Saturday, September 4, 2010

CSAT format and syllabus!

Since announcement for 2011 prelims to be replaced by CSAT has been made, people are confused and anxious regarding its syllabus. This is natural since a totally different syllabus form the present one will offset the advantage enjoyed by those preparing for last 2-3 or even more years. Lets see what different sources have to say about CSAT:-
1)Students would have to give two objective-type papers that have emphasis on testing their "aptitude for civil services" and "ethical and moral dimension of decision-making".
2)The UPSC had told the government two years ago there was a need to test not just the knowledge of aspirants in particular subjects but their aptitude for "a demanding life in the civil services".
3)Recommendations of the 10th Administrative Reforms Committee: - The Preliminary Examination should consist of an objective type test having one or two papers on general studies including the Constitution of India, the Indian legal system, Indian economy, polity, history and culture. There should be no optional subjects.
The following questions pattern will be asked in CAST -
  1.   Current Affairs from National and International Events
  2.   Logical Reasoning and Decision Making Solution
  3.   Elementary
  4.   Mathematics
  5.   Quantitative Ability
  6.   Data Interpretation from Graphic and Chart
My initial impression about CSAT was same as the point made by However, what made me change my mind were the point no-3 and the following:-
a) Switching completely to a content speculated in point 4 will give an undue advantage to science/engineering/management students, something that UPSC would not like to do.
b) A radical changeover from current status in not a characterstic of government institutions.They like to proceed in small steps while trying to maintaining some continuity. One step has already been taken in this year's prelims by asking questions from geography that involved some analysis as well as knowledge of physical geography.
c)  "Aptitude for civil services" cannot exclude knowledge and understanding of India's History, Economy , Constitution and its political systems.
I would add the following to the speculated syllabus: -
  1. Questions from Constitution patterned along decision-making situations.
  2. Questions from geography involving data-interpretation and analysis
  3. Questions from History and Economy will also be there, though much more complicated than current ones.For example, instead of single-correct or multiple correct choice questions, questions would be having answers having varying degree of suitability/relevance to the question. Students might have to rank 4 different specified reasons for Rise of Muslim League in increasing order of importance. These are questions that involve decision-making as well as sound knowledge of History.
While existing sources for GS prelims continue to have relevance for CSAT, aspirants are advised to consult the following as well: -
  1. Questions asked in Banking P.O., S.S.C.
  2. Data- Interpretation from Any Management Exams Guide.
This is all I can speculate for now. Hope for the best and sit with a cool mind in the exams. Nothing else will make/mar your performance in prelims than your state of mind, especially in CSAT where you have to rely more upon your analytical skills than memory management.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A note for beginners especially those in jobs!

