[Topper’s Interview] Naman Upadhyaya (Rank-106/CSE-2015) Pub. Ad., 5th Trial, Marine Engineer, Indore

motivation28 Comments

Ad Online Taiyari
  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. Mains answer-writing?
  17. Mains Optional Subject
  18. Before the interview
  19. During the interview
  20. CSE-2015 Marksheet
  21. Career Backup
  22. Views on UPSC reforms
  23. Insecurity about profile
  24. Wisdom
  25. Credit: Friends/family
  26. BOGUS Marketing Propaganda

Candidate Profile

NameNaman Upadhyaya
Rank in CSE-2014106
Roll No.0407294
Total attempts in CSE (including this one)5
Optional SubjectPublic Adminstration
Schooling MediumEnglish
College mediumEnglish
Medium chosen for Mains answersEnglish
Medium chosen for InterviewEnglish
Home town/cityIndore
Work-experience if any3 Months
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failuresMPPSC CLEARED But Not Joined.
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used)Vajiram + M.K.Mohanty Sir In 2011,Aspire Ias In 2013,Lukmaan For Pub.Ad. Test Series 2014/15, Gktoday,Mrunal,Insightsonindia
Service preferences (Top-5)IAS,IFS,IRS-IT,IRS-CENTRAL EXCISE,IPS
state cadre preference (Top-5)M.P.,Rajasthan,Haryana,Gujarat,Maharashtra


fill the details here
% in class 1078
% in class 1272
Graduation course and %MARINE ENGG,8.19
Any other professional coursesNONE


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

Naman Upadhyaya
I am Naman Upadhyaya, My father retired as Member Commercial Tax appellate tribunal, My mother is a housewife.I am the youngest of 3 siblings, I have two elder sisters both are married and PHDs.
I entered in the field of competitive exams in 2010-11. Because I was influenced by my father and uncle who were in state administrative services and I found that my earlier job as seafarer was very limited and somewhat isolated.

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)
I relied pretty much on electronic material but simultaneously I studied standard books and newspapers(Hardcopy).
I use to start my day at 5-5.30A.M.(habit I got from school/college days) by jogging/meditation for 45min. Then I use to read newspaper – The Hindu (Extensively), Indian Express(quickly), NewsFeeds from various sources at my Feedly account. Then from 11 to 2 I use to study GS(static portion) , after lunch I used to take a nap for 45 min. after that from 3 or 3.30 to 7 I used to study optional (pub.ad). then again after short break I used to study current affairs. After dinner I used to go for a walk with my friends and we discussed current affairs and news events for half and hour. Then again I revised same day’s newspaper.
In between in used to watch videos from mrunal/RSTV/Pradhanmantri,Samvidhaan. I also used to write answers on daily basis + GS tests weekly/Pub.Ad test series weekly.
My preparation was combined Electronic material + Conventional. I used Microsoft One Note,Cam scanner extensively. For some articles I did cuttings and prior to exam instead of cutting I used to take pictures of the articles from my Tab. I also invested some time in arranging the notes and organizing them.

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?
To  used to study for 7-8 hours daily and only during the period between pre and mains(sept-dec) my I increased my study hours to 15-16 hours. It’s difficult to keep momentum for 1 yr hence you should realize this and study consistently even if for 2-3 hours daily. Never miss newspaper and never ever create backlog! My family and friends + meditation helped me to fight against the mood swings and distractions. I also use to watch/read things related to IR and read books to keep myself refreshed.(since it was my hobby)

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’ll give it’s credit completely to my family(parents, my sisters , my brother-in-laws , and my friends).
My words to senior players is that please never give up.hard work always pays off.it’ll take sometime but your knowledge will not go waste. In every attempt you knowledge base will increase and it’ll get consolidated.just try to work on you weakness and after a failure just take a break think where you scored less marks and in next attempt work on it. I was not able to clear pre, then I failed in mains, then in failed in interview. Finally I was able to clear all the stages.Senior players should believe in themselves and hope that their hardwork will payoff and their luck will also struck. Always remember 90% is hardwork and 10% is luck. And if not today then tomorrow this luck will help you to complete 100% which is required to get your name in the final list.
2 incidents inspired me.

