[Topper’s Interview] Parth Jaiswal (AIR-299/CSE-2014): Mathematics Optional, First Attempt, IIT-Delhi, Hails from Jaipur

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

Candidate Profile

Parth Jaiswal

NameParth Jaiswal
Rank in CSE-2014299
Roll No.223641
Total attempts in CSE (including this one)1
Optional SubjectMathematics
Schooling MediumEnglish
College mediumEnglish
Medium chosen for Mains answersEnglish
Medium chosen for InterviewEnglish
Home town/cityJaipur
Work-experience if anyNo
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failuresRank-5, IFoS,2014
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used)GS – Vajiram
Maths – IMS
GS Test Series – Vision IAS
Interview -Samkalp,Vajiram
Service preferences (Top-5)IAS > IPS > IFS > IRS (IT) > IRS (Customs)
state cadre preference (Top-5)Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh


fill the details here
% in class 1091.6
% in class 1293.6
Graduation course and % Computer Science and Engineering, CGPA – 7.8
Name of college, city, passing out yearIIT Delhi, 2013
Any other professional courses
Hobbies & Extracurricular achievementsSquash, Volleyball, Mountaineering


Q. Tell us something about yourself, your family, when and why did you enter in this field of competitive exams?
Hello, My name is Parth Jaiswal. I come from Jaipur city. I have done my schooling from Alwar and Jaipur. I completed my engineering in Computer Science from IIT Delhi in 2013. My Father works as a chemist and my mother is a house maker.
From my childhood, there has been a conducive environment for Civil Services in my home. My parents always encouraged me to pursue this career after completing graduation. My paternal place is Bandikui, a small town in Rajasthan. It lacked proper education facilities and people also did’t give much importance to education there. These situations kept me moving throughout my early days for good education. However they developed a strong interest in me regarding government services to change the prevailing situation. Thus preparing for Civil Services was always on my mind. However things took a different turn when my job in Epic Systems, USA got delayed for 1 year which I was supposed to join after the completion of B.Tech in 2013. It came as a blessing in disguise for me as then I was encouraged by my parents, friends, relatives to go for Civil Services in the time being. Soon I made up my mind and started preparing for Civil Services after rejecting the job offer.

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)
There can be no denying the fact that electronic material holds a vital place in the preparation and one can’t afford to ignore them. Internet is utmost useful to gather background information of any particular issue/topic which is not covered by newspapers sometimes. Many government websites (pib, prs etc) also contain information related to day to day functioning of the government which are sometimes not covered in newspapers entirely or if covered not in detail. Thus internet/electronic material also needs to be read, revised regularly. Besides, things such as storing, updating notes on laptops are always convenient. However it can also lead to wastage of time if you are not able to gauge where to stop. Please keep few websites on your tab (pib, prs, mrunal, insights etc) and don’t overload yourself with voluminous amount of content available. If possible try to restrict yourself to government websites. Why not follow government when you are going to join it. But I liked to keep my notes hand written as it really helped me in developing fodder in my mind. I also relied more on paper material (books, notes, newspapers) and kept electronic material 2nd on my list due to my personal convenience. But I wouldn’t discourage those who read more on internet and make notes on it as well. It’s a matter of personal preferences.

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 is one attribute which I believe holds equivalent importance as attached to hard work. Rather than ruthless hard work, this examination demands consistent hard work. Many don’t possess it but it can be developed. In the initial stages of your preparation, don’t burden yourself too much with heavy, voluminous books. Try adding weight on your back slowly with every day passing. In the initial time, develop awareness about what to study, how to study, etc. Many students commit the mistake of studying 25hrs a day in the initial months but soon their enthusiasm dies down. Don’t let this happen. Gradually increase your studying hours so that your energy level stays high in the latter stage when you can’t afford to waste a single minute. Also take many sittings of 2-3 hours each in a day rather than one long sitting of 6-7 hours. I took breaks between various sittings and tried to refresh my mind through various ways (talking on phone, watching episode of “friends” etc). There will come days when you will not be able to study a single word (fever, bday parties, parents visit). Don’t worry about them as they happen to everyone. But again keep a check on them. If possible try to devote atleast 2 hr on such days

Struggle of a Senior player

(Answer only if you’re a senior player.)
After 1-2 failures in any competitive exam, a phase of mental saturation comes. The person knows the booklist, he knows what is necessary to succeed. But it doesn’t yield result. The armchair ‘experts’ would point out UPSC is ‘testing’ emotional intelligence of the candidate or UPSC wants to break the backs of senior players, daily conspiracy theories on orkut….…Not to mention all the emotional struggle-against those irritating neighbors and relatives who keep asking your mother “aap kaa betaa kya karta hai” (What does you son/daughter do?)
MY question are two:
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.

