My UPSC interview questions

Interview – April 29 – 1st in Afternoon

Board – P. Kilemsungla Ma’am


Questions by Chairperson –

  1. You have written Teaching as a hobby, what kind of teaching do you do?

  2. What did you gain from teaching slum kids?

  3. Are you still in touch with these kids?

  4. What could be done to improve the education services in rural areas?

  5. Give me two solutions which would be effective in bridging the quality of education rich and poor students get?


Member 1 –

  1. What is the difference between society and civil society?

  2. Do you think the difference is artificial? Wouldn’t it be better if we have only – a society and not many civil societies?

  3. Name major insurgencies which happened in India after 1947.

  4. Explain any one of them. (Explained Punjab issue)

  5. How do you see the role of administration in dealing with this particular issue?

  6. What can we learn from this?


Member 2 –

  1. You studied Metallurgical Engineering, then why did you opt for Sanskrit Literature?

  2. In ancient times, there used to be no writing mechanism or printing, how did our ancestors retained such vast literature?

  3. Why are we not able to remember even one verse?

  4. What were you doing for past four years after graduation? (Told about joining PMRDF)

  5. Is this scheme workable? Do you think such programmes should be there at all?


Member 3 –

  1. You were talking about Shruti and Smriti as modes of keeping record. I want to check your memory. Tell me Maheswar Sutra.

  2. What is the importance of Maheshwar Sutra?

  3. Have you read that Kalidasa has described several regions in India apart from Kashmir where saffron is grown?

  4. How do you think he could possibly know such things?

  5. Have you read Ritusamhara of Kalidasa?

  6. You must have read that Kalidasa was a dumb person earlier. How did he change?

  7. What can we learn from this?


Member 4 –

  1. How can we tackle the problem of slum proliferation in India?

  2. Is microfinance a workable option in low cost housing sector?

  3. You must have heard of high profile resignations lately – in India and elsewhere also?

  4. Do you think that such resignations are justified?


Overall, the board was very cordial. At no point did they show any positive or negative expressions. I did not give good answers in situation based questions. Even in other questions, I gave very general answers. 

Review of Everyone Loves a Good Drought by P Sainath

A very nice post about the book I recommend to everyone.

a reader's words

Everyone Loves A Good Drought
By P.Sainath
Penguin India 1996, Price : Rs 295/- Pages: 470
ISBN: 0-14-025984-8

Palagummi Sainath is a bitter man.

On a Times of India fellowship in the year 1992, Sainath has toured some of the poorest districts in the country to know how the poorest of the poor citizens of free India live.

Exist might be a better word.

The book under review is a collection of reports that the author filed during his tours. Some of the reports kicked up controversies and in a few cases even led to some action on the part of the authorities. It is another matter that these were a drop in the ocean, and provide only an academic satisfaction in the otherwise grim scenario.

Sainath’s main findings can be summarized in one word- apathy. Apathy towards the victims of rural poverty in the country. Around this core, he…

View original post 1,042 more words

Is it a Comma or a Full Stop?

That problem in front of you, is it a comma or a full stop?

Will it halt you in your tracks forever, or will you be able to find a strategy to move past, around or through it?

What about that rejection that you received, is it a comma or a full stop?

Will it give you an excuse to give up, or will you keep trying?

Life isn’t a short, smooth, straight lane.

It’s often a long, winding trail full of obstacles and challenges.

And off to the side of that trail, you will find those who have given up too soon on their dreams.  They’re sitting there wondering what could have been, but refusing to press on.

They ran into one too many challenges and had one too many setbacks.

And they became a full stop, ending their aspirations.

Don’t let that happen to you.

Turn your full stops into commas.

Turn your reasons for stopping into reasons to keep going.

Turn your failures into learning experiences.

Make it a comma, not a full stop.

