Her silence, his words


They fought a fortnight before the special day. Words were exchanged, tears were shed.
But usually he would call her, coax her and make her laugh. And she would fall for him again, just like a teenager would, for her crush. Then, quite effortlessly they would resume their quixotic romanticism. Their ‘journey’, as she called it. Journey marked with highs of love and lows of ego and possessiveness.

She was hopelessly romantic. She used to make those handmade greetings, bake chocolates, and dance to those creepy desi item numbers especially for him. She used to call him ‘Captain’ as he loved playing with words, just like Robin Williams of Dead Poets Society. His virile words would make her fly on cloud nine. She envied his words because he loved them more than he loved her, she thought.

He was an idealist. He had different notions about love. Love made him more vulnerable than her. ‘Love should set a person free’, he used to tell her. ‘Marriage sets a person free. Marry me’, she used to quip. He was hardly creative when it came to their relationship except that he proposed her on 29th February of a leap year. (…if that counts as being creative). And like most of humans on this earth, he was idealist at heart, while arrant practical when it came to mind. He suffered from cognitive dissonance while she would think and act consistently.

It was 29th of February today, their first anniversary. Anniversary which comes once in four years. So, she knew he would call. This was their record silence. 14 days without exchanging a word or emoticon or voicemail. She used to sing a line or two and voicemail him. He hardly used voicemail. He connected more with her voice and she connected more with his words.

Finally, her cell beeped at around 1 PM. She skipped her beat. ‘One message from Ineffable’ it read. It made her smile.

‘Are you free? Let’s catch up’, he had texted

‘Yes, I have half day. When? Where?’ She hinted that she premeditated this.

‘Same place. 5.30 PM’

‘K’, she shot back.

He came to Marine drive and sat on the stone wall facing the Arabian Sea. The less energetic waves came and hit the tetrapod shaped rocks. He ruminated how the nonchalant waves were analogous with the relationship he shared with her. She came and sat by him and smiled. He tried smiling too.

‘What is it Zee…..Zeeshan?’ she threw.

‘I think this is it’, he said with sheepish moist eyes.

‘This is it?’ Radha accentuated each and every word.

‘Hmm….’

Tears went swiftly across her cheeks. She tried persuading Zee but in vain. Emotional Zee was cold. He was unusually silent that day. Her heart sank and time was heavy. She quickly reached her purse and handed Zee a gift. It was a Matte finish black and golden Sheaffer fountain pen. The anniversary gift became their parting gift.

‘Thanks. I need to go’

‘Zee, Can you wait for five minutes?’ came her vulnerable voice.

‘I just want my last five minutes with you’

‘Hmm…’

She let her head free for the one last time on his shoulder. She closed her eyes and travelled their relationship. Laughter, Joys, Tears, Teasing, obtuse talks, intelligent ramblings. Her heart beat faster than usual.

‘Let go! Maybe he cheated.’ said her mind.

‘How to let go?’ questioned her heart.

Her teary eyes made his shoulder wet. She regained her composure, took a deep breath. She stood up.

‘I am Sorry’, he said.

‘No, you are not!’ she shot back and left.

All he could see was her moving silhouette amidst the setting sun. She left him puzzled. She chose silence over words during those last five minutes. She used words only when they mattered. She could have asked why are they breaking up. She chose silence. The silence was her loudest voice. She felt if he really knew her, he would fathom her silence.

Meanwhile Radha remembered Zee’s favourite lines of Ghalib Saab. His voice echoed in her lifeless ears,

Ragon mein daudte phirne ke hum nahin qayal,
Jab aankh hi se na tapka to phir lahoo kya hai.”
(We are not convinced by running in the veins,
Unless it flows from the eyes, it is not blood.)

The setting sun was trying to say something to the Marine drive. The sunlight of many such relationships was gulped down by the magnanimous sea of caste, religion and class differences.

In her eyes…


Every time I look into those ocean eyes,
I feel as if I’ve lived a life;
Would stumble for days over your guise,
Till I discover the new you, each dying moment.

Those mascara clad idiosyncratic oculi,
are more than stars in the dourest moonlight.
‘would enlighten my benighted evening,
more than the brightest daylight of zing.

For those eyes, not for a moment, take cognisance,
of this blear, effete versifier.
He knows her sublime eyes, perhaps are dunce,
or fears they are snubbing insightful ones.

Still, he knows his ineffable muse would even make Leonardo da Vinci covetous,
as she elegantly comes through the invincible Mona Lisa.

I’d revel all my life gazing into those deep confidante eyes,
But for I know, unfeigned love better be set free,
and literal emotions never die for reciprocation.

Strategy for Civil Engineering Paper II


Firstly sincerest apologies for posting detailed strategy for Civil Engineering so late. I am no authority on Civil Engineering but due to requests from aspirants, I decided to go ahead. I freezed my optional subject almost year after my graduation. So it wasn’t easy as I didn’t have my notes (Well who makes notes in engineering 😛 ) but I knew I could do well since I had decent pointer during my graduation.

Let’s come to the point. 2014 was my first shot at CSE.

