[Topper’s Interview] Sameer Shaikh (Rank-135/CSE-2015) Philosophy Optional, BITS Pilani, Hails from Thane

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  1. CANDIDATE PROFILE
  2. EDUCATION
  3. INTRODUCTION
  4. ELECTRONIC VS PAPER MATERIAL
  5. TEMPO AND STYLE
  6. STRUGGLE OF A SENIOR PLAYER
  7. PRELIMS (CSAT) GENERAL STUDIES
  8. PRELIMS (CSAT) APTITUDE
  9. MAINS: COMPULSORY LANGUAGE PAPER
  10. MAINS: ESSAY
  11. MAINS GENERAL STUDIES PAPER 1 TO 4
  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

Q.Details
NameSameer Shaikh
Rank in CSE-2014135
Roll No.0097595
Age24
Total attempts in CSE (including this one)2
Optional SubjectPhilosophy
Schooling MediumEnglish
College mediumEnglish
Medium chosen for Mains answersEnglish
Medium chosen for InterviewEnglish
Home town/cityThane, Maharashtra
Work-experience if anyNA
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failuresNA
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used)Sriram for coaching, Vision for mock tests, Patanjali for philosophy
Service preferences (Top-5)IAS,IPS,IFS,IRS(Customs),IRS(IT)
state cadre preference (Top-5)Maharashtra,AGMUT,Uttarakhand,Kerala,TN

EDUCATION

fill the details here
% in class 1091
% in class 1286
Graduation course and %7.6/10
Name of college, city, passing out yearBITS Pilani,Goa campus
Post-graduationNA
Any other professional coursesNA
Hobbies & Extracurricular achievementsReading,Jogging,Photography

INTRODUCTION

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

Sameer Shaikh
I am from Maharashtra and live with my Parents and a younger brother. I got interested in this field after I did my internship at a Think-Tank on public policy. Here I interacted with many civil servants and witnesseed first hand, the impact that a civil servant has on the society and the nation at large. With guidance from my seniors I decided to start preparing for civil services soon after my graduation in 2014.

ELECTRONIC VS PAPER MATERIAL

Q. In recent times, there is spur in electronic material- blogs, sites, pdfs, RSS-feeds. Many aspirants feel bogged down by this information overload. So, how much do you rely on electronic material and how much on the paper material (Books, newspapers)? If possible, narrate a typical day in your studylife. What is your style of preparation (e.g. I continue making notes no matter what I’m reading, I just read multiple times but don’t maintain notes, I make mindmaps on computer …or xyz style)
For the first question, I relied on both hard and soft medium. One should not ignore either of the two. Newspapers,government reports,quick fact checks can be easily done on the computer. Certain things like optional preparation require extensive note making on paper. One should use the best of the both worlds. I would say as the importance of general studies increases the importance of the electronic medium will increase.
With regards to the second question, I used to read The Hindu everyday and supplement it with important op-eds from Indian express, etc but very selectively(Make notes from these). The rest of the time was used up in writing answers, making and revising notes of optionals and giving tests if any. Since I was not working I used my entire day to prepare for CSE. I maintained notes for everything so that I could do last minute revision.

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?
I used to do jogging  as regularly as I could. Whenever I used to feel down after a bad test or an unproductive day I used to speak to my friend. On the other hand it helped me avoid getting complacent if I did well in a certain test. According to me ideally all of us should find such honest support systems like a friend, a sibling, a teacher, or online communities like forumias. Mood swings and distractions are bound to happen in a long marathon like this, therefore, being organized and making schedules can help. This way one always stays on track.

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.
Sincerity is very important when one is at their lowest.I honestly evaluated myself, spoke to my teachers, ny friends, my parents. Self analysis is very important. I worked on my weaknesses and problem areas. And with the help of feedback from others and my own critical self assessment I improved my preparation. The stories of past toppers convinced me that I could do it, that there is no reason why I shouldn’t be able to succeed at CSE.
Q2. What went wrong in your previous attempt? What changes did you make in this current attempt?
I gave an attempt immediately after graduating in 2014 with public administration because that was the most popular optional in CSE. As expected I fared badly in pub-ad due to lack of coaching, revisions or interest. This kicked me out of CSE 2014. Immediately after mains I started looking for an optionl that I would like to study. I started preparation with philosophy and this changed everything for me. This increased my productivity since I was reading a subject I really liked.
Hence I would urge all aspirants to choose their optionals solely on the basis of their interests. This can be the single most important decision they make for CSE.

