Tuesday, 21 May 2013



Apon Arun's request I am posting my subject wise marks. I invite all of you also to post your marksheets as it would give us a good idea of what UPSC has been upto this year.
On a personal note I have been given good marks in the interview when I thought I had done tragically in it. Alas, the tragedy lay elsewhere- UPSC has screwed me in the written.
Anyways, here goes...


ROLL NO. :011101

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

CSE 2012 marks: Strict marking does no one a favour

UPSC has just declared the marks of the recommended candidates. It comes as a disappointment that there has been very stringent marking in the written exam.

The total marks for written are 2000 + 300 for interview. An analysis of the total final marks is given below. [All these candidates are General Category]:

Total Marks

There are two important results we can draw from the above.

Firstly that even Rank 1 has not even got 1200 marks. In the 2009 and 2010 CSE the toppers marks would go beyond 1300. Such strict marking does not give due recognition to the difference in quality of writing or analysis as reflected in the answer scripts. I refuse to believe that out of 12000+ candidates writing the mains, not 50 were such that they deserved atleast 55% of marks in written?

Secondly, the difference between Rank 5 and Rank 645 is barely 5%. In an exam worth 2300 marks how can the difference between making the list and getting top rank be just 5%. There should be some qualitative difference between the candidates that is reflected in the quanity of marks as well. And if these marks are true, then how can 5% make all the difference. This is grossly unfair to everyone.

In this situation two things have occurred:
- The interview has become the deciding factor. This itself is not rational as written is for 2000 marks and interview for 300.
- Secondly, luck starts playing a much bigger factor. Some papers are marked leniently; or your interview board is generous; or its just your day. When marking is moderate people who have shown consistency in all attributes benefit, instead of random luck.

I just hope UPSC too does some analysis of this and draws some lessons. Baaki, do write in with your views on the matter.


My CSE-2012 Interview

Since one of has requested me for the interview script, am posting what I wrote down right after but didnt complete. I wasnt too happy with the interview. There were many moments when I felt the board was exasperated with me.
Am sure the interview score will give a better indication.
Hello Friends,

Hope your interview prep is going good. And those of you who have attended the interview did a fine job of it. Am just reproducing below the questions that were asked to me in the interview.

It was Ms. Rajni Razdan's board.

Rajni Razdan: Name?

Rajni Razdan: Roll Number?

Rajni Razdan: Then she picked up my passsport photograph and showed it to me indicatively asking if it was my picture.
Me(S): I smiled and said, yes ma'am.

Rajni Razdan: So, Spurthi you have written reading as a hobby, what do you like to read?
S: I like to read non-fiction mainly, but also other kinds of work like most recently I read Outliers by Malcom Gladwell. And I also like reading literature about historical monuments.

She then indicated the first panel member to ask questions.

Member1: Since you have mentioned visiting historical monuments as a hobby, which places have you visited recently?
S: Sir I have recently visited Bidar and revisited Qutb Minar in Delhi.

M1: Which monuments in Bidar did you visit?
S: The Bidar Fort and Madarsa of Mahmud Gawan who was the Persian Prime Minister of the Bahmani kings.

M1: Which monument did you like the best in Bidar Fort?
S: Sir, I liked the Solah Khamba mosque. It was among the earliest mosques  to be built in the Deccan. It had cylindrical pillars which were quite unique. And Aurangzeb also offered prayers at the mosque when he conquered Deccan. Else, it is plain like other mosques with a large courtyard.
And, I also liked Mahmud Gawan's madarsa as it is very impressive in scale. And it housed a library with 30000 books, which in the 13th century indicates that scholastic aptitude was appreciated.

M1: Have you heard of "double jeopardy"?
S: Yes Sir, it refers to the principle that a person cannot be sentenced twice for the same crime/offence.

M1: So which article does this come under?
S: Sir, Article 22?

M1: No. Article 22 covers the period after arrest.
S: (thinking... and in  the meantime he said)
M1: Article 20

M1: Okay, Vijender Singh is in the news. Can you tell me why?
S: Yes Sir. A large drug haul was captured and the prime accused has given a statement that Vijender Singh was a client. Also Vijender Singh refused to give his samples to the police stating that he would rather give them to the sports authorities as they have better equipment for testing.