I have been asked by many aspirants about the right strategy, tips, "how to study", right books so as to qualify UPSC CSE. Since I was already working in a job aspirants already working somewhere come to me with a special hope.
I too like them, had wasted 3-4 years looking for same things. 2 years while in college and 2 years while in job. During this course I met many aspirants preparing with me, read interviews of successful candidates in the hope of discovering something. If I am not wrong, they are also looking for some particular magic, thinking  there must be some very special way in which successful aspirants prepare themselves.
Sorry to disappoint you all, but there is no such thing.There is no strategy, no golden list of books, no magic way. UPSC isn't looking for very intelligent, genius candidates. If at all there are some qualities that it is looking for, they could be retention, recall, reproduce. 
The only strategy that would help one remember voluminous study materials and reproduce them in a desired way has to be discovered by oneself. The test that a candidate should apply to check whether his strategy is working or not is this: Whenever you have gone through a particular topic think whether you can now write 300 words ( short topics) and 600-800 words ( long topics) on that particular topic.Whether you can relate that topic to other topics in the same chapter and happenings around you. If you cannot do all of this then you have not prepared that topic.
Many aspirants (especially engineers) apply the modus operandi of their college exams to UPSC, study a chapter and then think that since they have an idea about the topic and they already brilliant they would be able to answer any question from that topic. The sooner they realize their folly and correct themselves, better for them.
The right strategy can vary anywhere from going through the same topic again and again ( 3-4 times), reading different sources ( max 3) and making one's own notes or reading others' notes including class notes of coaching classes and adding noting to it or anything else. It depends on the person and his/her ability to mug up. One has to try until one gets it right. My strategy used to going through 2 or 3 sources for a topic and making my own detailed notes for topic like one writes the chapter of a book. 
My other successful friends have done it by making bulleted notes for topics after reading it from different sources or by not making any notes at all. For some people note-making leads to reproduction of book matter having no value addition. One might make notes after reading 2 basic books then come back to notes after 2-3 months and find that it was all junk. In that case one may have to rewrite the notes for that topic. This happens since note-making and reading abilities gradually improve with preparation.
 One might require a slight retouch to the old notes after going through a better source ( a new book or someone else's notes). This cycle goes on till the day of exam and one need not worry too much about this. It only means one is improving. However more than 2 rewriting s does indicate that a lot of time was wasted.
Those who are already in jobs must remember that there cannot be any special exemption for them. Having a job in hand has a small advantage and a big disadvantage. One does not have to worry about financial aspects and one can free anxiety that surrounds joblessness. However, it is also true that one has to compete with aspirants who have devoted much more time for the same preparation and on an average are better prepared due to peer feedback.
Depending on one's personal conditions including financial woes, parents' pressure/support, motivation, ability to risk one has to take call whether or not to prepare while in job. It is generally preferable to devote 1-2 years fully to UPSC than slogging it out in a 5-year along-the-job plan. If one is really determined to do it while working, then take care to devote 3-4 hours daily to UPSC without fail. At this rate one might be ready in 2 years. Don't do it without a plan. The plan should not be monthly or weekly. One must have a daily plan. whenever you try to satisfy yourself with a monthly plan, you are fooling yourself. You will have to come out of your comfort zone. There are no shortcuts.
This all for now. In a nutshell, I would say the following things:-
1) Stop looking for best strategy, best tip, best book list. Get down with the books in hand and start studying.
2)Do not look for shortcuts.
3)Preparation for UPSC is painful and boring barring a few subjects. Learn to live with it.
I hope my words are of some help.I will be happy to answer any further queries.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Booklist for Sociology

Sociology! The only subject that I have loved most after Physics probably beacuse both give a lot of food for thought.I did two courses of Sociology in college as part of my humanities but enjoyed only one of them, Industrial sociology by Amman Madan, beacuse of his interactive class sessions.
For aspirants of UPSC, it is a moderately popular subject.
I recommend it as an optional for UPSC only to those who have the ability to think critically beyond the obvious and model abstractions, especially in paper-I. Not that those who consider themselves challenged in this respect cannot prepare for this optional, but those who can will have a decisive advantage. Study Material for paper-II is not found easily, and the understanding of key concepts of Paper-I and ability to apply them to real life situations comes in handy.
Here's my recommended Booklist for Socio:-
1)Haralambos - The Bible. (Though this book seems easy, do not not take it lightly.You will find yourself going back to it again and again. Make clever use of real life studies in the book to substantiate your answers)
2) Mahapatra ( Vajiram) Sir's Class notes
3) Sociological Thory by Ritzer. (hard to find but gives a good account of theories)

Caution: - Do not study Bottomore (Useless). Refer to Ignou Material ( MSO notes) for only topics that you can't find in above.

For Paper-II, I have edited the booklist provided here.

A. Introducing Indian Society:
(i) Perspectives on the study of Indian society : Indian Sociological Thought. from B. K. Nagla

(a) Indology (GS. Ghurye).
(b) Structural functionalism (M N Srinivas).
(c) Marxist sociology ( A R Desai).

