Thursday, March 14, 2013

One Last Time: My Civil Services Exam - 2012 Interview

I had my CSE-12 interview on 12-3-13, forenoon session. I was not excited or tense or nervous like last time as I had given around 17 interviews (several real in that) in the last one year. Rajni Razdan, who has a reputation of being erratic and inconsistent in awarding marks, was the board chairperson. She came 45 minutes late and we got to know that she was the board chairperson only after 10:30. By that time some of the boards already interviewed one candidate each and second ones' interviews were in progress. I was the second person to be interviewed by Razdan. My turn came at around 11:10 AM and my interview went on for around 16 or 17 minutes. One disclaimer I want to mention is about my language. I was not very fluent and few times my sentence formation was awkward. So this transcript does not reflect what really went on in that room. It is impossible to reproduce the entire verbatim here but I will try to be accurate.

I am from Anantapur in AP. I did computer science engineering in IIT Kanpur. My optionals are history and public administration. My hobbies are darts, melodic whistling, watching movies, reading, blogging.

Peon followed his usual protocol and he opened the door for me. I entered the room after I asked her permission to enter. "May I come in ma'am?" I wished her good morning and wished all others too after that. She asked me to take the seat and I sat after saying "thank you ma'am."

Member 1 (M1) was a Southie who was familiar with AP, Anantapur. M2 was a Kashmiri for sure. M3 was a Northie, more likely a Punjabi, and I couldn't judge where M4 was from. M3 and M4 were sitting on my right.

Razdan asked my name, roll number. I told her. She took a photo of me from a tray in front of her and asked me whether it is me. I said yes. Then.......

Ch: Tell us about Delhi Sultanate.
Me: (I had this deja vu feeling as I was asked questions on Sultanate by KK Paul board too.) Delhi Sultanate's period began in 1206 with the accession of Qutubuddin Aibak and ended with the defeat of Ibrahim Lodi in 1526.

Ch: What were the dynasties which ruled during Sultanate period?
Me: Slave dynasty.....(She interrupted me.)

Ch: Slave dynasty?
Me: (I took a pause and went into introspective mood for 2 or 3 seconds thinking whether I committed a blunder. Then I said....) Yes ma'am, Slave dynasty.

Ch: That was Mamluk dynasty not Slave dynasty.
Me: Ma'am, I just want to clarify that Mamluks means slaves....(she interrupted me)

Ch: But they should be having some name right? They are Mamluks.
Me: (I was feeling helpless. How to explain to this lady? I decided to agree with what she said. :-) Nodded my head and said....) Okay ma'am.

Ch: Who ruled?
Me: (She added something else to the question and I don't remember what it is. That made me interpret the question differently. I said....) Qutubuddin Aibak, Iltutmish......(She interrupted me.)

Ch: No, not them. I am asking about the dynasties.
Me: Mamluks, Khaljis.....
Ch: Khiljis.....
Me: (I decided not to tell her that Khiljis were also called as Khaljis. I continued with my answer...) Tughlaqs, Syeds, Lodis.

Ch: Who was famous among Lodis?
Me: Ibrahim Lodi ma'am. He was defeated and killed by Babur in 1526.

Ch: What is his contribution to the art and architecture of Delhi?
Me: (I was stumped. We don't read his contribution to art or architecture. We read about Lodis' contribution in general and we read about Sikander Lodi's Agra fort. I said....) Ma'am Lodi Tombs in Delhi.

Ch: Lodi Tombs? (as if she is mocking me....) Before his death? (smiling...) Any thing else?
Me: (Took a short pause...I was smiling....I was going to say that he built his father's tomb but felt not to prolong the issue as I don't have much knowledge on the issue.) I don't recall any.

Ch: Take time.
Me: (Now a pause of 10 seconds or so...) I don't recall any contributions ma'am.

