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Updated: February 9, 2014 18:11 IST

How well do you know your State?

Dr. P. Kanagaraj
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Candidates studying in or hailing from Chennai must understand profoundly issues, legacies, uniqueness, advantages and disadvantages of the city.
Candidates studying in or hailing from Chennai must understand profoundly issues, legacies, uniqueness, advantages and disadvantages of the city.

Knowledge of the socio-political and economic aspects of the state from where you hail is important when you attend the interview. Last in the series on the Civil Services Examination.

The civil services exam interview conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) focuses on the personal details of the candidates including the home town, district and State. The last decade had witnessed an exponential increase in the number of successful candidates hailing from Tamil Nadu in this exam making the last one and a half decades the golden era of Tamil Nadu in the civil services exam. The State sends about one seventh of the candidates to the personality test, and a staggering number of 25,000 candidates attend the preliminary test annually. The interview panel focuses on the society, politics, economy, culture and paramount personalities of the State in the interview of candidates from this state.


Tamil Nadu is the most urbanised-state among the larger States of the country with about 48.45 per cent of the people domiciled in urban landscape as per the census of 2011. The decadal increase in the urban population of the State was an impressive 4.41 per cent. The interview panel had asked frequently about the forces and factors that are adducible for this remarkable transition. There are a plethora of factors rooted in social, economic and educational planks through which this trend can be explained.

The colonial legacy of Madras metropolis as a kind of capital of peninsular India, tremendous growth and diversification especially in the post liberalisation period, privatisation and concomitant expansion of educational institutions, implementation of the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act and the resultant incorporation of adjoining and adjacent villages into ever expanding municipal corporations and municipal councils and the presence of numerous census towns are the assorted factors that propel this frantic pace of urbanisation in the State.

Automobile industry

The panel fires a fusillade of questions on the different dimensions of the economy of Tamil Nadu. When we analyse the economic landscape of Chennai city, the automobile industry is very conspicuous by its presence making it the automobile capital of south Asia, manufacturing everything from B to B, that is, Bicycles to Battle tanks — everything that moves or carries is manufactured in the city. The panel tends to ask in detail about these economic aspects and therefore the aspirants of the civil services exam should prepare thoroughly. A comprehensive preparation on this subject will cover factors like the long history of strong engineering base in the city, investment friendly political dispensation, availability of skilled manpower, excellent infrastructure, cost effectiveness of land, labour, power and other resources. Candidates studying in or hailing from Chennai must understand profoundly issues, legacies, uniqueness, advantages and disadvantages of the city as there is a greater probability of the interview panel posing probing questions.

Film and politics

One of the unique dimensions of politics in Tamil Nadu is the intrinsic and intimate rapport between politics and cinema with as many as five chief ministers hailing from a cinema background. The interview board in the past had enquired repeatedly on this trend and the plethora of questions asked include how did this relationship evolve historically? Why did this dominance of films in politics emerge? Who are the cinematic stalwarts who became successful in politics and who failed to make a mark? What impact films made on politics and what impact politics made on cinema?.

Candidates can say cinema provided film personalities an opening in politics. But there are other social, political, administrative and personality factors which enabled domination of politics. Cinematic popularity is not the single thread of the fabric of political success as other strands and threads are also important.

Strategic suggestions

Candidates must answer the questions about Tamil Nadu through the prism of national perspective as they are competing in the recruitment test intended to select officers for All India Services and Central Services.

Interviewees can defend their State-level interests through logical and impassioned reasoning that seek simultaneous national and regional betterment.

They need not betray the legitimate interest of their respective States, and their answers and arguments should be always underpinned by the basic features and objectives of the constitution of India.

Aspirants must possess sufficient knowledge of topics pertaining to the home State. The syllabus of the preliminary test and main exam of civil services do not contain all aspects of society, politics , economy, culture and architecture of Tamil Nadu as it is a national competitive exam where it is not plausible to cover the basics and specifics of all 28 individual States of the Indian union.

Candidates would not have studied these aspects as part of their preparation for the preliminary test and main exam.

Therefore the candidates must devote considerable amount of time, energy and attention on Tamil Nadu-specific issues and the three months interregnum between the main test and personality test is ideally suitable for such an intensive preparation.

Contestants must also cultivate diverse soft skills falling under both interpersonal and intrapersonal categories. They must focus on the cultivation of English communicative skills as there is a deficit of effective and fluent communication in the personality of students hailing from semi-urban and rural landscape or a socially underprivileged background.

The writer is associate professor of political science, Government Arts College, Coimbatore.

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