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Civil Services Examination 2015: Personality Test (Interview)

Interview Date: 11th March 2015

Board: Prof HC Gupta

Duration: 35 min


I was the third person to be interviewed in the afternoon session. Since the weather was quite pleasant, I wore a dark grey suit, light blue shirt with a dark blue tie and black shoes to the interview.

After waiting outside the room for about 5 minutes, the peon signaled me to enter. I walked in to the room and wished the Chairman and all the members (all male members) Good Afternoon with a smile. The Chairman asked me to take my seat.

The Chairman was browsing through my DAF and reading out my educational qualifications to me. I kept nodding politely.


CM: So you have worked at ITC for only 3 months. What have you been doing since then?

Me: Sir, I quit ITC in 2013 to prepare for the civil services examination. I qualified last year with a rank of 416 and currently, I am allotted IRS(C&CE).

CM: So, you are undergoing training?

Me: No, sir. I joined the service on 28th December and applied for Extra Ordinary Leave(EOL) the next day itself as it was advised by my course director in the academy that OTs (Office Trainees) who are willing to take the CSE again should proceed on EOL as preparing alongside training would not be possible.

At this point M3 intervenes;

M3: So, you will be on leave for how long?

Me: For 1 year, until the mains examination ends this year i.e. December 2016.

M3: Okay. They did not have this provision during our time.

I nodded.

Back to CM

CM: So, Anurag people are walking in everyday saying they want to join the civil services for diversity, status, exposure, public service etc. etc. If you have any other novel reason to join, then tell me what it is.

Me: No, sir. The reasons you have mentioned cover my objectives to join the IAS as well.

CM: Okay. Have you been following the news lately?

Me: Yes, sir.

CM: Why was Kanhaiya Kumar in the news yesterday?

Me: Sir, news had surfaced that he was fined Rs. 3000 by the university administration for misbehaving with a girl on the campus.

CM: What was he doing? How was he misbehaving?

Me: I do not know what the offence was.

CM: He misbehaved with a girl who caught him “pissing” in public and he then threatened her. 

Me: Okay sir. (It was a funny moment because sir smiled when he used the word “pissing” and so did I)

CM: What are your views on the NGT order on the World Culture Festival?

Me: The NGT has proclaimed the WCF to be an “ecological disaster”. It has caused serious damage to the Yamuna floodplains. Hence, in my opinion while WCF does project India’s Soft power it should not have been conducted in an ecologically fragile region.

CM: But what kind of disaster do you think can occur in that region? Only shrubs and trees were removed and the area was levelled. No permanent structures were constructed. Then how does it become an ecological disaster?

Me: Sir, the gestation period to the buildup of a disaster is long.  Even though no permanent structures were constructed, one cannot predict what its impact may be immediately.

However, as the floodplain was levelled and all vegetation removed, the region becomes prone to flooding and inundation by say, torrential rainfall.  Hence, the NGT sought to proclaim the WCF as an ecological disaster based on the evidence that was put forth.

CM: So, what should have been done?

Me: Sir, the authorities should have assessed the scale of the project before any kind of clearance was given.

At this point M4 also nodded.

CM passed the baton to M1

M1:  Recently in Himachal Pradesh, the CBI has been looking into various cases of fake universities giving degrees. Do you think this is the reason why the state has a high literacy rate?

Me: I am unaware of this news sir. However, anyone above the age of 7 only needs to able to read and write in any 1 language to be proclaimed literate. Therefore, the students being duped by these fake colleges would be that capable in my opinion. Hence, literacy should not have any correlation with this CBI case.

M1: So, you studied at Sanskriti School. It was in the news recently. Why ?

Me: Sir, the High Court of Delhi has quashed the quota for civil servants in Sanskriti School.

M1: How much was the reservation?

Me: I don’t remember sir.

M1: Do you think it is right to have a quota in this school?

Me: No sir. I think the entry to the school should me merit based. Such a reservation breeds a wrong culture and leads to the formation of groupism amongst young minds at the school level itself. Young minds should not be moulded with a sense of entitlement but with a sense of equality.

Moreover, the official quota at the entry stage translates into preferential treatment for the children with a bureaucratic background. For example, I wanted to pick Economics as my fifth subject in 11th but I was offered Biotechnology even though some vacancies in economics were kept open for students with a bureaucratic background. According to me, this was incorrect.

M1: Groupism forms in colleges and universities between General and Non-General Candidates also. You must be against SC/ST/OBC reservations also?

Me: Sir, I am not against the ideology behind reservations. However, the manner in which it is implemented needs a relook.

The entire scheme was meant to be a temporary measure but the current manner of its implementation makes it appear as if the policy would continue perpetually. Further, the benefit of reservation only accrues to a certain higher class within the lower caste groups.

Hence this “elite capture” within the caste group restricts the possibility of lower classes within the SC/ST/OBC community to avail of the benefit of reservations.

M1: I agree with you on this.

(This was a morale boosting statement)

M1: So you like reading books. What kind of books do you read?

Me: Both fiction and non-fiction. No particular genre as such.

M1: Why are books considered man’s best friend?

Me: They are a source of knowledge and guidance. For me it would be the sense of accomplishment that the book provides when I am done reading it.

M1: But, why only books? Even teachers are a source of knowledge. Why particularly books?

