Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Hullabaloo at LBSNAA

If you think civil servants are civil, think again. That certainly was not true in first week at the academy. Along with our hectic first week, we also had our elections, and elections we had.

The thing started with vying for a cream post, that’s called President, Mess Committee (PMC). I do not know if it really is a great post or the candidates were attracted by the promise that PMC may be able to escort all dignitaries who come at LBS; but many people started coming in the forefront.

And the person who tells you that it’s the participation that matters must have lost the game. So the contestants (for all posts, not only PMC) started leaving no stones unturned in ensuring their victory.

No stone unturned is a euphemism for starting all kinds of lobbying. This candidate is from north, this from Maharashtra, that one is Telugu and so on. The only thing they forgot was just a day before they had taken the oath of serving the country without having biases of caste, religion, region etc.

So, first there was order. I mean there were few candidates and they tried to have a consensus who should contest; then more arrived with their aspirations. The order turned into a chaos. And then people started lobbying.

But in this hard game, the poor voter was pulled from various lobbies. When many candidates bugged him with their manifestos and promises, he decided to do what was right. That is to vote on his own, not on being a part of a lobby. I do not claim that the candidates who won were the best. But then I can see that most attempts of lobbying failed, ‘mostly’ for all the posts.

That’s the power of democracy. It can create order out of chaos. It has the power to take care of aberrations. When the voters are pulled by various factions, they decide to do what they think is right. I ‘hope’ what they did here was right.

If our PMC is reading this, ensure that our mess bill comes down, as you are projected as the right candidate :P (Just to tell my readers, we give more than one third of our meagre salary as mess expenses)

PS: Like all my views, this article is colored by my perspective, so I do not claim this to be the truth. And yes, forgot to tell you, I won for a small post too :)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Alive and Kicking

I am back. If you were worried about me, I am alive(almost) and kicking(not literally). I reached LBS academy on 17th and since then I have entered the process of becoming a 'civil serant'. I know I have to tell you a lot but now I can claim to be busy, so forgive me for this unorganised blog.

Before I tell you more, I cannot get over this urge of posting this picture of me and some of my friends(Dont forget telling that I look good, else you need to see an eye specialist).

So the academy is trying to make us civil. For that they have hanged a tie permanently to our neck. For making us servants, they are trying to keep us busy from dusk to dawn. Apart from these, I have some other things to tell you too.

1. Mussorie is too good a place to be ( especially if you have lived in a place like Kanpur); so dont wait until your honeymoon to come here.

2. The LBS Academy is 'almost' nice, I mean the facilities here are excellent. But then we are facing a kind of shock treatment. Keep reading my blogs for further details.

3. I get up at 5 AM everyday for doing exercises, yes you read it right, EVERYDAY and mostly my schedule continues till 8 PM.

4. I have TV in my room, so now you know that government is not so poor.

5. I also have a Laptop in my room. So what, I have to share it with my roommate ( I capture it most of the time.)

6. The lectures are as boring as they can be anywhere in the world, and you know what; one can get a memo for sleeping in the class.

7. I have tried here to venture into arena of politics, or to put it in other words, I am fighting an election for some vague post. Though most of it is irrelevant but I am enjoying this.

8. And yes, it is turning out very hard to connect with 'real' persons after being in 'virtual' contact with them. I mean those with whom I was in contact through internet.

So these are the major things happening in my life. My blog may become less frequent now (blame it on my training and trainers), but I will try to keep it updated and let you know about the (mis)incidences of my life.

And yes, keep coming back, I am still blogging.

See below how Mussorie looks.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Dear Diary

Yesterday I went for dinner to an old acquaintance, my mom’s colleague. She praised me and praised me and praised me more. I mean I like flattery but she made me feel embarrassed. And what kind of praises, that I was so cute and so childlike. The problem I feel is that they imagine a fat, old IAS officer. Then they try to fit me in that image. After failing in that exercise, they call me cute!


Now I will add another thing about the dinners. Why people do not bring all the items simultaneously. They serve chapattis and then they bring rice. After that they will give sweets and then bring ice-cream. Please, if you invite me for dinner, put everything on the table at the same time. By that I shall be able to manage what all I want to eat. Also I am not at all shy, so do not take extra care in serving me (a euphemism for force feeding me.)


Got sick today, I think it is viral fever. The thing I hate most is that I am feeling cold and at same time I am sweating. Now neither can I turn on the fan completely, sit in front of cooler or take a bath, nor can I wrap a blanket and sleep comfortably. It is irritating me all the time.


I am going to leave my home after three days. I am OK with it but still there is a tinge of sadness. When I got ill today, mom actually had my ‘Nazar Utarai’. I hope you know what ‘Nazar Utarna’ is. I do not believe in all this but I was touched. To her I will always remain a three year old kid, who can become ill by the evil eyes of the world.


My packing has not yet started. Somehow I have managed to complete the shopping but the packaging has not begun. I am really worried how I will be able to find out the things in Mussorie once I need them. Search for socks or tie becomes a full fledged excavation of the suitcase. Also another problem is that I can wrap trousers but still wrapping a shirt is difficult. I need a crash course from my mom. And how shall I wrap suites?