PRELIMS (CSAT) GENERAL STUDIES

Topicstrategy/booklist/comment
History AncientNCERT
History MedievalNCERT
History Modern (Freedom Struggle)Spectrum
Culture and societyNitin Singhania
Polity (theory + current)Sriram+newspaper
Economy (theory + current)Sriram+newspaper
Science (theory + current)Newspaper
Environment (theory + current)NCERT+NIOS+newspaper
geography physicalSriram+NCERT
geography IndiaSriram+NCERT
geography worldSriram+NCERT
other national/international current affairsNewspaper
Schemes, Policy & Filler StuffNewspaper+Internet

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS prelim 2014 paper?
Focus on the dynamic portion as its importance is increasing over all. Revision and mock tests are the key here.
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 think I would have have done more revision and given more mock tests.

PRELIMS (CSAT) APTITUDE

Topicstrategy / booklist
MathsNA
reasoningNA
comprehensionNA
Decision MakingNA

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS Aptitude 2015 paper.
I was comfortable with this part, hence didn’t do anything specific for it. Though my advice to aspirants who are not comfortable with this part would be to sincerely give mock tests and self evaluate.

PRELIM ACCURACY
Q1. Did you attend any ‘mock tests’? do you think they’re necessary for success?
I think they are absolutely necessary since the art of writing the prelims stage can be honed through mock tests. But one needn’t pay large fees to attend these tests, anyone can buy copies of test papers from the shops in Delhi. Friends can even share a test, take printouts and give the tests individually.

MAINS: COMPULSORY LANGUAGE PAPER

Compulsory language paperYour preparation strategy / booklist?
English paperNothing specific
your regional languageNothing specific

Q. other observations / tips / comments on the length / difficulty level of compulsory language papers in CSE-2015
Both papers are not to be ignored if one faces difficulties in either of the papers. Reading newspapers daily should help in the English paper. For the regional paper, I am aware of a friend who attended a small crash course. One can always opt for it if there is such a need.

MAINS: ESSAY

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?
The reading that I did for my preparation along with my notes from newspapers helped in collecting enough material for a good essay. I also gave mock essays and got them evaluated by seniors and friends.

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

  • Education without values,  as useful  as  it is,  seems rather to make a man more  clever devil &
  • Dreams which should not let India sleep.

I don’t remember the key points but I followed certain guidelines. Essay should be very general in nature. My optional being philosophy I consciously decided not to attempt anything on those lines as it would invariably become uni-dimensional and non-general in nature. I gave lots of examples from current affairs. The approach was very optimistic and solution oriented. I also tried to link all the paragraphs into one coherent whole. The focus was on writing a neat and tidy essay which would be legible.

GENERAL STUDIES (MAINS) PAPER 1

<tdeight:32px;”> world history<tdeight:32px;”> Mrunal.org (world history material)

TopicHow did you prepare?
CultureNitin Singhania
Indian historyNCERT(New)
post-independence IndiaNCERT(Polity)
Indian societyNCERT (Sociology)
role of women, poverty etc.Vision material
globalization on Indian societyVision material
communalism, regionalism, secularismNCERT(Sociology)
world geo physicalSriram+NCERT
resource distributionSriram
factors for industrial locationMrunal.org (factors material)
earthquake tsunami etcVision
impact on flora-faunaNCERT+NIOS

GENERAL STUDIES (MAINS) PAPER 2

TopicHow Did You Prepare?
Indian Constitution, devolution, dispute redressal etc.Sriram polity
comparing Constitution with worldSriram polity
parliament, state LegislaturesSriram polity
executive-judiciarySriram polity
ministries departmentsSriram polity
pressure group, informal asso.Vision material
Representation of people’s actSriram polity+newspaper
various bodies: Constitutional, statutory..Internet(made own notes)
NGO, SHG etcVision material
welfare schemes, bodiesInternet(made own notes)
social sector, health, edu, HRDInternet
governance, transparency, accountabilityVision material
e-governanceVision material
role of civil serviceVision
India & neighborsNewspapers+RSTV
bilateral/global groupingNewspapers+RSTV
effect of foreign country policies on Indian interestNewspapers+RSTV
DiasporaInternet(eg:wiki, MEA website)
international bodies- structure mandateInternet (made own notes)+newspapers