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

Prelims (CSAT) General studies

History AncientNCERT, Class XI old + Vajiram Class Notes
History MedievalNCERT, Class XI old + Vajiram Class Notes
History Modern (Freedom Struggle)NCERT, Class XII old + Spectrum + Vajiram Class Notes
Culture and societyAncient History NCERT + Vajiram Booklet on Culture (however I will not recommend it) + Vajiram Class Notes
Please follow CCRT, Baliyan Notes, NIOS, Nitin Singhania Notes (Read any one or 2 sources of these and revise it multiple times)
Polity (theory + current)Laxmikanth + Newspapers + Vajiram Class Notes
Economy (theory + current)NCERT Class XI, XII + Newspapers + Vajiram Class Notes + Vajiram Yellow Book on Indian Economy for prelims
Science (theory + current)NCERT Class VI – X + Newspapers + Vajiram Class Notes
Environment (theory + current)Honestly didn’t pay much attention to it as had little knowledge of sources then. But now recommended sources –

  1. Class XI, XII Environment ICSE Board
  2. NCERT Class XII Biology – 5 Chapters on Ecology
  3. Shankar IAS on Environment

I also read a booklet on Environment provided by Evolution Coaching while preparing for IFoS Interview

geography physicalNCERT – Class XI, Class XII (2 + 2) + GC Leon (part 2) + Vajiram Class Notes for geography
geography India
geography world
other national/international current affairsI read Hindu Newspaper before Prelims and Hindu + Indian Express ( Editorials) after Prelims for current affairs, Vajiram Booklet on Current Affairs/ Vision Booklet on Current Affairs
But now I would recommend Indian Express(complete) + Hindu(Editorials)
Schemes, Policy & Filler StuffSame above + background research on Internet

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS prelim 2014 paper?
A sudden shift of events with a greater focus on topics of Environment, Ecology, Culture etc. In my view the reason being combining the prelims of IFoS and Civil Service. So try to devote more attention on these topics. But again, UPSC is one black box whose thinking can’t be raveled. So can’t afford to pay less attention to other topics as no one can guess when the wind starts flowing in other direction
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?
Honestly didn’t pay much attention to it as had little knowledge of sources then. But now recommended sources –

  1. Class XI, XII Environment ICSE Board (Frank Publications)
  2. NCERT Class XII Biology – 5 Chapters on Ecology
  3. Shankar IAS on Environment

I also read a booklet on Environment provided by Evolution Coaching while preparing for IFoS Interview. Of them, I would recommend Source 1 & 2 and read selectively from Source 3 (its not very easy to read)
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 focus more on topics of Environment, Culture and Current Affairs. For other subjects, I don’t think more needs to be done as the standard sources are sufficient for them. More focus on government websites (PIB, PRS) for current affairs. Even Vajiram Booklet on Current Affairs is of great help from prelims point of view.

Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude

Topicstrategy / booklist
MathsNo practice just solved various test papers (UPSC old papers + different coaching test papers)
Decision Making

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

Prelim accuracy

Q1. Did you attend any ‘mock tests’? do you think they’re necessary for success?
Yes I attended mock tests of Vajiram for prelims. But it is not mandatory to attend Vajiram tests only. You can attend either of the test series conducted by various coaching institutes or you can simply purchase test papers with solutions easily available in market and solve them at home. Solving test papers is necessary because – 1. They help you to avoid silly mistakes in the final exam 2. They test your preparation if it is going in the right direction 3. You learn various types of questions which can be framed so you divert your preparation according to them 4. You develop time management ability
Q2. Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers. in CSAT-2014

attempted Q.correct (Expected)
aptitudeAlmost complete

Q3. Your score in prelim (when UPSC uploads it please mail me your score)
GS – 92
CSAT – 158
Total – 250

