Abhilash Baranwal (Rank-272/CSE16):
Sociology, 3rd Attempt, ISM-Dhanbad
Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board?
A: Sujata Mehta Ma’am
Q2. How long was the interview?
A: 25 minutes.
Q3. Why do you want to join civil service? Why don’t you continue in your graduation field? Social service can be done from private sector too. [Since I don’t know whether they ask you this question or not. But if they had asked- what will be your reply?]
A: Since I am engaged in a well-paying fulltime job, my answer needed to be well rounded. I
Q4. Please narrate your entire interview- what questions did they ask and what did you reply and other pleasant or uncomfortable experiences during the interview.
Board: Sujata Mehta Ma’am
Home state – Jharkhand
Currently working in an upstream oil and gas PSU. Posted in Assam.
Interest and Hobby: Running, Debating, Hindi Poetry and Meditation
Few details: I was the 5th person to be interviewed in the forenoon session. When I approached the gate, Ma’am indicated me
to come in. I wished the two ladies including chairwomen and then the three gentlemen.
Ch: Shows me my passport pic and asks me is it you?
Me: Yes Ma’am. (With a smile)
Ch: You are currently working in xx company. What is your job profile?
Me: Ma’am my current designation is Sr. Reservoir Engineer. When some oil and gas wells fall sick i.e. they are not flowing with
their optimum potential, my role is to identify such wells, diagnose the problems, plan a remedial action, monitor the execution
and visit wellsite to supervise critical operations.
Ch: So if a well doesn’t start producing with expected potential after drilling, will you be called up?
Me: Not directly Ma’am. I move with a workover outfit which is in itself a full-fledged rig and the operations are very expensive.
So the first job would be to verify whether the original assessment was correct. These assessments are made on basis of
available data which need to be continually revised based on latest activities. So if the re-assessment says that the expected
potential was correct, I would be called in. I explained the answer with an example.
Ch: In KG D6 basin, the production from gas wells have reduced. Does it need your involvement?
Me: Ma’am the first thing that has to be ascertained is that whether it is a reservoir specific problem or a well specific problem.
The expected potential was based on initially estimated reserves. But if the reservoir turns out to be not that prospective, the
reserves will be downgraded. But if the problem is well-specific, then workover operations will be needed and I will be needed.
Ch: What about the secular decline in Bombay High?
Me: Ma’am every reservoir or field has a life-cycle. Production increases, plateaus and then declines gradually. My role in
secular decline comes in if we are going for enhanced oil recovery operations.
Ch: India’s Strategic Petroleum Reserves – Where are they and how much?
Me: They are at three places currently. Mangalore, Padur and Vishakhapatnam. The current reserves stand at 5.33 MMT. But
the govt. is planning to create two more strategic reserves at Chandikhole and Bikaner taking the total capacity to 15.33 MMT.
This will give India 30 day reserves.
Ch: Are they stored in caverns?
Me: I am sorry Ma’am. I don’t have adequate idea about it.
Ch: Another question about these reserves.
Me: I am not sure Ma’am.
Ch: What is tight oil and shale gas?
Me: Ma’am tight oil is that crude which is present in reservoirs of very low permeability. They can be sandstone, limestone or
shale. For example, my company has several reservoirs which are very tight. But shale gas refers specifically to the gas that is
present in shale layers in the sub-surface stratigraphy.
Ch: How much shale gas reserves India has?
Me: Ma’am there are varying estimates, but according to Schlumberger, recoverable shale gas reserves in India can be anything
between 500 tcf to 2000 tcf.
Ch: Is the govt. putting off shale gas exploration for future use?
Me: I beg to differ with you Ma’am. India has currently 40% import dependency in natural gas. Hence there is no reason for
putting off shale gas exploration. In fact, the govt. has brought out several policy changes to encourage shale gas exploration
and production. However certain challenges are there.
Ch: (As soon as she heard the word challenge, she encouraged me to speak about the challenges through gestures).
Me: The shale gas reserves are located in many of the densely inhabited areas like Ganga Basin and Damodar Basin. So
exploration and production would pose problems of land acquisition and environmental pollutions. Apart from that, shale gas
exploration requires hydro fracturing operations which in turn require massive amount of fresh water. Availability of fresh
water is another impediment.
