[Topper’s Interview] Tusharanshu Sharma (AIR-75/CSE-2014) Sociology Optional, IIFT & MBA, hails from Chandigarh

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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

Tusharanshu Sharma

NameTusharanshu Sharma
Rank in CSE-201475
Roll No.526494
Total attempts in CSE (including this one)2
Optional SubjectSociology
Schooling MediumEnglish
College mediumEnglish
Medium chosen for Mains answersEnglish
Medium chosen for InterviewEnglish
Home town/cityChandigarh
Work-experience if any1.5 years
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failuresIIFT (Indian Institute of Foreign Trade) MBA (International Business)- made it in 2nd go
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used)Enrolled at one in Delhi. Wasn’t very helpful so dropped out.. no mock test series
Service preferences (Top-5)IFSàIASàIPSàIRS-ITàIRS-C&E
state cadre preference (Top-5)HaryanaàPunjabàHPàUPàUK –north factor runs throughout but later realized good research should go into this..with IFS worthy rank, I hope I am out of the cadre dilemma J


fill the details here
% in class 1090.2%
% in class 1291.4%
Graduation course and %B.Com (Eco majors)- 81.5%
Name of college, city, passing out yearSD College, Chandigarh (2009)
Post-graduationMBA (International Business)- 2012
Any other professional coursesNA
Hobbies & Extracurricular achievementsCopying from my DAF:
Painting, travelling, playing, singing, basketball, playing guitar, photography and reading (yes I’d 8 hobbies and I’m not sure if it’s a very good idea from interview’s pov J)
Extracurricular achievements:

  • University gold medal-economics- 09
  • University topper-academic year -07-08
  • NCC best cadet, Chd-army wing,08
  • Exhibition of artworks at Art Gallery Chandigarh, 2009
  • 1st prize-inter group basketball championship, NCC-‘07
  • Best all round student award,04-05
  • Artist of the year award-05-06


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

  • Me: I was born & brought up in a village but had the fortune of studying at some of the best institutions like St. john’s, Chandigarh and IIFT, Delhi. So had the best of both the worlds. Loved to always involve myself in various activities- both curricular & extra. Played for couple of bands, put up an artwork exhibition, did B.Com in Eco, MBA in IB in finance but took up experience in an FMCG marketing company, then quit to prepare..so basically had foot in many doors or I give you the liberty to call me confused (though not anymore).
  • Academic: I am an honours graduate of Commerce in Economics from SD College, Chd.  I did my MBA from Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, Delhi and got selected for the Student Exchange program at Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki where I studied for a trimester. Grades have been decent. Never was very studious but always serious at whatever I started.
  • Family: My father is an advocate at Pb.&Hry High court. Mom is a retired lecturer. Didi is a dentist and an MBA in hospital mgmnt and now studying psychology. Jiju is an IIT grad and working for a mentoring institute. Most important part of our family is my 1.5 year old nephew to whom I give a big credit for this achievement (as you would need good breaks during your preparation which make you forget the world). Family showed utmost faith and support because it wasn’t easy to leave a very high paying job to start preparing for this and till last minute, option to get back to corporate was kept open.
  • When did I enter this field: Competitive exams (in 2008 when I began preparation of CAT), UPSC (took once in 2012 when I was in  IIFT without much prep , but plunged in sept 2013 for one full fledged attempt)

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)