Ch: Tell us about the lady ruler? (She didn't frame the sentence properly.)
Me: (There were many. So I said...) Delhi Sultanate ma'am?
Ch: Yes.
Me: Razia Sultana ma'am. She ruled from 1236 to 1240 until she was deposed by her brother.

Ch: About Balban?
Me: He was a slave, one of the Cops-of-forty. He deposed off Nasiruddin and ruled from 1265 to 1286.

She passed on to M1.

M1: You play Cricket?
Me: Sir, I used to play Cricket in school. Now I only follow it. (smiling...)

M1: What was in news recently about Indian team?
Me: Sir, Sehwag is dropped from the team.

M1: Yes. Do you agree with that decision?
Me: Yes sir, he is not playing well since long. He should have been dropped long back.

M1: (smiling) Don't you like Sehwag's batting?
Me: (smiling) Sir, I used to like his game once upon a time, long back. But not now.

M1: What are the ongoing series?
Me: Sir, India Vs Australia test series, England Vs New Zealand and Sri Lanka Vs Bangladesh test series.

M1: What about South Africa Vs Pakistan?
Me: (one day series is going on) Sir I am not aware of it. I am not following it. (said this firmly.)

M1: You are from Anantapur. Tell us the problems of your district.
Me: Agrarian crisis, farmers' suicides, rural distress, large scale migration due to that, illiteracy....sir literacy rate is only 64%.....excess fluoride problem, fluorosis, ground water depletion....(interrupted me)

M1: Scarcity of rainfall....
Me: Yes sir, and that is one of the reasons behind agrarian crisis.

M1: What about Naxalism?
Me: Naxalism used to be a big problem in my district some years back. But it is not there now sir.

M1: What about the factionism?
Me: Sir, factionism used to be a big problem some 3 or 4 years back. But it is not that intense now. Even now here and there some killings take place. Faction feuds are still there but not that intense a problem as it used to be. (I should have spoken about RaktaCharitra, but I was cut short by his next question.)

M1: Can you tell me any other district where factionism is still a problem?
Me: Sir, I can name fact 4 districts where this is a problem. Kadapa, Kurnool, Prakasam, Palnadu region of Guntur.

M1: Kurnool is in the top spot right? (smiling)
Me: (Smiling....) Sir, my district took the spot some years back.

M1: What is the area of your district?
Me: Sir it is 19 lakh.....sorry 19 thousand square kilo meters.

M1: Are you sure?
Me: Yes sir. It is in fact largest district in Andhra Pradesh.

M1: Is it not Adilabad?
Me: No sir. In fact my district stands in top 10 at the national level too.

M1: So you did CSE in IITK and passed out in 200X?
Me: Yes sir.

Razdan asked a question in between.....
Ch: What were you doing in the last X years?
Me: Ma'am, I was preparing for this exam. This is my fourth and final attempt. And I gave interview earlier. (I shouldn't have said anything about the interview which was quite unnecessary I felt.)
Ch: You gave interview.
Me: Yes ma'am.

M1: Can you tell me some law which governs all the things related to computers?
Me: Sir, it is IT Act 2000. It recognises digital communication, offences like cybercrime, cyberterrorism etc., stipulates punishment.

M1: What is cyberterrorism?
Me: Using computers and computer networks for causing damage to enemies....sabotaging, stealing information.

Now M2 took over. He was not fluent in English. I guess his job was to ask about the polity and Public administration, I came to know that he asked other candidates in my group questions from those areas.

M2: India is said to be federal state. What are federal features in the constitution?
Me: Sir Article 3 talks about the..... (I don't know what took over me. I think it was a sudden switch-over problem. I began on a wrong note here.)

M2: Why Article 3? Let's begin from Article 1. It states India is union of states. I say India is not a federal state at all. What do you say?
Me: (On another occassion, another time, I would have answered this question differently.) Sir, there are unitary features but there are federal features in our constitution which makes us a federal state. For example there is Schedule 7.

M2: What is that system given in Schedule 7 called?
Me: (I was stumped again.) I don't know sir.

