My IFS Interview: Parveen Kaswan


Blog by: Parveen Kaswan


It was my second interview at UPSC. First one was Civil Service 2014 interview, so clearly I had a litle bit of experience this time. I was facing less ‘performance degradation’ this time. The only difference was that this time I was wearing a suit, as interview was on January 27th. After all the paper work we were seated in a round hall. From this place one by one candidates were being called to the board. My turn came and I came to know that it is Ms. Alka Sirohi board. In the circles of UPSC aspirants this name has its own significance as she is known for grilling the student to a high degree. Peon told me to sit outside the interview hall as the board members were discussing the last candidate. After a bell I entered the room.


My board had five members, all were fifty plus in age. They were sitting around a rectangular table and I was provided the seat against the chairman. This is usual habit that members read your profile before you enter the room so they have an overall idea about your hobby, academic records, employment experience, family background etc etc.

Some details from Detailed Application Form submitted to commission: I did B.Tech in Aerospace Engineering (2008-2012) and  masters from IISc, Bangalore in Designs (2012-2014). I am from a village in Hanumangarh district of Rajasthan. Played handball at North Zone level and was drawing scholarship from MHRD during last two years. Hobby is blogging and reading books. 

Wished them goodmorning and was standing near the chair, chairman told me to sit.

Ch: Parveen, I was just looking at your credentials and you are aerospace engineer then what are you doing here.
Me: Mam, planning to join IFS.
Ch: Oh good good. What is the difference between Aerospace and Avionics, are they same?
Me: I told them the difference and the subjects which are taught in both the streams.
Ch: Can you tell me what are the use of Aerospace in wildlife and forest conservation.
Me: I explained various uses like Forest surveying with the help of remote sensing, checking the poaching by drones, during forest fires, tracking the movements of animals etc.
Ch: Are there any negative effect on animals by using drones.
Me: Yes mam, there are various studies which shows that because of noise pollution by drones the animals are getting disturbed.
(Chairman told another member to ask questions, who was a lady)

M1: Can you tell me the role of Anganbadi kendra in villages?
Me: They are useful for proving nutritional support to children and pre school education.
M1: Upto what age of children are provided with education in the kendras?
Me: I am soory mam, I dont know.
M1: 6 year old.
Me: Thank you.
M1: There is this cheme for children for overall development. What is it?
Me: Mam, Integreted Child Development Scheme also known as ICDS.
M1: Can you tell me its components.
Me: Nutritional component, Health component…(She interrupted)
M1: What is there in health component?
Me: Mam, various types of vaccination (she interrupted)
M1: For example ?
Me: Vaccination for Polio, Diphtheria, Whooping cough, Tetnus etc.
M1: Who are ASHA workers and their role?
Me: Mam, ASHA workers also called as Accredited social health activists. They are women of same village, who acts as health worker and move from house to house providing information about child care and nutrition. The special role is in ‘institutional delivery’ and on these bases they get incentives.
M1: What do you mean by institutional delivery ?
Me: Mam, where delivery takes place in a hospital rather than in homes.
M1: Yes. Do you think institutional deliveries are increasing?
Me: Yes mam.
M1: How can you say so.
Me: Mam as government is increasing the number of facilities and primary health centres. It can also be seen as Maternal Mortality Rate is reducing.

M2: What are the different type of remote sensing?
Me: Sir, there are two major types… active remote sensing and passive remote sensing. (I explained the difference)
M2: There are two type of forests, one is dense and another one is open. Which type of remote sensing will you use for both cases.
Me: Sir, it will be better if we will use active remote sensing for both types as it will work in night time also.
M2: But then what about the resolution in both cases?
Me:( I was clueless what was he saying) Sir, I am sorry but I never studied remote sensing.
M2: Ok. What are coral reefs?
Me: Sir, they are carbonate materials secreted by organisms called as coral polyps.
M2: What are different types of reefs?
Me: There are three major types; fringe reef, barrier reef and atolls.
M2: Are they under the water or above the water surface.
Me: Sir they are present upto the depth of 200 feet and some are present above water surface also for example in case of various coral islands like Lakshdweep islands.