  1. Electronic Vs books:
    1. No shortcut to books when it comes to static part, but for things like current affairs, latest examples to substantiate your answers, some topics in GS-3, GS-2 and studying background of various topics, you have to go online. No blogs/RSS feed or particular sites. You need to have an eye for the right kind of questions. That knack comes through lot of reading (electronic or otherwise) and complete knowledge of your battle (syllabus, previous ques etc)
    2. Please don’t focus on the sources (you mustn’t feel great that you’ve done a NCERT or IGNOU etc). They are unlimited. Focus on the syllabus instead. When you feel confident that you have covered a topic sufficiently, move on. And remember topic is not the sentences in the syllabus but every word of the syllabus.
  2. Newspaper: Read 2 (Hindu and IE), but would wrap them up in max 1 hour after listing down the possible topics that I need to research on. Then began the arduous task of knowing more on those (mostly online) or putting them aside for delegation to friends.
  3. Typical day: started 4 am and ended at 9:30pm. Target was set a night prior. Good time for breaks, sports and meditation on daily basis.
  4. Style of preparation: Systematic daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly targets. Tried sticking to them but had kept enough buffers too. Focussed on narrowing my sources and revision of the ones done earlier. Delegated work to my friends and family when load became excessive. (learnt that in MBA J).They researched stuff and mailed me back which my dad printed and I studied. Couldn’t do any writing practice even though Id kept a month for it as most of the time went in content building.
  5. Notes making– Extremely important. No other way to absorb this ocean. Make notes that you can revise later. There can be diff ways of making notes like (a) writing them separately (b) pasting stickers in books after every say 8-10 pages) (c) dictating them on laptop (speech to text softwares) .. I did them all depending on the size of book & constraint of time and in case of sociology went to the extent of doing an excel analysis on topic wise thinkers and thinker wise topics!

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?
A. Discipline is very important. Healthy breaks are imp too which preferably donot involve crowd. I resorted to many individual habits & hobbies like playing guitar, painting, home basketball, meditation, watching motivation videos, not keeping many mentors etc in my breaks.
PS: can differ from person to person but the target is solace which takes you away from the temporary negativity yet not too far to make you forget the larger goal!

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.
For me idea of UPSC got built pretty late even though I had taken one attempt during IIFT. I went to work and then came back later after working for a while. So avoided that ordeal. But I think it is good to have a backup of some kind when you know what you are up against.
Q2. What went wrong in your previous attempt? What changes did you make in this current attempt?
Didn’t study. Missed even pre by couple of marks and reaching that close to cut off was a boost in a way. This time.. I studied.

Working professional

If you’re a working professional, share some tips on how to manage studies with job
Put down my papers before prep in Sept 2013. Couldn’t manage with the job.

Prelims (CSAT) General studies-

History AncientCan rem following right now:
Ancient and world history -NCERTs, Bipin Chandra  for Freedom struggle & post independence, Norman Lowe (world history), Culture (Spectrum), Polity- Lakshmikant thoroughly + Yellow book+ net like pib website,  Ramesh Singh (prelim eco but economics NCERTs, Economic Survey of India, Yojanas and internet for mains), Science (postponed till last minute but then did mostly internet serach for latest topics), Environment (net + some material I got from shops), Geography (GC Leong, Majid hussain and NCERTs), International affairs (internet, IDSA, diplomat etc and mea etc), Filler stuff- internet.
Newspapers+ rstv+ EPW+ yojana+ kurukshetra + Year Book were also regularly followed but not with a lot of discipline.
History Medieval
History Modern (Freedom Struggle)
Culture and society
Polity (theory + current)
Economy (theory + current)
Science (theory + current)
Environment (theory + current)
geography physical
geography India
geography world
other national/international current affairs
Schemes, Policy & Filler Stuff

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS prelim 2014 paper?
Make good use of maps, apply logic wherever you get stuck because you can’t know all but it is do-able with the kind of knowledge you would’ve got. Know your limitations and don’t take blind risks.
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’m sorry, will leave this blank. Don’t know actually.
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)?-
You have to focus big time on GS anyways. You cant avoid it in subsequent stages.

Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude

Topicstrategy / booklist
MathsDidn’t prepare much for this. Revised formulae.
Comprehension, I believe,  is taken care by papers
Decision Making

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS Aptitude 2014 paper.
Respect it..despite it being qualifying now.

Prelim accuracy

Q1. Did you attend any ‘mock tests’? do you think they’re necessary for success?
Good if you take some to get a feel of the environment. Please don’t take their results to be real indicator of your preparation.
Q2. Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers. in CSAT-2014

attempted Q.correct (approx)

Q3. Your score in prelim (when UPSC uploads it please mail me your score)
Paper I- 106
Paper II- 132.5

Mains: Compulsory language paper

Compulsory language paperYour preparation strategy / booklist?
English paperNone
your regional languageHindi. None

Q2.other observations / tips / comments on the length / difficulty level of compulsory language papers in CSE-2014
Its not hard if you were even average in these subjects during your school.
Don’t take this very lightly but you should be able to clear, if it isn’t a disaster.