(ii) Impact of colonial rule on Indian society :
(a) Social background of Indian nationalism. Mahaptra Sir's Notes
(b) Modernization of Indian tradition. Modernization of Indian tradition - Yogenndra Singh,Handbook of Indian Socio by Veena Das
(c) Protests and movements during the colonial period. Protests and movements during the colonial period A R Desai
(d) Social reforms Spectrum's Indian

B. Social Structure:

(i) Rural and Agrarian Social Structure:

(a) The idea of Indian village and village studies- IGNOU ,Handbook of Indian Socio by Veena Das
(b) Agrarian social structure – evolution of land tenure system, land reforms. Praveen Kishore (Inspiration's) study material

(ii) Caste System:(a) Perspectives on the study of caste systems: GS Ghurye, M N Srinivas, Louis Dumont, Andre Beteille. – Indian Sociological Thought. from B. K. Nagla
(b) Features of caste system. ( Summarize the perspectives from previous topic)
(c) Untouchability – forms and perspectives Praveen Kishore (Inspiration's) study material

(iii) Tribal communities in India: Indian Society & Culture – Nadeem Husnain

(a) Definitional problems. Indian Social System – Ram Ahuja
(b) Geographical spread.
(c) Colonial policies and tribes.
(d) Issues of integration and autonomy.

(iv) Social Classes in India: – IGNOU
(a) Agrarian class structure.
(b) Industrial class structure.
(c) Middle classes in India.

(v) Systems of Kinship in India: - IGNOU
(a) Lineage and descent in India.
(b) Types of kinship systems.
(c) Family and marriage in India.
(d) Household dimensions of the family.
(e) Patriarchy, entitlements and sexual division of labour.

(vi) Religion and Society: Praveen Kishore (Inspiration's) study material
(a) Religious communities in India.

(b) Problems of religious minorities.

C. Social Changes in India:
(i) Visions of Social Change in India:
(a) Idea of development planning and mixed economy. – Contemporary India – Neera Chandhoke
(b) Constitution, law and social change. – Social Change in India – Yogendra Singh,Modernization of Indian tradition - Yogenndra Singh
(c) Education and social change. – IGNOU , ESO – 14, – Social Change in India – Yogendra Singh,Modernization of Indian tradition - Yogendra Singh
(ii) Rural and Agrarian transformation in India:
(a) Programmes of rural development, Community Development Programme, cooperatives, poverty alleviation schemes - Praveen Kishore (Inspiration's) study material
(b) Green revolution and social change - Praveen Kishore (Inspiration's) study material
(c) Changing modes of production in Indian agriculture - Paper by Hamza Alavi
(d) Problems of rural labour, bondage, migration. IGNOU , MSO – 14

(iii) Industrialization and Urbanisation in India: IGNOU
(a) Evolution of modern industry in India.
(b) Growth of urban settlements in India.
(c) Working class: structure, growth, class mobilization.
(d) Informal sector, child labour Handbook of Indian Socio by Veena Das
(e) Slums and deprivation in urban areas. IGNOU

(iv) Politics and Society:
(a) Nation, democracy and citizenship.
(b) Political parties, pressure groups , social and political elite.
(c) Regionalism and decentralization of power.
(d) Secularization

(v) Social Movements in Modern India: Social Movements In India by Ghanshyam Shah
(a) Peasants and farmers movements.
(b) Women’s movement.
(c) Backward classes & Dalit movement.
(d) Environmental movements.
(e) Ethnicity and Identity movements.

(vi) Population Dynamics: Social Demography : Asha Bhede & Kanitkar
(a) Population size, growth, composition and distribution.
(b) Components of population growth: birth, death, migration.
(c) Population policy and family planning.
(d) Emerging issues: ageing, sex ratios, child and infant mortality, reproductive health. : IGNOU (ESO – 16 )
(vii) Challenges of Social Transformation:
(a) Crisis of development: displacement, environmental problems and sustainability.
(b) Poverty, deprivation and inequalities.
(c) Violence against women. Women in India – Neera Desai
(d) Caste conflicts. Politics in India : Sudipta Kaviraj
(e) Ethnic conflicts, communalism, religious revivalism. IGNOU (ESO – 16 )
(f) Illiteracy and disparities in education. Handbook of Indian Socio by Veena Das

A book on National & Social Issues by Smarak Swain, IRS is highly recommended for topics against which I have not mentioned any book and also to understand how to make notes in Sociology.It also contains excellent write-ups on topics on which I have already recommended some book.
Caution: - Stick strictly to syllabus while referrring to any of the book above, and preferably make your own notes ( detailed or short) to save time during revision.