  1. When one of my very close friend got thru IAS and she told me that if I can do this even you can do it. There is nothing special in it.
  2. After my failure my father told me “Abhi mujhe aur dheeme kadam rakhna hai abhi toh chalne ki awaaz aati hai”. These lines inspired me a lot. He told me that you are still far away from clearing this exam and you need to further improve.

Q2. What went wrong in your previous attempt? What changes did you make in this current attempt?
In my earlier attempts I realized that I am very slow in writing because of which I was not able to complete my papers. So, I did answer writing practice for more than a year. And finally I was able to write 1 answer in 7min.
Secondly I did not prepared for interview well in my 2014 attempt.the preparation was adhoc and hap hazard. But in this attempt I organized my interview preparation. Although I did not gave any mock interview but I appeared for state interview which helped me. I spent hours with my father/brother in laws/sisters/friends discussing current events and my DAF and I framed plenty of questions and tried to answer those and their ancillary questions. I recorded my voice/videos also. I did not wasted time between mains and interview. I read newspaper regularly(though not extensively as during the mains) and not created any kind of backlog.after mains and prior to interview I studied for 2-3 hours(news paper and revise them) but most of the time I discussed events/issues with my father/brother in laws/friends extensively in English which helped me a lot.

Prelims (CSAT) General studies

History AncientNCERT + GKtoday
History MedievalNcert (did not focused much on it)
History Modern (Freedom Struggle)Spectrum
Culture and societyGktoday,newspaper,discussion with my father
Polity (theory + current)Laxmikant,DD basu ( as my optional was p.ad)
Economy (theory + current)Newspaper,economic survey,google,mrunal,gktoday
Science (theory + current)Ncert class 11th,12th,newspaper
Environment (theory + current)Ncert,newspaper,google,gktoday
geography physicalNcert,goh cheng leong,atlas
geography IndiaNcert,google, atlas
geography worldDid not focus much only ncert and newspaper
other national/international current affairsNewspaper,tv discussions
Schemes, Policy & Filler StuffIndia year book,yojana,ministries websites,economic survey and GOI publications

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS prelim 2014 paper?
Basics should be crystal clear and clarity in thought process are the key to eliminate the wrong options and make an intelligent guess.
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-2016 (if you were going to appear)?
I would have revised my notes extensively and would have focused on environment,polity and culture.

Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude

Topicstrategy / booklist
Decision MakingTests

Prelim accuracy

Q1. Did you attend any ‘mock tests’? do you think they’re necessary for success?
Yes. I attempted. They are very much necessary and it gives you a good practice.
Q2. Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers. in CSAT-2014

attempted Q.correct (Expected)Official score

Mains: Compulsory language paper

Compulsory language paperYour preparation strategy / booklist?
English paperNone
your regional languageNone as I prepared for my state pcs

Q. other observations / tips / comments on the length / difficulty level of compulsory language papers in CSE-2015
Difficulty level was above average. Esp. Hindi. Atleast give 5-10 mins in reading a Hindi newspaper If your Hindi is not good.

Mains: Essay

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?
I wrote essays on varied topics from insightsonindia/mrunal esp. the topics in which I was not comfortable. And I got it checked from my father/friends.
Q2. Which two essays did you write and What key points did you include in it?
I wrote on – “ character of the institution is reflected in it’s leader” – I included plenty of examples from every field.(like t.n.seshan- election commission , e.sreedharan etc.) I also included govt.schemes for leadership, and role of family and society.
Second essay – “ crisis india faces-moral/economic” I told about crisis in manuf/agri/services(health/edu) sectory the reasons for them both eco. And moral hence their solutions also both eco. And moral and use of sci and tech + some current examples.

General Studies (Mains) paper 1

TopicHow did you prepare?
CultureGktoday,discussions with my father(as he is a scholar in history,art and culture),ncerts.
Indian historyNcerts,pradhanmantri,samvidhaan,spectrum,gktoday
world historyGktoday,ncerts
post-independence IndiaPradhanmantri,samvidhaan,gktoday.
Indian societyGktoday,newspaper
role of women, poverty etc.Newspaper,some pdfs which I seARChed from google,12th fyp document chapter on women
globalization on Indian societyNewspaper,google,discussion with friends
communalism, regionalism, secularismFew chapters which have from bipan Chandra, ram Ahuja
world geo physicalMrunal,atlas,ncert
resource distributionMrunal,ncert
factors for industrial locationMrunal,ncert
earthquake tsunami etcNcert,mrunal
impact on flora-faunaNewspaper,ncert