The Curious case of Crimea and Her Big Neighbour

One year back how many of you heard about an area called Crimea? I guess, not much people. All of a sudden this area on northern coast of Black Sea; once controlled by Cimmerians, Scythians, Greeks, Romans, Goths, Huns, Byzantines, Golden Horde, Ottomans etc. became a political hot potato. If that Malaysian plane episode was not there, this place would have occupied 80% of international prime time.
A little bit of History
Crimea’s association with Russia officially starts with the conquest of Crimean Khanate by Russian Empire under ‘Catherine the Great’ in 1783. Russian Empire fought hard for this place. Later, from 1853-56 Russia fought with French, British, Ottoman, Sardinia and their allies for Crimea; which later came to known as Crimean war.
After Russian civil war, Crimea became a part of Soviet Union. The twist came in 1954, when Khrushchev transferred this region to Ukrainian SSR. He might not have imagined that, Soviet Union would break up. However, that too happened in 1991 and Crimea became a part of independent Ukraine.
Russian Navy
By the way let me tell you one more interesting fact here. Russian Navy has three Military districts,
1. Western (head quartered in Severomorsk, Kaliningrad),
2. Southern (head quartered in Sevastopol, Astrakhan) and
3. Eastern (head quartered in Vladivostock).
You can locate these places in maps and see where they are. Vladivostock is very far away from Moscow; Severomorsk opens to Barents Sea; Kaliningrad is not geographically connected to Russia. This increases the importance of Black Sea Fleet head quartered at Sevastopol (this place is in Crimea).

Containment after 1991?

US and western powers, might have thought about containing Russia by wooing former Warsaw Pact countries to EU. Russia made some noises when some of them eventually joined EU and later in NATO. Meanwhile EU expansion started touching the doors of former Soviet Union member states. For Russia, Poland or some former Warsaw pact countries joining EU is one thing, and Ukraine joining EU is altogether a different thing. Problems in Ukranian capital, between groups having support from Western Capitals and Russia’s own Victor Yanukovich only made the matters worse.
Washington Post reports that, “Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to leave Ukraine and join Russia, election officials said Sunday, capping a heavy-handed campaign that blocked most voters from hearing a vision for any alternative to unification with Moscow. Crimean election Spokesman Mikhail Malyshev said the final result was 96.77 percent to rejoin Russia and 2.51 percent against.”
Will Putin annex Cremia to Russia? May be yes, in any way there isn’t much scope for a truly independent Cremia.
Vladimir Putin - Riding a bear

Vladimir Putin – Riding a bear

What will happen next?
Will US and allies really impose crippling sanctions on Russia? Or all these hue and cry are just for the sake of making some noises? I think US have limited options here. They need Russian support in Syria, they need Russian support in pulling out rest of their troops from Afghanistan. At the same time, US needs to reassure their Eastern European allies on security. They also need to show to rest of the world that, they are in control.
However, it is difficult for European countries to impose sanctions on Russian. Many of them depends on Russian oil and gas for fuelling their economy. The main question here is, will Western European nations sacrifice Russian relationship for Ukraine, which anyway doesn’t occupy much higher place in European strategic calculations (if they have one)? I don’t think so.
US still holds some cards here. They can open their huge gas reserves to their allies on other side

of the Atlantic (in case Russia reduced the oil and gas supply) to get their support. This will help US to get EU support for imposing tough sanctions on Russia. I think there will be some sanctions, and suspension on talks. Nothing further. This crisis may still go in the same way of Georgian question went. Situation may change if entire Ukraine became unstable.

China and Syria might be smiling… for time being South China Sea and Syrian crisis went further down in emergency list.

The story of a blind girl

There was a blind girl who hated herself just because she was blind. She hated everyone, except her loving boyfriend. He was always there for her. She said that if she could only see the world, she would marry her boyfriend.

One day, someone donated a pair of eyes to her and then she could see everything, including her boyfriend. Her boyfriend asked her, “now that you can see the world, will you marry me?”

The girl was shocked when she saw that her boyfriend was blind too, and refused to marry him. Her boyfriend walked away in tears, and later wrote a letter to her saying:

“Just take care of my eyes dear.”

This is how human brain changes when the status changed. Only few remember what life was before, and who’s always been there even in the most painful situations.

Life Is A Gift

Today before you think of saying an unkind word–
think of someone who can’t speak.

