[UPSC TOPPER] INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT OF TANU PRIYA [AIR 18]

  • Board: Mr. P K Mishra
  • Date of Interview: 11th March 2013
  • Duration: 45 minutes
  • AIR : 18

It was a beautiful morning. the morning sun looking out through the grey clouds, bidding farewell to the night. i prayed to god, please make this one a good day for me.

The road to UPSC building called Dholpur house at shahjahan road, delhi was a fairly uneventful one except for the great old melodies being played in the background. i was looking at all those notes i had made in the past few days. it asked me to stay quiet , calm, smiling, original, authentic, genuine and most of all honest. but the biggest question was how?

Anyways, i reached the building. the place was teeming with wannabe civil servants, like me, dressed in their best and reading today’s newspaper.the place had the mixed aromas of fear, apprehension, hopes and hard work.we were made to enter the building after scrutinization of our call letters and identity cards.

The insides of this dholpur house are marvellous. there are lovely flowers in the garden, lots of open space and greenery. there were all the positive elements one might need in their moments of stress.i was assigned to board no. E16. there were 6 of us. i was the only intruder in their all boys club but they were all very friendly and highly qualified too. we kept speculating about who might be the chairman of our board. we even asked the officials assigned to us for checking our original papers but they too had no idea about it.

After completing all formalities we were informed that p.k. mishra sir would be the chairman. also i would be the last of the 6 to be interviewed.this info totally relaxed me, my moment under the sun looked light years away. all of us waited till 10.45 when the first interviewee was summoned. thereafter speculations began again, jokes were being cracked, paintings observed and commented upon, the architecture being appreciated and yes all the 6 or 7 newspapers on our group table being read frantically. it was a very lively interaction and i really enjoyed it.

After having taken a stroll to the nearest washroom 2-3 times and endless conversations, at around 1.30 pm i was summoned for the interview. now every kind of nervousness and doubt i ever had about my interview, came running back to me. but i maintained my calm and tried to walk with measured steps as if i was very confident. i was asked to wait outside the room for 5 mins.i sat down, adjusted my clothes, closed my eyes and thought about god. i prayed again for some strength and also to calm myself. i was so nervous my legs were shaking.

I then for a moment practiced how i am going to wish everybody and just after i was called in.
it was like my heart skipped a beat but i said ok, i m going to face this moment, i don’t know what is going to happen but i ll tackle each question on its individual merit and then I ENTERED.


me: (from the door) just an acknowledgement of the board with a slight headbow.
(reached the spot) good afternoon mam, good afternoon sirs( with a smile)
all members: ok ok
chairperson(cp): have a seat
me: thank you, sir
cp: so tanu u are from samastipur, bihar
me: yes sir ( born at same)
cp: you do creative writing. what is it?
me: sir any piece of original writing and particularly one that expresses the thoughts and ideas of the writer in a creative way.
cp:  (smiling) so you don’t do destructive writing.
me:  ( smile back) no sir
cp: is creative writing always good or does it create problems also? tell us some instances from recent times.
me: sir, salman rushdie’s works like midnight’s children and satanic verses have been controversial. lajja by tasleema nasrin has also led to some problems.
( cp nods his head)
cp: so do you think that this kind of work should be banned?
me: ( after a fairly long pause) sir, i am not in the favour of banning these works of art. however if such works lead to some law and order problems then the movement of these works can be restricted to an extent till the audience gains a sufficient level of maturity for this kind of work and the agitation subsides.
cp: ok then what is your opinion on one of the famous sociologists saying something about the relation between corruption and caste. are you aware of that?
me: yes sir. sir, i dont think that he meant any disrespect by this statement. maybe his arguments were quoted out of context and sensationalized by the media.
cp: but do you think that this kind of generalized sweeping statements can be made?
me: no sir, this generalization is not correct.
cp: ok leave it.
cp: what is the importance of 8th march?
me: sir, international women’s day.
cp: int’l or national
me: sir, international.
cp: do you think that international women’s day celebrations have got degraded to mere tokenism?
me: (pause) yes sir, they have got degraded to mere tokenism but there are times when this kind of tokenism is also important, just to create awareness in the people.
even if this day is celebrated as a token it gives a message that there are channels available for addressing the problems of women and creates awareness about various schemes and laws for women.
cp: ok, so if u were the dm of a district and you had to organize women’s day celebration, how would you proceed?
me: sir, first of all i would organize a function to commemorate the achievements of women who belong to my district. Then, i would organize camps to disseminate information about various govt schemes for women.
cp: yes, good. what else?
me: sir, i would launch initiatives that hav a target based approach that is from this 8th march to the next like the one mr. nitish kumar announced this year that is 10000 women shg s in the next 5 yrs.
cp: good. what else?
me: sir i would also involve the media and organize some entertainment to attract people to the celebrations.
cp: yes yes. infact that is very important otherwise no one will come. you are on the right track. good (smiling) what else?
me: (thinking………what else?) sir, ……. some education initiatives.