Positives of Civil Engineering as optional:

  1. Assured marks if you’ve adequate command over the subject.
  2. You are already familiar with the subject unlike the strange humanities optionals 😛
  3. Once mastered, you can go on to get a good rank in subsequent attempts unlike humanities where scores fluctuate like Chinese share markets.
  4. Actually it’s good to have such optional as GS & Essay are subjective. Studying such subjective GS at stretch can be monotonous. So mix of CE & GS would be a wonderful combination

Negatives of Civil Engineering as optional

  1. Competition is very high mainly due to aspirants from reputed colleges.
  2. Syllabus is huge, like really really huge. Imagine remembering those eccentric formulae from Transportation Engineering & theory from Building construction at same breath.
  3. Also subjects are related to each other unlike other branches of Engineering. Survey, Soil Mechanics, SOM, Fluid Machines are exclusive sets, I believe.
  4. Time invested is much higher vis-à-vis other humanities optional

 

Civil Engineering Part II

  1. Construction, Construction Technology & CPM

Books: Building Construction by Arora & Bindra, CPM by UK Srivastava

Analysis: Questions are diverse & mostly predictable. Refer previous years’ IFoS & CSE papers & study accordingly. Prepare your own notes & it’ll help you revise faster. Questions from Engineering Economics are popping out of nowhere. UK Srivastava has covered it beautifully. Also I feel in this humongous theoretical section, one should study with photographic memory. Memorize diagrams & not data. Let the answers flow from your perfect diagrams.

 

  1. Surveying

Books: BC Punmia (Laxmi Publications)

Analysis: Please do Photogrammetry without fail. If you want to skip this topic you can, but do photogrammetry without fail. Remember basic things here like levelling & PT survey

 

  1. Railway Engineering

Books: Saxena & Arora (Dhanpat Rai publications)

Analysis: I did most of this part from NPTEL videos however I’d recommend NPTEL videos only for ‘Points & Crossings’ part of Rail Engineering. Questions are mostly simple & attemptable. However be ready for bouncers like 2014 CE questions.

 

  1. Highway Engineering

Books: Justo Khanna & NPTEL softcopies of same course.

Analysis: Since syllabus is huge, don’t spend much time on any particular section. Solve numericals from Justo Khanna. Do signal designs well.

 

  1. Hydrology

Books: SK Garg (Primary source), Ven-Te-Chow (optional)

Analysis: Over the years, direct questions on UH, no. of rainfall gauges have reduced. Focus is more on complicated topics as far as numerical are concerned.
However theory questions are much on the lines & predictable

 

  1. Irrigation Engineering

Books: SK Garg

Analysis: Syllabus is crisp & previous years’ questions can help immensely. Do theory well

 

  1. Environmental Engineering

Books: SK Garg

Analysis: This topic I feel needs most number of revision. There are less formulae so do them well. UPSC has knack of asking unconventional formulae from this topic (Eg. 2013 CE question on plume).

 

Common denominator of all topics of Paper-II

  1. Make notes & revise them multiple times
  2. Strictly follow the syllabus
  3. Keep an eye on previous years’ papers.
  4. Questions these days are a step ahead of what we generally study. I mean you’ll find questions in exam from mostly skipped topics.

(Give me 1-2 days to write strategy for P-I of Civil Engineering)

Civil Services 2014 Personality Test (AIR 478)


I was summoned in Forenoon session at 09:00 IST on 8th of May (exactly 4 months after my Engineering Services interview). After entering the UPSC Bhavan, documents verification began and by 09:15 my documents were verified. I had 5 more candidates in my group. After having a light conversation with other candidates, I realised I was youngest on the group and was glad about it.  At around 10:00, we were told that Kilemsungla mam will be interviewing us.

I was second person to be interviewed that day. I asked the peon who escorted me if any lady member other than Madam was present so that I could wish in that order. I entered the hall finally after letting my heat beat with a reckless speed.

(I knew this was it. It was my moment. I had been waiting all these years just for this very day. I tried to becalm myself. I kept on saying ‘Carpe Diem’)

Inside the interview hall:
Dr. Mrs Kilemsungla was the chairperson (CP) and was accompanied by 4 other male members (M1, M2, M3 and M4)
I recognized M1. He was Vivek Katju, an Ex-diplomat & frequently comes on TV for matured discussions.
M2 was retired bureaucrat I guess.
M3 was an Ex-Vice Admiral Mr. Chopra (his ID card said so)
M4 was psychologist I reckon as he was sitting quite close to me & constantly gauging my body movements.

CP:

After I wish CP & Members, CP asked me to take the seat.

