6 common mistakes committed during interview preparation

Hi friends,

The interview is the third and final leg of UPSC exam. The total marks allotted to interview are 275, however, it plays a crucial role in determining the service you get. Hence, interview preparation should be done cautiously. Your interview preparation should start in the month of January, a month after writing the mains.

6 Common mistakes committed during the interview preparation:

 

  • Wait for the Mains results and then decide to prepare for the interview.
  • Spend most of the time only on reading and trying to know all under the sun. Please remember, the  knowledge of the candidate has already been tested in the Mains Exam. The final test is “ABOUT YOUR PERSONALITY AND NOT KNOWLEDGE .” Hence ,gathering information alone won’t suffice.
  • Taking a regional/religious stand (hard core ) in the interview .The requirements of UPSC are to select a candidate who is balanced and neutral.
  • Trying to focus too much on language skills .UPSC expects a person who is balanced, neutral, empathetic and adheres to constitutional values. As long as you can communicate it to them, language is not a problem.
  • Trying to fake or lie to the interview board.
  • Not preparing for the interview. This is the biggest mistake candidates commit,considering it is just out of 275 marks and Mains were for 1750 marks. To become a topper, the interview marks are very crucial.

 

Source for asking questions in the interview board:

 

  1. Current Affairs
  2. DAF

 

For further guidance through telephone or mail, please drop me a mail to jebasingh.israel@gmail.com

I will be more than happy to help you in your preparation,so that you get the best marks and your name appears on the final list.

All the best  !

General Studies Paper 1, IAS Mains 2015 – Analysis

Hi friends,


Here is an analysis of UPSC Mains 2015 – General Studies paper 1. 

Subject
Total questions
Total marks
World History
2
25
Indian History
3
37.5
Culture
2
25
Geography
7
87.5
Society
6
75

General Observations about the Question Paper

  1. 2014 has 25 questions.2015 paper had 20 questions.
  2. Increase in the number of questions from Indian Soiety.
  3. Decline in the number of questions from culture and World History.
  4. Continued emphasis on women -1 question like last two years.
Although General Studies paper 1 contains conventional subjects ,around 50% of the paper was triggered by Current Affairs/ The Hindu.

Here is an understanding of how a particular  news item in the current affairs triggered each question.

  1.  2015 – Celebration of 125th Birth Anniversary of BR Ambedkar and a resolution was passed in Parliament on the Constitution.
    1. Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, despite having divergent approaches and strategies, had a common goal of amelioration of the downtrodden. Elucidate.
    2. It would have been difficult for the Constituent Assembly to complete its historic task of drafting the Constitution for Independent India in just three years but for the experience gained with the Government of India Act, 1935. Discuss.

  2. 8500 letters received by Mahatma Gandhi http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/8500-letters-received-by-mahatma-gandhi-to-be-published/article7932778.ece
    1. How different would have been the achievement of Indian independence without Mahatma Gandhi? Discuss.

  3. 100 years of World War 1 ,1914-2014
    1. To what extent can Germany be held responsible for causing the two World Wars? Discuss critically.

  4. Higher sex ratio among tribal groups compared to SCs,revealed by Census.  http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/higher-sex-ratio-among-tribal-sc-groups-census/article5300478.ece
    1. How do you explain the statistics that show that the sex ratio in Tribes in India is more favourable to women than the sex ratio among Scheduled Castes?

  5. Union Cabinet approves Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission to drive smart villages.
    1. Discuss the changes in the trends of labour migration within and outside India in the last four decades.
    2. Smart cities in India cannot sustain without smart villages. Discuss this statement in the backdrop of rural urban integration.


  6. Air pollution in Delhi , highly mentioned in news.

       1. Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata are the three mega cities of the country but the air pollution is much more serious problem in Delhi as compared to the other two. Why is this so?


  7. Ocean warming and Monsoons

      1. How far do you agree that the behavior of the Indian monsoon has been changing due to humanizing landscapes? Discuss.


  8. 2015-Year of ElNino -leading to heavy rainfall in South india.

