[Topper’s Interview] Digant Anand (Rank-223/CSE-2015) Political Science, 2nd Attempt, B.Tech, Adobe Engineer from Uttar Pradesh

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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. Working professional
  8. Prelims (CSAT) General studies
  9. Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude
  10. Prelim accuracy
  11. Mains: Compulsory language paper
  12. Mains: Essay
  13. General Studies (Mains) paper 1
  14. General studies (Mains) paper 2
  15. General studies (Mains) Paper 3
  16. General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude
  17. Mains answer-writing?
  18. Mains Optional Subject
  19. Before the interview
  20. During the interview
  21. CSE-2015 Marksheet
  22. Career Backup
  23. Views on UPSC reforms
  24. Insecurity about profile
  25. Wisdom
  26. Credit: Friends/family
  27. BOGUS Marketing Propaganda

Candidate Profile

Q.Details
NameDigant Anand
Rank in CSE-2015223
Roll No.0168994
Age25 years
Total attempts in CSE (including this one)2
Optional SubjectPolitical Science & International Relations
Schooling MediumEnglish
College mediumEnglish
Medium chosen for Mains answersEnglish
Medium chosen for InterviewEnglish
Home town/cityBijnor (Uttar Pradesh)
Work-experience if anyWorking as Software Engineer at Adobe Systems, Noida since May 2013
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failuresUPPCS, RBI Grade B Officers
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used)Classroom coaching for optional (PSIR) at Vajiram and Ravi, Mains Test Series at VisionIAS
Service preferences (Top-5)IAS>IPS>IRS(IT)>IRS(C&CE)>IFS
state cadre preference (Top-5)UP>Rajasthan>Haryana>AGMUT>Gujarat

Education

% in class 1094.5%
% in class 1282%
Graduation course and %B.Tech (77.38%)
Name of college, city, passing out yearBundelkhand Institute of Engineering & Technology, Jhansi, 2013
Post-graduationN.A
Any other professional coursesN.A
Hobbies & Extracurricular achievementsReading Indian fiction and non-fiction, listening to ghazal recitals

Introduction

Q. Tell us something about yourself, your family, when and why did you enter in this field of competitive exams?
Digant Anand
I am an engineering graduate in Information Technology and have been working in Adobe, a US based MNC at Noida, for around 3 years. My father is Chairman of a Regional Rural Bank and my mother is an Associate Professor. I have an elder sister who is an eye surgeon and she is married to an IAS officer of 2013 batch. I wanted to join the civil services during my school days however I made a firm decision to go for UPSC CSE after working in the software industry for nearly two years. Inspiration and encouragement from parents and friends were also instrumental in shaping my inclination towards civil services.

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 think it is hardly possible for a candidate of CSE to avoid electronic material altogether as one has to be updated with latest information for every stage of examination. Nevertheless, my preparation was highly skewed towards paper material viz books, magazines and modules except for the interview. However, I made regular use of electronic sources like RSTV videos, Mrunal Videos, Wikipedia and Ministries’ websites. My day used to begin with daily newspaper reading for roughly an hour followed by studying of optional or GS fundamental texts (Laxmikant, Heywood etc) for the rest of the day. I used to watch videos of RSTV or Mrunal at night mostly in mobile phone. I did not make any notes except for a few jottings here and there on edges of the books. For optional I made classroom notes.

Tempo and style

Q. People know what books and syllabus points are to be prepared. But most of them lack consistency in their preparation. So, how do you keep study momentum going on? How do you fight against the mood swings and distractions?
Consistency is the essential ingredient for a successful preparation of CSE. Mood swings and distractions can be fought against by limiting your company to sincerer and more committed people than yourself for atleast a year. I was fortunate enough to have a few study mates like this and it really helped. Besides, one should regularly keep testing himself/herself as there is no better way of putting yourself on fire than a poor score in a test. Progress in preparation can only be measured and monitored through tests.

