Friday, 21 December 2018

My Journey To Success - Dr. Munmi Saikia - ACS 2018 (APSC 2016 – Rank 2)



PERSONAL PROFILE
Name 
Dr.  Munmi Saikia
Rank in Civil Services
2nd [ACS]
Roll No.         
091801826
Age
30
Marital Status
Married
Total attempts in CEE (including this one)
1st attempt
Optional Subjects
History and Education
Service preferences Top – 3 (ACS, APS, ALRS etc.)
ACS,ALRS,APS
Service Joined
ACS
Schooling Medium (English/Assamese/Hindi/Bengali)  
English
College Medium (English/Assamese/Hindi/Bengali)
English
Medium chosen for Mains answers
English
Medium chosen for Interview
Both English and Assamese
Home town/city
Morikolong,  Nagaon
Work-experience if any
3 years as Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellow (PMRDF) under Ministry of Rural Development, GoI.

EDUCATIONAL DETAILS

HSLC
Loyola, Nagaon ; 82%
HS
Cotton College Guwahati; 67%
Graduation course
Dentistry BDS, 65%
Name of college, city, passing out year
MRADC, Bengaluru 2012
Post-graduation
Master’s in Development Practice from TISS, Mumbai
Hobbies & Extracurricular achievements
Baking and cooking

UNDERSTANDING YOUR ONLINE LIFE?

Daily hrs spent on online platforms for predicting cut off / syllabus change / age-attempt limit change and other “peripheral-discussion“ related to civil services.
Zero hours.
Daily hrs spent on WhatsApp, Facebook, Telegram study groups
1 hr approx.
Daily hrs spent on online for exam prep/mock test
2 hrs approx.
Primary Device for online study: desktop, laptop, tablet, mobile
Mobile, laptop

ANSWER WRITING

Did you use highlighters / sketch pens in your answers?
No
Did you draw any diagram in any paper? (e.g. in Geography)If yes, Did you draw diagrams with pencil or pen?
No
Did you use ruler to draw the lines in diagram? Or did you just make it by hand?
No
You wrote the answer in blue pen or black pen?
Blue

 

QUESTIONNAIRE:

1.        Tell us something about yourself, your family, when and why did you enter in this field of competitive exams?

     
         My parents, Mrs. Padma Saikia and Late Putu Ram Saikia, were both employees at the establishment of the Deputy Commissioner, Nagaon. I have two siblings. My husband is a banker.
I practiced Dentistry for a year and half before I got selected as a Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellow. I was posted in Karbi Anglong for 3 years. The whole experience as PMRDF at the grass-root level opened my eyes to the poor state of development in the district and changed my perspective of rural development. As the fellowship was for a period of 3 years, after its completion I decided to continue my career in the development sector and hence appeared for the APSC CCE 2016 exam.

2.        In recent times, there is spur in electronic material- blogs, sites, pdfs, RSS-feeds. Many aspirants feel bogged down by this information overload. So, how do you balance this i.e. electronic material vs. paper material (Books, newspapers)


I did not join any coaching institute for preparation and so I was heavily dependent on online sources for guidance and study materials, especially current affairs. The key is to choose only a couple of quality websites to suit one’s preparation needs and regularly follow them instead of scouting various sites for hours on end.

3.        Do you maintain self-notes for revision of optional? In which format- electronic or paper? What is your style of preparation and notes making? (E.g. I continue making notes no matter what I’m reading, I just read multiple times but don’t maintain notes, I make mind maps on computer, I use xyz software etc.)


I made notes only for topics that were not detailed in the textbooks. Reading and re-reading the same books, instead of multiple ones, help in thorough understanding of the topic and thereby facilitates recall. Whatever notes I made, it was in the form of bullets or short paragraphs to make revision easier.

4.        What was your approach in the exam? (I wrote all, I only focused on the questions where I could answer perfectly, I just not to high quality points to reach the word limit etc.) Because the civil services aspirant Community is divided over what counts as a ‘good’ paper. Some experts claim you should attempt all- even if it involves “making up” an answer with filler lines, some claim attempt only those questions you know perfectly. Where do you stand on this? [Based on your experience and of your seniors/buddies]


In the Main exam, 3 points to be noted are-writing good quality answers, sticking to the word limit and completing the paper. All 3 are equally important. I attempted all questions, gave to-the-point answers and stuck to the word limit.