Mains: Essay

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?
My marks in essay would indicate that it didn’t go too well. To be honest I couldn’t practice at all. Just relied on my knowledge. Wrote it for the first time in the mains only and the moment I finished it , I knew this would pull me back.. Just read few tips from previous toppers before the exam but unfortunately I don’t have much to share here
Q2. Which two essays did you write and What key points did you include in it?

  • With greater power comes greater responsibility
  • Fifty Golds in Olympics: Can this be a reality for India?

I don’t rem the points exactly but I can share my experience a bit. Write a generalist essay (I made mistake of quoting some thinkers and im sure the examiner could tell that I have socio optional). In essay 2- I compared China’s and America’s sports model with that of India’s. Talked of privatization, decentralization of sports and overall was an optimistic pov and balanced it with highlighting the loopholes. Solutions are an important part of such an essay. Im sure I scored better in 2nd essay than in the first one.

General Studies (Mains) paper 1

TopicHow did you prepare?
cultureDid spectrum, and a yellow book. Rest was Wiki-ed
Indian historyBipin Chandra and ncerts in depth (means 4-5 revisions atleast). Notes making is avery imp leg of this prep.
world historyNorman Lowe
post-independence IndiaBipin Chandra and some topics from Ramachandra Guha
Indian societySocio covered that but did EPW magazine for this as well
role of women, poverty etc.Nothing specific
globalization on Indian societyNothing specific
communalism, regionalism, secularismSocio covered this. Studied recent examples from internet
world geo physicalGC Leong & majid hussain+ NCERTS
resource distributionYellow books and internet
factors for industrial locationInternet
earthquake tsunami etcGeog books stated above + recent examples
impact on flora-faunaI don’t think I covered this.

General studies (Mains) paper 2

TopicHow Did You Prepare?
Indian Constitution, devolution, dispute redressal etc.Laksmikant, Constitution, NCERT, year Book etc
comparing Constitution with worldYellow book + internet
parliament, state LegislaturesLakshmikant
ministries departmentsInternet
pressure group, informal asso.Sociology + internet
Representation of people’s actMajorly stuff available online + some notes from market
various bodies: Constitutional, statutory..
NGO, SHG etc
welfare schemes, bodies
social sector, health, edu, HRD
governance, transparency, accountability
role of civil service
India & neighborsDid this in detail from MEA’s website + IDSA and other websites like diplomat + general wiki
bilateral/global grouping
effect of foreign country policies on Indian interest
international bodies- structure mandate

General studies (Mains) Paper 3

TopicHow Did You Prepare?
Indian economy, resource mobilizationHad acumen for economics- but was mostly internet study/ bit of ramesh singh, yojanas (relevant issues including old ones available online), Economic Survey, Yellow book, land reforms from bipin Chandra (post independence) and economics ncerts. This paper is very diverse and requires internet to fill the gaps.
inclusive growth
major crops, irrigation
agro produce – storage, marketing
e-technology for famers
farm subsidies, MSP
PDS, buffer, food security
technology mission
animal rearing economics
food processing
land reforms
investment models
science-tech day to day lifeupdated myself with latest happenings on current affairs site (there are many) and did research of the topics which I found important. It was a leap of faith when it comes to sc & tech.
Indian achievements in sci-tech
awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPR
environmental impact assessmentDid some research in market of popular notes and picked up one. Rest was internet and newspaper to give good examples.
Disaster ManagementStudied all disasters in recent past in India and their causes and possible solutions (available online), Lot of govt. reports available too.
non state actors, internal securityYellow book, newspaper and relevant editorials, As I can recall, idsa website was also helpful.
Agencies were googled.
internal security – role of media, social networking site
cyber security
money laundering
border  Management
organized crime, terrorism
security agencies- structure mandate