Tips: Pick up a topic, scan all sources, collate them logically to make your own notes. You should do this atleast for paper-II in sociology, though it works well for all subjects, atleast for me.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Booklist for PubAd!

I had chosen this optional over Physics. No Doubt it was a good decision.This optional has become popular over the years, especially among science and engineering graduates, because of the high marks awarded in this subject and the short time in which it can be prepared (4- 6 months for thorough prep). However, last year there was some balancing act by UPSC and the average marks came down a bit. But I still believe this is going to be a good subject in years to come. Here's my recommended booklist for PubAd:-
1) S Polinaidu, Laxmikanth's PubAd for beginners
2) Mohanty's ( Synergy Classes) Class Notes and his study material. His study should be used to supplement his notes.
3) Fadia and Fadia for reference to topics not covered by above
4) Mohit Bhattacharya after topics have been coverred from above ( gives a depth in conceptual understanding of topics)
Caution: - Do not study Nicholas Henry or Stephen Robbins. Relevant topics from above are well-covered by Mohanty Sir.
Those too eager to get an unmatched depth in Administrative Theories can refer to Prasad and Prasad, but don't get too indulged.
I have not read Fadia & Fadia, I had referred IGNOU material on internet.
Do not underestimate Laxmikanth's PubAd Book thinking that it is meant only for prelim. It is still the only source which provides text on most topics in a lucid and concise way.

1) Indian Administration by Arora & Goyal
2) Mohanty's ( Synergy Classes) Class Notes and his study material. His study should be used to supplement his notes.
3) Shubra Saxena's 50 important topics for PubAd.
Caution: - Do not refer to Special Issues of IJPA, not event the important topics fom IJPA. Its not required.

Some might claim the booklist is too short, but trust me it is more about relating what you know to the question at hand. You might like to refer to Test Discussion notes of Mohanty Sir, if you can find them, to understand what I mean.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Booklist for General Studies (CSE)!

Times have changed. 5 years ago I had to struggle to find a good list of books recommended for any optional for UPSC CSE on internet. Today you can get several websites dedicated to help out a beginner for UPSC and most of them can give a comprehensive list of books required for almost any optional. However in their efforts to be exhaustive, they tend to include more books than required leading to wastage of time as well as scaring off someone who is trying to get feel of the study required for UPSC. I am putting down my own list of books, starting with GS because it has no defined syllabus.
General Studies Booklist:
Polity - Laxmikanth (both prelims and mains, nothing more nothing less)
Indian History ( Ancient and medieval) - Vajiram's Yellow Books or sections from Unique Guide (Prelims only)
Indian National Movement - Unique Guide (Prelims), Spectrum( Mains), Bipin Chandra ( for those who have time and want a DEEP understanding)
Geography - Unique Guide (Prelims, Both India and World Geog.), NCERT Class XI-XII & vajiram's Yellow Book(Mains)
Indian Economy - Vajiram yellow Book (Prelims), Vajiram's Class Notes( Mains), Pratiyogita Darpan Special Issue ( Prelims and Mains)
Science & Technolgy - Vajiram's Class notes, Tables of chemical names, etc. from Unique Guide(Prelims), TMH Sci. & Tech. ( Mains)
Bilateral and International relations - Vajiram's Yellow Book, World Focus magazine
Current Affairs - Chronicle Magazine, The Hindu newpaper, Wizard's Special issue on Current Affairs (Prelims, comes out in March)
Statistics - Spectrum ( Mains)

Caution: - 1) I could never study Ancient & Medieval History. Hence ask someone knowledgable for these topics.
2) Do not study any other book except Laxmikanth in Polity. It is quite lucid and exhaustive.
3) Spend atleast 1 hour everyday on Hindu.With changing pattern of GS wherein it is becoming more and more random and analysis-oriented, The Hindu is the only thing going to save you. Make short of notes of articles on burning issues. In order to streamline your study of The Hindu, see the headings under which articles are written in Chronicle. For example, Bilateral, International, nationa issues, Environment, etc. While readig Hindu choose articles that fall under these headings and read them.
Do not keep cuttings from newspaper, study it then and there and make notes if necessary. You will never ever study the newspaper cuttings. Do not bluff yourself.
4)Anything else other than mentioned above, do not study anything else. According to me it would be a waste of time.
Most important part is to think. Try to have a opinion on any issue you come across. You must think of points both in favour and against the topic. Your thinkig faculty would be your only defence against the vagaries of UPSC.
Booklist of Sociology and PubAd would follow later.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

