Bharath Darshan- Day 2: Palolem Beach

Today our schedule was completely dedicated to just one thing. Visit to Palolem Beach. Palolem Beach, located in South Goa, is almost the southermost point in Goa. Go just 10 kilometre further south and you will reach Karnataka. I had come to Palolem in 2012 with Lekshmy, during which time it was very underdeveloped and was afar from the crowd and rush typical of many Goan beaches. Even though the crowd is still not too much today, it was not recognisable to me as the same old one.

From Angels Resort, where we stay in Goa, to Palolem was a two hour drive. During the entire length of this journey we engaged in Dumb Charades. We reached Palolem at around 12. We had booked 2 rooms at a beachfront resort and our lunch was also scheduled there. After having lunch, one by one, we slowly proceeded seaward.

My new waterproof camera was put to test during this time. We were able to click a lot of in-water pictures, which otherwise would not have been possible. We stayed in the water until atleast 2:30 after which the lunch was served.

At 4 PM we proceeded for watching dolphins in the sea, in 3 local boats. At Palolem, you can see two islands jutting out of the beach into the sea. These islands known as Monkey Island and Honeymoon Island can be accessed via boat ( and by land also, I think). Our dolphin spotting needed two-three round in circles in the sea following which we were able to spot a huge dolphin emerge from the water. Another very interesting visual was that of huge packs of seagulls in the sea.

Once we spotted the dolphins, our boatspeople slowly turned towards the islands. We circled the monkey island where I could see a very serene beach. There were only a few local people on that beach. A perfect spot for lovers, I should add. Moving forward, we saw the Honeymoon island, which also had a rocky beach. We alighted there for sometime and then proceeded back to our resort.

We waited in the easy chairs outside the resort to see the beautiful sunset and soon proceeded towards our stay at North Goa. Today was better than yesterday, where the cruise in Mandovi ruined it for us. This opinion was shared by most of us. I was reminded of the “duration neglect” and “peak enjoyment” principles that Daniel Kahneman talks about in his book “Thinking Fast and Slow” as far as our perception of yesterday’s experience goes.A good day got a bad name, just because it ended badly.

The beaches in Goa, when compared to Kerala are comparitively more rocky. Peppered with granitic rocks, there are considerable amount of cliffs along the Goan coast. Besides, the beaches are not straight as you would see in most beaches of Kerala. Palolem is a relatively calm beach with not so strong waves, and is comparable with Kovalam in Kerala. Kovalam, however has a better cliff which is topped by a beautiful lighthouse. And compared to the shacks that you find near the beach in Palolem, in Kerala you have even a five star property that is beach facing.

Another noticeable thing about Palolem beach is that it is a drive-in beach. Kerala has only one drive in beach, which is Muzhuppilangaadu. I do not know if there are other drive in beaches in Goa, but Palolem definitely is one. Though, there seems to be some restrictions in taking the vehicle into the beach for safety reasons. I saw only a jeep coming into the jeep, which I suspect belonged to one of the locals.

Overall, Day 2 of the Bharath Darshan was a very enjoyable experience. Tomorrow we visit the Accountant General, Goa and then proceed to Goan Shipyard and then to Baga and Calangute beaches. Looking forward to an even more eventful day to top off the Goan leg of our journey.

Bharath Darshan: Day 1: Goa

Our End of the Phase I Bharath Darshan study tour kickstarted yesterday. We left our academy at 9 pm by our academy bus, which chugged along and managed to reach Delhi Airport at 7 AM. Since our first desitination was Goa, and our flight was not scheduled until 11 AM, some of us proceeded towards the Lounge. ( Yes, many of us had actually applied for credit cards just so that complementary lounge access could be used during the Bharath Darshan. As far as I was concerned, I had complementary lounge access on my credit card ever since I took my Credit Card 7 years ago.

The flight boarding happened in time. However, there was a slight delay in the take off, and the captain towards the end of the flight would go to lengths to explain this delay as having been caused by the Air Traffic Control in Delhi Airport. I sunk myself into the latest Rolf Dobelli book that I had purchased for the entire duration of the flight.

@ Delhi Airport
@ Delhi Airport

We reached Goa at 1:30 pm sharp. Our office in Goa was cordinating our stay and arrangements in Goa, and were outside the airport expecting us. We were handed out the itinerary that we would be following for the next 3 days during our stay in Goa. This was my first time in the Dabolim international Airport, Goa which is one of the numerous army airports operating in the country. (Bangalore used to be one. Pune still is one)

Once all of us was out of the airport, we were taken to the Bogmallo beach resort to have our lunch. The Oval shaped beach and the surroundings are well captured in the environment of the resort making it a very good place to hang out. We had buffet dinner and then played around by swinging in hammocks that were kept outside by the sea side. Once we were done with this, we proceeded to the Old Church  ( of St. Francis) in Old Goa.

The Old Church, located in Old Goa is one of the oldest basilicas in India. I found an odd connection with the Church. The school in which I studied in, St. Josephs, was founded by the Jesuit fathers belonging to the Society of Jesus, which was founded by none other than St. Francis of Assissi’s best friend, Ignatious Loyola. Because of this connection, I have read numerous stories of St. Francis of Assissi in the monthly religious magazine that was circulated in our schoold, Snehasena. Nevertheless, being a place that I had not visited during my previous visits to Goa, the Old Church interested me.