  1. So Mr. Abhijit Thorat (Mam had peculiar way of pronouncing and I realized I had to be on my toes to get her accent) you work with Coal India Limited in….??
    In Singrauli Mam. Amlohri is name of my Project & Singrauli is the District.
  1. Okay..Coal India imports from where? How much?
    Ma’m, it’s not CIL as such which imports but other decentralized players. They import from Australia, Indonesia, and Africa. Around 200 MT is presently imported.
  1. Why it imports?
    India lacks high quality coking coal mines hence coking coal imports are imperative. Thermal coal is also imported due to lack of production technologies with CIL.
  1. We read about CIL from newspapers but what are Latest happenings from CIL?? Some inside news? *With a broad smile*
    Ma’m, E-tendering is mandatory from February 2015 in our subsidiary. Also talks of technology infusion are going on. Denationalization is also on cards.
  1. Yes, I read about denationalization. How much shares does GoI has now??
    Ma’m. 80%
  1. What you do in CIL??
    I’m looking after e-tendering
  1. Why e-tendering & not core construction??
    Ma’m its not that I’m aloof from core engineering. But I also look after colony maintenance job.
  1. Industries must have been affected by e-tendering??
    Yes ma’m, IT industries did get a boost and also employment opportunities rose.
  1. How e-tendering reduces corruption??
    One can’t fiddle with documents since the IP addresses are noted and each move is under scanner while in offline tendering, there were instances of favouritism.
  1. CSOs is mentioned as one of your hobbies. How did your hobby start??
    Ma’m actually it started by chance during 1st year of engineering. I had lots of time so I just thought to look out for diverse fields and it clicked.

(M1 comments: All good things start by chance)

  1. What all you did in CSO?
    We had formed a student’s group called Prayaas while in college wherein we taught slum workers kids. Then I was involved in V-guide, did a couple of months with Goonj, Anandwan etc.
  1. I can see from your DAF (Detailed Application form) that you have shown leadership qualities all along your career. How will it help you?
    Ma’m, Can you be a bit more specific as the question seems too open ended.
  1. How will you use leadership skills as DM, if posted in Naxal affected areas??
    Ma’m, I’d use my leadership skills in two ways. Firstly I’d take immense development projects because I feel lack of development has played a vital role in spread of extremism. Secondly I’d use leadership skills to influence people & make them an active part of governance.
  2. With question remaining same, assume the district in which you are posted as DM, it is short of funds. Now how will you proceed in mainstreaming youth?
    I’d use skill development so that youth would gain employment opportunities…..
  1. (Intervenes) Assume you have no funds…now how will you use your leadership skills?
    Ma’m, I’d make youth communities wherein I’d stay in constant touch with them and make them indispensable part of local panchayats.  (I was clueless how to answer this. I wasn’t satisfied with my answer & so wasn’t she I guess. I felt it was lowest point of my interview)
  1. Okay….If you were made DM of Nagpur. What two steps would you take?
    Ma’m, having studied in Nagpur for four years, I have observed that public transport is not much prevalent. Buses and shared autos aren’t that frequent. I’d create a better network of public transport in Nagpur via Rapid Transit System.

(CP hand gestures M1 to ask)

M1 (He was Vivek Katju, esteemed IFS officer )

  1. Our profiles don’t match, Abhijit. I like sociology & you are an engineer. And interestingly you have taken civil engineering as your optional. So, you are a pure technical person & I am not (laughs). So let’s come on terms with each other.
    Sure Sir (with a wide grin)
  1. Do you know how Indian society evolved?
    I don’t have exact idea. But sir that’s your interest area. (He laughs & we all join him)
  1. Tell me one major difference between Indian society and Western society.
    Sir our society is family oriented and West is more focussed on Individualism.
  1. H’mm…Do you have any other interests than engineering? Tell me something which is not mentioned in this form (I guess he knew we prepare our resume well :P)
    Yes sir. I like to read and I try my hand at writing sometimes.
  1. So, what did you read today?
    Sir, I read newspapers.
  1. Which newspapers do you read?
    I follow The Hindu mostly and occasionally, I read Business Standard.
  1. (Laughingly) Occasionally means today you might have read BS too. A big occasion right?
    Yes, Sir.
  1. Which page of newspaper do you like the most and why?
    Sir, I like the editorial page as it gives us informed & learned opinion of issues going around us. Also they help in improving articulation of views.
  1. Before coming inside, which editorial did you read??
    Sir I read the one on NGOs.
  1. I was coming at that. Now quickly tell me the gist of the editorial i.e. Hindu’s stand, Government’s stand & your stand on the same.
    Firstly, the newspaper mentioned that NGOs have played a greater role in development of governance via laws like RTI, Street vendors Act etc. So, stern dealing might be unbecoming of a democratic nation like ours.
    Nextly, government has sternly dealt with the issue of non-compliance of laws like FCRA. They feel law of the land should be strictly followed.
    Lastly, I feel that yes, Law of the land should be followed with utmost sincerity but the way government dealt with Greenpeace activist was wrong.
  1. Yeah..what was her name..some Pillai.
    Yes Sir, Priya Pillai.
  1. What did Delhi HC say on the issue?
    Delhi HC rightly intervened and allowed her to travel as per her wish saying that Article 19 of the constitution mentions Right of free speech and expression which necessarily includes the right to criticise and dissent.
  1. Okay (to CP) (CP hand gestures to M2)

