Nabanita: Thank you very much indeed!
Posoowa: Please tell us about your school education and academic career.
Nabanita: I did my schooling from Kendriya Vidyalaya, Khanapara, Guwahati till class 12th. Then I joined Cotton College, Guwahati for B.A. English Hons and then I moved to Delhi to join JNU for my MA in English.
Posoowa: How and when did you start thinking of joining the Civil Services? Or was there someone else other than yourself who was very instrumental in making this decision?
Nabanita: I have always wanted to be a diplomat ever since I can remember. But my parents played a stellar role in shaping my dream, sustaining it when chips were down and showed ways of realizing it. I am eligible to write this only because of them.
Posoowa: Considering the fact that preparing for the Civil Services is very time consuming, how supportive was your family?
Nabanita: Even though one name appears in the final merit list, the entire family takes the exam, at least in my case it was so. My parents have been the wind beneath my wings. They believed in me when I lost faith in myself. My mother suffered my temper and mood swings without complaining. My sister and brother-in-law too have been extremely supportive. My friend Gayatri Sashidharan has been a pillar of strength. Mr.Sanjay Haider ( Sanjay Bhaiyya) guided me without losing patience. I would not have been where I am without these people.
Posoowa: Please tell us a bit about your family. Is there any other Civil Servant in your family?
Nabanita: My father Mr.Syamal Chakrabarti is a retired officer of State Bank of India. My mother Nina Chakrabarti is a home-maker. My sister Paramita Dey, who lives in USA, is a home-maker and my brother-in-law is an engineer. I have a nephew and a niece.
I am the first civil servant in the family.
Posoowa: What were your subjects in Prelims and Mains and how did you prepare for them?
Nabanita: My subject in Prelims was Indian History and for Mains they were History & English Literature. I started preparing for the Civil Services right after my PG.
Posoowa: What would you say about the choice of your subjects? Do you regret anything?
Nabanita: My optionals were natural choice because of my background and interest. I did not follow the myth of scoring subjects. Of course I don’t have any regrets.
Posoowa: Did you expect your rank or it went against your expectations?
Nabanita: I expected to clear the civil Service Exam for sure but 16th rank was beyond my wildest imagination. It is almost a year now, but I still have to pinch myself to believe it!
Posoowa: Did you take any coaching? How effective was it?
Nabanita: Yes I took coaching, but it should be supplemented with lot of introspection and self study. Coaching surely saves one from groping in the dark.
Posoowa: Is your alma mater an important factor in preparation or it doesn’t matter?
Nabanita: My alma mater did not play any role.
Posoowa: How many attempts did it take for you to crack it?
Nabanita: 4(Four) Attempts.
Posoowa: What did you do when you couldn’t handle the stress any longer during your preparations?
Nabanita: A look at the ray of hope in my parent’s eyes was enough to put me back in track. Motivational quotes & stories of inspiration helped a lot.
Posoowa: Besides studying really hard during your preparations was there time left for anything else?
Nabanita: Not really. But one shouldn’t give up living just because one is preparing for the exam.
Posoowa: How did you prepare for your Interview? How much time did you get for preparing?
Nabanita: Interview is not a test of one’s knowledge but how one presents oneself and whether the candidate is able to articulate her thoughts in a coherent manner. Usually one gets 15 days time but it varies.
Posoowa: What all were you asked in the interview?
Nabanita: I was asked on literature. As my first choice was IFS, I was asked on foreign policy. Of course, economy and govt policies were also touched upon.
Posoowa: As a civil servant do you have any specific goal you want to achieve in your career?
Nabanita: Ambassadorship to any country would be fine. There can be nothing more honourable than representing INDIA.
Posoowa: Did you have any back-up plan if you hadn’t made it?
Nabanita: I would have gone for MBA or PhD.
Posoowa: What are your hobbies and extra-curricular activities?
Nabanita: Quizzing, reading, watching movies.
(Nabanita is undergoing training at the Foreign Services Institute)