5.        Did you write answers in bullet points or in paragraphs?            Did you follow the “introduction-body-conclusion” format? Some aspirants (who cleared mains and got interview call letter) claim that they wrote entire paper in bullet points, so it doesn’t matter, whether examiner is asking ‘examine, comment, discuss or xyz’ simply write in bullets and points. Because some mains-qualified candidates claim they simply wrote the points they could recall within the time, instead of bothering with proper introduction and conclusion.


I wrote in paragraphs and used bullet points, where necessary. For 2-4 markers I used bullet points and for others, I wrote in paragraphs. I did try to follow the intro-body-conclusion format wherever I could. When I was short to time, usually towards the end, I just wrote in small paragraphs of 2-3 lines or used bullet points.

6.        What’s your optional subject and why did you chose it and not something else? If a new aspirant wants to pick your subject, would you advice for it or against it? First the essential book/resource list. (Also mention which one is the “Base book” for covering the theory? + Whatever comments you’ve for a particular book e.g. “my seniors said read xyz book but I found that ABC book was better”.  “Xyz topic not given properly in this book, so prepare from xyz website or book…” OR and so on.)


As my graduation subject was not on the Mains subject list, I chose History and Education optional as I could read and understand the chapters on my own.  Also since these are popular subjects among aspirants, study material was easily available. I used the following books as standard and used the internet for topics that these did not cover in detail.
General Studies
1.      Indian Polity by Laxmikant
2.      Spectrum’s Modern India
3.      Assam year Book
4.      NCERT Books for Geography, Indian Economy
5.      Online sites such as Insights, Gktoday for current affairs
6.      Newspapers Assam Tribune and Indian express
7.      TMH General Studies Guide
History
1.      India’s Ancient Past- R.S. Sharma
2.      Studies in Ancient India- P. Maiti
3.      Medieval India- Part 1 and 2- Satish Chandra
4.      Modern India- Spectrum’s Publication
5.      World History- K.L. Khurana
6.      World History- Krishna Reddy
7.      World History-Arjun Dev
Education
1.      Education for ACS- Dr. Sunita Agarwal
2.      A Textbook of Education- Lakshyahira Das
English
1.      Practiced grammar from previous question papers and the internet.
2.      Practiced writing a couple of essays prior to  exam

7.        What are the books you studied doing your preparations and your list of recommended books? How much of internet-research / current affairs is necessary for this optional? OR can one simply rely on the books and be done with this subject?  


For book list, see previous question.
Internet was an essential part of my preparation.
Books or PDF’s- whatever the source, the aim should be to cover the syllabus and be thorough with the topics.

8.        How many months did it take to finish the optional syllabus?


It varies from person to person.  Personally, it took me around 5-6 months to have a good understanding of both the subjects.

9.        Did you attend any ‘mock tests’? Do you think they’re necessary for success? How many days/ weeks before the exam, you started answer writing practice papers?


I did not attend mock tests of coaching centres as I was short of time. I practiced writing some previously asked questions on my own, keeping in mind the time limit.
Personally, I think mock tests are necessary as they can help gauge the level of preparation. We all know practice makes one perfect.

10.    If you are made the UPSC/APSC chairman, what other reforms would you initiate for the civil service exam?


The whole process of CCE takes almost 2 years from the date of applying for Prelims to the declaration of final results, much to the disadvantage of the aspirants. If I were the Chairman, I would try my best to ensure the whole process takes not more than 14 months.

Interview

1.        How did you prepare for the interview? – (for college grad, hobbies, place of origin, current affairs at national and international level)

I prepared questions from my personal and educational background. Apart from that, I brushed up the Optionals once and updated current affairs.

2.        Did you attend any mock interviews by coaching classes? How were they similar / different than official interview? Do you believe it is necessary to attend such mock interviews?

I did not attend any mock interviews.
I believe attending mocks prior to the actual interview can help one to overcome the nervousness and be self-confident.

3.        Where did you stay for the interview? (Hotel / friend’s home …) and what books/material did you bring for the ‘revision before interview’?

I prepared from home (Guwahati).

4.        Who was the chairman of you interview board? How long was the interview? Why do you want to join civil service? Why don’t you continue in your graduation field? Social service can be done from private sector too.  [Since I don’t know whether they ask you this question or not. But if they had asked- what will be your reply?]


