[Topper’s Interview] Anshul Kumar (Rank-293/CSE-2015) Public Administration, SSC Excise Inspector, IFS Rank 97, Ghaziabad

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Pavan Kumar
  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 & NOTES
  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
NameAnshul Kumar
Rank in CSE-2015293
Roll No.0135145
Age25 years
Total attempts in CSE (including this one)4
Optional SubjectPublic Administration
Schooling MediumEnglish
College mediumEnglish
Medium chosen for Mains answersEnglish
Medium chosen for InterviewEnglish
Home town/cityGhaziabad
Work-experience if anyNA
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failuresSelected in Indian Forest Service 2015 – AIR 97, SSC Excise Inspector 2015, KRIBHCO(2012)
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used)Vajiram and KSG for GS ; Synegry and Lukmaan for Public Administration
Service preferences (Top-5)IAS >IPS>IFS>IRS(IT)>IRS(Customs)
state cadre preference (Top-5)UP>MP>RAJ>HAR>BIHAR

Education

% in class 1085.3
% in class 1284.8
Graduation course and %83.6
Name of college, city, passing out yearMNNIT ALLAHABAD,2012
Post-graduationNA
Any other professional coursesNA
Hobbies & Extracurricular achievementsTeaching kids, Playing Basketball, Writing movie reviews

Introduction

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

I am a native of Kanpur (UP), but my upbringing has been in Ghaziabad . I did my B.Tech (Electrical Engg) in 2012 from MNNIT. The dream to become an IAS officer was of my father , and as I completed my B.Tech I got mesmerized by the coveted “Civil Services”- the avenues it provide to help poor and marginalized (your single stroke of pen will bring revolutionary changes on ground ) , the status and respect society attaches to it  motivated me to crack this exam . My father is in UP Govt (Labor Dept, Ghaziabad) . This exam is less like a sprint and more a marathon , so In those weak moments , you need family and friends which believe in you , even when you start questioning yourself and here I feel blessed to have a family who had unwavered faith in me and continued to encourage me to crack this exam.

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).
“Keep it simple”- You will find large no. of sources to refer to both on web and in the market .But you have to be very selective in choosing these. I read the basic  Ncerts and other recommended books first .After that when I was preparing a topic , I researched on it  from different sources (including web)…scribbling down the important points on my core notes . In this way while my notes had real juice , I didn’t have to worry that I may be missing on some points on the subject.  Once you have made notes on a topic , resist the urge to read it from a new source again. Because your time of preparation is limited, so instead of trying to gain finesse on one topic, use it productively on other areas of study .For eg –Inclusive growth(IG) topic : Generate some questions by yourself- What is IG, What are components of IG ,How to achieve it , 12FYP on IG, Amartaya sen’s view , PM’s view etc….Once you have exhaustively prepared the notes on this topic , just revise it again and again and don’t get impatient every time you see a new article on IG. Just tell yourself I have covered all dimensions, I don’t need to read this  . In this way you will cover more in less time.
Also from the core notes , I prepared Synoptical notes. In this , I wrote just keywords related to a topic on some A4 sheets .My last moment Revision was limited to these sheets only. I have my synoptical notes on World History , Post Independence History and Public Admin. Hope it will be of help to you .

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?
Some aspirants believe that you have to atleast score 10-12 hours of studies daily. Yes some may do it daily , but I wasn’t .Yes on my good days , I would go even beyond 12 hours, but this is not regular. You will have those days also when you feel depressed , lost (“bas yar bahut  ho gaya , kya laga rakha hai”).So in these days I ensured that I read the newspaper , make its notes and than chill – do whatever you feel like- Your one hour on concentrated study will be more productive than day dreaming in front of a book for 10 hours. But you have to be sincere – once you have taken a day off , promise yourself that I’ll make up for it , in the next 3 days and work hard. Some of my friends followed another strategy –They studied hard for the week and took Sunday off as a reward and the cycle continues.

Struggle of a Senior player

Q1. How did you survive through this mental prison and what’re your words of wisdom to other senior players? If any specific inspirational incident(s), please share.
I was very optimistic that I will clear the exam. So at no point of time I was worried, even after 3 failures 2012-2014 I never had a feeling that it is a tough exam and out of league for me . The reason for this is , inspiration from my fellow friends who were not brilliant  -or IIT IIM passout- and I saw them clear the exam with Top 100 ranks only by their resolve ,will and passion to be an IAS officer. Also never allow negative feelings to get to you .For this always be in  company of optimists , talk to your family and close friends regularly , watch motivating videos , go  for running /do yoga/meditation. Don’t allow others to tell you , you cant do it .Just have faith in yourself -”I am the captain of my fate, I am the captain of my soul “.