General studies (Mains) paper 2

TopicHow Did You Prepare?
Indian Constitution, devolution, dispute redressal etc.Dd basu, ARCII, laxmikant
comparing Constitution with worldLaxmikant
parliament, state LegislaturesNewspaper – current events – not focused much on static part. Only the issues
ministries departmentsTheir individual websites.not all but only those which are in news or of prime importance
pressure group, informal asso.p.ad notes
Representation of people’s actNewspaper
various bodies: Constitutional, statutory..Laxmikant,newspaper,india year book
NGO, SHG etcp.ad notes,newspaper
welfare schemes, bodiesIndia year book,news papers,websites
social sector, health, edu, HRDIndia year book,news paper,yojanas
governance, transparency, accountabilityARCs,india year book, news paper
role of civil serviceARCs
India & neighborsNewspapers,idsa,diplomat,c.rajamohan articles, brahma chellany articles,intellibriefs blog,rstv videos (actually this was my area of interest,hobby so I read plenty of things no need for so much things—but C.raja mohan articles are worth reading)
bilateral/global groupingSame as above
effect of foreign country policies on Indian interestSame as above
DiasporaSame as above
international bodies- structure mandateGoogle

General studies (Mains) Paper 3

TopicHow Did You Prepare?
Indian economy, resource mobilizationGktoday,news paper, mrunal
inclusive growthNewspaper,gktoday,mrunal
BudgetingMrunal,p.ad notes, newspaper
major crops, irrigationGktoday,IYB
agro produce – storage, marketingGktoday, newspaper,ministires site
e-technology for famersYojana,newspapers
farm subsidies, MSPNewspapers,gktoday,
PDS, buffer, food securityGktoday,mrunal,newspaper
technology missionIYB, newspapers
animal rearing economicsMrunal,12th fyp
food processingGktoday,mrunal,newspaper
land reformsBipan Chandra,google,
LiberalizationGktoday, newspaper
investment modelsGktoday,newspaper
science-tech day to day lifeNewspaper
Indian achievements in sci-techGktoday,newspaper
awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPRNewspaper
environmental impact assessmentGoogle,newspaper
Disaster ManagementARC,ncert, GOI publications and reports(it was also part of p.ad)
non state actors, internal securityIdsa,ARCs,challenges of Indian security,intellibrief blog, books by ex-R&AW personnel,newspapers,videos/discussions on tv,Gktoday.
(again it was my area of interest and hobby so I studied plenty of things—so please don’t waste much of the time in these sources. It was just plainly due to my interest. At the end of the day you have to just write 125-150 words and complete the paper in 3hrs. you don’t have to be a PHD. So please don’t try to cover all the sources just study few things but revise them regularly. IR and Internal security were my areas of interest hence I studied all these things.many of the things may not be relevant for us)
internal security – role of media, social networking siteSame as above
cyber securitySame as above
money launderingSame as above , ARCs,gktoday
border  ManagementSame as above , ARCs,gktoday
organized crime, terrorismSame as above , ARCs,gktoday
security agencies- structure mandateSame as above , ARCs,gktoday

General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude

TopicHow Did You Prepare?
ethics and interface, family, society and all the hathodaa topicsGktoday, my earlier optional was psychology so I relied on my notes(mukul pathak sir),ARC
attitude, moral influence etc.Gktoday, my earlier optional was psychology so I relied on my notes(mukul pathak sir)
civil service: integrity, impartiality, tolerance to weak etcGktoday,DOPT manual , discussions with my father,ARC
emotional intelligence, its use in governanceGktoday,DOPT manual , discussions with my father.
moral thinkers of India and worldHow many thinkers did you prepare? Very few. Some from subbarao. Some from history book.
ethics in pub.ad, accountability, laws, rules etc.Gktoday,DOPT manual , discussions with my father,only few chapter from subbarao.(I never read it from cover to cover)
corporate governanceGktoday, discussions with my father.
probity in governance, work cultureGktoday, discussions with my father.
citizen charter, ethics code, work culture etc.Gktoday,ARCs , discussions with my father.
challenges of corruptionGktoday,DOPT manual , discussions with my father.
case studies on above topicsGktoday,Lukmaan IAS case studies, discussions with my father.