MY rank in UPSC CSE exams had convinced me that it could have been possible only when I got enough marks in the interview since I knew my performance in mains was just enough.My suspicions got confirmed when I got the marksheet.
I had always cribbed why can't the interviewers just see the passion, commitment and my capabilities written on my face.It seems they just did in my case.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

It was Purushottam Agrawal!

Finally the big day came. I had wasted almost 20 days before my interview working in Tata Steel, spending time reading others' interview experience and reaching the conclusion that it was usless trying to prepare for it. However, 4 days before interview, it was the same story again. I rushed to Delhi to find some time away from work with loads of books and study materials which could not have been completed in a month.
I also spent hours trying to find the right shirt, trousers, shoes, belt and The Tie, despite already having a set and ended up buying a belt more expensive than my trouser, a tie more expensive than my shirt and a pair of formal leather shoes more expensive than all of them put together. And while doing a last minute full dress rehearsal at night before the D-Day, I found that The Tie wasn't good enough to go along with my attire minus a suit and holes in the belt weren't punched at the right place. So much for The Tie and a belt.
I reached UPSC in time but without the photocopies of my original certificates. The staff was very courteous and helpful and it didn't felt like a GOI setup. The hall we were made to wait at looked like the sets of a period movie. Here i was reminded that it was after all a GOI affair. After 1 hour of certificate verification we were made to wait another 45 minutes for interviews to begin. Since I had been warned that the board might ask me to tell the names of other fellows in my group to test my PR skills, I spent the time remembering their names. But it was kindda hard to do so since all of them except one were from Kerela, Tamil Nadu and Andhra pradesh ( no ethnocentricity intended).
The board allotted to me was that of Purushottam Agrawal. I tried to recall his background but went blank. Others reminded me after my interview that he is not very favourable towards engineers and even more conservative in awarding marks to anybody. He is also called the Butcher of UPSC for some unknown reason. There went my last hope.
Anyways, I was second to be called. The first candidate's interview was over in 20 minutes. Surprisingly the moment I opened the door, all tips and tricks taught in coaching classes about keeping calm and smiling went to dirt. Now I was truly my self, shaking like a leaf. However I tried hard to maintain the charade.
These are the questions and the answers as best as I can recall.
(Legends: C- Chairman( P. Agrawal), M1,M2- members to my left, M3 M4- members to my right, M4 is a lady)
I wished Good Morning to all members, starting with the Chairman, then M4 and then others.
C: So you are Rajiv Ranjan Singh.
Me: Yes Sir,
C ( looking at my form): You have written your hobby as Defence Strategies and...(mumbling)....What does it mean?
Me (words coming out very slowly from my mouth) : Sir, I wrote it that way for..umm.. lack of a better word. In this hobby, I regularly update myself with the developments in Defence Sector, particularly Indian Defence, Strategic postures of other nations, especially our neighbours....( C interrupts me)
C: So Rajiv, tell me about Gorshkov.
Me: Sir, Admiral Gorshkov is an old aircraft carrier that we are buying from Russia after renovation. The deal was made for around 900 m $, but it has now overshot to more than 2.3 b $ and delayed by more than 4 years...( C interrupts me)
C: Rajiv, Why do we need an aircraft carrier?
Me: Sir, in keeping with our aspirations of becoming a superpower and our economic interests in the Indian Ocean and beyond, we need a blue water navy ( C interrupts me)
C:What is a "blue water navy"?
Me: A navy that is capable of mounting far from its shore and ...ummm... and undertake expeditionary operations!
C:OK, so go on with your answer!
Me:Sir I was saying we need a blue water navy. For that we must have at least 3 aircraft carriers. At present we have only one and that is also in refit. Hence the urgency to buy an aircraft carrier.
C: Why do we need to buy it from Russia only?
Me: (Actually I should have said that this carrier was coming at very cheap prices, but didn't came to my mind) Sir, Russia has been our trusted ally for a long time and a major supplier of Defence hardware.
C: Are you aware of any recent controversy regarding this deal.
Me: Yes Sir! Our chief liaison officer, a naval officer, who was in Russia was alleged to be involved in objectionable relationships and it is still under investigation ...( C interrupts me..I was going to say "whether it had any impact on price escalation of the deal")