Q2. What went wrong in your previous attempt? What changes did you make in this current attempt?
Failure is a great teacher to those who humbly accept their mistakes and work to rectify it. In my previous attempts some of my mistakes were :

  1. Not giving time to essay writing.
  2. Not attempting all the questions.
  3. Writing more than the specified words in some (leaving less time for others).
  4. Less practice of  answer writing.
  5. Not getting my answers reviewed.
  6. It is very difficult to change your writing style. Reason Being as Humans , it is usually difficult to accept mistakes and correct them.(“Ye mujhe kya sikhaega, mein sahi likh raha hun. I am senior player Yo!!”) But I assure you, this exam needs good answer writing so have a Devil’s advocate to review your answers, and rest not till you have mastered the style.
  7. Immediately before every mains exam I was busy studying even 10 minutes before the bell rang. Don’t do this. Give your mind time to absorb and process “Gyaan” which you have accumulated over the Years. Otherwise what happens is, instead of thinking deeply and applying yourself in exam ,you become mechanical and write what comes to your mind first.

Prelims (CSAT) General studies

Topicstrategy/booklist/comment
History AncientNitin Singhania notes, Vajiram class notes and booklet, Ncert (some topics)
History MedievalDid not read
History Modern (Freedom Struggle)Spectrum , Bipin Chandra (class XII and “moti wali also”)
Culture and societyNitin Singhania notes, Vajiram class notes and booklet, Ncert (some topics)
Polity (theory + current)Laxmikant , Newspaper
Economy (theory + current)Sriram printed notes and newspaper ,Mrunal
Science (theory + current)Vajiram class notes, Newspaper, research on web
Environment (theory + current)Vajiram class notes and booklet , Shankar IAS , 8-10 Ncerts
geography physicalNeetu singh and Vajiram Class Notes
geography IndiaNeetu singh and Vajiram Class Notes
geography worldNeetu singh and Vajiram Class Notes
other national/international current affairsNewspaper and research from web on imp issues
Schemes, Policy & Filler StuffNewspaper and research on Schemes from web

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS prelim 2015 paper?

  1. Purchase previous year Pre question paper book and be thorough with atleast last 5 year papers . It will add to your knowledge , you will understand what type of questions are being asked from which section.
  2. Treat Polity , Economy , History and Geography as the core on which Zero tolerance of making mistakes on questions in exam is there, and Environment ,culture, schemes as bonus marks if you score. Just Give more time to the core because it is static and questions are directly from books , so scoring here is relatively easy than the the grey areas of culture , environment or current affairs from which the question come. This doesn’t mean don’t study the latter, it is just that limit what you study in these subjects (“warna to culture , envt ka koi ant hi nahi – jaan nikal jaegi par ye na khatam hoga  “) .
  3. Practice a lot of Mock papers. By this you will get to build your confidence  and know your strength and weakness ,. For eg – How many questions can you guess before it turns counter productive  .Purchase previous year Pre question paper book.

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)?
You have to productively use you CSAT time to improve your Notes Management. Studying GS continuously may be tiresome in a day ,so utilize those last 2-3 hrs in a day on Notes improvement .This will ensure productive use of your time without losing concentration.  When you are reading mock test solution or current affairs magazine  , note the important points so that you can revise later. Secondly try to make very concise notes  , fill the entire A4 sheet with minute writing of Important points (don’t write full sentences , just keywords –which you know you can understand). This will give you an edge and confidence .While everyone will be busy referring to books at the end , u will be merrily revising just 10-12 pages.

Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude

Topicstrategy / booklist
MathsClass X-XII RD sharma (some topics)
reasoningNone
comprehensionNone
Decision MakingNone

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS Aptitude 2015 paper.
Just because it is qualifying , don’t get casual. You will regret a lot, if you fail because of silly mistakes in Paper-2. So ensure –

  1. You practice atleast some Mock tests , to know where you stand and accordingly take corrective measures.
  2. Don’t be casual in exam hall (“66 marks to mein aankh band karke le aaunga “), give your best in Paper-2 as well.

Prelim accuracy

Q1. Did you attend any ‘mock tests’? do you think they’re necessary for success?
I did not join any test series . But I purchased the question papers from market and practiced &reviewed them by self . They are important to crack Pre. So practice some mock tests as well .

Q2. Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers. in CSAT-2015

attempted Q.correct (Expected)Official score
GS7465123.34
aptitudeDon’t rememberDon’t remember138.41

Mains: Compulsory language paper

Compulsory language paperYour preparation strategy / booklist?
English paperNone
your regional languageWrote key Hindi terms of important words like Parliament ,judiciary before the exam day on A4 paper. When you attempt this paper first do unseen passage and Precis, you will find many Hindi words with correct spelling (:P) which you can use in essay and letter .

Q. other observations / tips / comments on the length / difficulty level of compulsory language papers in CSE-2015
In 2104 both papers were lengthy , but no more in 2015. But still complete whole paper and give your best and don’t think of it just a qualifying paper. I know many aspirants who have reached interview in previous attempts only to be pulled back by their failure in clearing language papers in 2015. Don’t make this mistake.

