Disappointed about CAT's order of 18th Dec. They must have decided on the petition for vacation of stay order instead of dragging their feet. In fact, they must have given the final order long time ago in a cse impinging on future of 1000s of candidates. . The uncertainty about CGL 13 is directly attributable to CAT. If there is another OA filed on CGL 13 next week are they going to postpone the hearing to another date? If after next date of hearing CAT decides on further postponement of hearing and another OA is filed after that what happens? Thousands of educated youth are losing their faith in the judicial system due to these cases which does not augur well for the country. if there is a decision it can be accepted or challenged. But if there is no decision? i am so disappointed that I am not going to post on SSC examinations for a fortnight. Someone has posted that SSC advocate wanted postponement of hearing. Is it true? If so, is this the outcome of meeting the MoS, DoPT who also happens to be MoS in PMO? Sorry, guys. I can only sympathesize with you and do no more.
I will try to get some authentic info about Tier II of CGL 13 tomorrow, though as ex Chairman i should not be doing so. I suggest you keep preparing as if the exam is on this Sunday. No preparation for any exam ever goes waste even if the exam is postponed.
Best of luck to all candidates who are appearing for CGL Tier II today and tomorrow. Give it your best shot!
Our best wishes for a Happy, Bright, Prosperous, Successful and Joyful 2014.
I have been receiving large number of queries on FB and twitter regarding CGLE 2013. Unfortunately I do not have any reliable information. I would have personally liked the SSC to publish the answer keys and await 28th Nov. If CAT does not decide the case on 28th SSC should move the CAT for permission to declare the results of Tier II with the assurance that the final results will not be declared before the decision of CAT or with out its permission. It appears that SSC has decided to wait ofr 28th Nov on the premise that placement of answer keys on the website may tantamount to preparation of the results of Tier II. The candidates should respect the action of SSC and wait till 28th. There is no point in being panicky. Even if SSC proceeds after 28th there will be ample time to finish DEST/CPT and the interview and bring out the final result by 31st March. It is unfortunate that CAT is delaying decision on such an important case which will affect the future of large number of candidates. But courts often have their own logic.
FRAUDS IN ACADEMIC AND COMPETITIVE EXAMINATIONS Common frauds in examinations have been traditionally of three types: 1. Impersonation 2. Leak of question papers. 3. Favouring specific candidates either through selective leak of question papers or through the invigilators in the examination halls or by allowing them to copy from others in the examination hall. Impersonation continues to happen in Delhi and a few centres in UP, Bihar and West Bengal and is common in descriptive papers. With the advent of objective type tests impersonation has come down. The impersonator runs the risk of arrest and prosecution. Yet, the money which changes hands is paltry. Students of Delhi University and JNU are among those arrested for impersonation in the various examinations in the past. A youngster had once sent me his experience of taking Rs 10000 to impersonate a candidate in an examination and how he was blackmailed by the agents into indulging in impersonation in several other examinations without any payment with the threat that he would be exposed if he refused. His case may not be the only one of this type. With the admission certificates bearing the photos of the candidates and photo ids being insisted upon by the examination agencies, the risk of getting caught in the examination hall has increased manifold. With handwriting samples being taken in the examination halls and compared with the candidates’ handwriting, and LTI being taken in several records the risk is even more. Yet, the lure of petty cash is difficult to resist. Unfortunately, the police is not serious about following up after arrest of the impersonator and cases of successful prosecution may be rare. SSC introduced the system of 2 invigilators for 24 candidates initially to detect malpractice of this nature. The money paid to the impersonator being low, the invigilators cannot be drafted as co-conspirators. By and large, impersonation leads to vitiating the examination system for benefit to individual candidates and is not an organized attempt to do so. Leak of the Question papers on large scale has become a rare phenomenon as printing of Question papers is now done by all examination conducting agencies ensuring total secrecy. Not many people in the agency know where they are printed. The printers have put in place very tight systems of access control, CCTVs etc and as codes are used without disclosing the name of the examination conducting agency no one in the press knows the agency for which question papers are printed. With use of container trucks possibility of pilferage en route has been totally eliminated. There are not many instances of extensive leak of question papers in the academic and competitive examinations in the last five years. Allowing mass copying or selective copying in the examination halls happens extensively in a few Hindi speaking states. There have been stray reports of the Supervisors of examination halls being involved in such frauds. Some supervisors do not go to the venue at all on the day of the examination and let their assistants run the show. Such venues, it can safely be concluded, allow copying. But, the innovation of having multiple question papers and the technological feasibility of having countless sets of the question papers makes such copying difficult in objective type tests. Again, copying can help only if at least a few candidates are intelligent and knowledgeable which may not be the case. In competitive examinations, there is no motivation available to such good candidates to share their answers with others. Post examination analysis brought out a few interesting cases. In one case, the younger sister of a candidate in Kerala had appeared for an examination only to help her elder brother. In Kolkata, a set of three candidates, brother, sister and the sister’s friend had appeared for the examination in the same hall for helping the brother. A husband-wife couple was caught in a venue in Kolkata when the husband, a Central Excise Inspector’ was handing over his answer sheet to his wife. Unfortunately the Commissionerate of Central Excise concerned did not take any action against him despite formal proposal to this effect. An email received by me helped in unearthing the case of four brothers in a centre in UP appearing for the examination from the same examination venue, three of them from the same hall. I was totally convinced that the roll number and ticket number system was manipulated with insider help in a regional office. I had directed that the candidates be allotted to various venues and only one of them had finally appeared and did not qualify. Another famous instance of several top ranking candidates of an examination taking the examination from a single hall in an Amritsar venue is well known. Till now, the culprits have not been brought to book. With the advent of blue-tooth technology and easy availability of such equipment at a low cost in India, organized gangs have now come up in different parts of the country. Cases have been detected from Guwahati to Jaipur and Jammu to Cochin. Sometimes the gangs travel from their ‘Headquarters’ to far off centres. Whether the examination is held online or offline is not material for such gangs, which normally has 2-3 organizers/coordinators, at least one of them powerful enough- often a police official- to influence the local law enforcers so that they can escape from arrest, a few government officials who are deemed to be intelligent as they have come out successful in tough competitive examinations, a few college/school teachers etc. They use sophisticated equipments to obtain copies of question papers with different set numbers from the examination hall through implanted or genuine candidates or through unscrupulous supervisors/invigilators. The tight systems followed by examination agencies prevents any leak on large scale on the day of the examination but if either with or without the connivance of the supervisor or invigilators the copies of the question papers are transmitted through blue tooth enabled equipments it cannot be called a leak as such. It can be described at best as selective leak to benefit a limited number of candidates where several lakhs of rupees per candidate changes hands. Such gangs are powerful because of their financial strength and they can get sincere officers in the law enforcement agencies transferred overnight, and engage legal advisers who charge hefty amounts and stifle investigation if caught. I am not privy to information about what happened in the CGL 2013 Tier I when there were reports of leak of the question paper. Some reports also talk about leak on the day before the examination and not the day of the examination. If the leak had happened the day before the examination and if Delhi Police shares the information at its disposal with it, SSC will have no other alternative but to hold a re-examination. But if there had been selective leak using blue tooth equipment or by manipulating a Supervisor or invigilator on the day of the examination, there will be no case for cancellation of the examination. This view is expressed by me with due apology to the Hon’ble CAT, New Delhi in view of it implications for thousands of candidates who had toiled hard for several months preparing for Tiers I & II. But, how can use of technology for vitiating an examination be prevented? The different options are: 1. Having Tier I as objective and Tier II as descriptive, though it will be deemed a retrograde step. A variant can be Tier I being only qualifying and not counting in the final selection. 2. Introduction of online examination for papers in Tier II, with Tier I not counting for for final selection. But, as someone brought to my notice a few days before, such gangs are active in online examinations too because of the high stakes involved. 3. Continuing with present format but having tighter supervision over the examination with active involvement of the police who now hold press conferences claiming busting of gangs but do precious little to provide effective security at the venues. Use of jammers is an option though I will not be surprised if there is PLI against it in the High Courts claiming that their use will lead to inconvenience to the general public of the area ,which may be a valid argument as within a certain radius cell phones cannot be used when the jammers are active. The entire examination system hinges on principals and invigilators of the educational institutions who are traditionally, in India, revered and worshipped even ahead of God. If they fail in their duties in conducting the examinations properly or become victims of greed no measures will be helpful. Principal of a school in Delhi once asked me to exit the school premises on an examination day as I questioned his non-adherence to the guidelines of the examination and another could not explain why 48 candidates were taken out and accommodated in distant halls (possibly because of the limited range of the blue tooth equipments in nearby halls and he wanted to help a Delhi Police constable who was disqualified in first stage of the examination after post examination analysis but obtained an order from a court allowing him to appear for the second stage) without any logical reason. Of course, the examinations concerned were cancelled in the two institutions (in the re-examination the police constable was found to be absent despite having spent a large amount on legal expenditure to obtain the interim order) and the regional Office flouted written directions not to use these institutions as examination venues in future, leading to cancellation of yet anotherexamination in the second venue. God help the nation if academicians and law enforcers fail in their assigned noble duties and even worse manipulate the system for personal gains. There is no alternative but to have post examination analysis employing sound statistical tools to detect possible cases of fraud using technology. IBPS and SSC do so. However, there is a possibility of aberrations in the post examination analysis results which will need to be looked at and remedied swiftly, if the candidates concerned represent. But if examinations are cancelled en mass because of selective transmission of question papers during the conduct of the examination for pecuniary benefit, no examination will ever see its logical conclusion. It is just like cancelling an examination because of arrest of a handful impersonators. We have a saying in Tamil- do not burn the house simply because it is infested with bed bugs!
