An Interview With AIR 59 In CSIR NET: Shruti Priya
Shruti Priya, a final year M.Sc student of the Department of Mathematics bagged an All India Rank of 59 in the recently concluded CSIR NET exam. After completing her Bachelors from Indraprastha College for Women (Delhi University), she joined National Institute of Technology Rourkela in 2018. She couldn’t live up to her expectations in JAM (Joint Admission Test for M.Sc) but showing the true characteristic of a successful person she turned her circumstance into an opportunity and eventually has become a source of inspiration for everyone in this college and beyond.
CSIR NET stands for Council of Scientific & Industrial Research – National Eligibility Test. As aspirants say and the exam conducting boards refer, it is the toughest national level exam for Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) or Lectureship (LS). NTA conducts the Joint CSIR UGC NET Exam from December 2019 onwards, earlier it used to be conducted by the CSIR. It is organized twice in a year (June and December) to select the talented researchers and lecturers who can contribute their knowledge and skill to the education industry. Only the candidates having or pursuing their Masters’ degree in Science Stream are eligible to take this exam.
Team MM caught up with Shruti to know more about this exam and her life. Here is an excerpt from the interview:
MM: You did your Bachelor's from Indraprastha College for Women, Delhi University. How was your experience?
Shruti Priya (SP): I learnt a lot of basic concepts there which were indeed helpful for me in the exams. The teachers were very good as they did not assume that you know everything and they start from scratch. The experience at Indraprastha College was really good and it helped me a lot.
MM: Why did you decide upon NIT Rourkela to pursue your Masters?
SP: I gave JAM (Joint Admission Test for M.Sc). My original plan was to get admission into some good IIT but I failed miserably in that as I didn’t score well. I had no other options other than NIT Rourkela, NIT Warangal and NIT Allahabad. As I live in Ranchi, and Rourkela was the closest amongst those three places hence I chose NIT Rourkela for my M.Sc.
MM: How have the 1.5 years at NIT Rourkela been?
SP: My initial days in this institute weren’t very nice. I did not like this place because my friends got into different IITs and IISERs so that inferiority complex was there. But then I did get good friends who made life at this institute much more fun. Two of my friends, Sandeep and Richa, I owe my one and a half years to them. Although initially, it was very difficult to adjust, NIT helped me to develop as a human. I joined AASRA and I came to know that there are more things in life beyond textbooks. So I am very thankful to NIT, retrospectively thinking, if I had dropped this plan, I would not be the same person that I am now. The teachers here are also very good which was helpful.
MM: You mentioned about inferiority complex after joining this institute. Can you give some examples of the same?
SP: That very famous line from 3 idiots saying, ‘Dost top Karta hai toh aur Jyada Bura Lagta hai’ (if a friend tops, then it is even more saddening) is very true. One of my friends got AIR 49 in JAM and mine was 513. Even though we prepared together and belonged to the same coaching, competition is obviously there amongst friends.
MM: You mentioned about your association with AASRA. How has your experience in AASRA been?
SP: AASRA is not a club, it’s a family. The people there are very good. I tell everyone that if AASRA would not have been there then I would not have been able to survive these 1.5 years in NIT. Firstly, they never treat you as a club member; rather they treat you like a family. We celebrate festivals together, we are sad together, we are happy together, it’s all like a huge family. I work for sector 21; the kids there are just amazing. They have given new dimensions to my life by explaining how you cannot buy happiness with money. So, that’s what I’ve learnt from them.
MM: What differences do you observe in the Life at DU and that at our institute?
SP: In Delhi University (DU), you don’t get these many opportunities as there is no one to enlighten you. People who know about how things work won’t share it with you but here it’s a completely different scenario. If a person knows about something he will tell you about the existence of some opportunity that you must go for. Moreover, DU is a university comprising of more than 90 colleges and I was in a girls college. So for me, it was more of studying with no avenues for partying at DU unlike that at NIT Rourkela.
MM: Coming to the CSIR NET Exam, first of all, congratulations on your outstanding result. Can you please tell us more about the purpose of this exam.
