[UPSC TOPPER] INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT OF ABHI PRASOON : RAJNI RAZDAN BOARD

  • Board: Mrs. Rajni Razdan
  • Duration: 20-25 minutes

Me: “May i come in”.
Ch: “Yes, please come in”
Me: “Good afternoon ma’am. Good afternoon sir” (looking at all the board members)
I will never forget that moment, whatever the score i get in my interview. Each of their faces were so calm, so serene. I completely forgot everything that i had been thinking for since the past 20 days. My mind went blank. Not numb. But blank. A clean slate. All i could see at that moment was 5 elderly people sitting there.
With a nice smile perched atop their faces. I felt like a child who is absolutely carefree in front of his grandparents. Never for the next 25 minutes did the thought of me being in UPSC  interview cross my mind. Not even once.
Ch: Please have a seat
Me: Thank you ma’am
Ch: Name… Roll Number… DoB… (replied)
Ch: Name some religions of the world.
Me: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism
Ch: Aur bolo
Me: Zoroastrianism
Ch: Aur bolo
Me: The religion which the jews follow, am unable to recall its name though
Ch: Aur bolo
Me: Sorry maa’m, no other name comes to my mind as of now
Ch: U could have said Jainism
Me: Did i miss that ma’am? (though i thought i had said them)
Ch: Yes… Buddhism
Me: Sorry for interrupting you ma’am but i believe i said Buddhism
M3: Yes, he did say Budhism… (Ch was satisfied on hearing this from him)
(i believe this was done by her to startle me and check how i react, something she did again as well)
Ch: Name some languages of the world
Me: The maximum number of people on earth speak Mandarin Chinese
Ch:  (interrupting) I didn’t ask you to enumerate them in any particular order… But maximum number of people on earth speak English, not Mandarin Chinese…
Me: Am sorry ma’am… but as far as my knowledege goes maximum number of people speak Mandarin Chinese, not English
Ch: Ok, go ahead
Me: There are 22 languages enlisted in the Indian Constitution… Shall in enumerate them?
Ch: No…
M2: (interrupting) Name some languages from outside India
Me: Ok sir… And then i started naming ine language after another… I recalled the map of europe and named about 5-6 languages of the countries therein…
Ch: (interrupting) Russian… Arabic…
Me: yes ma’am… Persian…
Ch: ok.. (now is to follow the lowest point of my interview)… Name 5 private banks in India…
Me: (i was blank… completely… the names which were coming to my mind, i wasnt sure whether they are private or not… i decided to play safe there….) Am soory ma’am… but i won’t be able to answer the question…
(at this point, all the members came closer to me… full of surprise…)
Ch + M1 + M2: What… you don’t know this… really… how come?
Me: My mind has gone blank ma’am… the names that are coming to my mind as of now, i am not 100% sure whether they are private or not… therefore i thought i should let go of this question ma’am (all members and chairman acquired a sudden sympathetic tone and everyone started naming private banks… )
Me: (in between the comotion…) Hdfc… Canera…
Ch: Arre… Its not a private bank…
Me: Sorry ma’am, but as i told you, i am not sure… i was precisely for this reason that i was refraining from guessing…
Ch: How come you don’t know this… Don’t you watch TV?
Me: Noma’am
Ch: Why?
Me: The place where i stay right know during the course of my preparation, i don’t have a TV there…
Ch: But you were in a hostel before…
Me: Yes ma’am..
Ch: (interrupting) Come on now, don’t pull a fast one on me… i too have stayed in a hostel… in between u get a chance to go home… u surely must be watching TV there…
Me: Am sorry of my reply gave such an impression ma’am but i assure you that such wasn’t my intention at all… yes, i do go home… but these trips of mine to home are few and far between… (she seemed to have calmed down now)..
M2: (interrupting) Don’t the students watch news on TV in hostels
Me: No Sir… All that they watch are live matches…
(he gave a sad expression, thinking probably about how disinterested the student community was in day to day happenings… and i reciprocated his expressions on my face as well)
Ch: Ok… Tell me… when was the rupee symbol launched…
Me: (confused between 2011/2010) I dont remember exactly ma’am, but perhaps it was some time in early 2011
Ch: No, it was in July 2010
Me: Sorry ma’am, i didn’t remember the same.. i was confused in 2010 and 2011…
Ch: In fact, it was made by a person from your institute
Me: yes ma’am… it was designed by D Uday Kumar from IIT Bombay
Ch: No, he was from your institute, IIT Delhi
Me: Again, sorry ma’am, but as far i know, he wasn’t from IIT D
M3: He is right… he wasnt from D… was from B
Me: Thank you sir
Ch: (she talked about the countries which have a currency symbol and then started enumerating the nations or group of nations which have a symbol for their currency… i too spoke their names alongside her… )
Ch: One final question… Which is the only currency whose symbol is represented in its currency note? Me: i am not sure ma’am… perhaps it way be dollar, but i don’t know for sure…
Ch: its pund sterling… it has that (started drawing the symbol in air) kind of symbol
Me: yes ma’am, the L kind of a symbol