MY CHILDHOOD DAYS- PART I Govind’s successful attempt in entering the IAS against heavy odds, with the support of his father, kindled nostalgia. There have been similar instances in the past and present and will continue to be so in future too. I am sharing a part of my personal life with the hope that it will motivate similarly placed youth of today to strive to reach the levels which Govind and countless others have been able to reach despite economic and other hardships. My father, my hero in my childhood and forever, was the third son of his parents who unfortunately carried the social stigma of inter- caste marriage of my great grandparents, which was unheard of and not tolerated in the 19th century. My grandfather, who was from a village called Singiri Koil, in Cuddalore District of Tamilnadu, in an attempt to flee from social stigma and isolation, left for Africa and never returned. His name was Srinivasan Kannan. Till date we do not know the country of his destination or whether he married again and left a family. Perhaps this post will help in locating hisrfamily in Africa, if any. My father and his three brothers were left to fend for themselves though they were no more than kids when their father left. The eldest of them came to Chennai and settled down in Pudupet. Though I had never seen him, his children, my cousins, are close to our family. The youngest of the brothers followed him to Chennai after a few years and initially lived a life of hard toil and penury and after he set up a milk and lussi shop in Pudupet led a relatively comfortable life till he passed away a few years ago at the age of 83 or so. The second and third brothers had to find jobs to earn a living at a tender age and joined Raju Vilas, a small hotel in Valavanur, Villupuram District, Tamilnadu. The hotel had a benevolent owner who became their foster brother and whom they highly regarded and respected till he passed away. He and his family were their family too as far as they were concerned, grateful as they were to him for providing shelter, food and livelihood. They worked as cook cum bearers in the village hotel. I have already posted about my uncle Tyagi Duraisami Pillai who became a freedom fighter and much later, after independence tried his hand in setting up a restaurant in the village, cooking being the only skill he had time to acquire. Because of his magnanimity the venture was doomed to fail and after the restaurant closed in the early 1960s, he lived only on the freedom fighter’s pension and occasional cooking assignments in weddings etc which he would take up only if the families organizing weddings were close to him. He was a proud man and lived life on his terms. After his wife passed away, we lost touch with his children, two of whom have settled down in Thiruvannamalai, a district town and famous for its Ramana Ashram and Arunachaleshwar Temple. My father tried his hand in acting in theatre as a child artiste and joined a famous drama troupe for some time. Those were the days when women were not allowed to be in the entertainment business. My father would don the role of girls in theatre because of his long hair and melodious voice. He started smoking beedies at an early age itself perhaps out of frustration of becoming an orphan very early in his life. This habit dogged him all through his life, ultimately led to throat cancer and his death in 1982, at the age of 65. He did not heed to the repeated warnings of the owner of the drama troupe to stop smoking and this led to his leaving the troupe. He went back to the hotel where his elder brother continued to work. In our childhood, when he was in a good mood, it was our favourite pastime to make him reminisce about his days in the drama troupe and sing his favourite songs. Whenever he would sing a song which went something like, ‘if only we had parents, we would not have been subjected to all this ignominy’ (thanthai thai irundal tharaniyil enakkoru thazhvelom varumoyya), tears would well in our eyes. In all family gatherings he would always accede to our plea to sing our favourite songs of his short theatre days. His narration about his youth, his dare-devilry and knowledge of martial arts, especially ‘silambam’ (the art of stick wielding), kept us spell bound and I have always wished that I could be as brave and fair-minded as him. The narration about his hoisting the Congress flag, then the symbol of nationalism, on the police station during the Quit India Movement, was my favourite. Along with a few of his friends who were equally fearless, he was dreaded and respected in the village. Though he was only just about literate, he was wise and taught me basic English and Hindi in my childhood. He was vociferous about the need for a national language and was much sought after for resolution of family disputes in Valavanur and other villages around it because of his impartiality, knowledge of law and fair-mindedness. Inevitably, when my uncle and my father started growing up, there was friction in with the owner of the hotel under whose shelter they grew up. They left the hotel. My father vowed then that he would never cook again and he never did. He set up a cycle shop for hiring out and repairing cycles and the shop continued to exist till 1969 or so. He picked up the basics of mechanical engineering and fabricated cycles of different sizes, for 3 to 15 year olds, his shop being the only place where children could get them on hire. His cycles were fast and he fabricated foot brakes to control them. His other novel ideas were coconut grater using rotary movement and ‘jockeys’ for removing steel tubes from deep tube wells. He was a multi-faceted personality. He could cure sprains in no time at all through gentle massaging. He would enthral us with how he cured a District Collector, a white, of sprains when he was little boy using his feet rather than his hands! People would line up before our house early in the morning sometimes before day break for instant cures offered by him. He never accepted money for the treatment , but would offer tea at his own expenditure to the visitors. I had seen him curing someone who suffered multiple fractures due to a fall from a tree, using only a few exercises and no bandage at all, over a period of a month. It was a joy to see people coming in with agony on their face and pain in their limbs returning from our house completely pain-free and, of course, fortified by a free cup of tea! He knew the medicinal uses of herbs and common plants and used them to good effect to offer relief to countless persons. Jaundice and insect bites were among those successfully treated by him. A few treatments were also learnt by me and in his absence I was authorised by him to treat cases of insect-bites. He claimed that he had cure for snake bites though I had never actually seen him treating someone bitten by a poisonous snake. In 1945 he met my mother, who had studied up to Class VIII which was a rarity those days, in her house while on a visit for participating in a chit fund auction and proposed marriage to her parents. Though her father, who was an ‘Attender’ in the Taluk office (a coveted government post those days, the same as MTS posts now!) did not like the idea, partly because my father did not belong to his community and partly because my father had studied up to Class III only and was a ruffian in his view, his wife, my maternal grand mother, prevailed over him and they married in 1946 ahead of his elder brother who had owed that he would marry only after the country attained independence and did so after 1947. Because of the ease with which he handled machines, my father acquired a’Bore Set”, a set of equipment necessary for sinking shallow and deep tube wells (up to normally 100 feet or so) and hired them out to agriculturists and household in dire need of water. The bore wells created by him in and around my village up to a radius of about 50 kms and near Trichy earned him the name of “Bore Set” Kannan, Kannan being his name. Recently I met a senior scientist of DRDO who is from our village and was curious to know whether my father and ‘Bore Set’ Kannan were one and the same. It was nice to know that people still remember the path breaking work done by him for three decades in tapping ground water potential in the area. He would use simple techniques, which I later learnt had scientific basis, for selecting sites for sinking bore wells. Water diviners use them even today in different parts of the country. During the peak of his business, my father had over 20 cycles , three ‘bore sets’ with teams of personnel and two ‘jockeys’. The only problem was that my parents never believed in investing in properties when they had surplus funds. The ‘bore- set’ business being seasonal, they had to save money for meeting the family expenditure during the lean months, mostly during monsoon and till Pongal which signified the commencement of the harvesting season. But the major problem was that they had too many mouths to feed and too many children to educate- they had nine children, six sons and three daughters. They did not have any favourite child and all were equal to them. But the fact remained that after a comfortable childhood bordering on prosperity, I used to dread the monsoon season because of the misery it brought to the family. The cycle shop went out of fashion as well known cycle manufacturers started bringing out versions meant for children and the locally fabricated cycles did not catch the children’s fancy any more. Yet, the cycle shop provided income which contributed marginally in other seasons but was the only income for the family during monsoon and up to completion of harvesting. We had no cultivable land and my father had a small piece of dry land about 4 kms from our house which was never cultivated and a small plot of homestead land. We lived in a rented house which had no electricity though almost all other houses in the street were electrified, as the landlord, belonging to a higher caste and envious of academic achievements of children in our family, refused to provide any additional facility or repair the house and was more intent in evicting us and making us homeless. Monsoons with family income dwindling to almost nothing were dreaded. For days we would go hungry without our neighbours, who included my maternal grandmother too, having no inkling about it at all. We were a proud family who shared good news with others but kept our misery to ourselves. This is typical in Indian villages- happiness is for sharing with others and rejoicing but misfortune and misery are our own to endure. I remember an occasion when we went without a morsel of food for two days at a stretch. Someone offered two rupees for completing a skill game within two minutes. I completed it within a minute, took the money, bought 32 idlis and took it home for sharing with the family. As the children grew up, the expenditure on education increased in geometric proportions. I appeared for a merit examination in 1961 while doing Class VI and was the only successful student in the school to bag the merit scholarship, an amount of Rs Four per month. Though education was made free in Tamilnadu by the great Kamaraj, then the CM, the scholarship came with a rider that I should pay a monthly fee of Rs 2.75. The scholarship would come in a lump, Rs 48) during the summer holidays and my father had to find the money to pay the monthly fees till then. Monsoon meant inevitable delay in paying the fee and for weeks I would not be allowed to sit in the class room because of defaulting in payment of fee but the kind teachers would allow me to listen to the teachings standing outside the class room often in harsh sunlight or fully drenched when it rained. When i was offered an increase in the merit scholarship of Rs 8 per month from Class IX onwards, i gave in writing to the Head Master, without even informing my parents that I was not interested, as otherwise I had to find Rs 5.50 per month for paying the monthly fees! Free education was better than standing outside the class rooms for days together every month. New books