Meet IAS Neha Jain and Read Her Answers to UPSC Board

Neha Jain had cleared the India’s toughest examination by clinching All India Rank 12th in UPSC Civil Services Exam 2014 and has brought laurels to her family at the age of 26 years.

Neha Jain thought that the one life which we possess should be dedicated to the benefit of maximum people and not in selfish pursuit of money. She viewed money as a means to a greater end. With this sense of mission and wanting to pursue a path in which she could utilize her abilities to the maximum she chose to give Civil Services Examination a try. She take it as a sign that she is on the right path of her mission.

Marks Obtained by Neha Jain

 Total Marks  Marks Obtained
Total (Written)  1750 714
 Interview 275  179
 Total  2025  893 (44.10%)

Educational Background

Neha Jain was born and brought up in Kanpur. Neha completed her schooling from St. Mary’s Convent, Kanpur in 2003 from ICSE Board. She scored 92.8% in class tenth and 90% in class twelve. She pursued her B Tech in  Computer Science & Engineering from Harcourt Butler Technological Institute, Kanpur and passed out in 2009 by scoring 82.50%. She was also a Silver Medalist in her college.

She was a software engineer by profession as she served IBM India Pvt. Ltd. Banglore, for 3 years and 11 months before cracking UPSC Exam.

Must Read: UPSC Board Interview of Sakshi Sawhney IAS, Rank-6

Optional Paper

Neha Jain opted for Sociology as her optional paper.


Neha Jain cracked UPSC Civil Services Examination in her very first attempt.

Tips for Young Aspirants

  • Make aligned target to the test series and make it a point to excel in them.
  • Practice, Practice and Practice. Its about accuracy and SPEED.

Also Read: Preparation for UPSC Interview

UPSC Board Interview of Neha Jain IAS

Neha Jain: Good Morning Ma’am, May I come in?

CM: Please come in. Take your seat

Me: Thank you ma’am.

CM: So you paint. What medium do you use?

Me: Ma’am, I use water colours.

CM: So what is unique about water colours?

Me: Ma’am, The finality of the strokes, there is no scope of a re-do, we actually paint with the coloured water. The excellence of the brush strokes is what I like the most.

CM: What is that one thing about water colors? You used to draw but you have never been able to do watercolours.

Neha Jain: Ma’am I am only able to think of the finality of the brush stroke

CM: It’s the patience required to let the paint dry.

Me: Thank you ma’am.

(Didn’t really agree with her because oil paints require much more patience, and frankly the water colours are a lot quicker. But I avoided any arguments at this stage).

CM: Do you follow Tour de France?

Me: No ma’am not much. (I knew about the Lance Armstrong story but not any further so I preferred to keep silent on this topic).

(CM points to M1 to take over)

M1: India and Pakistan have a very troubled relationship. What are the reasons you think for this?

Me: The first would be the tussle for Kashmir which is very much in news these days (A Hurriyat leader had written an open letter to the People of India for a Political solution for Kashmir) And the second would be the ceasefire violations in the past year along the Line of Control.

M1: So what is the whole issue about Jammu and Kashmir? Can you elaborate?

Me: Sir, The story goes back to the time of independence and the integration of princely states with India. Maharaja Hari Singh of Jammu and Kashmir wanted J&K to be autonomous whereas the Indian leaders wanted to integrate it within the territory of India. Also, our first Prime Minister being a Kashmiri himself had an affinity towards Kashmir. Due to Pakistani attacks on J&K, Hari Singh had to take help of the Indian forces and thus an Instrument of Accession was signed and since then we share a special relation with J&K under Article 370

M1: And what could be Pakistan’s interest in J&K?

Me: Sir, I am not sure, but I can take a guess. It’s related to the predominant Muslim population in Kashmir.

M1: Neha, you have opted for Sociology. Tell me what do we study in the discipline as such?

Neha Jain: Sir, The discipline of sociology speaks about 3 main things.

  • The interaction and influence of institutions with each other. e.g. how the institution of religion affects the institution of politics.
  • The interaction of individuals with each other and
  • The interactions of institutions with each other.

M1: Very good. Can you think of any prominent Indian sociologists?

Me: Sir M.N. Srinivas, G.S. Ghurye and Andre Beteille.

M1: Can you think of some predominant theory of M.N.Srinivas?

Me: Sir, the most prominent theory of Srinivas would be the theory of Sanskritization and Westernization.

M1: Can you explain.

Neha Jain: Sir, there are 2 hierarchies- The ritual hierarchy and the secular hierarchy. When an individual belonging to a lower position in the caste hierarchy achieves economic success, he moves up the ladder of secular hierarchy. But, in an effort to move up the ritual hierarchy, he emulates the behaviour, rituals and customs of the higher caste.

M1: Do you think the concept of Sankritization holds much importance in the contemporary world?

Me: No sir. I think in the current context people are content with climbing the secular hierarchy. And also with the concept of vote bank politics and reservations, Sanskritization is not as relevant today.

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(Member 2 now asks his questions after the CM passes over the baton to him)

M2: What is Buddhist view on God?

Me: Sir, Buddhism neither accepts nor rejects the existence of God. The main concern of Buddhism is alleviation of human sufferings. It’s perception of God can be called agnostic.

M2: So you are from Kanpur, it was once a very famous city but now it has its set of problems. What are your views on this?