    1. Explain the factors responsible for the origin of ocean currents. How do they influence regional climates, fishing and navigation?


  9. A report published in May 2015,that India will become water scarce by 2025.
    1. India is well endowed with fresh water resources. Critically examine why it still suffers from water scarcity.

  1. Discovery of Oil in arctic
    1. What are the economic significances of discovery of oil in Arctic Sea and its possible environmental consequences?

  2. 125th Birth Anniversary of Ambedkar(Championed the cause of dalits)

Murder of two dalit children in Faridabad and controversy over General VK Singh’s comment.

1. Debate the issue of whether and how contemporary movements for assertion of Dalit identity work towards annihilation of caste.Reference –http://officersiasacademy.blogspot.in/2015/12/upsc-mains-2015-general-studies-paper-1.html


 

Want to read more?

My Fears

Many have a notion that only ‘super genius’ can get into Indian Administrative Service’.

The incidents which I am going to share is not the most inspirational story around the world. But definitely Civil Service aspirants will get inspired knowing how much ‘Ordinary person’ I was before getting into IAS and in fact even after getting into IAS.


I was 6 years old at that time. It was Children’s Sunday in my Church and the entire focus of that day’s sermons would be on children. As part of Children’s Sunday, children should go to the altar of the church and sing songs and recite biblical verses which they had learnt in Sunday School.

My Sunday School Teacher in the previous week asked me to learn just 2 verses in 23 rd Chapter of Psalms in Bible and recite in front of everyone. Each of the Sunday School Children had different tasks and as I was just 6 years old, my assignment was just to recite 2 verses.

I memorized those 2 verses the entire week and was very confident. My brother’s assignment was to recite around 10 verses from a different chapter. As he was 5 years older than me, he was given a bigger assignment. On Children’s Sunday,I was sitting beside my mom.The service began and the Church was full because the entire congregation of around 100 people were present. My mom asked me whether I remembered those 2 verses.

If anyone had asked Abdul Kalam whether he knew basics of missile technology how he would have reacted, the same way I reacted.

The proceedings started and children started performing their tasks with lot of applause from the church. After few minutes, Sunday School teacher called my name in the microphone and told Israel would recite verses from Psalms. I got up confidently. I saw entire crowd seeing me. As I moved forward to the altar of the Church, I could see all eyes watching me.

I had an unusual sensation which I later realised as ‘fear’. Once I reached the altar, microphone was adjusted to my height. Once I faced the entire crowd looking at me, that unusual sensation became acute. I could feel the lub dub of my heart. I started reciting “The Lord is my Shepherd”. Next line was “I shall not want”. But seeing around 100 faces in front of me, I forgot the verses. I started repeating “The Lord is my Shepherd”. My head became blank. I could not move forward to the next line. I could see my brother who was sitting in first row, laughing at me.

Again I tried, but nothing came out of my mouth. My Sunday School Teacher realised that Lord had let down Israel. She came forward, adjusted the microphone,completed the verses and called the next name. I did not walk back to my mom. I could hear giggling here and there. I went to the back door of the Church and sat. I felt as if the whole Sky had fallen on me. It was terrible feeling. I was sitting not knowing what to do next. Then I could hear my Brother’s name called. My prayer to Lord was that he should also forget otherwise he would make fun of me throughout my life. As he confidently continued his verses, my confidence declined.


 


18 years later, I got appointed as a Lecturer in Mechanical Engg Department of Sri Ram Engineering college which is around 30 kms away from Chennai. I was assigned to handle one subject for final year students, 2 subjects for 2nd year students and one subject for 1st year students. That was my first day in College and unfortunately I had to give lecture to Final Year Students on my very first day. I had to handle the 3rd period. During first 2 periods I was sitting in the library and was taking notes for my lecture. Once tea break was given I could hear students rushing out and my lub dub suddenly started.