in this environment could only be dreamt of. Fortunately, yhe son of my father’s friend, Mr Vaithilingam, was one year senior to me in school and he would hand over the old books after the results were published every year. This continued up to Class XI, the then S,S.L.C. Mr Vaithilingam joined politics and was the Chairman of our Town Panchayat for several years and continues to be known for his politeness, kindness and magnanimity. I started learning Hindi, initially on my own and later through private tuition. Finding the money to pay the teacher for the tuition was another monthly ordeal. This continued up to 1966 when I passed Rashtra Bhasha Visharad examination( fifth in the series) conducted by the Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha. One had to manage with only two sets of school uniform with virtually no other dress to wear at home. If one of the uniforms was damaged or torn, one had to manage with only one set, washing it once a month and virtually going shirtless till it dried. Chappals were unheard of and the only footwear I had worn were the NCC and ACC(Auxiliary Cadet Corps) till I joined Pre University in a college in Vellore. After passing Rashtra Bhasha Visharad, Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha held a convocation in Chennai and I was the only ‘graduate’ in half trousers and without footwear. The Khadi shawl given to me on the occasion was a proud possession of my father for several years and he regularly used it during the winter. But, childhood was enjoyable and games after school hours kept us busy. Walking barefooted for about 3 kms during lunch time to home every day for lunch was a routine we thoroughly enjoyed. A small group of about 10 of us, in the same age group, played and studied together and also slept over in an elementary house opposite our house during the examination season once I entered class IX. The watchman of the school had taken a liking to us and had obtained special permission from the Head Master for our group to use the school premises during the examination season. Kerosene fuelled lanterns provided light in our house and also in the school for our study. I do not remember any school examination from Class 1 to 11 where I had not stood first in the class. The credit for this went to my father who taught me Elementary Mathematics and Tamil in my early years. He was demanding when it came to performance, often punishing me for each mark I lost in any paper, especially Mathematics. If I fell short of 100% in any paper, it was difficult to explain to him. He taught me that I had to compete with only myself and not anyone else. Even during my college days he would not accept any position other than first mark in any paper. If I secured 90% in any paper, his first reaction would be to seek information on the first mark. He also taught me that if I undertook a responsibility I should perform it with perfection; otherwise I should not perform it at all. There was a Brahmin friend of my father, Mr Ranganathan, who was a school teacher. When entry of non Brahmins into the ‘agraharam’, the part of the village reserved for Brahmins, was frowned upon he not only taught me without any tuition fee but would also allow me and a few others, who were also tutored by him, to sleep in his house during the examination month till we completed 8th standard, wake us up at 4 am everyday and clear our doubts. He was so broad minded that he would visit our house on Diwali days and without any hesitation accept sweets offered by our mother. He dared to be different though very traditional in his approach to religion and treated everyone as an equal human being. If only people of his kind are in large numbers in India, there will be no issues arising out of caste, community or religion. A fantastic thing about village life is that if one does well in his studies most people derive pleasure out of it as if their own children show such accomplishment. Even the barber while giving me a hair cut would try to test my intelligence through questions rather difficult to solve and advise on the need for consistent hard work. I owe my good academic record to a large number of such fellow villagers whose words of encouragement and advice have stood me in good stead all through my life. After my elder brother joined the Commercial Tax department, Tamilnadu in 1964 at the tender age of 16 and started contributing to the family things improved. We were by no means prosperous after that but his contribution ensured that monsoon did not play a significant role in our life any longer. Those days, the service rendered till completion of 18 years of age was counted as ‘boy service’ during which one did not earn any increment; nor did such service count for retirement benefits. My elder brother who was a good student, perhaps more intelligent than I was, nursed a grouse for a few years that my parents did not allow him to study beyond SSLC. My father had assured me that if I secured first rank in SSLC in our village High School he would somehow finance my college education. I stood first in the school in SSLC in 1967 and my father sold our only plot of homestead land to fulfil his promise. I joined Pre University Course in Voorhees College, Vellore in June 1967 and was filled with joy when for the first time in my life I had two pairs of full pants and a few decent shirts to wear to the college. The choice of the college was partly due to my maternal aunt’s house being located in Vellore and partly because of its reputation for academic excellence. Though my father desired that I should stay in the college hostel, I insisted on staying with my aunt’s family. My father reluctantly agreed but laid down a condition that he would pay Rs 70 per month to my aunt towards my expenses. That was the beginning of my college education. PS: I will post other parts only if I feel that it is serving a purpose!
Do not waste your time in making guesses at cut offs for various posts. Such cut offs are not pre-determined but are finalized on the day of the result based on the ratio of posts to selected candidates for interview/ skill tests for interview and non interview posts respectively.
FACEBOOK MARRIAGE! It Is not known how many friendships in Facebook have resulted in meaningful relationships and finally in marriage. Here is a recent incident which I am sharing for the benefit of everyone. A Marathi girl and a Tamil boy were classmates in Class 9 of a school in Delhi a few years ago. The boy left for Chennai on his father’s retirement, completed engineering from a Chennai Institution and is employed in a reputed software firm for the past one year. The girl graduated from a college in Delhi and was working in a call centre till early this week. They re-established contact through Facebook two years ago and became friends which developed into love. The girl had also visited the boy’s family in Chennai some time ago. The girl’s parents tried to arrange her marriage recently and she resisted. It is reported that she was threatened and physically assaulted by her family last week. She lodged a complaint with the police and her parents were counselled by the police not to intimidate or physically harm her. This incident helped me to realize that in Delhi Police, despite all adverse criticism, there are numerous officers who are humane, considerate, duty-minded and efficient. My regard for Delhi Police went up by several notches when I came to know that the Inspector concerned took very prompt action despite the girl’s father working in a law enforcement agency. The girl did not want to stay with her parents any more and asked the boy to visit Delhi and take her to Chennai immediately. It was at that stage that I came to know of the happenings of the past ten days. The boy’s father retired in the grade of Joint Secretary from Ministry of Finance and a close friend for the past 41 years. I had advised him to arrange for air ticket for the girl to travel to Chennai. Rightly, the girl did not accept the advice and wanted to leave her house with the boy honourably. I had a telephonic discussion with the girl’s father and pleaded with him to agree to the marriage and also assured him that all expenses will be taken care of by the boy’s family. He was extremely unreasonable, stubborn and disrespectful. Therefore, I advised the boy’s father to decide further action. I spoke to a senior officer of Delhi Police who promptly advised the local police to ensure the safety and security of the girl, the boy and his father. The boy and his father travelled to Delhi last week, went to the Police Station and met the Inspector who had handled the girl’s complaint earlier. The Inspector rightly advised them not to take the extreme step of taking the girl away but to reason with the girl’s parents. But the girl’s mother who reached the police station told him that the family had no objection if the boy came to the house and took the girl in full view of the neighbours. I could not comprehend the motive behind this demand- it is perhaps with a view to humiliate the girl – but agreed with the boy’s father that as the girl’s life will otherwise be in danger and also in view of the statement by the girl’s mother to police that they had no objection, it was necessary to take the girl away from her home. Despite apprehensions of physical danger, they went to the girl’s house, waited outside, obtained a letter from the girl that she was leaving with them on her own accord, gave a copy to the girl’s family, took her and came to my house. After lunch and some rest they left for Chennai in the evening. There are several people who stood out in this- the boy’s father, who is traditional but stood by his son’s side, the boy’s elder brother, who is an engineer, is in a good job in Chennai, is not married yet but magnanimously agreed to his younger bother’s marriage, the boy’s mother who is traditional but gave precedence to her son’s wish over everything else, the Inspector who handled the girl’s complaint diplomatically but firmly, the senior officer of Delhi police to whom I spoke, the family of the girl’s friend who gave her shelter for 2 days before she went to the police, the boy and above all the girl, who is gutsy and symbolizes modern Indian women, who have a mind of their own and also have the will to defy the society and family to attain what they want. The wedding is planned in Chennai next month, possibly on 12th June, and the young couple will need the best wishes and blessings of every one for a successful married life. It is but natural that the incident kindles nostalgia. My wife was my classmate in M.Sc and we decided to get married despite the fact that our families lived 350 km apart in Tamilnadu and local social systems were totally different. My parents were broad-minded, my father, being a true Gandhian who named his eldest son Gandhi to show his reverence for the Mahatma, readily agreed. It took a while for my wife to convince her parents and family. The only silver lining was that i was a gold medalist from University of Madras (in M Sc) and was doing research. My wife had joined as an Assistant Professor after completing M Sc. The wedding took place near Madurai on the banks of River Vaigai which was in full flow on our wedding day. Though we had planned to leave for the USA for doing research in Pennsylvania State University under Prof Kawa, a Nobel Laureate, in deference to wishes of my wife I agreed to try the Civil Services Examination once and got selected in the very first attempt. The rest is history! People forget their past and become stereo typed. But, my wife and I have resisted this temptation and when the time came we agreed to our children’s request to marry as per their wish. My son, who is a Professor in Georgia Technology of Technology, is married to a Gujarati Jain and my daughter, a Gynecologist and a Consultant in NHS, UK, is married to her MBBS classmate, now an ENT surgeon and a FRCS. The time has come to get rid of the shackles of caste, religion, language and other such bias imposed on us by the society and feel and behave like Indians.
