Gaurav Agarwal Tips

Complete Interview preparation tips by Gaurav Agarwal CSE AIR 1 2013

Q. Many engineers have come for interview in this board. I am sure that it must be happening in
other boards also. Why so many engineers are coming to the civil services, especially from top
institutions? Is it not creating shortage on the other side?
Its a matter of personal choice. They may come here due to a combination of factors: they
may think civil services has more scope and offer multiple challenges. Its a different kind of
job compared to corporate jobs. It lets a person serve the society in multiple ways. They may
not be that interested in engineering.
There can be no denying the fact that one engineer coming here is one less there. But we
should take a broader view.
Decisions to go in engineering take place in India at a young age of 15-16 when many
children don't have a clear idea of what they want to do. They and parents just go by social
At a later stage if they decide this is not what they want to do, we should respect that.
Because societies gain maximum when they respect individual freedoms.
Moreover, in civil services, I can apply much of the engineering knowledge 5. I have learnt.
Q. Why do you want to become an IAS?
1. Combination of many factors.
2. Public service.
3. Wide scope. At such a young age, it gives us so much of scope to serve the people.
4. Very challenging and dynamic with wide decision making.
5. Come back to India.
6. Respect in society, aspirations of parents.
Q. IITK that too computer science, so difficult to get in, and yet now here you are . Can you justify
1. Combination of many factors.
I am here because the job of an IAS offers a wide scope for public service and that too at
such a young age. It is a very challenging and dynamic job - so different from corporate jobs.
2.Then also, this job has a lot of respect in the society and my parents also want me to become
one. I anyways wanted to come back to India and this is one of the best jobs I could have
aspired for.
Q. I know this will be a very personal question to ask. I don't know whether to ask but anyway I will
ask. You have earlier worked in corporate field. You are in IPS now and again want to move to IAS.
And what after IAS? Could you let us know why?
After getting selected, I would want to use my skills and energy to serve the people. We keep
on hearing about misgovernance, why not get into the system and try to do our best.
Q. What do you bring from your previous job which will help you in administration?

team building, motivating, clear articulation of goals, taking care of welfare 1. of team members.
2. Importance of training.
Q. Why want to go from ips to ias?
IAS offers more diversity and scope in terms of opportunities. One can touch so many fields -
education, health, rural development, finance, nutrition etc.
1.My goal when I left the job was to become IAS. Since I had opportunities left, I am making the
2.Having said that, IPS too is a very good job. If I get through IAS, fine. If I don't get through,
then also I ll be fine.
Q. Why IPS again?
At the time of filling the form, I didn't know what cadre I would get and what were the various
opportunities in different cadres.
Now I understand its not the cadre which matters, but how we apply ourselves in the cadre
which matters in the long run. So I won't take IPS again if allotted.
Q. Why haven't you applied for the foreign service?
2 reasons - I want to work with the general public at the grassroot level - see how they live,
learn from them, do something for them, and secondly, I want to work in India.
Q. Are you trying to imply that IPS is inferior to IAS?
1. No. Both are great jobs. Its just that IAS offers more scope and career opportunities.
2. But both are good. So if i get through, I will be happy. If I don't get through, I will be happy too.
Q. If you leave the other job after getting selected, won't it be denying someone else an opportunity
and a wastage of public money?
Sure there will be a loss in short term. But in the long term the society gains the most when
the most meritorious get the job.
Q. Why have you come for IAS?
1. Combination of many reasons.
2. Public service is a reason - IAS offers a wide scope at such a young age for that.
3. IAS is a very challenging and dynamic job which gives wide decision making powers.
Its a field based job, so different from corporate jobs. One has to meet people, learn from
them, resolve their problems.
4.Respect in society, parental aspirations, wanted to come back to India, and this is one of the
best jobs I could aspire for.
Q. But you can do this in an NGO as well?
1. NGOs are dependent upon govt only.
2. Govt can be the biggest NGO.
3. Respect in society, parental aspirations.

Q. Even private companies / technology jobs do so much for people. Why don't you go there?
I am coming from there. They operate in particular spheres. Here I get to work on so many
aspects which affect people. So why should I limit myself.
Plus at my age the wide decision making powers are not there and it would really take me
years to reach the stage where I would be the one making decisions.

