Updated: May 4, 2020
Grad: 72.33% (BA Economics Hons, DU)
CAT'18: 99.87 percentile
Work-Ex: 0 (fresher)
23rd Feb, Delhi. Afternoon slot.
I was number 4 in my panel. I walk in to a big conference room at 3:30.
Two panelists. Both middle aged males.
Utkarsh, you've done a research paper on the topic "Mapping Global and Indian Income Inequalities". What was it about?
Sir we worked an studying income inequalities on majorly three fronts. Global level, Indian, and gender based income inequality. My contribution was mainly in the gender part. Here we used various economics topics that we had learnt such as Lorenz Curve, Gini coefficient, etc. We used data from various sources such as World Bank, Global Gender Gap report etc.
Can you draw a Lorenz curve?
Drawn. Explained them how it was interpreted.
Why to measure inequality?
Poverty measures do not always give an accurate picture. They don't show the extent of poverty to the ones living under the poverty line and also even in poor households, there is further inequality against females.
More discussion about difference between poverty and inequality. Gave an example of how poverty measures are inadequate and how inequality measures can give a better picture. Concluded by saying both should be used together so we can get a broader perspective.
How will new apps like Uber, Airbnb, etc impact inequality?
Couldn't come up with much apart from better standards of living at first. Then mentioned increased employment opportunities, and investment, leading to development. Gave an opposite view then, that they cater to only people above a certain economic level, and can't be used by poor, so maybe they're promoting inequality. Concluded by saying that for now the overall effect seemed ambiguous to me, and it was an interesting thought and could be researched upon.
Suppose there is an en economy where 90% of people are above the poverty line, and the rest are 10% are too, but are very rich. Is this also bad and unequal?
This is a much bigger debate sir. It's essentially Capitalism vs Socialism argument. Since we live in a capitalist world, so we might not object to this scenario. But again, it's a bigger debate about which type of economy is better. (Seemed amused and satisfied)
So you had a drop?
Explained that I had graduated in May 2018. Wanted to give my full attention to studying. Told them about the job offer I had and how it wouldn't give me much time to study.
You're from Bhopal. Tell us something about Bhopal.
Bhopal is the capital of Madhya Pradesh. It recently got declared the second cleanest city of India recently. It is also called the City of Lakes.
Isn't that Udaipur?
Yes that too sir. But Bhopal is as well, and I'm used to having to justify this to everyone.
Bangalore is also the city of lakes.
So there's a third competitor in the race! (Asked me to go on)
Bhopal has many important educational institutions like NIT, NLU, NIFT, AIIMS, etc.
At one point I said Bhopal has “bhel”, wanted to say BHEL. They thought I was talking about the food item,so I clarified and everyone laughed. I said Bhopal has poha and jalebi food wise.
(Gestured me to go on. By now my Bhopal knowledge was running out)
It has Asia's largest mosque, which isn't Jama Masjid, contrary to popular belief. It also has India's largest artificial man made lake - Upper lake. (They seemed to enjoy the fun facts)
Okay. Keep going.
(Mann nai bhara?)
Thought for a bit. Just realised that I hadn't mentioned one of the best topics of discussion - historic election results!
Sir, elections! The BJP government got changed after a long time and now Congress is in power. Mentioned a couple of reason behind this result, including farmer distress and Congress's promise of farmer loan waivers.
As an economist, how do you feel about farm loan them to ask me this?
(Bingo! Had expected this question.)
Explained why they were bad for the economy and an election gimmick. Explained moral hazard as one of the reason.
Why are NPAs not given as much attention as these waivers, even when size of NPAs is six times of them.
One of the biggest problem of Indian agriculture is lack of institutionalized credit. That's what we should focus on instead of such waivers. And as for NPAs, I think appropriate attention is being given to them, evident by the new Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code(IBC). So we're in the right direction.
Explain what's the IBC?
(Was hoping they'd asked me. That's why I had mentioned it.)
Explained how previously there were a lot of parallel mechanisms (mentioned these as well), that were often contradictory and inefficient. IBC brings all laws and procedures under one umbrella, making the process streamlined and efficient.
Why do NPAs occur in the first place? And how is IBC changing this?
Apart from the scam objective, volatility is one of the reasons. Any uncertainty at the international level, like US China Trade war, causes capital outflow from a country like India.
Explained adverse selection problem. That bad borrowers have an incentive to take loans at higher interest rates, knowing well that they won't repay. This raises interest rates in general and good borrowers don't want to borrow anymore, leading to market failure. A strong effective IBC would deter these bad borrowers and drive them out of the credit market, thus making the market much better.
Thank you, Utkarsh. I think we're done.
Gestured me to take a toffee
Picked one. "Oh. The elusive toffee!".
Interview lasted about 28 minutes. The panel was very chilled out and weren't trying to create any stress.
Result - CONVERTED!
This answer has been reproduced from Quora with Utkarsh's permission. He wished all the non-engineers good luck for their upcoming interview rounds and hoped that this could benefit them.
For more, keep reading the IIM Interviews.