On 17th march the civil services (main) 2007 result came out.I was surfing the net when a friend of mine informed me about the results.I thought that as usual the UPSC website would not open as is the case usually once results are announced.But to my surprise it opened and very soon i found myself going through the list of roll numbers and was elated to find my roll number(after having twice missed the interview bus).But the joy soon turned into horror when on 19th afternoon i got a speedpost from UPSC informing me that my interview was on 31st march at 9 am ,i.e., first day first show.Panic set in and i prepared myself for running against time.Some suggested be your natural self ,and some others told me to fake it ,leaving me totally confused.Then there were mock(ing) interviews which were useful as well as counterproductive.In fact ,my confidence took a nosedive on 27th after a late night mock session.Next day i met Ravindran Sir(vajiram) and his words boosted my confidence.On 29th ,i went for my final mock at Chanakya which went off well.
On 31st i got up at 6 am (very early by my sleeping standards)and by 8:20 i was on my way to Dholpur House.I reached the UPSC main gate at 8:45 am and found a crowd of fellow 'sufferers' impeccably dressed and in high spirits. I met Sudhir(orissa),Pushkar(CISF,Bihar),Rohit(BSF) and few others and we asked each other about the number of attempts and optionals.A sense of camaraderie develops when you have the same optionals and more so if you have made the same number of attempts.There were lot of third attempt 'veterans' ,so i felt at home.At 9 am sharp we were allowed inside the hallowed portals.After signing the register we were asked to wait in a big hall.There were 7 round tables,everybody had been alloted a particular round table. In my group, there were Harkamal(Chandigarh),Aastha(JNU,Patna),myself and Lalit Kumar(Delhi).Since of the four i was the first one to arrive ,i assumed(wrongly)that there were three guys and one girl in our group.But Harkamal turned out to be female(later on i told her about my misperception and we shared a laugh).Very soon i was joined by the other three candidates and we started talking ,sharing our fears and apprehensions and about various national and international issues which had the potential of troubling us if asked by the Interview Board.We were served tea and biscuits and i thought that having tea outside would be a good defence if panel offers me tea inside as i could always say that "Sir/Madam i have just had tea outside".Soon after we came to know that we were in Ms Parveen Talha's board and felt relieved as the adjacent board was of Prof.D.P.Agarwal. Anyway i was scheduled to go third after Harkamal and Aastha.
I was called at 12:30 pm and was asked to wait outside.Just as i was waiting for the bell to ring (at which point i had to go inside),instead the door opened and two
people came out of the room,the staff outside told me that they were Board members and were taking a toilet break.Soon after the 'bell tolled' for me and i opened the door and went inside.As soon as i entered Chairperson(Madam Parveen Talha)was reading my name, i wished her good afternoon and also wished other members(all male,M1 M2 M3 M4).
Madam: Abhishek ,have you lived in Mahoba (my hometown) ?
Me: Maam ,I was born there but have since lived in Northeast.
Madam: Ok ,but do you know what Mahoba is famous for ? (after a pause she answered herself)Paan ,have u seen paan growing ?
Me: Maam , I have not seen paan growing in Mahoba but i have seen it growing in my home in Itanagar,sorry Tezu where my dad was posted .
Madam:Have u eaten paan ?
Me: Yes maam ,i have eaten raw paan.
Madam:Do you know what all is put inside a paan ?
Me: (I had no clue how shud i say katha ,chuna etc)I m sorry maam ,i m not very sure.
Madam:fine,do u know what is facebook ?what can we do in it ?
Me: Maam,facebook is a social networking site ,used to make new friends,write about one's likes ,dislikes etc.Though orkut is more popular in India.
Madam:Since you have lived in northeast ,what do you think is the problem there?
Me:Maam,northeast is somewhat cut-off from rest of India and the pace of development has suffered on that count as compared to rest of India.
Madam:what can be done about it ?
Me: Maam,we should try for emotional integration of northeast with rest of India by making them feel cared for and looked after.People of northeast should be involved in development planning for northeast.
Madam:(pointed to next member)Aap poonchiye
M1:Which newspaper do u read regularly and why ?
Me:Sir, I read 'The Hindu' regularly and i like it because it gives due respect to its readers and i have written letters to it and have got them published.
M1:Do you read editorials ,what is the difference between editorial and rest of the newspaper ?
Me: Sir,i have been reading editorials regularly but for the last few days i have not gone through it.Editorial contains the views of the newspaper on any particular issue and rest of the newspaper contains news about various events.