M2: What does Schedule 7 contain?
Me: Sir, it contains Lists of subjects governed by Centre and States, divided between them.

M2: Yes, it is called list system.
Me: Okay sir.

M2: What are the lists in Schedule 7?
Me: Union list, State list, Concurrent list.

M4 asked a question in between....
M4: And who has the residuary powers?
Me: Sir, Union has the residuary powers.

M2: What are the other federal features?
Me: Sir from Article 246 to 300 or so, constitution clearly defines administrative, legislative, financial powers of the the States and Centre. (I took a short pause for thinking.)

M2: Governor's office?
Me: Yes sir, Governor's office.
M2: Civil services?
Me: Yes sir, Civil services too.

M2: What are the articles in the constitution which talk about the civil services?
Me: Sir, Article 308 to 312.

M2: Only upto 312?
Me: Yes sir, some articles after 312 are repealed.

M2: But there are 313, 314, 315 etc?
Me: Sir, but 315 is about the UPSC.

M3 was smiling and said "If UPSC is not there then there is no civil service." Now all the members were laughing. I too laughed at the poor joke. :-)

Me: Yes sir. There are also these administrative tribunals, Article 323A, 323B.
M2: Yes.

Rajni Razdan interrupted and asked me a question.....
Ch: Name the constitutional authorities.
Me: Ma'am..... President, Vice President, Prime Minister.....he is mentioned in some articles......Council of Minsters, Judges, Supreme Court, High Courts, CAG, Attorney General, Governors, Finance Commission, UPSC, National Commissions for SCs and STs. (Well I missed parliament, speaker and some others.)

M2: Election Commission?
Me: Yes sir, EC too.

Now M3 took over. He was fluent in English. I guess his job was to ask about the hobbies as he did the same with other candidates in my group.

M3: You wrote your hobbies are reading and blogging. What are the last 3 posts you have posted in your blog? (He completely ignored other hobbies of mine.)
Me: Sir, I wrote on Hyderabad blasts on Feb 28th. I wrote on the CSM results on Feb 23rd, after the results were out.......(interrupted)

M3: (Smiling) Oh, about the results?
Me: Yes Sir.
M3: Third one?
Me: I wrote on Telangana issue.

M3: What do you think are the motives and reasons behind the blasts?
Me: People....Police are saying that the accused are avenging the deaths of Afzal and.....Kasab. (I didn't want to talk about Owaisi's hate speech. But he wanted me to.....)

M3: Has it got anything to do with Akbaruddin Owaisi's hate speech and arrest?
Me: (I was smiling.....) Sir, people can only speculate. We may never get to know what were their reasons. Police said that the main accused was actually Dharmabad district president of MIM. They also said that he was very close to some MIM leader from Hyderabad.

M3: You also wrote about Telangana. If you are the chief secretary of AP, what would you do to solve the problem?
Me: Sir, I think it is beyond Chief Secretary to solve the problem. They wont agree for anything short of separate state.

M3: But still, what would you do? (I felt that he didn't expect me say what I said.)
Me: Sir, I would like to maintain status quo. I would have proposed to the government to set up Telangana Regional Standing Council in the Assembly which can initiate the laws and contribute the policies related to Telangana. But this wont solve the problem at all. (Retrospectively speaking I was not satisfied by the answer. I should have talked about how as a CS I can contribute to the development of the region.)

M3: So that wont solve the problem and may increase the discord.
Me: Sir, it wont increase the discord but it wont solve the problem. They are not ready for any kind of reconciliation or solution short of separate Telangana.

M3: What were the last 3 novels you have read?
Me: Sir, I read this novel written by Mohammed Hanif 'A Case of exploding Mangoes'.....

M3: Do you agree with the author about the climax scenes?
Me: (I was little excited and some how my answer was bad. I should have answered differently. I should have exhibited my knowledge about Zia's death. Actually I don't even agree with the climax.) Sir I agree. That guy Shigri inflicts a wound in parade and Zia dies of that wound.