M1: So do you think he was within his rights to refuse?
S:(i thought for 2-3 seconds)....Sir, if he is directed to do so by the court then he cannot refuse.

M1: Yes, but otherwise he can refuse. Can you tell me which article?
S: (i again was thinking and in the meantime he said)
M1: (in an almost exasperated tone) Article 20!

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Adieu et Bon Chance

Hello Friends and Comrades,

Where do I start? The results have been out for a week now. I was unable to make the list. 

Nonetheless I do hope many of  you did, and scored the rank you aspired for. I would love to hear from all of you. 

As for me- I shall henceforth serve to "safeguard the economic frontiers of the country", as we in Customs and Central Excise love to say. :) I am enjoying the training till now and there is a renewed enthusiasm for the service, since it has been determined that I shall be part of it for the foreseeable future. Training keeps me rather busy and I was unable to contribute to the blog much, as you all do know. Thankyou for dropping me messages from time to time and am sorry I wasn't very responsive. Well...2013 brings my sojourn with the CSE to a close, and with it this Blog too. But before moving on from this chapter of my life, I wish to register my experience about the Blog.

I must say writing this blog was a very educative and enriching experience. I was able to interact with so many more people than I would have otherwise. It was always exciting to receive a new comment or see that someone has taken the trouble to register as a member. In the first month of writing this blog, way back in July 2011 (tis not all that way back but certainly seems like a long time away), my excitement would stem from how many hits the site would receive. And at the end of everyday I would proudly proclaim to my family members that so many people visited my site. Initially it was about 10-15. But, then I used to wonder why people from US or UK or Germany are visiting the site. But such are the joys of ignorance- I was shortly informed, by those better informed in tech matters, that most of those hits were bots. That was a very grim day I must say. :D . 

Writing my 100th post was a big achievement. I was a little surprised that blogging kept me interested for such a long time. But as I said earlier it was a very educative experience. With every issue I would pick up, my effort would be to understand it holistically- and for this I would go from article to article till I got the picture. It was a very  time-consuming process indeed. I remember that I spent an entire day to write the post on the US sovereign debt crisis. Additionally, the excitement was fueled by  how one picture would lead to another. In this process there were several aha moments.:) I think that was what kept me hooked to this process. 

Preparing a post for publishing meant for me- cogent presentation. There was a lot of recut-repaste of paras and a re-writing that I would do.  Part of this presentation was referencing. Indicating sources of info was vital to establish its veracity to the reader. Formatting was another major pique with me- I would spend so much time just de-highlighting lines, spacing, changing font sizes etc. These were the more drudgerous activities involved with blogging- but were necessary for my peace of mind. And lo and behold, there were small achievements there too- like discovering that <br /> represented a whole blank line- let me tell you, for an Arts major the first step to understanding html was a giant leap.

There were certain areas of great interest for me. International affairs, Culture, and Economy- the first two as they genuinely interested me and the latter cause I didn't understand zilch. :) These also might be the posts  which continue to be of some use in this year. Culture stays the same, and so does some of the Environment related info. There are also a few case studies relating to PubAd and Socio- these will continue to be of relevance.

All in all this has been a wholesome experience. Although I did not make the end, I certainly learnt a great deal in the process. Understanding GS issues and presenting them on this blog kept my interest alive in the exam. One can perhaps wonder if one spent an inordinate amount of time on the blog- it may not be altogether too far from the truth. I must admit the optionals seemed so uninviting to me. Reading the same registers, books and notes a third time was just unpalatable. In that vein, I think I would have enjoyed prepping in the current format more. But then writing the CSE a third time was one time too many. My socio prof, Mr. Mahapatra (teaches socio at Vajiram) said to me in the first year of my prep:
First Attempt, you Appear,
Second Attempt, you Re-appear, and
Third Attempt, you Disappear
I can say in hindsight this has proved true for me. I cleared in the first attempt and could not improve my chances after that.  But, I wouldn't have it any other way. :) Now, I can say goodbye to UPSC with peace.

With this, I wish you all the very best- in this exam and in life. Thankyou for being part of my journey and for including me in yours.

With much love and gratitude,

Spurthi Reddy
11th May, 2013.