Ch: What about impact on seismicity? In many areas, its exploration has led to earthquakes in nearby regions.
Me: Ma’am as far as I know, the link hasn’t been proven conclusively. Shale gas exploration is being carried out at a large scale
in USA. There has been allegations of the hydro fracturing leading to increased seismicity. But the scientific body is still divided
on the same.
Ch: 100 earthquakes are occurring daily in some regions. And you are saying that it is not conclusive? Do you want to suggest
that we do not have scientific maturity yet to be able to deduce the impact?
Me: (Thinks for some time). Ma’am I want to make two points. Firstly, the available data and correlations are not adequate to
conclusively establish the link between two as shale gas exploration is a relatively recent initiative. Secondly for sake of
assumption, even if we assume that hydrofrac operations are leading to 100 minor earthquakes in some regions daily, it can be
seen as a blessing in disguise. It might be possible that the continuous release of stress through these multiple minor
earthquakes will prevent build-up of stress in the region which might lead to any catastrophic earthquake in future.
Ch: Yes, that sounds completely logical. (She said it 2-3 times. J I was feeling happy).
She then pointed towards another lady member and asked her to question me.
M1: Your hobby is Hindi poetry?
Me: Yes Ma’am. I like to read and even compose Hindi poetry.
M1: Who are your favourite poets?
Me: Shri Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, Shri Maithili Sharan Gupt, Shri Dushyant, and Shri Hariwansh Rai Bachchan.
M1: Anyone from current period?
Me: Ma’am I like to read Shri Piyush Mishra and Shri Ashok Chakradhar.
M1: Good, good. So you have lived in Jharkhand mostly. Must have travelled to different parts of country. But you have been
residing in North East India for last how many years?
Me: Told her the duration.
M1: OK, so what difference have you observed?
Me: (Thinks for some time). Ma’am I have observed at least three differences. First the weather is extremely pleasant. Second,
the people are less aggressive over there. And third, the life is quite laid back there. People are more content. Even in
agriculture, they mostly grow one crop in a year, and live in a festive mood for the rest of the year.
M1: Have you heard about digital divide?
Me: Yes Ma’am.
M1: Do you think that we should disturb the heavenly paradise that you just described by mitigating the digital divide? Don’t
you think that we should let them live a content life and not disturb them b introducing digital technology?
Me: I am sorry Ma’am, I beg to differ with you. Historically it has been seen that as education increases, aspirations rise among
people. Even in Asasm, people are increasingly using internet as their aspirations rise. Though there are infrastructural
deficiencies, but the govt. is trying to bridge them. Moreover globally, it has also been seen that with education, interest of
youth in agriculture reduces. They will need new opportunities. It is important to digitally empower them so that they are able
to take benefit of the opportunities that a rapidly developing India would present to them. This will be important to reduce the
feeling of alienation among people of North-East India and will further integrate the region with rest of the country.
M1: Have you heard about net-neutrality (I nodded yes). So what it is?
Me: Ma’am there are variety of definitions. But there is a consensus that net neutrality implies that the Internet Service
Provider should not act as a gate-keeper. It should not get to decide upon the content that users can access or content that
publishers can publish within the statutory limits.
M1: Does your company record real-time data and upload them online for your access?
Me: (A little impatiently) No Ma’am, Oil India Limited currently doesn’t have real-time data recording and publishing facility.
But we measure productivity on a daily basis.
M1: It’s alright. But some companies must be doing it?
Me: Yes Ma’am.
M1: Movies are also treated by ISPs as data packets. Your data would also be treated as data-packets. Something something
which I couldn’t understand.
Me: I beg your pardon Ma’am. I am unable to understand the question properly. Are you asking about the data security
provisions on the part of data-publisher?
M1: No. Since all types of data are treated by ISP as data packets only, do you think that you should be able to access all types
of data in the same manner or should there be preferential access to your company data?
Me: Absolutely Ma’am. Preferential access would be better.
M1: Won’t it violate the net-neutrality?
Me: I beg to differ with you Ma’am. In this case, the decision still rests with the user or the publisher regarding the preferential
access. The ISP merely act as a facilitator. It can’t have the suo-moto rights.
(Sujata Ma’am points to another member)
M2: You have talked about development in the North Eastern Region. What kind of development? The same kind that has been
pursued in the metros of the country? And what exactly do you mean by integration of the region with rest of country?