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.
Although I do not consider myself as a senior player this being my first serious attempt yet I would like to share a bit of my experience. During my first official attempt i.e. CSE 2014, my preparation was not even in initiation phase. I could not complete even half of Laxmikant let alone any other book. A day before CSE(Pre) I was sitting in the office totally resolute that I won’t be appearing in that year’s prelims. On the day of Prelims during morning walk my father said that I won’t ever exhaust all the 6 attempts in any case then why don’t I go and appear for the prelims and see where I stand. I agreed to him and went to write the exam with a faint hope in mind that maybe Paper 2(CSAT) may get me through since GS will never do. As expected I was helpless in exam hall and could score only 44 marks in GS and failed in Prelims. But in retrospect that failure was a kickstart of my preparation for CSE since I faced the harsh reality of the huge gap to be covered. I think it’s evident that a failure can be used to shape your preparation strategy in the next attempt and can give you an added advantage over others if properly utilized.
Q2. What went wrong in your previous attempt? What changes did you make in this current attempt?
My previous attempt was a farce in the name of UPSC preparation since I didn’t take even the very basic steps of preparation. It was characterized by sheer lack of knowledge. In current attempt, I followed a planned and time tested methodology of preparing optional before starting for prelim and then focus on prelim for a couple of months followed by extensive study for Mains’ GS and revision of optional.

Working professional

If you’re a working professional, share some tips on how to manage studies with job
It is difficult to switch modes between a student and a professional and hence preparation with job becomes a challenge. Based on my experience it is easier to exploit the morning hours for studies before going to office since mind is free of official hullaballoo at that time. Post work hours can be used with electronic material like videos etc which engage us easily even if mind is tired. Besides, although unethical, office hours can also be sometimes stolen for reading newspapers etc if time permits. However, if at all possible, one should at least avail leave a month before exams.

Prelims (CSAT) General studies

Topicstrategy/booklist/comment
History AncientOld NCERT (selected topics)
History MedievalOld NCERT (selected topics)
History Modern (Freedom Struggle)B.L Grover (S.Chand)
Culture and societyNotes from Xerox shop
Polity (theory + current)Laxmikanth and D D Basu
Economy (theory + current)Mrunal videos (exclusively)
Science (theory + current)Skipped
Environment (theory + current)Shankar IAS’s book
geography physicalNCERTs, G C Leong
geography IndiaNCERTs
geography worldSkipped
other national/international current affairsNewspaper
Schemes, Policy & Filler Stuffskipped

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS prelim 2015 paper?
Paper was easier than I expected but cutoff went up accordingly. There was seemingly undue weightage to international current affairs which were fortunately covered due to my optional. Questions from core subjects were on expected lines.
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 heavily risked my chances of getting in the prelims by ignoring current affairs altogether at the time of prelims and relying only on core subjects of GS. I would have given greater emphasis on GS preparation this time.

Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude

Topicstrategy / booklist
MathsNIL
reasoningNIL
comprehensionNIL
Decision MakingNIL

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS Aptitude 2015 paper.
Paper 2 was easy and qualifying it would have been a cakewalk for most. If one is from mathematical background and has regularly appeared for aptitude exams, he/she should not bother about preparation of Paper 2 till its qualifying in nature. If one is uncomfortable in aptitude exams, joining a test series 3-4 months before the prelims will equip you enough to clear the exam.

Prelim accuracy

Q1. Did you attend any ‘mock tests’? do you think they’re necessary for success?
I attended few mock tests for prelim’s GS. It helped me optimize the number of questions to attempt as per my preparation. If its one’s first attempt at prelim, test series can help you plan a strategy to attempt the paper.
Q2. Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers. in CSAT-2015

attempted Q.correct (Expected)Official score
GS87Don’t remember123.34
aptitudeDon’t rememberDon’t remember130.81

Mains: Compulsory language paper

Compulsory language paperYour preparation strategy / booklist?
English paperNIL
your regional languageNIL

Q. other observations / tips / comments on the length / difficulty level of compulsory language papers in CSE-2015
Difficulty level of compulsory papers is not above 10th standard exams and they are framed to just check the working knowledge of these languages. Someone who is proficient in reading, writing and comprehending these languages with sail through. NO specific preparation is required.

Mains: Essay

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?
I did not do any dedicated preparation of essay paper and preparation for GS and optional helped in this paper. However, I wrote around 10 essays between prelim and mains for practice.
Q2. Which two essays did you write and What key points did you include in it?
I attempted the following essays:

  1. Lending hands to someone is better than giving a dole.
  2. Dreams which should not let India sleep.

In the 1st essay I began with analyzing the statement and then went on covering the various facets of the context of this statement at different levels of society such as family, country, community and international relations. Used ornamental language in introduction and conclusion and kept simple otherwise.
For 2nd essay I began with how does a country dream and how the dreams of a billion eyes crystallize into national dreams, then went on in covering as many dreams(goals) for India as possible trying to sum up most of the national problems and targets.