Mains: Essay

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?

  1. practice more essays à Get it reviewed à practice more.

It is very important to practice as many essays as you can. Just remember that your marks Of one GS paper is equivalent to essay. So don’t ignore essays in lieu of completing GS syllabus. This is a very high scoring zone . Look at GS-2 average=79 essay average=128 (rough estimate of selected candidates). So I will suggest don’t take essay for granted.

  1. I wrote 3-4 quotes on various issues like – Inclusive Growth ,Women ,Child labor , Sustainable development, relevance of S&T etc.
  2. Use the facts and findings of reports you have prepared like NFHS, NSSO UN-RSOC ,ASER for GS in your essays.
  3. Be simple in essays ,don’t get technical , have a proper structure :Introduction à Body àConclusion, show optimism and provide a short term and long term perspective on the issue.

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

  1. Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make a man more clever.(Albert Einstein –Atom bomb , Nazism , R.N tagore ,Vivekanada views)
  2. Can capitalism bring inclusive growth ?. (Amartaya Sen , Joseph stiglitz , various reports to show inclusiveness is not there , Modiji’s efforts)

I remember little on what I wrote, but I would try to recollect and give a detailed framework on essays later.

General Studies (Mains) paper 1

TopicHow did you prepare?
CultureNitin Singhania notes, Vajiram class notes(Jain Sir) and booklet .
Indian historySpectrum and Bipin Chandra
world historyMy core notes were of Ojha Sir (Vajiram) and appended them with Class 9-10 Ncert (Arjun Dev) , some topics like decolonization and various isms from Vision IAS, research on web especially post 1945 world history.
post-independence IndiaBipin Chandra (‘Moti wali’) , research on web
Indian societyMahapatra sir’s class notes(Vajiram) , Synergy class notes , newspaper (most of them are current issues).
role of women, poverty etc.Current affairs , Newspaper
globalization on Indian societyMahapatra sir’s class notes(Vajiram)
communalism, regionalism, secularismBipin Chandra (Post Independence).
world geo physicalNeetu Singh and vajiram Class notes
resource distributionMrunal (no other coaching has covered it exhaustively)
factors for industrial locationMrunal (no other coaching has covered it exhaustively)
earthquake tsunami etcNeetu Singh and vajiram Class notes
impact on flora-faunaNeetu Singh and vajiram Class notes

General studies (Mains) paper 2

TopicHow Did You Prepare?
Indian Constitution, devolution, dispute redressal etc.Vajiram polity notes and my Public admin paper 2 notes , newspaper
comparing Constitution with worldRavindran sir’s note
parliament, state LegislaturesVajiram polity notes and my Public admin paper 2 notes , newspaper
executive-judiciaryVajiram polity notes and my Public admin paper 2 notes , newspaper
ministries departmentsPublic admin paper 2 notes
pressure group, informal asso.Public admin paper 2 notes
Representation of people’s actResearched on important sections from web
various bodies: Constitutional, statutory..Public admin paper 2 notes
NGO, SHG etcPublic admin paper 2 notes
welfare schemes, bodiesNewspaper
social sector, health, edu, HRDNewspaper
governance, transparency, accountabilityPublic admin paper 2 notes
e-governancePublic admin paper 2 notes
role of civil serviceVajiram (kiran sir) , Public admin paper 2 notes
India & neighborsNewspaper and vajiram booklet, research on web
bilateral/global groupingNewspaper and vajiram booklet ,research on web
effect of foreign country policies on Indian interestNewspaper and vajiram booklet ,research on web
Diasporaresearch on web
international bodies- structure mandateNewspaper and vajiram booklet research on web

General studies (Mains) Paper 3

TopicHow Did You Prepare?
Indian economy, resource mobilizationSriram printed notes, Vajiram class notes , newspaper and web research , Mrunal
inclusive growthSanjeev Sir (Vajiram) and Vision Ias , 12 FYP
BudgetingPublic Admin notes
major crops, irrigationManocha sir (Vajjiram)
agro produce – storage, marketingVajiram booklet
e-technology for famersVajiram booklet
farm subsidies, MSPShyam sundar Sir (Vajiram)
PDS, buffer, food securityShyam sundar Sir (Vajiram)
technology missionVajiram booklet
animal rearing economicsLeft
food processingVajiram booklet
land reformsBipin Chandra (Post Independence) and  Shyam sundar Sir (Vajiram)
LiberalizationPublic Admin notes
InfraSanjeev Sir notes and Newspaper
investment modelsSanjeev Sir notes ,PPP from Vision IAs
science-tech day to day lifeVajiram (rahul sir notes) , newspaper and web research
Indian achievements in sci-techVajiram (rahul sir notes) , newspaper and web research
awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPRVajiram (rahul sir notes) , newspaper and web research
environmental impact assessmentManocha Sir (VAjiram)and Vision Ias booklet
Disaster ManagementNcert
non state actors, internal securityAshok Kumar Book On Internal Security, Vajiram booklet
internal security – role of media, social networking siteAshok Kumar Book On Internal Security, Vajiram booklet
cyber securityAshok Kumar Book On Internal Security, Vajiram booklet
money launderingAshok Kumar Book On Internal Security, Vajiram booklet
border  ManagementAshok Kumar Book On Internal Security, Vajiram booklet
organized crime, terrorismAshok Kumar Book On Internal Security, Vajiram booklet
security agencies- structure mandateAshok Kumar Book On Internal Security

