[Topper’s Interview] RAHUL RAJ (AIR-375/CSE-2014) Public administration, TCS Software engg. Hyderabad

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UPSC Paperset
  1. Candidate Profile
  2. Education
  3. Introduction
  4. Electronic Vs Paper material
  5. Tempo and style
  6. Struggle of a Senior player
  7. Working professional
  8. Prelims (CSAT) General studies
  9. Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude
  10. Prelim accuracy
  11. Mains: Compulsory language paper
  12. Mains: Essay
  13. General Studies (Mains) paper 1
  14. General studies (Mains) paper 2
  15. General studies (Mains) Paper 3
  16. General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude
  17. GS4 Ethics case study answers in Mains 2014
  18. Mains answer-writing?
  19. Mains Optional Subject
  20. Before the interview
  21. During the interview
  22. CSE-2014 Marksheet
  23. Career Backup
  24. Views on UPSC reforms
  25. Insecurity about profile
  26. Wisdom
  27. Credit: Friends/family
  28. BOGUS Marketing Propaganda

Candidate Profile

Rahul Raj

Rank in CSE-2014375
Roll No.252802
Total attempts in CSE (including this one)2
Optional SubjectPublic Administration
Schooling MediumEnglish
College mediumEnglish
Medium chosen for Mains answersEnglish
Medium chosen for InterviewEnglish
Home town/cityHyderabad, Telangana.
Work-experience if any3.5 years in TCS as Software Engineer.
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failuresIndian Forest Service-2014, AIR-75

Inspector(Central Excise), Cgl-2013

PO in Canara Bank, IBPS PO -2014

Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used)Analog IAS, Hyderabad, weekend coaching for GS and Public Administration in 2013, Sriram IAS, delhi for Gs mains updated syllabus in 2013,

Sri Chaitanya Narayana Test Series for mains, 2014 in Hyderabad.

Service preferences (Top-5)IAS>IPS>IFS>IRS(IT)>IRS(CE)
state cadre preference (Top-5)TS>AP>KAR>TN>MP


fill the details here
% in class 1082
% in class 1293
Graduation course and %81
Name of college, city, passing out yearB-Tech in Electronics and Communication Engineering from JNTU College of Engineering, Hyderabad, 2009
Any other professional coursesNA
Hobbies & Extracurricular achievementsGardening, Teaching and watching Cricket.


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

We are from a normal middle class family background and my aim during my Engineering days was to get a software job to help my father financially and bring financial stability in the family. So I accepted TCS job offer and worked in TCS for 40+ months.  Two things attracted me towards Civils. One is the non-profit motive of government in providing services to the people like in education and health sector and the second is, I realized the importance of Civil services for the proper functioning of the society. For me if an Engineer helps in building India and the doctor helps in saving the lives of people, a civil servant role is more important than both of them as he helps in SHAPING the lives of people. His role starts from Pre-birth and continues till post-death.

Electronic Vs Paper material

Q. 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 much do you rely on electronic material and how much on the paper material (Books, newspapers)? If possible narrate a typical day in your studylife. What is your style of preparation (e.g. I continue making notes no matter what I’m reading, I just read multiple times but don’t maintain notes, I make mindmaps on computer …or xyz style)

For the static part of the syllabus I prepared entirely from books in my first attempt without making any notes, but underling important points so that I can easily revise later. During my second attempt tried making notes for only some specific current affairs topics related to GS1,2,3, with only 5 to 6 points per topic and about 100 topics overall. Completely depended on Internet for this purpose. Most of my 2nd attempt preparation for mains and interview was from internet. From Mrunal I used to take some listed selective current affairs topics and read about them from internet from atleast 3 different sources. Got soft copy of current affairs material of GK.Today from my friend in Delhi, and it helped for mains.

Read 2 newspapers, The Hindu and Times of India, but never made any notes. Used to read them selectively not more than 2 hours combined for both. Used to keep a timetable for each subject like history to be completed in 10 days, next geography for another 10 days etc for atleast 2 months in advance. This helped a lot. Used to properly plan about the number of days to be spent on each subject, rather than concentrate on number of hours a day I need to study. On an average not more than 8-10 hours a day.

Tempo and style

Q. People know what books and syllabus points are to be prepared. But 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?

Consistency was lacking in my preparation also. Only 2 months before prelims, 3 months before mains and 1 month before Interview was the period where I was extremely consistent. In the other 6 months I was too much involved in our family activities which I could have avoided (As I prepared entirely from home for my 2nd attempt). Fear of failure, Family pressure and high expectations from relatives (I hated this) forced me to keep up the momentum. And whenever I felt bored, I used to watch documentaries on world wars, independence, history etc in YouTube and Economic survey videos of Mrunal also(Did not purchase Economic survey, in first attempt, read form mrunal articles and in 2nd attempt videos, I found articles more useful). I used to watch historical movies like Gandhi, Ambedkar, Sardar patel, Bhagat singh etc which also helped me to write some more points in mains. Completely filled my room and desktop with Swami Vivekananda quotes which inspired a lot

Struggle of a Senior player

Q1. How did you survive through this mental prison and what’re your words of wisdom to other senior players? If any specific inspirational incident(s), please share.

I was mentally prepared that I was going to prepare for such an exam where I was not sure that I would succeed even with sincere preparation. I decided not to give more than 2 years for this exam and started having my backup plans, in Bank POs, CGL etc which reduced pressure on me.