General Studies (Mains) paper 1

TopicHow did you prepare?
CultureNCERT (Art and handicrafts…), Notes from xerox shop
Indian historyB.L Grover
world historyNorman Lowe
post-independence IndiaSkipped due to lack of time
Indian societyNCERT (11th and 12th)
role of women, poverty etc.Nothing specific
globalization on Indian societyCovered in Society NCERT (11th and 12th)
communalism, regionalism, secularismCovered in Society NCERT (11th and 12th)
world geo physicalNCERT
resource distributionSkipped due to lack of time
factors for industrial locationMrunal.org
earthquake tsunami etcCovered in Geography NCERT (11th and 12th)
impact on flora-faunaSkipped

General studies (Mains) paper 2

TopicHow Did You Prepare?
Indian Constitution, devolution, dispute redressal etc.D D Basu and Laxmikanth
comparing Constitution with worldCovered in my optional preparation
parliament, state LegislaturesCovered in my optional preparation
executive-judiciaryCovered in my optional preparation
ministries departmentsSkipped
pressure group, informal asso.Covered in my optional preparation
Representation of people’s actCovered in my optional preparation
various bodies: Constitutional, statutory..Covered in my optional preparation
NGO, SHG etcDiscussed with my father
welfare schemes, bodiesNewspapers, Mrunal.org videos
social sector, health, edu, HRDNewspapers
governance, transparency, accountabilityVisionIAS handout
e-governanceVisionIAS handout
role of civil serviceNo specific source
India & neighborsCovered in my optional preparation
bilateral/global groupingCovered in my optional preparation
effect of foreign country policies on Indian interestCovered in my optional preparation
DiasporaSkipped
international bodies- structure mandateCovered in my optional preparation

General studies (Mains) Paper 3

TopicHow Did You Prepare?
Indian economy, resource mobilizationEconomic survey, Mrunal.org videos
inclusive growthEconomic survey
BudgetingMrunal.org videos
major crops, irrigationSkipped agriculture in general due to lack of time. Should have prepared in retrospect.
agro produce – storage, marketingEconomic survey
e-technology for famersSkipped
farm subsidies, MSPEconomic survey
PDS, buffer, food securityEconomic survey
technology missionSkipped
animal rearing economicsRead 3-4 Insights Secure answers. Skipped otherwise
food processingRead 3-4 Insights Secure answers. Skipped otherwise
land reformsCovered in my optional preparation
LiberalizationNo specific source
InfraNo specific source
investment modelsVisionIAS handouts
science-tech day to day lifeSkipped
Indian achievements in sci-techNewspaper
awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPRNo specific source
environmental impact assessmentShankar IAS’s book
Disaster ManagementVisionIAS handouts
non state actors, internal securityMrunal.org videos on internal security
internal security – role of media, social networking siteMrunal.org videos on internal security
cyber securityWorking in IT industry so skipped
money launderingVisionIAS handouts
border  ManagementSkipped
organized crime, terrorismMrunal.org videos on internal security
security agencies- structure mandateWebsites of prominent agencies

General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude

TopicHow Did You Prepare?
ethics and interface, family, society and all the hathodaa topicsLexicon book
attitude, moral influence etc.-do-
civil service: integrity, impartiality, tolerance to weak etc-do-
emotional intelligence, its use in governance-do-
moral thinkers of India and worldHow many thinkers did you prepare?
3-4 thinkers were covered in my optional preparation. Didn’t read others.
ethics in pub.ad, accountability, laws, rules etc.Lexicon book
corporate governance-do-
probity in governance, work culture-do-
citizen charter, ethics code, work culture etc.-do-
challenges of corruption-do-
case studies on above topicsDiscussed with my father

I did not prepare for ethics at all as my total preparation for ethics was less than 24 hours and less than half of Lexicon book. In retrospect, it led to a low score in ethics paper and I could have scored more had I studied for this paper.
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 think the paper was not very different from previous years. Besides if ethics paper will not be “out of the book” then what will be!

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
GS1 (No. of ques)126018
GS2 (No. of ques)96116
GS3 (No. of ques)126220
GS4 (No. of ques)64212
Opt-P1 (Marks)1401000240
Opt-P2 (Marks)1301000230