Me: Sir, I think this is a subjective opinion that one can have. For me, its books. For example, for others the dog is considered man’s best friend.

At this point M4 smiled a bit.

M1: Okay. Thank you Anurag.

CM asked M2 to proceed.

M2: So you had biotechnology in 11th and 12th. Can you tell me what major biotech related issue has been doing rounds in the news for some time now?

Me: GM crops.

M2: What has been happening with respect to GM crops in India?

Me: Sir, based on the recommendations of the Technical Expert Committee the SC has put an indefinite moratorium on open field trials of GM crops (particularly Bt Brinjal) until proper biosafety testing with respect to toxicity is complete and a proper regulatory mechanism is set up to assess GM crops. This was because India is the Centre of origin for Brinjal and the current genetic makeup of the plant has evolved over many thousands of years. Hence and tampering at the genetic level without proper tests could impact the crop adversely.

M2: But do we need GM crops?

Me: Yes, sir. Due to the challenges posed particularly by climate change and pests we require drought resistant hardy crops which are also immune to pesticide resistant pests. Even the Economic Survey 2015-16 has made a strong case for India to invest in GM crops.

M2: What else can India do?

Me: Sir, Bangladesh has invested in Bt Brinjal and reaped its benefits. While India conducts its tests and strengthens its regulatory mechanism it can learn from Bangladesh’s example.

M2: What is the genetic cause for cancer?

Me: At the genetic level, a faulty gene leads a cell to multiply uncontrollably and this leads to the formation of malignant tumors in the body.

M2: What is siRNA?

Me: I am unaware of this sir.

CM points to M3 to continue.

M3: You called the WCF an ecological disaster. I think that is far-fetched. I have been to the Yamuna floodplains many times. There is hardly any vegetation there. Even sir (points to M1) would agree with me on this. Don’t you think it is too much for the NGT to intervene and call this an ‘ecological disaster’?

Me: Sir, the NGT has used such a term based on the evidence that was provided to it. It was admitted that the authorities did not assess the scale of the project when clearance was provided.

M3 interrupts..

M3: But courts can be wrong also. That is why you have the system of appeal.

Me: Yes, but in a democracy we go to the courts for adjudication. And there is no higher authority than the SC to interpret the law. The court is not final because it is right, it is right because it is final.

M3: Is climate change happening?

Me: Yes, sir. All the evidence points to support the fact. The global average temperatures have risen since pre industrial levels due to anthropogenic reasons, the global stock of carbon in the air has risen above 400ppm, the size of the Antarctic ice shelf has progressively reduced over the years, the decadal difference of the length of glaciers highlights sharp withdrawal and the sea levels are also rising...

M3 interrupts...

M3: How much has the sea level risen?

Me: I do not have exact figures but various studies point that it threatens to consume island states such as those in the pacific unless we act now.

M3: Various studies have been done by Geological Survey of India to highlight that glaciers are not receding. Since you are being so emphatic about climate change maybe you should look it up.

Me: Sir, I am not being emphatic. Science works on the principle of refutability. If a counter evidence is provided the current position will naturally be changed. I shall look up these studies and update myself accordingly.

M3 smiled

CM passes the baton to M4

M4: So you are from Himachal. What is the major river in the state?

Me: Sir, I don’t know which particular river you are referring to but the major rivers in the state are Beas, Sutlej, Yamuna, Chenab and Ravi.

M4: Which district are you from?

Me: Kangra

M4: What are the neighboring districts?

Me: Chamba, Mandi, Kullu..

M4 interrupts…

M4: which is the northern most district which shares a border with J&K?

Me: Chamba

M4: Are you sure? Don’t you think it is Bharmour?

(I knew this was a trick question as there is no district called Bharmour.)

Me: No sir, Chamba is the northernmost district.

M4: What is the major hydroelectric project on Sutlej in HP?

Me: Sir, I’m not able to recollect.

M4: Bhakra-Nangal.

I nodded. (I thought the dam was in Punjab. However, Bhakra dam is in Bilaspur, HP. Nangal dam is south of Bhakra and is situated in Punjab.)

M4: Okay, so what is the difference between base load generating station and peak generating station?

Me: Depending on the average load consumption in a particular division, the base load generating stations, which are mostly always coal based power plants, are adjusted to provide a constant load near to the average consumption. They operate at high Plant Load Factor (PLF). Peaking power stations are gas based or hydro based generating stations that increase their output as the load increases. They operate at low PLF for this reason.

M4: How is the average load consumption determined?

Me: Based on the load curve.

M4: Where is it plotted?

Me: Load Dispatch Centre

M4: Okay coming down to your hobby. What is the difference between a piano and a harmonium?

Me: Sir the harmonium is a wind instrument whereas the piano is a percussion instrument.

M4: How many octaves does a Harmonium have?

Me: I am not sure sir. I have never played the Harmonium. I only play the Piano.

M4: Okay. What about the octaves on a Piano?

Me: 7 octaves plus 3 more keys

M4: What type of theme do you play?

Me: Western Classical only.

M4: Okay Anurag, thank you.

CM: All right; Thank you. You may leave.

I got up. Wished all the members and left.

It was a pleasant experience. The board was cordial.

Last Update Sunday 29th July 2018     

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