M2

  1. You must be aware of recent earthquake in Nepal. Which country do you think is leader in Earthquake resistant buildings?
    Japan, I feel is more advanced in such technologies.
  1. Have you heard of floating houses in Japan?
    Sir I’m not aware of the technicalities but I know the idea. These houses are built on latex like material. The material then expands like the balloon and decouples the effect of earthquake.
  1. Okay, why don’t we have such buildings in India?
    Firstly Japan is an advanced nation and can afford just technology but India is grappled with basic issues of housing for instance, the slums conundrum. Secondly, I feel geographic location too has a major role in here. Japan lies in Ring of Fire region & is more prone to earthquakes than India. So they have advanced technologies there.
  1. You mentioned two reasons. Which one do you think is most appropriate?
    Sir I feel the second point is more correct.
  1. So you should learn to prioritize things.
    Sure Sir, I’ll keep that in mind.
  1. Okay now if I make you DM of Mumbai & ask you to take steps such that individual bungalows too should be earthquake resistant, how would you ensure that?
    Sir presently the BMC just uses the design aspect to pass the project of individual homes. I would innovate & make sure that long with design aspect even technical aspects like earthquake resistance are checked & would devolve the same to local Municipal Corporation.
  1. I was watching discovery yesterday wherein they told me how earthquakes are formed. But I’m inquisitive about Tsunamis. Can you tell me how Tsunamis are formed?
    (I brought my hand above the table & explained him with my hands. Each hand represented a tectonic plate.)
  1. Also do all earthquakes result into Tsunamis?
    No sir. Transform boundary movements of plates (explained using hands) result in earthquakes but not in Tsunamis

(CP interrupts: Abhijit, Is this your first chance?? I clarified whether chance meant attempt at Civil Services exam & then replied in affirmative)

M3

  1. Okay so you are from CIL which is a PSU. These are mainly inefficient. Do you agree??
    Sir, I don’t think we can generalize all PSUs as inefficient.
  1. Okay…How about CIL?? On scale of 1 to 10, how do you rate CIL’s efficiency??
    Sir I’d rate CIL 7 to 7.5 in terms of efficiency.
  1. So you agree that there’s scope for improvement?
    Yes Sir.
  1. Why is CIL not efficient as in why not 10/10?
    Sir, multiple reasons are there. Firstly, people are complacent and since there’s no incentive if one’s efficient. Secondly…
  1. Let’s continue on this point i.e. Human Resources (HR). Let’s say you become IAS and on deputation, you take charge as Chairman of CIL. Now how will you tackle this problem?
    Sir presently there’s no timely evaluation of employees as in once a person is recruited he stays without adequate checks on his efficiency.  I’d create a system wherein employee’s technical skills are tested every five years & if he or she’s underperforming, his case would be flagged and he would be given a warning. If inefficiency is repeated again, I’d make sure such persons are removed from the company.
  1. So you mean to say if found inefficient you would remove him. What about legal hurdles.
    Sir presently legal hurdles are present due to subjective criteria. If we have proven objective criteria that the person is inefficient, we can surely remove him & the case would stand the test of time and law.
  1. Okay…what is constitution??
    Sir, The constitution is the basic law of land and all others laws & policies emanate from Constitution.
  1. Name one country from which we took our constitution?
    Sir Constitution wasn’t borrowed from one single nation but it was influenced from many national constitutions.
  1. What all was borrowed?
    Sir the Parliamentary form of government was borrowed from Britain, Independence of Judiciary and Fundamental rights was taken from the USA, Fundamental duties from USSR.
  1. Many critics say our constitution is rigid. Your views?
    Sir I feel constitution is rigid yet flexible. For instance, the name of Orissa was changed to Odisha by simple majority. Then NJAC bill would require special majority….
  1. (Intervenes) I know all this. You just tell me are the critics right in calling it rigid?
    No Sir, I don’t think they are right.
  1. You mean to say you disagree with the article printed in newspaper?
    Sir since I haven’t gone through the article I might not be able to comment on that. But I disagree with the idea that our constitution is completely rigid.
  1. Earlier you spoke about NJAC. Tell me do you agree with the bill. Don’t explain. Just tell me if you agree.
    Yes sir, I’m in favour of NJAC.
  1. Okay (to CP) (CP hand gestures to M4)

M4

  1. You are working in Madhya Pradesh, which is north India. But whenever North Indians come to Maharashtra, Marathi people get restive. Your views.
    Sir I don’t think we can club entire Marathi community as restive towards North Indians. There are many hidden agendas of very few selected people towards North Indians.
  1. Your personal opinion?
    Since the Constitution specifically mentions Right to move & settle in any part of India is fundamental right of a citizen. I feel such biased opinion must be done away with, in a globalized economy as ours.
  1. Now I’ll ask you one question. You may disagree with the government. We should want your personal views. So answer what you think is right or wrong.
    Sure sir.
  1. There was a recent law that banned beef in Maharashtra. Your views on the same.
    I feel the ban is not justified because firstly, we can’t decide the dietary choices of the people. Beef is the cheapest source of protein to minorities & many lower castes in Maharashtra. Secondly, distress on farmer would increase as now old bulls would be liability while earlier they were sold off. Thirdly, economically too, Beef industry gives employment and FOREX reserves to our nation.
  1. But these people went to court, right?
    Yes sir but the Bombay HC upheld the ban on beef. So the law prevails.
  1. (Laughingly) So Abhijit do you eat beef.
    No sir.
  1. Everyone is imperfect. There’s no human which can be perfect. Even we have a phrase, ‘To err is human…’. What are your two negative qualities? Feel free to answer.
    Sir I have trust issues as I tend to trust people blindly by giving them benefit of doubt. And secondly I’m emotional person.
  1. (Intervenes) Emotional means short-tempered?
    No Sir. Emotional means I tend to bring in emotions like, for instance, by seeing a poor person, I might feel sorry for him and getting emotional at such points might affect my professional working.