M3: Other 2 novels?
Me: Sir I read Digital Fortress of Dan Brown, Salman Rushdie's Enchantress of Florence...(I see Razdan was smiling and nodding....don't know why.)....Sir Dan Brown is my favourite author along with Doyle....

M3: Arthur Conan Doyle?
Me: Yes Sir.

Razdan interrupted and asked few questions....
Ch: Which is your favourite book written by Doyle?
Me: Ma'am, The Hound of Baskervilles.

Ch: (Now smiling and turned towards M3, she said with a smile....) He is on the right path.
Me: (I didn't know what to make of that statement. Was I in the wrong path or direction before in the interview? :-) I will get to know once my marks are out.)

Ch: What are the novels of Dan Brown you have read?
Me: Ma'am, I have read all his novels.

Ch: What is your favourite?
Me: The Da Vinci Code ma'am.

Now it was M4's turn.

M4: There is a district Gulbarga in Karnataka. There are similarities between your district and Gulbarga. What are they?
Me: Sir, geographically speaking we both are in rain shadow region. There is scarcity of rainfall. We both are on plateau.

M4: There is similarity of cuisine and life style too. What is the reason?
Me: Sir, if I am not wrong there is significant Telugu population in Gulbarga.

M4: Yes. That is correct. Why is that so? Tell from historical perspective.
Me: Sir, Gulbarga was ruled by Bahmanis, Bijapur and Vijayanagara. In 6th century Chalukyas ruled over that place. Where ever Telugu Nayaks were posted to administer the places, significant Telugu migration took place. That is why we have significant Telugu population in Tamil Nadu, and some districts in Karnataka. (I should't have spoken about Chalukyas. That was unnecessary.)

M2 asked me a question now.
M2: Any thing from the recent past?
Me: (took a pause of 3 or 4 seconds to think about what he is asking.) Sir, Nizam..... (interrupted me immediately)

M2: That is what I wanted to know.

Ch: Your interview is over. (I don't really remember what her exact words were.)
Me: Thank you ma'am.

Got up...took two steps away from the desk....while I was walking away, I again said thanks and left the room showing my back.

So that was it. I didn't know the exact time it went on for as I forgot to ask for the time after I came out of the room. But I have some strong reasons to believe that it went on for some 17 minutes even though reading my transcript gives a feeling that it went on for a few minutes more. Despite few wrong notes, I was satisfied with my interview unlike last time with KK Paul board when I botched up on last few questions (But I still got good marks last time). It is another matter that Rajni Razdan has a bad reputation of being erratic to live up to. It doesn't matter to me. I was cool and relaxed through out the interview except on couple of occasions when I got excited a little momentarily. Perfectly satisfied with my body language part, I was looking at all the members when I was answering the questions.

If there is any correlation between marks and performance then I should get good marks. But it is unpredictable Razdan we are talking about. She gave 110 marks to a guy in his 3rd interview who got 240 marks in his first interview and 210 marks in his 2nd. That is Razdan for you. Fortunately she didn't sleep or pretend to sleep during my interview. Neither did she ask any questions from Manorama Year book or Oxford atlas. She was attentive through out according to me and she even asked a few questions in between the turns of other members.

Now it is up to God.

(I will update this post if any more questions come to my mind which I may have forgotten now or if there are any mistakes I made in writing.)
(Edit 1: Questions about the area of my district.)


  1. Interviews looks good :) All the very best :-)

    1. Thank you. Hope Razdan also felt the same. :-) Questions were mostly factual.

  2. Please post your marks when you get the results.. And what was your overall rank last time?

    1. I will. I didn't get a rank last time.

  3. your sincerity and hardwork is shown in your interview ... ur my inspiration to full fill my dream ..its really very helpful..thank u so much.

  4. good one senior!! can u post your pubad notes or kind of frame work you did for last time??