Q. Many candidates found Mains-2015 Ethics paper very peculiar and “out of the book”. What are your observations and tips for future aspirants regarding preparation of this paper?
Yes. I think it was peculiar and out of the book because many examples were required. I think in future also the ethics paper will be very peculiar and will require our instincts to answer the questions. So my advice to fellow friends will be that prepare examples from your real life. Analyse and brainstorm about the events of your life and think about issue form your own opinion. Discuss case studies from earlier papers with your parents,friends they will provide you with unique and multiple dimensions in your answers. Actually I love to read books like difficulty of being good,India grows at night etc. this hobby of me helped me a lot in ethics paper as I was not short of examples. Also my long and regular discussions with my father who had first hand experience of such situations helped me a lot. I did not studied any coaching material for ethics(even for that matter GS – newspapers hindu,express,business standard, tv discussions were fulcrum of my preparation) except gktoday for basics.

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
GS4All case studies+ many of the answers from part1Few of the sub parts.none250
Opt-P133(sub parts)10marks250
Opt-P233 (sub part)10 marks250

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]
It totally depends on the type of the question. I wrote both in points as well as in paragraphs. But most of the questions I wrote in points(in GS paper1,2,3). However in ethics I wrote most of the answers in paras.
Q. How was your experience with the ‘fixed space’ answer sheet?
It was good. I was able to complete the paper on time. In 7-8 min. if you have to complete the answer then fixed space is very useful as you stop automcatically.
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 in both. I dosent matter in which format you write. But the points must be relevant. But in point form visibility is better so most of the questions I preferred in points form.but keep in mind that critically analyze,elucidate,explain all are different and has to be answered differently according to the demand of the question.
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.
In most of the questions I followed it. Not in all the questions. You just write those points which you can recall at that point of time. But still I tried to give 1 line intro and 1 line conclusion in almost most of the answers.

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?
Q9. You wrote the answer in blue pen or black pen?
Blue. V5 was the pen I used after R&D 🙂

Mains Optional Subject

Q. What’s your optional subject and why did you chose it and not something else?
Pub ad. I chose it because my subjects(marine) were not in the syllabus. And public administration will be useful if we want to go in 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)
I will suggest that if you want to prepare on your own pub.ad. will be very tough. But if you have interest and can do some kind of coaching you can go for it. Afterall pub.ad. is also giving selection provided you have a good hold over it. You have to put in lot of effort to score well but if you will prepare well for pub.ad. then you’ll get advantage in other things also like ethics/gs2. So  if you have interest and can do coaching you can go for it. HOWEVER,THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO HAVE CLEARED WITH PUB.AD. WITHOUT COACHING ALSO. It totally depends upon individual. UPSC is very unpredictable so to say one optional is safe and will provide you or assure selection will be incorrect.
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.)

  1. I read base books – sharma sadana- but not cover to cover only few chapters.
  2. Mohit bhattacharya – new horizons(blue cover) – cover to cover
  3. Few chapters from Nicholas henry and Stephen robbins.(leadership)
  4. Some chapters from IGNOU.
  5. Mohanty sir notes – my personal class notes which I attended.
  6. Lukmaan ias – test series – and revision of my answer sheets. This included new syllabus topics also.
  7. Some topic from google.

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?
One should rely on the base/standard books. Current affairs are necessary for this optional. Esp. in paper2. Of pub.ad. plenty of recent examples can be included which will improve the answers.
Always ensure that answer should not look like GS. Drop some words which mill make your answer look like that of optional.
Q. How many months did it take to finish the core optional syllabus?
3 months.
Q. How many days/ weeks before the exam, you started answer writing practice?
I am regularly writing answers from April 2014.
Q. Do you maintain self-notes for revision of optional? In which format- electronic or paper?
Yes. Paper format.
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?
It was slightly easier than 2014 paper but marks scored by me is less. Strategy should be – never skip standard books and never rely on just coaching notes. Read ARCs,standard books it’ll take some time but it’s worth. Identify your weak topics and read it from standard books. Write the test series regularly never miss a test and revise your answer sheets well.