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]
Since the beginning of my UPSC preparation the biggest challenge for me was that I was never able to complete any of my mains paper due to slow writing speed. Even in the final exam, I could complete only one out of the seven mains papers. So my strategy has been to try to complete at least those questions about which I know some valid points. I never got time to “make up” answers in any of the paper. However, based on experience of some of my senior friends, made up answers hardly fetch any marks.
Q. How was your experience with the ‘fixed space’ answer sheet?
Fixed space answer sheet is a boon for people like me who have difficulty in completing the paper, besides it compels you to maintain brevity in your answer making it more comprehendible. I think it is a commendable move by UPSC.
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.
In all the papers except optional I followed the style of writing in bullet points sandwiched between two paragraphs, one each of introduction and conclusion. In optional papers I followed paragraph style.
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 “introduction-body-conclusion” format in almost all my answers
Q5. Did you use highlighters / sketchpens in your answers?
Not at all.
Q6. Did you draw any diagram in any paper? (e.g. in GS1 Geography)
None
Q7. If yes, Did you draw diagrams with pencil or pen?
N.A
Q8. Did you use ruler to draw the lines in diagram? Or did you just make it by hand?
N.A
Q9. You wrote the answer in blue pen or black pen?
Blue

Mains Optional Subject

Q. What’s your optional subject and why did you chose it and not something else?
Political Science and International Relations. Since the subject I graduated in was not available in the list of available subjects, I was looking for a subject which I could complete in a year and which didn’t appear dreadful to read and understand. Given my interest in polity and governance, PSIR was an obvious choice.
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)
PSIR is an excellent subject and very easy to understand if one develops interest in it. I will recommend it to everyone who does not have a subject of his background available in list of optionals. However, a word of caution is that just by reading the syllabus of PSIR, do not assume that it is the same as GS and you won’t have to read the two separately. What appears prima facie as same isn’t so in reality when you plunge into the subject.
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. Western Political Thought by Brian Nelson
  2. Andrew Heywood series
  3. O.P Gauba
  4. Rajiv Sikri

All these are time tested texts and help in creating an understanding of the subject
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?
Paper 2 is heavily based on current affairs in IR. One must closely watch out for every international news and follow website of MEA as well as IR related discussions on RSTV.
Q. How many months did it take to finish the core optional syllabus?
Around 2 months
Q. How many days/ weeks before the exam, you started answer writing practice?
I started answer writing practice right after I was done with my prelim so approximately 3 months before mains.
Q. Do you maintain self-notes for revision of optional? In which format- electronic or paper?
I did not maintain notes for optional and used classroom notes for revision.
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?
2015 mains Paper 1 of PSIR was widely considered as easier than earlier years’ papers although level of Paper 2 was comparable to previous years. However most candidates could not score exceptional in PSIR (except that AIR 1 has the same optional :-P). I think a diversity and originality is being increasingly expected in the answers of this optional.

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?
My interview was on the 2nd day of the interview schedule so I hardly got 2 weeks for preparation of the interview after the mains result was announced. Given the paucity of time I just brushed up the current affairs which I missed after and during the mains and went through economic survey and budget which was released just a week ago. Besides, I tried to thoroughly read my DAF and find out things related to keywords in my DAF e.g. place of birth, current organization, hobbies etc.
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 one mock interview at Vajiram and Ravi but with hindsight I believe that although mock interviews might help in improvement they are not identical to official interview. If one has not appeared for an interview before or he/she is not sure about mannerisms to be maintained in interviews (s)he should attend a mock interview if time permits.
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 stay at Noida and my house is half an hour away from UPSC so I stayed at home. I mostly watched RSTV videos the day before my interview.
Q4. Any words of wisdom about Medical checkup?
It is just a procedural formality and there is nothing you can do about it. Just follow the instructions given out by UPSC carefully to avoid re scheduling of medical checkup.
Q5. Describe the formal-dress worn by you in interview.
I wore a light blue colored shirt, with dark blue front creased trousers along with blue textured tie, black leather belt and shoes.

During the interview

Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board?
Prof. H C Gupta
Q2. How long was the interview?
They stripped me off the wrist watch in the waiting room and I had to wait outside the board room for too long so I lost sense of time but it was approximately between 40 to 50 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?]
I was not asked but I had planned to say that my current job doesn’t offer much of long term prospects until I switch to more diverse role which prompted me to look for such roles and what can be a better role in terms of diversity and opportunities than the civil services.
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)
CM:

Q: [Reads out my academic record] Who was St. Mary?
A: I explained him who was St. Mary
Q: So you work at Adobe. Are all Adobe products free for use?
Q: How has been the effect on revenue after the change in pricing model of Adobe
Q: Is it not a marketing strategy?
Q: How can you use this marketing strategy in administration
A: All these questions were related to the organization where I currently work and I could answer them easily as it was part of my daily work
Q: Explains Govt’s and FB’s narrative of net neutrality then asks why is Zuckerberg advocating for FreeBasics?
A: Explained both the narratives related to the issue of net neutrality and tilted my opinion slightly towards TRAI’s stand. Chairman didn’t seem to be satisfied and asked again that why Mark Zuckerberg is still maintaining his stand. Then I pointed out the possible hidden agenda of monetization of big data. He seemed convinced after that and passed on to M1