An open letter to Mr Akhilesh Yadav, Hon’ble Chief Minister of UP Hon’ble Chief Minister, Whenever a young leader gains prominence in a political party, which does not happen very often in India, people are enthused and their expectations go up manifold. After being accustomed to octogenarian leaders who never let their control over the party go, your father had the foresight to let a young man, though his son, take his position. The respect of people for you and your father went up significantly. For some time the media hailed you as a youth icon who was expected to revolutionise governance in the most populated state in the country. Much was expected of you, an engineer, and someone who was expected to be broad minded because of education outside his home state. You have now proved yourself an ordinary politician of limited intelligence who could become the CM only because his father believed that he would not cross the line drawn by him. Worse, you have allowed yourself to be bullied by even pettier politicians who should tow your line and not dictate terms to you. In the course of just two days you have lost all the good will generated by you because of, mainly, your age. You have proved to be naive, petty minded and intolerant. I, for one, believe that the All India services have lost their relevance in the country. Yet I shudder to think of a day when they will cease to exist, with immature politicians like you holding the sway and showing signs that they are no better than the rulers who were driven out of this country in 1947. Your henchmen will justify all your actions as even the senior IAS officers have done in the last few days in UP. Does the Chief Secretary have the courage to quit the post and service he belongs to, instead of being a willing party to victimizing a hapless lady who has hardly put in any service and has not committed any mistake? It is funny to read the charge sheet you have framed against the lady! Do you expect an officer with about 3 years of service to think like politicians do? After 10 years she might have the experience to think and act like a politician as many of her senior officers do all over the country. She has done what a SDM ought to do when an illegal construction comes up on government land. She is paid by you to enforce law and order and not to find ways of going around the laws of the land or to wait for an auspicious time to take action. If she has to have the maturity of a 40 year old IAS officer, you must find ways of sending IAS officers with about 10 to 12 years experience as SDMs in your state! If she is suspended for showing immaturity in her actions, what can be done to an inexperienced CM like you for the blunders you might have committed during your tenure as the Chief Minister?. An IAS officer after two years of training is posted as SDM under a District Magistrate who is expected to guide, train and counsel him/her on the job so that he/she becomes fully rounded as an officer when she leaves the sub division. Many of them, thanks to their zeal and enthusiasm, do commendable work as this young lady has attempted to do against illegal sand mining and other illegal activities. Whenever such officers do not perform well, the DMs are expected to brief them and bring them back on the right path. What was the DM of the district doing if he did not agree with the action she was attempting.? What action have you taken against him for not performing his duty as DM? What is the action you have contemplated against the Divisional Commissioner who had also equally failed? Or are you sending a message against the bureaucracy of what is in store for them if they do not perform their “duties” in the next parliamentary election? It is even more surprising that the charge of land grab is being leveled against her belatedly after you started getting flak for your immature action. Is the administration in your state during your tenure so bad that officers with just three years experience are allowed to run their fiefdom including meddling in land disputes between private individuals? Is there no supervision over them at all? You could have shown a little more patience and waited for reaction from the community whose structure on public land was brought down, either by themselves or due to action taken by the SDM, and transferred her out of the sub division after a decent interval. Or, you could have ordered an inquiry against her by the Divisional Commissioner and waited for the outcome before taking action as more experienced politicians would have done. In one stroke you have ensured that the bureaucracy in your state is shown to be subservient, spineless and meaningless. Please do not start playing the Everyone vs OBCs card. I was born in a backward community and fortunately never claimed any benefit meant for backward communities during my college days or later. I had even availed Merit cum Loan Scholarship in lieu of BC Scholarship as I felt that availing the BC Scholarship meant demeaning my own merit. This letter is more in anguish as you have proved to be a run of the mill politician with no lofty ideals while we saw a promising young politician who could be different and also make a difference in your state only a few months ago and our expectations have been belied. With regards, Yours sincerely. N k Raghupahy
from CR's notice it appears that postponement of CGL exam of 28/4 to 19/5 will be in all regions. may be HQ will place notice on 22nd.
It appears that after the Regional Directors' Conference at Coimbatore, the officers have just got back to Delhi and the information is that SSC will try to get the stay vacated so that CGL Tier II can be held this weekend as scheduled. A decision will possibly emerge today/tomorrow.
Part III: Joining the IAS. The first time I saw my wife was in August 1971 in the Organic Chemistry Laboratory immediate after we joined M.Sc in Chemistry. I had secured D plus in B Sc Chemistry(85% to 99%), the only student to reach that mark and, therefore, the topper in the college, and was in the very first list of students selected for admission into M Sc in Presidency College where I did my B Sc too. My parents were reluctant to let me continue with my studies, because firstly they had no more property to sell and secondly, they genuinely felt that I should take up a job after B Sc for assisting the family. Unfortunately, though reason was on their side my head demanded that I study further. My father made it clear that he would not be in a position to finance my education further and I was desperate to continue with my studies. In such circumstances the youth normally resort to gimmicks like attempting suicide and I was no exception! My parents reluctantly agreed to let me continue my studies with the rider that I find the finances. Dr N Muthukumaraswamy, Assistant Professor in Presidency College, who had left for USA in late 1970 for post-doctoral research, offered to assist me financially by sending USD 15 per month. He had known me only as a student and his assistance came without any strings attached and without his assistance I would not have reached the level I ultimately did. He lives in the USA and except for occasional letters or family functions we do not keep in regular touch. Mrs Muthukumaraswamy, who taught Tamil in a High school in Triplicane, Chennai was equally magnanimous and on the occasions I would visit their house in Chennai to collect the monthly assistance she would insist on offering coffee and snacks and open up her husband’s private library to me for taking away books for preparation. Though we do not meet often, there is a special place in my heart for them, next to only my father. He was an elder brother in all respects. Words cannot describe how indebted I feel to him and his family. The loan of Rs 2000 I took from him was repaid, though they never demanded the money, sometime in 1976, but I can never ever repay his kindness, magnanimity and affection. We are forever indebted to him. With his magnanimous assistance and the National Merit cum Loan Scholarship of Rs 2000 (over two years) approximately, I thought that I could easily sail through M sc. But I did not reckon with the term fees and examination fees which were substantial. It was very difficult those days to find part-time jobs. In any case with the demanding course work, the Laboratory work lasting till 7 pm or so most days, it was impossible to commit to a part time work of 6 to 8 pm. As I had decided that I would not accept any assistance from my father I explored the possibility of joining a free hostel in Saidapet, Chennai but was deterred by the living conditions there. In any case, having stood first in School and later in the College, I had targeted a University First rank in Chemistry- my college had the proud record of bagging the rank at least once in two years- I did not want to do anything which would jeopardise the prospects of a University gold Medal. Staying in Victoria Hostel, where I stayed for three years during B Sc, beyond a period of three years was not admissible. University Hostel was expensive and beyond my reach. The Chief Professor of Chemistry, Dr B Ramachandra Pai, another great man, did not know my financial condition and my pride did not let me share my plight with him. He had taken me under his wings since early1968 from the day I stood first in a class test in Organic Chemistry and won a book as reward. He had produced about 30 Ph Ds during his stint in the College. Being a bachelor,r despite being very fair and handsome, he devoted his entire life to his subject. He stayed in the outhouse of a junior colleague and would reach the College at 8.30 am every day, after a breakfast of two bananas en route- he would carefully offer the banana skins to cows- and would stay up to 7 pm. When a student’s thesis was under preparation he would stay in the college for weeks together and the library attached to his Chamber became his bed room! His chamber itself was a show piece with research instruments strewn around everywhere and some distillation or other in progress. His lunch would come from the Principal’s house and sometimes dinner too. The college was not a place of work for him- it was his residence and shrine. With a monthly assistance of USD 15 ( Rs 105 after deduction of bank commission), I had to pay a monthly room rent of Rs 40, leaving only Rs 65 per month for food and other expenditure. An amount of Rs 10 was set aside regularly for essentials such as soap and inland letters. One had to manage with Rs 55 and also entertain occasional guests. Om Sakthi Lodge in Triplicane, Chennai was my place of stay for three years from 1971 to mid 1974. Mr Kumaraguru, who did his PUC from Voorhees College, Vellore and B Sc in Geology in Presidency college, securing a First Rank in the University, and joined M Sc in Geology stayed in the Lodge. He followed up his B Sc University rank with another First rank in the University in M Sc. He retired as Director in GSI and has settled down in Chennai. His contribution to mapping of coal deposits in different parts of the country paved the way for their commercial exploitation and unfortunately, like many other such scientists who have contributed to the development of the country, he was not properly recognized or rewarded except with the National Mineralogist Award two years before his retirement. After retirement he was given the pay of Deputy Director General. We initially decided to board in a Mess in Triplicane. With measly breakfast, reasonable lunch and meagre dinner, vegetarian food cost Rs 72 pm in the mess. But the redeeming feature was that If we missed a meal we could use the coupons for similar meals