Varsha Meena (Rank-580/UPSC-2017)
Geography Optional, IIT Roorkee alumnus, hails from Rajasthan
Interview board chairman – Dr. Manoj Soni
Duration : 35 minutes.
Me: May I come in sir?
CM: yes please, come in.
Me: (with a moderate smile) good evening sir.
CM: good evening Miss Varsha. Please have a seat.
Me: Thank you sir.
CM: (in the meanwhile, tea was being served and CM got distracted a bit, but he again focused on the interview). So you are from Dholpur, how does it feel like to come to Dholpur house?
Me: (with a smile) sir, It feels like home.
M3: (interrupted with a smile)….ofcourse, afterall it’s your property (he meant it was built by Maharaja of Dholpur who got revenue from Dholpur people).
Me: (still smiling and thinking…wow, what a beginning of the interview) yes sir…
CM: so Varsha, tell me some important historical incident of Dholpur
Me: (damn, I prepared almost everything about Dholpur but I never found any important historical incident of dholpur…I was wondering, Mr Chairman should know that Dholpur is not that famous)… sir, Dholpur princely was founded in 1806 by a Hindu Jat Ruler. It became british protectorate, The Ranas ruled until independence of India in 1947.
(I knew he wasn’t asking this and so I stopped and realized that I should accept that I don’t know the answer)..sir, I am not aware of any important historical incident of Dholpur.
CM: ok, so you don’t know….then leave it.
CM: Tell me about the evolution of telecommunication sector in India?
Me: (damn….why telecommunication sector, why not power sector!! I am electrical engineer and not electronics engineer….i decided to answer this as briefly as possible to avoid any counter question)… sir, it was during Rajiv Gandhi period that government focused on improving telecommunication infrastructure. C-Dot was formed under the leadership of Sam Pitroda. New telecom policy, 1999 brought mobile and TV revolution. Tariff reduced, mobile became affordable to poor, TRAI was formed to regulate this sector. NOFN project presently aims at improving internet connectivity in rural areas. So internet penetration is expected to increase in future which is must for the success of e-governance.
CM: recently there was a player in news in this sector?
Me: sir private player?
Me: sir reliance for Jio scheme.
CM: yes…so has TRAI raised any objection regarding that?
Me: No sir, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (don’t know why I mentioned the full form!!) has raised no objection. It is a fair scheme.
CM: hmm….so it’s a business strategy….
Me: yes sir…. (I was glad that he stopped asking questions on this topic..)
CM: (asking M4)…please ask questions.
M4: (don’t know where was he lost…)….sir, I am not ready yet…
CM: (after a pause)—ok….. (looking at M1)…aap poochiye..
M1: what are smart cities?
Me: (gave well prepared GS3 valid definition) A ‘smart city’ is an urban region that is highly advanced in terms of overall infrastructure ie smart physical, social/civic, economic infrastructure. It’s a city where IT is principal infrastructure and the basis for providing essential services to residents.
M1: how smart villages are important for success of smart cities?
Me: smart villages will have all basic amenities like hospitals, schools, banks, roads, water facilities. They will have employment opportunities. Thus migration to urban area will reduce which will help in solving problems of our cities like slums, traffic congestion etc. Also there need to have transportation facilities from sub-urban areas to urban areas which will reduce permanent migration to cities and rural people can commutate daily.
M1: what are the problems which our agriculture sector is facing?
Me: Firstly crops are being lost due to weather vagaries like unseasonal rainfall, drought etc. Secondly, farmers are not getting adequate remuneration for their crops. There are marketing issues, crops lost due to lack of proper warehousing, cold storage facilities.
M1: how far was green revolution successful?
Me: It helped in making India self-sufficient in wheat production but resulted in regional disparity and inter-crop disparity as many crops like pulses, oilseeds were ignored.
M1: what were key elements of green revolution?
Me: HYV seeds, irrigation facilities, pesticides, herbicides, consolidation of landholding…
M1: (he repeated) HYV seeds, irrigation facilities, pesticides ( I realized that “consolidation of landholding” was not needed in the answer)
What are your views on artificial intelligence?
Me: Issues like job loss are being raised in Indian scenario but my views- are more jobs will be created in organized sector. Thus reskilling will be correct word and not job loss. Skilling manpower should be our focus.
M1: Give an example where complete automation has happened in India?
Me: (thinking hard)…..Online train ticket booking on IRCTC-no jobs lost as was thought, more jobs for data engineers.