General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude

TopicHow Did You Prepare?
ethics and interface, family, society and all the hathodaa topicsThis I hardly prepared. N my marks reflect that.. I did some book from the market (to know exact definitions of things like attitude, morals etc). Didn’t help much. Wrote balanced answers by imagining myself in hypothetical situations. Relied on my knowledge from other subjects/biographies that I had read in the past to write thinkers specific answers. Did some quotes online. Saw last year paper and prepared role model answer a bit. Basically, it wasn’t prepared very well and on top of it I couldn’t answer two ques worth 30 marks for paucity of time.
attitude, moral influence etc.
civil service: integrity, impartiality, tolerance to weak etc
emotional intelligence, its use in governance
moral thinkers of India and world
ethics in pub.ad, accountability, laws, rules etc.
corporate governance
probity in governance, work culture
citizen charter, ethics code, work culture etc.
challenges of corruption
case studies on above topics

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 UPSCSorry, don’t recall much. But they were centered around following rules and being upright.
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
GS1Sorry don’t rem this part.230

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]
Word limit wasn’t a problem. I don’t think you can and should try to attempt all. Just do your best. You wouldn’t know all 10 points, but you would certainly know/can extract from your mental database atleast a few. That’s good enough and rest depends on how you structure and remain relevant to what is being asked. Exemplify and substantiate wherever possible.
Q. How was your experience with the ‘fixed space’ answer sheet?
It was good though it varied from being able to easily restrict myself in GS 1-4 within the space to finding it difficult to fill it up in essay J
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.
Intro and concl cant and shouldn’t be in points. Body – it depends on you. I wrote the body in points but with small subheadings for each point and ensured that I stayed on the question throughout.
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.
I did.
Q5. Did you use highlighters / sketchpens in your answers?
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?
I didnt
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?
Sociology. I had narrowed my options to just 3 subjects- economics, management and sociology..but took sociology for calculated reasons. N yea I admit, I did love the subject gradually. I was introduced to the discipline by my faculty at IIFT and had read marx, Raymond aaron etc even when the plans to take upsc hadn’t concretized.
For Sociology,I believed there would not be any question that would sound a complete stranger unlike other subjects where despite studying a lot,  there might be a possibility where I might not know how to write a particular answer on account of technicality. So it was also a strategic call. If I had to choose a second optional, it would definitely have been management.
Having said that, no subject has distinct advantage/disadvantage over the other.
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)
You can. Wont advice for or against a particular subject. I don’t think any subject has a distinct (dis)advantage over the other. Just do justice to it knowing your strengths and time frame.
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 can tell you my reference books as I did not study any book end to end. I focused on note compilations from different sources instead of learning immediately. Learning began quite late when I was sure of my content being of rich quality. Used Haralambas and Holborn + TB Bottomore as primary ref, did IGNOU both BA & MA (read through all ..I believe 476 chapters), Referred to ritzer and giddens as well. Had done original works of marx and Raymond aaron previously. Referred to previous toppers + mahapatra sir’s + upendra’s notes. Followed newspaper for any sociological news and EPW was very helpful , esp in paper 2.
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?
No no you cant rely on books alone. You have to contemporarize your answers. So try building a sociological perspective on current affairs than doing only factual stuff.
Q. How many months did it take to finish the core optional syllabus?
About 4 months. (once)
Q. How many days/ weeks before the exam, you started answer writing practice?
Though I highly recommend it, I just couldn’t find time for this.
Q. Do you maintain self-notes for revision of optional? In which format- electronic or paper?
Yes. Narrowing down of your notes is very imp. It is a repetitive process. One day before the exam I had just 30 pages which needed revision.
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?
Please substantiate your answer wherever possible with relevant current examples. Be original in your thoughts, yet sound grounded in researches of learned scholars.