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?
I prepared my DAF very well. Each and every word I prepared extensively. I used google,newspapers, news discussions,discussions with my father/brother in law/sisters.
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?
No. I don’t think so its necessary. But feedback from friends/colleagues/ your own  recording will help you to improve.
Q3. 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 MP bhawan. I brought my Tab and newspaper cuttings and some of my notes for revision for interview.
Q4. Any words of wisdom about Medical checkup?
Nothing. Bring your specs.number or dr. prescription if you are on any medication.
Q5. Describe the formal-dress worn by you in interview.

During the interview

Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board?
Vinay mittal sir.
Q2. How long was the interview?
30-35 min.
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?]
For civils – diversity of the job and growth at personal and work front(due to learning throughout your career)
I didn’t continued – because 1. As I became aware of different carrer options I thought I’ll sail for some time and then prepare for civils but due to an unfortunate accident on my ship I have to sign off early and since then I am preparing for civils.
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)

  1. Why did you do job only for few months?
    1. I met with an accident on board ship
  2. Were you fit to go back to job?
  3. Yes. But during my course of graduation as I became aware of more carrer options I thought of appearing for CSE, so I didn’t went back on ship
  4. I like to study india’s neighbours.
  5. I named india’s land neighbours and maritime neighbours. But I missed Bangladesh.
  6. Transition to democracy. It’s impact on india will be positive as Myanmar is a our gateway to southeast asia+it’ll be helpful in development of NER.(I missed insurgency)
  7. On china – it’s influence will reduce.(eg myinstone project),Myanmar will reduce it’s over dependence on china. And more balanced relationship.
  8. Insurgency problem
  9. Manipur/Nagaland are affected by it.
  10. Again I told Bhutan (operation flush out 2003)
  11. Then again they asked about other country – Bangladesh
  12. Now I answered in detail about the problem about insurgency,illegal migrantion,political scenario in Bangladesh
  13. I told not fully.+LBA+issue of enclaves explained.
  14. I told it’s not feasible. As there is too much diversity/customs,traditions and there should be autonomy in decision making.
  15. They countered and asked will you physically separate the communities at the district level? If there can be single government in india why not at global level?
  16. What do like to study in india’s international relations? (my hobby)
  17. Name india’s neighbours.
  18. What is happening in Myanmar? What will be it’s impact on India and China?
  19. Other issues?
  20. Other countries involved in insurgency?
  21. Has the issue of illegal migration has been resolved?
  22. Is a global/single government is possible? Like there is no borders?
    1. I told no I will not physically separate them it’ll totally depend on the local conditions.
  23. Few questions on mouth organ – like for how long are you playing? Which type of mouthorgan do you play etc ? I answered them comfortably.
  24. Which type of miniature paintings you study?
    1. I study miniature paintings of 16-18th century.
    2. Name some of the painters. I answered – mansoor/bishandas/nainsukh/nihal chand etc.
    3. Few more questions on miniature paintings which I answered.
  25. Even though your area of interest is studying in india’s international relations your first preference is IAS over IFS why?
  26. In today’s time international relations is no more restricted to the domain of just foreign services it’s a part of general governance. And as an Indian citizen one should be aware of india’s international relations.
  27. They countered – then according to you should we scrap IFS?
    1. No sir. It’s my personal opinion that hobby is different from profession. For example even if I don’t know how to paint/I am not a painter but still I like to study Indian miniature paintings. Not knowing how to paint does not withhold me to learn something new.
  28. How will you integrate tribals of your district to mainstream?
    1. I told I’ll understand the place and I wont impose anything on them. For example in case of education I’ll try that the syllabus/curriculum is according to their need. Change should come from themselves. I gave state specific example about MP.(scheme where food includes their local crops)
  29. Which Indian miniature painting you like most and why? I explained about a painting of jaydeva’s geet govinda which depicts radha and Krishna in a romantic mood. + banithani of kishangarh style.
  30. Questions regarding my marine background?like why did you choose your college?
  31. Questions about armed guards on ship.+ GOI policy on it.
  32. I told about territorial water/contiguous zone
  33. Then they asked about UNCLOS/Hot pursuità this lead to again Myanmar and india’s operation of hotpursuit in Myanmar. Which I answered – I told specifically about NSCN(khaplang)faction.
  34. I told them about oil spill/sewage etc.
  35. I answered about convention – MARPOL73/78 and it’ latest amendments.
  36. I told  them about the lifting of sanctions.
  37. They asked about types of marine pollution and the convention for it.
  38. They asked about important event wrt to IRAN.
    1. Then They asked me about it’s impact on India.
      1. I included – energy security (our refineries which were established in 60s depends on Iranian sweet crude oil)+ access to Central asia + Eurasia+ chabahar port – evacuation from Afghanistan- hajigak mines+Bandar abbas port+zaranj delaram road+INSTC.
      2. I forgot IPI- they gave a hint. I answered it. Then they ask about the company involved in it. I answered OVL but cou;dnt name other company
  39. US – Russia issue in black sea.
    1. I told them about sevastapol port and its importance + closing in of NATO etc.
    2. But they specifically asked some US aircraft carrier and Russia issue. I told them sorry sir I am not aware about that particular issue.
  40. Chairman asked me why is it so that iran is more closer to india then Pakistan?
  41. I told about Jundullah a sunni militant group which is getting shelter in pak.
  42. India’s image as a beingn power which will help iran to improve its image and reduce its isolation
  43. India is a huge market for iran whose economic is reeling and india has always been a regular and timely payer.(for oil and other things)
  44. I answered – Humayun. And told something about him. Chairman nodded in affirmation. and smiled.
  45. Finally chairman asked in informal manner about historical ties about india and iran. And he asked about an emperor of India who went to iran and converted his religion.