Completely avoided going to family functions, and when I did not succeed in the first attempt I asked my parents not to reveal to anyone that I am giving my 2nd attempt again and instead told my relatives that I was looking for a CGL job.

Q2. What went wrong in your previous attempt? What changes did you make in this current attempt?

Prelims: It was good, 160+ in CSAT-2 there was nothing to worry about.

Mains:  During mock tests, I could never complete a GS paper more than 60% and could not manage time properly due to my slow writing skills. Did not rectify this defect and could answer only 17 questions on an average in each GS paper in Mains.

Interview: Did not prepare my graduation (B-Tech ECE) subjects properly, except basics. And Interview was a Disaster. It was Alka Sirohi Madam Board where she completely concentrated on my graduation subjects mostly factual questions, which were not even asked in our Engineering Viva. Got only 124 marks in interview.

This year, first thing I made was change my writing style from paragraph writing to point wise and improving writing speed. By keeping Gaural Agarwal last year Mains answers as a reference tried to write every answer in a multi dimensional way covering all aspects (Definition, current related, positive aspects, negative aspects, suggestions and conclusion)

Working professional

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

When I was working in TCS, I did not take up any complex activities and always preferred easy works which does not have daily updates. So work pressure was less. I used to read all current affairs from internet in office. Did not care about any rating system, as I knew I would not continue in this job for a long time as I even had my backup plans ready.

Prelims (CSAT) General studies

History AncientNCERT, Analog Ias class notes, TMH GS Manual
History MedievalNCERT, Analog Ias class notes, TMH GS Manual
History Modern (Freedom Struggle)NCERT, Analog Ias class notes, Bipin Chandra
Culture and societyNIOS Indian culture and Heritage
Polity (theory + current)Laxmikanth
Economy (theory + current)Indian Economy by Sanjeev Varma, Mrunal Economic articles
Science (theory + current)TMH GS Manual for theory and newspapers for current
Environment (theory + current)Shankar IAS Environment
geography physicalNCERT, TMH GS Manual, GC Leong.
geography IndiaNCERT, TMH GS Manual
geography worldNCERT, TMH GS Manual, GC Leong
other national/international current affairsNewspapers and Internet
Schemes, Policy & Filler StuffMrunal

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS prelim 2014 paper?

It scared me to such an extent that I thought it was useless to give 2nd paper and with that disappointment could not score good marks in 2nd paper.

Q. in GS-Prelims 2014, there was unusual questions from environment and agriculture portion. If you were to give the attempt again in 2015, what new strategy / books / sources would you focus?

I would have focused on reading the same books repeated number of times so that I don’t make any silly mistakes of easy questions(Earlier, I did 7 questions wrong which a person reading just TMH manual could answer correctly). I would have taken a calculated risk of eliminating atleast 2 options and attempting as many questions as possible.

Q. Now that Aptitude paper has become qualifying, obvious more attention needs to be paid on the GS paper so apart from the books that you already have gone through, what else would you have tried for CSE-2015 (if you were going to appear)?

I would have concentrated on mock tests and see that I cross atleast 110 in paper-1 in all tests and repeated revisions of each subject.

Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude

Topicstrategy / booklist
MathsMock tests
reasoningMock tests
comprehensionTMH CSAT paper-2, Mock tests
Decision MakingTMH CSAT paper-2, Mock tests

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS Aptitude 2014 paper.

It was easy compared to 2013, but was tricky.

Prelim accuracy

Q1. Did you attend any ‘mock tests’? do you think they’re necessary for success?

Yes, mock tests are necessary to know at what point we are standing. I used to keep a target of 100+ in paper-1 and 160+ in paper-2 in each mock test and prepare accordingly.

Q2. Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers. in CSAT-2014

attempted Q.correct (Expected)
GSAround 80Score(91.34)

Q3. Your score in prelim (when UPSC uploads it please mail me your score)

Paper-1: 91.34  Paper-2: 119.18   Total: 211

Mains: Compulsory language paper

Compulsory language paperYour preparation strategy / booklist?
English paperPrevious years papers
your regional languageHad an habit of reading Eenadu(Telugu) newspaper daily, Practiced essays and grammar from 10th class telugu work books and previous years question papers.

Q2.other observations / tips / comments on the length / difficulty level of compulsory language papers in CSE-2014

Compulsory Telugu paper gave nightmares to me after mains. I took it so lightly that I did not prepare anything for it this year as I have already prepared it last year. They did not disclose marks of candidates in compulsory papers who qualified mains last year, so even I did not have the idea of how much I got last year. And this year due to lack of writing practice in Telugu, I could attempt only 240 marks out of 300. This year paper was very difficult especially the translations. I was confident that, if at all I did not qualify for Interview, it would have been because of this paper.

Mains: Essay

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?

I practiced writing some Essays on women issues, Science & Technology, Social issues etc.  I used to frame an essay in 7 points. 1. Introduction, 2. Background/History, 3. Defining the essay 4. Advantages relating to current affairs (focusing mostly on this part) 5. Disadvantages, 6. Suggestions, 7.Conclusion.

I used to write in a multi-dimensional way presenting all aspects of political, social, economical, judicial, administrative, historical, environmental, geographical, international etc in the essay.