Before you complain about the taste of your food–
think of someone who has nothing to eat.

Before you complain about your husband or wife–
think of someone who is crying out to God for a companion.

Today before you complain about life–
think of someone who went too early to heaven.

Before you complain about your children–
think of someone who desires children but they’re barren.

Before you argue about your dirty house, someone didn’t clean or sweep–
think of the people who are living in the streets.

Before whining about the distance you drive–
think of someone who walks the same distance with their feet.

And when you are tired and complain about your job–
think of the unemployed, the disabled and those who wished they had your job.

But before you think of pointing the finger or condemning another–
remember that not one of us are without sin and we all answer to one maker.

And when depressing thoughts seem to get you down–
put a smile on your face and thank God you’re alive and still around.

Life is a gift – Live it, Enjoy it, Celebrate it, and Fulfill it.

A glass of Milk, paid in Full

One day, a poor boy who was selling goods from door to door to pay his way through school, found he had only one thin dime left, and he was hungry. He decided he would ask for a meal at the next house. However, he lost his nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door.

Instead of a meal he asked for a drink of water. She thought he looked hungry so brought him a large glass of milk.

He drank it slowly, and then asked, “How much do I owe you?”

“You don’t owe me anything,” she replied. “Mother has taught us never to accept pay for a kindness.”

He said, “Then I thank you from my heart.”

As Howard Kelly left that house, he not only felt stronger physically, but his faith in God and man was strong also. He had been ready to give up and quit.

Year’s later that young woman became critically ill. The local doctors were baffled. They finally sent her to the big city, where they called in specialists to study her rare disease.

Dr. Howard Kelly was called in for the consultation. When he heard the name of the town she came from, a strange light filled his eyes. Immediately he rose and went down the hall of the hospital to her room.

Dressed in his doctor’s gown he went in to see her. He recognized her at once. He went back to the consultation room determined to do his best to save her life. From that day he gave special attention to the case.

After a long struggle, the battle was won. Dr. Kelly requested the business office to pass the final bill to him for approval. He looked at it, then wrote something on the edge and the bill was sent to her room.

She feared to open it, for she was sure it would take the rest of her life to pay for it all. Finally she looked, and something caught her attention on the side of the bill. She began to read the following words:

“Paid in full with one glass of milk”

Signed, Dr. Howard Kelly.

Action is basic unit of life

Life as human beings live it is a field in which forms and forces interact to produce results. However, in this case the forms are not forms of material substance, they are forms of actionAs the basic building block of material forms is the atom, the basic building block of life forms is the individual act. In both instances, the real foundation for the form is energy in constant movement.

As atoms combine together to constitute larger inorganic forms ranging in size from the molecule to the planet, solar system and galaxy and more complex organic forms ranging in complexity from single cells, to organs, organisms and species; so too, individual acts combine to form larger, more complex and more enduring activities, systems, organizations, institutions, customs and cultures. Composing a letter, conceiving a child, establishing a business, and founding a country are acts. Farming, shopping, manufacturing and researching are complex recurring chains of activity. Social habits, customs, procedures, and laws are complex systems of acts. Like the atom, each of these acts and systems can be broken down into smaller constituent parts ad infinitum to discern the minutest sensations, impulses, thoughts and movements of which they are constituted. Each is itself part of a longer chain or larger system of actions.

Like the expansive movements of stars and galaxies, each act can be traced back to its origins in the distant past and to its explicit or subtle consequences in the distant future. The key to this evolution of complexity in life is tersely explained by Sri Aurobindo. “It (life) evolves through growth of consciousness even as consciousness evolves through greater organization and perfection of life[1].” A progressive emergence of a previously involved consciousness and a progressive organization of the consciousness that emerges are the twin principles of evolution in all planes of existence, material, social, psychological and even spiritual.