The same uneasy sensation in my heart which I felt 18 years before again started. It was 10 minutes ‘tea break’ and after that I had to go and give lecture that too to final year students.After 10 minutes, bell rang and I started moving to the final year class.Students were rushing in and my lub dub further deteriorated.Instead of entering the class, I went back to my chamber. My HOD Prof Radhakrishnan saw me on my way and asked me why I had not gone to class. I told I came back for chalk piece.

He then took me to class (may be he would have thought seeing my pale face that i would run away) and introduced me to students as the new lecturer and left the class. I did not know what to start because I was blank. I saw the attendance register. There were around 40 students and in the pretext of introducing to each other, I took attendance and asked each of the student,his schooling, place of birth etc to kill the time. As I was nearing the last 10 students, I was shivering inside with the fear that what I would do next after ‘Attendance’. So I started asking more details for last 10 students like their hobbies, parents occupation etc.I heard the bell ringing when 2 more students were left. It was a great relief as the period got over.

I told ‘thank you’ to students and rushed out. I went straight to my HOD’s Chamber and told that I was going to resign. He smiled and asked me to sit and asked whether students teased. I told no and and explained how I managed taking attendance.He laughed for next 10 minutes. Then he gave me a cup of tea and started giving me lecture. Like Lord Krishna tutored Arjuna, for next few hours he tutored me on how to manage “stage fear”. The focus of his advice was, everyone including PM of India would have fear in their maiden speech but they manage the fear positively.He canceled my classes for next 2 days and tutored me whenever he found time.He gave me very practical tips on how to capture the attention of audience.I gained lot of confidence and when I went for next class I had the lub dub but I managed it effectively. I started using the tips he gave. Within few days the lub dub stopped totally and I became a popular lecturer among students, thanks to Prof Radhakrishnan.


 

 


 



After working as a Lecturer for some time, I got qualified in Civil Service Exam and got IRTS and later IAS. In Railway Academy (Railway Staff College,Baroda) and IAS Academy(LBSNAA,Mussorie) the trainee had to do presentation invariably once in every 10 days on some topic or other. So I became seasoned and I totally forgot this ‘stage fear’.

But once I started working in West Bengal as Sub Divisional Officer(SDO), a new problem arose. It was ‘language fear’. I could read,write and speak in ‘Bengali’ language but I had a fear to address public gatherings in Bengali language. Speaking with common man in Bengali is different but once we address in ‘stage’ we should follow certain grammar and I was not good in it. So whenever I was invited to any public function, my first condition was that I won’t address the gathering and I used to take a deputy magistrate(State service officer) who used to address on behalf of me. I managed this way for more than a year in Bengal.

Almost after a year, things changed. I was to launch a new tribal health programme called ‘Jeevan Jyothi’ in one of my naxal affected blocks called Belpahari block.Few days before the launch,I invited my ‘District Magistrate’ to inaugurate this scheme. The then District Magistrate was Mr.Narayan Swaroop Nigam IAS, who was a young, honest and efficient officer. He was a mentor to me. Happily he agreed to be the chief guest for the occasion. On the day before the programme he asked me to send the programme schedule by email. I did not include my name in the programme because the tribals would not understand a speech in English and I cannot make a speech in Bengali.

Once DM saw the programme schedule he called me and asked why I was not addressing the gathering. As if I was too generous I told,”Sir I want to complete the programme within a short time so that tribal people can return to their villages before dusk”.

He told that my speech of 10 minutes won’t make a big difference and he told that he would reduce his speech by 10 minutes so that I could address the gathering. I was taken aback. I tried to give few more lame reasons but he told that I had to address. I did not know what to do.I decided to tell the truth and told him about my problem in addressing the crowd in Bengali. He told,” Israel, I knew it even before you telling me.I don’t want my SDO to avoid giving speech in Bengali.You are like my younger brother.You have to start learning instead of avoiding. So tomorrow you have to give speech in Bengali. Its an order”.