I am a little scared, little skeptical and little jubilant. A new chapter of my life is going to begin soon. I will join on 18th and then I will formally become an IAS. Well, this will be a career for lifetime. Right now I am having butterflies in my stomach.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Good Teacher

Finally I could learn driving. The details of that are not worth mentioning. They were only because of a bad teacher. I believe if the teacher is good, it can be a cakewalk. So when I had this long break at home, I decided to teach driving to mom myself. Yes, I believe I am a good teacher, any problems with that?

Now till today she has completed ten days of her learning. Can you believe it that she can drive now. OK, I agree that certain conditions apply though. The road has to be empty with no turns. Also, she refuses to go above the speed twenty. But my point is that she can drive. She can also press clutch, brake and accelerator without looking down…. ok without looking down mostly. That is what a good teacher can do to you.

Another proof of my being good at teaching is that in last ten days I have saved lives of five dogs, one cow, and two men. A good teacher is actually always alert. See, I will tell you a real life scenario. When I see someone at a considerable distance, I start saying

“Mom press the brake…....(Gently)
Mom press the brake......... (Just a little louder)
MOM PRESS THE BRAKE.” (Volume not worth mentioning)

She panics. I pull the handbrakes. See simple. Was that dangerous in any way? She has nearly perfected in using clutch and accelerator, only 'some' problem is left with the brake.

Now consider this one

“Mom, take the next turn............................(Gently)
Mom, start turning the steering now......... (Just a little louder)
Ok, no problem, we can take the next turn.” (Gently again)

So you see I am a patient teacher. Many times on a slope, she stops. Now if she presses the accelerator, she has to leave the brake. But then car starts moving back. She then absolutely refuses to leave the brakes. Well, this is when the advantage of an empty road comes in picture. I give her complete time to deal with it herself….mostly.

I tell you, when you are teaching the driving to someone, you have to tackle many things. For example, the angry glance of the cyclist who has been giving side from last fifteen minutes, or the pedestrian who is forced to move at the extreme corner, as my mom prefers to remain at side of the road.

But there are some real hindrances for which she is not to be blamed. Their culprit is Bollywood movies. I never understand why heroes always keep oscillating their steering, mostly while singing songs. Now, I have to remind her every time that she can actually drive straight without oscillating the steering.

I am still trying to convince her to come on busy roads, but I do not insist. I hope you know the reason why. In my city, where people overtake from both sides, and there are no traffic rules it’s hard to drive. If she can drive here, she can drive in any place of the world. It is a real learning process for me, to teach something to my mom, I am learning to be patient. At a slight sign of disappointment at my face, she completely refuses to learn.

But guess what, she does not read my blogs :)

PS: I know mom, the patience you have shown in teaching me everything in life was much greater than all this. I will always try to emulate that.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Date

That was the beginning of it.

He was new in the class, and she was already having her gang. To put it mildly she was different. No, not of stunningly beautiful kinds. Her laughter could be heard from half a kilometer, and one could count all her teeth when she just smiled. She at first looked to be a ‘don’ to him. That was the image that first attracted him, his complete antithesis.

Just a month had passed and they could feel a special bond. She was still always surrounded by her numerous friends and he was always trying to get her some time; alone. It was really difficult to do so. At times she made it easy for him, and at times she did not.

So that was the time when it was the game round, when they were not ‘just’ friends and not yet something else. Everyday he went school praying that he will get some of her free time. Those were the only days when he liked going to school.

It was the month of August and one day when he woke up, it was raining heavily. It was difficult to go to school, as he used public transport. The attendance was meager on such days and teachers never taught. Thus, in way it was worthless to go to school on that day. Or was it?

He decided to call the school to check if rainy day had been declared. Oops, the telephone was dead. So he decided to go to a PCO. Even if in heavily raining morning at 6:30 AM, the chances of getting an open PCO are nil, only those who had been in such a state could understand his perseverance.

After walking for half an hour he found an open PCO. He called the school and it was open. Then he dialed ‘her’ number. But alas, her phone was dead too. Now there was going to be no confirmation.

His mother told him to sit at home that day. But for some reasons, he explained to her that something important was going on in the class and he cannot afford missing a lecture (see, he did not lie :) ). His mother was too pleased to see his devotion.

So he somehow managed to reach school, of course completely wet. His heart was beating fast when he approached his classroom. But then a smile came on his face. He could hear the familiar laughter.

They shared a mischievous smile when he entered the class as if this was perfectly preplanned. That was the day when it became clear that they really shared a bond; and an understanding too. Only seven people were present that day and two were 'them'. He sat with her for eight periods, of course with none of her friends around. Oh yes, that rainy day was his first date.

Friday, August 03, 2007

She Came, She Saw, She Conquered

Yes she did that. Her conquest was complete and brutal. But I won’t talk about her conquest. It is already well known. I will only talk about the defeat. I was not the one defeated but certainly I had to bear its consequences.

I will not confuse you more. The
lady I am talking about is Ekta Kapoor and her entire ‘K’ series. Do not smile now and think that you will guess what I am going to write next. I hope my blogs are not as predictable.