Dipak Kr. Sharma was the Chairman of my interview board. It took around 20-25 minutes. Most of the questions were based on my personal and professional background. It was less of a pressure interview and more of a conversation.
I was not asked the above mentioned questions. I switched from dentistry to Civil service because, as a person I have diverse interests and the latter would allow me to work across a broader range of issues.
Sure social service can be done from private sector too, but the public sector provides a wider platform for the same.

5.        Describe the formal-dress worn by you on the day of your interview.

I wore a turquoise coloured salwar suit.

6.        Was your interview on the expected lines of what you had prepared or did they ask you totally unexpected questions?  Was it a stress interview, did they ask any uncomfortable questions? If yes, how did you handle it? It was on expected lines. It was not a stress interview.

It was on expected lines. Not a stress interview, rather cordial.

7.        Any side details about technicalities like “make sure you bring xyz document or do xyz thing, or you’ll face problem”?

Document verification happens a day prior to the interview. However, I carried them on the day of interview as well.

8.        Please narrate your entire interview- what questions did they ask and what did you reply and other pleasant or uncomfortable experiences during the interview. (Earlier some toppers only tell me their question but not their answer. I would appreciate if you give both Question + your original answers


I was asked the following questions. [The answers were spontaneous so cannot be replicated here]
1.      Cashless economy
2.      How to ensure cashless economy
3.      Famous personalities of Nagaon (my birth place)
4.      About PMRDF
5.      About my work experience
6.      About Karbi Anglong (my work place)
7.      How to ensure development in places such as Karbi Anglong
8.      Sixth Schedule of Constitution, its significance
9.      Lakshminath Bezbarua- birth place, books
10.  Sardar Vallab Bhai Patel- Why is he known as Iron Man of India?
11.  Srimanta Sankardeva- Birth place, literature.
12.  As Circle Officer, how will I contribute towards implementation of various developmental schemes in the Circle ( based on my work as PMRDF)

The Miscellaneous Ones

1.        If you were not selected, what was your career backup plan? When were you going to “execute” that backup plan


I would have practiced dentistry and prepared simultaneously.

2.        Many candidates prepare sincerely but constantly live under fear about ‘profile insecurity’. I’m not from a big college, I’m not from English medium, and I don’t have work-experience. What if they ask some stressful questions in the interview about this? Did you suffer from such insecurities? What is your message to these candidates?


The eligibility to appear for this exam is all that matters. Fear about profile insecurity can arise at the interview stage but one has to keep in mind that such things do not matter to the Interview Board. At the end of the day, it is a test of personality.

3.        If you’re a working professional, share some tips on how to manage studies with job


Managing work and studies together is very difficult, but not impossible. I think the strategy should be to start preparing early, be consistent and cover a little of the syllabus every day.

4.        People, most of them lack consistency in their preparation. So, how do you keep study momentum going on? How do you fight against the mood swings and distractions?


Having a goal and a strong will to achieve that goal provides one with the energy to fight off distractions and keeps one motivated. Taking well deserved breaks from studying is crucial to fight off fatigue. It is also important to create a supportive environment around oneself.

5.        Through this struggle and success, what have your learned? What is the wisdom of life and competition? What is your message to the new aspirants? Many hardworking candidates have failed in Mains/Interview. They’re feeling cynical, hopeless and depressed- what is your message to them?


The whole process of this exam has made me value the importance of having patience in life and that there is no substitute for hard work.

6.        Behind every topper are many people who stood by during those uncertain times when he/she was merely an ‘aspirant’. Would you like to tell the world, who were those people in your case? Any specific incidence that you would like to share with the readers?

My family has always supported me in all my endeavors and I am fortunate to have them in my life.

Thank You for taking the effort to fill this questionnaire. Your effort will go a long way to guide someone in their preparations and fulfil their long cherished dream of becoming a civil servant.