C: Is there any particular term for this...
Me (pat came the answer with confidence) : HONEYTRAP! ( all members gave a nod in affirmative signifying they were mighty impressed, my confidence shot through the roof)
C: Rajiv, in North India in case of any con act or cheating why is it called "CHAAR SAU BEESI".
Me: Sir, I don't know the exact reason but i can make a guess.
C: Make a guess!
Me: Section 420, IPC.
C: Yesss, that is the reason....
Me:(Wow. I prevailed again :P).
C:Now Tell me what is written in section 420.
Me (Confused, how does he expect me to know that): Sir, I haven't read section 420. but..ummm... it should be about acts of con, thugee, ......mmmmm
C: Are, section 420 is about "CHAAR SAU BEESI" ...(and he bursts into laughter...other members also share the fun)
Me: ( surprised, terrified and barely smiling)...Right Sir!
C suddenly get up and goes to the the bathroom.The sight of a vacant chair isn't too pleasing.
M1 takes over.
M1:Rajiv, you are from Bihar.What is the difference between right wing terrorism and left wing terrorism.
Me:Sir, left wing terrorism is..( cuts me short, everyone cuts me short :(
M1: No.No.No.You are from Bihar.You first tell me about right wing terrorism.(I think along with my parents origin, he noticed that I had Singh surname and hence a upper caste. I didn't want to be dragged in Ranvir Sena topic)
Me:Sir, right wing terrorism seeks to preserve the current structure of society and is led by the dominating sections.It is conservative and emerged in reaction to the left wing terrorism.
Left wing terrorism perceives the existing structure of society as unjust and seeks to change it by all means, violent if necessary.
C came back from toilet by this time and interferes again.
C:Is Jihadist terrorism right-wing or left-wing.
I must mention that C spoke in a low volume and table lamp was obstructing my view of his lips. I couldn't hear the word "Jihadist" clearly.
Me:Pardon, Sir.Did u Say jihadist?
Chairman (frowning): Yes, Jihadist. Haven't you heard the word.
Me:Ughhh....Yes Sir. ( pause)...Jihadist terrorism is a right wing terrorism.
Chairman: No!I think it is left-wing terrorism.They are against the existing structure of society.
Me(thinking hard): Sir, it is conservative in orientation and seeks to restore age-old customs ...
Chairman: No.NO.NO...leave it( points towards M1).
M1:What is the relation between governance and development?
Me:Without governance there might be economic growth but not equitable distribution of wealth which is necessary for development. Without governance peoples' participation is there only in policy implementation. Governance ensures participation happens not only during policy implementation but formulation stage as well.
M1 passes onto M2.
M2:Rajiv, you are from Jharkhand. Right?
Me:Right Sir.
M2:Why has NREGA failed in Jharkhand?
Me( Frankly I had no idea NREGA failed in Jharkhand, I knew I shouldn't bluff but not being able to say anything despite being from jharkhand would have looked stupid, so I tried after thinking for few seconds): Sir, its because of widespread illiteracy and the fact that communities at village level are divided along tribal lines. (...bull****)
M2: Rajiv, What you are saying is correct but that is not the exact reason. These factors are present in Rajasthan as well, but NREGA there has been a roaring success.
Chairman jumps in again.
Chairman: Rajiv, I think what you have said is incorrect. But since you have said it, defend it. Argue why you are right?
Me( Frankly, I was terrified. They called my bluff and left me no space to manoeuvre): ummm..hmmmmm.ummmmm...Sir, division along tribal lines leads to a fragmented power structure at Panchayat level and a strong panchyat is necessary for success of NREGA..
Chairman: Okay leave it...Tell me about the dynamics of Naxalism.
Me (Atlast, one question I had prepared about): Sir, naxalism originated as a peasant movement in 1967 in Naxalbari in West Bengal. However it was brought under control after strong and effective action of state govts. The present rise in Naxalism in last 15 years or so is tribal in origin and has happened due to alienation of tribal communities on a large scale. The alienation has happened due to displacement because of mining, dams, industrialisation and tribals not getting a share in development.
Chairman: Okay. Tell me how to solve it.
Me: Sir, first of all , before anything else, there has to be political consensus at Central and State level.
Chairman ( Rhetorically): Don't we have consensus? Everybody believes in constitution and integrity of India.
Me:Yes Sir, that is there but there is no consensus about the nature of the problem itself. Some states are averse to using police action against naxalites.
Chairman: Which are those states?
Me( I was straying into political affairs, a dangerous area): Jharkhand....Madhya Pradesh.