Mains: Compulsory language paper

Compulsory language paperYour preparation strategy / booklist?
English paperJust solved last few year question papers to have an idea of things asked in exam and then read those things from internet + downloaded an online book on English Grammar for various things (go through it and checked the format of letter writing, precis practice etc)
your regional languagePurchased a book on Hindi Grammar + Read 4-5 hindi newspapers to brush up hindi terminology + last few year question papers

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

Mains: Essay

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?
I attended Vajiram classes for essay after prelims which were really helpful. Besides I wrote 6-7 essays which were asked in previous years before the mains and got them checked from the teachers. It helped me in developing a structured format for essay as well as time management. I wouldn’t recommend for any specific book to be followed for essays. The content of your GS subjects is sufficient to write a good essay.

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

  1. With great power comes great responsibility – This statement was made by British PM Winston Churchill during WW2. So firstly gave a little introduction on this and then tried to include various avenues where the given statement holds.

Firstly talked about bureaucracy, how enormous powers are facilitated to it but with a share of responsibility to constructively use that power for the greater good.
Then took the judiciary under its garb, how it has expanded the scope of judicial activism and trying to infringe in the domain of executive and legislature. With this expansion of power, it has also assumed greater responsibilities of discharging the duties of other institutions.
Also took the world powers in play which possess nuclear weapons. Now they have the responsibility to maintain peace and prevent nuclear proliferation.

  1. Tourism –
  1. Geography – how geographically diverse India is which provides it an inherent potential for tourism
  2. History – India possess a rich cultural heritage and is home to world’s oldest civilization. These ancient monuments, palaces, etc puts it above the plate
  3. Economy – Tourism contributes by the means of creating jobs, brings forex, balances trade deficit etc
  4. Figures on Tourism – what percentage contribution to GDP, tourist footfall per year, which states perform better etc
  5. How it can be improved – Some schemes of the government – Atithi devo bhava, better law and order, safety and security of foreign tourists (rapes with many women create a negative image), sensitization of the people

General Studies (Mains) paper 1

TopicHow did you prepare?
cultureAncient History NCERT + Vajiram Booklet on Culture (however I will not recommend it) + Vajiram Class Notes
Please follow CCRT, Baliyan Notes, NIOS, Nitin Singhania Notes (Read any one or 2 sources of these and revise it multiple times rather than multiple sources)
Indian historyNCERT Class XII (old) Modern India + Freedom Struggle (NBT publication) + Vajiram Class Notes
world historyNCERT Class IX, X, XII (all old ones) of World History + Vajiram Class Notes + NCERT Class XII – Contemporary World Politics
post-independence IndiaNCERT Class XII – Politics in India since Independence + Pradhanmantri TV Series + Vajiram Class Notes
Indian societyNCERT Class XI, XII of Sociology
role of women, poverty etc.Same above
globalization on Indian societySame above
communalism, regionalism, secularismSame above
world geo physicalNCERT Class XI, XII (2+2) + Vajiram Class Notes
resource distribution
factors for industrial location
earthquake tsunami etc
impact on flora-fauna

General studies (Mains) paper 2

TopicHow Did You Prepare?
Indian Constitution, devolution, dispute redressal etc.For static content – Laxmikanth + Class X NCERT (Democratic politics) + Vajiram Class Notes
For Current Affairs – Newspapers (Hindu + Indian Express Editorials) + RSTV Programme (The Big Picture)
For any of the topic given below, if I found my resources insufficient or unavailable, I used to read Vajiram Yellow Book of that particular topic for static content + Vision Current Affairs booklet for current affairs
comparing Constitution with worldSame above
parliament, state LegislaturesSame above
executive-judiciarySame above
ministries departmentsSame above
pressure group, informal asso.For the topics of Governance, Administration etc which are not very well covered in Laxmikanth, I read Vajiram Yellow Books for static content + Newspapers + Vision CA for dynamic content
Representation of people’s actSame above
various bodies: Constitutional, statutory..Same above
NGO, SHG etcSame above
welfare schemes, bodiesSame above
social sector, health, edu, HRDSame above
governance, transparency, accountabilitySame above
e-governanceSame above
role of civil serviceSame above
India & neighborsOnly Newspapers ( Hindu + Indian Express Editorials ) + RSTV Programme (India’s World)
bilateral/global groupingSame above
effect of foreign country policies on Indian interestSame above
diasporaSame above
international bodies- structure mandateSame above