cp: ok ok{ points to the next member}

member 1: you are a dentist?
me: yes sir.
m1: what is conservative dentistry?
me: sir, it deals with the conservation of tooth structure and function. it basically involves rct, capping, etc so that the life of a tooth can be prolonged and rehabilitatory procedures are not reqd after tooth is lost.
m1: not lost extracted.
me: yes sir.
m1: so is the tooth living or dead after rct?
me: sir, since we remove the nerves and blood vessels the tooth is theoretically dead. but its structurally intact and functionally active, so in that way it is still vital.
m1: what functions?
me: sir, basically mastication that is chewing and phonetics that is speaking.
m1: when was anaesthesia used for the first time?
me: sorry sir, i dont know.
m1: ok so before anaesthesia was used how was the tooth extracted?
me: sir, i dont exactly know but i have read about an african practice.
cp: yes yes tell us.
me: sir one end of a thread was tied around the tooth and then it was pulled out.
cp: yes u r close.
m1: yes but the othr end was tied to a gate which was continuously moved back and forth.
me: ok sir. thanq sir.
m1: so then how was this pain relievd during that time?
me: (thinking) sorry sir i don’t know.
m1: do you know about that theory where the pain in one area of body is decreased by pain in other area.?
me: i was nodding my head.
m1: it seems you are familiar with this. then what would have been done then?
me: sir, by inflicting a greater injury like a cut on the body.
m1: they actually heated an iron rod and burnt the patient.
me: ok sir.
cp: she said this, same no, inflicting greater injury.
m1: so whr are the rbc s formed?
me: liver. sorry sir, bone marrow,
m1: then what is formed in the liver?
me: sir, bi……le ( sounding unsure, actually i was thinking if any cells developed in liver. rbc s r destroyed thr i thought)
cp: yes u r right. why bi…..le? say bile, sir.
me: yes sir. bile.
m1: have you got an aadhar card?
me: no sir.
cp: better get one quickly.
me: ok sir.
m1: what is aadhar card?
me: sir, it is a card issued by the unique identification authority of india for the purpose of providing a unique identity to all indian residents. it will help in directing the benefits of various schemes to the correct group.
it will also solve the problem of distinguishing indian citizens from immigrants.
m1: see i am a senior officer but even my bank has refused to accept aadhar then what will happen to the poorer ones. do you think that aadhar can be successful?
me: (pause) sir, aadhar is a very well intentioned scheme. i think it will be successful but it is going to take some time. every new technology needs time to reach the people and be properly developed. sir, like internet which did not seem to be very important yestrday but now its the basis of so many schemes..
so, i think aadhar will be successful, we just need to give it some time.