Monday, 10 December 2018

8, 9, 10 December 2018 | Daily Assam current affairs for APSC




  • Dimchrang Winter festival will begin on 19th December  Ampati , Meghalaya. The festival aims to promote local art and culture of the region 
  • Indian Wild Orange ( Citrus indica)which is believed to be the progenitor of all citrus species in the world is endemic to the Northeastern states and is also widely distributed in the forests of Tamenglong district of Manipur bordering Nagaland and Assam 
  • Professor Nilima Bhagawati has been elected as an executive member and representative of Asia of the executive body of the Commonwealth Council for Education Administration and Management. Prof Nilima Bhagawati is an Educationist and retired teacher of Gauhati University
  • India successfully test fired its indigenously developed nuclear-capable ballistic missile Agni-V off the Odisha coast
  • Showing an increase of 15.7 per cent over the last year, the gross direct tax collections till November stood at Rs 6.75 lakh crore
  • The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) would pay rich tributes to the martyrs of the Assam Movement on December 10
  • Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Sunday inaugurated the newly created Shi Yomi district – the 23rd district in the State – bordering China 
  • A critically endangered migratory bird – the yellow-breasted bunting (Emberiza aureola) that feeds on grains – was sighted for the first time after 92 years in Manipur last month
  • Olympic bronze medallists Germany defeated Malaysia 5-3 in a keenly-contested match to maintain their all-win record and seal a direct quarterfinal spot by topping Pool D at the men’s hockey World Cup
  • My Random Stuff:
  • China's Ministry of Public Security (MPS) said it has closed 1,100 social media accounts and 31 websites suspected of engaging in trolling activities or posting messages for extortion since the start of this year.
  • Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Union Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu on Sunday commissioned the Kannur International Airport Ltd (KIAL).
  • Bollywood star Salman Khan won the best entertainment host/presenter for "Bigg Boss", and Anurag Kashyap won best direction (fiction) for season one of Netflix's original series "Sacred Games" at the inaugural Asian Academy Creative
  • Goa's Prathamesh Maulingkar has become the first Indian to win the title of Mister Supranational.
  • India is expected to receive a total remittance of $80 billion in 2018, said the latest edition of the World Bank's Migration and Development Brief. 
  • Governor Mukhi inaugurates Manuscript Conservation Centre
  • The toll-free Sarathi-104 Health Information Helpline has since its inception eight years back, been able to render service calls to more than 47 lakh people of the State.
  • The much-awaited 15th State-level Orange Festival was inaugurated today to promote tourism on the one hand and provide an opportunity to orange farmers to display their produce before potential buyers at Tamenglong, 150 km west of Imphal
  • An impressive India thrashed Canada 5-1 to top Pool C and seal a direct berth in the quarterfinals of the men’s hockey World Cup in front of a capacity crowd at the Kalinga Stadium
  • Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu, along with his Assam counterpart Sarbananda Sonowal, will unveil the statue of legendary musician Dr Bhupen Hazarika at Bolung village in Lower Dibang Valley district of Arunachal. The statue will be called 'Statue of Brotherhood'
  • The Skoch Group has conferred the prestigious ‘Skoch Gold Award’ under OIL and Gas sector to the Assam Petro-Chemicals Limited for setting up India’s first Green and Clean Fuel Pilot Project of Methanol Cooking Stove.Assam Petro-Chemicals Limited, a State Government undertaking located at Namrup is a pioneer petrochemicals industry of the entire north-eastern region.
  •  The Patent Office of the Government of India has granted a patent (patent no. 303359) to Professor MC Kalita, former head of the department of biotechnology, Gauhati University, and Dr Gargi Chakravarty, former research scholar of the department of biotechnology, Gauhati University, who is presently working as an assistant professor of the department of botany, DK College, Mirza. The patent granted for an innovation for microbial management of a disease of brinjal is expected to boost brinjal production in the State and bring revenue to brinjal growers by reducing pre harvest loss.
  • India completed the 2018 Asia Road Racing Championship 2018 (ARRC) on a positive note with the Idemitsu Honda Racing India team racers earning crucial points and ending the season with a promise of giving a tougher fight in the upcoming 2019 season.

My Journey to Success - Aranyak Saikia - IPS, UPSC 2017, RANK - 148




PERSONAL PROFILE
Name   
Aranyak Saikia
Rank in Civil Services
148
Roll No.               
0107323
Age
24
Marital Status
Unmarried
Total attempts in UPSC (including this one)       
1
Optional Subjects
Economics
Service preferences Top – 3 (IAS, IPS, IRS etc.)
IAS>IPS>IRTS
Service Joined
IPS
Schooling Medium (English/Assamese/Hindi/Bengali)
English
College Medium (English/Assamese/Hindi/Bengali)
English
Medium chosen for Mains answers
English
Medium chosen for Interview
English
Home town/city
Guwahati
Work-experience if any
NA

EDUCATIONAL DETAILS

% in class 10
10 CGPA
% in class 12
98.2
Graduation course and %
Economics, 88%
Name of college, city, passing out year
St.Stephen’s College, Delhi, 2015
Post-graduation
Delhi School of Economics, Delhi, 2017
Any other professional courses
NA
Hobbies & Extracurricular achievements
Reading books especially popular science, writing short stories and papers in journals and newspapers like DNA, EPW etc, playing football, badminton and tennis.