later or use them for entertaining a guest. How to reduce the food bill to Rs 55 pm from Rs 72 it would have cost if one had all the three meals and at the same time entertaining 2 or three guests for meals every month was a puzzle which was difficult to solve. But, when there is will there is a way. The most convenient way was to skip lunch on Saturdays and Sundays and have a snack of two peanut candies and plenty of water instead. Even Mr Kumaraguru had no inkling of this till very recently. Monthly lunch/ dinner in our Uncle’s house in Pudupet, Chennai on Sundays was eagerly awaited. I started losing weight fast. M Sc in chemistry was tough those days as for three days in a week full day’s laboratory work was compulsory and it was impossible to continue without lunch. The course end examinations were equally demanding with six written papers and practical examination for three days almost continuously. My Chief Professor thought that I would not have stamina to last till the course ended and compelled me to visit a doctor, a friend of his, for treatment, without knowing that weight loss was not due to any illness but because of insufficient food intake! The doctor diagnosed the cause without much of difficulty and I had to beg him not to reveal it to the Professor. The course work was so tough that I hardly found time to practice Basket Ball and Badminton and ultimately opted out of the College teams in these events in the second year. One way of saving money was visiting my village whenever there was a holiday. However, studying during the day time was just not feasible in our house and study hours were between 10 pm, after the first night show in the local movie hall ended, till 1 am when the second night show would end. As there was no electricity, my lantern (known as Raghu’s lantern as it was a prize won for standing first in Class IX) was my companion during the study hours. Occasional assistance of Rs 10 or so from my closest friend Mr V Gandhi, who retired as Head Master of a Government Higher Secondary School in 2008 and who was working as a teacher in a middle school then, was of great help. Rs 10 was a large amount for him as his own take home pay was only Rs 100 or so those days. Most evenings were spent with him while on holidays in my village. He got married in August 1971 and his wife had to accept the hard fact that during my visits to the village, his time from 7 pm to 9 pm was reserved for me! I had developed the habit of advance preparation for the classes –often I was better prepared than the lecturers. The Chief Professor had given me free access to his personal library and with the books borrowed from Dr Muthukumaraswamy, my notes for a week would be ready during the previous weekend. The Chief Professor would also show me research articles on the topics in the syllabus and my notes would cover them as well. Chemistry was my life during those two years, especially Organic Chemistry. 9 pm to 1 am was the regular study time and I would be up by 6 am. Relaxation for 5 minutes every hour was a self imposed compulsion and I developed the knack of sleeping- sometimes snoring heavily- just for 5 minutes. During the weekends study hours were from 10 am to 6 pm, interspersed with a snack of two peanut candies and water, and again from 9 pm to 1 am. Chemistry was the substitute for food during the weekend. My wife, who voluntarily retired in 2004 as Reader (Associate Professor) in Chemistry in Queen Mary’s college, Chennai, joined the M Sc a fortnight after me. She had already worked as a Demonstrator in Chemistry in Madras and Kilpauk Medical Colleges and was granted two years unpaid leave for pursuing M Sc. I had gone to my village for my friend’s wedding and skipped the classes on a Monday. On Tuesday, when I returned to the Organic Chemistry laboratory, there she was, seriously attending to the work. She was very good in practicals- much better than me, perhaps because of her two years of teaching- and secured higher marks than me in the practical examination, a fact my father found difficult to accept! He could never reconcile himself to his son, the University Gold Medallist, yielding first place in the practical examination to a lady, though the lady happened to be his would be daughter in law! There was not even a single class test in which I had not stood first in the two years of my M Sc. I was much ahead of my class mates as far as theory was concerned. It was widely expected that I would stand first in the University which I did with ease securing 71.2 % in the University examination. My Chief Professor was aghast that I missed out on 75%, which could not be even dreamt of those days. His expectations from me were very high. He would proudly take my Class Test Papers to show to his peers in international conferences and prove that Indian students were second to none in academics. Prof Kawa, a Nobel Laureate in Chemistry and a Professor in Pennsylvania State University, USA visited our college in 1971 and I was introduced to him. It was a foregone conclusion that I would get a fellowship to work under him after I completed my M Sc. A few months before the final examinations my wife and I decided to get married and my parents gave their support to the proposal without any reservation, though there were offers of attractive dowry form others. My father valued his principles more than money and this was another occasion when he displayed it. It was customary for the University topper in Chemistry from my college to join research for a year to gain research experience before proceeding on a teaching assistantship to Universities in the USA and keeping with the tradition I joined research in July 1973. Again, taking up a job would have helped my family but this time my parents did not even propose it though I had offers of lecturership from different colleges in Tamilnadu. It took a little time to get the CSIR Fellowship and till then- a matter of two months- my Professor arranged a scholarship of Rs 200 pm from Amrithanjan. I hated going to Amrithanjan for getting the scholarship as the executives would make it appear as if alms were being offered rather than a scholarship. On my own I offered to share it with a classmate, Dr Chinnasamy, who was keen to join research due to personal reasons and whom I recommended to my Professor to be taken in as a research scholar. It was also customary that during the one year of research, the students would complete TOEFL (Test of English as Foreign Language, used for assessing competence in English by Universities in the USA) and GRE(Graduate Record Examination, to supplement academic records). I completed TOEFL easily securing, if I recall correctly, 95 per centile. GRE, consisting of two papers then, Aptitude Test and subject-Chemistry in my case, was scheduled for 2nd February 1974. My wedding was scheduled for 3rd February 1974! I proposed to my wife that I would take the GRE and leave for Madurai, near where the wedding was to be solemnised, by train the same evening and reach the venue of the wedding directly, the Muhurtham being 9 am to 1030 am. My wife did not agree (to avoid a situation where there would be a wedding without a groom if the train arrived late!) and I had to seek postponement of GRE which those days was held once in six months. Today, GRE has only the Aptitude Test and you can walk in and take the test online. The wedding ceremony was without a priest as is common in South Tamilnadu even today and someone important or close to the families would preside over and hand over the Thali (Mangalya) to the groom. I have presided over several such weddings in the past 25 years. After our marriage was solemnised, Late Mr T Krishnan, then MP and Late Mr Thangapandian, then MLC, dropped in to bless us. The former was distantly related to my wife and the latter a close friend of my brother in law who was a Higher Secondary School Head Master. Both of them became Ministers in the DMK Government, though not at the same time, between 1996 to 2001. When informed of my academic achievements, Mr Krishnan suggested that though it was laudable that I was planning to go abroad for Ph D, I should attempt the Civil Services examination at least once. His suggestion became the bible for my wife and she insisted thereafter that I should take the Civil Services examination once before proceeding to the USA. Thus, at the age of 23( natural age of 22, as the certificate age was one year more) I got married and though my own priority was to go abraod, I agreed to postpone my visit by a year in deference to my wife’s wishes. She was promoted as Assistant Professor immediately after she completed M Sc and worked in Pudukottai and Dindigul for short spells and got a transfer to Chennai in June 1974. The offer of Teaching Assistant in Pennsylvania State University was declined with the assurance that I would be offered the fellowship again in 1975. Dr Chinnasamy went in my place in 1974, completed his Ph D, did post doctoral research and returned to India to work in Amrithanjan Research Foundation for a short while before returning to the USA again. Unfortunately, he had a massive heart attack and passed away in mid 1990s. He is survived by his wife and two children. We set up the family in Akbar Sahib street, Triplicane, Chennai, a walking distance from Presidency College but about half an hour by bus form my wife’s college, and lived there till April 1976. Both of us had borrowed heavily for our wedding and lived with bare minimum facilities, without a fan or fridge or furniture. Mats were more than enough for us and our frequent guests, both relatives and friends, whose visits and stay we treasured and enjoyed, had no problem with the meagre facilities on offer in our house. The daily routine for me was to get up at 6.30 am and leave for the college at 8.20 am in order to reach the College before my Professor, return at 7 pm, prepare notes for my and my wife’s classes next day ( by then I had started teaching in Presidency College to get an additional Rs 175 pm), and after my wife went to bed at 10 pm prepare for the Civil Services Examination. In between I cleared the GRE with about 99 per centile in Chemistry and 98 per centile or so in the Aptitude Test. I had selected Chemistry, Physics and Tamil as the lower papers (Degree level) in the CSE. Those opting for the IAS and IFS had to take two additional papers of Master’s level and those opting for the IPS had to take only two optional papers of degree level. I had chosen higher papers of Chemistry and Ancient Indian History. My heart was not in the CSE and my preparation was at best tentative. I was confident of the two Chemistry papers and I was reasonably good in Tamil, having own the Essay competition in the Hostel for three consecutive years and the Oratory competition once. But, Physics and Ancient Indian History required intensive preparation. I had time to prepare for these papers for 15 days each. Mr K S Sripathi, IAS (Retd), former Chief Secy, Tamilnadu and presently State information Commissioner, used to visit me for interaction on the CSE and Mr M Ganapathi, IFS (Retd), Former Secretary, MEA, who was also my student for sometime, was another applicant with whom I had interacted during preparation for CSE. I hardly prepared for the English Essay, English and General Studies papers. On the day Tamil and Physics papers were held I was so unwell that I thought of skipping the examination. My wife nursed me throughout the night and I awoke in the morning feeling refreshed though I had no time for revision of the subjects. My wife’s desire that I should try the examination at least once kept me going in the examination hall. The