CP: Okay your interview is over. Best luck!

Engineering Services (ESE) Personality Test (AIR 90)


My personality test (PT) was scheduled on 8th of January, 2015. I received a mail from UPSC hardly a week ago. Frankly speaking post IES written exam in June, I was occupied with Civil Services Mains preparation plus job snags at CIL thence hardly anytime was left for IES interview preparation.

I landed in Delhi on 6th and there wasn’t any time left for mock interviews either.

Without much ado, fast forwarding to 8th morning. My friend, Tanvin who has been a finest host, dropped me at the much coveted Dholpur house by 8.00 am. And I saw many aspirants waiting with suits and ties and what not. I cursed myself for not wearing a suit. (See this is where mock interviews help, I feel. They teach you what all to wear and interview etiquettes) I kept my cool and reminded that this exam is just my Plan B. Plan A exam mein suit pehenge 😛

The gates opened at around 9.00 am. They verified our IDs and deposited our cell phones. Finally we were allotted a table amongst 7-8 aspirants in an architectural circular waiting hall. They checked our certificates in half an hour. After skimming through a couple of newspapers and chatting with fellow aspirants, I keenly observed the paintings on walls of waiting room, architecture and pillars. For I felt, being a civil engineer, they might ask me such stuff, just to check my  sharpness and presence of mind.

I was praying for David Sir’s or Kilemsungla Mam’s board since they usually award good marks in PT. And then finally, a peon came and informed us, that our table was allocated to Mrs. Alka Sirohi Ma’m. There was a lump in my heart as Alka ma’m usually gives average or below average marks. She is a senior IAS officer from Madhya Pradesh cadre and has plethora of knowledge. On top of that, I was the first one to be interviewed.

The peon escorted me and asked me to sit on the chair, outside Mam’s room. I tried to keep my cool. Being a winter morning, it was freezing cold. I had worn a white shirt and navy blue trousers and styled it with a blue necktie. I adjusted my hair and tried to keep my cool.

Then after a bell confirmation came from Alka Ma’m, Peon asked permission from Ma’m and he opened the door for me. I wasn’t used to someone opening a door for me. I stood at the door and asked, “May I come in Ma’m”. But the room was so big that my voice was inaudible and interviewers were busy seeing my DAF. The peon whispered back in my ears, “Aap chale jaiye andar. Hamne permission le li hain”.

I walked with confidence and finally reached my seat. I wished Mam first and then male members.

(Chairperson was Alka Sirohi Ma’m = C

M1 was Hydrology expert and loved to talk a lot. He was really tough to please.
M2 was RCC and structures expert and gave a comforting look.
M3 was Soil and Foundation expert and he gave smiles and soothing looks
Myself=Abhijit=A)

C: So, Abhijit don’t you feel cold?? You should have worn a sweater or suit. (She looked at M1) Now-a-days, these youngsters prefer fashion over health.

A: Ma’m It’s not about fashion but about comfort. I am not comfortable in sweater or suit since I don’t generally wear them. I prefer woollen inners.

C: Oh..good. But you were raised in Mumbai. It mustn’t be so cold there no??

A: Ma’m, though I was born in Mumbai which generally has moderating effect of Arabian Sea and hence it has moderate temperature unlike extreme temperature in Delhi.  But I have come yesterday only from Singrauli, my job location. It too has extreme…….

C: (Interrupts me) so finally you are comfortable in this room right??

A: Yes Ma’m (with broad smile)

C: So, please take your small and cozy seat Abhijit.

A: Thank you Ma’m.

C: So Abhijit, you work with Coal India Limited. Tell me why is your company so much in news these days.

A: Ma’m there was workers strike going on from 6thof January due to de-nationalization proposal and allowing private sector in Coal Industry. Also ordinance route was taken for the same, which is not so desirable in democratic nation like ours. Fortunately, the strike was called off yesterday at 10.00 pm due to reconciliation between the Chairman and union leaders.

C: It was called off yesterday?? (Perplexed face)

A: Yes, Ma’m.

C: But de-nationalization is better right as privatization would infuse efficiency??

A: Ma’m we can’t generalize that private sector is always more efficient that government sector.

C: (Interrupts me again) Can you cite any example??

A: Yes Ma’m. R&D industry would be a good example. Indian private companies hardly have any indigenous innovation and are mostly-profit oriented unlike the core government sector where 2010-2020 is marked as decade of innovation.