Me: Sir, I would try to answer your question in two parts. First I would deal with the kind of development that we should
pursue in NE and the second will deal with integration aspect.
M2: Absolutely. Go ahead.
Me: Sir, development in North East should be empowering in nature. It should empower the local institutions, be respective of
their culture and create employment opportunities. As many states like Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur, Meghalaya are
predominantly tribal in nature. Their lives are closely interwoven with nature and hence any development should be in
consonance with nature. In fact, given the increase in env consciousness due to climate change, development can no longer be
divorced with env sustainability. Moreover it should be according to the own genius of the tribals as was envisaged in the Tribal
Panchasheel given by the first Prime Minister of the country Jawahar Lal Nehru (forgot to add Pandit before the name). For
example, tourism can be one way. Ecological tourism, wildlife tourism, rural tourism, adventure tourism, culture tourism etc.
There is huge scope. Secondly, handicraft industry can be promoted. As Ma’am was asking about digital empowerment, the NE
can be integrated with the whole world through internet. Coming onto, second part i.e. integration. Sir, I believe integration
refers to how people of North East India perceive themselves vis-à-vis the rest of the country (Sir says yes correct). So it is
important that the development model must empower them, so that it is embraced by people. This will enable them to be
M2: What is auto-ignition point, flash point, octane number?
Me: Sir are you asking about auto-ignition temperature?
M2: No. Auto-ignition point.
Me: I am sorry sir. I do not have adequate idea about auto-ignition point.
M2: (Interrupts me) OK. I have heard in some seminar about Clastic Reservoir Modelling. What is it?
Me: Sir, in ~, the entire reservoir is imagined to consist of minute sand size particles which form the entire matrix. It integrates
the concept of fluid dynamics and hydro-dynamics into the reservoir modelling.
(Wasn’t sure of the answer. But was forced to answer as it was from core of my studies. Thought it would reflect poorly and
took a gamble).
M2: You are a petroleum engineer. In refineries, they use the terms open cup method and something which I could not hear.
What are they?
Me: Sir, most humbly I beg to submit that petroleum engineering as a course is related to upstream oil and gas sector. I haven’t
studied anything about refineries during my course or during my job.
(Had to cut the downstream questions. So expressed my limitations. Was worried that the interviewer might be offended)
M2: Ok Ok. Alright. I wasn’t aware of that.
(Sujata Mehta points to another sir)
M3: I will ask you an abstract question. Why don’t you continue as a petroleum engineer instead of becoming a civil servant?
Given the unique discipline to which you belong, I say that your services will be much more useful there.
Me: (Thinks a little) I am sorry sir but I will beg to differ with you (M3 smiles). I agree with you sir that come from a very unique
discipline. But the strength of civil services is its diversity. And I would add to this diversity. I would be of much use in policy
formulation. Secondly, if I happen to become a civil servant and get posted in audit or vigilance organisations, I would again put
good use to my technical expertise. This is a common complaint among specialized PSUs like ONGC, OIL that these
organisations do not sufficiently appreciate the technical nuances of decisions. Hence economy often precedes over efficiency.
As a result, only safe decisions are allowed. Hence I will be helpful in these organistions, if I get a chance. Apart from that, as
petroleum industry has environmental implications, we are trained to be environmentally conscious while taking different
decisions. This is also important as the country needs its future civil servants to be environmentally conscious.
M3: So you are asying that you will use your technical expertise in the service also.
Me: Yes sir. Moreover currently, at least 1500-2000 petroleum engineering students are graduating every year. But the industry
absorption is hardly 250-300 graduates. Most of them are forced to join IT sector. Hence the sector is not talent starved.
M3: Your optional is sociology
Me: (With a big smile) Yes sir.
M3: So tell me about ethnicities present in India.
Me: Can I take a minute to think?
All: Yes yes.
Me: Sir, the different ethnicities are Mongoloids, Caucasians, Negritoes, Australoids. Sir I am not sure whether this list is
exhaustive or not.
M3: That’s alright. So what are central Indian tribes?
Me: Sir Australoids.
M3: To which group their languages belong?
Me: I am sorry sir, I don’t have adequate idea about it.