Q2. Which two essays did you write and What key points did you include in it?

  1. With greater power comes greater responsibility

I started about how power and responsibility are related to each other and stressed that it is more depended on the individual or entity which has acquired power. Defined what power and responsibility mean. Then talked about Asoka, Akbar, and Hitler in positive and negative aspects. Then tried to cover all those aspects like political, social, judicial etc….  Gave some suggestions and concluded it by saying it varies across different cultures and different people and different political regimes, but in a democratic setup responsibility increases with increase in power across all institutions.

  1. Tourism

I took almost 2 hours for the first essay. As I was not prepared for writing two essays, I could not manage time properly between two essays. Prepared a framework for 15 minutes and hurriedly completed the 2nd Essay in 45 minutes. Could not even write the conclusion properly. I think this brought my marks down inspite of writing a very good first essay.

I could score only 99 in Essay, mainly because of improper time management. Atleast 120 in Essay would have landed me in below 200 rank.

General Studies (Mains) paper 1

TopicHow did you prepare?
cultureNIOS Indian culture, Tamil Nadu 11th,12th textbooks, NCERT, Analog Ias class notes and Sriram Ias class notes.
Indian historyAnalog Ias class notes, Bipin Chandra
world historyThe story of Civilization volume-1&2, Sriram material
post-independence IndiaBipin Chandra
Indian societyArihant GS Mains paper-1, Vajiram material
role of women, poverty etc.Arihant GS Mains paper-1, Vajiram material
globalization on Indian societyArihant GS Mains paper-1, Vajiram material
communalism, regionalism, secularismArihant GS Mains paper-1, Vajiram material
world geo physicalTMH GS Manual and GC Leong
resource distributionMrunal
factors for industrial locationMrunal
earthquake tsunami etcTMH GS Manual and GC Leong & Internet
impact on flora-faunaTMH GS Manual and GC Leong & Internet

General studies (Mains) paper 2

TopicHow Did You Prepare?
Indian Constitution, devolution, dispute redressal etc.Laxmikanth
comparing Constitution with worldSriram Class notes
parliament, state LegislaturesLaxmikanth
ministries departmentsVajiram material and Sriram material
pressure group, informal asso.Vajiram material and Sriram material
Representation of people’s actSriram material
various bodies: Constitutional, statutory..Laxmikanth
NGO, SHG etcVajiram material and Sriram material
welfare schemes, bodiesVajiram material and Sriram material & Mrunal
social sector, health, edu, HRDVajiram material and Sriram material & Mrunal
governance, transparency, accountabilityVajiram material and Sriram material, Arihant Mains GS paper-2
e-governanceVajiram material and Sriram material, Arihant Mains GS paper-2
role of civil serviceVajiram material and Sriram material, Arihant Mains GS paper-2
India & neighborsSriram material, Arihant Mains GS paper-2 & Internet
bilateral/global groupingSriram material, Arihant Mains GS paper-2 & Internet
effect of foreign country policies on Indian interestSriram material, Arihant Mains GS paper-2 & Internet
diasporaSriram material, Arihant Mains GS paper-2
international bodies- structure mandateInternet

General studies (Mains) Paper 3

TopicHow Did You Prepare?
Indian economy, resource mobilizationIndian Economy by sanjeev Varma and his class notes & Mrunal
inclusive growthsanjeev Varma and his class notes
budgetingsanjeev Varma and his class notes
major crops, irrigationVajiram material and Sriram material, Arihant Mains GS paper-3
agro produce – storage, marketingVajiram material and Sriram material, Arihant Mains GS paper-3
e-technology for famersVajiram material and Sriram material, Arihant Mains GS paper-3
farm subsidies, MSPVajiram material and Sriram material, Arihant Mains GS paper-3
PDS, buffer, food securityVajiram material and Sriram material, Arihant Mains GS paper-3
technology missionVajiram material and Sriram material, Arihant Mains GS paper-3
animal rearing economicsVajiram material and Sriram material, Arihant Mains GS paper-3
food processingVajiram material and Sriram material, Arihant Mains GS paper-3
land reformsVajiram material and Sriram material, Arihant Mains GS paper-3
liberalizationSanjeev varma class notes
infraSanjeev varma class notes
investment modelsSanjeev varma class notes
science-tech day to day lifeNewspapers
Indian achievements in sci-techDid not read.
awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPRInternet
environmental impact assessmentShankar IAS material
Disaster ManagementVajiram material and Sriram material, Arihant Mains GS paper-3
non state actors, internal securityVajiram material and Sriram material, Arihant Mains GS paper-3
internal security – role of media, social networking siteVajiram material and Sriram material, Arihant Mains GS paper-3
cyber securityVajiram material and Sriram material, Arihant Mains GS paper-3
money launderingVajiram material and Sriram material, Arihant Mains GS paper-3
border  ManagementVajiram material and Sriram material, Arihant Mains GS paper-3
organized crime, terrorismVajiram material and Sriram material, Arihant Mains GS paper-3
security agencies- structure mandateVajiram material and Sriram material, Arihant Mains GS paper-3