{cp points to m2}

m2: why did u choose this dress for the interview?
me: ( taken aback for a moment, but then i smiled) sir, it is decent.
cp and lady member nod
m2: any other reason?
me: sir, i find it comfortable. ( was wearing a suit, cp and lady smile and nod). sir i like saree but i dont regularly wear one and so i was not very comfortable wearing it to the interview.
m2: what will you do if i give you 50 lakh rupees?
me: (thinking) sir, i would give most of it to my father. actually i should give it all to him for he has worked very hard to get me here.then with the money left i would take a trip to amarnath or vaishnodevi, i have always wanted to go there ( thinking with a smile) then if anything is left i would give treat to my friends if i clear this exam (they smile).
and then if anything is left i would keep it for future.
m2: what will you do if i make you prime minister for a day?
me: ( the movie nayak and anil kapoor flashed in my mind but i avoided that trap) sir even if i become pm for a day i could not change much bcoz the pm does not act alone. it is only with the aid and advice of the cabinet that he works. so in a day i would try to make the executive function better and work for greater control over the executive………….
sir, (smiling)and since i am pm for a day i would ensure that atleast for that day every poor person gets a full day meal.
m2: (smiles) ok can you tell who’s who among us?
me: (smile back)siir,(looking towards cp) since sir is sitting in the centre he obviously is the chairman. (then towards m1) sir obviously has some medical background.