level of preparation reflected in the marks and I had just about 45% in the three compulsory papers, about 55% in Tamil, 84% in Chemistry and 45% in Physics in the optional and 93% and 58% in Chemistry and Ancient Indian History Higher papers. In retrospect, it was the poor choice of Physics and lack of adequate preparation in the compulsory papers which cost me a place in the top 20. However, my marks were adequate for being called for the interview which was in April 1975. Later I learn that I had secured the maximum marks in the higher paper in Chemistry in CSE 1974. I was so disinterested in the CSE that I was not even aware that the result of the written examination had been published in the New Delhi papers which were available only in Connemara Library, Chennai. I came to know about publication of the result from Mr Ganapathi and went to Connemara Library next day to check whether I had qualified for the interview. I was amazed that despite the lack of preparation I was successful in the written examination. Though I had faced TNPSC interview for Assistant Professor (I was selected) I had no idea about the structure of the CSE interview; nor did I care as I had finalized the formalities for going to the USA. The preparation was perfunctory- my reading for the interview was basically in World History and Current Affairs and I needed no preparation in Chemistry as I was handling both M Sc and B Sc classes. I thought that I was adequately prepared and a shock awaited me in the Interview. I landed in Tamilnadu House, Chanakyapuri and after one day in the main Guest House was shifted to the part where only clerical employees stayed, which did nothing to enhance my self esteem. However, a District Judge who was just about to be elevated to the High Court shared the room with me on the first day and gave me a mock interview and was happy with my performance. Little did he and I realize that UPSC has its own peculiar ways of interviewing where the weakness is harped on and areas of strength not touched upon at all! I was intelligent enough to reach New Delhi four days before the Interview, travelling by Janata Express, the only train by which I could get reservation. The train with a steam engine took almost 56 hours to reach New Delhi and it was an experience to travel by that train as it would stop in almost all stations en route. I spent two days in getting to know New Delhi and one day walked all the way to the UPSC to estimate the time taken for walking from Chanakyapuri to Dholpur House. The day of the interview, 26th April 1975, arrived. My interview was at 2 pm and the call letter had advised reporting at 1.30 pm for verification. Lo and behold, I could not get a car from Tamilnadu House or a taxi or an auto-rickshaw to travel to UPSC! I decided to walk all the way wearing a suit in the sweltering heat. Among those who attended the interview in that Board that day were Mr Raman who later joined the IAS in 1976, Mr Ajay Singh, who was selected for the IPS and joined the IAS in 1976, Mr Prakash, selected for the IFS etc. I was called in by the Board and the initial questions were on why I should not continue in the teaching profession as the pay scales for college teachers were under revision. Then there were questions on water scarcity in Chennai (when did Chennai not have water scarcity?!) which was very acute that year. Then the nightmare started, with questions on Physics with the interview board knowing pretty well that Chemistry was my subject in college and the Board had an eminent National Professor of Chemistry as well! This was followed by questions on architecture, History of Egypt etc perhaps because I had taken a paper in Ancient Indian History. I thought I had performed rather well till I saw the interview marks after selection to the IAS! The problem is that the Chairman of the Board even today has record of marks of the candidates in each paper of the CSE, unlike the SSC which does not disclose the marks in the written examination to the Interview Board. In SSC interviews, the candidates know their marks thanks to the transparency infused between 2009-13, whereas the Interview board has no idea of their marks. This is with a view to avoid bias of any kind in SSC interviews and UPSC should follow the practice. There is no shame in learning good practices from other recruiting bodies. With the marks in each paper available with them, the Interview boards tend to concentrate on areas of weakness rather than strengths. Another major problem in the UPSC interviews is that the candidate is assessed as a whole allowing halo effect- one trait forming the basis if assessment rather than all the traits tested in the interview- dictate award of marks. By then we were expecting our first child. On the day the result was published in The Hindu, Baby Shower function was in progress. I was browsing through The Hindu, borrowed from a bank in the building adjoining my house, when I found the result on the first page itself. With my heart thumping hard, I went down the list and saw my name at Sl No 72 in a list of about 160 officers selected for the IAS and IFS and much higher in rank in the list for the IPS. In a way I was happy that my wife’s desire was fulfilled but was also sad at the same time that I would move away from Chemistry which was everything to me for seven years. My wife was delighted, especially because the result came on the day of the Baby Shower. I came to know when the mark sheet came from the UPSC that I had secured only 43% in the interview and Physics optional paper and interview together had ruined my prospects of figuring in the top 20. Little did we realize that our problems were just starting. I had no idea of cadres in the IAS or IPS and that allotment to the cadres was made on the basis of merit cum option. In any case in the 1974 Examination we could only opt for our home state and if we did not succeed we would be allotted to any other state as decided by the Government. Number of vacancies in each state was also not known. All I knew was that the only two other candidates I knew, Mr Sripathi and Mr Ganapathi were ahead of me in the merit list. I did not even know that had I opted for the IPS that year ahead of the IAS I could have been allotted to Tamilnadu and as I had two more attempts I could have tried for the IAS next year! Naively, when the UPSC offered the opportunity of final choice of services I opted for the IAS, IFS and the IPS in that order. I came to know all these details only when I was in New Delhi on my way to Mussoorie to join the IAS from colleagues who had collected the information in different ways. The emphasis given to transparency during my tenure as the Chairman, SSC came out of these frustrating moments in my personal life and I strove to provide all information relevant to the candidates through the SSC website and through Twitter. The interview process was also totally streamlined during this period eliminating subjectivity in assessment and those candidates who attended the interview in my boards would vouch that they were invariably given the choice of the subjects in which they were to be questioned. This was the beginning of 38 long years in the IAS! At the age of 24 (actually 23) I was married, had a son and joined the IAS.
For perhaps the first time after independence, Government has provided effective leadership in evacuating people from high risk areas most likely to be affected by the cyclone. People's reluctance to believe in the need for evacuation is difficult to understand for the city-bred. But for us born and brought up in villages it is eminently understandable as villagers cannot desert their meager belongings which is all the property they have. Yet, record breaking numbers have been evacuated. Both the Governments at the Centre and Orissa and AP have to be commended for their proactive stance till the landfall of the cyclone. It remains to be seen whether they will continue to be so in the post-cyclone period when rescue, relief and rehabilitation will be important. For the sake of people affected by the cyclone, I would like to believe that they will continue to be proactive..
I often face questions about English language abilities. I have always maintained that language is a matter of necessity and one must be happy if he has adequate knowledge of a language to communicate in it with comfort and ease. Spoken language is not learnt but develops with practice. You can see tourist guides who never learnt English formally but speak in it fluently because of constant practice. A friend went to the USA for higher studies, acquired a Ph D and did post doctoral work for several years. But, he continued to speak with a rustic accent as he did when we did M Sc together. His wife, who had studied up to Class VIII only, could start speaking in English fluently, with an American accent, within a year! Therefore, spoken English develops with practice. But, we have a peculiar problem! We do not mind committing mistakes when we converse in our mother tongue; but become conscious of grammatical errors and pronunciation when we speak in English. If we shed this mental barrier, mastering spoken English is easy. After all, a child learns walking after frequent falls. Learning and developing written skills requires a different approach. The more and more we read the better we understand the language, its structure and grammar. Reading also helps in development of vocabulary. It is better to start with simple story books and graduate to more difficult pieces of literature. Learning at least 10 new words every day and continuing to remember them are keys to development of vocabulary. Grammar does not need to be learnt separately but should be understood through reading. A good dictionary must be available at hand for reference in case of doubt. Many English channels are available on TV and about an hour's listening to a good programme can help. Newspaper reading is another tool for developing language skills. Many Indians living abroad learn Indian languages by listening to TV programmes. After basic language skill develops, Grammar books will help in correcting wrong notions and frequent mistakes.
If you see any fraud being committed in the examination tomorrow, report in writing to the Venue Supervisor with copies by post to the Chairman, SSC later. Do remember that SSC has two representatives in each examination venue known as Inspecting Officers who are paid handsome honorarium but mostly sit and snack in the Supervisors' room. Complain to them too. But the trick is to give the complaint in writing to them too as documentary evidence will be available to show their inaction. When the invigilators, supervisors and inspecting officers are engaged by the SSC they are public servants as defined under the Prevention of Corruption Act for the duration of the examination and they can be booked by the CBI for aiding and abetting corruption in the examination. But documentary evidence is a must if any of the candidates wants to file a complaint to the CBI later. CBI does not normally disclose the identity of the complainants. The most common form of cheating in the examination is using blue tooth enabled equipment with their mobile phones kept near the hall and with the help of people sitting in a car near the venue as the blue tooth in mobile phones and other equipment have limited range. The cheaters play for high stakes, but so do the genuine candidates too!
It is reliably learnt that the reexamination of Tier I of CGLE 2013 may be held on 13th July 2014 in the other... fb.me/1kv2aRrVG
I understand that this page is ranked No 1 in FB page reviews by Google. I do not know what it means!