General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude

TopicHow Did You Prepare?
ethics and interface, family, society and all the hathodaa topicsJTS Institute Banglore material and Arihant Mains GS paper -4 (Arihant was better)
attitude, moral influence etc.JTS Institute Banglore material and Arihant Mains GS paper -4
civil service: integrity, impartiality, tolerance to weak etcJTS Institute Bangalore material and Arihant Mains GS paper -4
emotional intelligence, its use in governanceJTS Institute Banglore material and Arihant Mains GS paper -4
moral thinkers of India and worldPrepared about Gandhi, Nehru, Ambedkar, Tagore, Buddhism, Jainism in India and Plato, Aristotle, Socrates & Kant in world.
ethics in pub.ad, accountability, laws, rules etc.JTS Institute Banglore material and Arihant Mains GS paper -4 & Sriram Ias material
corporate governanceJTS Institute Banglore material and Arihant Mains GS paper -4
probity in governance, work cultureJTS Institute Banglore material and Arihant Mains GS paper -4 & Sriram Ias material
citizen charter, ethics code, work culture etc.JTS Institute Banglore material and Arihant Mains GS paper -4 & Sriram Ias material
challenges of corruptionJTS Institute Banglore material and Arihant Mains GS paper -4 & Sriram Ias material
case studies on above topicsMrunal, Halfmantr, Used to practice writing answers like choices of decision making questions in prelims from previous papers and write about positive and negative aspects in each option and selecting a globally acceptable option among them by giving reasons.

GS4 Ethics case study answers in Mains 2014

Q. in GS4 ethics papers, please give a sketchy overview of your case study answers:

caseyour approach/ keypoints
case1: your friend preparing UPSCDon’t remember
case2: Rameshwar the uptight UPSC topper.
case3: no bribe no contract.
case4: corrupt subordinates file bogus rape complaint against you.
in  the remaining bol-bachchan type questions (e.g. why ethics important, why probity difficult etc).

Mains answer-writing?

Please tell us how many marks worth attempt did you give? along with comments if any, in the following cells:

PaperBest attemptedAverage qualitynamesake answerTotal attempt
Opt-P1Rest of the questions2- 10 marker, 1- 15 marker and 1- 20 marker3- 10 markerAll(5)
Opt-P2Rest of the questions2- 10 marker, 2- 20 markerAll(5)

As each and every mark is important, I decided to attempt all answers across all papers even if I don’t know about a question I used to interpret what the answer could be and relate them to the answers which I know and complete of the answer. This strategy worked excellently for public administration paper -1.

Q. How was your experience with the ‘fixed space’ answer sheet?

The space was sufficient while writing in Point wise and went beyond in paragraph format, where I had to decrease the spacing between the lines so as to complete the answers within the space provided.

Q. Did you write answers in bullet points or in paragraphs? Some players (who cleared mains and got interview call letter) were claiming 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.

I wrote 70% in point format. Only if I don’t have many multi-dimensional points about a question I used to write it in paragraph format.

Q. Did you follow the “introduction-body-conclusion” format? 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.

Heading with Capital letters and neatly underlining it with pencil. A small intro, some current affairs related stuff, some factual data, pros and cons, suggestions and conclusion.

Q5. Did you use highlighters / sketchpens in your answers?

Heading with Capital letters and neatly underlining it with pencil.

Q6. Did you draw any diagram in any paper? (e.g. in GS1 Geography)


Q7. If yes, Did you draw diagrams with pencil or pen?


Q8. Did you use ruler to draw the lines in diagram? Or did you just make it by hand?


Q9. You wrote the answer in blue pen or black pen?

Blue, Cello Butterflow pen.

(Mrunal – since readers keep mailing such queries, therefore I’m asking the topper to clear all the air haha.)

Mains Optional Subject

Q. What’s your optional subject and why did you chose it and not something else?

My optional is Public Administration. I choose it because I thought that as my aim is to become an IAS officer, it is necessary to know in detail about administration.

Q. If a new player wants to pick this subject, would you advice for it or against it? (e.g. every senior player in Public Administration seems to be advising against pub.ad)

Public Administration is a beautiful optional and u start loving the subject while preparing. It has a very less syllabus compared to other optionals.  Most of the concepts we read in GS, appear again in Pub adm and we can use pub ad concepts in GS also, making your preparation easier.

But, the marking in Pub Adm may not be as good as other subjects, which is a cause of concern.

Q. 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.)

Analog IAS Public Administration material, R.C.Sinha Sir’s Class notes, Administrative thinkers by Prasad and Prasad, Indian Public Administration by Ramesh Arora & Rajini Goyal (Only selective), Laxmikanth polity book, Civil service Chronicle Pub Adm solved question papers from 1995 & current affairs from Internet and Newspapers.

I did not read ARC report or Punchhi commission reports.

Q. 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?

After understanding the concepts clearly, we should focus more on current affairs and try to relate it to them. Here newspapers and Internet plays a major role. We should try to gather information from multiple sources in internet so as to get a wider understanding of a particular topic.

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

It will took around 3 months.

Q. How many days/ weeks before the exam, you started answer writing practice?

Joined Sri chaitanya Narayana Test series in Hyderabad. From atleast 2 months before the exam I started practicing answer writing.

Q. Do you maintain self-notes for revision of optional? In which format- electronic or paper?

I have prepared my own notes only for thinkers in paper-1. I already had R.C.Sinha sir’s class notes, so did not think it is necessary to make notes again.

I made summarized notes of entire thinkers in 10 papers with important points and observation of each thinker in a single side of paper covering 19 thinkers in total and kept it handy for a quick revision.

