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Old 7th November 2015, 05:30 PM
Default Toppers Interview IAS

Hello sir would you please give me interview questions and answer of IAS topper Umesh N.S.K? he had given interview in 2014…..
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Old 8th November 2015, 01:08 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2013
Default Re: Toppers Interview IAS

Hello friend, as you want interview questions and answer of IAS topper Umesh N.S.K so friend, here I am giving you the same, please have a look….

Q. Tell us something about yourself, your family, when and why did you enter in this field of competitive exams?
• Myself Umesh N.S.K, did my schooling in Salem, college UG in PSG College of Technology (2007-11),Coimbatore and my age is 24 now. My father ,N.K.S.Kesavan,retired recently from Indian Bank as Senior Manager. My mother,R.B.Banumathi,is working as a clerk in Syndicate Bank. My brother,N.S.K.Omkar, is working as a software engineer in Cognizant,Coimbatore.
• I started preparing for Civil Service Exams in 2010 because i)I wanted to become a part of the system and do minor tinkerings within it ii)I found the exam process to be of my liking and later, iii) I got inspired by my seniors and friends to march ahead inspite of failures.

Electronic Vs Paper material
Q. In recent times, there is spur in electronic material- blogs, sites, pdfs, RSS-feeds. Many aspirants feel bogged down by this information overload. So, how much do you rely on electronic material and how much on the paper material (Books, newspapers)? If possible narrate a typical day in your studylife. What is your style of preparation (e.g. I continue making notes no matter what I’m reading, I just read multiple times but don’t maintain notes, I make mindmaps on computer …or xyz style)
My style of preparation was a bit haphazard. I didn’t make notes but read a book multiple times and made notes in the book itself.
A typical day started late morning after eleven or so and preparation acquired momentum only in the evenings which went on till 3-4 in the night. I was more of a night bird which is not healthy. Even if I was not studying Laxmikanth,I will be reading a book by Amartya Sen or Ashutosh Varshney. Thus , almost my entire day was spent in reading something indirectly related to exams. 8-10 hours of reading , 6-8 hours of sleep was how a typical day went for me in the past 4 years.

Tempo and style

Q. People know what books and syllabus points are to be prepared. But most of them lack consistency in their preparation. So, how do you keep study momentum going on? How do you fight against the mood swings and distractions?
Mood swings can be fought by indulging in your favorite hobby –say sport or sudoku etc. I lived in Chennai with my friends for one and a half years and so we fought mood swings collectively by frequenting nearby multiplexes for atrocious movies, ordering sumptuous lunches from nearby hotels and taking long walks to have a cup of lemon tea.
I also fought mood swings by reading good short stories or novels . I remember alternating between a subject book and short stories of Ashokamitran many a times. One important solution to mood swings is good music. In that way,A.R.Rahman was a big guru to me. If you are feeling low while preparing, kindly do listen to “Yeh Jo Des Hai” from “Swades”. Once you finish listening to it,your preparation will be back on track again.

Struggle of a Senior player
After 1-2 failures in any competitive exam, a phase of mental saturation comes. The person knows the booklist, he knows what is necessary to succeed. But it doesn’t yield result. The armchair ‘experts’ would point out UPSC is ‘testing’ emotional intelligence of the candidate or UPSC wants to break the backs of senior players, daily conspiracy theories on orkut forumIAS….…Not to mention all the emotional struggle-against those irritating neighbors and relatives.
MY question are two:

Q1. How did you survive through this mental prison and what’re your words of wisdom to other senior players? If any specific inspirational incident(s), please share.
Support from parents , brother,relatives and friends kept me going . And more importantly, the joy of reading helped me stay sane. We must not think of marks,question papers and cutoffs while reading. We must understand that at the end of one year of preparation, even if we do not clear , we will be better-informed and more responsible citizens of the country than others. Of course, this is a tough exam to crack and a diverse nation like ours will have more than thousands of very capable IAS candidates. So,it is important to stay strong and enjoy reading Article 352 ,El Nino ,Repo rate and Iran deal. You will definitely clear it this time and if you do not clear,say to yourself ,” Oh ! This government of India is unlucky to miss me ! I will prepare again to make govt of India feel better”. If we keep enjoying the journey, the distance away from destination will not bother us at all.

Q2. What went wrong in your previous attempt? What changes did you make in this current attempt?
2012 – Failed in Mains because of atrociously poor preparation for History paper one (History and PSIR were my optionals)
2013 – Failed in prelims as I attended less than 60 questions in Paper one. This can be attributed to colossal misjudgement inside the exam hall that this is a tough question paper. And this in turn can be attributed to underpreparedness in Geography and Environment.