And Ma’m coming back to original question, the main reasons why Coal industry was nationalized in 1970s in the first place was lack of scientific equipments by private players and also violation of human rights of workers. We need to strike a balance between Private and Government in CIL.

C: Okay..okay (Hand gestures to M1)

M1: (Reading DAF) Abhijit, your DAF is filled with interesting things…IISc…Gold Medallist…Politics…NGOs. It looks so filled (Laughs)

(I too grin) You have written here Joy of Giving week?? Is it a NGO??

A: It isn’t a NGO sir. It is a festival celebrated across India every year in the first week of February starting from 2nd October. Various NGOs like Sevankur, Goonj, and Smile foundation are part of this campaign. Here we collect clothes, books and other things from privileged and pass it on to underprivileged.

M1: But then where is joy in this?? It is like donation right??

A: Sir the joy lies in giving. For instance, if you have your favourite t-shirt. What you do is donate that t-shirt to underprivileged kid as the joy to see the deprived wear that t-shirt would be immense. (I wanted to dig in more philosophical stuff..but restrained) Also sir I feel it’s more like sharing than donation.

C: (intervenes) Yes, sharing would be a proper word since we share t-shirt with him physically, mentally and emotionally. (What clarity of expression she had. Bow!)

A: Yes Ma’m.

M1: Okay good. Now tell me, how you read anything GW level of Mumbai, (reads DAF) and Pune?

A: I’ve gone through report by GSDA…..

C (interrupts): What is GSDA?

A: Mam It’s Groundwater Survey and Development Agency.

C: Never use unobvious acronyms & continue with your answer…

A: Sorry Ma’m.  I’ve gone through report by GSDA…oops Groundwater Survey and Development Agency (All laugh) wherein it was mentioned GW levels of Pune & Mumbai have gone down by 1-2 metres this year vis-à-vis last year.

M1: Tell me what is the use of GW levels. Why do we calculate it?

A: Sir it helps us to ascertain GW resources which can be planned for future use.

M1: Tell me some methods to ascertain GW??

A:  Sir Electric resistivity method, Sonic water method, Peizometric method.

M1: Okay (Draws soil layers on A4 sheet & asks me results via Resistivity method)

A: Answered with help from Alka Sirohi Ma’m 😛

C: Okay..(hand gestures to M2)

M2: How would you do rehabilitation of dilapidated RCC structures??

A: (Looking point blank…such vague question)  Sir I’d first ascertain the strength of such building.

M2 (inquisitively): How do you calculate strength? Can you use laboratory tests?

A: No sir laboratory tests can we used since we’d have no samples. Having said that, we can use Schmidt hammer test, Ultrasonic pulse velocity test etc.

M2: Okay tell me how will you use UPV test?

A: Sir after passing a pulse via structure, we can calculate the time taken by pulse & since distance is known, we get its velocity & then via velocity we can ascertain its density & hence the strength. (I was a bit wrong here. We can find density from velocity. Directly velocity can be used to gauge range of strength)

M2: Density?? What’s is density??

A: (Innocently) Sir its mass upon volume. Higher density object will have higher strength.

C: Okay..okay (Hand gestures to M3)

M3: Abhijit, I will ask you two questions only. (Smiled) Tell me the difference between active & passive pressure

A: When the wall moves away from the backfill, there is a decrease in the pressure on the wall and this decrease continues till its value will become constant. This is called as active earth pressure. And passive pressure means…

M3: Okay now since you know active pressure, I assume you must be conversant with passive pressure too. Tell me two practical examples of active pressure & passive pressure which you have seen

A: Sir since I work with Coal mining company, I have seen retaining gabion wall…..

M3 (intervenes): Okay some more examples.

A: (While attempting to think I look onto the wall opposite to C)

C: (She was observing me very keenly & inquisitively): Abhijit, what did you just see ?

A: (shocked) Mam I was looking at the picture of our honourable President.

C: Okay..who was 1st President of India?

A: Ma’m Dr. Rajendra Prasad

C: Who was the only President from Maharashtra?

A: Mrs. Pratibha Patil (Both were cake-walkish questions)

C: In the history of India, only two Presidents have demised while in office. Can you name them? (Aisa laga kyun maine President ji ki tasveer dekhi :P)

A: Ma’m, Zakir Hussain and….

C: Good (She seemed somewhat happy)And Fakruddin Ahmed Ali was second one. Okay something interesting happened during his tenure. What was it?

A: Ma’m Emergency…

C: (Intervenes) Okay. (Gives me A4 sheet) Solve this for me.

A: (It had 4 small puzzles of maths. I solved 3 without hints & 1 with Ma’ms hint)

C: Okay Abhijit, your interview is over.

Experience: I was sceptic about Alka Ma’m as her board is usually stingy when it comes to awarding marks in Personality test. But I was fortunate enough to get highest marks amongst Civil Engineers & 2nd highest marks (152/200) in ESE 2014 Personality test, which gave a relatively better rank AIR 90 🙂

Gyan-baazi: I feel Personality test isn’t about answering questions. Not knowing factual/advanced questions might not add negatives. Whatever you say, say it with conviction, with confidence. Also maintain eye contact & keep a smiley face. It helps 🙂

Is our education system delivering?