I might have revised my class notes, summarized thinkers notes and previous years solved question papers for more than 10 times in my present attempt. Read less but read repeatedly was my strategy.

Q. Your observation about the difficultly level of 2014 mains vs previous papers. And what precautions / rectifications are necessary in the future strategy for given optional subject?

Paper-1: After seeing paper-1 in the exam, I felt it too difficult and some of them which I never heard of were asked to answer. Then I thought that if the paper is difficult for me, it would be difficult for all and this is my opportunity to frame answers properly and score well with the same concepts I knew. I tried to inter relate the questions with the concepts I knew and tried to interpret what the answer could be. This way I completed the entire paper. And I got 148 in paper-1.

Paper-2: After seeing paper-2 in the exam, I felt it boring to answer the questions. The same concepts which I wrote in GS-2, Gs-4, Pub Ad-1 and some in Gs-3 also, were again to be repeated in Paper-2. Don’t know why, or because of stress I think, I wrote this paper very reluctantly. Got only 113. But anyhow followed the same pattern of writing style like GS, by writing headings in capitals and underling them, short intro, current and facts related stuff, Different dimensions, suggestions and conclusion.

For future aspirants, try to understand thinkers and their concepts clearly. Make a short note and repeatedly revise them, because we forget about them very easily. Read less but, read repeatedly and practice writing answers for previous year question papers and do a self assessment. For paper-2 no special study is necessary as mostly is covered in GS polity paper. Focus more on current affairs from internet.

Before the interview

Q1. How did you prepare for the interview? – for college grad, hobbies, place of origin, current affairs at national and international level?

My Interview preparation was completely from internet. I have made notes for each topic which had a scope to be asked in the interview (Even graduation subjects). Tried to inter relate the topics. Read about a topic like women, education, health, farmers, youth, poverty etc from various sources and formed my own opinion as a solution to these problems.

Q2. 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?

Yes, I attended mock interviews and they will be helpful to gain confidence and also help as a rehearsal for the final interview.  But, at some times the board members purposefully point out mistakes like you did not walk properly or wish properly etc which are unnecessary and no need to panic by such feedback.

Q3. Describe the formal-dress worn by you in interview.

White colored shirt, Black trousers, Black shoes and a tie.

Q4. Where did you stay for the interview? (Hotel / friend’s home …) and what books/material did you bring for the ‘revision before interview’?

I stayed in Telangana Bhavan near Asoka road in Delhi, very near to UPSC. Accommodation in AP/TS bhavan is given to interview appearing candidates with a nominal rate of Rs.300. Prior booking is necessary atleast 7days in advance at General Administrative Dept in TS/AP secretariat in Hyderabad. I kept a new book for interview and made notes about everything present in my DAF. Took only this book with me.

During the interview

Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board?

Shri Chhatar Singh

Q2. How long was the interview?

25 to 30 minutes.

Q3. 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?]

Sir, there are 2 main reasons for me to opt for civil services. 1. The respect, recognition, responsibilities associated with it along with wide range of challenges. 2. If engineers help in building India and doctors help in saving the lives of people, more important than them are the civil servants who are involved in shaping the lives of people. And the personal satisfaction which one gets by working for a national cause bringing social change and economic development is the highest motivational factor for me which led me to consider civil services as my carrier.

Sir, a private organization will operate and provide service to people only in those areas where it sees profits. But, government operates and continues in many areas like health and education sector with a non-profit motive, only to provide services to the people. So, this non-profit nature of the government attracted me to work for the government and on behalf of the government in whatever role I am assigned to.

Q4. 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)

Board: Shri Chhatar Singh

I was the last person in the morning batch of 6 members. I went into room after 1pm. The chairman was in a sleepy mood. But, the other members were looking energetic. I wished the only lady member first and then all other members. The chairman offered me to sit.
CM: So, you do gardening? (My hobby)

Me: Yes, sir gardening, composting and preparing my own organic pesticide.

CM: where do u do all these…

Me: Sir, we have some free space in our plot, I grow some plants there and some on our roof top in containers.

CM: What varieties do u grow..

Me: gave the details of vegetable and flower plants which I grow.

CM: So how do u prepare, did u start it now, how to grow tomato and many cross questions…

Me: Explained about the favorable conditions for the plant growth, various stages involved in tomato growing and the amount of care to be taken… etc.

CM: ok, u are an Engineer and worked in TCS, tell me what difference u observed working in TCS compared to your academics.

Me: Sir, the way we work in TCS and study in our academics is completely different. The main one was professionalism in TCS which was lacking in our engineering setup. Gave a variety of details of professionsnal work in TCS. (CM was satisfied gave to M1 and closed his eyes, as if he was sleeping)

M1: Questions on professionalism, why only 25% engineers are employable.

Me: Gave multiple reasons and finally concluded that integration of our secondary education with higher education and higher education with industries by cooperation and coordination between them is the solution to this problem.

M1; So, you have worked in TCS, tell me about body shopping?

Me: sorry sir, I am not aware of it. Is it related to the recent controversy of US visas involving TCS and Infosys?

M1: Yes

Me: Explained in details about it. (Passed on to 2nd member)

M2: So, you are a student of public administration.. Problems of unplanned cities, problems of administration in delhi, urban administration… etc and cross questions

Me: told about the drawbacks of 74th amendment. Functioning of municipal councils and corporation, influence of state government on their activities and gave good reasons and solutions to the problem.