Posts on my wall and messages continue to pour in seeking information about CGLE 2013. It is understandable because of the uncertainty surrounding the examination due to two cases reportedly pending in the Central Administrative Tribunal, Delhi. I had earlier depended on posts in FB about the possibility of final decision on 28th November, 2013; I am as much in the dark about the orders of CAT in the case as others. Therefore, I was hoping for a decision on the day so that the uncertainty can be settled once and for all. Unfortunately, I understand, from FB posts, that another Application made before CAT regarding Tier II has been clubbed with this case and that the hearing has been deferred for 18th December. The questions posed to me on FB are: 1. Whether there is any possibility of Tier I (and Tier II now) being cancelled. 2. Whether it is advisable for some candidates to get impleaded as Third or Interested party. 3.Whether it is possible for SSC to bring out the result of the written examination before 18th Dec? 4. Whether there is possibility of introduction of descriptive papers in CGLE 2014. Let me now attempt to answer the questions to the best of my ability. Q 1: Please see my post on Malpractices in Academic and Competitive examinations. I am personally of the view that selective leakage on the day of the examination may not be adequate ground for cancellation of an examination. It does vitiate the examination as a few candidates in each venue of the examination will be benefitted; but with a robust analysis by the examination conducting agency such cases can be detected and their candidature cancelled. A few such cases may seep through such analysis, especially with the help of courts, but the question is whether such practices can be completely stopped. Even in online examinations I understand that, in spite of thorough personal checking, use of technology to vitiate the examination process has been detected. Though nobody can dispute that online examinations can be the solution if there is effective supervision. Some had posted the Apex Court’s order that such minor aberrations are not enough ground for cancellation of the examinations. However, each case is different and if the Delhi Police’s report of the question papers having been leaked before the date of the examination is true, the examination may need to be cancelled. But, the question is whether the report has been supported by further investigations. When people were arrested red-handed, it is not clear whether they have been convicted. CAT is the authority to decide on the applications filed before it. It is difficult to predict their order, though I stick to my personal view that there does not appear to be adequate ground for cancellation of the examination. Nobody appears to have reliable information about the status of the hearing in Tier I case. Someone had posted on FB that a rejoinder was filed by the applicant (petitioner) on 28th Nov and now SSC may need to respond to it. CAT was created with the twin objectives of reducing the burden on the High Courts and to render quick justice in matters involving government service. In such a case impinging on more than a lakh candidates, it is expected that a decision will be given quickly. I only hope that CAT lives up to its reputation. Q2: A third party getting impleaded in the case at this stage may lead to some delay as it may like to file a reply to the Application filed before CAT. However, the interests of the third party and issues pertaining to them can be placed before the CAT. It will help in getting authentic information about the orders of CAT. Further, in the unlikely event of CAT deciding to order cancellation of the examination, an appeal can be filed before the High Court. It is difficult to get involved in the case at the appeal stage. There are advantages and disadvantages, finding the funds and maintaining accounts being foremost among them, of getting involved as third party ; but my personal view is that the advantages may override the disadvantages. We have to also understand that once an Application (petition) is filed before CAT, it needs to be served on the parties, the respondents should be given the opportunity of filing parawise replies, the applicant may choose to file rejoinder on the reply and supplementary reply by the respondent and arguments if allowed by the CAT. Once the third party gets involved, the copy of the application and rejoinder will need to be served on them and they may like to file a reply. The process will certainly lead to some delay. Q 3: As things stand now, it is difficult to bring out the result of the written examination at this stage unless the SSC moves CAT or the High Court seeking permission to bring out the result of Tier II. Q 4: The examination scheme was recast by the SSC in 2009 in accordance with the recommendations of the 2nd ARC and after constituting an Expert Body. The possibilities of a few candidates vitiating the examination process ib objecting type tests was discussed by the Expert Group which felt that the advantages of the objective type testing overrides the disadvantages. However, if exceptions become the rule and frauds become the norm, then SSC is bound to take the easy way of switching back to descriptive papers in a big way. If the efficiency of SSC is of the level seen between 2009-12, there may not be much of additional time required for evaluating descriptive papers. Online examinations- a costly affair but the feasibility of which is now proven by the IBPS- is another option, with the fee being increased to about Rs 300 to 500 per candidate.
In response to a query from somebody, I had replied that the corigendum doing away with Tier III of CGL 13 was possibly issued during my tenure in SSC. I tried to jog my memory further and recalled that we had proposed to DoPT that Tier III should be conducted and that it would help in eliminating candidates resorting to questionable means. The proposal was sent again in a different form stating that it would help in testing writing skills. Perhaps DoPT has now turned down the proposal. Retention of Tier III would have certainly helped to weed out candidates who resorted to questionable means in Tier I and/or II just like the qualifying marks in the interviews.
Unable to access SSC website other than a few 'latest news'. Is everyone having the same problem? Do not believe in rumours about change in examination formats unless authentic info is made available on SSC website.
My childhood Part II It is not easy to share information about one’s early days with others, mostly strangers. Many of my close friends had no idea of my background till my last post in Facebook. Yet I am doing so with the hope that my young friends will realize that social and financial handicaps can be easily overcome with determination and hard work. But no one should have the impression that I did not enjoy a good childhood or a happy school life. It so happened that the family income was seasonal and in certain months it was difficult, at least till 1966 or so, to make both ends meet. During summer holidays and till onset of North East Monsoon (October), we were quite comfortable. My early memories of my childhood are all happy and pleasant to recall. The earliest of them is my spending, as a two year old, most of my time with our neighbours who were fishermen. The lady of the house, Mrs Kuppu was a childhood friend of my mother and was among the few who could call her by her pet name. Their son, Subramanian, was my classmate for a few years before he dropped out of school and took up tailoring as his vocation. We lived in a thatched house on Puducherry Road, a National Highway now, and recall a cobra on our roof with its hood spread, and small waves of rain water almost reaching the doorstep of the house. The favourite pastime of visiting our grandmother who then lived about a kilo meter away is still fresh in my mind. My cousin (maternal uncle’s son) Janardhanan (Jana), a few months younger than me but a close friend, and I had several escapades, the most prominent of them walking all alone from the primary School in the Harijan Colony, where my uncle taught, to our grandmother’s house about a mile away. I am grateful to my father and my uncle for making us attend the school in the Harijan’s Colony as three year olds and this helped me then and later not to discriminate against others and also not accept discrimination by others. However, we were more interested in playing rather than learning and this made my father send me to a ‘Thinnai’ school where a single retired teacher often clad only in loincloths, would teach a few students, , writing being limited to using fingers on sand heaped on the floor. This unrecognized system of education served the same purpose as Pre- school classes such as LKG and UKG now. After we moved to K P Koil Street, where we lived till 1977, I started attending the middle school opposite our house without formally registering in the school and passed Class I at the age of five. I was directly admitted into Class II but my age was mentioned as six in school records at the time of admission though I was only five. Therefore, I retired from government service at the actual age of 59 and from the Staff Selection Commission at the age of 61 though the post was up to 62 years, without any murmur. It was funny to see an Army General launch a campaign through the court and also the media for correction of his age at the fag end of his career, to get an additional year of service. Admission was on Vijaya Dasami day, which practice is followed in Tamilnadu even now. It was a co- education school and a few of my classmates of those early years are still my friends. Unfortunately, consistent with the then practice none of the girls who studied with me was allowed to study beyond Class VIII and they were all married off early. I recall an incident when I was in college but was spending the summer vacation in my village. I was returning from the village library one day when a lady with a child on her hip stopped and asked me whether I was “Raghu”. When I nodded in the affirmative, she planted a kiss on my cheek and quietly walked away without uttering a word. Even today I do not know the identity of the lady except that I surmised that she could have been a classmate up to Class V. Nevertheless, that kiss is one of the most memorable in my life! Though a village, our high school was good in games, especially kho-kho, Kabadi(then known as Sadugudu), volley ball, athletics and Ball badminton, a game peculiar only to South India. I was good in most games and athletics and, after school, games would last till 6 pm. Later I started playing Football, Hockey and Basket ball. I was in the school team in almost all the games and was the captain of the school team in Badminton. We had an excellent badminton club of which my father was a member and our Fives team was good enough to beat very strong teams from different parts of the district who had won several trophies all over the state. The players’ age ranged from 12 to 70 and the team would be picked on performance and not age or any other criterion. My father was a decent player and I would accompany him to the club, initially as a ball boy and slowly emerging as a very good player capable of beating the best players in the village. The progression was gradual- a ball boy, then allowed to play for a few minutes at the end of the day with children of equal age, then with older boys and if good enough with the senior members of the team. At one point of time my family could field a full badminton fives team with my father, my elder brother, my two younger brothers and me! I was in the college badminton team for five years continuously, once as a stand-by in the University team, thanks to my training in the village club, and captained the college team for three years. I was also a member of the college basket ball team for three years. With my cousin, Jana, i formed a formidable doubles team in Badminton and at college level we were unbeatable and won the championship for three consecutive years. I picked up cycle repair from my father at a tender age and could earn money after school hours and holidays. I find it amusing when there is criticism of child labour by the city-bred. There is nothing wrong in contributing to the family income at a very young age except that it should not be at the cost of one’s education. In villages even today an additional child means additional helping hands for cultivation. In the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie, where the IAS officers undergo training after selection by the UPSC, I was a vocal supporter of child labour as long as the child was allowed sufficient time to pursue studies. Just see the reality shows on TV channels which showcase children throughout the year. If children could be made to participate in sports events and cultural activities