I remember the time when I could actually watch television for hours. It used to be my best past time. There were serials that were interesting; there were soaps that were small and all ended after a certain time. But that was before the advent of Miss Kapoor.

The lady came and conquered the entire television primetime. She revolutionized the soaps and their entire storylines. Now wives find it hard now to manage with one husband, women never wear ordinary saris and soaps cannot do without songs.

There is this special ‘K’ series sound effect and all soaps have to revolve around family sagas. If a serial becomes popular, forget that it will ever end. It will evolve for generations, and in one year, an actor may find herself doing a fifth generation role.

Now I remain as far from the ‘idiot box’ as I can. I sincerely understand now why it has to be called so. I hate everything in these soaps, and the worst is the way their episodes end, as if there is none going to be more interesting than next.

Worse, I feel I am turning paranoid. When its special sound effects enter my ears, I feel restless. And if I see a tear in someone’s while watching these, I have no words to express my rage. It is not at the tears, but at the pathetic storyline that can bring that.

Well, I have been turned an outcaste in my own home. She is popular, she earns a lot, but let me explicitly state this; she is the one who stole my television.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Civil Services Mains Preparation: General Studies

The long promised blog about civil services mains preparation is here. Do not read this if you are not appearing for civil services. Before starting the preparation, have a look at the syllabus. A topic wise unsolved of Y.D. Mishra is available in the market and it can be of good help.

Now for each subject I have given a list of material that can be studied. The first paragraph is the material that should be studied and is mostly sufficient whereas the second one will be the additional that can also be looked at.

Polity: The best source for polity is the notes of Mr Ravindran of Vajiram. They are sufficient for getting good marks. It shall also be good idea to read the printed material (that is yellow books) of Vajiram.

Apart from this D. D. Basu’s book on ‘Introduction to India’s Constitution’ can also be read for specific topics. For a simpler reading two books of Subhash Kashyap on Constitution and Parliament may be referred. A topper also recommended me Laxmikant’s book on Polity and a book on ‘Indian Administration and Politics’ by Awasthi.

History: Bipin Chandra’s India’s Struggle for Independence is a must read if one wants to get a good understanding of freedom struggle. Also NCERT’s ‘Modern India’ is indispensable. There is a book of Spectrum on Modern India and it should be referred, but remember one needs a broader understanding and Spectrum only may not be sufficient.

Geography: Read two NCERT’s books on Physical Geography of India and People and Economy. Also printed material (yellow book) of Vajiram is good for Geography.

International Affairs: The notes of Vajiram and its printed material (published till mid September) are a must read, but try not to cram them as most candidates will be writing the same.

This is also broadly prepared from the daily reading of ‘The Hindu’. I mean just read it everyday. There is no need for making notes or cutting articles from it. Also read Frontline. One may buy ‘World Focus’ but it should be read fast. The NCERT book ‘Democracy in India’ can also be studied. Someone told me that Competition Wizard is better than many magazines, so one may have a look at it too.

Economy: For this notes of Vajiram and its printed material is sufficient.

If one wants to read a book, Uma Kapila can be studied. Also having the Penguin dictionary of Economics may be good help.

Science and Technology: Vajiram notes and material are sufficient for this. One may also read Spectrum of Science and Tech. On Thursday, Hindu has an S & T page, so keep an eye on that.

A topper told me that even reading the magazine ‘Science Reporter’ can be of great help.

Statistics: For engineers it can be a cakewalk provided a person has seen the previous years question papers. Spectrum is sufficient for it.

One may even have a look at NCERT book for statistics.

Social Issues: Read them from any source, may be Vajiram printed material or anything else. But do not skip them. The list can be seen from Y. D. Mishra’s unsolved papers.

Current Affairs, International Organizations etc: I read them from Vajiram printed material. You can choose any other source. It is better to get Xeroxed material of Vajiram and read it than sitting in the class and noting them down.

Two markers: Read them from any source you can get. There is a CST special issue for two markers published nearly in July. Even many magazines publish two markers special so keep on collecting them. Reading India Year book may also help.

People have told me that both, class notes of Vajiram and its printed material is available in the market, so it is a good idea to buy them.

Now about completing the question paper. I will tell what I had done. I prepared the order in which I was going to attempt the paper. For e.g. in first paper I decided to do Polity, then history then something else. After that I calculated the time available for each mark. For e.g. a 30 marker corresponds to 18 minutes. So I crammed by heart that if paper starts at 9:30, my first question should finish at 9:50 and so on. Thus I could keep a tap on the time and it nearly corresponded with the word limit. So I suggest start from the areas of strength and cram the various times by which you will be finishing a particular question.

I have tried my best to collect a lot of information from various sources. I have mentioned a comprehensive list of sources but it is not that I have studied them all. I have taken inputs from many toppers and I have tried to incorporate their sources. Any more queries are welcome. Happy preparation and best of luck J

PS: I thank Shammi Abidi (Rank 16), Anurag Tewari (Rank 24) and Udit Rai (Rank 25) for their kind help in preparation of this blog.