M2: So, what do u think about judges appointing judges and cross questions.

Me: supported the NJAC and gave reasons about how there will not be any compromise on judicial independence  even in the present NJAC and was against the collegiums system and gave examples for the misuse of powers by judges. (Handed over to M3)

M3:  Again questions on gardening, agricultural estates, subsidies, green house farming, problems of agriculture sector in telangana and solutions… etc

Me: Explained in detail about all those, also gave reasons for farmer subsides in telangana, stressed about lack of monsoons, bt cotton, institutional credit, lack of irrigational facilities due to terrain, money lenders, failure of bore wells, family problems … etc… and gave solutions like inter cropping, technology usage, organic farming, tank irrigation, water shed management.. etc…

M3: questions on industrial policy and industrial sector of telangana, mission kakatiya, mining in telangana, what is sirisilla famous for, location of power plants in TS, installed power capacity, its usage, where is araku valley, what is it famous for… etc

Me: answered all of them except Siricilla. (Handed over to M4, the lady member)

M4: Recent controversy in osmania university, telangana agitation, expectations of telangana people, role of students and KCR(present CM of TS) in telangana movement, jobs to all households, TRS promises before elections, present working of the TRS government, peoples opinion on the present government, are u happy by the formation of telangana…. And many cross questions…

Me: Haha, I already done a complete research on all these topics and gave my answers with reasons and analysis, and finally told that I am happy with the formation of telangana and the new state has proved that smaller states are sustainable with proper direction and  will of the government in power.

CM : Asked about Amaravati(Capital of AP), land pooling and Land acquisition.

Me: Explained it.

CM: Ok, your interview is over, you can leave.

Me: Thanked all the board members, got up from the chair, kept it in the same position again and left the room with a smile.

Q5. 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 completely on expected lines. I prepared exhaustively all my graduation subjects focusing on communications and latest technologies in electronics(My last interview with Alka mam was a disaster as many unexpected factual questions were asked from my graduation subjects), but no question was asked on my graduation subjects and international relations this time. I have chosen hobbies in such a way that, there will be a greater scope of asking questions on them and I can drive the interview through them, in which I succeed.

Q6. Any side details about technicalities like “make sure you bring xyz document or do xyz thing, or you’ll face problem”?


Q7. Any word of wisdom / observations about medical checkup?

If you are overweight, try to correct it. Your BMI should be less than 30, otherwise you will be declared temporarily unfit.  Luckily for me, as I have already completed running 25kms in 4 hours for IFoS physical test, I could reduce few kilos during its preparation. And my BMI was 29 during CSE medical. Got saved narrowly.

CSE-2014 Marksheet

Q1. Please attach both prelim and final marksheet. (when it comes)

Essay:  99

Gs1:  98

Gs2:  89

Gs3:  77

Gs4:  103

Pub Adm1:  148

Pub Adm2:  113

Mains Total:  727

Interview :  187

Final Total :  914

Q2. After looking at the marksheet, suppose you had to prepare again next time, what changes will you make in your studies?

I will try to improve my marks in Essay by proper time management for 2 essays. Also focus on Gs3. Completely satisfied with marks in Public Administration, If possible try to improve in paper-2.

Career Backup

Q1. If you were not selected, what was your career backup plan?

I already have Indian Forest Service (IFoS), Inspector (Central excise) and Canara Bank PO offers with me. I would have gone with IFoS offer.

Q2. When were you going to “execute” that backup plan? (e.g. after __ failed attempts/ after I cross __ age/after dad retires/ after girlfriend dumps me etc.)

I was prepared mentally to give a complete 2 years for CSE preparation when I resigned from TCS in may, 2013. So after this result I would have joined in any of my backup plans, and continued my preparation simultaneously…

Views on UPSC reforms

Q. Optional subjects should be removed altogether. The present stalemate is helping no-one, except coaching-owners, book publishers.

Yes, I personally feel that optional should be removed and in its place 2 new GS papers should be introduced.

Q. Your views on the decision to make CSAT paper 33% qualifying?

I am Against this decision. Even in the times when there was optional paper for prelims, there were general mental ability questions included in GS paper and by making CSAT qualifying, there is no weightage given to analytical, reasoning and problem solving skills which are necessary for a bureaucrat.

Q. Half-merger of IFoS with CSE is a bad move because it has raised the cutoffs for players who’re solely dedicated to IFoS only (and not to IAS/IPS). Adding salt to the wounds, many who had applied for both jobs, cleared the prelims- they did not even bother to appear in all the papers of Mains-IFoS. (atleast that was the scene in 2013).

Though I got selected for IFoS, and I did not see any serious selected candidates preparing solely for IFoS. And some of them are leaving IFoS for IRS(IT) in CSE, inspite of IFoS being an All India Service. This is because of merger of IFoS prelims with CSE. This has to be corrected, so that aspirants who really have interest in Forest services get selected for this service.

Q. UPSC should disclose official prelim answerkey and cutoffs, immediately after prelim is over, instead of postponing it till interview phase is over.

Though it is desirable, I don’t think it is practically possible. If there is discrepancy in marks of some candidates and they go to courts, then even UPSC will become inefficient like the state services.