SP: The minimum eligibility criteria for becoming an assistant lecturer is that one has to qualify the CSIR NET examination for the science stream, I don’t know what is the criteria for other streams. If you are willing to pursue P.hD then CSIR is the body that will provide you with the funding and you will have to qualify the JRF examination. I have qualified the JRF examination and some of the good colleges for mathematics in our country shortlist their candidates based on their JRF scores and if I’m lucky enough to be shortlisted and then after the interview round I can enrol into P.hD program and CSIR will be funding all the expenses for my 5 years of PhD.
MM: When were the results published and what was your first reaction to it?
SP: I was very much confident that I will surely qualify NET at the least but I wasn’t much sure about the JRF thing because the previous cutoffs were high. This was the first time a computer-based test was conducted so we were speculating that the cutoffs may be coming down and this time around the paper was also very easy. The results got published on the 30th of January on the eve of Saraswati puja and I was just roaming around the campus coming back from the Puja at sector-21. I suddenly received a call from my friend and he informed about the result declaration. Then when I checked my result online, I came to know that I had secured the 59th rank.
MM: What is the pattern of questions in the CSIR NET?
SP: For mathematics, the question paper has 3 sections. Section A is the General Aptitude section which is not at all general I must say (smiles). It was more of basic science, it had questions on biology, geography and resembled with matriculation level science and social science pattern. Section B and Section C are purely mathematics-based sections, Section B is single option correct type and Section C is multiple correct types. The Sections A and B have negative marks for answering incorrectly but section C doesn’t have any negative marking. The good thing is the paper has a lot of questions and we have options, for instance, section A has 20 questions and we have to answer any 15 questions, section B has 40 questions out of which we have to attend 25 and section C has 60 questions out of which we have to attend 20 questions only.
MM: What is the eligibility criterion for this exam?
SP: For JRF, you can appear for the examination after your graduation, you will not be eligible for lecturership but you are eligible for JRF. But for lecturership and JRF, I filled my first form when I was in the first year of my masters.
MM: How did you prepare for the general aptitude questions (part A) of the exam?
SP: I didn’t prepare anything specifically for that section, I just practised past few years papers and they helped me a lot. I would suggest one shouldn’t waste much time preparing for the general aptitude section.
MM: What was the difficulty level of the remaining two sections and how did you prepare for them?
SP: The question pattern is the same every year, first of all, this exam has a huge syllabus and one shouldn’t focus upon covering the entire syllabus. You need to be smart with your choices and have to identify topics from which most of the questions come. I suggest not to join any coaching institutes or taking up any online courses because I don’t think they can be of any great help. Refer to standard textbook, class notes and solve previous papers they are really important. For preparing for this examination, you need to follow a reverse process, first of all, you need to read the question paper and then identify the topics from which questions are mostly asked and then start reading those topics in depth.
MM: What is the validity of this result?
SP: I can apply for the lecturership program throughout my lifetime but the JRF thing is valid only for 2 years. We are given a window period of 2 years and if we don't join any P.hD course within 2 years, then we have to apply for JRF again.
MM: What is your future plan of action? Would you go for the JRF ship?
SP: My guide Prof. Ranjit Mehatari Sir along with all the other professors insist me to pursue my P.hD from foreign universities. Getting a P.hD in mathematics from an Indian college is very difficult as they have the same old process. So I’ll be going for P.hD in my near future.
MM: What was the success mantra that you would like to share with our readers who might be looking forward to appearing this exam in the future?
SP: I panicked a lot but it didn’t help my cause, as a result, I failed miserably in JAM. I had a lot of expectations from JAM, I thought I’ll be doing well and joining in some IIT. So from that time onwards, I have stopped expecting and this time I was more calm and composed. I believe Debajyoti Choudhuri Sir, Jugal Mohapatra Sir, Suvendu Ranjan Pattanaik Sir, and Ranjit Mehatari Sir had major roles to play in my success story as they were all supportive while I was preparing.
MM: What message would you like to give to our readers?
It’s just an examination, in life, no matter what kind of examination you are preparing for, do not take it as a do or die competition. Never think that you will fail, the moment you feel you will fail, you end up losing the race without even competing in it, no matter the amount of hard work you put in. Start on a positive note, and try maintaining the zeal throughout your preparation period and positivity is really important.
Team MM congratulates Shruti Priya for her outstanding results and wishes her the best for all her future endeavours.