François Resoles, an eight year old kid cries, waiting for the school bus with his mother. Behind the chirping of his classmates, his mother tries to lure him by giving chocolates asking reason for his indifference towards school. He replies naively, “They teach me how to fly kite, how to swim….but they never teach me why kite flies or why we swim. I want to be an explorer mother. I want to learn why of things.” The bus arrives at the bus stop. His mother persuades him to go to school first. He enters the bus with moist yet shining eyes. The shine of those eyes geometrically decline with time.
After few years, the explorer inside Francois dies. His mother is happy though as he doesn’t cry while going to school.

The story of François Resoles raises the very basic question: Is our education system delivering??

The ultimate goal of education is definitely not earning money for sustenance of human life but holistic growth of human mind along with the positive externalities on the society. Education teaches us to apply the mind and come up with rational and humanitarian inferences which can then be put to make this earth a better place to live-in. The rationality is education should provoke us to contemplate and take decisions considering this whole universe a sustainable eco-system. Education is something more than schooling; it is something more than rote-learning. It should craft an explorer inside us just like François Resoles desired.

“I have never let my schooling affect my education” – Mark Twain
Obviously not everyone as a kid would be as mature as Twain. The onus directly rests on the guardians and the democratically elected government to shape the nascent and mouldable minds by showing the pristine path lighted by innovation, morality, truth and more importantly the constitutional principles of liberty, equality and fraternity enshrined by our fore-fathers.

Mahatma Jyotiba Phule and his wife Savitribai Phule realised the importance of education quite early when the nation was crippling economically as well as socially under the British Raj. Even an illiterate yet visionary woman like Savitribai Phule realised the importance of education. She proposed, an educated woman educates the whole family but an educated man generally walls his knowledge due to societal obligations and stressed on women education and hence empowerment. Right from William Bentick’s Education Act, 1835 to Right to Education, 2009, the education in our country has witnessed several paradigm shifts at conflation points mainly due to change in winds of global education and innovative policy making of government. Rajiv Gandhi’s IT revolution attuned India to Global educational world and the GDP of $1.9 trillion majorly rests on services sector today. What is essentially required throughout the history till this present day is immense will, efficacy of efforts, prudent policy making and thoughtful implementation taking into account the crude realities of India. The chronicles of events in the history have reiterated the lack of effective implantation sans innovation as major setback.

The deliverable or efficacy as discussed needs to be checked at various leak points. The much awaited ASER report unequivocally points at the positive aspects of increased spending on education like increase in enrolment, improvised library facilities & appreciation in teacher-pupil ratio. Also the report displays the bitter truths: Less than 50% of 5th standard students are unable to operate 2nd standard maths calculations and write & read with fluency. Apart from improvising the formal education, pragmatic education like financial literacy, social dealings and more importantly gender sensitization should be imbibed in naïve minds of children. For instance, our esteemed PM, Dr. Manmohan Singh stressed on the need of financial literacy for the ‘resilient elephant’ to continue its growth story. Financial literacy spurts in making future-citizens aware of the possible investments options, how-these-investments-work and thus make them finance-friendly. We must ‘catch-them-young’.

The amount of money invested in education is ostensibly not linearly proportional to outcomes as evident from the domestic milieu. The Economic Survey 2013 figures at less than 3% GDP spending on education, one of the most important social infrastructure which paves way for overall development of an individual. The socialist policies need to be efficiently implemented and the loopholes at various administrative execution points should be plugged. As the Keynesian economists point out, spending is not the sufficient condition but necessary condition for translating into social growth via means of health, social security measures and importantly health. Kothari commission report advises 6 % GDP spending on education, the rippling nature of which will bring in quality R&D programmes adding innovation in turn improvising the quality of lives of commoners. J.R.D Tata’s dream was to see a happy India first irrespective of being economic power; Education is that key to the ‘happiness conundrum’!!

The world famous ‘Fraunhoffer model’ of education propounded by the Germans to build the practical disconnects between the industries & education institutes are being mooted by the Indian government. The Apprenticeship Act purportedly fails to connect the apprenticeships with the institutes fearing intertwined laws & regulations. The exposure of a practical world asks for innovation and opens the world of exploring. Education built in with collaborated efforts of Public and private sector along with active role of industries and business houses will prove to potential gem in the present days of Macaulism.

The world class universities tag is not yet associated with Indian education institutes which have one of the toughest entrance examinations, incubating the brightest of Indian minds. The intelligent minds after entering the universities either stagnate due to too theoretical syllabi or bask in their glorious achievements. Firstly, more practical oriented teaching is the need of an hour. An IITian who went for masters in MIT was asked to sum up the difference between teaching methodologies of two elite institutions. He replied, “In India, they made me solve numerous problems on Stress-Strain relationship. But in MIT, they made me feel ‘concept of stress, strain’. I was able to comprehend things better.” Secondly, we need to sensitize the bright minds about the social predicaments India is facing today. The solution should come from within. The intelligentsia shouldn’t shirk their responsibilities lest it would be harmful for nation-building. Finally, adequate freedom must be provided in curriculum to learn various subjects of one’s choice. Most of the graduates from premier institutes like IITs, NITs etc. turn away from core field. We need to incubate this class.