Q. UPSC should be conducted online like IBPS and CAT exam to shorten the duration of exam.

Haha, Basically I don’t like online exams. So I am against this move. But if it has any merit in it, then it can be implemented.

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

I would remove the optional paper and introduce new GS papers. Separate IFoS prelims from CSE. Decrease the weightage of personality test. And announce the date of results of all stages well in advance.

Insecurity about profile

Q. 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?

No, I did not suffer from any of these insecurities. There is no need for anyone to feel insecure. In fact what I have observed is that aspirants coming from poor background, rural areas, regional medium, have an undue advantage and sympathy on them which will be translated into marks if they present themselves in a confidant way, despite all odds.


Q. 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 is a highly competitive exam which needs atleast 1 year complete dedicated preparation and even then the result is not guaranteed. So mentally prepare for it. Always have your backup plans ready. Don’t waste more than 2 years on UPSC.

Q. Many hardworking candidates have failed in Mains/Interview of CSE-2014. They’re feeling cynical, hopeless and depressed- what is your message to them?

All those people who go till interview stage and in fact even till mains stage have equal knowledge and its only because of few factors and luck one gets selected to the final list. Try to analyze in which areas you were lagging behind and try to rectify them. Last year I could not complete the papers on time and was lagging in time management. This time I rectified it. Also observe how toppers are framing their answers and try to write every answer in a multi-dimensional way covering all angles.(Gaurav Agarwal answers helped me a lot to improve my answer writing skills).

Credit: Friends/family

Q. 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?

Firstly my father, who was my first teacher and taught me mathematics from my childhood to 10th class. From 2 marks in 4th class to 100% in 10th and Intermediate was only because of him.

Secondly my mother, for the care, affection and support she gave me throughout my life and especially during my CSE preparation, as it was her, who had to face all difficult question like why your son doesn’t attend any functions or what is he doing, why he resigned from job… etc..

The encouragement and support (including financial) given by my younger brother.

Guidance from Analog Ias institute for total preparation in general and R.C.Sinha sir in particular for Public Administration, and my friends both in Hyderabad and Delhi.

BOGUS Marketing Propaganda

Q. You are well aware of the sacred rule – the last question must be about self-marketing. So, Did you use Mrunal.org for your preparation and if yes, how did it help you?  And you can even reply “No”. I’ll still publish your answer without tempering.

Mrunal was my favorite site among all internet sites. I completely relied on Mrunal for Economic articles. Did not even buy economic survey. Last year economic survey articles were very useful. Your way of explaining concepts with a little bit of humor and examples make the topics very interesting. Except Science and Technology, I have read all articles from mrunal including polity, Environment, World history and geography, IR… etc.  Your service, support and guidance oriented site helps many aspirants who initially don’t have any idea about civils. Please continue doing this.

Mrunal recommends

  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

54 Comments on “[Topper’s Interview] RAHUL RAJ (AIR-375/CSE-2014) Public administration, TCS Software engg. Hyderabad”

  1. I am inspired great job Raj…i am too a tcser..p..:)

    1. Hi… TCS bro, Thanks a lot…

    2. Hi Ashish, Thanks a lot… Good to know that u r also from TCS…

  2. gr8 congrats, good wishes!! one of very few from public administration..

    1. Thanks… But this time many scored good marks in Pub adm…

  3. congrates sir,if possible plz share yr notes pub,ad.

  4. Nice to see a fellow TCSer cracking the prestigious exam :) congrats sir

    1. Thanks a Lot…

  5. After a long time from Pub-Ad ……….congrts

    1. Thanks a lot.. Yes…year by year paper is becoming difficult…

  6. highest selection in cse 2014 who had taken optional public administration…..total ….56 out 1236……………………..

    1. hey kapil,
      can you give more idea about what u said here. can u name other toppers with their rank who took public administration?
      and yeah where did you read it, that 56 out of 1236 were from pub adm?please post that link here or mail me at [email protected]
      i m also thinking to chose pub adm as optional but i m confused cuz very few toppers from pub adm are seen. or myb i m wrong. please throw some light on it.

  7. Sir, Please give us more info about IFoS, whatever detail available of the net is so ovscure. Why this service so ignored, is it that bad?

    1. Hi Sasikumar, IFoS is an All India Service next only to IAS and IPS… But yes it looks like a neglected service, though in reality it is not so. Work pressure and political interference will be very much less in IFoS compared to IAS and IPS.. U will get many facilities similar to IAS and IPS. In ur jurisdiction u will have both Administrative and police powers and even some quasi judicial powers.
      My frends from IFoS are writing a blog.. I will give u details once it is completed.. U will get more info on that blog..

  8. What were the optionals chosen in indian forest service.??

    1. Hi Amit, My optionals were Agriculture and Geology…

      1. Sir but as you have taken pub ad as optional and then competed IFos with 2 different optionals(agriculture and geology) i just want to ask that how do you maintain a balance between them and prepared simultaneously.
        If possible please provide the sources of your agriculture and geology preparation.
        thank you.

  9. Congrats Rahul Raj :-) Proud of your buddy.

    1. Thanks a lot Naveen…. -Rahul(Chintal)..

  10. congrats sir!!! good to see this from IT engineer and that too from PUBAD optionaleee,,,,,,,,,

    1. Thanks a lot… Karthik…

  11. So after your 3.5 years of working at TCS, you quit TCS and then started preparing for UPSC, isn’t it ?
    Please correct me if I am wrong.