General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude

TopicHow Did You Prepare?
ethics and interface, family, society and all the hathodaa topicsMohanty sir ethics Class notes , Vajiram class notes
attitude, moral influence etc.Vajiram class notes
civil service: integrity, impartiality, tolerance to weak etcVajiram class notes
emotional intelligence, its use in governanceVajiram class notes
moral thinkers of India and worldI prepared important Ideas of thinkers like Kant, Socrates, Plato, Buddha, Jainism ,JS Mill ,Rawls  . You can use this in your answers .Their quotes on ethical life.
ethics in pub.ad, accountability, laws, rules etc.Mohanty sir ethics Class notes
corporate governanceVajiram class notes
probity in governance, work cultureMohanty sir ethics Class notes
citizen charter, ethics code, work culture etc.Mohanty sir ethics Class notes
challenges of corruptionMohanty sir ethics Class notes + research from web
case studies on above topicsLukmaan

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?
1. Complete the paper .
2. Adhere to the word limit . In some question 3 pages were provided for a 10 marks question , don’t exceed word limit (“Bhawnao mein mat beh jana. Nahi ji aaj to poora panna bharunga ”).
3. Prepare some general definitions on important terms like ethics integrity probity honesty with real life examples and learn them by heart. In exam you wont get time to think much , so these definitions will come to your rescue and save your time.
4. Don’t go technical in in answers like using deontology teleology golden mean etc .instead  keep it simple , as close to real life and which showcase your true personality  and ethics in exam.

Mains answer-writing?

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

PaperBest attemptedAverage qualitynamesake answerTotal attempt
GS1Don’t remember250
GS2same250
GS3same250
GS4same250
Opt-P1same250
Opt-P2same240

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]
Complete the whole paper .If you know only 2 sentences relevant to a question write it . Try to write 10-12 good answers ,7-9 Average answers . Another strategy is to deliberately leave one question , and devote those 7 Min in improving quality of other questions. Remember Content is more Important than filling pages .Your each mark is crucial  for instance  in the final selected candidates , look for ‘890’ total marks . There are 20 candidates on that marks . This shows how every sentence  you write  matters.

Q. How was your experience with the ‘fixed space’ answer sheet?
It doesn’t raise any concerns. However in some papers there will be more pages provided (Ethics -3 pages for a 10 marker in some questions) . So if your handwriting is small or you feel lot of space is left .Don’t worry ,let it be. Just adhere to word limits and write quality content .

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.
My answers were mixed based on the question . But mostly I tried to write in points format . In this strategy  you will recollect more points , examiner will see with clarity those points and also you can write more in less words. But pay attention to the directives (comment ,examine) and answer accordingly.

Q. Did you follow the “introduction-body-conclusion” format? because some mains-qualified candidates claim they simply wrote the points they could recall within the time, instead of bothering with proper introduction and conclusion.
Yes I followed the format .
My introduction was not more than 2 sentences . Derive the Introduction from the question itself. Don’t think of out of the box introduction . Just tell the examiner I have understood the question through your introduction.
Conclusion is very important . Keep it open ended or bring an innovative solution ,show optimism in the conclusion .
Q5. Did you use highlighters / sketchpens in your answers?
No. But I underlined Important keywords and points.
Q6. Did you draw any diagram in any paper? (e.g. in GS1 Geography)
Yes , where possible I tried to make diagrams , flowcharts .
Q7. If yes, Did you draw diagrams with pencil or pen?
Pencil.
Q8. Did you use ruler to draw the lines in diagram? Or did you just make it by hand?
I did not use ruler, drew the lines by hand . Also when you make a diagram box it with a boundary and label properly.

Q9. You wrote the answer in blue pen or black pen?
Blue pen (Pilot V7).

