[Topper’s Interview] Chandrashekhar AIR-470/CSE-2012: Public Administration & Sociology

motivation49 Comments

India Yearbook
  1. Bio
  2. Coaching
  3. Inception
  4. Information
  5. Study Momentum
  6. Hours
  7. Strategy: CSAT (Aptitude)
  8. Strategy: GS
  9. Mains 2013
  10. Optional Subject: Sociology
  11. Optional Subject: Public Administration
  12. Optional Subject in Mains 2013?
  13. Compulsory papers
  14. Essay
  15. Previous Attempts
  16. Insecurity  about “Profile”
  17. Career Backup
  18. Family and Friends
  19. Interview
  20. Marksheet
  21. Wisdom
  22. Bogus marketing propaganda


Roll number003010
Rank (CSE 2012)470
Optional Subjects
  1. Public administration
  2. sociology
Number of AttemptsTwo
Medium for Mains ExamEnglish
Schooling (Medium)English
Centre for Prelim examBangalore
Centre for Mains examUpsc,delhi
Name of home town/cityBangalore


% in class 1093.92
% in class 1284.00
Graduation course and %Chemical engineering and 60
Name of college and year of passing outNational institute of technology,Karnataka-2010
PG (if applicable)No
Any professional courses (if applicable)No

Extra C

School cricket team captain, Played for college football team for 3 years during engineering, a frequent and an avid quizzer participated in a lot of intra and inter college quiz competitions.

Family background

Father was a Assistant finance officer in a PSU ( ITI,LTD). Mother is a home maker. My mother has always been a constant source of inspiration and encouragement in my life. She always believed in my ability, be it civil services or any other thing. Her encouragement in allowing me to follow my dreams after my engineering even though taking up a job seemed a better option (since my father had  passed on a few years earlier) is the most important reason why I was able to clear this exam.


Did you join any Coaching?1)Prelims- physical geography module of Neetu singh.No other coaching classes attended.2)Mains- sociology test series of Praveen kishore.3)interview- mock interviews at vajiram and chaitanya.
Did you join any postal courses?No
Did you join any Mock test series?Sociology test series of Praveen kishore


Chandrasekhar AIR470-CSE2012
I first decided that I wanted to become an IAS officer when I was in high school. A neighbor to whom I was very close always used to tell stories about what a DC can do. How he is respected by everyone around him etc. This aspect of power was what initially attracted me. Later as I got to know more about the job and the society and its problems, the desire to become a civil servant deepened because I believed( and still believe) that a lot of good and positive changes can be brought about in our society through a civil servant.


Q. Outside Delhi, it’s hard to dig how to prepare for civil service. So How did you gather the necessary information / strategy / booklist?

Ans. My attempt in 2011 was made completely in Bangalore itself. I cleared prelims and missed interview call by 27 marks. During this attempt, internet was my main ally in digging up information regarding preparation, strategy and booklist. I used to follow a few blogs one of which was yours for clarifying doubts, getting better at concepts and understanding what to read and what to skip ie “smart work” complementing “hard work” rather than “hard work alone. I suggest aspirants who are not in Delhi to make use of internet and blogs such as yours to the maximum. Reading newspapers religiously and studying standard books for subjects like history, polity, geography will be more than enough to clear the exams.

Study Momentum

I feel that the motivation for studying for this exam should come from within for it to be effective and long lasting and the source of such a motivation varies depending on the individual. Personally, for me it was a combination of fear, my ambition and the ability to not over work myself. The fear of failure always motivated me to just go that extra mile when it came to studying. I had given up a potential life of comfort (by not taking up a job)  for civil services. So that played its part in motivating me. Secondly becoming an IAS officer was always my dream. But most importantly I feel that I did not over work myself. I used to study properly when I sat down to study but whenever I felt that I needed a break I did take it and these breaks would be one or two days of complete unwinding. After such breaks I did not regret such breaks but saw them as a refreshner. I did make sure that such breaks were few and far to affect my preparation. Another way I continued preparations even during the phase of low motivation was by taking up my favorite subject’s book (history) and reading it (not with the intention of preparing for the exam but just for the sake of reading).


Q. On an average, How many hours did you study per day?

Ans. I am not really sure about this but it was around 4-5 hours (including newspaper). The number of hours increased to around 7-8 as exams got near.

Q. How many months did it take you to complete the core syllabus of GS and optional subjects?

Ans. For someone reading the core subjects of GS for the first time (engineering and medical background) I feel it will take around 2 months to give it one proper read. But revision is very important. I feel it is the same with optional subjects as well if they are not the same as your graduation subjects. Two months each.