M1:
Questions:
1. Asks about work experience
2. Experience as Mess Secy and any special incident related to it
3. Experience as member of college editorial board
4. Reading as a hobby…last book read?
5. Have you read Jhumpa Lahiri’s latest book?
6. Favourite Ghazal Singer
7. Favourite Shayar
8. Favourite Ghazal

  1. Who is Khumar Barabankwi

Answers: M2’s most of the questions were customized and related to my personal traits. It appeared as if he was trying to explore my personality. He was very cordial and even a bit appreciative throughout. He made the overall mood so light that on his encouragement, I recited a couplet from my favorite Gazal and he completed the second line (misra) of the Sher with me and even bestowed me with his “Wah! Wah!”!

M3:
Questions:
1. Should the state be prescriptive?
2. Explain justification behind statutory warnings on liquor and cigarette
3. On the basis of WTO would you impose a ban on consumption of meat as it is carcinogenic
Answers:
He started with an interrogative sentence “Should the state be prescriptive?”. It was followed by a very long discussion and he put forth the other two questions as his counter to my response that state should not be prescriptive beyond the extent of compliance and enforcement of the harm principle. He repeatedly tried to bring me to a conclusion which disagrees with my initial stand about state being non prescriptive through his case study. This discussion entailed the only so called stressful five minutes of my interview.
M4:

Q: Bundelkhand package and its outcome
A: Asked since I spent four years of my graduation in Jhansi. I explained my first hand perception of the Bundelkhand package in terms of infra creation but pointed out its insufficiency in eradicating misery of Bundelkhand as it could not uplift the agriculture class.
Q. If you are made a DM of a district where there are various ERP systems working in different departments with some of them being legacy systems, how will you integrate various ERP systems to make a dashboard where you can monitor real time data from all departments.
A: The only technical question of my interview where he asked me to device a software system to solve the problem. I suggested few techniques of Data Mining and Data Warehousing but he was specifically interested in SOA (Service oriented architecture) which I said I never worked on.
Q. Should the district magistrate be called district manager
A: I maintained that yes it will better to call him district manager given his changing role in administration in recent times and also since this designation is more people oriented compared to other colonial designations like magistrate and collector. On this he replied that if we change it, it will not reflect his role as a magistrate. I tried to convince that every DM is District Magistrate in judicial capacity, revenue collector in revenue related matters and Dy. Commissioner in executive capacity so there can hardly be any designation which can justify all the roles of a DM.

M5 (Lady):
Questions:
1. Cyber Law
2. Cyber fraud and how is it legally different from other frauds?
3. What are the CSR activities which your organization undertook?
Answers:
Again these questions were directly derived from my work experience and could be easily answered.
Q. Can a company’s support to input cost of sunflower farming be considered as CSR activity?
A: I quoted the relevant sections of amended Companies Act and justified that legally such activity can be declared as CSR activity. On this she asked me whether it won’t be an ethical conundrum if company is supporting input cost of something produced by itself. It was followed by a short discussion of CSR and ethics.
CM: Thankyou your interview is over.

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?
My interview was not full of unexpected questions, still although I prepared too less for interview, they didn’t ask me even that. Most of the interview was centered around DAF and my current job with hardly any factual question. Overall all members were cordial and I did not feel uncomfortable at all.

Q6. Any side details about technicalities like “make sure you bring xyz document or do xyz thing, or you’ll face problem”?
Bring every document which you are asked to bring by UPSC else you will have to present it before service allocation or in worst case your interview might get re-scheduled.

Q7. Any word of wisdom / observations about medical checkup?
It is just a procedural formality and there is nothing you can do about it. Just follow the instructions given out by UPSC carefully to avoid re scheduling of medical checkup. Those wearing prescription glasses do carry your prescription.

CSE-2015 Marksheet

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

Subject Marks obtained
Paper 1123.34
Paper 2130.81

Mains mark sheet-

Subject Marks obtained
Essay – Paper-1139
General Studies – Paper 287
General Studies – Paper 370
General Studies – Paper 497
General Studies – Paper 579
Optional Paper – Paper-1119
Optional Paper – Paper-2115
Written total 706
Personality Test 200
Final Total906

Q2. After looking at the marksheet, suppose you had to prepare again next time, what changes will you make in your studies?
I scored poorly in GS specially GS2 and GS4 so I would have put more efforts in these papers specially and on GS in general.