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 on expected lines. My hobbies(IR,Indian miniature paintings,mouthorgan)/Marine background.
It was not stress interview. Board was very cordial and helpful.

Q6. Any side details about technicalities like “make sure you bring xyz document or do xyz thing, or you’ll face problem”?
No. instructions of upsc are very clear.
Q7. Any word of wisdom / observations about medical checkup?
Just bring the prescription of specs.

CSE-2015 Marksheet

Prelims Marksheet

SubjectMarks obtained
Paper 1141.34
Paper 2132.48

Mains Marksheet

SubjectMarks obtained
Essay – Paper-1131
General Studies – Paper 2101
General Studies – Paper 3102
General Studies – Paper 4103
General Studies – Paper 5100
Optional Paper – Paper-1104
Optional Paper – Paper-2103
Written total 744
Personality Test 184
Final Total928

Q2. After looking at the marksheet, suppose you had to prepare again next time, what changes will you make in your studies?
I would have prepared my optional more thoroughly.

Career Backup

Q1. If you were not selected, what was your career backup plan?
I had already given interview of state PCS and other interview for state was lined up.
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 would have joined state services and simultaneously would have prepared for UPSC.

Views on UPSC reforms

Q. Optional subjects should be removed altogether. The present stalemate is helping no-one, except coaching-owners, book publishers.
Optionals should be removed altogether. So that students can focus completely on GS in more comprehensive manner.
Q. Your views on the decision to make CSAT paper 33% qualifying?
It’s a good decision. As I think GS is more important and useful for services.
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 Mains-syllabus in 2014. Let’s face it, most candidates who gave Mains-2016 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.
I am not completely sure about this.because I myself did not relied on coaching notes/magazines for GS. I prepared it from newspapers and GOI publications + internet (mrunal/videos).
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).
Yes. I agree with this view.
Q. UPSC should disclose official prelim answerkey and cutoffs, immediately after prelim is over, instead of postponing it till interview phase is over.
I think this will increase the delay in the examination process many court cases will crop up. As I have observed it in the state pcs. If somehow this can be avoided then official prelim answerkey and cutoff can be disclosed. Which MP pcs has now started doing.
Q. UPSC should be conducted online like IBPS and CAT exam to shorten the duration of exam.
I think being conducted online will be disadvantageous for the students with rural background. So or the time being it should not be conducted online.
Q. If you are made the UPSC chairman, what other reforms would you initiate for the civil service exam?
1. I’ll try to shorten the whole process.
2. I’ll also ensure that students who are appearing for interview will atleast get some job in government or they can skip next prelims.

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 didn’t suffered from such insecurities. My father and his colleagues told me not to worry about the gap in your DAF. My advice to candidates who have not very good profile or have gap of 3-4 years in DAF ( in my DAF I have 5 years of gap) —- Don’t be apologetic.If you have gap be honest and tell the truth. You don’t have to say anything which you have to DEFEND. Only write the things which you can say about conviction. Because people in board are very experienced they realize very quickly if you are telling lie. So don’t fill up with inconsequential things or things  which you  cannot answer with conviction.