General studies (Mains) Paper 3

TopicHow Did You Prepare?
Indian economy, resource mobilizationNewspapers + Ramesh Singh + Vajiram Class Notes + Vajiram Yellow Books
However I will recommend Economic Survey to be given first priority
inclusive growthSame above
budgetingSame above
major crops, irrigationSame above
agro produce – storage, marketingSame above
e-technology for famersSame above
farm subsidies, MSPSame above
PDS, buffer, food securitySame above
technology missionSame above
animal rearing economicsSame above
food processingSame above
land reformsSame above
liberalizationSame above
infraSame above
investment modelsSame above
science-tech day to day lifeNewspapers + Vajiram Class Notes + Internet
You can also take VISION coaching institute booklet on science
Indian achievements in sci-techSame above
awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPRSame above
environmental impact assessmentSame above
Disaster ManagementSame above
non state actors, internal securityVajiram Yellow Book, But I wouldn’t recommend it. Please search for some other reliable source
internal security – role of media, social networking siteSame above
cyber securitySame above
money launderingSame above
border  ManagementSame above
organized crime, terrorismSame above
security agencies- structure mandateSame above

General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude

TopicHow Did You Prepare?
ethics and interface, family, society and all the hathodaa topicsLexicon + Vajiram Class Notes
attitude, moral influence etc.Same above
civil service: integrity, impartiality, tolerance to weak etcSame above
emotional intelligence, its use in governanceSame above
moral thinkers of India and worldHow many thinkers did you prepare?
ethics in pub.ad, accountability, laws, rules etc.Same above
corporate governanceSame above
probity in governance, work cultureSame above
citizen charter, ethics code, work culture etc.Same above
challenges of corruptionSame above
case studies on above topicsSame above

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 UPSCI practiced case studies from lexicon book as well as Vision IAS Test Series which really helped me in developing approach
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).Pick few keywords for every topic and learn their meanings by heart and construct your answers around them. Try to develop as much fodder in your mind as possible. The more content you have in your mind, the more you will be able to write. Finally the exam is a race against time, so no preconceived approaches work at that point in exam

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
GS1I tried to attempt as many questions as possible in all the GS papers rather than selectively attempting and writing lavish answers on them. I left 1-2 questions from each paper.
Opt-P1Almost Complete
Opt-P2Almost Complete

Q. 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 UPSC 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]
Each of the Mains exam is a race against time. It is easier to score 3-4 marks in any question but elevating those marks to 5-6 requires a reasonable amount of effort which comes at the expense of other questions. After reading such voluminous content on GS, it is not difficult for a person to put atleast 2-3 points for every question. Just find some keywords and construct your answers around them. Thus I believe it is better to write 2 answers to fetch 7 (3+4) marks rather than giving a perfect answer to get 6 marks which also comes at a probability. Thus I tried to attempt all the questions in all the exams as I believe it leaves you with a greater chance of survival. However you can devise your own strategy based on your preparation standards and speed of writing. You can test all the different strategies in your test series and evaluate accordingly.
Q. How was your experience with the ‘fixed space’ answer sheet?
Not a problem as they provided enough space. However faced problem in my optional as some of the proofs are too long for the space provided, thus formulate your answers accordingly.
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 agree. I don’t think it matters much. Followed both patterns
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.
Yes, I simply wrote the points I could recall within the time instead of bothering about the format
Q5. Did you use highlighters / sketchpens in your answers?
No, just a blue pen and used it for underlining as well as drawing.
Q6. Did you draw any diagram in any paper? (e.g. in GS1 Geography)
Please try to include some diagrams/figures in every answer if possible especially in subjects of geography, science, IR. In geography, science it is easier to think of diagrams but if you are able to include one in IR also, it’s a cherry on the cake(for example- Israel Palestine issue – after writing all the ram katha which everyone knows, make a rough sketch of the area showing Israel, gaza strip, west bank, Golan heights. As they often say- A picture says more than words, it adds weight to your answer and your answer differentiates itself from the same monotonous answers which come in front of the examiner)

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

Q8. Did you use ruler to draw the lines in diagram? Or did you just make it by hand?
No ruler, just rough diagrams
Q9. You wrote the answer in blue pen or black 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?
Mathematics – I chose Mathematics because of my inherent interest in it from childhood. I have always performed well in it and thus was confident enough to handle it well. Another reason for choosing it was I wanted to have my optional from my background and thus Maths proved to be appropriate choice. Having a science background, I found it much easier to study than any other subject many of which we have to study for GS prep.