GENERAL STUDIES (MAINS) PAPER 3

TopicHow Did You Prepare?
Indian economy, resource mobilizationSriram economics+newspapers
inclusive growthSriram economics+newspapers
BudgetingMrunal.org(articles on budget processes)
major crops, irrigationNCERTs+newspapers
agro produce – storage, marketingVision material
e-technology for famersVision material
farm subsidies, MSPVision material
PDS, buffer, food securityVision material+newspapers
technology missionVision matarial
animal rearing economicsVision material
food processingVision material
land reformsBipin Chandra-post independence(relevant chapters)
LiberalizationNewspapers
InfraNewspapers
investment modelsVision material+internet(eg:BOT,BOOT etc)
science-tech day to day lifeNewspapers
Indian achievements in sci-techNewspapers
awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPRNewspapers
environmental impact assessmentArticle on EIA from insightsonindia.com
Disaster ManagementSriram notes+Vision
non state actors, internal securitySriram notes+Vision
internal security – role of media, social networking siteSriram notes+Vision
cyber securitySriram notes+Vision
money launderingVision
border  ManagementSriram notes+Vision
organized crime, terrorismVision material
security agencies- structure mandateVision material

GENERAL STUDIES 4: ETHICS, INTEGRITY, APTITUDE

TopicHow Did You Prepare?
ethics and interface, family, society and all the hathodaa topicsSriram notes
attitude, moral influence etc.Sriram notes
civil service: integrity, impartiality, tolerance to weak etcVision material
emotional intelligence, its use in governanceSriram notes+vision
moral thinkers of India and worldVision material+optional
ethics in pub.ad, accountability, laws, rules etc.Vision
corporate governanceVision
probity in governance, work cultureVision+Sriram notes
citizen charter, ethics code, work culture etc.Vision
challenges of corruptionSriram notes
case studies on above topicsmocks tests

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?
I was extremely confident about the ethics papers because I used to get good marks in mock tests. But eventually I fared much below my expectations in GS4. According to me this was because the mock test papers are checked by people who have knowledge about the subject whereas the actual CSE papers are checked from a generalists point of view. I would suggest that aspirants should write very generalist answers and refrain from using jargons. Focus on giving lots of daily life examples.

MAINS ANSWER-WRITING?

I attempted almost all the questions.I focussed on sticking to the demands of the  question, especially the keywords like comment, discuss etc. My advice would be that one should practise completing the paper on time during mocks. From my experience I have realised that one should keep answers very general. Too much data, expert analysis is not needed as the paper is corrected from a generalists point of view. Give lots of examples, and don’t beat around the bush.
Q. How was your experience with the ‘fixed space’ answer sheet?
This time the space was way more than required. I knew the space that I would need for each answer and I stuck to it even if I had more points. This way I could complete the paper on time.
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 answers according to the keywords. Discuss means a debate, when asked to comment then there is no need to explain the background etc. My answers were a combination of bullet and paragrapgh format. There is no need to follow a set formula. One should read their own answer from the examiners point of view and then try to make it as easy to comprehend as possible.
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 wrote introduction-body for almost all answers. Conclusion would depend on the demand of the question. From my experience and others’ experience following the format does help.
Q5. Did you use highlighters / sketchpens in your answers?
No I didn’t
Q6. Did you draw any diagram in any paper? (e.g. in GS1 Geography)
Yes a few diagrams and flowcharts wherever relavant. But one should not overdo it, it can backfire
Q7. If yes, Did you draw diagrams with pencil or pen?
Used pen. Hardly anytime for using pencil.
Q8. Did you use ruler to draw the lines in diagram? Or did you just make it by hand?
Directly by hand
Q9. You wrote the answer in blue pen or black pen?
Blue pen

MAINS OPTIONAL SUBJECT

Q. What’s your optional subject and why did you chose it and not something else?
I really liked the subject matter which gave me an opportunity to read about great thinkers from India and the West. The subject requires only critical thinking and even a beginner can pick it up very quickly.
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)
Definitely. Provided one has an interest in the subject. That should be the only criteria.
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.)