M3: Parveen, as you are from Aerospace.. you must have studied aircaft performance. (I was so terrified at his statement. But he didn’t ask anything difficult)
Me: Yes Sir.
M3: Who discovered aircraft.
Me: Wright brothers.
M3: There are aeroplanes which fly faster than the speed of sound. What are they called as?
Me: Sir, Supersonic aircrafts.
M3: Yes, And what is their speed.
Me: Sir, at sea level the speed is around 320 meter per second also called as Mach 1.
M3: Yes, very good. As you are from Rajasthan, can you tell me what are the effects of green revolution on desertification. Are the deserts reduced.
Me: No sir, deserts are not reduced. Rather they are increased in districts like Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Jodhpur and Barmer. But yes deserts in Hanumangarh and Ganganagar districts have reduced due to green revolution and indira gandhi canal project.

M3: Do deserts effect climate change?
Me: Yes Sir, they do. As because of desertification albedo changes and hence various climate cycles.

M3: What are the trees found in your locality.

Me: I named few trees.
M3: There is this community in rajasthan which considers trees as very important. Which community it is and which is the tree?
Me: Sir, Bishnoi community and tree is Khejri.
M3: Yes, very good.

Chairman: Parveen, what is the difference between Discovery and Invention?
Me: Can I take one minute mam.
Ch: Yes, take your time.
Me: After thinking for few seconds, Mam as I understand Discovery is something which is already in existence and we find it again, for example columbus discovered America. Inventions is like developing a new product, process or mechanism. (This is the best answer I could figure out in those tensed moments)
Ch: So when Sir asked you who discovered Aeroplane, you answered Wright brothers (Oh my god !!!). Do you know there are texts in which some aeroplanes are mentioned.
Me: Yes mam, they are mentioned in Garud Puran and Ramayan. When Ravan captured Sita and took her to the Lanka, he used that aircraft.
Ch: What was the name of that aircraft.
Me: After thinking. I am sorry mam, currently I am unable to recall.. though the name is just sitting on my tongue. (I told her with a smile)
Ch: Pushpak Vimaan. Vibhishan gave same aircraft to Ram when he returned back to Ayodhya.
Me: Yes mam.
Ch: What are Mangrove forests.
Me: I defined the mangrove forests and discussed few things about their location, roots etc.
Ch: Parveen, how is energy in sun is produced.
Me: Mam, it is produced by thermonuclear reaction also called as fusion reaction.
Ch: What is the difference between fusion and fission.
Me: I explained the difference.. and told that how two hydrogens make one helium in case of fusion and how one atom splits in case of fission.
Ch: Don’t you think Sun’s energy is due to fission.
Me: No mam It is fusion… here two hydrogen makes one helium.
Ch: Yes, that is true but that is called as fission only.
Me: (I thought for a second and was damn sure that it is fusion reaction in sun…. but the atmosphere became so tensed as she told it with full confidence ) No mam it is fusion only.
Ch: Are you sure.
Me: Yes mam. (with a smile)
Ch: Ok leave it, if you are so adamant but I still think otherwise. Ok Parveen here is a numerical for you. Sun’s light takes 8 minute to reach earth, can you calculate the distance between earth and sun ?
Me: Yes mam, it can be calculated as the speed of light is standard value.
Ch: Give me the final answer.
Me: I took the pencil and paper. Calculated the values as speed of light which is ‘c’ is 3X10^8 meter per second and it takes 480 seconds. So my final answer came to 144X10^9 meters. I gave the paper to chairman.
Ch: Good. The exact answer is 149 million kilometer but doesnt matter as you have rounded it off. (She was happy as I think the real reason for the debate and numerical is to check my confidence and calmness).
Ch: (She had my picture in her hand… she checked my biodata once again and murmered.. oh you did masters from Indian Institute of Science) Parveen, how old is this pic of yours.
Me: Mam, 1 year old.
Ch: And you changed so much. What happened.
Me: Mam, I think because of stress due to study. (All smiled)
Ch: Oh, due to study. But let me tell you once you will join civil service the stress will further increase. (All laughed). Your interview is over.
Me: Stood there and tanked all members individually. Left the room.

(I was happy as everything went well and was able to create few smiling moments.)

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