UNDERSTANDING YOUR ONLINE LIFE?

Daily hrs spent on online platforms for predicting cutoff / syllabus change / age-attempt limit change and other “peripheral-discussion“ related to civil services.              
I spent only 2-3 days immediately after the Prelims, going through online platforms to predict the cutoff and my score.
Daily hrs spent on WhatsApp, Facebook, Telegram study groups
I was not part of any study group.
Daily hrs spent on online for exam prep/mock test
For prelims, about 2-3 hours. For mains test series, about 3-4 hours
Primary Device for online study: desktop, laptop, tablet, mobile  
Laptop and tablet

ANSWER WRITING

Did you use highlighters / sketch pens in your answers?
No, I just used a blue pen for all my answers
Did you draw any diagram in any paper? (e.g. in Geography) If yes, Did you draw diagrams with pencil or pen?
I did draw diagrams for my Economics Optional papers. Used pen only
Did you use ruler to draw the lines in diagram? Or did you just make it by hand?
No, I did not use rulers. Made it by hand only.
You wrote the answer in blue pen or black pen?
Blue

1.        Tell us something about yourself, your family, when and why did you enter in this field of competitive exams?

I was born and brought up in Guwahati. I did my schooling till class 12 in Don Bosco School Guwahati. I had science stream in class 12. I then joined Economics (Honours) in St. Stephen’s College, Delhi and completed my Masters from Delhi School of Economics (DSE). When the results were declared on 27th April 2018, I was doing my MPhil in DSE. Apart from reading and writing short stories, I’m very passionate about football and hockey. I come from a family of civil servants.


My father is an IPS officer, and currently the DGP of Assam Police, while my mother is in the IRTS. I have been reading the newspaper since class 5. Plus, the six years of economics opened my eyes to the myriad problems faced by this country. Being the son of civil servants, I have seen very closely how the civil services provide the right opportunity to deal with these issues. At the same time, the prestigious services provide a great chance to interact more closely with the people around me. It is probably for these reasons that I decided to enter the Civil Services Examination (CSE). I did not have an intention to enter the field of competitive exams per se. The only other exam I planned to write was the Indian Economic Service (IES) exam. If I failed to secure a rank in either of the two, my plan was to do a PhD and enter academics.

2.        In recent times, there is spur in electronic material- blogs, sites, pdfs, RSS-feeds. Many aspirants feel bogged down by this information overload. So, how do you balance this i.e. electronic material vs. paper material (Books, newspapers)

Electronic material is extremely important. Apart from daily reading of the newspaper, most of my other materials were electronic. While there is an overdose of materials, the idea is to stick to a limited set of sources which are reliable, like Vision, Insights on India, etc. (I had specifically referred to only these two websites)

3.        Do you maintain self-notes for revision of optional? In which format- electronic or paper? What is your style of preparation and notes making? 


I did not make any notes in CSE 2017. And that is my biggest regret. I just read the newspaper and read the Current Affairs Booklets of Vision multiple times. While this strategy is helpful for prelims, it is not advisable for mains. In mains, one needs to cover various dimensions and write short-crisp answers, and note-making is very helpful in this regard.

For optional, I referred to notes of Gaurav Aggarwal, Abhimanyu Gehlaut, Tejaswi Rana and Riju Bafna. However, this was only for Paper II. Paper I is theoretical and involves mathematical and diagrammatic models which need to be done from some standard textbooks like Ahuja, Salvatore, Froyen etc.

4.        What was your approach in the exam? (I wrote all, I only focused on the questions where I could answer perfectly, I just not to high quality points to reach the word limit etc.)


I attempted every question in every paper. Of course, there were about 4-5 questions which I didn’t know properly. Here, I used my intuition and common sense to write a paragraph or two. But I did not ‘make-up’ an answer with filler lines. Eg: There was a question on the Juno spacecraft. All I knew that it was headed for Jupiter to study its atmosphere. I wrote just that. But question wanted much more- about how it helps our study of the earth’s origins. I didn’t write anything on that, for I didn’t know.