Ch: Yes… Ok… Now tell me… Last question this one is… Which places on earth are not represented in UN… (her words were slightly different and confusing)
(i was flummoxed by the usage of the term places… and i later realzed that she had meant countries)
Me: Palestine ma’am, it has been recently trying to acquire membership
Ch: Good… aur bolo…
Me: though i don’t know for sure ma’am, but i don’t think Vatican City would be represented therein…
Ch: Yes.. you are very right… its not represented there… aur bolo…
Me: I am unable to understand as to what all this question entails… should the list also include places like Tibet which arent autonomous at present, but are trying to gain autonomy and once successful, they will get representation in the UN
Ch: I am not asking about Tibet…
Me: Sorry ma’am…
Ch: named a few more places…
Me: Thank you ma’am.. i didn’t know that… (She indicated M1 to start now)
M1: You have won the World Environment Day Debate Competition
Me: Yes sir, it was held in the Indian Institute of Petroluem, Dehradun in 2009
M1: (he a very long question which included many sub parts about pollution, causes etc… the last and the most important part was…) what is the major issue with environment?
Me: Sir the major issue is the environment versus development debate… (and then i went on and on for at least a couple of mins if not more about the problem of pollution)
M1: So what should we choose, environment or development?
Me: Definitely environment sir… (and then i went on for a min on the topic of sustainable development et al)
M1: So how should we strike this balance between environment and development?
Me: i was having a discussion on similar lines with he friend of mine who works in a refinery just a couple of days back… he told me about the concept of green refining… (expained what it was and then corelated it to what the answer he was looking for…) i spoke at length about planting trees, protecting environment etc
M1: Ok  (he looked very satisfied with the response and passed on the baton to the next member)
Me: (just at that moment, i added, on my own prerogative)… but this achievement of balance is easier said than done sir…
M1: Yes, very right.. Good…
M2: So Abhinav, what is your mother tongue, Bhojpuri or Maithili?
Me: Its neither sir, its Hindi actually
M2: (with an expression of surprise) but then why did you opt literature of Maithili language as your subject?
Me: Sir, there are three reasons behind the same. First of all, i am interested in reading literature and at the beginning of my preparation, i was sure that i would be opting for a literature optional. Secondly , I have grown up in Bihar, hearing Maithili language. Opting for this subject gave me a chance to study the literature of a language to which i was culturally close to. And to be honest sir, there is a great paucity of time in the preparation of civil services. The syllabus of Maithili literature is more manageable in comparison to the rest of the options, and therefore it was a pragmatic choice as well.
(at this moment i saw Ch giving an expression which said that yes, students opt for it because of the third reason most of all… and at that time i thanked my stars for having been truthful for she for sure would have interrupted had i given the third reason a miss)
M2: So Maithili is a very sweet language, right?
Me: Yes sir, very
M2: and Bhojpuri too…
Me: No sir, Bhojpuri aint… it has a harsher tone…
M2: in comparison or in general…
Me: in comparison…definitely sir… and even otherwise in general sir…
M2: so what are you doing at this moment… you working somewhere….
Me: No sir, the only work i am engaged in at this moment is preparation for civil services
M2: So what kind of quizzing have you done… (my hobby)
Me: (i went on and on in this question… i described the quizzing in school as dry quizzing… then plus two mein quizzing… then college… inter hostel activities… than i talked about how activities like dumb charades, pictionary etc etc have become a part of quizzing making it much more fun now… i also talked about questions being asked to connect things, pics etc… so even when one doesnt know the answer to a ques, one can work on clues in a team to get to the answer…)
M2: You take part in a lot of outdoor activities…
Me: As it must be very well evident, hardly so sir…
M2: (he, along with a few other members started laughing on hearing this, and my response was meant to cause laughter… i got a gr8 feeling at that time…) So you think outdoor activities are useless?
Me: Definitely not sir… They are of great importance and play a great role in developing the character and personality of a person… It has been a lacunae on my part not to have taken part in them…
M2: But its never late, right…
Me: Yes sir, i have been trying to, and am sure i will be able to bring about this much needed change in me…
M3: (he had been my saviour all along… twice had he defended me from the Chairman…) I will ask you only one question…
Me: OK Sir
M3: There has been acute labour shortage of late… what is the mains reason behind it?