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)
I would like to assert few points regarding it very clearly. This subject is vast in syllabus and takes more time to study than other optionals. It also requires consistent practice. But the positive part is – If you are thorough with the subject and have practiced it well, you can comfortably attempt complete paper with correct answers and thus gives you a great opportunity to score well in your optional (in spite of the scaling often carried out in it) pushing you above the list. In this way, this optional gives a bit of security as well as certainty which again comes at a price i.e great amount of hard work. Also IFoS Exam prescribes only certain optionals and Mathematics is one of them. Not all optionals are available for this exam. So again it gives you the flexibility of giving IFoS Exam. So make your choice accordingly

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.)
I took regular coaching from IMS, Rajinder Nagar. I restricted my preparation to the notes provided by Sir. I found them quite comprehensive and didn’t find it necessary to refer to any other book. However if any student faces difficulty in understanding them or finds them insufficient/incomplete, she can refer text books. I don’t have much information on books to be followed and thus I would ask you to read the blog by Prakash Rajpurohit in which he had elaborately covered this.

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?
Not required

Q. How many months did it take to finish the core optional syllabus?
5-6 months
Q. How many days/ weeks before the exam, you started answer writing practice?
After prelims
Q. Do you maintain self-notes for revision of optional? In which format- electronic or paper?
No, I revised it from the notes provided by Sir
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?
2014 paper was comparatively easier. Just try to confine your answer within the space provided and try to complete the paper.

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?
Google every word written in your DAF. For current affairs, newspapers + magazines(frontline) + pib, prs
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 of Vajiram and Samkalp. They provided me an opportunity to rectify some general mistakes which a candidate tends to commit. They also helped me in generating the diverse range of questions which could be framed from my DAF. They were like a dress reherseal. So I would advice you to attend 1 or 2 mock interviews before your final one and please opt for those which have the image of giving a fair evaluation rather than showcasing their own knowledge.
Q3. Describe the formal-dress worn by you in interview.
White shirt + black pant + 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’?
At my local guardian’s place. Don’t bring anything to read, just try to keep yourself calm.

During the interview

Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board?
Alka Sirohi
Q2. How long was the interview?
30 mins
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?]
Great career opportunities + diverse fields you get to work in + I had to travel a lot for my schooling because of poor facilities in my native place + less awareness among the people. Thus I want to change this situation and civil service is the best platform to work on this
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)
I don’t remember my interview very well so please forgive for sketchy narration
Q1. How are you going to use your technology to avoid tax evasion ??
Couldn’t give a convincing answer on this
Q2. GST – What taxes will it subsume ?
All the indirect taxes – customs, excise, service, VAT etc
Q3 What are direct taxes ?
Income tax, Corporate tax
Q4. What are the tax slabs ?
Q5. Who are India’s biggest trading partners ?
EU as a bloc, otherwise China
Q6  What is cyber security, viruses, worms, etc ? (Background in Computer Science)
Q7 What is biodiversity ?
Q8 How environment and development are in conflict with each other ?
Q9 Name some Indian squash players ? (Hobby)
Q10 Why Pakistan players are better than Indian players in squash ?
Jahangir Paki, widely remembered as the greatest squash player of all times was from Pakistan and thus a culture has been developed in Pakistan which unfortunately lacks in India. Too much focus on cricket
Q11 What is right to privacy ?
Q12 Is it absolute or do restrictions apply ?
Q13 What is body language ? (alka mam asks such type of questions only)
Non verbal communication
Q14 “absolutes don’t hold as viable in real life situations” What do you understand from this statement ?
You can’t be absolutely truthful or non violent in real life. Sometimes you will have to lie or use force in interest of public order etc. Similarly freedom of speech is not absolute, it has certain restrictions
Q15 Last question was a beamer – 1.5 hens give 1.5 eggs in 1.5 days, how many hens do we need to get 12 eggs in 6 days ?
Ans – 3 hens
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?
No, my interview wasn’t on expected lines. It wasn’t a stress interview though. I just couldn’t answer the questions well L
Q6. Any side details about technicalities like “make sure you bring xyz document or do xyz thing, or you’ll face problem”?
No, just reach there on time
Q7. Any word of wisdom / observations about medical checkup?

