Friday, March 30, 2012

My Civil Services Personality Test - 22/03/2012

It was PK Mishra Sir's Board.
My background - B.Tech, Mechanical Engineering, M.Tech - Thermal Energy and Environmental Engineering
Currently working as a Scientist in Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. 
The interview lasted for about half an hour. The board was extremely cordial and supportive. Here is a brief description. (I've only detailed the shorter answers that I remember with reasonable accuracy. It would neither be desirable nor useful to reproduce the answers given extempore, as there would be a significant room for bias to set in.) 

PKM - What is your name?
Sir, my name is Kshitij Tyagi
PKM - You are from Delhi?
Yes Sir
(PKM - sifting through the pages of my summary sheet, talking to himself…Delhi…..IIT….Kharagpur…..stops at my job description) Oh you are a scientist?
Yes Sir 
PKM - Ok tell me, What is Bernoulli's Theorem?
I fumbled a bit but in the end the words started coming out smoothly – Sir, Bernoulli’s theorem uses conservation of kinetic, potential and pressure heads of energy across an airfoil/object placed in a fluid flow. Using this equation we can calculate the lift and drag experienced by the airfoil. This is one of the applications of BT.
PKM - Ok, so you mean it has to do with conservation of energy (duh!)
Yes Sir
PKM - Hmm, where are you currently working?
Sir, I am working in the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (board members looked surprised at the fact that an entire Ministry by that name existed :D)
PKM - Ok Kshitij, so what is "new" in new and renewable energy?
 Sir, the word new is used to differentiate it from traditional renewable energy which also has hydropower plants above 25 MW in its ambit. We on the other hand deal with hydropower projects below 25 MW and other sources of renewable energy such as solar, wind, etc.
(PKM repeats what I said…..thoughtfully….while his gaze is transfixed at me….)
PKM - What are the different parliamentary committees?
A minute of extempore – there are so many of them…named some standing committees….DRSCs….ad-hoc committees…..named a few and PKM himself pitched in with a few before I could finish
PKM - What are the different ways in which parliament can hold the executive responsible?
I talked about starred and unstarred questions, responsibility of Ministers… the heat of the moment, I couldn’t recall other methods and said so to the Chair…. He said there are other methods as well like adjournment motion ….etc. etc……I thanked him.
PKM - What is "cut motion"?
I talked about the three types of cut motions. They however were convinced that there are only two kinds of cut motions. PKM confirmed it with M1 and she nodded. I thanked them for correcting me (though I knew I was right)
M1 (who had an accent of a Londoner, with the proverbial tight upper lip of the british)- What is traditional medicine and what policy steps do you envisage so as to promote and strengthen this sector?
2 minutes of extempore – talked about AYUSH, TKDL, IPR related issues, accessibility, etc.
M1 - How can traditional medicine be of economic importance?
Talked about medical tourism and exports. M1 looked satisfied.
M1 - IP related issues with traditional medicine? What do you propose?
Talked about recent moves by India to preempt moves by foreign entities to get patents on certain traditional cures – gave example of the attempt by a company to patent the use of turmeric in curing vitiligo which we’ve known through ayurveda for ages. I concluded by saying that a policy architecture to enable such protection should be established….
M2 - Why has solar energy not picked up in India and Africa in all these years?
This was my territory – talked about the challenges we faced before National solar mission was initiated and how these challenges are universal when it comes to solar power (PKM nodded and repeated what I was saying), and how we’re now progressing exceedingly well after having overcome them. I concluded by saying that the future for solar is very bright (M2 smiled. I am sure he got the pun J)
M2 - What is the money required for setting up solar plants?
M2 - What is the area requirement for setting up solar plants?
M2 – What do you know about airline cess of EU?
M2 - what do you know about BRICS ?
M2 - When and where is the BRICS summit scheduled to be held?
At this juncture, PKM asked M3 to begin.
M3 - What interdependence do you see in the process of automobile and textile industry?
The question wasn’t framed properly and hence my answer wasn’t in line with what she wanted. PKM elaborated it but what they were looking for was sequential and parallel interdependence. I wasn’t able to crack this one since I am not very familiar with the working of textile industry. I thanked M3 for this information, after she described both the terms.
M3 - What do you understand by culture?
Answered (sociology qn.)
M3 - what is wider culture?
Sorry ma’am I do not know the answer. She explained it to me and I thanked her. (At this juncture I was a bit tense since I hadn’t answered two of her questions, and though I had been smiling all along, she looked like she meant business J )
M3 - What do you know about M.N. Srinivas?
M3 - What do you understand by westernization and sanskritization?
M4 - Which states have a high wind power potential?
My territory again
M4 - What are the problems faced while connecting wind power to grid?
M4 - Why are solar pumps not being used for pumping underground water in rural areas?
I had quite a discussion with him on this. He wanted to prove a point about solar pumps having not made sufficient inroads in rural areas. I sensed this and yielded, more so because I wasn’t too sure. Both of us smiled.
M4 - What is fuel cell technology? What are the by products?
M4 - What are the efficiencies of solar plants and how do you envisage the future scenario to be?
My territory again
PKM – Ok Kshitij, I’ll ask you one last question. It is a situational question - there is a sincere and erudite CEO who is very hard working but is unable to avoid the failure of the company. There is a cunning CEO who is corrupt and practical and brings success for the company and himself. The first is fired and second is rewarded - Do you agree with the management's decision? What would you do?
Sir, I am of the opinion that the management made a very shortsighted…a very myopic move by firing the first CEO. A business based on strong foundations is resilient and successful in the long term. I gave the example of Steve Jobs getting fired from Apple, going on to PIXAR and then coming back to Apple to take it to the zenith (PKM gave the best nod and smile of the interview at this juncture). I continued – a business based on skewed foundations never lasts.
PKM (interrupting me)– so what would you do with the second CEO?
Sir, I would constitute and inquiry and if he is found guilty, I’d fire him.
PKM - Thank you Kshitij, your interview is over.
Thank you Sir.