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?
Made a list of possible questions so as not to miss out on anything (still you always do miss a lot but don’t bother after a certain point). Put them down in excel, categorized them under diff heads. They were about 700 ques initially.  Asked 2 of my friends to come over everyday for about 2 weeks and help me research current based answers. They did a great job :). We compiled 2 volumes- one for DAF, other for current affairs. With more research the list of ques just kept adding.  It wasn’t any smaller effort than mains. Coz even when I knew it was a personality assessment test, you had to be good at quality content. That gives real confidence.
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?
I did attend 3 mocks at Chandigarh. Were very different from the real one. Mocks are supposed to give you confidence and helpful feedback but I don’t think they always do. Infact they may , at times, pull you down Coz their feedback tends to be shallow and tells you what to improve instead of how. Mocks are not necessary, but you should practice your answers with someone with experience in this field and someone that you trust. I had fortune of knowing somebody since my mba times who helped me with some grueling sessions.
Q3. Describe the formal-dress worn by you in interview.
White shirt, Black trousers, maroon 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’?
My cousin’s place.

During the interview

Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board?
Mr. Chhatar Singh
Q2. How long was the interview?
35-40 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?]
Wasn’t asked but my answer would’ve been:
Sir, the ambition for Indian Foreign Services was born out an informal discussion with my director at IIFT on account of my profound interest in academics and all round performance. But having worked in the corporate sector, I realized that you need a higher meaning and purpose in life which is more impactful, challenging and does justice to your abilities. Sir, I’ve had education in foreign trade with a study trimester at Hanken School of Economics in Finland which opened me to different cultures and nationalities and given that background, I find IFS in particular very exciting.  Moreover, the mere idea of representing my country at a bigger stage is inspiring enough and made me just go for it.
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)
Was the first candidate to be interviewed that day.
Bell- Was asked to enter- 5 panelists in an odd seating plan which was almost circular.. so had no clue how to wish them .. just nodded my head to anybody who looked up and then was asked to sit down by the chairman.

  1. C- Is this you?– (showing me my pp photo to me)

Me- (very excited)- yes sir

  1. (busy looking through my DAF and whispering.. achha ye kiya hai.. achha ye bhi.. achha .. n after every sentence a big gap- so I didn’t know if I was expected to say something.. because the sentences weren’t followed by question marks or any sound suggesting punctuations! It had been a while since I had spoken anything after the super excited Yes sir and that too after seeing my own picture, which was odd- then another sentence—u were earning so much…(followed by a question mark,  I presumed)- then I dropped in to say few lines- sir money cannot be the only driver for a person like me. It was in IIFT that I got an idea for civil services and while in corporate sector I realized that we need something that is more impactful and challenging. (both looked unconvinced)
  2. C- What kind of guitar do you play?

Me- sir acoustic when I’m practicing at home and semi-electric when on stage (it was a good selling opportunity)

  1. C- What do you think are the subsidies that are being given to farmers?

I gave a few examples like fertilizers, water, power, interest subvention on capital goods etc and was about to get into the why part but was cut short- those are just input subsidies, tell me other subsidies– I told MSP and then there are subsidies on  food at consumer end for poor sections under PDS and future NFSA.

  1. C-What should we do? You think that subsidy model is sustainable?-

Me- Sir, it is needed as farmers are vulnerable to so many vagaries- both natural and manmade, but it needs to better targeted and the bill needs to be rationalized. There are bigger farmers as well who get the undue advantage of the subsidies. Sustaining subsidies forever is always going to be problem coz one, it hits your bills and two, it makes them difficult to pull out. Rationalizing and better targeting is the key in short term and infrastructure development and alternative employability in non-farm activities in the long term.

  1. C- Do you know if fertilizer subsidy reaches them at all? Do you know who is responsible to make subsidy reach to farmers?-

Me- (Didn’t have much idea but tried) Sir, I had a word with my maternal uncle, who is an agriculturist regarding this and he told me that it does but with a considerable lag. I don’t know which organization is responsible for delivery.

  1. C- I think it doesn’t reach farmers. It is given to middlemen who don’t pass it on entirely. Why do you think that is the case?

Me-Sir, I think, because the financial infrastructure Is not completely in place. We can give them the direct benefit transfer, but many being from less accessible pockets of India, financial reach is an issue.

  1. C- I think it is about will to bring it under DBT. I have that view

Me– True, sir. But we are seeing many payments coming under DBT and this also doesn’t look very far from being practical.

  1. C- How is our relation with WTO? Do you think regional agreements are the way forward or you believe WTO can work out better?