Q. You can join some micro finance company or a manager in a company which provides pure
Why should I limit myself to only one aspect of public service when in civil services I can
address wider problems.
Plus at my age the wide decision making powers are not there and it would really take me
years to reach the stage where I would be the one making decisions.
Q. You can found your own company / NGO / join politics ... then you won't have to wait for years?
For entrepreneurship, I don't have any idea 1. which would sell.
Politics: Fighting elections is not my expertise. My expertise is academics which would get me
this job.
Q. But there are many people like you who are doing this - kejriwal.
We are all different. He was in the service and then felt he had to get into politics to change. I still think there is a lot of good a person can do from within the service.
Q. You have done IIT, you have done IIM, you have worked as an investment banker, and now you
are here. Why?
1. To become an IAS. And that is because of a combination of reasons.
2. public service - this job gives a wide scope for public service in many ways.
3. Challenging and dynamic job and gives lot of decision making so early in career.
Respect in society, aspirations of parents, wanted to come back to India and this is one of the
best jobs I could aspire for.
Q. You have done IIT, you have done IIM, you have worked as an investment banker, and now you
are here. You take pride in wasting resources? Don't you have any idea of what you want to do in
Sir there are so many skills I would be using in this job which I have acquired in engineering
and MBA.
Eg. I have already seen during training, when it comes to application of IT in policing, how
many non engineering background students are turned off. I pick those things easily and can
appreciate how and where to apply IT.
From MBA, I have learnt team building, communication skills, motivating people. I have also
learnt about economics and finance which has multiple applications.
Q. How can we be sure that after changing so much, you won't change your career again after 3-4
1. If you are asking me for a guarantee, I cannot give it. No one can give a guarantee about future. But I can assure you that I am coming here for the right reasons. The things which
give me pleasure are not instantaneous or short term ones, but they will be present in this job
Q. You take so much pride in wasting resources, huh?
I don't think thats wasting resources at the balance. I will be using so many of my skills learnt
earlier in this job.
2. eg. IT
3. eg. economics, finance, management.
4. And these are very essential in coming times.
Q. You ve done this, that... looks like IAS is the only thing left on your CV.. huh?
hehe, its definitely one of the things missing, but I am not here to score a cv point. I am here
Q. Why do we need people with your background?
1. IT
2. Economics, finance, management.
Q. Why did you opt for MBA after doing engineering?
2 reasons - a) I always loved problem solving. My job after IIT had it but in a limited way.
Management promised more - more diverse as well as higher level. So it was a natural
b) I was clear I had to study further - this is one of my core values. Simply IIT was not
enough. This feeling was accentuated by my bad academic performance in IIT.. I had to make
amends. story of rickshaw...
Q. Why did you go to IIT?
1. I was good in science and maths at that time. My parents saw it and guided me there.
Q. Why did you opt for comp sc?
Based on general public opinion and advice of my parents - since I hadn't developed any
particular likings, so went by public wisdom.
Q. Why did you opt for finance?
Finance is analytical. We had to specialize only in the 2nd year and the 1st year had common
courses from all streams. I quite liked the finance courses.
Actually I liked economics more but there was no programme for economics major. Still I took
all economics courses I could as optional.
Q. If you were interested in finance, why are you coming for ias?
Q. Why did you leave your job and come here?
Q. Why have you come for IAS?
Q. No, we mean why didn't you come earlier. Why now?
Q. Why have you chosen civil services after coming from an engineering background like this?
Q. Why have you chosen civil services after coming from an management background like this?
Q. You were having good opportunities to earn money. Then why are you coming to civil services?
Q. IAS - leader or manager?
Q. What have you learnt from this leadership experience?
building teams - identify crucial people, understand anxieties and motivation. 
1. example - sales.
2. communication. example - product control.
3. be clear about priorities. scan for various opportunities and the dangers.
Q. How would you apply these learnings in the government sector?
1. building team - same process.
2. Communication - clear articulation. Use modern means to communicate with public.
analytical and open mind and staying updated are helpful in evaluating opportunities and
Q. And how would you keep your team motivated?
1. personal conduct - set an example.
2. understand the grievances. Informal communication also helps.
Q. What has been the impact of IIT on ur personality?
1. Importance of hard work.
2. Humility.
Q. What has been the impact of IIM on your personality?
My only competitor is myself. All I should focus on is to better myself and not worry about the
2. Put into practice the many lessons I learnt into IIT and reaffirmed my faith in them.
3. Made me more confident and a better communicator.
Q. What has been the impact of ur previous job on your personality?
1. Made me more confident and a better communicator.
2. Brought out the leader inside me.
3. Taught me the importance of people and relationships.
4. Professional.
Q. What has been the impact of IAS preparation on your personality?

Made me more balanced. Taught me 1. the other perspective.
2. I will go back as a better trader.
Q. What is the relation between efficiency, inefficiency and honesty and dishonesty, and Who is
better - an efficient but dishonest or a inefficient but honest?
1. These are two very different qualities and no direct relation.
2. I think honest but inefficient. At least you can rely on him / her.
Q. What’s the difference between a manager and an entrepreneur?
1. An entrepreneur has to take more risks.
2. Manager may be working for someone else, entrepreneur has more ownership.
Q. What is difference between leader and manager ?
A leader is a higher level manager where goals, strategies are less clear. He has to make his
own way.