at a tender age, children in rural areas can assist their parents in their vocation too as long as they were allowed to pursue their studies. We were a close-knit and happy family. The latest arrival in the family was the cynosure of all eyes till he/she started attending school or succeeded by another baby. After 6 pm in the evening to 8 am next day we spent our time together playing with and learning from each other. Except my elder brother, who was close to my uncle’s family and preferred to stay with them most of the time except meal times, we ate and stayed together. Evening games and occasional excursion in the backyard of the house, especially on full moon days, when we would cook and play till bed time, were thoroughly enjoyable. Occasional movie in the village ‘Touring Talkies’ was a family affair. For a month before Diwali my siblings would save their pocket money for buying crackers on the eve of Diwali to supplement supplies from my father. All festivals were celebrated together with verve and enthusiasm. New clothes for Diwali would be stitched by my father’s friend, a Muslim, who would always find time for us except that the clothes would be delivered to me at late hours on Diwali eve. My father was a strict disciplinarian till I entered Class IX and thereafter became a guiding light to countless youngsters in the village. We were encouraged to invite our friends, including girls, to our house and they were also always welcome to share whatever we ate. Evenings saw a large number of friends of my brothers jostling for space in our house. When my father passed away in 1982, there were at least 500 youngsters who were guided and counselled by him at various times, who attended his last journey and when the funeral pyre was lit, there were cries of “Naina” (father) from all of them. Last week, one of my close friends visited me and when we spoke about our father tears were rolling down his cheeks. That is the respect and affection he was able to evoke not only among his children but also among all youth in the village. The starting point was during the Anti Hindi Agitation in 1965, when mistakenly it was believed by hundreds of village boys that learning Hindi meant accepting imposition of Hindi. They had gathered in front of the Village post office for burning it down as a sign of protest against imposition of Hindi. My father had patiently explained to them that learning Hindi and accepting its imposition were two different things and in any case, vandalising central government properties was meaningless as other non violent forms of protest were available. The crowd dispersed and they all became my father’s admirers from then onwards. They would bring their problems to him thereafter for counsel and advice and he often provided an interface between them and their families. He was a wise man who knew how to use his wisdom for public benefit and became popular while doing so. Though he imbibed congress culture at a very early stage of his life he was also a follower of E V Ramasamy Naicker who founded the Dravidian movement in Tamilnadu and was largely responsible for ensuring that higher castes did not unduly dominate the social and political scene in. He would proudly don the black shirt, the symbol of Dravidian movement, and organize meetings whenever EVR visited our village. Otherwise he would dress only in Khadi which he followed till his death. He joined the DMK when Sivaji Ganesan, the famous Tamil thespian, who many consider as one of the best actors India has ever produced, joined DMK and left DMK along with him and rejoined Congress. He formed the Sivaji Ganesan Fans Association in our village in 1965 and was its first president. He was a multi-faceted personality widely respected but not rewarded for his contribution to the society. I wish I had managed to inherit at least a small per cent of his wisdom, penchant for hard work and skills. Pre University Course in Voorhees College, Vellore was thoroughly enjoyable. My aunt took excellent care of me though her own family was passing through a difficult phase at that point of time. My cousins who were close to us became even more so, especially the younger ones. My uncle owned a photo studio and earned his living from it. He passed away at the ripe age of 85+ two years ago. His photo studio was just opposite the Police parade grounds and it was a great learning experience to see the parades and games played on the ground. There was a good basket ball court too and a regular player was Mr Sri Paul, IPS, then the SP of the district. By watching him I could learn how to be close to colleagues and general public. at the same time maintaining the prestige and decorum attached to the post one holds. Mr Belliappa, IAS, the then District Collector, during his visit to a college function showed me how graceful, suave and communicative a civil servant can be while showcasing his wisdom and his wife Mrs Maya Belliappa was equally graceful during her visit. Though i never dreamt that I would appear for the Civil Services Examination and join the IAS later, they certainly showed me what the IAS and IPS were about. Another civil servant who impressed me was Mr Nambiar, IAS who later became a Secretary to Government of India and also the Chief Secretary, Tamilnadu who was the Collector of my district when I was in Class XI and paid a visit to our school. The respect a District Collector commands was obvious that day as we, NCC cadets, presented a Guard of Honour to him. The transition from Tamil medium in school to English medium in the college has always posed problems to the best of the students. The situation is the same even today. Many students with excellent academic record till Class XII fade out after they join college because of change in medium. This is due to the emphasis on memory at the school level rather than acquiring writing and oral skills in English. I was a maverick at the school level as I could write reasonably good English on my own, a skill I acquired on my own with assistance from Mr M Venkatesan who taught English in Class X and XI and Mr G Annamalai who encouraged use of English in Mathematics classes. However, oral skills in English were a different cup of tea! There was just no opportunity to practice spoken English in the village high school, except annual recitation and oratory competitions. Switching over to English medium in the Pre University Course was not very challenging to me as far as understanding and writing are concerned. Whenever I would reply to a question in the classroom in English in the first six months or so, my classmates would mock at my pronunciation and accent, which never deterred me from attempting to learn and refine my oral skills. The lecturers of Voorhees College would encourage me in my endeavour and within six months I became as good as others educated in English medium in school. The photo studio was my study room where I would spend most of the evenings looking at my notes and solving problems. I secured first mark in my class, which had students who studied Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. The Lecturers were kind and I remember that the Mathematics lecturer gave me a retest as I had missed a snap test due to one of my monthly visits to my village; the monthly visits helped me to anchor myself properly without losing sight of my goals. It is important to have goals in life which by their very nature will change from time to time but will provide a direction in life. Till Class IX I would talk about becoming a Hindi Teacher and once I entered Class X the goal changed to securing first rank in school and entering college. Mr Ramachandran, our Chemistry lecturer, made chemistry look very easy and I started believing that I could have a career in Chemistry mainly because of him, though I was equally good in Mathematics and Physics. Voorhees College had a compulsory subject of Moral Science or Bible. Though I opted for Moral Science, I loved attending the optional mass in the mornings. Rev A N Gopal, the Principal, was a disciplinarian and late attendance or absence was frowned upon. One could hardly see any student outside the class room during the working hours and he would make frequent rounds to monitor this unlike the Principals of today who sit in their air-conditioned rooms all the time. I have often believed that my one year stay in Voorhees College taught me a value system in which integrity, honesty, sincerity, hard work and punctuality played a prominent role. I was always a voracious reader and my parents found it difficult to cater to it. Peeved by my attempts to take his books , my elder brother introduced me to the village library which had a few hundred volumes. I was a regular visitor to the library and The Hindu and Dinamani became my favourite newspapers. I would read anything including the papers used as packing material and it was common to see me reading a scrap of paper during my frequent visits to the market. There was continuous learning in the village. Though I learnt Hindi through private tuitions there was no opportunity to practise speaking in Hindi. Devraj Jain, the Marwari Jeweller. would insist that I spoke to him in Hindi only. Hundreds of villagers are responsible for what I became and he was one of them. I was a regular user of the college library. During the summer vacation after my SSLC I could analyze why I could secure only 454 out of 600 marks. I realized that it could have been better had I prepared more systematically instead of preparing just enough to ward off challenge from my close friend Mr R Venugopal, Scientist G (retd), DRDO, who was breathing down my neck in classes X and XI. Whenever there was a free hour, I would spend it in the college library looking for material other than what was available in the text books and old question papers. I would solve the old question papers in the evenings in the photo studio and undergo self- administered tests with time limits as in examinations and evaluate them dispassionately, a trait I picked up while teaching my classmates at the school level. I won awards for three subjects in the college examinations for Mathematics, Chemistry and Moral Science, out of seven available for MPC and BPC (Biology, Physics and Chemistry) streams. It was a proud moment for me, especially when my uncle told me later in the evening that day that he was present in the college during the award function and felt proud when I received the awards. I had no inkling that he proposed to attend the function. He was quietly affectionate and I would like to believe that I was his favourite nephew. I participated in the National Science Talent Search Scholarship examination in early 1968 and was the only student from Voorhees College called for the interview. There was no guidance from the college faculty in my project work- an astronomical telescope- or in preparing for the interview. A reason could be that the call letter for the interview came during the summer vacation. I attended the interview in the All India Institute of Sciences, Bengaluru at the age of 16 travelling to Bengaluru all alone for the purpose. When I reached the venue of the interview I suffered from two handicaps, inability to freely converse in English in the interview and fever due to the cold climate of Bengaluru. I realized that attending an interview without preparation was a futile exercise. One has to learn from his mistakes and unless he does so he can never be successful in life. As anticipated, I was not successful in bagging the scholarship and attribute it even today to lack of guidance and inadequate preparation. I got A Plus (65 to 74%) in Physics, D Plus in Chemistry (85 to 99%) and H (100%) in Mathematics, beside B Plus(55 to 59%0 in Tamil and B (50 to 54%) in English. Securing a second class in the languages was tough those days! My interest in Chemistry made me decide on Presidency College, Chennai for pursuing B Sc in Chemistry, though I was sad that I was leaving Vellore- both my aunt’s family and Voorhees College- which gave me so much. I learnt a number of lessons from my uncle- punctuality, tireless hard work, importance to friends but not at the cost of the family, guidance through example rather than words and optimism in the face of adversity. Dinner time was family time and everyone was expected to be present on the occasion. Similarly, lunch on Sunday was for family time and Sunday forenoons were earmarked for friends. Unbridled affection and self-sacrifice are the traits I learnt from my aunt, who showered so much affection on me that I never ever thought of the facilities I could have enjoyed if I had opted for hostel life. For me she was more important to me than my own mother in shaping my life. In retrospect my decision on staying with my aunt’s family proved to be wise and put me on a strong platform educationally and endowed me with a value system I have always cherished and nurtured.