Strategy: CSAT (Aptitude)

ReasoningCengage learning publications
ComprehensionCengage learning publications
Decision makingCengage learning publications

English comprehension and decision making were my strengths. Didn’t focus on them too much. Hence I don’t think my tips would be helpful for fellow aspirants.

Strategy: GS

Book/ source
ModernBipin Chandra
CultureSpectrum’s Indian culture (only for mains)
MainsBipin Chandra and spectrum
MainsLaxmikanth and newspaper
MainsSummary of economic survey and internet
GeographyPhysicalNcert and neetu singh class notes
IndianNcert and neetu singh class notes
WorldSame as above
mainsNo special preparation for mains.
Environment, BiodiversityBasicsInternet and icse 9th and 10th std book
MainsNewspaper focus on issues more than concepts.
Science TechBasicsNothing
CurrentNewspaper hindu S and T issue every week. And last 5 years nobel winners’ work
MainsHindu newspaper.
Yearbook / Govt. schemes etc.Didn’t read year book in entirety but I did do selective reading as suggested by you in your blog. (but not that extensive as well)
IR/diplomacyFrontline magazine.

The most important thing required to compete in this exam and clear it is the ability to stay calm in adverse situations. No matter how well prepared you are there will be a lot of questions in prelims,mains and interview for which you won’t know the answer. How you react to those questions and move on to the others with confidence will eventually determine whether you clear the exams or not.

Mains 2013

Q. UPSC has changed the GS syllabus for Mains 2013. So if you were to prepare for it, what’d be your approach/strategy/booklist?

Ans. Personally I feel that the pattern change for mains is a blessing for those who feel comfortable studying lot of new things but are not very adept at perfecting a subject by studying it over and over again. Because the weight for general studies has increased the focus should be on it. The optional is still very important since it carries 500 marks. However the weight for GS has increased from 600 to 1000. This makes GS the new ‘optional’ ie perform badly in GS and you are surely out of reckoning. You cannot make up for the non-performance in GS by getting 400+350 in optionals (out of 1200) like previous years. So I reiterate again, focus on GS but don’t ignore optional. As far as the books are concerned, I feel there are a lot of good books as well as documentaries on world history which can be made use of. World geography can be covered through leong. And for the 4th paper on ethics I feel 2nd ARC report on ethics is a must. I am not sure about the other topics added this time. So I plead ignorance on that part.

Optional Subject: Sociology

The book list for your optional has to be varied because all the books don’t cover all the topics and certainly not at the same level. For sociology I followed Haralambos, Anthony Giddens and internet for paper one. IGNOU,BA notes and ‘society in India’ by Ram Ahuja for paper two mainly. Here I have to mention two things. One, I DID NOT read any of the books in their entirety. It was all topic wise and I made a note of which book I referred to for which topic so that during revision I was not reading an entirely new perspective on the topic. And two, IGNOU is a really really good book for sociology paper 2.

Optional Subject: Public Administration

  • Public administration has been given a rough treatment the past two years but it is not a difficult subject to understand or write on. If UPSC decides there has to be low score for a X subject it ensures that it will happen. So that is not in our hands. What we can do is prepare every subject to the best of our ability. For paper one I followed Fadia and Fadia along with Vajiram class notes depending on the topic. For paper two it was Fadia and Fadia, Laxmikanth, Arora and Goyal. Again none of the books were studied in entirety.
  • Here is a small pointer which helped me a lot. I hope it helps other aspirants. Optional whatever you know,you should know it very very well rather than knowing everything under the sun whereas for GS you should try to know everything under the sun even if you don’t have in depth knowledge about it.

Optional Subject in Mains 2013?

Q. Instead of two, now UPSC will have only one optional subject. So if you were to give Mains 2013, which optional would you keep and why?

Ans. I think I would keep public administration. First reason is because I am comfortable studying it. Secondly 2011 I got 306 when the paper was supposedly very very tough and eventhough I am sure my 2012 marks in pub-ad is not as good I am also sure that I wont be very bad. I feel that an above average performance in a very tough paper is much better than above average performance in a relatively easy one.

Compulsory papers

Q. Your booklist/strategy for compulsory Regional language paper.

Ans. Previous years papers should be solved just before the exam.

Q. Your booklist/strategy for compulsory English language paper.

Ans. Same as above.


Q. How did you prepare yourself for the essay?

Honestly nothing specific. I did try to envision the structure of my essay on various topics but never really wrote an essay before the exam. This was a risk considering I had got only 82 in 2011.

Q. Which Essay did you write in Mains-2012?

The women topic. Reason was my sociology background.