  • Patanjali class+printed notes
  • Masih-Western philosophy (read the philosophers given in the syllabus, but avoid getting caught in the parts that are not mentioned)
  • Dutta-Indian philosophy (whole book is relevant)
  • Gauba-Socio-political philosophy (gives a good conceptual base)
  • Masih-Religious philosophy (Is a tough book to read, but worth the effort)

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?
For contemporary philosophy one needs to google a few terms. For this, one can alternatively watch videos on the topic to gain understanding
Q. How many months did it take to finish the core optional syllabus?
Takes 5-6 months to do it from coaching notes. But constant revision and reading reference books is required to get good marks. This year scaling has affected the subject adversely.
Q. How many days/ weeks before the exam, you started answer writing practice?
I was constantly writing answers after prelims till mains. Philosophy requires lot of writing practise as the questions ask only one aspect but the answer should be well rounded and should include one’s own analysis.
Q. Do you maintain self-notes for revision of optional? In which format- electronic or paper?
I maninted all my notes in paper format. But I used highlighters to re-read reference books.
Q. Your observation about the difficultly level of 2015 mains vs previous papers. And what precautions / rectifications are necessary in the future strategy for given optional subject?
Philosophy paper in 2015 was very straight forward. But this doesn’t mean everyone got good marks as there was definitely heavy scaling this time. Aspirants will have to stand a cut above the rest to get good marks and at the same time also balance GS in order to provide some cushion if the optional doesn’t fire.

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?
This is the stage that can make or break your dreams. If one does this stage right then, he/she can definitely get their dream service. But if taken lightly, it can either force them to re-appear in the exam or completely shatter their dreams.
In my opinion there is definitely a way to secure good marks in the interview. I read lots of transcripts and prepared answers for both factual and opinion based questions. I did extensive research on my DAF and prepared good notes on it. I revised my graduation subject from the NPTEL website and the internet.This forms the base to the preparation for interviews.
At the second stage I had discussions on possible topics from current affairs and my DAF with my teachers and friends. This helped me understand my weaknesses and I worked on them to eliminate them.
I feel one should focus on both these stages of the interview preparation.
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 attended mocks at various places as I was new to this exam. Mocks help in making one aware of their mistakes and also boost confidence. The questions may not be the same but the thinking process remains the same. For newbies like me, I would suggest mock interviews as a good practise.
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 Delhi for my preparation. I had all the material which I kept revising till I reached the UPSC gate.
Q4. Any words of wisdom about Medical checkup?
Carry eye prescription if one wears spectacles.
Q5. Describe the formal-dress worn by you in interview.
Formal trousers, shirt and plain tie. These days the number of people wearing suits has increased exponentially but I feel this should not bother anyone. A good dress doesn’t make a good interview. One can wear the most humble shirt and trousers and still ace the interview. Having said this one should make sure that the clothes are well ironed, clean, shoes are polished and the hair is cut neatly. Don’t get intimidated by other aspirants who might be too well dressed.