Q. Do you think the civil servants these days are near to manager or entrepreneur?
I think a shift is going on from being managers to entrepreneurs. These days you see a lot of
civil servants taking the ownership of projects.
Need to encourage risk taking though in order to carry it forward.
Q. What do you think is keeping civil servants from assuming more risks?
I think its the incentive structure. One doesn't get rewarded for taking risk, but is penalized if
things don't work out. give example.
 There are multiple hierarchies leading to dilution of accountability.
 Then promotions and postings are not linked to outcomes / performance.
 In my previous job, there was full transparency. This didn't prevent me from taking risks.
Q. But if officers stop taking risk in the long run then how can it be good?
Without transparency and with so many discretionary powers, there is also a possibility of
misuse. And knowing human nature, misuse becomes more rampant. So the system has to
have checks in place.
Q. How should we address this tradeoff between transparency and risk taking?
By changing incentive structure. In my previous job, there was full transparency. This didn't
prevent me from taking risks.

Q. How would you cope up in the current situation? Will you stop taking risks?
If there is a certain cause I am committed to, I would not hesitate. Under no conditions will I
violate the law.
But if there is any grey area, then I would clearly communicate my interpretation and lay down
the reasons behind it.

Q. So you think if one is honest and upright, nothing bad will happen?
I don't think so. In life bad 1. things can happen.
Q. Won't this keep yourself from walking on the path of honesty?
No, I will never compromise on my core principles.
Q. You are emotional person ??? An emotional person cannot be practical person.
I maintain a certain degree of maturity in professional life. Emotions do creep in but I always
try to stay professional.

Q. Suppose you are SDM of a district, and are traveling. You see an accident on the road. How will
you respond?
Assuming it is bad, I would carry the injured to the nearest hospital. Would also inform the

Q. 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?
1. short sighted decision.
2. company's reputation will suffer.
3. when in difficulty corrupt ceo may fudge the books. eg. satyam.
4. bad example for employees.
Q. So do you have any role models from the political leaders of our long history.
1. gandhiji
2. united whole country - left swaraj vague.
3. non violence, faith in dumb millions.
4. firmly rooted in indian spirituality, and yet progressive.
Q. The entrepreneurs and businessmen are responsible for creating a lot of jobs but they
don't seem to get the respect as the civil servants and politicians do. Why is that?
these are the characteristics of an undeveloped economy. earlier opportunities were not
there. so public services were the only most lucrative career options.
 times are changing. economy throwing more opportunities.
 earlier license raj meant it was not possible to earn money legitimately.
Q. But crony capitalism has increased only after the reforms.
 I think overall set of opportunities has expanded.
earlier it was just not possible to conduct business without approvals and bribes. Now that is
possible and such opportunities have expanded greatly.

but due to relics from the past like a weak rule of law, opportunities for crony capitalism have
also increased.

Q. Suppose you are the District Magistrate of a district. Two politicians, an MLA and a MP, are
tossing you around for political gains. What will you do?
I will not do anything to compromise the dignity of the office or anything illegal. if demands are
legitimate i would consider them on their merit.
Kashmir Issue
One of the biggest myths is the belief that the “autonomy” as envisaged in the Constituent
Assembly is intact. A series of Presidential Orders has eroded Article 370 substantially. While the
1950 Presidential Order and the Delhi Agreement of 1952 defined the scope and substance of the
relationship between the Centre and the State with the support of the Sheikh, the subsequent
series of Presidential Orders have made most Union laws applicable to the State. In fact today the
autonomy enjoyed by the State is a shadow of its former self, and there is virtually no institution of
the Republic of India that does not include J&K within its scope and jurisdiction. The only
substantial differences from many other States relate to permanent residents and their rights; the
non-applicability of Emergency provisions on the grounds of “internal disturbance” without the
concurrence of the State; and the name and boundaries of the State, which cannot be altered
without the consent of its legislature. Remember J&K is not unique; there are special provisions for
several States which are listed in Article 371 and Articles 371-A to 371-I.
Fourth, can Article 370 be revoked unilaterally? Clause 3 of Article 370 is clear. The President may,
by public notification, declare that this Article shall cease to be operative but only on the
recommendation of the Constituent Assembly of the State. In other words, Article 370 can be
revoked only if a new Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir is convened and is willing to
recommend its revocation. Of course, Parliament has the power to amend the Constitution to
change this provision. But this could be subject to a judicial review which may find that this clause
is a basic feature of the relationship between the State and the Centre and cannot, therefore, be
And if a woman married someone who wasn’t a Kashmiri PR, she automatically lost her own PR
status. In 2004, the state high court, in the case of State of J&K vs Sheela Sawhney, declared that
there was no provision in the existing law dealing with the status of a female PR who married a
non-resident. The provision of women losing their PR status after marrying outside the state,
therefore, did not have any legal basis. This decision was historic because it corrected an
administrative anomaly and brought relief to women who married outside the state. A People's
Democratic Party government, led by Mehbooba Mufti, passed a law to overturn the court judgment
by introducing a Bill styled “Permanent Residents (Disqualification) Bill, 2004’. This was not Mufti’s
solo effort. Omar Abdullah’s party, the National Conference, backed this Bill and got it passed in the
assembly. But it did not ultimately see the light of day for various reason.


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