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By Dr Shahid Iqbal, IAS
I entered the room and wished the Chairman and members, collectively, a good afternoon. The Chairman Mr I M G Khan smilingly welcomed and offered me the seat. I thanked him and took the seat.
Khan: What's your correct name? is it SHAID or SHAHID:
SI: Sir, it's Shahid but in matriculation records it was wrongly entered as SHAID so I quoted the same for CSE
Khan: Ha Ha…Some Babu must have done that. It happens. But there is a procedure to get it changed too?
SI: Yes Sir, I did that recently and have submitted the revised document now.
Khan: What is the difference between Shaheed and Shahid?
SI: Sir, Shaheed is Martyr and Shahid is Witness.
Khan: That's nice. See how a single alphabet changes the meaning of name. So, Shahid appeared to me as "Perhaps" but you are witness?
Khan: Just be careful about your name, as it is the computer which makes the result so make it sure some else Shahid may not take away your good score!! Do write many letters to Secretary UPSC citing your correct name!!! I am serious!!
SI: OK Sir, I will do the needful.
Khan: You are posted in Poonch. The district is known for some border related tensions. What problems do the people face.
SI: Sir right now I am posted in Srinagar and having served in Poonch I feel that the Cross-Border terrorism has created a lots of problem for the people. The town is only eight kilometers away from LoC and many times has remained in eye of the storm. The cross-fires and battles along the LoC have really inflicted serious damage to the daily life of the people there.  
Khan: Has there been decline in militancy? What are the reasons?
SI: Certainly Yes, Sir. I would say development has been a greater reason which was reflected in lack of local support to the militancy. Moreover the opening up of the borders has played a major role : people have come to know the situation on the other side well.
Khan: What problems do the Gujjars and Bakkerwals face from militancy?
SI: Sir, traditionally the Gujjars have always been critical of the secessionist movement and did never lend support to the militancy. Irked at this the terrorists inflicted serious damages like repeated massacres at many places. Moreover their movement to highland pastures also go hampered.
DS Mathur: What are the causes of militancy in J&K?
SI: Sir, apart from the historical factors, unemployment and poverty had been major reasons which helped the secessionist and militants to misguide the youth.
( while answering I could feel how could a person like me give such a rubbish answer to such a general question? 87 elections, plebiscite demand, 1947, Jagmohan and so on…………….
I knew the basics …but that's UPSC pressure to which we succumb sometimes, but luckily I could recover in next two questions. but the disappointment over my answer kept taxing my nerves till I gained my form back after 5min or so)
DSM: But poverty and unemployment do exist in UP too, there is no militancy, then why in J&K?
SI: Sir, I meant to say that historical factors are there but these were reasons which helped terrorist to gain local support when the secessionist misguided the youth.
DSM: Do you think elections have to play any role in this?
SI: Certainly sir. It is a known fact that 1987 seven elections were the most rigged elections ever held in JK. This disappointed the masses. The popular leaders who had to be MLAs were declared defeated and those were the persons who lead the militant movement there. Hizb chief is a by-product of 1987 rigging only. On the contrast we see 2002 and 2008 elections as a watershed event there. The kind of overwhelmeing response in the transparent elections has shown the way. Development has been a major reason for this.
DSM: So you think democracy can make or break your state.
SI: Certainly sir.
DSM: You mentioned, earlier, development and other measures. What are they and how they have helped?
SI: An example to cite would be the Qazigund-Bramulla rail link which has bridged the north south divide in Kashmir and opened up new avenues. Second the cross LoC trade and movement of people. The plight of people on other side of line has opened up the eyes of our people. The condition of livelihood and HR. Economy too. Wheat floor is Rs 12/Kg in JK it is Rs 65/Kg in PoK. (Khan exclaimed : My Goodness, INR OR PR? I replied Indian Rupee), Meat here is Rs 120/Kg, and 275 in PoK, Cement 210/bag and 490/bag respectively. These things matter.
DSM: Do you think militancy saved forests? As they were out of bound for people?