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?
I have learned that never ever give up, always be open to criticism and try to improve on your mistakes.Hard work pays off. Have patience. But first of all you should shed your ego and accept your mistakes.only when you’ll realize and identify your mistakes you can improve. Further never get demotivated or disheartened.failures are bound to happen but if you are working hard some day or the other luck will favour you and you’ll achieve success.
My message to new aspirants is that this exam is more about mental strength.how do you handle pressure , weight of expectations and criticism   of relatives J. UPSC is a marathon and not 100m dash.So apart from studies try to remain calm and composed through out the preparation. Then , focus on 3 things – 1.consistency(newspapers) 2. Revision  3.Time management(by continuous answer writing practice).
Base books are NCERTs. I did not referred to any coaching material I only read GOI publications IYB/Eco.Survey/ARCs/Yojana/PIB and news papers(hindu extensively,specific articles from express,business standard,tv discussions) so don’t get overwhelmed by the information/coaching notes.
Don’t be Insecure. Because of insecurity you look for many books,notes,internet etc. and finally end up reading all things superficially. Have faith and confidence on your own preparation.
There is no Shortcut.There is no single strategy for upsc because every individual has different weakness and strengths. Some might be good in articulation so they might require less answer writing practice as compared to people who are verbose. So evolve your own strategy it may be time consuming but it’s worth.
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?
Don’t loose hope. It’s easier said than done. But the sadness/depression are momentarily. Within few days you can overcome it with the support of family and close friends. Just have faith and belief on your capabilities. Be honest in your preparation. Follow the “Process(revision,answer writing)” of the exam. Don’t go for shortcuts. Take some hard and harsh decisions but I am sure you’ll cherish them once you get success. Further, this exam is not an end in itself. There are plenty of things in this world.don’t let one exam judge you.

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?
In my case these people are – My parents (my father did fine tuning of my preparation and my mother started reading local newspaper more critically and helped me in preparing my state specific things. although she’s a housewife she lived life like an aspirant),My Uncle(who gave me insights of actual administration which helped me to deal with ethics paper and interview) My sisters and brother in laws( who helped me in preparing specific sectors like banking,sci and tech and most importantly in Interview), My small and close group of friends(some of them who are already in services they inspired me and motivated me that I can do this, others who checked my answers and gave me an honest feedback so that I can improve. It was because of them that I didn’t joined any specific GS test series)

BOGUS Marketing Propaganda

Q. You are well aware of the sacred rule of conducting toppers interview- 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 am a follower of Mrunal.org since 2011-12.I used it Especially for economy and geography +locational factors section and refer it to check that whether I have missed some or the other thing in newspaper or not.
Visit Mrunal.org/TOPPERs to see more interviews of successful candidates in UPSC civil services exam, from other optional subjects and academic backgrounds.

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 28 Comments posted

  1. rohit

    heartiest congratulations naman….it is motivating as i’m also running in my 4 attempt…!!!!!wish you good luck and enjoy LBSNAA…

  2. surya prakash chand

    best ever strategy for preparation as well as motivating

  3. Civil Service Aspirant

    Hey Guys
    can u tell me If i submit the application form but do not appear in either of the papers of prelims, then will it be counted as an attempt or not

    1. Dabi

      No, an attempt is counted ONLY if you appear for any paper and sign the attendance sheet.

    2. LoverBoy

      No…your attempt will not be counted

  4. Poonam

    If you don’t appear in any paper, attempt not counted. If you appear in any one paper, it is counted as an attempt.

  5. Samaritan

    ^No. It wont be counted as an attempt until you appear for it.Around 50% candidates don’t appear for prelims ,every year,despite filling up the forms.

  6. shahin

    No, It wont be! Read Mrunal website properly.
    Mrunal ji, Can you give us interview of Ms.Tina Davi as soons possible.

  7. dharmender

    congrats sir

  8. Purushottam Sahay


  9. kishan

    Mrunal sir, please interview with hindi medium topper and history optional topper.thanks

    1. mukesh

      yes sir ,plz upload interview hindi medium topper

      1. hindustani

        koi hindi medium ka bhi hai………….
        ho to thoda darshan kr le

  10. prabhat

    we are glad really .. surrounded by so many precious ideas here … mrunal sir .. we cant really imagine upsc journey without your guidance sir ..