I think the idea is to attempt all the questions unless you know nothing about it. There can be no ‘perfect’ answer and it’s unlikely that a perfect answer will fetch spectacular marks going by the very little variations in the GS marks. But one mark here and one mark there from the questions attempted can make a difference of 4-5 marks in the total.

5.        Did you write answers in bullet points or in paragraphs? Did you follow the “introduction-body-conclusion” format?

I did try to maintain the intro-body-conclusion format as much as possible, but not for every answer. Not all questions demand the same approach and I don’t think just writing all the points that come to your head will fetch you enough marks. I feel, one needs to understand what the question demands and then approach accordingly.

I tried to give bullet points in as many answers as possible. But then again, not every answer warrants bullet points, especially in Ethics and Economics Paper I.

6.        What’s your optional subject and why did you chose it and not something else? If a new aspirant wants to pick your subject, would you advice for it or against it? First the essential book/resource list. (Also mention which one is the “Base book” for covering the theory?


My optional was Economics, as I’ve done my graduation and post-graduation in Economics. The book list is very long, as both Paper I and Paper II require a different set of books. 

I recommend browsing through the following blogs/websites to get a better idea:

  • https://reluctanteconomistblog.wordpress.com/econ-optional/ - Click Here
  • https://thesupermanreturns.wordpress.com/upsc/optional/ - Click Here
  • http://rijubafna.com/?reqp=1&reqr=nzcdYaEvLaE5pv5jLv52LD== Click Here

Economics, unlike social sciences, is a fairly technical subject involving mathematics and diagrams. Fortunately, the UPSC syllabus relies less on maths and more on diagrams. Therefore, any person who has a fairly high interest in the subject or has done some elective economics course can opt for it. However, for them, it may take about 3-4 months of intensive preparation to get a full understanding of the concepts.



I don’t think the optional should be chosen based on the scoring potential. UPSC standardises the papers across the various optionals, to reduce the divergence in marks. It’s better to choose the optional based on interest or expertise.

7.        What are the books you studied doing your preparations and your list of recommended books? How much of internet-research / current affairs is necessary for this optional? OR can one simply rely on the books and be done with this subject?

I have already mentioned the relevant links in the previous answer. While Paper I is theoretical and needs to be done from textbooks, Paper II deals with the Indian economy right from pre-independence to the current. So, Paper II is a mix of static and current topics. The links mentioned above provide the necessary notes and materials to deal with Paper II. The Economic Survey is another important document.

8.        How many months did it take to finish the optional syllabus?

It took me about 1.5 months. I started preparing for my optional only after my prelims. But this is partially because I already had a 5-year base in Economics.

9.        Did you attend any ‘mock tests’? Do you think they’re necessary for success? How many days/ weeks before the exam, you started answer writing practice papers?


Yes, I did attend online mock tests of Vision IAS and Insights on India for both prelims and mains. I think they are absolutely necessary to not only get a sense of the potential level of difficulty of the exam but also to gauge one’s preparation.


I wrote my first answer somewhere in the 3rd week of July (the actual exam was on 28th October, 2017). I scored a poor 69/250. Over time, it improved to about 95-100. I wrote about 8 question papers.

10.    If you are made the UPSC chairman, what other reforms would you initiate for the civil service exam?

The exam is a year-long process. The time can be cut to complete the exam within, say, 6 months. Optional should be removed to provide a level-playing field. The focus of the exam should be more oriented towards analytical and original thinking and less towards mugging up information.

Interview

1.        How did you prepare for the interview? – (for college grad, hobbies, place of origin, current affairs at national and international level)

My interview was on 22nd February, so I got about one month to prepare for the interview. For most items on the Detailed Application Form (DAF), I made notes from the Internet. For current affairs, I did not make any notes, and relied on pure newspaper reading.

But I would discuss the issues with my parents. I would note down the questions they came up with, on any particular issue. And then prepare answers to them. This can be done with friends or fellow aspirants too.

2.        Did you attend any mock interviews by coaching classes? How were they similar / different than official interview? Do you believe it is necessary to attend such mock interviews?

I attended only one mock interview in Vajiram and Ravi. I found it to be very different from the official interview, and therefore, to be of not much help. The questions in the mock were straightforward while those in the actual interview were analytical and required a lot of critical thinking.

Thus, given my experience, I do not think more than one mock is necessary. Attending one mock interview can boost confidence and prepare a person to face eminent personalities who have a lot of experience over a variety of fields. But not more than that.