My first reaction was to fall sick and avoid next day’s function but I knew it wont work with my DM who was a very good person by heart but was also a very strict officer. I did not have any option. I called one of my deputy magistrate Mr.Maity and asked him to prepare a speech. I then started memorising till 3 am in the morning. Next day was a tensed day for me. In the function when my turn came, my long time ally ‘lub dub’ and unusual sensation in my heart started. I was sweating like anything in that cold hilly place.

I don’t remember what exactly I talked.Somehow I managed and completed my speech. The entire gathering including DM clapped for next 5 minutes. Once I got seated after my maiden address in Bengali language ,my deputy magistrate came and told in my ears,”Don’t worry sir. Only you and me know that you have forgotten 75% of speech. Anyhow,speech was not bad”.

P.S – I gradually picked up public speaking in Bengali language within few months because I did not have any other choice.

Techniques for reading ‘The Hindu’

Hi friends,

Most of my students have had this question “How to read the Hindu ? What notes to make ?”
Yes,’ The Hindu ‘ is the preferred newspaper for IAS aspirants, because most of the questions are triggered from there .

Before you learn how to read the newspaper, here are some points I shall suggest

#1. Always have the syllabus infront of you .

#2. Have the past question papers with you and keep referring to them,to understand how questions are asked .

#3. Understand the issue rather than just reading word by word. After identifying the issue ,take down notes topic wise and not date wise.

#4. Use the following websites, if you need more points .

http://pib.nic.in/newsite/mainpage.aspx

#5. Do not spend more than 1 hour on the newspaper.Few students end up spending 3-4 hours merely on the newspaper. It does not help.

Let’s take a look at the newspapers and relevant articles for the exam.

1. Any judgement/ruling /remark by Supreme Court/High Court is important. While you note down the judgement ,also understand its relevance in your syllabus.Relate it to Geography /History /Economics/Polity.

 

2. Identify social issues /challenges facing the society as such .Understand its pros and cons and also note down the recent incidents .You can quote them to substantiate your point .Example -caste riots ,moral policing ,restriction on freedom of speech,etc.

3. Note down any issue being discussed in the Government departments/ministries. Note down the pros and cons of the issue .example -Linking rivers ,water conservation ,etc.
4. Identify schemes/policies/ initiatives of the government. For the prelims ,you will have to know
  • Objectives of the policy
  • Under which ministry /department / it operates.
  • Any special feature of the policy.
  • Who are the members (If its an organisation .eg.Inter State council)
  • Any constitutional provisions related to it .
For the mains,
  • you will have to understand the issue relating to the policy/scheme and make notes on pros and cons.

 

Here,you will have to know about CISF and cyber crime in detail.
5. While reading the editorial , identify the issue first. Then find out points in favour and against it. Please understand the the editorials have a bias towards one opinion. So,it is your duty to identify points, both for the topic and against the topic.
5.

Here, the issue is on the powers of AFSPA. A judgement has triggered this debate.

Hope you find the article helpful in reading the newspaper .
Happy reading .

Bharath Darshan – The dream which motivates IAS aspirants

The word Bharath Darshan, becomes a motivating force for IAS aspirants. What happens during Bharath Darshan? Please read my experience.

 


It was first week of December 2004. Foundation Course got over at Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA), Mussoorie. Other than IAS, all other officer trainees (IFS,IPS,IRS,IRTS,IAAS etc) left to their respective training academies after Foundation Course at Mussoorie.

Phase 1 training for IAS got started. Our Course Coordinator came to the class and announced that we should leave LBSNAA within 2 days as ‘snow fall’ will start soon in Mussoorie and we should not be seen in Mussoorie for next 3 months. Hearing that, all of us were happy because the much awaited ‘Bharat Dharshan’ was about to start.

Our Course Coordinator announced that our batch of 90 IAS officer trainees was divided into 9 groups with 10 members in each group. Each Group will start in Mussoorie and end in Mussoorie after 3 months but had different travel routes. She also announced that each Group will have one member as a Group Leader who will coordinate the entire travel.