(Ma’am points to last member)
M4: Why are they called Australoids?
Me: I am not sure sir but I can take a guess. (M4 nods). During Gondwana times, India, Australia, Madagascar, South Africa etc
were combined. It might be possible because of this reason they are called so. But again, it is purely a guess and I don’t have
any substantive idea about it.
M4: Do you have any idea about aboriginal tribes of Australia and Fiji?
Me: No sir.
M4: Have you heard about Mr Red Piper (this is what I heard, not sure it was what he told)? He is a very famous personality
intimately related to O&G industry. (Sujata Mehta Ma’am nods)
Me: No sir.
M4: What is pig?
Me: I am sorry sir. I am unable to recall it currently.
M4: How is oil pipeline cleaned? Looked at my facial expression and himself said “no idea”. I said no sir.
M4: How is a fire in oil and gas well put off?
Me: Sir, the fire is a result of combustion of gas. So all efforts are geared towards cutting the gas supply to the surface through
the well. If the fire has enveloped the well, aerial services are used. They pour water and sand over the well. When the fire is
relatively controlled, the gas supply is immediately cut-off from wellhead or Blow-out preventer.
M4: Do you use explosives?
Me: Yes sir in seismic exploration.
M4: In putting off fire?
Me: I don’t have adequate idea about it sir.
M4: You do poetry. Can you recite four lines of your own composition?
Me: Yes sir. The poem is titled Jawani.
Muqaddar aur waqt ka rona to kayar rote hain,
Mard to apne falsafe ke khud shayar hote hain,
Daastan-e-takdir to tazindagi sunne ko milti rahenge,
Par jo kismat ka kissa na banaya to wo jawani hi kya
M4: The place where you live has a mountain. What is its name?
Me: Names the mountain that I have heard.
M4: It is only is a small part of it. What’s the name of the mountain?
Me: I am sorry sir. I don’t know.
M4: Have you heard about XX Pahad?
Me: No sir.
M4: (In surprise) What! You haven’t heard XX Pahad?
Me: No sir.
M4: Have you heard about CNT and SPT acts (I said yes sir). Do they need reforms?
Me: Yes sir. Both the NITI Aayog and 12th PC have commented that land leasing and land ownership transfer regulatory acts
have started hurting the tribals more rather than advantaging them. But it is important to follow gradualism in reforms rather
than radical reforms.
M4: What gradualism? How can gradual reforms be introduced?
Me: Sir for example, under the acts, a tribal can sell his/her land to a another person of same tribe who lives within same police
station area. While a Dalit or Backward class person can sell the land to fellow community members who live in same district or
block. One way to introduce gradual reforms can be gradually expanding the area from which the prospective buyer can be. I
support gradual reforms because it will mitigate political opportunism from the issue. Moreover reforms to these acts have
been associated with exploitation of tribals by non-tribals. Gradual reforms will not fall into that trap.
M4: Arjun Munda was your CM. What is the meaning of term “Munda”?
Me: I am sorry sir. I don’t know.
Ch: Thank you. Your interview is over. (It appeared as if she wanted to ask more questions, but then had a second look at watch
and decided otherwise).
Me: Thank you Ma’ams. Thank you sirs. Have a good day Ma’ams. Have a good day sirs.
My comments: Overall a good experience. Though the board seemed to be in a little bit of rush as they spent more than
allocated time in interviewing the first three candidates.
Q5. Was your interview on the expected lines of what you had prepared or did they ask you totally unexpected questions? Was it a stress interview, did they ask any uncomfortable questions? If yes, how did you handle it?
A: 70-80% of the interview was on expected lines. Two aspects of my profile ie petroleum engineering and posting in North East are not common. They expectedly fetched a lot of questions. Sure there were unexpected questions, but it wasn’t a stress interview at all.
Q6. Any side details about technicalities like “make sure you bring xyz document or do xyz thing, or you’ll face problem”?
A: Bring photocopies of your documents and make sure you have at least 4 photographs of passport size.
Q7. Any word of wisdom / observations about medical checkup?
A: Take at least 4 photographs, drink lots of water and ensure that your ears don’t contain wax. During my medical, the hospital refused to provide fitness certificate immediately to at least two aspirants because wax present in their ears. One of the aspirant was an existing IPS. So better safe than sorry.