    1. Hi Adarsh, I was on bench in TCS from Jan 2013 to may 2013.. During this period I enrolled in Analog IAS for weekend coaching.. They(TCS) forcefully tried to give me a project in May, so I kept my resignation and gave my first attempt and went till interview stage…

  12. Congrats buddy, You have realised soon, I m still stuck with TCS for 7 years, now thinking to prepare for Civil services

    1. Hello TCSer, Thanks a lot, I don’t know why but most of my frends preparing for Civil services are from TCS…

    2. Rahul congrats for reaching your dream …

      Hi Fellow TCSer.

      how are your preparation going on ?

      I gave my 1st attempt in 2015 but no expectations of getting through . How about yours ? are u still with TCS what are your strategies for time managements ?

  13. finally an ANALOG kid!!!!! congrts bro :)

  14. congrts.. sir. i too have a aim to become an IAS oficer. I’m in 10th now.suggest some tips…

  15. Congrats!!!!!! Sir You get a Good. How Is Possibble sir. Thank You Sir.@@@@@@@@@@@

  16. @varsha sajjanshetty
    You are in 10th? Then focus on it.
    I’m happy that you know what you want. But,
    For now,Just make the habit of reading news paper. That’s it. Plan your 11-12th & graduation. Make a good score there… You will be given chance for CSE after minimum 6 years…things will be changed! Who knows! So make your profile ‘the best’… All the best for future plans…but plz don’t sacrifice your school-life, fun & score also! OK. You can see a lot of aspirants with the great scores in 12th & scholars in graduation. Be the one of them.
    OK. :)

  17. Great sir, Good to hear that you are too a TCSer. Congrats. Someone from pubadm is great!!

  18. Sir, how did you prepare for IFoS with agriculture and geology when you had Pub adm as your optional in CSE? Please tell me the strategy? Also can you tell your marks, if you don’t mind.

    Thank You

  19. Sir, how did you prepare for IFoS with agriculture and geology when you had Pub adm as your optional in CSE? Please tell me the strategy? Also can you tell your marks, if you don’t mind.

    Thank You

  20. Hi Rahul , first of all ,congrats and god bless your future , I appeared with PUB AD , but it is a disaster for me, i am looking forward for ur strategy for PUB AD , I request you to share your Notes and Answer scripts for Pub Ad if possible.

    Raj Kumar

  21. congrates sir,if possible plz upload yr 10 page thinkers notes made by u.highly regard.

  22. Hi Rahul

    Congrats !!

    I am from TCS and wishing to be just like you. But you know the circumstances over here.

    Managing career & dream is really hard. Waiting for the right guidance to quit this and continue with my aspiration

    Could you please guide me on the startup of preparation. Will be very thankful to you.

    Thank you :)

  23. Let me express my deep greetings my fellow

  24. Hi Mrunal,

    Please ask Rahul raj that what was his optional subject for mains in forest services exam because PubAd is not an option for IFS.

  25. Sorry !! I didn’t read the previous thread.

    Rahul – Pls tell me how did you prepare for Agriculture and geology. Did u take any coaching ?? How vast the syllabus is ?? Didn’t it toke off your focus from Pub Ad which was your optional for IAS

  26. If we are opting for Indian forest service ….in mains are there all papers of gs to write or only two optionals

  27. how different was the preparation for IFoS paper besides preparing for the Civil Services exam?? Any special points you would want to mention and how to go about preparing for IFoS if one is already preparing for Civil Services??

  28. Congrats sir. I’m from hyd. How did you prepare for pub ad. You have a very good score. What was your strategy. Did u write any test series for pub ad.

  29. Congrats sir, will u please share u public administration notes

  30. How to prepare for international relations

  31. Hello Rahul,

    Many congratulations on your success. I am from Hyd and a Pub Ad student. Which test series is good in Hyd both for GS and Pub AD ?

  32. thank you sir…..you work very hard ..but i have one doubt that is …mostly students goes delhi for IAS preparation …does it really make sense or not ……?

  33. Hi,Rahul sir,first of all congrats n thanks for ur views.Sir,most of the aspirants prefer Delhi, Do they really have an edge over others, off course great helpers like Mrunal are with us,will you please respond?

  34. Hello rahul Raj …
    I qualified for mains 2015 this is my first attempt… I am glad that you are inspiration to all those who still stuck to pub ad as an optional… I hope you could provide your email so that I can have a small conversation with you… If possible

  35. what do u think about those student who does nt be able to join coaching ?? can they will become IAS ??

  36. Hi Rahul,

    A humble request..
    I have opted for Pub ad as optional..I am studying it but not able to remember anything for eg; weber bureaucratic model is for what and its problems bot not able to remeber the words…pls help me for that..

  37. i have gone through the mrunal site in search of details regardn pub ad but didnot find them.

  38. sir i do bsc in physics,math,computer science then i choose which optional subject

  39. Congrats Bro… Good to know that you are from TCS. You are the inspirational person to all the people who works in IT and having aim to clear UPSC exam.

  40. Hello sir…IR pub ad marks are impressive…..I’m getting behind other ranks because of my marks in pub ad optional…2014 mains got 185(both) and 2015 mains 190(both)……but because of my interest I can’t able to change my optional….it will be very helpful if I get some guidance from u…

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