Previous Attempts

Q. When you look back in the past, what were the deficiency in your preparation in the previous attempt? How did you rectify them this time?

Ans. This exam is all about strengthening your weak areas and ensuring that your strong areas continues to remain strong. Last time my sociology marks were not up to the UPSC standards, hence this time I attended a test series and wrote a lot of answers and got them corrected. Last time for GS I had all but ignored culture and statistics which I did not this time. This helped I feel.

Insecurity  about “Profile”

Q. Many aspirants have the (unnecessary) fear of interview, thinking that “my profile is not good because  I’ve low score in class 10/12/college/ I’m from unknown college, I’ve no work experience etc.etc.etc.”  So, How important or relevant is the profile of a candidate during interview?


  • Your profile is not at all important and the proof for it is that a lot of IIT,IIM graduates fail to clear this exam not once, but twice, thrice and four times and at the other end we see many number of candidates with rural background, having less than awesome marks throughout their student life clearing it year after year.
  • What really matters is how you handle the questions(simple and uncomfortable ones) during that 25-30 minutes you are inside the interview hall. A few questions should be expected on your profile but none of it will be targeted to make you feel inferior. Hence there is nothing to be worried about. Again this is a personality test, hence uncomfortable questions will be part of it.

Career Backup

I was not thinking about the backup plan while I was preparing but if it hadn’t worked out I could have gotten back to being a chemical engineer. Nothing is end of the world.

Family and Friends

If I start answering this question trust me it would run into pages… I will just say that I wouldn’t have even come close to clearing this exam without a lot of people’s support and encouragement and most importantly my mother.


Q. How did you prepare for the interview?

Two mocks at vajiram and chaitanya. Preparing probable questions on my profile. Updating myself about current affairs and discussing various topics with my friends whom I stayed with in Delhi before the interview.

Q. Who was the chairman of you interview board?


Q. How long was the interview?

15-20 minutes

Q. Provide the list of questions asked (and if possible answers also)

I have attached a separate pdf detailing my interview experience. click me

Q. Was your interview on the expected lines of what you had prepared or



GS: 76
Aptitude: 150
Total: 226

Written + interview

Essay: 103
GS1: 136
GS2: 125
Public Administration 1: 49
Public Administration 2: 106
Socio1: 138
Socio2: 108
Written Total: 765
Personality Test: 186
Final Total: 951


Q. Through this struggle and success, what have you learned about life and competition? What is your message to future aspirants?

Ans. If your agenda is honest, if your effort is sincere and if you are willing to make small sacrifices, the rewards you eventually reap will be sweet and worth it.

Bogus marketing propaganda

You are well aware of the unwritten golden rule of conducting toppers’ interview: Final question has to be about the bogus marketing propaganda. So,

Q1. Were you a subscriber/ regular reader of Mrunal.org. If yes, since when?

And You can even say “no”, I’ll publish it without editing, unlike certain magazines hahaha.

Ans. I have been a regular visitor to your blog since very early days of my civil service preparations. I am specially a big fan of the way you articulate economy concepts. Your advise on strategy for pre, mains and interview was also helpful. I have to make a special mention of your GS mains  2012 paper analyses. It was brilliant! And I m not trying to flatter you.

Q2. How did Mrunal.org help you in your preparation?

Ans. Like I have said before I wouldn’t even have come close to clearing this exam if not for a lot of people and one of those is you through mrunal.org. keep up the great work you are doing. All the best.

Mrunal recommends

  1. (free) NCERT, NIOS, TN-Books
  2. Environment by ShankarIAS
  3. Indian Polity M.Laxmikanth (Hindi | English)
  4. Art & Culture by Nitin Singhania (Hindi | English)
  5. Spectrum: Modern History (Hindi | English)
  6. Bipin Chandra: Post Independence
  7. Fast-track to Arithmetic Rajesh Verma
  8. MK Pandey’s Analytical Reasoning
  9. Disha’s Topicwise Paperset (Hindi | English)
  10. School Atlas
  11. Mains: Language papers
  1. (free) NCERT, NIOS, TN-Books 4 History,Geo,Sci
  2. Indian Polity M.Laxmikanth (Hindi | English)
  3. Spectrum: Modern History (Hindi | English)
  4. Maths: Quantam CAT Sarvesh Kumar
  5. Objective General English SP Bakshi
  6. Word Power made Easy -Norman Lowe
  7. Topic wise Solved Paperset by Disha

So far 49 Comments posted

  1. nick

    mera bhi interview aayega ek din aapke blog pe sir.. ..thnk u

    1. Shanky

      Nick! Sure dude…Smart Work and persistence will surely lead you to your (our) success…work hard man and not more than 365 days from now we’ll see some new faces writing their own success mantra here on Mrunal.org

      And Mrunal (I don’t want to call you Sir, make you feel older :P) Hats off! I’m wondering when you’ll write your interview experience and when you’ll anser the question ” Were you a subscriber/ regular reader of Mrunal.org. If yes, since when?”…I’m sure the answer will be LOLZ

  2. Mohammed Jamaludeen S

    mrunal bhaai…u rock sir ji….!

