your seniors. You can always find friends in coaching who will help you. Also do not decide by seeing this years paper alone. Papers may vary.

About Psychology it is said that if you are interested in that subject you can do well otherwise it may be difficult whereas Public Administartion as a subject is more neutral. It can be managed even if you do not find it very interesting.

abhigyan said...

sir i am an ias aspirant and is just about to start my preparation for the same. i m still in btech. and i would like to know how important the CV is gonna be taking into interview the account.

Anurag Srivastava said...

@abhigyan: CV is pretty important or I should say most important. But in UPSC interview, you fill a form that goes to the board, so what you fill in it is more important than your entire CV.

Anyways the interviews depend on many factors, so for you its not the right time to worry about them, just concentrate on your preparations.

abhigyan said...

sir i am abhigyan from lucknow
iwant to know how difficult is to clear IAS with electrical engineering & physics when somebody is not an iitian or nitian

Anurag Srivastava said...

@abhigyan: The truth is i dont know how difficult it is. But one has to feel very confident in these subjects and really love them. Also the syllabus is indeed big, more so in electrical engineering than in Physics. I will not say that you cannot do them but seriously think before taking them.

You may like to see http://anuragsbuzz.blogspot.com/2007/07/civil-services-preparations-general.html and http://anuragsbuzz.blogspot.com/2007/08/civil-services-mains-preparation.html

javed said...

Hi Anurag!,

Thank you for setting up this Blog for Civil Services disciples.

I have recently given my Civils prelims to see what actually is needed for Civil Service in India.

It was a good experience for me, the standard UPSC has adopted from years am able to know it.

Soon i will be coming with lot's of queries for you.

Thank you in advance.
Best regards.

Javeed ahmed khan.

prafull said...

Sir, I m Prafull Gupta from IIIT hyderabad in 3rd year. As i m from CSE branch,there is no subject for computer science engineering So which optional subjects will be helpful n good for me??

Doodad said...
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PJ said...
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PJ said...

It was quite stimulating experience to go through your interview, I loved that sarcastic smile on the face of the CM :-))

I was nervous to read further questions based on the consideration for the choice of service and was equally relieved in the end to see you ranked 27th.

Kudos to your mains performance man.

Guys, need suggestion on a systematic strategy to approach P.Ad and History.

Priyaranjan Jha

PJ said...
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PJ said...
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PJ said...
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PJ said...


I was wondering if people still visit here..

Anything on P.Ad History will be appreciated.

I work and can't quit so classes will not be an option :-(

Anonymous said...

Hi Anurag..I am Sagar ..IIT KGP this year passout..can u please send me a test mail on iitkgp.sagar@gmail.com ..was planning to go for CSE..wanted a little guidance..thanks

Alok said...

Very intersting blogs am a b.tech student i want to preparation UPSC examnation any buddy help me

satyarafi said...

HI Anurag ,
Congrats on ur success and thanks a lot for creating this blog.
i have one doubt regarding preparation.
which topics to read of Indian Economy from dutta
sundaram's book.
as we know Indian economy is part of GS. but in dutta sundaram's book, there are around 50 chapters and i have heard only few are imp.
Can any one please let me know what are those chapters?

Thanks in advance


hi anuraj...cn u help me in coaching for pubAd.....shouls i select rau/mohanty/minocha...pls help...