—Shitanshu Chaurasiya, IAS Topper2013 (58th Position)
SUMMARY OF MY INTERVIEW
Finally, that day arrived where I met ■ other aspirants full of either nervousness or excitement. I was engaging myself with other aspirants and also enjoying the absorbing environment at the UPSC.
I was the fourth person on the list and entered that room with a broad smile. I adapt myself to situation very quickly, so I was very comfortable. They asked me questions from all aspects of my life, ranging from hobbies, IFS, International Relations, past job profile, past company, corruption, technology, Electrical Engineering and finally my hometown.
I used to add a pinch of humour to my answers, especially when they asked about folk dances of different States. Thus, mood of the room was lively and cordial. During the interview itself, they appreciated the fact that I am very focussed on my goal since my interest (travelling), hobbies (photography and trekking) and aspiration (Indian Foreign Service) were in coherence.
Then, they asked me about Electrical Engineering and importance of technology to combat corruption, crime and improvement of farmers. One member asked me to give only innovative ideas on how one can improve the life of farmers which I was anticipating. Thus, I took a pause after seeking the Board’s approval and gave a very structured answer. The Interview lasted for 30 odd minutes and I enjoyed every moment of it. It was indeed a very good discussion with five top-class bureaucrats. The end result was that I managed to get healthy 225/300 marks in the Interview. Also, after one month, I had another UPSC interview for Indian Engineering Services and I got 134/200 and rank of AIR 2 in the IES 2012.
There were five Board Members, including the Chairman who was sitting in the middle.
I asked for their permission to sit down and the Chairman told me to sit
IAS Topper 2013
and be comfortable.
Chairman: So Mr. Shitanshu, is your hobby, i.e. travelling and first preference for the IFS interrelated?
Chaurasia: Yes, it is one of the reasons of opting for the IFS.
Chairman: What are others?
Chaurasia: My work experience gave me immense international exposure that motivated me to join the IFS which will be a step ahead as I will get a chance to represent my country.
Chairman: List the places which you have travelled.
Chaurasia: In India, I have travelled to many States from Jammu & Kashmir to Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan to West Bengal. Outside India, I have travelled to South Korea, Hong Kong and Nepal.
Chairman: (With a smile) Tell me one of the best things about South Korea.
Chaurasia: In my opinion, Koreans have preserved their culture and traditions along with development, which is quite commendable.
Chairman: Tell me a bad thing about Nepal.
Chaurasia: As a tourist, I observed that there is a serious lack of infrastructure and there corruption is also rampant.
Chairman: Why did you leave your job?
Second Member: Electrical
Engineering or Geography, which subject do you like more?
Chaurasia: Electrical Engineering.
Second Member: Why?
Chaurasia: Electrical Engineering is more than a subject to me. I have invested eight years of my life in this field. It was the most integral phase of my life in which I had learnt various aspects of life.
Second Member: Like?
Chaurasia: It helped me to be a more analytical and innovative person.
Second Member: (With a sarcastic smile) OK fine, how can technology help farmers ? Give us innovative ideas only.
Chaurasia: Sir, I need some time to think over it.
Second Member: Sure, take your time.
(I thought to give ideas which may not be technologically feasible at present but could be possible in near future.) After few seconds,
Chaurasia: Financial Inclusion can be achieved by connecting villages with communication links to give direct benefit to farmers without leakages. For that, business correspondence will collect savings of farmers by using a hand-held digital machine to ensure proper collection with bar-code receipts. Solar-powered portable ATM machines shall be placed in central premises of the village under cooperative security. The introduction of big screen in the choupal area which will broadcast update on minimum support prices, open market prices, prices of fertilisers, pesticides and important Government schemes.
Second Member: Tell me more ideas?
(With a faint smile)
Chaurasia: Use of GPS-enabled soil health card with a sensor which will sense soil and will give details of necessary deficient minerals and micronutrients of Soil, their required quantities and also suggest suitable fertilisers. It will update central soil database so that Government can formulate proactive regional policy of fertilisers and pesticides pricing along with Integrated Nutrient Management.
(Suddenly Chairman gave a nod and ashed me further)
Chairman: How technology can address health issues of villagers?
Chaurasia: Telemedicine can be……..
(Chairman stopped me after hearing telemedicine and I noticed very big smile on the
I used to read interviews of successful candidates from CSR which helped me to develop a technique of putting the best foot forward during my Interview.
—Shitanshu Chaurasiya, IAS Topper 2013 (58th Position)
faces of Board Members. Then the Third Member took charge of a next question.)
Third Member: You referred to corruption in Nepal. Tell me the main reason of corruption in India.
Chaurasia: It is difficult to trace history of corruption in India, but in my opinion, it got triggered during licence raj period when our economy was mostly closed and there was a lot of discretionary power given to authorities for awarding contracts and licences. Thus, there was a severe lack of transparency and accountability in governance, hence more corruption. Soon, giving bribes became common practice to get our things done easily and quickly.
(Again the Chairman came in to ask me the next question.)
Chairman: Do you think that by removing discretionary power, we can remove corruption too?
Chaurasia: Corruption is the end result of many factors and discretionary power is one of them. In some cases, discretionary powers are required for quick and effective governance. But we can minimise it by making laws and proper procedural guidelines.
Third Member: What are the difficulties in controlling corruption? How to overcome them?
Chaurasia: First of all, there is large inertia of corrupt practices which has been followed for many years. Thus, it will take time to settle down only after enforcing better transparent practices. Secondly, common man has lost faith in governance and police. Thus, confidence-building measures shall be taken to make people more comfortable dealing with police and other public departments.
Third Member: As a technical person, tell me how will you combat corruption, if you become a DM?
Chaurasia: I will make redressal mechanism more effective, using mediums like the Internet and mobile phones and will also make a scrutinising committee under me which will seriously look into all the complaints. Also, we can have a digital complaint box placed in the premises of important departments which will record audio and visuals of complainant. Thus, by these measures, we can get close to public and their problems and rectify them timely.
Third Member: Do you think these measures are sufficient in combating corruption?
Chaurasia: These are only few initiatives which can be used in combating this menace which are ineffective without public support.
(Chairman asked the Fourth Member to ask questions)
Fourth Member: Other than the Tajmahal, what is the most important thing about Agra?
Chaurasia: Agra is one of the few places in the world like Jerusalem where two faiths were born, i.e. Din-e-Ilahi and Radhaswami faiths.
(I saw curiosity in Chairman’s yes and she asked me the next question.)
Chairman: Tell us more about Agra?
Chaurasia: Apart from many cultural sites, Agra has the Central Institute of Hindi i.e. only dedicated institute for research and teaching of Hindi as a foreign and second language. Also, Agra has many colleges and universities of early 19th and 20th centuries like SN Medical College, Agra College and Dayalbagh Institute.
Fourth Member:1JHow did Agra get’ its name?
Chaurasia: I don’t know exactly when Agra got its name, but I know it is based on the tribe Agaria which used to live in a place called Agrevana mentioned in Mahabharata, which coincides with current location of Agra.
Chairman: Thank you Mr. Shitanshu, good to see your focus.
Chaurasia: (With broadest smile) Thank you very much, Ma’am.
Hence, abruptly my Interview got over and I was a little sceptical about my answers, especially to innovative questions on corruption and farmers. But getting a compliment in the end was a good sign and finally it got reflected in my marks, as I got healthy 225/300 marks in the Personality Test.