Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Young India

This is an informal interview with Vivek Kumar whose ratings have risen in the last few weeks with his famous UPSC interview post on his blog and the featured article in The Week by Jon Stock.

Q: How do you feel about this whole blog/The Week fame?
A: It feels good to see one's name in a magazine of good repute. Thehits on my blog have increased too. But apart from that, I know that Idid next to nothing to deserve this short-lived fame. So, it feelsgood, but I'm not over the moon, if that is what you mean.

Q: Could you please give a brief introduction to yourself? (Schooling,college, university, places you lived etc...)
A: I've lived in too many places to name them all. My father was inthe Rajasthan Police Service, so we moved wherever he was posted (allover Rajasthan). He died (on duty) in 1992 when I was 11. After that,my mother and I moved to Pilani and stayed there for 4 years (Classes9 to 12). Then, I went to do my B.Tech. in Chemical Engineering fromIIT Bombay, so Mumbai was my home for 4 years. After that, I've beenmoving around Jaipur and Delhi for a while. I went to Mussoorie for afew months in training. And now, I'm based in New Delhi.

Q: Why did you not follow the brain drain trend? Reasons
A: Reasons.. firstly, no love for lots of money. Secondly, not muchlove for Chemical Engineering. Thirdly, lots of love for India and itsfuture.

Q: Can you briefly describe you work for our readers? (If it issensitive, we can eliminate the details, but most of the people don'tknow what you exactly do)
A: The job of an IFS officer is to further India's foreign policy. Weare the people who implement the foreign policy. Our broad guidelineis to safeguard our national interests. As you can see from thedescription, our goals are often intangible and "success" in diplomacyis a very loose term. Broadly, the work can be divided in 3 parts -Political, Commercial and Cultural. Within this brief, we get a lot ofspace to do things the way we want.

Q: ~50% of the population in India is below 20's. What does this meanto India's future?
A: It means that India has (and will continue to have) a large workingpopulation. Combined with the fact that population in this age groupis decreasing in the developed world, it should be a good opportunityfor India in terms of growth.

Q: You are at a stage where many people dream of; what are your dreams?
A: I've come to a stage where I wanted to be. But obviously, this isnot all. This is more like a beginning. Right now, I'm just looking,listening and learning. There are too many dreams that I have and theyare all tangled right now. I haven't set myself any goals for the nearfuture. Right now, I am content to sit back and learn for a while.

Q: What do you think about India Shinning etc..? How do you see Indiain the next 10 years; 20 years; 30 years?
A: I don't know. There are things I would want India to achieve in10/20/30 years, but I have no idea if we'll get there.

Q: Philosophy! Not many youngsters of your age are into Philosophy. What are your views on life and spirituality?
A: My father named me after Swami Vivekananda. The basement in my homeis full of books on all religions and philosophies (Eastern/Western).There is a lot of material on Swami Vivekananda, of course. When I wasa kid, my summer vacations were spent almost entirely in thatbasement. I was crazy about the written word. So, I managed to readmost of those books before I turned a teenager. I think that is whatgave me a philosophical outlook. One of my friends thinks that Ishould become a spiritual guru :) My views on life and's difficult to say. I do have a lot of views, but being a sciencestudent for most part of my life, I am always in a state of doubtabout metaphysical matters. So, I really don't know.

Q: Who is/are your role model?
A: Lots of them. Firstly, my father, for his honesty and bravery.Arundhati Ghose for being a great diplomat. Tendulkar for being levelheaded. Kapil Dev for being a fighter. Douglas Adams for his sense ofhumour. Kiran Bedi, for taking the unknown path. And lots more.

Q: Any words of advice for people who look up to you?
A: I don't really believe in words of advice. I'm sure smart people(all those who are reading these words) can figure out things bythemselves :)Vivek, excellent! Thank you for taking time to answer these questions. All the best in your future endeavors