SI: Sir, I think it was the other way round. Precious timber like deodar used to be transported to Pakistan through Jehlum in return of money. There had been a trade like that. Terrorists also encouraged local smugglers. So I think it damaged the forests more. (Khan: True, money is a big game for them. Even drugs business is growing under their patronage)
DSM: What are the problems of animal husbandry there? And what about diseases?
SI: Diseases like Rinderpest and FMD were a problem. Rinderpest has been eradicated but FMD remains a serious problem for the livestock. But the problem is with the numbers. We have some 2 million non-producing animals at any given point of time. The tribal people do keep more numbers as a matter of prestige only. I have seen in certain instances 4-6 producing animals in a herd of 150 or so. Its alarming.
DSM: That means a serious grazing pressure?
SI: Of course Sir. It is a serious problem obviously.
Member Three: You Play Volleyball. Where u picked up the Game?
SI: Sir, I started playing at LBSNAA and IGNFA. (and after that?). Well sir I did play in Pooch too where a made a team of my range staff, and I used to play with them in free time. (Feels happy over this)
MT: How many team members are there? What are dimensions of court?
SI: Six players of each side. Court is 9 BY 9 on each side and a 3M Middle portion divided by the Net at half I.e 1.5m
MT: Whats difference between Volleyball and Beach Volleyball?
SI: I have not played beach volley ever but have seen people playing during a tour, Beach volleyball has a team of 2 compared to that of six in standard game. Moreover the solid ground in standard game is replaced by sand!!! It is played in coastal areas.
MT: When was it included in Olympics?
SI: I believe in 1960 or so.
MT: Some major game event coming up in Delhi. What and when?
SI: Commonwealth Games in 2010.
MT: What was its earlier name?
SI: (SMILED). Sorry sir, I don't have an exact idea about it!!
MT: Which other Game event of this level was held in Delhi and when?
SI: Sir, Asian Games in early 1980s. ( Asks which year. Sir I think it is 1984 or so, but frankly I don't remember the exact year. Says it was 1982)
MT: What Programme has Army taken up in border areas? And its impact?
SI: There is one "Sadbhavana" mission under which roads, bridges, schools, community centers, etc have been built. This has been a major contribution. It has certainly changed the image of army there.
MT: There was another programme along LoC?
SI: Not a developmental programme but a security measure, the LoC fencing?
MT: Yes, yes. What about it. Is it successful?
SI: Yes sir, to a greater extent. But you cannot fence the whole state!! Like we saw infiltration from Gurez area yesterday. There are inaccessible terrains also where fencing can not help. But certainly it has improved the things on this side.
Member Four: What are the basis of constituencies, like that of LS or Assembly?
SI: A uniform ratio of electorate to representative. Roughly eleven lakhs in case of LS.
MF: What about ST, SCs? What percentage.
SI: Reservation is there for ST/SC. Perhaps, in proportion to population, but I am missing the exact scheme.
MF: What are Parliamentary Committees? Whats the need?
SI: Sir, these are committees constituted by drawing members from both LS and RS. They are entrusted with works related to various ministries.
Since it is not possible for the parliament to go into the basics of everything, say a Forests Bill. So the committees see into pros and cons, suggest measures etc, also budget/expenditure required etc.
MF: When do they work?
SI: (I MISSED THE QUESTION AND STARTED ANSWERING WRONGLY) sir when the bill is introduced then after the diss………..Chairman interrupts(NO NO)…..i said, Sorry I missed the question. Chairman says : You are in hurry to answer that's why. Question repeated. I said: I don't have clear idea. Chairman explains that they work during budget session.
MF: How was the Budget this year?
SI: No budget was presented this year sir, as elections were round the corner. So, I think demands for grants was approved…..something like that…. (FORGOT VOTE ON ACCOUNT)
MF: But you should have studied it in GS for Mains?
SI: Perhaps I am unable to recollect the exact scheme. Economy had always been weak in my case….(.smile.)
MF: What are your service options/preferences?
SI: Sir, IAS, IPS, IFS. But I will join only IAS.  
Chairman: But you have also mentioned IRS at 4.
SI: Sir, at the time of filling up mains form I was non-committal about IRS. But now I have decided I will not join any service other than IAS. 
MF: Why not IFS? Is it about seniority?