Mains: Essay
Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?
No Essay-specific preparation. I knew that my general reading and optional preparation will hold me in good stead. One particular idea I follow while writing any essay is to introduce an character/idea in the first paragraph and then keep mum about it in the following paragraphs. Then,in the final line of the essay, I will bring up the character/idea again so that the essay has a sense of closure to it.
For eg. In the essay, “With great power comes great responsibility”, I talked about Gandhiji in the first paragraph , then did not mention abt him at all throughout before ending the last line as “And India must remember that somewhere around the corner,Gandhiji is standing with his stick in his hand goading us to wield our power always with responsibility”.
In the essay on sting operations, I mentioned about Arnab Goswami In the first paragraph (for some reason I don’t remember now) and then in the conclusion , I wrote something like “Sting operations must be allowed because of the paramount national interest involved . Or as Arnab Goswami would say, “The Nation wants to know” )

Q2. Which two essays did you write and What key points did you include in it?
With great power comes great responsibility :
My approach was to introduce the statement with reference to Gandhi’s ideas and then give examples of both wrong and right application of power from world as well as Indian history : World wars to AFSPA .Eg. USA’s bombing of Japan was power without responsibility whereas US role in reconstruction of Japan was a more responsible application of power. In the last two pages,my essay turned into an India specific one – India’s role at mutilateral fora like WTO and UNFCCC and I concluded that India has arrived at the world stage and it needs to responsibly wield it’s power.
Thus,my essay was more of a case study of applications of power in contemporary polity and it lacked philosophical/Foucaultish underpinnings.

Sting operation :
This essay was a short one and I took the stand that sting operations must be allowed in the larger cause of national interest. I gave examples of some wonderful sting operations like Aniruddha Bahal’s sting on Bangaru Laxman and Co way back in 2000. Since I follow print journals like Tehelka and Outlook regularly,this essay was an easy one for me.

Case Studies in GS4
Q. in GS4 ethics papers, please give a sketchy overview of your case study answers:
Really sorry that am unable to recollect the exact approach I took in each of these questions but they were all over-idealistic and legally sound approaches. And almost all answers (including one on migration and environmental degradation) had Gandhi’s name at some point. My answer paper could easily be renamed as “Gandhian Ethics”.
Q. How was your experience with the ‘fixed space’ answer sheet?
It is really a godsend because otherwise I will keep writing more than what is needed which will lead to skipping some questions in the end. Fixed Space answer sheet is a good move.

Q. Did you write answers in bullet points or in paragraphs? Some players (who cleared mains and got interview call letter) were claiming that they wrote entire paper in bullet points, so it doesn’t matter….whether examiner is asking ‘examine, comment, discuss or xyz’….simply write in bullets and points.
Paragraphs. We can write in paragraphs or bullet points , but we must write in a readable way that engages the examiner.

Q. Did you follow the “introduction-body-conclusion” format? because some mains-qualified candidates claim they simply wrote the points they could recall within the time, instead of bothering with proper introduction and conclusion.
Yes, I always introduced the statement in the question . All worthy answers I wrote had a closure to it. I did not write like a student appearing in an exam. I wrote like am a bureaucrat submitting a report to a higher official.

Q5. Did you use highlighters / sketchpens in your answers?
Q6. Did you draw any diagram in any paper? (e.g. in GS1 Geography)
I tried diagrams in questions for which I had no clue on what to write.

Q7. If yes, Did you draw diagrams with pencil or pen?

Q8. Did you use ruler to draw the lines in diagram? Or did you just make it by hand?
By hand.

Q9. You wrote the answer in blue pen or black pen?
Blue pen only but I remember using black pen for some side topics in Essay.
(Mrunal – since readers keep mailing such queries, therefore I’m asking the topper to clear all the air haha.)

Mains Optional Subject
Q. What’s your optional subject and why did you chose it and not something else?
Political Science and International Relations. Right from school time, I used to read books on Indian politics,elections and foreign policy. So,I had no other choice but to choose PSIR.

Q. If a new player wants to pick this subject, would you advice for it or against it? (e.g. every senior player in Public Administration seems to be advising against pub.ad).
The advantages in taking this optional are
1. It’s utility in GS paper 2,paper 4 and Essay.
2. It’s contemporary nature (For a question on India-Russia relations,I wrote answer based on Srinath Raghavan’s column in The Hindu published on 9.12.2014. Now in which other optional can we write answers based on the morning’s newspaper ? J )
3. Contemporary Indian and World history (Say post 1900) becomes much more easier to grasp for a PSIR student so has utility in GS Paper 1 too.
So , if a student has the interest to read a wide range of books/periodicals and has good writing skills (which can be acquired with practice) , PSIR is a godsend to strike gold.