Mains Optional Subject & NOTES

My Mains strategy and Public Administration notes are given in separate article

Click Me
Q. How many days/ weeks before the exam, you started answer writing practice?
I started answer writing practice after Prelims exam. I had joined Lukmaan test series (2014 and 2015) and found it fruitful in improving my answers . The questions in Lukmaan Test Series are of UPSC level . it challenges you and pushes you to do better and build exam temperament to handle tough question paper

Q. Do you maintain self-notes for revision of optional? In which format- electronic or paper?
Yes I had maintained self notes for revision on A4 sheets. I had covered the entire Public Admin in around 40 A4 sheets . I just wrote important keywords on every topic not full sentences . For eg – Mcgregor ideas in 1/4th of paper .
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?
This year the paper was relatively easy compared to shockingly new topics asked in 2013 and 2014 . Most questions were straight-forward eg- “Ordinance-making power of the Executive needs to be suitably restrained.” Examine it critically. But still UPSC’s love for Public Admin butchering hasn’t subsided .Lot of new terms asked like precariat charter, Comparitive performance measurement , Ferrel heady’s stages of development were asked.
Practice Previous year question papers . Have a group of friends to discuss various questions and perspectives .Join a test series or atleast look at their question papers and make a answer framework on questions.
On the new syllabus that is doing the rounds , I would suggest don’t pay much heed to it. If you see the questions every time they are entirely new. For eg in they asked post structuralism in 2014 when we prepared that they asked Comparitive performance measurement in 2015 . So don’t play mouse-cat game .(“UPSC aapke peeche ,aap UPSC ke peeche .Too much fun “).
Just strengthen your core . Revise it again and again and your command  should be such that at all times you remember the keywords related to a topic .

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?
Prepare Detailed Application Form  (DAF) exhaustively . Make questions and counter-questions on every important information you give in DAF. For eg. Since I am from MNNIT Allahabad , they asked me about Lineage of Nehru –Gandhi family. So prepare as much questions as possible and their possible answers. Take the help of your friends , seniors and teachers in this exercise  .There is a zero tolerance on Hobbies question . For eg – one guy put cooking as his hobbies ,Alka Mam asked him to tell 10 methods of deep frying . So go deeper in hobbies preparation.
I extensively researched on web on my DAF , talked to my friends.
Current affairs are very important both opinions , facts  .I was reading The Hindu and TOI  for interview preparation .5 days before I added Indian express and Hindustan times as well in the list .  I had a pocket diary , in this I maintained important topics like Skill India (Potential, challenges, facts ,govt measures) .

Q2. Did you attend any mock interviews by coaching classes? How were they similar / different than official interview? Do you believe it is necessary to attend such mock interviews?
Yes I attended many mock interviews at Vajiram ,Samkalp,Sri Chaitanya , KSG ,Utkarsh Academy. KSG mock interview and Ravindran sir’s personal sitting were best among these .They would boost your confidence level and give you timely measures 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 had taken a room in Patel nagar, I was staying there.
Some tips-

  • Remain relaxed during entire interview preparation.
  • Work on your
  • Don’t try to revise your entire GS and optional notes again .Have confidence in yourself that you remember. (“Ye bhi kar loon ,wo bhi kar loon–à hoga kuch nahi”)
  • On the D-day :
  1. Have a good night sleep.
  2. Wake early and read newspapers.
  3. Have a light breakfast.
  4. Don’t revise your notes .
  • In the interview :
  1. Wish ‘Good Morning Mam, Good Morning Sirs’.
  2. Take permission before sitting , from chairperson and say ‘Thank you Sir ‘.
  3. Sit straight ,don’t slouch . Your Body language should be confident . The moment you enter the room , everyone keenly watches how you walk , sit , how you keep your hands , feet . This is easy part which you can master in the mock interviews.
  4. Be humble, don’t argue.
  5. If guessing ask for permission- “Sir , I am not sure but if you would allow me to guess……”.
  6. Even if you don’t know many answers , don’t sway by the urge to blurt out anything. It is alright to say “ Sorry Sir , I don’t know “. Interview is less about giving right answers and more about what you do when you don’t know answers . How you react ,when things go awry , is keenly observed by the members .
  7. Let the question be completed ,don’t interrupt the member when she is speaking.
  8. Always keep a smiling face especially when you don’t know a answer which will reflect your confidence and warmth . It should be a polite smile not Joker smile (“Daant mat chamkana”)
  9. Try to keep your answers short and crisp and answer what is asked .This is difficult to master .
  10. Practice in front of a  mirror or record videos on webcam .Change your facial expressions and voice modulation  accordingly .
  11. When one member passes question to next member say ‘Thank you Sir/Mam’ .
  12. Before leaving , say ‘ Thank you Mam , Thank you Sirs “ and walk back with confidence. Usually you have to pull the door, don’t get confused in push/ pull of the door  .

Q4. Any words of wisdom about Medical checkup?

  • Don’t drink alcohol or do drugs on interview night (“khushi ke maare talli mat ho jana , atleast 1 din or ruk jaana “)
  • Don’t eat anything in the morning before the blood test
  • Bring 5-8 photographs
  • The test may even reach evening 5 PM, so plan accordingly
  • Carry a eye –prescription
  • Maintain your BMI

Q5. Describe the formal-dress worn by you in interview.
Blue Coat-Pant ;White Shirt ; Blue tie with white spots .
You can wear shirt pant with or without tie also. It is just that the clothes should be clean & properly ironed and you should be comfortable in what you wear .