  11. Anuj Adarsh

    mrunal Sir. . . please give us physics optional paper topper in upsc. ..

  12. Niranjan

    Dear Mrunal Sir
    Please request Pulkit Garg sir to share his opinion again after securing awesome rank this year. There are only few people who have qualified with chemistry optional. It might help me and other aspirants a lot.

  13. Rahul

    How anybody can study for 15-16 hours? That is so unreal ….

  14. vinnie

    How can someone study 14 hours in a day?? with this line i cnt follow any other strategy by him..he lost his credibility wd this line :p evn einstein bhi itna ni padhta hoga

  15. Pradeep Dalal

    Dear Bhaiya and Bhaina.. apke liye kuch questions, its better ki ek aisa post bhi bane jisme question discuss hon which are most likely to come in CSE 16
    1 Which among the BRICS nations are not among the top 10 IMF members 1) India 2) Russia 3) South Africa 4) Brazil
    2 Who got the World Food Prize this year
    3 Headquarters of Asian Infrastructure and investment bank and New Development Bank
    4 “Tant” saris belong to which state 1) Jharkhand 2) W Bengal 3) Orissa 4) Assam
    5 Inter state water dispute act was passed in? Does Haryana and Punjab Sutlej and Yamuna Link Canal comes under it?
    6 Nakul Swasthya Patra is Related to? 1) Children Under five 2) Adolescents 3) Soil 4) Livestock
    7 Which is the Ist inter state river linking project?
    8 Which is highest polluted city ( based on PM 10 values) in the world ?
    9 What is the motto of New IPR policy?
    10 Pulikali folk Dance belongs to which state? 1) Kerala 2) Karnataka 3) Orissa 4 ) Telangana
    11 Inland waterway Authority of India is a 1) Public sector Undertaking 2) Statutory Authority 3) Constitutional body 4) NGO
    12 Ecosystem is Interaction between 1) Species and environment 2) Population and Envirionment 3) Community and environment 4) Tribe and environment
    13 Sepahijala wildlife sanctury is in ? 1) Shillong 2) Agartala 3) Kohima 4) Imphal
    14 Which element(s) is present in catalytic convertor? 1) Platinum alone 2) Palladium alone 3) Both 4) None
    15 What is the base year of Index of Industrial Production (IIP) 1) 2011-12 2) 2009-10 3) 2004-05 4) 2003-04
    16 IIP is compiled by 1) NSSO 2) CSO 3) Ministry of Heavy Industry 4) Minstry of MSME
    17 Ayush 82 ayurvedic formulation meant for 1) Skin Problems 2) Diebetes 3) Dysentry 4) Chronic Ulcers
    18 DRISHTI is meant for ?
    19 Which is world’s most ,happiest country? 1) Bhutan 2) Denmark 3) Norway 4) Switzerland
    20 Palmyra is situated in which country 1) Israel 2) Syria 3) Jordan 4) Lebanon
    21 Office of convention on migratory species located in 1) Geneva 2) Bonn 3) The Hague 4) Abu Dhabi
    22 Money Bill led to money going into 1) RBI 2) Contingency fund of India 3) COnsolidation fund of India 4) Does involve money
    Inke Answers Google pe dekh lo… Hahahahahaha

  16. Ashu

    Mrunal Sir,please add one more question to the questionair you give to the toppers.Please ask them to disclose their service preference list as well.Thanks a lot for the guidance and knowledge u r ushering upon us.

  17. gaurav

    plz suggest optional among ….physco
    …anthro…geography,,..economics and philosophy …highest success ratio…

  18. Nayan

    How to get admission to your academy , Mrunal Sir???

  19. Nitish

    Mrunal sir please upload new history videos and economic survey videos.

    Thank you

  20. Vichitra Prani

    Sir, please post interview of hindi medium candidates also so that we can know what was their strategy.

  21. Arun


  22. ruchi

    hindi medium k ias interviews bhi dene ki kripa karein. kya bina laxmikant book k ias nhi hua ja sakta quki translated book m dikkat hoti h Sr.

    Thank you

  23. Rishav

    Sir i’m also from merchant navy career. I wanted to ask you is b.sc nautical science from indian maritime university eligible for upsc. Thank you!

  24. venu

    dear friends can any one suggest me the strategy to prepae for ifs examination

Write your message!