After the announcement we rushed to the notice boards to know about our travel plan. To my surprise(also everyone’s surprise), against my name the word ‘Group Leader’ was mentioned. I was surprised because I did not actively participate in any activity(cultural, sports, clubs etc etc  etc) during Foundation Course. I was internally happy, thinking that even without participating, maybe I had displayed some leadership qualities. When I was rejoicing internally but trying to put my face as if I was worried with this new burden of Group Leader, one of my batch mate (and close friend) looked at my face. Maybe he was a mind reader. He told, “Don’t think too much of yourself. In LBSNAA, Mussoorie, training is different. One who didn’t exhibit any leadership quality during Foundation Course, are made Group Leaders so that atleast in next three months during Bharat Dharshan, they start knowing the problems of being a leader and learn some techniques on how to manage a situation”. I was irritated hearing his blunt comment. I looked at the notice board again to see other Groups’ Group Leaders. None of the names I knew. Maybe all  were silent and non participants during Foundation Course like me. Realized that the blunt remark of my friend cum batch mate was a fact.

 


My Group’s first part of Bharat Dharshan was ‘Army Attachment’ in Kashmir. My Group consisted of 6 Male IAS officers and 4 Lady IAS Officers. All 10 of us landed in Srinagar Airport in a chilly cold 2nd week of December. An Army Officer who was made the liaison officer received us in Srinagar Airport and took us to an Army Camp. We had our night stay there and next day early morning we started our journey towards Kashmir Border. As we were moving in our Army Jeeps, we were mesmerized seeing the natural beauty of Kashmir. No words to describe. I realised why the girl Kashmir decided to remain single on 15th August 1947, when both India and Pakistan proposed to marry her. Maybe she was arrogant due to her extraordinary beauty.


After 6 hours of journey by road, we reached our destination. It was a Border Post and from there within few meters we could see few Pakistani Border posts. We stayed in bunkers for next 7 days. We interacted a lot with our Jawans. I had heard of snake bite, dog bite but first time in my life, I heard the word ‘snow bite’. Some of our Jawans lose their fingers because of snow bite. We  realized that to make our life comfortable, our jawans are sacrificing their lives. I saw an Army Jawan having Cricket Bat and Ball in the bunker. Asked him whether they play cricket in that snow laden mountain. He replied, “Sir, I got it from Srinagar when I went on official duty yesterday. Next week my leave which I get once in every 6 months is due. My son was asking cricket bat since long. So eagerly waiting for next week”. I could see his love for his son from his face. I could see the pain of separation from his son for past 6 months from his face. Till that point of time in my life, I always thought, Army people are like robots without feelings.

His reply made me to realise every Jawan in the border has a loving son or daughter waiting for him back home in some far away village. But some of them don’t return but ‘returned’ if they are caught in the shelling from the other side of the border. Realised that they are the people who really serve our mother land.

We landed in Delhi in the last week of December after our Army Attachment. Our next assignment was ‘NGO Attachment’. We were attached to a NGO called ‘MKSS, in Rajasthan. I called one Ms.Aruna who was the head of that NGO over phone and told her that we were proceeding on road from Delhi and may reach around 10 pm. She told our stay arrangements have already been made, and we can meet her next morning for breakfast. We reached MKSS around 10 pm. One person received us and we were taken to a hut.  He told that we can sleep there. There were only some wooden benches in the hut . We were taken aback. How can IAS officers sleep in wooden benches that too in a hut. We started grumbling.

Some of my group members commented that I was a useless Group Leader who didn’t communicate properly with MKSS. I told that MKSS person that we are IAS officers on training, thinking that he had mistaken us for some other group. But he replied that he already knew it and MKSS has only huts. There was no choice for us. We slept. Breeze was better. It was cool without Air Conditioners. We slept like logs after that hectic road journey. Realized huts are better than palatial bungalows.