During the interview

Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board?
Sh P K Joshi
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?]
Civil service offers me a unique  opportunity to change the lives of many, especially poor and marginalized.
I chose Public Admin over Electrical Engg. , because of its direct relevance to the field in which I am supposed to work(IAS). Secondly I found the subject very interesting and I would go deeper in the subject without getting bored.
Yes Social service can be done from Pvt sector /NGOs/Political party , but the diversity and scope which civil services offers is absent in others . Civil service offers me to influence life of millions by directly being a part of policy process, meeting new people everyday .

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).
This was my 3rd interview of UPSC.
When the peon calls your name and moment you enter the interview room there is 5 minute gap .Now in this 5 min your heart will beat trillion times per minute, some will be sweating , for some your entire life will flash before your eyes ,random questions will come up -à  how will I open the gate, what if they offer me tea, how will I greet them , is my hair properly combed ,“kya wo mujhse pyaar karti thi” —–à all of this happens because of nervousness .You have waited for this moment and practiced it several times since you started your preparation and you want this to be perfect . To be Nervous is to be human , so don’t fear that .Just be confident and don’t give up before or during the Interview however  tough it seems . In order to relax think of positive things or memories like-

  • Your mom cooking food in the Kitchen
  • Your silly fights with you sister
  • How you helped a person in need
  • The expression on your fathers face when he is proud of you.
  • OR simply count backwards from 100 to 1 , talk to peon  etc.

This time I was more relaxed and confident . I did not unnecessarily  burden myself with giving many mock interviews or revising notes again and again. I  kept telling myself again and again “Anshul you have prepared for this moment for past four years dedicatedly and if it is meant to be , it will be . Just be calm ,polite and humble before the board and you will be an IAS “ and the strategy paid off.
Some Of the question I remember :

  1. Chairperson
  1. What have you been doing since 2012.
  2. So you are an Electrical Engg. , tell me the difference between Thermal power generation and Hydroelectric power generation.
  3. Tell me about Swacch Bharat Abhiyan
  4.  How many Toilets are there in  India (I was like…wtf )
  5. What is the most important thing needed for open defecation free India (Attitude and Behavioural Change).
  1. Member 1
  1. So you like writing movie reviews . Tell me why Hollywood actors are class apart from Bollywood actors (I told how the hollywood actors want everything to be perfect .For eg in Revenant movie shooting in Iceland  ,there was hardly 2 hours of daylight , but still the director and Leonardo in order to ensure the shot was perfect .They shot  a single scene over a month which could have been finished on day one) .
  2. Leonardo di Caprio was recently mentioned in a magazine (I Gave the answer “TIMES 100 most influential persons”).
  3. Who wrote the article on him in the magazine (Sorry Sir, I don’t know. I repeated this 3 times as he put the same question again )
  4. Tell me what system do you prefer Commissionerate or IG system of Policing .(I started with….Sir Soli Sorabjee prefers Commissionerate system in million plus cities…)
  5. Don’t tell me what Soli sorabjee says, tell me your stand (I said Commissionerate system as More autonomy to police, less meddling by DC , Unburden DC, Police knows policing operations better)
  6. So will this be your stand If you become an IAS , since your powers will than be reduced. (Yes Sir)
  1. Member 3
  1. So you presented a paper on Corporate Ethics. What do you mean by Corporate ethics.
  2. How is it different from Corporate Social responsibility .
  3. Should India go For Nuclear energy
  4. There is a overhead tank in a transformer . What is filled in it ?
  1. Member 4
  1. Yesterday was The 30 yr anniversary of Chernobyl Nuclear disaster .What was it ?
  2. Name any other Nuclear disaster (I told Fukushima )
  1. Lady Member
  1. What was the cause of Fukushima
  2. Do any Indian Nuclear facility lie in the seismic zone ?
  3. Why is Civil society against Nuclear reactors ?Are they trying to derail development ?
  4. Tell about Indo china Border problem : Akai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh
  5. Tell about South China sea issue ? It’s Importance for India ? India’s stand on South China Sea ?
  6. Should India align with USA to contain China? In erstwhile Indo china and Indo –Pakistan  war , USA worked against India’s interest .
  7. What is the International convention that regulate Navigation In Seas (UNCLOS)
  8. What is EEZ and Territorial waters under UNCLOS and what is its extent.