Chairman: No they don't have this problem.
Me: Just on the border areas with Chhattisgarh.
Chairman: Okay, and?
Me: West Bengal!
Chairman ( goes into fits) : No.No.No.They would love to use force.They love using force.
I should have known that Purushottam Agrawal has a leftist bent of mind and is sympathetic towards naxal cause.
Chairman: Anyways, what is next?
Me: Sir, after political consensus has been achieved there has to be a three-fold strategy.Firstly, we need a well-trained, well-motivated, well-equipped and sensitised police force. Secondly, we have to refresh all the development schemes that have been hanging.We need to roll them out afresh. And thirdly, govt has to wage psychological warfare.
Chairman: Whats that?
Me: Sir. naxals have been using propaganda through their front organisations very effectively. Govt. also needs to take similar initiatives.
Chairman passes the charge to M3.
M3:Rajiv your hobby is defence and .....(mumbles). What is the nuclear policy of India.
Me: Sir, the salient points of India's Nuclear Doctrine are....
Chairman:No, No, just tell me the nuclear policy.
Me: Sir, our nuclear doctrine is not to use nuclear weapons ( I was going to say unless the adversary uses nuclear weapons and blah blah but was interrupted again)
Chairman (exclaims) : NOT USE NUCLEAR WEAPONS????
Me: I meant "no-first-use" of nuclear weapons.
Chairman: Rajiv, don't you think we have put ourselves at disadvantage by declaring no-first-use. We have opened all our cards.Now everyone knows we won't use nuclear weapons first.
Me (after 5 seconds): Sir, militarily yes. Now our adversary will be emboldened to attack us especially if it is conventionally superior because it knows we won't use nuclear weapons unless it uses nuclear, biological or chemical weapons or any other weapons of mass destruction against us. BUT, nuclear policy is determined not just by military factors ( interrupted again)
Chairman: What are the other factors?
Me: Diplomatic and international factors. By declaring no-first-use we have established our image as a responsible, credible, non-proliferating nuclear state.
M3: Can you tell me about the difference between good governance and good administration.
Me:A good administration is only the machinery that delivers the public goods and it does so efficiently and effectively. However the goods that it delivers may not be what the public at large wants. This is where good governance comes in. In good governance people get a voice in deciding what is the administration going to deliver to them. ( I was being repetitive, but was out of words)
M3: How do we measure the development of a state. How do we understand if a state is developing?
Me: Per Capita income, life expectancy, literacy rate, mortality rates,i.e., infant mortality, maternal mortality and other such indicators.
M3: You have not talked about communication, infrastructure. ( then correcting himself)..okay these indicators will be good only when infrastructure and communication are good.
Passes on to M4 ( a lady member)
M4: Rajiv, you said various indicators indicate development. How?
Me: M'am, any of these indicators will be good only when there is progress in several other sectors. For ex., maternal mortality rate will be low only when income levels are good, people are literate, health awareness is there, infrastructure is good, hospitals, health centres are present, drugs are available AND THERE IS GENDER EQUALITY.
M4:What about development in Jharkhand?
Me: Jharkhand performs better in most indicators especially per capita income, maternal mortality, female literacy as compared to its neighbouring states like Bihar and Orissa however it performs poorly compared to West Bengal.
M4:You have worked as a manager in Tata Steel for about 3 years. What are the qualities in you that make you a good manager?
Me:Firstly, my proficiency in the particular technical function I am engaged in. Secondly, my ability to get along with people who are hardest to get along with. I have experienced this during my college days as well as in my work.
Chairman: Rajiv suppose you are posted in a district as a DM. You get the information that in a village, a young couple who married against caste rules are going to be punished by the panchayat. What will you do?
Me: Sir, as soon as I get the information I will rush there and inform the Sp and the police to reach there. Once there I will try to deter the people from taking any action by explaining the consequences of taking the law into their hands. I will try to convince the village elders against it.
Chairman: Suppose the mob is agitated and they don't listen to you.They are about to kill the couple.
Me: I will order the use of force.
Chairman looks at me and says your interview is over.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Waiting for UPSC Interview!