Me- gave some background to WTO- told how india has gained in terms of trade volumes- but balanced with the negative side- failures of past etc & bali agreement. So benefitted from WTO but regional agreements are a reality. Gave few examples like RCEP etc.
C- What is India’s stand on TFA?- answered.
C- What are amber box subsidies (infact I had used that term somewhere, so was asked)- explained

1.            M1- Your portfolio looks already strong- you’ve done so many different activities, what is that you would like to add more in that in say, next 5 years-
Me- Thankyou sir. I would like to learn a few more languages because when I was, under the student exchange program I saw almost everybody learnt multiple languages of different nationalities, which was inspiring. Secondly, having already put an exhibition of my paintings, I would like to dabble with a few more in next 5 years. That’s my short term plan (should’ve talked more about civil services here I feel, but was busy selling my candidature harder )
2.            How do you define modern art? If you have to give a lecture to students on modern art- how would you explain it to them?
Defined it as ‘anything different from traditional’. Explained some bit of traditional art forms like miniatures , rajputana paintings etc. Then talked of diff forms of modern paintings- surreals, minimalism, futurism, cubism etc.
3.            What is Music piracy? How would you control it? Is internet the culprit?: Music has come a long way etc etc: Gave a balanced view. Talked about copyright act a bit..Didn’t criticize internet but explained how loopholes like torrents have forced private players like Yash Raj films and T-series to recruit their own anti-piracy armies. Gave an optimistic outlook of future by giving examples on how many new launches now happen first on the internet.
Member 2
1.            M-2        Lengthiest question ever which essentially asked.. how would you balance use of organic farming and fertilizer use in India?-
Me- Answered around how Organic farming should be promoted in northern states which are relatively better off because of Green revolution but eastern states should see a green revolution (i.e. fertilizers) before moving to organic farming .. subsidize organic farming but with production targets- etc etc and how production needs to be balanced with eco-friendliness and cost with return.
Member 3
1.            M3- See you are from finance background- please tell me how is capital budgeting important?
Me- Blanked out. Knew IRR and CAPM but simply couldn’t recall. Tried evading initially through some assets and liabilities stuff – but eventually surrendered with a ‘not able to recall sir’
2.            M3What is watered capitalisation?
Me: Don’t know sir
C– What is your question?
M3– Watered capitalization (pointing owards glass of water). Would you like to guess?
Me– No sir.
3.            M3: Why are stock exchanges so fluctuating? What are the External and internal factors?
Me- Started off with- ‘when federal reserve sneezes, emerging markets catch cold’ dialogue.
M3- that is external. What about internal?
Me- Inflation expectations, monsoonal prospects, corporate performance ,a majority govt at centre etc etc
M3– Won’t fiscal policy have an impact on sensex?
Me– explained how using GST example.
4.            M3What is Bullockless agriculture?
Me- (hadn’t heard about the term so asked permission to rephrase it as mechanized agriculture.. he let me). So continued as how it is good but since 85% farmers <1 hectare, so not very economically viable. Contract and cooperative farming can be the way forward.
M3- But that has failed in the past..
Me- That was because it was initiated from the top. Farmer participation was lacking too. We can correct these things now.
Member 4
1.            What was Pablo Picasso famous for?- answered cubism and how it worked
2.            He said to make form you’ve to break form. Why?- Didn’t know why. But tried.. Maám, since he invented a form of art where things that he saw around were projected in geometric manner.. he may have referred to that….
3.            In what categories can his paintings be divided across his life?- Shouldve known but didn’t so, maám Don’t know
4.            What impact did his paintings have on Spanish Civil War?- Shouldn’t have known and Didn’t so, ma’am know
5.            Know about Ajanta? Does it have paintings?- yes explained with some examples of Buddhist art… Talked a bit about painting called mahaparnirvana where Budhha, I believed was in padmasana.. but she corrected me immediately that he was in lying position.. me: I stand corrected maam (with a stupid grin)
6.            Ellora ? has Just caves or paintings too?- Said only caves (im not sure till date)
7.            What are Petroglyphs? How were they made?- explained but we differed on the how part. I said by chipping the rocks or use of sharp tools but she said natural colours. What were natural colours made from?- Rocks and flowers.
8.            What do you understand by gender bias? Is it female specific?- answered in a gender neutral way
9.            What role does culture play in gender bias?- gave examples of rituals like fasting and khaps.
10.         Difference between sex and gender?- sex is biological and gender is social
11.         Is gender equality happening for real?- answered on lines of.. placards have come out but reality is far from ideal.. ended with an optimistic outlook towards future.
Chairman- You may leave.. wished them all a nice day and left.
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?
Yes on expected lines. Was asked on agriculture (prob because Im from Punjab), art (hobby) and sociology (optional).. Didn’t expect so many ques on Picasso though. Shouldve handled finance questions better.
Q6. Any side details about technicalities like “make sure you bring xyz document or do xyz thing, or you’ll face problem”?
Umm. Can’t think of anything.
Q7. Any word of wisdom / observations about medical checkup?
Expect it to last entire day. So don’t book your return ticket for the same day, if you are from outside Delhi.