CSE-2014 Marksheet

Q1. Please attach both prelim and final marksheet. (when it comes)
Prelims –
GS – 92
CSAT – 158
Total – 250
Mains –
Essay – 135
GS1 – 95
GS2 – 82
GS3 – 68
GS4 – 86
Optional Paper 1 – 147
Optional Paper 2 – 153
Interview – 157
Q2. After looking at the marksheet, suppose you had to prepare again next time, what changes will you make in your studies?
Dedicate more time on current affairs oriented study. I studied and prepared notes of newspapers regularly, but didn’t revise them well.

Career Backup

Q1. If you were not selected, what was your career backup plan?
I got selected in Indian Forest Services also, so I would have joined it

Views on UPSC reforms

Q. Optional subjects should be removed altogether. The present stalemate is helping no-one, except coaching-owners, book publishers.
No, they allow an individual to showcase his ability on his/her subject of interest and provides an equal footing to all. So they must be retained. GS doesn’t provide such scope as it is too wide
Q. Your views on the decision to make CSAT paper 33% qualifying?
I agree with the view that CSAT provided an inherent advantage to Engineers who were able to clear prelims examination with minimal preparation in GS. Thus it wasn’t a level playing field. However 33% marks are too less to keep it relevant. Instead, now the paper has been made redundant. It would be better if this cutoff is raised to somewhere near 50% which I think would maintain a balance between creating a level playing field for all as well as keeping the relevance of the paper intact.
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).
The prelims of IFoS should be conducted separately. The merger of 2 created problems for all as was seen in last year’s prelims. There was unexpectedly greater focus on topics of environment, ecology, forests which pertain to IFoS and didn’t have much relevance for Civil Services
Q. UPSC should disclose official prelim answerkey and cutoffs, immediately after prelim is over, instead of postponing it till interview phase is over.
Yes I agree.

Q. UPSC should be conducted online like IBPS and CAT exam to shorten the duration of exam.
Shortening the duration of the exam is one need of the hour. It is excruciatingly frustrating as this time the duration of the complete exam extended upto 11 months.
Q. If you are made the UPSC chairman, what other reforms would you initiate for the civil service exam?

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?
I have had the opportunity of studying in well renowed schools and institutes of the country. Thus I didn’t possess such insecurity. However I would ask the students to not pay heed to such insecurities. If you are able to clear the mains examination, it itself proves your caliber and you stand equal to any other person in the list. Instead, it creates a favourable opinion if you are from a modest background. It shows that inspite of all odds, you have the ability to sail through to reach your goal.


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?
One quote of Bill Gates inspires me a lot – “Its not your fault if you are born poor, but its all your fault if you die poor”. This examination teaches a lot of things regarding life.

  1. There are no shortcuts to success. Hard work, commitment, diligence, devotion are some of the attributes which success looks for in a person.  Once a person develops them, no obstacle can stop him from reaching great heights.
  2. Preparing for civils is similar to practicing austerity. A person needs to detach himself from all the luxuries of life, but as it is said – “If you want to shine like sun, burn like sun”, once you pass that phase of self –imposed restraints, reward is worth the pain.
  3. The values enshrined in our Preamble which we often mug up and put in our answers to fetch more marks, are some of the most sacred values of universe and thus need to be imbibed by every person of this country. These values not just facilitate you to get your name in the final list, if our thought process refined with them, they enable you to make right decisions even in the most pressing situations in accordance with the golden principle of greater good for the society.
  4. Its not just a competition, it’s a journey. If you prepare religiously for this exam, you will not just be rewarded with a service in Government of India, you will exit the battlefield with an overhauled version of the same person. Since it’s a journey of life, try to develop an interest in this, and soon you will realize that burden is reduced significantly and you start enjoying things.