Me: Sir, there was a newspaper report published recently which talked about the shrotage of agricultural labour in Haryana due to dip in migration of people from Bihar on account of them getting jobs in their home state due to the launch of MGNREGA… so the launch of MGNREGA is the immediate reason behind the same…
M3: Only migration of Bihari labourers…
Me: Not only sir… but labourers from Bihar used to migrate there in large numbers…
M3: Ok
Me: (added on my own prerogative to better explain) Not only in Haryana or other states sir, even in Bihar, farmers have reported the shortage of agricultural labourers esp in the season at that time of the year when the crops are to be cut… so this problem is affecting every place, not only a state in particular…
Me: ok (he looked satisfied)
M4: (he praised my academic career and performance and then asked…) so what is this process engineering.. is it different from chemical engineering?
Me: (i again gave a very long answer to this.. i told him about JEE… getting into the Dual Degree program… both the degrees are therefore not separate entities bu in effect, one follows form the other…) Process Engg and Design is more like an applicative aspect of Chemical engg… for example, if your have two mix two chemicals in a lab, you can very easily stir and mix them…. however, if the same is to be done on an industrial scale, a huge stirred would need to designed since the quantity of chemicals that need that are to be mixed now is huge… a lot of considerations would need to factored in… a lot of design work would become involved herein… so, in effect, what i want to say is that process engg and design can be understood, at a basic level, to be the applicative aspect of chemical engineering while working on an industrial scale…
M4: (looked satisfied) i will quiz with you now…
Me: Ok sir
M4: Which city was established in India by Britishers around 350 years back?
Me: (I wanted to say either Madras or Calcutta eve though i had no idea about the answer… but, i refrained from guessing) I don’t know sir
M4: Its Madras
Me: (hearing this, i silently cursed myself for not having said the name of the two cities aloud earlier…) M4: Ok, tell me, how many languages can one find on the currency note of India?
Me: (it had been asked in KBC once… i remembered that… but didn’t remember the answer… cursed myself again… and i also wondered why this board was so obsessed with currency notes) I dont know sir…
M4: Why, havent you seen a rupee note..
Me: I have seen it sir, but not so minutely….
M4: But still, tell me, how many do you think should be there?
Me: Going by this diktat Sir, Indian constitution enlists 22 languages and all of them should find a representation therein… But i am not sure whether this is the answer…
M4: Anyway… tell me… Britishers helped established 3 colleges in India… which were they?
Me: I am not sure about the answer sir…
M4: Still.. (he was trying to put pressure on me here…)
Me: Though i am not sure, i feel one of them must be Presidency College, Calcutta M4: Yes, you are correct… which were the other two… where were they established?
Me: Again sir, i dont know their names… but… if i were to guess the places where they established the other two colleges, i would guess Madras and Bombay Sir…
CH: Yes, you are very right… in fact they did establish them in Madras and Bombay…
Me: Thank You ma’am
M4: Ok… One final question… What sort of cultural activities have you taken part in…
Me: (i again spoke at length about the various clubs in which i had been active in my college… English Debating and Literary Club… Hindi Samiti… Quizzing Club… etc etc… and i also added…) Since my first year in college, it had been my dream to take part in a play… but, i was never able to get a chance to do so since am a terrible actor…
(at this point, M3 suddenly turned towards me and started looking into my eyes… his sudden movement made me stop for a split second… i turned towards and said) yes sir, such was the case… (and then turing back to M4) but when i was in my final year, i had a story idea which i discussed with the students in my hostel who used to act in plays… they quite liked it and asked me to convert it into a script… i wrote the script and the play was staged in the inter hostel competition…
M4: (interrupting) you are a good scriptwriter… you can go to Bombay then… get a job there…
Me: I don’t know how good a scriptwriter i am sir but at this moment of time, i want to become a civil servant more than anything else… (hearing this, all the 5 members started laughing…)
Ch: (trying to control her laughter) that will be all… you may go now…
Me: Thank you ma’am… Thank you sir… (i looked towards all of them once and left the room)
And thus ended perhaps the most important 25 minutes of my life… I had gone in expecting a terrible performance… And the first feeling that I had after coming out was that it wasn’t as bad as i had expected it will be… And this was a hugely relieving feeling… I collected my bag and strolled out of the campus…

Visit his blog to read more on his experience and other tips http://abhiprasoon.blogspot.in/2012/04/interview.html

Print Friendly
  • seotechnowritings

    i thinks its an average interview compare to study of ias. If the interview is of topper than it should be more formal then this one.
    Best regards