The forces that act in our lives include forces of material nature such as weather and gravity, but also social forces such as political power, social status and peer pressure, and psychological forces such as the power of ideas, ideals, opinions, beliefs, emotions, sensations, impulses, desires and aspirations. All these forces meet and interact in the cauldron of life to influence the course of the acts, activities, systems and organizations. When Martin Luther posted his Ninety-five Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg in 1517 to launch the Reformation; when President Roosevelt halted the US banking crisis in 1932 by appealing to the American people over the radio; when Churchill single-handedly inspired the British people to resist Nazi aggression at a time when all of Europe had capitulated; when Mahatma Gandhi stirred the Indian masses to cast off two centuries of British imperial rule: when Gorbachev unilaterally dismantled the iron structure of communist authoritarianism that ended the Cold War – their acts expressed and mobilised forces of tremendous intensity to confront opposing forces and destroy or alter entrenched forms of social organization. The fields in which they acted, variously term economic, religious, political, social, psychological, are fields for scientific inquiry – arguably far more central and important fields than any that absorbs the attention of astrophysicists or evolutionary biologists. The material, technological, organization, social and psychological forces they wielded and unleashed are also proper subject for scientific study. The forms they created, altered or destroyed, be they forms of governance, law and social organization or forms of social attitude and mental understanding, are very much objects for scientific investigation.

Sanskrit Pearl of the day:

यदि सत्सङ्गनिरतो भविष्यसि भविष्यसि ।
तथा सज्जनगोष्ठिषु पतिष्यसि पतिष्यसि ॥

– हितोपदेश, मित्रलाभ 

Meaning of the subhAShita:

If (you) stay in good company, you shall stay.  Similarly, if (you) fall off from good company, (you) shall fall.


One’s character is immensely influenced by the company he keeps.  The more one stays in good company, the better he prospers.  That, in turn implies, that when one’s company or association is not up to the mark, he shall fall off from the pedestal of character.  The company one keeps speaks volumes about his mettle.  Someone once said, ‘tell me thy friends and I shall tell you thy character’!  Such is the profoundness of one’s  association.  The more one keeps good company, the more he grows.  The more one moves away  from it, the more he regresses.  One has to be mindful of this always.  It is not a goal to achieve one day and forget all about it!  It is a constant process towards progress.

The beauty of the verse, is also in the play of the words.  The verse at first shot might seem confusing or even wrong!  But punctuation is powerful.  There is a ‘,’ between the two bhaviShyasi-s and the two patiShyasi-s!  The first bhaviShyasi indicates, being in good company.  The second one means, you shall be (as in, survive)!  Similarly, the firstpatiShyasi means, fall off from good company.  The second one implies, you shall fall (in morality and survival)!!

May each person be good and keep good company, so the entire universe will become a ‘company to keep’ :).

Sanskrit Pearl of the day:

अक्रोधेन जयेत् क्रोधमसाधुं साधुना जयेत्
जयेत् कदर्यं दानेन जयेत् सत्येन चानृतम्

– महाभारत, उद्योगपर्व

Meaning of the subhAShita:

Anger is won over with calmness (without anger); the immoral are won with morale; a miser is won by giving; lies are won over with truth.


Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, then, limb for a limb, life for a life….. There is no solace inspite! This is no way to put an end to any kind of misery!

If one displays anger all the time and the onlooker continually keeps his calm, how long can the angry man keep his temper? He would feel like he is kicking his arms and legs against the air – no matter how much he tries, can’t hurt the air :). Eventually, he shall learn to keep his calm, he has no choice. Anger is won over with calmness.

When immoral laws are exercised, they are won over with morality. Many independence struggles were based on this principle. Non-violence has sustained against violence. Good has triumphed over evil.

A miser is won over with generosity. If a miser is given and given without reservations, he is bound to get saturated at some point and understand the importance giving. Possessions are not for clinging on, but for putting it to good use for the welfare of those around. That is taught by giving.

Winning over lies is as simple as telling the truth! Honesty keeps the mind and soul peaceful. Lies do not stand a chance in front of it. Also, it is so much easier to be honest than not. When telling the truth, one doesn’t have to remember anything! Don’t have to keep track of all the lies or have the fear of being caught :). Moreover, truthfulness is the only way, when one’s quest is the ‘ultimate truth’. Truth is hence a win win situation for anyone.

Keep thy calm, morality, generosity and honesty. Makes life simple and peaceful too.