Next day morning we were taken to a nearby hut for breakfast. The head of MKSS Ms.Aruna Roy welcomed us. She was sitting on the floor and we all of us were made to sit on the floor for breakfast. This time we were not grumbling because we got used to it and atleast breakfast was there because we were very very hungry. We introduced ourselves.

Once she started introducing about her, we became dumbstruck. She told that she was also an IAS officer and she resigned from IAS after few years of service and started MKSS.

She told that her batch mate was the Chief Secretary of Rajasthan at that point of time. She started telling about the suffering MKSS members underwent for fighting for ‘Right to Information'(RTI) in Rajasthan. First time we realised that India is built by so many good souls from different walks of life and we IAS think too much of ourselves.


After MKSS attachment we spent our next one week in visiting different places of Rajasthan. We were proud seeing the magnificient forts built by our Kings across Rajasthan. We also visited Chokidhani which was a small model village which depicted the life in Rajasthan. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Rajasthan.

Our next attachment was ‘Cooperative Society’ attachment with Amul.We took a train and got down in a station called ‘Anand’ in Gujarat. We reached Amul Guest House, refreshed ourselves and visited the factory. We were given presentation on ‘Milk revolution’ in India. We were told how Dr.Verghese Kurien started this concept of cooperative movement in dairy. After our lunch we were taken to the Conference Room for our meeting with ‘The Father of Milk Revolution’ Dr.Verghese Kurien. He gave a brilliant speech. He gave us the conceptual clarity on Cooperative Movement.

He narrated us on how he quit his lucrative job in Tata Steel and started experimenting cooperative movement for milk in Gujarat. He briefed us on the initial challenges he faced. We realised that he was a Great Great Human Being. But one thing we were told even before we left for Bharat Dharshan in Mussoorie was, Dr.Kurien doesn’t like IAS officers. So we were asked to be polite and talk as less as possible. However when Dr.Kurien’s speech was over and I was about to give  ‘Vote of Thanks’, one of my batch mate dropped the bomb shell. He asked, “Sir, we heard that you don’t like IAS officers. Why”.

Dr.Kurien’s face changed. There was a dead silence in the conference room for next few seconds. Then he replied, “What you heard is true. I don’t like IAS because you people are the final decision makers in our system but you people are ‘Jack of all but Master of none’. You people are posted in Agriculture one day, Defence next day, Science and Technology the third day and Education on fourth day in your career. Then how can you become an expert. I am not the most intelligent person on earth. But I became an expert in milk cooperatives because I am living with cows and milk for past 50 years”.

Once he completed this sentence, immediately I got up and started my ‘Vote of Thanks’ to avoid further discussion on that topic. We realized that what he said was 100% true. If Dr.Kurien would have joined civil service instead of spending years of his life with cows, milk today would have been a scarcity in India.


Our next 2 months were full of realizations. We visited Mumbai, Goa, Cochin, Lakshadweep, Coimbatore, Chennai, Odisha and finally Delhi. Each place has several memories attached to it but if I start narrating maybe it will end up in several pages. In Odisha, we lived in a tribal village for a week without electricity. In Delhi, we met Mr.Sreedharan, the father of Metro Rail in India. Our Bharat Dharshan got culminated at Rashtrapathi Bhavan where we had a long discussion with the then President Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam. At the end of Bharat Dharshan, each one of us were different from what we were before our departure from Mussoorie. We could meet eminent souls who built our nation. We could realize the ‘Unity in Diversity’ of our nation. We could realize how beautiful India is and how great Indians are.  We could also realize how much sacrifice our Jawans are making at our borders for ensuring our safety and happiness within the borders.

 


During Bharat Darshan, we in the Group used to spend our travel time and leisure time in playing cards. Every evening(8 pm) after our day’s work got completed, our card games started. I remember even in the Dornier flight from Cochin to Lakshadweep, we were playing cards, up in the sky.We became experts in different card games. We used to even cheat in card games. Once caught, we used to fight like kids and not talk for next 2 days. Again we used to start our card games. At the end of Bharat Darshan, despite so many fights, we were the closest friends after reaching LBSNAA, Mussoorie. That bonding still continues. The reason may be because of the famous saying, ‘Known Devil is better than an Unknown Angel’.