    1. pundrik

      i’m confused plz help me….
      me MA karna chahta hu to me 3 sub. me confused hu
      1.political sci.
      2.public adm.
      3.sociology jo mujhe UPSC new pattern me bhi kam aaye…

  3. thanku mrunal

    mrunal I request ur opinion if u have time.even b4 startn my prelim prep last year I purposefully didnt luk at. prelim gs paper of 2011 &12 so as to test my ability now.rather I practiced model papers.now as xam nears I tried both 2011 and 2012 gs papers I got. 100 marks in 2011 paper and 102marks in 2012 paper.hw wud u rate this is it ok? requst u to give ur opinion sir.I welcome negative comments too.its nt tat I am gng to get tensd bt rather for a bettr understanding

    1. shailendra

      good enough

  4. Aiman Reyaz

    Is there sectional cut-offs in prelims, please help?

  5. pradeep

    @Aiman Reyaz. No sectional cut off.

    1. Aiman Reyaz

      thanks pradeep.

  6. Anonymous

    1.How was ur interview preparation in Delhi at ur friends place?
    2.How helpful was Literature, 24, Alias and Mafia?
    3.How did ur spectacles work for u in the Interview?
    4.How important is the dressing style when u go out just to hangout with friends?
    5.How does it feel to piss off ur friends’ landlord and the neighbors?
    6.Finally, what is the high score in Beach Buggy?

    1. csn

      maga swalpa adumko iga nanu ias

    2. chandrashekar

      1) Awesome!
      2) More helpful than the mocks 😉
      3) 186 baby! it must have worked.
      4) lol thribuvan nan batte mel yakappa kannu ninge?
      5) I forward the question to dubba
      6) sadly dubba still rocks that buggy!!

  7. katyayan

    sir please upload sociology notes in hindi

  8. akash singh


  9. vivek kumar

    Thanks Mrunal..

  10. Mrunal

    Update: Marksheet of Mr.Chandrashekar uploaded

    GS: 76
    Aptitude: 150
    Total: 226
    Written + interview
    Essay: 103
    GS1: 136
    GS2: 125
    Public Administration 1: 49
    Public Administration 2: 106
    Socio1: 138
    Socio2: 108
    Written Total: 765
    Personality Test: 186
    Final Total: 951

    1. Mahesh Meena

      WHAT SHOULD I DO …should i leave public administration now !!

  11. Kummam

    Pl guide the reading details as below so that it helps the all the aspirants for public administration
    Book Name-Chapter Name-Item Ex:Meaning of public administration-Page numbers
    If you provide the above details,it really helps who are reading on their own and save a lot of time.

  12. sirimalla

    goodevening sir, im shruthi sirimalla frm hyd.im preparing for civil services exam.but i want to give my attempt in 2014. sir,im confused how to start my preparation.i want to start frm basics on wards.give your suggestion about what to read first and which books to be followed right now.

  13. Ajay

    The popularity of Mrunal in Dehradun:

    – My friend bought one Samsung Grand and the first thing he did is opened mrunal.org and the ecstasy was there to see on his face 🙂
    – Friends fighting “its pronounced as Mrunaaaaal and not MRUNaL”
    – Over a cup of tea in a nearby dhaba at 5pm “oye tune mrunal ka aaj ka HDI waala article padah?”
    -Abe yaar aaj mrunal ka koi article nhi aaaya. He must be compiling 4 in on go 🙂

    You see Mrunal bhai — you have become a household name among student fraternity across the India.

    Keep this “selfless” service up and the blessings will be at your doorsteps all through your life. After all what a shishya can give to his guru!

    Jai Bharat!

    1. Mahesh Meena

      hmm ,,,you are right

  14. Naresh

    It would be very helpful if u provide answers too for ur interviewquestions..

  15. Pradeep

    Very good marks in GS. Congrats and all the very best for your future brother:)

  16. Naveen Kumar BT

    It really feels awesome to read the comments. Mrunal bhai, Kudos.