Neha Jain: Sir, as you rightly mentioned Kanpur which was once called the ‘Manchester of the East’ has now reached a level where some scholars call it the ‘graveyard of industries’.

But I would want to draw your attention to the positives of Kanpur – it is true that the large mills have been shut down but the medium and small industries are flourishing in a big way, the education industry is booming, The Kanpur Metro project is upcoming and IT companies including IBM are opening their offices in Kanpur. So there is a lot of scope for the city to revive.

M2: So if you are made the administrator of Kanpur, what will you do to revive the city?

Me: I would identify and take steps to revive the sick industries, would give impetus to the ones which are upcoming. I shall take steps to create more jobs in the city to prevent out-migration so that the youth population stays and the city grows and matures along with its youth.

M2: Neha, you have taken sociology and you have been a technical person otherwise. Man’s life is increasingly becoming privatised, what is the role of technology in it, the access to all sort of information etc.?

Neha Jain: Man is indeed becoming privatised but in the quest to communicate he gives out his information to facebook and the like. To the extent that even when one opens a TV channel, the set top box is capable of transmitting information of what one is viewing. Some sociologists have gone to an extent of saying that all this amounts to public sphere i.e. the state’s encroachment into the private sphere domain.

M2: What I meant was the effect on children with access to information of all types?

Me: Yes sir, as you rightly pointed out that no parent would want their children to be exposed to the amount of information which is available now. And a district collector being a parent of the entire district is certainly more concerned.

M2: So, how will you monitor that? Are there any laws around the same?

Me: Sir, I am not sure if there are any provisions under the IT Act.

CM: Any other laws?

Neha Jain: No ma’am, I cannot think of anything else.

(Board member M3 takes over. He had a very feeble voice so had to ask him to repeat the question sometime)

M3: So you do a lot of Trekking?

Me: Sir, I have done a very small trek to Lohgarh.

M3: What are the things required for a long distance trekking.

Me: (since I have not trekked as much I had not much idea about this.. ) Sir, may be a hand towel, a water bottle. I cannot think of anything much since I have done just one small trek.

M3: Continuing with India Pakistan, there is a constant tussle between the two and each other draws from the other’s strength. What do you understand?

At this point I turn a little blank and M2 points out that conflict leads to cooperation..sociology etc.

(M4 takes over now)

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M4: You have written ‘pursuing Buddhist Philosophy’, how do you pursue?

Neha Jain: Sir, I chant morning and evening.

M4: Have you visited Ladakh, may be that would be a nice trek.

Me: No sir, I have not been there.

M4 : So you mentioned about the education industry in Kanpur? Is it right to say that education is becoming like an industry? I mean the coaching centres, is it a fair thing.

Me: Sir, I agree that commodification of education is not a right thing to do. But by industry I meant that the coachings do fetch us revenue.

M4: Who is the ‘us’? And what type of revenue?

Me: Sir, I mean the administration. And they do fetch us service tax and property tax.

M4: So, do you support the coaching institutions?

Neha Jain: Sir, for a student who he is new to the exam ahead, coachings do act as a guide and assist in preparation. On the other hand they do create a divide between those who can access these facilities and those who are deprived of this advantage. So, we need to strengthen our basic education to create a level playing field.

M4: What would you do strengthen government education?

Me: Sir, I would have regular assessments and focus on the teacher quality.

M4: Are there any such assessments already happening?

Me: Sir, I am not sure.

M4: NGO Pratham..

Me: Yes sir. (i did not argue further though by assessments I meant class tests for student evaluation).

M4: You have heard of the poverty line, have you heard of something called the empowerment line?

Me: No sir, I have not heard of this.

M4: Let’s say I were to create an imaginary empowerment line, what do you think would be its parameters?

Neha Jain: Sir, the criteria for poverty line is economic based on consumption pattern and calorific values. But, the empowerment line would have parameters like access to health, education, labour foce participation, economic independence and political independence.

M4: If the number of people below poverty line is 200 million then how many do you think will be below empowerment line?

Me: Certainly much more. Because even if people are above the Poverty Line, they are dependent, not empowered.

M4: What do you think we need to empower people – a universal health care or Right to Food?

Me: Sir, I think its not the question of ‘or’ but its a matter of ‘and’. Looking at our current situation we need both.

(Chairman takes over)

CM: Neha, some people are born great, some people achieve greatness and some people have greatness thrust on them. What do you understand by this?

Neha Jain: Ma’am, there are some people who are born with a silver spoon in their mouth, who do not have to do much to achieve greatness, whereas others through their efforts and persistence acquire skills and expertise which make them great-these belong to the second category. But, some people are so noble and so sincere that they don’t have to make any effort to be great. Greatness automatically comes to them.

CM: but doesn’t thrust sound derogatory.

Me: Yes ma’am, it might sound that way but I take it in the positive sense.

CM: (looking at my email id) What can born 2 win mean?

Me: Ma’am, it might sound a little arrogant, but for me winning is about not being defeated. Picking myself up each time I fall down. I always say to myself.. Neha, you are born to win, how can you accept defeat, it is a sin !

CM: Your interview is over. You may leave.

Neha Jain: Thank you ma’am. Thank you sirs.

Also Read: UPSC Board Interview of IAS Topper Shubhra Saxena

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