A Night in The Life of an IAS Officer

Many IAS aspirants will always want to know how their dream job IAS would be. Let me narrate a real incident which will you give an idea, how a night of an IAS Officer could be.

A small error (later realised a big blunder)  on my part made me to face a cliffhanger night. The following incident which is one tensed night which I underwent when I was a SDO in Jhargram Subdivision in West Bengal.


Jhargram is a very old Subdivision in West Bengal. It borders with Jharkhand and is a very beautiful subdivision.Jhargram Subdivision is blessed with 2 rivers,one is called Kangsavathi river which flows in the northern part of subdivision and the second river called Subarnarekha river which flows in the southern part of Jhargram Subdivision. I was working as the Sub Divisional Officer of Jhargram Subdivision, West Midnapore District, in West Bengal.Jhargram Subdivision has 8 blocks (Block is an administrative unit.Many blocks together form a subdivision and many subdivisions together form a district). It was first week of July 2007. It was raining heavily for 3 consecutive days.Only 2 blocks of Jhargram Sub division(Nayagram Block and Binpur 1 Block) were flood prone. I was busy in sending relief material to these 2 affected blocks.Even though the remaining 6 blocks were partially affected,only these 2 blocks were historically and geographically flood prone and were drawing attention all these years.

 


It was around 9pm and I got a phone call from BDO( Block development Officer) of Sankrail Block.He told me that water level in Sankrail was increasing. Sankrail Block is located in the eastern most part of Jhargram Subdivision and even though River Subarnarekha flows through it, its drainage system is proper and historically no severe flood was reported from this Block.The BDO of Sankrail was an efficient officer but one problem i found with him on several occasions was , he always over reacted even for a small problem. So when he told that water level was raising, I started laughing and told him not to overreact and told that I was busy in sending food material to Nayagram and Binpur 1 Blocks. Boss is always right and so he had to keep the phone. Around 10 pm, District Magistrate called and reviewed the flood situation. Mr.B.P.Bharat was the District Magistrate & District Collector(DM) at that time and he was a friend, philosopher and guide to me.He used to protect me, whenever I, as a young officer fought with ruling party.He always used to tell that I was like his son and really took care of me.After reviewing the flood situation of 2 worst affected blocks,he told that he recieved a call from Sankrail BDO. I laughed and told him,”Sir, Sankrail BDO is like a child and over reacts for everything.Historically no flood is reported from Sankrail”. In bureaucracy precedents decide and I was a bureaucrat. Mr.Bharat laughed with me and he kept the phone.Then around 12 midnight, after planning for next day’s relief operations, I went to bed.

 


I was in deep sleep and I heard heavy knocking of door. I got up and saw the time was 2 30AM. I could hear the voice of my Bungalow peon. I opened the door and asked him what happened. He told that BDO Sankrail was on phone line.

Generally no one has the guts to disturb his officer at midnight unless the issue is really important. So I went to my Bungalow Office(Bungalow Office is attached to residence but has all communication facilities like phone, Computer, Fax etc and the officer can meet public during holidays). When I lifted the phone I could hear that BDO Sankrail was breathing heavily. He was stammering. He was almost crying. He told that around 10 villages had been marooned(Villages had become island- fully surrounded by flood water) and within next few hours those villages would be submerged totally.

First time, I realized that situation was grave and very dangerous. I asked him whether country boats (boats used for fishing by local population) can rescue the marooned villagers. He told that country boats could not go beyond a point because the current was heavy. BDO also told that the youth who went for rescuing in country boats could not go near the villages but could hear villagers crying for help that many were in trees because water level was increasing. So it sent a chill in my backbone. If people were in trees then any person with common sense would understand that within next 3 hours, these people would be submerged if water level increases. I asked him about water level. He told that still it was raising. I asked him not to worry and kept the phone even though I was thoroughly shaken inside.