  17. Madhav Sharma

    a mere 49 in Paper I out of 300? Mrunal sir, that is a mere 16% score. Can you give an idea of what other candidates who had taken Pub Ad scored? I mean if you can it will be really helpful.

  18. Anonymous

    My Pub Ad Marks : 51 paper I and 107 paper II .. :(((((((((( nd want to know Geography haha it damn 48 nd 98 … Damn u UPSC…. I will be BAck PRelims 2013 is already cleard 270 total .. but yaar what is my mistake in taking pubad nd geo as optional :((( this time pubad coz no alternative yaar.. but I have that good feeling ki Jo hoga accha hi hoga..

  19. manisha

    Thank u so much Mrunal sir, and all the toppers for their interview details. Can’t tell how much valuable and informative they are. Really thanks a lot for your help. God bless u all.

  20. Vishal

    @Chandrashekhar sir
    Would like to know if you would stll keep pub ad?
    Please just asking as i am in the same dilemma.

    1. chandrashekar

      yup i would still stick with pub-ad because of the comfortability factor… like i said if it is pub-ad this year,it could be sociology the next. its not in your hands. wat is in your hands is your comfort with the subject…better to go with that.

      1. Vishal

        Thanks a lot for the reply Sir.

        1. chandrashekar

          no sir pleas! call me chandrashekar, happy to help.

      2. Mahesh Meena

        Thanks for your valuable suggestion , i too hv same question 🙂

  21. Akanksha Goyal

    Hello chandrashekar..congratz on your accomplishment.. i wanted to know if this praveen kishore is really good as a test series option..i m confused whether to go to vision or mr. Kishore for socio test series… kindly suggest sumthing

    1. chandrashekar

      praveen kishore is not the best option…but he is not the worst either. he is ok…will help you improve. he might ask you to join his classes or buy his notes..beware of that. his paper discussions are useful though.

  22. arjun

    Hi Shekar,

    That is how we call him while playin futball in BEL ground.

    glad to c him turn into big boss & some1 who our next gen can luk upto.

    keep up the gud work & hope to c some positive changes in our daily lives.

    its been a while tat u have come for futbal.

    do come before u get totally absorbed into the hectic schedule.

    guys our officer(shekar) plays gud football too.

    congrats again.


    1. chandrashekar

      Thanks a lot Arjun for wishes and the kind words about my football( which coming from such a skilled player like yourself is highly appreciated). Sorry for such a late reply though… i did turn up the previous weekend like you know already and hopefully that will remain the case for the following few weekends.

  23. Jane

    Chandrashekar avre..
    its sooo good to see someone from bangalore cracking the civils.. you are an inspiration to those of us who cant make it to delhi to prepare. Congrats and all the best in your future endeavours 🙂

  24. Ankur Gupta

    @Chandrashekhar Sir, I have completed B.Com (H) from University of Delhi this year. I am confused between Sociology and Public Admn for my Civil Service preps. Which subject will be better according to you? From what I have explored till now, I like Sociology better. Will it be a good option?

    1. chandrashekar

      You have answered the question yourself Mr.Ankur. I have always said more than anything else,its the interest that matters the most which in turn influences your aptitude. If you like the subject, then go ahead and make it your optional. All the best.

  25. Vikash A

    any body from Bangalore ?? Preparing for Mains…

  26. Andani

    He says no for ancient and medieval Indian history……….! does it not required to study…….?

  27. utkarsh

    hi chandrashekhar ,it would be of great help if you could list the sites which you used to browse ??

  28. arvind

    hello sir , please share the selected topics from ignou ma and various books like horolombous , ritzer , indianisation of modern tradition etc .

  29. arvind

    hello sir , please share the selected topics from ignou ma and various books like horolombous , ritzer , indianisation of modern tradition etc . 🙂

  30. ashish bhadauria

    Sir, I’m confused between optionals- pub ad and sociology. Though I like Pub ad more than Socio as I have read Pub ad to an extent. But due to fears regarding its Qs papers more twisted than other papers and also tough evaluation, I tend to be bit skeptic about it.

    Want to understand the pros and cons of both the optionals and an idea in general from ur side, if possible. Pls make it possible Sir.
    Thanks so much.

  31. om prakash

    hello everybody . is having a year gap between 12th and graduation may be a ba impact during civil services interview please reply me


    hi I am suresh, I am preparing for civils from this year. I am from biology back ground, which subject will be good for me as optional sociology or pub.ad.. please suggest me..

  33. Aniket Kumar

    What is your Message? Search before asking questions & confine discussions to exams related matter only. very much impressive blog.
    thanks for this

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