CSE-2014 Marksheet

Q1. Please attach both prelim and final marksheet. (when it comes)
Paper 1- 106
Paper 2- 132.5
Essay- 99
GS-1- 107
GS-2- 88
GS-3 – 94
GS 4- 98
Socio-1 146
Socio 2- 136
Written Total: 768
Interview- 193
Final Total – 961
Q2. After looking at the marksheet, suppose you had to prepare again next time, what changes will you make in your studies?
Practise essay but thankfully I wont have to.

Career Backup

Q1. If you were not selected, what was your career backup plan?
Get back to corporate.
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.)
Had promised myself one full fledged attempt and would’ve gone back immediately if Id failed.

Views on UPSC reforms

Q. Optional subjects should be removed altogether. The present stalemate is helping no-one, except coaching-owners, book publishers.
Q. Your views on the decision to make CSAT paper 33% qualifying?
Should’ve stayed. But I know many who love UPSC for this J
Q. Despite what UPSC has done in recent years, it has failed to curb the nuisance of Delhi’s coaching factories. In fact it’s increased under the new syllabus in 2014. Let’s face it, most candidates who gave Mains-2014 have relied on (authentic OR Xeroxed) coaching notes because there was hardly any time left to prepare so many topics in such short time. This system work against an individual preparing from far-away area, without any financial resources, high-speed internet or contacts in Delhi.
Silence.. second thought.. will is important.. I met a guy on my interview day.. who didn’t have formal shoes (wore sports shoes).. wore borrowed trousers (could tell from two folds) and was still there, smiling and confident.. I don’t agree that coaching notes help. Use internet, research the market well but you can sit anywhere and crack this.

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).
Sorry, don’t know much about this
Q. UPSC should disclose official prelim answerkey and cutoffs, immediately after prelim is over, instead of postponing it till interview phase is over.
Q. UPSC should be conducted online like IBPS and CAT exam to shorten the duration of exam.
Yes, would make result compilation quicker, but that’s only for prelim. Students would need some breathing space between pre result and mains.
Q. If you are made the UPSC chairman, what other reforms would you initiate for the civil service exam?
Umm.. I would love to say.. shorten the duration of exam, reduce no. of attempts, reduce upper age limit, remove quota system, allow just one more attempt to those already in services, allow home cadre as far as possible, declare cadre wise vacancies in advance, have pre and mains together etc etc. but I would take everybody’s opinions into account and see what is best and practicable.

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?
Message: Believe. First step towards convincing anybody to believe in you is to first, sincerely believe in youself.


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?

  • For exam:
    • Exam per se isn’t hard (by which I mean those 5 days and 9 exams), and it maybe easy for me to say this in retrospect, but it is the everyday discipline for a year that is harder.
    • Know your battle well. Know the syllabus by heart, define your sources, know your limitations, know what you are up against thoroughly. Only then can you fight this thing better.
    • There are many low moments during prep. It isn’t important if you fall, happens to all of us.. what is more imp is how quickly you bounce back.
    • Treat pre diff from mains diff from interview and give them all equal respect. Your safest bet is to focus on mains.
    • Have some good individual hobbies. Will help you sail better.
    • Respect is imp.-respect your books, your dreams, your parents money, your opportunity cost lost, your examination, your interview panelists and after you become something.. everybody.
  • For life:
  • This isn’t everything. Do your BEST.. I repeat your best.
  • It takes a lot of character and grit to make it. I am sure you all have it, just don’t tell yourself otherwise
  • Want this ..for the right reasons.
  • Good luck J

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?