Immediately after keeping the phone I dialed District Magistrate’s Bungalow Office. I could hear the beep sound which indicated that BSNL phone was dead due to maintenance in Midnapore town (as I did not have BSNL connection, my phone was alive). I then dialed his mobile but unfortunately his mobile was also BSNL connection. I redialled several times hoping suddenly it may ring. It didn’t ring.

I was sitting and smoking continuously without knowing what to do next. I saw my Bungalow Office clock showing 3AM. I thought to wait till 6 am and pass the message to DM through special messenger but again what DM could do. He could requisition army but army cantonment was located in Fort William in Kolkata and it would take at least 5 hours for the Army to reach Sankrail. So even if I sent a special messenger, he could reach DM’s Bungalow in Midnapore not before 4 30 am and so army can not reach before 10 am to Sankrail even if all paper formalities to requisition army were completed in 30 minutes time.

If rescue was not completed by 8 am, many would die. Therefore option of sending a special messenger to DM was ruled out.I was cursing myself for not taking BDO’s warning seriously.

I was smoking continuously and was totally helpless. Suddenly it struck me. An IAS probationer who was undergoing training in my Subdivision told me the previous day that she went to purchase some items at subsidised rate in Kalaikunda Airforce Canteen. Kalikunda is an airforce station located in a place called kalaikunda which was in my neighboring Sadr subdivision. But as per protocol, only DM could requisition Army. Another thing which worried me was, even if i broke the protocol whether Airforce would listen to SDO , as later they may have to face serious problems because defence rules are very stringent.

Another worry was, who would respond at 3AM. I thought for a minute and decided to take a chance. I took the telephone directory and found Kalaikunda Air force station’s number. I dialed and no one lifted.Again I tried. This time after several rings, a person asked who I was. I explained the grave situation. He told that it was 3 AM and he was just a telephone attendant and asked to call at 8AM. I again explained. Finally he transferred the call to next level in hierarchy. I explained to the next person. He was polite and transferred to some Wing Commander.

It was a surprise to me when I heard the voice of Wing Commander. I could make out from his voice that I awoke him when he was at deep sleep but he asked me politely what he could do for me. I told him the situation. He told that he will call me back after discussing with his seniors and got my telephone number. I thought Air Force door was closed because according to their rules they can be asked for help only by DM. So I thought he tried to avoid by telling that he wanted to discuss with seniors, which is a common practice in civil service to buy time without hurting the other party. So again I was back to square one without knowing what to do next. I started smoking another cigarette.

My telephone rang in another 5 minutes and wing commander told that “Station Commandant” of Kalaikunda Airforce Base would call me and kept the phone. Station Commandant is a very very senior person in defence hierarchy and was the senior most officer of airbase and I was very very junior in civil hierarchy. So I was surprised because hierarchy was inbuilt in my system. Another 2 minutes my telephone rang and I heard the friendly voice of Station Commandant. He asked me why I disturbed his sleep at 3 AM in a laughing tone. I explained him the situation. He told me not to worry.

From his voice, first time I felt in that night that people would be rescued. In a friendly but firm voice he told that he would start the rescue operation with motor boats immediately and with helicopters from 6 AM onwards. When I thanked him he said,” Young man, who are you to thank me. It’s my duty for my country”. It happened at 3 15 AM when in normal days I would have been in deep sleep and if any person would have asked for help at 3 AM, I would have kicked the telephone if not the person away. After few minutes of explaining the details of rescue operation he kept the phone. Around 4 15 AM, again my phone rang and Sankrail BDO was on the line. He told that IAF personnel had reached the spot with trucks loaded with speed boats.Around 6 AM I could see an helicopter flying.

I saluted the helicopter and Indian Air Force and it was a salute from my heart.

P.S. As usual my DM protected me for breaking the protocol.