Museum next to the Basilica
Museum next to the Basilica

Once we were through with the Old Church, we proceeded to Mandovi river, where we were supposed to board the River cruise. I should say that I was expecting this to be much fun because during my college trip to Goa, I had been to one of these.There used to be a bar and a dance floor in these cruises. However, this time, I found out that much has changed and the dance floor has been replaced by a stage program. The cruise was altogether a forgettable experience and waste of time. We came back to Angel Resorts, where we are staying at around 9:30 PM. Tomorrow is again jam packed with much exciting events and I am looking forward to each and every one of them.

PS: Something that truly disappointed me today was that the swimming pool was closed by the time we reached back at the hotel.

What we learn in NAAA!

We recently concluded the First Phase of our In-Academy Training with the first Departmental Exams conducted on the first week of July. Almost all of us have been eagerly waiting for the Departmental Exams to conclude because an exciting two months are in offer post the exams with attachements to iCISA, IIM-Ahmedabad, Himalayan Trek and iCED attachment in the pipeline. Given that the exams were looked upon with so much anxiety, it is only fair that I give you a picture of the subjects that we learn in our first semester.

There is a misconception that Indian Audit & Account Service involves a lot of accounting and needs an Officer to be very good with numbers. While these are indeed skills that are good to have, it is necessary to understand that these are not primary requirements for an IA&AS Officer. The main concern of the department is auditing the Government, while accounts and entitlements form a not so substantial part. Let me elaborate on the topics that are taught in the academy during the First Phase of the Training.

The subjects that we are taught in the first phase (until Departmental Exam – I), that usually extends from December to May/June, are

  1. Public Finance with Introductory Economics
  2. Government Accounts
  3. Commercial Accounts (Book-Keeping in Private Sector)
  4. Principles of Public Sector Auditing
  5. Public Expenditure, Revenue and Resource Management
  6. Information Systems

Public Finance with introductory Economics

This paper primarily consists of micro-economics in the first section and macro economics in the second. Since most of us come after studying for the UPSC CSE, we will be very good with the macro economics part. Usually this is enough to pass the examination. However, many of us who are interested in micro-economics also tend to learn this subject for the sake of it. In our year this subject is handled by none other than our Director-General himself and hence people sort of study it out of fear too. Needless to say it is a very interesting subject.

Government Accounts

Accounting in the government is very different from the way it is carried out elsewhere. Government Accounts is a subject that you usually don’t encounter unless you are in the government set-up or involved in someway with the government. The topic by itself is a bit dry. However, there is no surviving in the government and especially in the Audit and Accounts service if you are not well versed with the subject. The expertise expected out of you is not one of rote learning but the ability to find out the rules and regulations at will from the books involved. It is for the same reason that the examination for the subject is conducted as open book.

Commercial Accounts ( Book Keeping in the Private Sector)

This used to be one of the most dreaded subjects by one and all batches before us, and for good reason. For officers who come from diverse backgrounds ( excluding commerce) this is an entirely new subject. And at times, commercial accountancy doesn’t seem to make sense, with its weird “Debit” and “Credit” rules ( CA’s would probably understand what I’m talking about).

However, in our year, we were particularly lucky to have got one of the best officers of IA&AS to teach this subject, Mr. Sachin Kapoor. Sachin Sir is a Chartered Accountant by training and very well versed in commercial accountancy. Initially we used to hate his teaching methods, but with time, seeing how we started to understand and appreciate the subject, we relented to his methods. In our year, this was one subject that everyone was confident they would pass without much effort.

Principles of Public Sector Auditing

PPSA is a subject that is extremely important from the Audit point of view. You get to know what Audit is, what are the kinds of audit, where the CAG derives his powers to conduct audit, what are the international bodies that are involved in this field, what kind of collaboration happens between the various Supreme Audit institutions regarding Audit of Public Sector, the Lima and Mexico declarations concerning Audit etc.

This is a paper that involves considerable mugging up. Nevertheless, it forms the backbone of your understanding of the audit process and the IA&AD.

Public Expenditure, Revenue and Resource Management

This is another subject like Government Accounts where you need to be able to find the correct rule regarding a given topic. There is not much to by-heart, but a lot to understand. Another open book exam subject.

Information Systems

Being a Computer Science Engineer, this was my favourite subject. The IA&AS is heavily relying on technology these days and is also modernising at a very rapid pace. This means that officers who are good with technology are naturally at an advantage. I was one of the best in this subject in our entire batch. We learn Excel, Access, Oracle and SQL in our first semester for practicals, while in theory it was primarily information systems security. For me, most of the topics involved were child’s play ( given my engineering and work background).

For people interested in computers this is a fantastic subject where you can explore a lot deeper.

A little bit about the exam pattern

As for our exam pattern, we have an internal test and an external exam. The internal test is conducted in-house while the external exam is conducted by the CAG headquarters. It is necessary to score 50% marks in both the exams separately.

There might arise a question in your mind as to what happens when one fails. To be confirmed in the service, you have to pass these exams. If you fail in your examination, then you are given a chance to appear in the exam again. Generally, you are given six chances to pass the written examination, which might be extended if the authorities deem it fit. If you fail to pass the exam in the given number of attempts, then you will be shown your way out of the service.

The little blue books

During the time of our last Director General, Mr. Sudhir Kumar, text books were standardised codifying the necessary topics. This has made the learning process considerably easier for the officer trainees, who earlier had to refer multiple books for learning the basics of one subject.

As in any set-up, it is the vision of those who helm the top posts that makes a difference in every seemingly simple process. A lesson for anyone who wishes to enter the government service.

What is in store now

Since the exams got over, we left Shimla for our attachment with iCISA- Noida, which is on Data Analytics, another topic that I am very keen on. The attachment was a fun experience, about which I’ll elaborate in my next post.