then towards m2- sir, i think you have some relation to psychiatric or psychological background.
(smiles) and sir, since mam(m4) and sir (m3) have not asked me any questions i can’t say anything about them.
m2: smiles broadly and says something to cp i m not able to understand. i just smile back.
m2: do you remember everything that you did since you got up this morning?
me: yes sir, most of it.
m2: tell us.
me: sir, after getting up did my daily work, took a bath, had a cup of tea, watched tv 10mins of news and then some music.had my breakfast, got ready and then……
m2: yes then?
me: ( smile) and then sir, i prayed to the lord to grant me success in this interview.
{they all laugh}
me: then i came here at 8.30, standing outside the gate looking at all other interviewees. after entering i was looking at these beautiful flowers and trees in the garden.then i waited in the interview hall, interacted with my fellow interviewees, looked at all those lovely paintings in the hall and especially one was very interesting. and then i was called here.
m2: so you were relaxed before the interview?
me: yes sir, i was relaxed till the time i was there in the waiting hall and interacting with my colleagues but as soon as i was called to sit outside the room, i got very nervous thinking what is going to happen to me in the next few moments.
{they all smiled}{cp looked at m3 now}
m3: (reading my summary sheet) so you are from patna that was earlier patliputra?
me: yes sir.
m3: ganga was earlier being used as a mode of transportation but now even if it is cheap its importance as a mode of transportation has decreased in comparison to railways and airways. can you tell me why is it so?
me: sir, one reason because the major industrial and business hubs like delhi and mumbai are not located on the banks of ganga. in earlier times the major trading cities were located on the banks of ganga.
m3: (not very satisfied, although other members were nodding their heads) any other reason?
me: yes sir, the flow of ganga has been reduced and it has also shifted farther from the city.
m3: (nodded his head.) ok you know abt ganga flowing through……blah blah blah……(actually question was very long and i lost my concentration, infact i was not even hearing the question just nodding my head. i thought i would say sorry at the end but was saved by sheer luck)…….have you ever been to haridwar?
me: no sir
m3: ok, then leave it.{ cp looked at m4 the lady member}
m4: so your hobby is reading books.what kind of books do you read?
me: mam, i basically read classical fiction, mystery and some fantasy stories.
m4: (smiles) which classic authors have u read?
me: mam authors like jane austen, emily bronte, charles dickens,etc.
m4: which is your favorite charles dickens book?
me: mam, great expectations.
m4: (smiles and nods) you debated in college? what were the topics?
me: mam, not in college but in school. topics like whether written or oral examinations were better for assessing a student, india as a good neighbour.
m4: (smiling) did you win or loose?
me: mam, i won.
m4: so tell me what were the losses to bihar as a result of its division?
me: mam, the most important loss was of the mineral rich regions that went to jharkhand.(i was thinking and thus paused)
cp: what good and bad came out of this division?
me: sir, the good part was that administration became easier as the size of state decreased plus most tribes were grouped together in a separate state so more beneficial to them.the bad was loss of mines and minerals.
m4: ok, do you know about bimaru states? is bihar a bimaru?
me: yes mam i know about them. and mam, although we are asking for a special category status for bihar, bihar is trying its best to come out of this group.
infact the eco growth rate for bihar during the whole 11th 5yr plan period has been 11.95%, one of the best in india.moreover mam bihar is the only state that provides 50% reservation for women in its panchayats.
m4: (interrupting) but is the bimaru status related to women conditions?
me: no mam, the bimaru status is meant only for economic condition but social conditions in most cases are affected by economic condition.
m4: why is oral cancer so common in india?
me: mam the basic cause of oral cancer is use of tobacco either for smoking or in smokeless forms.and its use is very prevalent in india.
m4(nods her head) anything else?
me: yes mam, supari ( although it causes osmf and not cancer, but i felt that she was looking for it.)
m4: yes yes(nodding) right.
m3: (interrrupting) i need a clarification.
cp: wait. plz let her finish.
m4: tell me why is it that the most mineral rich regions always end up being the poorest?
me: mam, its a contradiction all over the world and not something endemic only to us. mostly it happens that outsiders who have developed better techniques( cp corrects me – technology, i nod) often end up exploiting the resources and using them for their own benefit while the people of that area don’t get the benefits of that resource as has happened in most of Africa.
m4: but are there outsiders in India?
me: (i fumble a bit, touch my face and then remember i ‘ m sitting in the interview, removing my hand quickly) no mam not exactly outsiders.
cp: ( interrupting) she is right, the local people and tribals are not getting the benefits of these resources.
m4: you seem to have a good knowledge of your subject. tell me how will you apply your knowledge of dentistry in civil services?
me: thank you mam. mam i will use my knowledge directly if i ‘ m ever posted in the health deptt. and even when i m posted as a dm in any district my medical knowledge would help me to cater to the health and nutrition needs of females especially during vulnerable periods like menstruation, pregnancy, etc, the nutrition needs of children and adolescents. for 3 out of 4 yrs at college i have studied all basic medical subjects and that will benefit me when i m working in such areas. therefore mam i think my knowledge would be directly used for the benefit of many when i m in the civil services.
m4: nods like she has finished.
m3: what is written here about scholarship? you got one after 12th but did not avail.
me: yes sir, i was eligible but this was not given for professional courses.
cp: oh, ok ok.
me: sir, the form asked about it, thats why i wrote.
cp: its ok.
m3: one more thing.
me: yes sir.
m3: what is the use of nanotech in dentistry?
me: sir, at present nanotechnology is not being used in dentistry in india atleast. presently we are using microsurgical techniques only and that too mainly for conservative dentistry procedures, about which sir had earlier asked.
m3: ok
cp: so tanu, tell me as a dentist you operate in a very limited area but as a dm your field of activity would be very large, won’t you feel lost?
me: sir, actually that is one of my reasons for coming to civil services.
cp: what, getting lost (smiling broadly)?
me: (smile back) no sir, wanting to expand my field of operation.
cp: ok, remember that when you are operating as a dentist your field of work is small but you have to work with extreme concern and concentration, if you loose it even for a moment, everything is disturbed.
me: yes sir. thanq sir.
cp: ok thanq very much you can go now.
me: getting up. thanq sir, thanq mam, thanking othrs as well .
{ while i was moving toward the exit and was just about to open the gate}
m2: excuse me, just one more question plz.
me: (returned back, standing straight) yes sir.
m2: what do you think, how was your interview?
me: (smile) sir, it is for you people to assess.
cp: no no tell us, what do you think?
me: sir, i think it was ok but many people might have done better than me.
m4: specifically, what do you think?
me: (thinking what to say) sir, it was ok.
all: ok then.
me: thanked again and got out.

P.S. The board was very cordial and jovial. they made me feel very comfortable and relaxed and talked to me as if they were very interested. that felt very good.i dont know if i’ll get enough marks for a respectable rank or even clear the exam. but i know that the whole process was very good and it made me feel great about myself. the positive feedbacks in the mocks, the behaviour of the board, all of it has made this an experience of a lifetime that i m going to cherish forever. i wrote this in the hope that it might be of some use to others and at the same time will also keep this encounter fresh in my memory forever.Best of luck.

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