DURING THE INTERVIEW

Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board?
Vinay Mittal Sir
Q2. How long was the interview?
30 minutes
Q3. Why do you want to join civil service? Why don’t you continue in your graduation field? Social service can be done from private sector too.  [Since I don’t know whether they ask you this question or not. But if they had asked- what will be your reply?]
Though this question was not asked during my interview. Civil services gives us, the youth of this nation, the opportunity to directly perform public service at the grass root level. We can take up leadership positions in the country and help our countymen and women. The second reason is that it is a profession that commands immense respect in the society and it has been my parent’s dream to see me as a civil servant.
Q4. Please narrate your entire interview- what questions did they ask and what did you reply and other pleasant or uncomfortable experiences during the interview. (Earlier some toppers only tell me their question but not their answer. I would appreciate if you give both Question + your original answers)
I wished the lady member first and then all the gentlemen individually. I would suggest that all aspirants ask the attendant the time before entering in order to be aware of the correct greeting.
Chairman sir asked me to get a new photo after the interview from Khan Market since I wasn’t wearing specs in the photo.
Ch: You didn’t work at all after graduation, why?
Me: interacted with civil servants during internship+inspired by the example of other civil servants etc
Ch:What does your Think-Tank do?
Me:public policy, research etc
Ch:Give me an example of some contribution it has made?
Me:gave one incidence
forgot a few questions here…
Ch:What is good governance?
Me: gave points like transparency, accountability, delivery of public service etc
Ch:Tell me steps that government has taken to give good governance?
Me:examples like e-governance, RTI, Lokpal etc
Ch:How do we ensure good governance?
Me:behavioral changes in people and officials in addition to laws, schemes…
Ch:An amendment that helps create this behavioural change?
Me:73rd and 74th amednment- explained how local governance helps in ensuring behavioral changes needed for good governance.
Ch:Some recent measure for service delivery ?
Me: Aadhar bill,
cross questioning… I explained the provisions and how it ll help
Ch:Examples for e-governance?
Me: gave various examples of biometric attendance etc and how it helps
M1: Asked about the artice I had written for a weekly magazine?
Me:explained the article
cross questioning on the article and the suggestions given in that article.
M1:What are super critical thermal plants?
Me:explained definition
M1:The mechanism involved in the super critical plants?
Me:Answered that I only knew the basic method, not details
M2:Had mentioned about reading memiors of civil servants. Asked me the names of the books?
Me:mentioned books like not just an accountant, and what remains in the end etc.
M2:Why despite such good civil servants, India still lags behind other nations?
Me:Said that India is doing pretty well, now one of the best economies in the world, +started from low indicators after independence. Ended with hope that in future we ll be the best
M2:What is the new strategy by China in Pakistan?
Me:Explained CPEC, gwadar port, PoK issue etc
M2:What has India done, what more needs to be done?
Me:Chahbahar port, neighbourhood policy, SAARC, india ocean policy, etc
M3:What is India’s solar power mix?
Me:answered
M3:Why has solar power been lagging ?
Me:gave points on R&D, low skills, capital, easy oil availability international market etc
M3:Why has it become cheap now?
Me:National Solar Mission, R&D, climate  change, UNFCC etc
M3: Thermal power mix, hydro electric mix, geothermal mix, renewable mix?
Me:answered all
M4:What is the importance of Thane creek?
Me:gave points like ecology, sand bed etc.
M4:Also water sewage?
Me:expanded on that point
M4:Tell me 3 top issues of your district and as a collector how would you solve them?
Me:gave water shortage, affordable housing, floods in monsoon and then gave 2-3 solutions for each
M4:What would you prefer as an administrator, rapid or incremental change?
Me:said depends on the situation and elaborated on the situations for each.
Ch:Thank you
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?
The interview was mostly centered on my DAF and interest areas. I had prepared answers to most of the questions. The board was cordial. One of the things that I have learnt is that if one comes across as humble and well prepared, the board tends to take such candidates more seriously. This means that they would genuinely be interested in having a conversation with the candidate. Surely this results in good marks.
Q6. Any side details about technicalities like “make sure you bring xyz document or do xyz thing, or you’ll face problem”?
Get your original certificates and duplicate copies of each
Q7. Any word of wisdom / observations about medical checkup?
Stay fit before the medical checkup.

CSE-2015 MARKSHEET

SUBJECTS MARKS
ESSAY (PAPER-I)139
GENERAL STUDIES -I (PAPER-II)097
GENERAL STUDIES -II (PAPER-III)084
GENERAL STUDIES -III (PAPER-IV)114
GENERAL STUDIES -IV (PAPER-V)082
OPTIONAL-I  (PAPER-VI)094
OPTIONAL-II (PAPER-VII)117
WRITTEN TOTAL727
PERSONALITY TEST193
FINAL TOTAL920

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 written much more general answers in GS4. In philosophy paper 1 I didn’t manage time well and ended up writing very shabby answers for the last 3 sub questions which brought my total down. I would have been more careful in managing time.

CAREER BACKUP

Q1. If you were not selected, what was your career backup plan?
Would have given another attempt with a job.
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.)
Soon after results.