Here I am in Delhi since 10th March, waiting and anxiously preparing for my UPSC interview. I was terrified since I hadn't prepared anything while I was in Jamshedpur and I expected my interview to be somewhere around late March or 1st week of April.
I was shocked to see candidates blabbering and goofing up on simple questions in their Mock-In-Group interviews. I was being told terrifying stories of UPSC panellists who sent back candidates within 10 minutes after they couldn't tell botanical name of five plants despite the fact that they had "Gardening" as their hobby. Botanical Names? Are you kidding? Which Gardener is supposed to know botanical names. I can't even name 10 vegetables in English.

My hobby was "Defence Strategies and Systems Analysis" and I didn't even know how to define it. I was bracing hard for the difficult times that lay ahead.
Then came the shock (or should I have taken it as a relief?). ON 16th March, UPSC announced interview dates for candidates that were to be interviewed from 22nd March to 6 th April and my name didn't figure in it. What about people like me? Apparently I was supposed to wait till 23rd March to get the remaining schedule. This took away half the enthu out of me. My mock interview on 18th went well and this took away another 1/4 th.
I was giving serious thoughts on how premium recruitment institution of Gov. of India, UPSC, needs to revamp itself before it can boast of selecting Creme De La Creme of India. It took them more than 10 days to prepare interview schedule of 2440 candidates. And this too when only important criteria is Roll Numbers and location of candidates and may be their medium ( English or Hindi) as well. How did they expect a candidate whose interview was scheduled on 22nd to arrange tickets to Delhi within a week. Or may be they had assumed that the candidate would already be in Delhi.
And then came the final shock. On 23rd,i.e. today, UPSC announced that my interview is scheduled for 26th of April, more than a month away. Wow! Great! Now I will have to reschedule my leaves and will have to go back because I don't have so many leaves to keep sitting in Delhi. My enthu was is that I have watched 5 movies in last 2 days and other stuff to avoid going paranoid. Couldn't they have announced the interview schedules with the mains result itself. Probably I am hoping for too much.
Friends are advising me to discard this mode of thought soon enough so that frustrations with UPSC doesn't show up in my interview itself. And this is exactly why I am dumping all this garbage in Cyberspace. Sorry to waste your time. Really Sorry!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Follow UP:UPSC Mains 2008 Unqualified Candidates Graph

I know I have been late in posting this graph and I could have done it a lot earlier. It was just that I quit my job for 6 months, went to Delhi for mains Preparations, dropped Physics for Public Administration, took coaching for PubAd at Mohanty, delivered in Mains and came back to job. I don't know whether it is the boredom at job or the missing joy of studying sociology and stimulation of grey cells or simply tiredness with life, perhaps all of them that took to me greater levels of depression.
Anyways heres the chart I was talking about in my last post.

It just displays an approximate increasing trend in average marks in a optional with increase in number of students opting for that optional. It simply means if you have equal capability in all subjects then your chances are better if you opt for a subject that is taken up by more students.

It becomes more clear with the following scatter chart.

The calculation also shows that there is positive correlation of 0.64 between average marks in a subject and the number of students opting for it , thus reinforcing my argument.

My advice to any newbie to UPSC is to go for "popular subject" as far as popular.
Those with engineering backgrounds insisting on a science subject can try Chemistry but better would be PubAd, Psychology, Philosophy, etc.