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 the interview board was cordial .They put me at ease .Most of the questions were related to DAF .
There were some questions which were unexpected like

  • Number of toilets in India and chairperson asking me to guess .
  • Member 1 tried to corner me for eg
  1. Who wrote the article on Leonardo Di Caprio in TIMES magazine . He put the same question 3 times in different words ,trying to nudge me to say something. But since I didn’t knew the answer I politely refused “Sorry Sir , I don’t know “.
  2. On Commissionerate VS IG system question , he Interrupted me in between on Soli sorabjee incident and said sternly tell your view .

But don’t panic , be confident and maintain your body posture . Don’t let your nervousness get reflected on your face atleast (For this watch your face movements in mirror or videos of mock interview and work on it ).There will be some members who will be jolly and encourage you as well while you are answering. So look out for the positive vibes from the member and also try to maintain a smiling face. You should ensure that when you leave the room the board is in relaxed mood (“ bakar or ladai mat karne lagna )
“ ……kyun ki main jaanta hoon ki agar yeh tees minute har eik apni zindagi ka sabse badiya interview de … toh yeh tees minute khuda bhi tumse vapas nahi maang sakta … toh jao, jao aur apne aap se, is zindagi se, apne khuda se aur har us insaan se jisne tumhe tum par bharosa nahi kiya apne tees minute cheen lo…..Or CSE faad do “

Q6. Any side details about technicalities like “make sure you bring xyz document or do xyz thing, or you’ll face problem”?
Bring Admit card and photographs for sure . Rest there is a checklist of documents to bring , make sure you bring them

CSE-2015 Marksheet

Q1. Please attach both prelim and final marksheet
Prelims mark sheet-

Subject Marks obtained
Paper 1123.34
Paper 2138.41

Mains mark sheet-

Subject Marks obtained
Essay – Paper-1116
General Studies – Paper 2108
General Studies – Paper 386
General Studies – Paper 4101
General Studies – Paper 591
Optional Paper – Paper-1108
Optional Paper – Paper-2104
Written total 714
Personality Test 184
Final Total898

Q2. After looking at the marksheet, suppose you had to prepare again next time, what changes will you make in your studies?
I would work on my essay writing and answer writing practice for Public admin.

Career Backup

Q1. If you were not selected, what was your career backup plan?
This year I got selected In SSC Excise inspector first and than in Indian Forest Service , so I would have joined IFoS.
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 continued to give 1-2 more attempts (I m not sure) .But after I got selected in IFoS  , I was satisfied with service . I had planned that if I failed to be an IAS or IPS this year , I will join IFoS. I had really developed a likening for IFoS and was content with this prestigious service.

Views on UPSC reforms

What are your views on following issues?
Q. Optional subjects should be removed altogether. The present stalemate is helping no-one, except coaching-owners, book publishers.
I think an optional subject is important to test the depth of knowledge a student possesses in a particular area . This can only happen if she takes a interest in that discipline, loves to learn about new things from that discipline .So yes , it should be there. But UPSC should fairly treat optional scores across all optional not deliberately  butchering some like Geography this year .
Q. Your views on the decision to make CSAT paper 33% qualifying?
Keeping in view the large number of aspirants from rural areas for whom CSAT an be challenging , I think it is a good decision   to make it qualifying (“par apne engg or MBA bhailog ki lag hai : a moment of silence for them :P“ )

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-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.
The competition is so much today for any exam . In order to have an edge over others , students go for coaching . This has given rise to a multi billion coaching industry . Yes it is challenging and even unfair to our poor brothers who are devoid of such facilities. But they shouldn’t get disheartened .What they miss out from coaching , is made up for by their untiring will to become an IAs officer. This resolve of “Ji bas karke dikhana hai “ , transcends all these trivial challenges  .

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).
I am against the merger of IFoS with CSE as :

  • The serious candidates of IFoS are eliminated by exceptionally high pre cutoffs .
  • Everyone thinks lets fill IFoS in prelims form as well, it is not causing any harm . If we clear , we will deal with it later . (“man karega to de jaaenge Mains dene  , warna koi baat nahi “) .
  • There is no concept of reserve list in IFoS , so out of 110 selections in IFoS 2016 , atleast 15 candidates have also been selected in CSE . So they will be wasting a precious seat .

So I will request you all that only if you have atleast one optional prepared for IFoS before Pre and you are passionate about the service , only than fill IFoS in the form . You may not need IFoS  , but there are candidates who are working hard to be an IFoS Officer , respect that .

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 UPSC wants to avoid another potential ground for Dharna .Let’s say it is declared immediately , some frustrated students will start questioning the answer key , just so that cutoff can be reduced. It can escalate to a political Issue and than to a dharna ., unnecessarily  burdening UPSC . So students must have faith in the fair functioning of UPSC to smoothly conduct the examination and be patient .

Q. UPSC should be conducted online like IBPS and CAT exam to shorten the duration of exam.
Though there  may be a logistical challenge and challenge for rural candidates . If these can be come over , than it will be a good initiative .

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

  • Bring equality across optional marking  .
  • Schools should have good desks and connectivity where the students have to give exam .