Q. How much of internet-research / current affairs is necessary for this optional? OR can one simply rely on the books and be done with this subject?
Indian foreign policy and Indian politics can be studied even without touching books if one follows newspapers and does online research based on newspapers religiously. And even for questions on static topics in international relations, I gave examples from contemporary happenings like Ukraine,Iran et al. Current affairs is as important as standard books in this optional.

Q. How many months did it take to finish the core optional syllabus?
I finished all topics except Comparative Politics in four-five months.

Q. How many days/ weeks before the exam, you started answer writing practice?
No answer practice

Q. Do you maintain self-notes for revision of optional? In which format- electronic or paper?
No notes. All notes were taken in the books itself.

Q. Your observation about the difficultly level of 2014 mains vs previous papers. And what precautions / rectifications are necessary in the future strategy for given optional subject?
2014 paper two was easier compared to 2012 or 2013. Whatever may be the strategy one follows in PSIR, it is important to have a basic idea of every word in the syllabus and current affairs related to every concept/topic. Kindly do read a diverse range of columns and books so that your answers/viewpoints stand out from others.

Before the interview
Q1. How did you prepare for the interview? – for college grad, hobbies, place of origin, current affairs at national and international level?
1. College grad – late night phone calls with toppers of my UG class.
2. Hobbies – They are my hobbies so I did not prepare for them separately.
3. Place of origin – Google based study on Madurai
4. Current affairs – The Hindu,Business Standard online. For international affairs, I googled “Syria crisis BBC, Hongkong protests BBC” to get a wonderful overview on BBC’s website.
Q2. Did you attend any mock interviews by coaching classes? How were they similar / different than official interview? Do you believe it is necessary to attend such mock interviews?
No mock interviews. And I got 176. I still feel there is no need to attend mock interviews. But it is upto to the reader to judge based on my marks.

Q3. Describe the formal-dress worn by you in interview.
Light blue full hand shirt, black pant, dark blue tie, black shoes and a smile.

Q4. Where did you stay for the interview? (Hotel / friend’s home …) and what books/material did you bring for the ‘revision before interview’?
1. Hotel Hari Piarko near Delhi Railway station. Four kms from UPSC office.
2. I brought my laptop and used internet to revise before interview. Also,brought some handwritten notes made for interview.
During the interview
Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board?

Q2. How long was the interview?
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?]
Gandhi said : “I will give you a talisman. Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man [woman] whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him [her]. Will he [she] gain anything by it? Will it restore him [her] to a control over his [her] own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj [freedom] for the hungry and spiritually starving millions?
Then you will find your doubts and your self melt away.” It is in Civil services more than any other profession that I can make the face of the poorest and the weakest smile.

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. (Earlier some toppers only tell me their question but not their answer. I would appreciate if you give both Question + your original answers)
1. The interviewers were very pleasant but the questions were largely factual : What is solar eclipse ?, where does Ganges originate ? What are the different disarmament treaties ? Chemical weapons , biological weapons convention ? What is reverse engineering ? What is a smart home ? Tell me the history of Madurai Meenakshi Temple ? What is the dispute between Apple And Samsung ? How is possible to hack a flight’s information system without using internet ? What are the security implications of Wifi in public places ? I said Sorry sir , I do not know sir , I am unable to recollect sir for 80 percent of these questions.
2. Opinion based question was on net neutrality for which I gave a standard Hindu editorial type answer.
3. Since my hobby is following cricket, I was asked to narrate about some interesting match in IPL. The only question I was very comfortable answering
4. Since my hobby is reading books on India , a question was asked on my favorite book . I said “India after Gandhi” . I was asked why that book and before I could give a good answer, David sir said “Next” leading to questions on hacking and wifi to which I had to resort to “Sorry sir”
5. There was one question on Srilankan Tamils for which I gave a standard answer on the process of rehabilitation.
6. Overall, I did not know answers to so many questions but I tried to remain cool and kept smiling . The final score I got is 176 which is a very good score considering how the interview went. Thank you David sir
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?
I had prepared for my optional, current affairs and hobbies. But the interview was more of a technology and geography oriented one . I said so many “I don’t know sir” and not knowing too many questions can naturally stress us. But I was feeling blessed enough for having come thus far to the interview stage and the small matter of not knowing hacking or Samsung-Apple fight didn’t unsettle me.

Q6. Any side details about technicalities like “make sure you bring xyz document or do xyz thing, or you’ll face problem”?
No problems at all . Just follow the instructions. Please do not go early as we have to stand outside the gate in the sun.

Q7. Any word of wisdom / observations about medical checkup?
BMI above 30 calls for temporary disqualification. So , please do take care of it.

Q2. After looking at the marksheet, suppose you had to prepare again next time, what changes will you make in your studies?
Mains : I will read better for GS paper three and concentrate more on geography for paper one.
Prelims : Mile to go before I sleep in Geography, Environment and Culture.
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