SI: no Sir. I have already put 4 years into IFS. And have done very good work, gained experience too. In IAS I would be starting from a threshold, as job is more or less similar. In IAS I will have to start from Zero. Moreover its all about personal preference. (smile)
MF: If you get Nagaland cadre?
SI: I will join sir. Cadre is not a problem for me today. In 2005 I was committed to leave service if I get any cadre other than JK. But since then I have got a great exposures and have come out of that comfort zone thinking.
MF: Which awards you won in LBSNAA?
SI: Sir, in Photography and Essay writing.
MF: What you learned at LBSNAA?
SI: For me, it was interaction with fellow colleagues in other services and a culture of teamwork, be it trekking or cultural programme. Personally I learned photography and got a skill of writing.
Member Five: Difference Between plants and animals?
SI: Animals can move plants cannot, they can eat and plants do not, plants photosynthesize and animals do not. And the like things…………… 
M5: But they differ at cellular level too. Do you know what centrosomes are?
SI: (FEELING HELPLESS) Sir I don't remember exactly. It's been a long time I was at cellular level last!
M5: Oh yes, I forgot. That might be the reason.
M5: When is the World Forestry Day?
SI: Sir, I don't know exactly (BLUNDER!!!!!) (M5: But a senior forest officer should know it)
M5: Who was Brandis?
SI: A German forester. Was appointed first IG Forests in 1850s. Started scientific forestry in India.
M5: Under which Ministry Mr. Brandis worked?
SI: Sir, I think it was ministry of Agriculture, because till recently Forest department was under Ministry of Agriculture.
M5: Absolutely right. So tell me when was your Ministry of Environment and Forests created?
SI: Sir, I THINK it was in 1985 ( was not sure) (M5: Yes almost then)
M5: Who is IGF now?
SI: Sir, now we have DG Forests, and many IGs.
M5: Who is DGF?
SI: Sir, Mr J C Kala was in 2007, thereafter I don't know. (Says: Oh You don't know DGF, I said out of sight out of mind perhaps, after academy I concentrated more on affairs in state)
M5: That is a history. Kala retired long back.
M5: Who is Director IGNFA?
SI: Sir, a Haryana Cadre IFS officer was posted recently. Yes, Mr Jakati, Mr B D Jakati. (Thank God, kisi ka naam to aya, wo be ludak ludak k!!!!! pata nahin hai k wo be retire ho gya TO NAHIN!!!!)
MF: What are international forestry institutes?
M5: What is importance of 2011 for Foresters?
SI: One is regarding Climate Change. A protocol to replace Kyoto has to be ratified by then for post-2012.
M5: OK. But 2011 has been designated by the UN as I/N Year of Forestry.
SI: ok sir. (sad feeling. What all nonsense questions he is asking)
M5: What is ICFRE? Do we need such a council?
SI: Sir, it is Indian Council for Forestry, with HQ at Dehradun. Certainly ICFRE has major role to play. It has chain of research and training institutes across the regions in India, where research is done. It collaborates at international l evel too. I think we certainly rquire such a council at National level for coordination between states as well as I/N level. It serves as a resource for state forestry personnel too.
M5: Who is DG ICFRE?
SI: Sir, Mr Jagdish Kishan, an IFS officer of Jammu and Kashmir cadre
Khan: Shahid, do you know Urdu? Have you studied poetry?
SI: Sir, I have only working knowledge of Urdu. I have studied it only as a part of curriculum till metric standard. Poetry too I studied but for classroom purpose!!!!
Khan: Ok. Ok, name some poets you have studied then?
SI: (PLAYING SAFE!!), sir as I mentioned only as a part of curriculam, I studied, Mirza Galib, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Sahir Ludhianvi among others.
Khan: o i see. So recite some couplet of Faiz. Oh you already told u studied only as a part of curriculam. So let me recite for you. YE DAAG DAAG (Something …..i don't remember), said Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Do you know on what occasion he said this?
Khan: He expressed his pain over the partition of India.
SI: OK Sir, now I will remember this .
Chairman: smiles, so Mr Shahid, it was nice talking to a polished gentleman. Thanks a lot.
SI: Thank You sir,.