Insecurity about profile

Q. Many candidates prepare sincerely but constantly live under fear about ‘profile insecurity’. I’m not from a big college, I’m not from English medium, and I don’t have work-experience. What if they ask some stressful questions in the interview about this? Did you suffer from such insecurities? What is your message to these candidates?
Don’t look at others , because there will always be some who will have a better portfolio than you . But if having a better portfolio was all that was needed for this exam , never would sons of farmers ,daughters of teachers would have cracked this exam .In interview board , the members are looking for honest and passionate candidates who want to serve people . What you have done or not done will matter less , but how you present yourself in interview and convince the board “ Yes , I am the right choice “ will score you more points . So be optimistic and  Do not compare yourselves to others. Be true to who you are, and continue to learn with all your might.

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?
There are some basic things I have learned about life :

  • Be optimistic : motivate yourself and others
  • Help others where possible (“Kuch bano ya na bano , par eik accha Insaan jaroor ban na “)
  • There are no shortcuts in life . But yes there is smart work . For eg .  you can keep working hard alone reading all the books and sources OR  you can work smartly by working hard  but also taking guidance of your friends or teacher who had already passed through the phase . This will ease you through the difficult phase .

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?
CSE is not the end . Think objectively –

  • If you were choosing it for a good career , there are far better opportunities like MBA, Startups  (you can be earning billions)
  • If it was for public service you can be a teacher , work with an NGO ,
  • If it is for power , you can join a political party and rise there (Just look at Kejriwal sir )

There is no dearth of opportunities for those who want to achieve . CSE is just one way  , there are thousand others . Go and explore those and see yourself succeed !!

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?
I want to thank God first , who showered his blessing on my family  and made sure we are happy .
If I am today an IAS officer , it is because of my father . He lived in village, worked hard in farms ,still managed to do land up in a Govt job . He used to tell me his dream that “ I wanted to be collector . I wanted to go to my village in lal batti gaadi and help my village-men “. Due to certain difficulties he was not able to fulfill the dream , only to see the same dream for his Kid.  He made it very clear to me since I can remember that he wanted me to be an IAS . He never let his personal , financial or official hardships know to us and whatever be the case he will get me the best coaching , books or whatever I needed .He will always be my Hero and I owe all my values and success to him.
There is no end to mothers love . I still remember how should would wake up at 4 AM from 9-12 class , to prepare me breakfast and lunch  ,since my tuition started at 5 AM and than I would directly go to school . We should try to appreciate the pains our mummy takes in preparing the best food for us and million other things which only a mother can do .
Than there is my sweet sister and caring brother and friends  who always believed in me (“or mummy-papa ki daant se bhi bachaya ”) in whom I found  comfort in difficult times .

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 was a regular reader of Mrunal .Economy notes , Geography resources topic and current affairs topic were of great help . What I like about Mrunal is , if he picks up a topic he will deal with it comprehensively .
I hope the articles of Mrunal become frequent again and help other aspirants as well.

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

15 Comments on “[Topper’s Interview] Anshul Kumar (Rank-293/CSE-2015) Public Administration, SSC Excise Inspector, IFS Rank 97, Ghaziabad”

  1. You are hero and your parents are most beloved one .Only few parents show such gratitude and faith in their child .Good luck for future you also deserve a good jadoo ki jhappi from your parents because you don’t break their trust .Bhagvan sabh ko aise Man-Baap de.

  2. Sir,

    Thanks for all these toppers’ interviews. If possible, kindly get an interview from someone with Economics as the mains subject.

  3. Sir, what are your optionals for IFoS? Do share your strategy of how you have prepared those?

  4. nice

  5. Thanks for sharing larger as well as minute details.

  6. (“warna to culture , envt ka koi ant hi nahi – jaan nikal jaegi par ye na khatam hoga “) .–truly said..what i am facing now..
    i spent lots of time on culture..and with environment(by basic book)..when I solved Vision IAS test(13)(for prelims) on environment..it was not solvable easily…then have to look on other source like GKT (Environment) or Shankar IAS environment…
    Sincierly Thanks to you..to let us know .its a commen problem ..we should focus on CORE besides limited time with Those grey Area

  7. congrats, what were your optional for indian forest services ….?

  8. When the grade B rbi forms will be out ??

  9. When the grade B rbi forms will be out ?? Cannot get anything from their notification

  10. Hello sir,
    I’m in studying Bsc in SY
    I want to be an IAS but I don’t have any idea n guidance of subjects n books
    Sir can u please guide Mi how should I start my study n what books to be followed

  11. i am very impress sir thanks sir for guideline

  12. when Pratik Nayak sir upload world history series on youtube?

  13. After getting selected as an Excise Inspector,what are the chances of being posted in Delhi(which would be beneficial for CSE preparation) ?

  14. plz give me some guidelines about upsc examination sir…….

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