M1:Have u played cricket(my hobby) and at what level?
Me:Sir,I have played the game but not at a competitive level and yes I do follow the game.
M1:Why the test match was drawn yesterday(Chennai Test,Sehwag's 319)?
Me: Sir,the pitch was very docile,the batsmen dominated completely and so there was no result.
M1:What about the other two test matches,what is going to happen ,do u know where the matches will be played ?
Me:I am not sure sir.
M1:Well the next two matches are going to be hosted at Ahmedabad and Kanpur.what will happen there?
Me:sir,kanpur is again known for its docile wicket so there may not be a result there ,but at ahmedabad there may be turn for the spinners and result may be possible.
M1:Sachin has got injured and selection committee has recalled Kaif ,do u support it ?
Me:(was totally unaware of kaif's recall)Sir,sachin is an irreplaceable kind of player.
M2:(cuts me angrily)you mean to say he should be played even if he is injured?
Me: No sir,if he is injured he should not be played.
M1:What about Kaif ?
Me: sir,Kaif is a very good player in his own right and if he has been included in the team he should be played.
M1:ok (gestures to next member)
M2:You are from a technical background,can u tell me that with the rapid advancement in information technology and also in biotechnology ,what are the ethical issues that have cropped up ?(question was very vague)
Me:Sir,can u please clarify
M2:(again said something about IT,Biotech and ethics,made me still more confused)
Me:Sir,due to IT revolution,there is lot of information being exchanged on the internet and there are e-crimes (at this point he cut me off and told that no you are not understanding the question i m specifically asking about the ethical issues)
Me:Sir,there are some websites which are putting up false propaganda on the internet which they may feel is right but may be offensive to others(M2 nods)so there is a question of ethics involved there.And Sir,in case of bio-tech there is the issue of cloning.while reproductive cloning is unethical,therapeutic cloning is ethical.
M2:Is there consensus on therapeutic cloning?
Me:Sir,consensus is emerging on the issue.Even Indian govt. allows therapeutic cloning.
M2:should therapeutic cloning be used to create humans?
Me:No sir,it should be used only for creating organs.
M2:(gestures to next member)
M3:You have talked about northeast problem ,and about emotional integration,how will you do it ?
Me:Sir,the people of northeast will have to be made stakeholders in development process.Planning should not be done at the centre ,but at the grassroots and based on the needs of the people.
M3:Northeast is disaster prone area ,how u will use technology to solve the problems?
Me:Sir,i will make use of GIS to map out disaster prone areas and create awareness among the people living in those areas about the steps they should take if disaster strikes and use networking to take help of central agencies.I will do all this to mitigate impact of disaster.
M3:(gestures to next member)
M4:Mr.Mishra since u have done your engineering from Jorhat ,can u tell me the name of two famous saints of Assam ?
Me:Sir,Sri Sankar Dev and second i m not sure but may be his disciple Sri Madhab Dev.
M4:good.You have been talking about alienation in northeast but i do not think so,students of northeast are studying in Bangalore ,Delhi and other places ,so there is no alienation.
Me: Yes sir ,but there is a sense of alienation among the people of northeast.
M4:No,the insurgency problem is because of Bangladesh's support,top leadership of ULFA is operating from there.
Me:Yes sir,these factors are also there,illegal migration from B'desh has created social disharmony.
M4:The govt. is hand in glove with the insurgents,there is no alienation ,all is being done for money,dont u know about Sibsagar Supt.of Police from whose house two militants were caught?
Me:sir ,one or two stray incidents should not make us think that .We should try to remove the root cause of the problem.
M4:You are taking a soft stand (and he continued with his tirade against the system,i tried my best to remain normal and smiling)(At this point Madam said"next question please",to which he said no more questions)
Madam:(smilingly)Ok Abhishek,now do you have any question ?
Me:No,Thank you Maam.
Madam:Ok,but let me tell you about what all goes inside a paan .See first of all a paste of 'kattha' ,then some 'chunaa',then 'supari' and if the person so desires some tobacco .(smilingly)And when you go outside,you eat a paan .You can go now.
Me:Thank you maam,thank you sirs.
I came out of the room in a positive frame of mind.Now i dont know whether it was good or bad ,but the experience was great and madam was very cordial.Now hoping for a positive outcome ...
Postscript: I got 180/300 , a decent score but i was hovering near the cut-off in mains score ,so missed out from being in the final list :(
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