M1: (not happy) I am talking of automation!!
Me: (a recent example struck my mind and I felt happy)…….recently driverless metro trains are introduced in Delhi.
M1: (satisfied and done)
M2: you have had a good academic record. You have got 95% in 10th class, 91.4% in 12th, 8+ CGPA in college… (he was literally reading out this from my DAF)….
Why do you think an IAS officer is more important than an electrical engineer?
Me: sir, I don’t think an IAS officer is more important than an electrical engineer…. it’s just that I have interest in administrative work and therefore i want to become civil servant.
M2: (the typical question)…why do you think you are suitable for IAS?
Me: (the typical answer)…. Sir, I have leadership and management skills which a civil servant must possess. I was captain and secretary of girl’s Volleyball team in college. I was also publicity manager of our college’s cultural fest. So I believe I have these traits.
M2: (after a pause) What is greenhouse?
Me: A greenhouse is made of glass which regulates temperature inside it. In cold region it is used to keep plants to increase the inside temperature.
M2: glass…..! No, it can be made of any transparent material including plastic…
Me: (silent…don’t know what to say)…..
M2: did you know this already?
Me: (I could have said yes,, but don’t know why I said) no sir,
M3: what are few things that India should learn from China?
Me: (I felt good… I like China questions).. Sir, China has done very well in social sector. They have lesser people under poverty line, more literacy than India. We need to learn this.
Secondly, they have done well in infrastructure sector like OBOR, CPEC etc. this will boost their economy and diplomacy. We should improve our infrastructure too.
Thirdly, China has done immensely good in defense sector. This must also we learnt by India.
M3: (I knew he liked my answer but he was reluctant to show… anyways.. he asked next question)… what are the issues in power sector in India?
Me: (finally a question from my domain).. Indebted DISCOMS leading to power in grid but no one to purchase it.
High AT&C losses.
Inadequate last mile connectivity 96% villages electrified but only 70% houses have electricity connections
Unscheduled load shedding in summers.
M3: what are issues with manufacturing sector in India? (see the diversity of questions he was asking!)
Me: manufacturing sector contributes only 15% to GDP. Some reasons are lack of capital, technology, high price, MSME has no R&D, High taxation, Electricity, loan, transport expensive which makes our product less competitive.
M3: has share of agriculture in GDP increased or decreased?
Me: (paused as I couldn’t get his question)…..i said it has increased from 13% to 19% as of now… (I stopped…I realized that he was asking since independence)
M3: no….it has reduced….which time span you are talking of?
Me: (I wanted to say, I don’t know)….sir last 10 year.
M3: May be you are right….i will check
Me: (I was wondering if I was right indeed)
M4: (the same person who wasn’t ready earlier to ask question… he was from Mizoram. I guessed that from the kind of excitement he showed when I mentioned Mizoram)
How far has Indian government been successful in curbing insurgency in India?
Me: Naga peace accord, 2015 is very recent example of success of our government. Though the details of the accord are not out, it is being reported that hostilities between NSCN(IM) and security forces have reduced, level of violence has come down.
M4: anything else?
Me: sir, area under Naxalism has also reduced after the surrender-cum-rehabilitation scheme.
M4: (not satisfied)…anything else…not so recent
Me: (thinking very hard) 1986 peace agreement signed between Rajiv Gandhi and Laldenga. Mizoram was granted statehood.
M4: he gave some more info regarding this…. (I was listening, Chairman was not liking this as the question was getting stretched)….what about Punjab insurgency?
Me: (pretending that yes…I knew this, it just slipped out of my mind)….yes sir but normalcy came in Punjab over long period of time…. President rule was imposed for years, elections were held and then only the insurgency was rooted permanently.
M4: (finally he agreed with me)…yes..yes
CM: Varsha, one last question…
Poverty, poor education and corruption are three main problems India is facing….
Me: (I thought his question is over….and he want me to agree to his statement, so I said).. sir, I would like to add one more (I was about to say environmental issues is fourth major concern for India but he interrupted me)
CM: no …no….for now just take these three (I felt stupid)… so what will be your priority while tackling these issues?
Me: (spoke instantly)… sir education will make people more skilled and thus they can earn more which will help in reducing poverty. Also education is not only technical education but also moral education. We need to teach values and ethics to people as a part of their curriculum and that will take care of corruption issue. (I said the last line with a lot of confidence)
CM: okey Varsha, your interview is over. Thank you.
Me: Thank you sir…