VIEWS ON UPSC REFORMS

Q. Optional subjects should be removed altogether. The present stalemate is helping no-one, except coaching-owners, book publishers.
Optionals do help smart aspirants play to their strengths. But the downside is that scaling can create issues. In my opinion,the present system of one optional with greater focus on general studies and essay is a midway solution to the problem.
Q. Your views on the decision to make CSAT paper 33% qualifying?
Has helped students from rural and vernacular background. Should continue.
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 2015. Let’s face it, most candidates who gave Mains-2015 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.
With sites like insightsonindia, mrunal, forumias, unacademy etc. much of the iron curtain has been dissolved. Notes can now also be purchased through websites like flavido. The situation is not the cause of the malise but a symptom of the deeper issue of quality learning in our institutions. The aim should be to focus on online learning so that students from the far off areas can benefit and compete at the highest levels. Also personally I feel that it is the duty of the toppers who have cleared this exam to help any student who approaches them for guidance.
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).
This is true. Perhaps the present system can be altered.
Q. UPSC should disclose official prelim answerkey and cutoffs, immediately after prelim is over, instead of postponing it till interview phase is over.
The exam cycle is designed such that no mid-way appeals are made against the exam or the answer-keys. But personally I feel that more transparency will only help the system.
Q. UPSC should be conducted online like IBPS and CAT exam to shorten the duration of exam.
It could try. For this the modalities need to be looked into by the relevant committees.
Q. If you are made the UPSC chairman, what other reforms would you initiate for the civil service exam?
-I would establish a regular commitee of eminent people incuding academics to make recommendations, say every 5 years
-Keep increasing transparency

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?
The exam itself is the test of your calibre. You need not feel an iota of insecurity if you prepare sincerely and have the right intentions to serve the country. Find out your weaknesses and work on them. If its spoken english then work on it, watch RSTV. If no work experience is your fear then prepare an answer for why you chose to pursue civils and not some other job. For every weakness there is a solution, work on it.

WISDOM

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?
Hard work pays off in the end. Make mistakes really fast, I learnt a lot by immediately giving an attempt after I just out of college. Avoid people who bring you down, who are negative and not ambitious. The company you keep or avoid will decide what you become. And lastly be grateful for the opportunity that your parents and the country has given you, there are many in this world who lack even basic neccessities.
Q. Many hardworking candidates have failed in Mains/Interview of CSE-2015. They’re feeling cynical, hopeless and depressed- what is your message to them?
Make a plan B and decide when you will execute it. UPSC is a great platform but life is much bigger than it. If deep down you think that you will give it your all in the next attempt and get your dream service, then the risk is worth it.

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?
My family and my teachers are inpirational people. I am extremely fortunate to have had them in my life. I also had a friend in Delhi who was a constant pillar of support and kept me going whenever I was at my lowest. Selfless work of people like Mrunal, insightsonindia,forumias, etc has helped countless aspirants like me, they deserve to be congratulated too.

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.
Of course I did. In fact when I was in college far away from Delhi, Mrunal’s website was the only guiding light I had. The good blessings of every single aspirant like me will surely keep Mrunal and Mrunal.org  stay in good health.

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

12 Comments on “[Topper’s Interview] Sameer Shaikh (Rank-135/CSE-2015) Philosophy Optional, BITS Pilani, Hails from Thane”

  1. Requst to mrunal sir
    Do take interviews of students from humanities background also as this year also the final result is flooded with people from IITs , medical colleges.

    There are many such toppers profile available here .
    Please do take inteviews of people who came from very humble background ..

  2. I second your request.

  3. sir, please give the interview of someone from geography optional

  4. Dear sir I am looking for standard books and basic clearing books(for beginners) for philosophy and defense studystudy (uppsc) in Hindi medium plzz reply on [email protected] mob.8826331726

  5. Sir please share interview of hindi medium toppers also.

  6. from Where can I get patanjali class and printed notes of philosophy in Delhi? I am from jaipur and never been in delhi so please anyone please tell me the address.

    1. you can get it from old rajendra nagar .
      i am also opting for philosophy as my optional.

  7. CONGRATS FOR SUCCESS, GREETINGS FROM INDORE, HOPE THAT YOU WILL CONTACT AT [email protected] REGARDING INFO ON CIVIL SERVICES

  8. I want to know the philosophy subject information to select as an optional….. so please guide me…..

  9. Sir philosphy optional ke study kaise karu. Please sir book k bare me.bate ye.

  10. Sir I selecte for optional paper of philosophy , so which books i refer and so guide me sir.

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