Career Backup

Q1. If you were not selected, what was your career backup plan?
I am currently working as an engineer so that was my backup in case I would have failed.
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 had planned to appear for one more attempt had I failed in this one.

Views on UPSC reforms

Q. UPSC should disclose official prelim answerkey and cutoffs, immediately after prelim is over, instead of postponing it till interview phase is over.
Totally agree. Students wait eagerly to get to know what went wrong for them. Even for those who could not qualify mains, they cannot make crucial decisions like changing optional subject since marks are not disclosed till final result.

Q. UPSC should be conducted online like IBPS and CAT exam to shorten the duration of exam.
It’s a good suggestion to expedite the entire process of CSE which is long overdue.

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?
This is one of the best features of CSE that it tests the candidate on his present abilities and there is hardly any role of profile at any stage of examination including the interview. I have seen candidates already working in civil services getting very poor scores and some with dismal academic records scoring good marks.

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?
My experience with CSE made me to believe that although probability of attaining success in this examination is directly proportional to amount of hard work put by the candidate, there may be candidates who may not make it to the services, inspite of putting required hard work due to unexpected or unforeseen reasons. Success and failure are part of this mission and one must enjoy the guaranteed transformation of his/her personality after serious preparation regardless of the final result.

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?
It is natural to be hopeless for a while given all the sincere efforts you have put over the months, but remember that there are many like you who have failed today but will make splendid careers in or outside the civil services tomorrow. Make sure to be one of them and that will be the final justice that you will deliver to your hard work and sincerity.

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 father and mother have walked with me throughout this preparation so much so that I was more worried that their hard work, sacrifices and expectations should not go in vain rather than my own. My sister is an excellent motivator and she helped me sail through the difficult times during the preparation. I was fortunate to have met some really talented and hardworking people during this preparation whose company greatly boosted my performance. Besides I was lucky to have people close to me who believed in me and reminded me of their belief repeatedly, keeping my spirits up.

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.
I have relied solely on videos of Mrunal sir for my preparation of economics for prelim as well as mains. Those videos helped me attain clarity of concepts without diving into bulky texts like Dutt & Sundaram etc. I also watched videos on internal security and few on geography for mains preparation.

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 11 Comments posted

  1. Rudra

    Digant Anand Sir,

    Many Congratulations!!!

    Sir your work schedule at Adobe may have been hectic.How you manged time please elaborate in detail. That would help us.

  2. MPbian

    Hi,
    congratulations to you.
    I was looking for such profile interview since I am also an IT engineer. I’ve started my preparations for UPSC and other exams, but I hardly get time because of tight working schedule. How you managed to study along with Job, or did you left the job before appearing for your final attempt?

    I am a new aspirant, any specific things you want to suggest to pace up my prep along with IT?

  3. Digant Anand

    Hi Rudra,
    As I said, it’s not very convenient to prepare with job. Adobe is a very employee centric organisation with flexible timings and all. I enrolled for a 2 month classroom program of PSIR with early morning timings. Besides I took ample leaves as and when possible.
    Thanks,
    Digant

  4. sarvrsh yadav

    Sir i,am b.tech 2nd year student but i want to become an ias officer how i start my preparation please tell me from where

  5. Working_professional

    Hello sir,
    Please share your strategy how you prepare with job in Adobe…..
    I.e. schudle etc….
    It will be helpful for all
    Thanks.

  6. Digant Anand

    It’s easy to clear pre and interview with job but if you have tight working schedule, mains performance may suffer. Try to take an off between pre and mains. I think 3-6 months gap isn’t an issue in IT industry. That’s what I did but yes I know all organisations ain’t that supportive.

  7. Gaurav

    Hi Digant…Congrats!!! I want to know that how many months gap did you take and did you take the gap by stating that you are preparing for Civil Services??

  8. smita singh

    Hello sir, i gave my part- 3 exam in may 2016. I want to prepare for cds ota which is going to held in October. sir how to prepare in this short duration? can you please suggest me something.

  9. Ramesh

    Congrats digant, I got this page after I read your answer on quora. All the best for your duty as an IPS

  10. Praful

    Hello sir,I completed my engineering this year and have placement offer from MNC called Accenture.I also have chosen PSIR as an optional,as I am preparing for cse2017,should I take up a job or go in full time preparation because as a fresher greeting ample leaves wouldn’t be possible.

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