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?
Firstly remember to never give up. Taste of success is most delicious when it comes after a struggle.You must be living a stable life before the preparation. When you will be able to clear this exam, you will again reach stability. But remember, between 2 stages of stability, 1 long stage of instability had to be faced and passed. So keep working hard and learn to stand after falling down. Never let your confidence go down. There is not much difference in the level of knowledge which the candidates appearing for this exam possess. But there is a stark difference in their respective levels of confidence. These are some small things which take a person forward. So stay happy and all the best.

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?
A very big thanks to my parents, my brother who stood by me like a rock in this journey and shared all the pains. In return, they provided me with courage and confidence in the absence of which, it wouldn’t be possible to achieve this in certain. Thus no speeches, hugs, thanks can compensate for their sacrifice and effort.
Then, tonnes of thanks to my nana, naniji whose contribution can’t be quantified. They, being my local guardians, played a bigger role than my parents. They were always the first ones to be approached in times of distress and finally their prayers have felicitated me with this success.
Last, but certainly not the least, my friends who made it their journey too and filled me up with lots of moral support whether accompanying me on the day of examination or otherwise. Abhinn, Tanya, Sahu, Gulsagar, Habeeb and the list goes on J

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.
I followed Mrunal website mostly for their current affairs edition. Your monthly releases of current affairs provided me all the information in one plate and made it easier to update my notes. I also followed your section on environment/ecology and found it useful

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 13 Comments posted

  1. Radhe

    hats off brother, excellent!!

  2. Avinash acharya

    Which was your second optional for IFoS???

  3. Supreeth Reddy


  4. civil service aspirant

    sir, please can you share your mathematics optional notes as i am also planning to take mathematics as optional

  5. CS Aspirant


    First of all ,Congrats on clearing the CS exam.
    Please share how to write the answers in mathematics optional subject(as in GS we need prelution-conclusion format) is it required in maths too or just need to answer the question normally..like we usually do…

  6. Shad

    Is 3 hens correct ans.? I have a doubt, anyone please spare a thought

    1. Archit

      This is a classic problem that many people get wrong because they reason that half of a hen cannot lay an egg, and a hen cannot lay half an egg. However, we can get a satisfactory solution by treating this as a purely mathematical problem where the numbers represent averages.

      To solve the problem, we first need to find the rate at which the hens lay eggs. The problem can be represented by the following equation, where RATE is the number of eggs produced per hen·day:

      1½ hens × 1½ days × RATE = 1½ eggs

      We convert this to fractions thus:
      3/2 hens × 3/2 days × RATE = 3/2 eggs

      Multiplying both sides of the equation by 2/3, we get:
      1 hen × 3/2 days × RATE = 1 egg

      Multiplying both sides of the equation again by 2/3 and solving for RATE, we get:
      RATE = 2/3 eggs per hen·day

      Now that we know the rate at which hens lay eggs, we can calculate how many hens (H) can produce 12 eggs in six days using the following equation:

      H hens × 6 days × 2/3 eggs per hen·day = 12 eggs

      Solving for H, we get:
      H = 12 eggs /(6 days × 2/3 eggs per hen·day) = 12/4 = 3 hens

      Therefore, the farmer needs 3 hens to produce 12 eggs in 6 days.

  7. Vinay

    sir can u please share your notes…
    it will mean a lot to us…

  8. Mohan

    Sir, please give me some important current affairs questions for any competitive exam particularly for the months July and August

  9. harsh

    The logic of 3 ? Answer should have been 2 hens . 1 hen gives 1 egg in a day. in 6 days 6 eggs. 2 hens will thus be required. By the way fractional hens do amaze me ….!

  10. Sandy Kasana

    Pls add me, mrunal sir, I have been selected as CAG auditor two times, Delhi Police Sub Inspector, Asst Commandant in BSF, Officer in Delhi Metro and Officer in Parliament of India. Now I m working in Parliament of India. I did not study deeply and seriously. I passed all above examinations without any specific book. I used my mind to answer the questions in the competitive papers. Only I read newspaper whenever time available. I want to join here. May anyone help me

  11. Shubham Sharma

    Anyone here who have chemistry as their mains subject pls msg.me….I need help…thank u

    1. nicky

      yeah i had chemistry optional…appeared for mains this year

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