Education should transcend all the porous boundaries of cast, religion, region and nation. An integrated and co-ordinated education would make dream of ‘Vasudaiv Kutumbam’ true. Terrorism, Violence, Regionalism and Communalism are nothing but offshoots of unbalanced development. The linkages could be stopped by empowering people with knowledge, by educating them. Victor Hugo once said, ‘By opening a school you close down a prison’; this adequately underscores the relation between education, knowledge and radicalisation, fundamentalism and more importantly, criminalization. Youth should be proactively engaged in constructive activities oriwise the bigot world would instil negative anti-social elements in the naïve minds. Parochial social thoughts like sex-discrimination, dowry, casteism etc. are liberated through a candle of knowledge.

The education system which isn’t delivering is worse than an education system which is trying to deliver the aspirations of children and hopes of mothers, yet failing. We have to plug in the loopholes, make the system accountable and transparent. An efficient education system is the one which caters to the needs of all the elements of the society considering economical frugality, social responsibility and quality of education. This gradual process has begun and it is time to give the nitrous boost.

In my dream meanwhile comes François Resoles a thirteen year old now. While he cycles down to his school these days, the energy used for pedalling cycle is paralleled with grinding grains which is attached in closed conduit in his back seat. He waves off goodbye to his mother. Her moist eyes made her feel all the more proud as her son gave a speech on ‘Unlearning & Learning’, youngest to do so in United Nations Assembly.

‘Education is not the filling of a pale,
But rather a fire that grows beyond control,
With flames that burn and reach high,
And contribute the pieces of your whole.’

THE LATE START


 

As the winds of change strike the World with ensuing North Korea’s aggressiveness, China’s velvet glove mesmerisation, Europe’s ever-continuing fiscal crisis, Africa’s impoverishment, India’s economic blues and finally strains in geographically and strategically most sound peninsula, the South Asia; I’m left to complete the already painted pictures. The idea is not to fix the jig-saw puzzle but to unlearn first and then try and make some sense while stroking the fine brush.

Earlier I used to write reflective things, but then crude reality struck me so hard one day that I was forced to wake up from my small world and look around. The milieu was corrupt yet honest, dark yet hopeful. This optimism asked me to take a step ahead. And this blog is one such effort to channelize the optimism and beat the black.

As Napoleon rightly pointed out once “The world suffers a lot. Not because of the violence of bad people, but because of the silence of good people!”

I intend to pen down my thoughts, ideas and innovations with the sole aim of trying out those pragmatic themes.  My domain of talk would revolve around Governance, Economics, Politics, Philosophy, Foreign Policy, Geo-strategy and History.

This is my second innings…

All good things…..should end,no they MUST end!!


My dear blogger friends,
I was thinking about this since last couple of days and I have made up my mind.

I’ve been blogging for like four months and already blessed with ‘round 100 friends. All good things should end and if they don’t end…they turn bad and ugly. Same goes with my populace writing.

Within few hours I’ll reach ‘City of dreams’ after completing my graduation. And I’m feeling all nostalgic and I’m unable to embed this feeling into my mind, my heart.

I’ve decided to write for myself and I won’t publish it on my blog. I’ll click photographs but only for my atonement. Unfortunately I won’t be able to get email notifications from all your blogs.
I’m still unsure about how long will I stay away from reality but the fact is I need time for introspection, self-contemplation.

I have decided this as I’ll be writing something different from what I usually scribble. I’ll write about what I’m going through, unpointed thoughts and superfluous expressions.

Sherlock Holmes rightly pointed out, “Love is a dangerous disadvantage”. Be it love for writing, love for someone, and love for arts as a whole.

And plus I still have to figure out whereabouts about my career then I’m emotionally unstable too which will reflect on my thoughts and hence writing.  Changing lifestyle…lost friends, end of irresponsibleness. So it’s better to take a pause here.

Maybe it’ll be just a week before I join you back…maybe months or maybe years or maybe I’ll never come back.

Bye….and yes, I’m sorry. Hate it, but can’t help it. Take care.

And I’m uploading one of my photographs which I bask like anything, it soothes me.

My house, My world.

Colour me, still colour me..


Designed face and Natural face of a prostitute stood across divided by a mirror.

‘Oi…go away, your very presence admonishes the clients. Why don’t you eternally vaporize from my life? ’ cried the former.

Her natural eyes then centered a rough out-dated patch on the wall which was fading day by day even after glossing, as if trying to say something.

Even ‘she’ is someone’s daughter !!


“This time I need an unflowered one…yes, yes any amount”,his satyriasis spoke gagging the person at other end.

After few hours when he was ’bout to turn the nob of Room no. A-435, Hotel Ashoka ; he saw his own daughter nervously waiting inside, through the flying curtains.

Stunned. Bedazed. He deleted the contact named ‘dealer‘ from his cell permanently. Shattered.