3.        Where did you stay for the interview? (Hotel / friend’s home …) and what books/material did you bring for the ‘revision before interview’?

I was at my home in Delhi. I just brought the newspaper (The Hindu) along with me to the UPSC. I did not get much time to go through it as I was allotted the first slot of the day.

4.        Who was the chairman of you interview board? How long was the interview?

The Chairman was Prof (Dr.) P.K. Joshi. The interview was for about 30 minutes.

I have been reading the newspaper since class 5. Plus, the six years of economics opened my eyes to the myriad problems faced by this country. Being the son of civil servants, I have seen very closely how the civil services provide the right opportunity to deal with these issues. At the same time, the prestigious services provide a great chance to interact more closely with the people around me. It is probably for these reasons that I decided to enter the Civil Services Examination (CSE).

I fully agree that social service can be done from the private sector too, but the civil services provide greater scope and variety.



I wasn’t asked any of these questions though.

5.        Describe the formal-dress worn by you on the day of your interview.

A white shirt, a blue tie, a dark blue coat and black trousers

6.        Was your interview on the expected lines of what you had prepared or did they ask you totally unexpected questions?  

It was not along expected lines in the beginning, but later the questions were comfortable (though still not along expected lines for the most part). Given that the questions were unexpected, the interview initially appeared stressful, but later it was comfortable.

7.        Any side details about technicalities like “make sure you bring xyz document or do xyz thing, or you’ll face problem”?

Do bring your original documents like class X, XII certificates etc. The set of documents required will be specified by the UPSC. Make sure that you have all of them.

During the medical exam the next day, make sure to bring your spectacle specifications if you wear spectacles.

8.        Please narrate your entire interview- what questions did they ask and what did you reply and other pleasant or uncomfortable experiences during the interview. (Earlier some toppers only tell me their question but not their answer. I would appreciate if you give both Question + your original answers)

This question will be responded in next few weeks. Please expect it by 20th November

The Miscellaneous Ones

1.        If you were not selected, what was your career backup plan?

If I failed in 3 attempts, I would have done a PhD and entered academics. I was already doing an MPhil anyway.

2.        Many candidates prepare sincerely but constantly live under fear about ‘profile insecurity’. I’m not from a big college, I’m not from English medium, and I don’t have work-experience. What if they ask some stressful questions in the interview about this? Did you suffer from such insecurities? What is your message to these candidates?


I did not suffer from these insecurities. Rather, I suffered from insecurity of another nature. Since I came from a relatively well-known college, I felt that the interviewers would have much higher expectations from me. So, I had to prepare even harder.

To be honest, based on the backgrounds of candidates who make it every year, these issues do not matter at all. What matters is how they speak in the interview and the arguments they put forward.

3.        People, most of them lack consistency in their preparation. So, how do you keep study momentum going on? How do you fight against the mood swings and distractions?

There is no particular way. Before my prelims, I was still doing my MA and had to attend classes. So, whatever time I got for CSE, I made full use of it. Post prelims, my MA was over and I began attending MPhil classes which served as a refreshment from the monotonous mains prep. I also used to play badminton daily, and watch a couple of comedy videos on YouTube.

4.        Through this struggle and success, what have your learned? What is the wisdom of life and competition? What is your message to the new aspirants? 

This exam provides a very broad view of the many dimensions of any particular issue. It not only informs us about the issues plaguing our society but builds an analytical approach to its dimensions. I think, a year of preparation has taught me this. Second, it is very likely that you might not qualify the exam, as the success rate is below 1%. But that in no way means you are inferior or dumb. You are as smart as the rest 1000 others who make it but maybe luck was not on your side. Some of the greatest people in India failed to clear the CSE. But they shone elsewhere. The only thing you need to have is hope! Humans have done great things in the worst of circumstances only because they had the hope that ‘this too shall pass’. Continue the fight, the victory will come- if not today, then tomorrow.

5.        Behind every topper are many people who stood by during those uncertain times when he/she was merely an ‘aspirant’. Would you like to tell the world, who were those people in your case?


My parents- for their emotional support throughout the exam.
My teachers- who provided me the right knowledge and learning base over the last 20 years.
A couple of my very good friends who provided me the optimism. 
My relatives- although not everyone knew about it.




Thank You for taking the effort to fill this questionnaire. Your effort will go a long way to guide someone in their preparations and fulfil their long cherished dream of becoming a civil servant.

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