  • Family- Couldn’t have done without their support. Their faith in me is more than what I had in myself. My father was literally doing topic wise research and reading yojanas and highlighting matter in order to save my time. I may not have mustered the courage to quit my lucrative job to take this without them. All coz of them.
  • Friends- Who.. though were not preparing for upsc.. helped me with the research selflessly.
  • My ex company bosses- who assured me of me backup at all times, which gave a sense of security.
  • IIFT, Director- who guided me in initial months
  • Sethi sir (Chd)- for the interview guidance
  • My cousin in Delhi- for the stay and right environment.
  • There are many more like newspaper wale bhiya, chai wale bhiya and many more..

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.
Yes I’ve used Mrunal.org for my preparation, I saw your video on budget to get clarity on some terms.

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

28 Comments on “[Topper’s Interview] Tusharanshu Sharma (AIR-75/CSE-2014) Sociology Optional, IIFT & MBA, hails from Chandigarh”

  1. Thanks sir…..

  2. Sir.. prelims answer keys.. waiting for that.. thank you sir..

  3. Hi… Many Many Congrats…would be great if you can share your sociology notes.. thanks

  4. So many people to help him, well established family, pity factor…wondered if he wouldn’t get selected !!
    Same is the case with Prasant Pawar.

  5. Dear Mrunal Sir ,
    Please provide interview detail of candidate who had been qualified in UPSC with Physics as a optional subject.

  6. on wikipedia about dugong it is written that although it almost feeds on seagrass but sometimes it also eats small fish like jellyfish etc and in vision practice test there is a question regarding feeding pattern of dugong that it eats small fish so friends i am confused please clarify

    1. dude…just move on…….let the keys and result come…try focussing on mains now……..

  7. Sorry, I m a novice in Sociology and finding some things in Paper 1 a little difficult. Can anyone plz guide what exactly am I to use Giddens for with respect to syllabus. Giddens seems all theories n methodology, which chapters am I to concentrate on in making notes from Giddens

  8. What is thi “yellow book”? a general name of notes avail in market?

  9. Mrunal Sir, please publish interview of someone who has cleared CSE with Sanskrit optional.

    I got immense benefits out of your Economy videos. Keep up the good work and keep inspiring us..

    Thanks and Regards;
    Prabodh Mishra

  10. Yellow book refers to VAJIRAM institute’s printed notes. Generally published subject wise. Available in Rajinder Nagar, Delhi photocopy shops.

  11. can any one please tell about books regarding sociology

  12. this organisation is good like

  13. is it the highest marks obtained by any selected candidate in cse 2014???if anyone knows more marks than 282 in sociology,plse comment her,,i would like to read his/her interview.i too had sociology but got jst 250 marks.
    nd mrunal sir could u plse tell me hw to improve my marks in paper third,,got jst 50 marks!!
    thank u.

  14. sir give names of motivation videos names or movies

      1. give number sir

  15. sir , many many congratulation for your success . . i m a B.sc graduate . not highly qualified and a average student . . . i just started my preparation for CIVIL SERVICE from root level.. will u please give me some guidelines regarding my qualification ,strength , that what should i do in a proper manner. . . .and what are the difficulties could be arise during my preparation and how to tackle them. . . can i do it sir as just a graduate ? pls. sir give me some advice. . .

  16. sir please give names of you gain job who inspire

  17. when will cgl tier -1 2016 be held?

  18. sir please suggest some books tp prepare for upsc

  19. sir plz give me guideliness to prepare for upsc

  20. sir is it better to write online tests to prepare for upsc

  21. can any one please tell about books regarding economy

  22. sir who inspired you

  23. Sir would you please publish the interview of candidate who had physics as optional subject

  24. Good motivations for next generation

  25. i had three history backlogs in b.tech will they effect me at upsc selection

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