[Topper’s Interview] Prabhat Ranjan Pathak (Rank-137/CSE16): Geography Optional, Bihar, First Attempt

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UPSC Paperset
  1. CANDIDATE PROFILE
  2. EDUCATION
  3. INTRODUCTION
  4. ELECTRONIC VS PAPER MATERIAL
  5. TYPICAL DAY IN YOUR ONLINE LIFE?
  6. STYLE OF PREPARATION AND NOTES MAKING
  7. PRELIMS (CSAT) PAPER-1: GENERAL STUDIES
  8. PRELIMS (CSAT): PAPER-2: APTITUDE
  9. PRELIM ACCURACY
  10. MAINS: COMPULSORY LANGUAGE PAPER
  11. MAINS: ESSAY
  12. GENERAL STUDIES (MAINS) PAPER 1 
  13. GENERAL STUDIES (MAINS) PAPER 2
  14. GENERAL STUDIES (MAINS) PAPER 3
  15. GENERAL STUDIES 4: ETHICS, INTEGRITY, APTITUDE
  16. MAINS ANSWER-WRITING?
  17. MAINS OPTIONAL SUBJECT
  18. BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
  19. DURING THE INTERVIEW
  20. CSE-2016 MARKSHEET
  21. CAREER BACKUP
  22. VIEWS ON UPSC REFORMS
  23. INSECURITY ABOUT PROFILE
  24. INTERNAL MOTIVATION
  25. GRAND WISDOM
  26. CREDIT: FRIENDS/FAMILY
  27. BOGUS MARKETING PROPAGANDA

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Prabhat Ranjan Pathak

Q.Details
NamePrabhat Ranjan Pathak
Rank in CSE-2016137
Roll No.0334795
Age24
Marital Statusunmarried
Total attempts in CSE (including this one) –1
Optional Subject-geography
Schooling Mediumenglish
College Mediumenglish
Medium chosen for Mains answersenglish
Medium chosen for Interviewenglish
Home town/cityGAYA (BIHAR)
Work-experience if anyTeaching(3yrs)
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failuresIITJEE (rank 4592)
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used)IITJEE-self study
UPSC(CS)-vajiram & ravi
Online-
mrunal.org;unacademy,insig htsonindia,visionias,iasbaba
Service preferences (Top-5)IAS, IPS,
IRS(IT),IRS(C&E),IFS)
state cadre preference (Top-5)Bihar,jharkhand, mp,
up,Himachal pradesh

EDUCATION

Educationfill the details here
% in class 1093.6
% in class 1285.6
Graduation course and %75.8
Name of college, city, passing out yearIIT(ISM) DHANBAD; 2015
Post-graduationNO
Any other professional coursesNO
Hobbies & Extracurricular achievementshobby-meditation, diary writing, teaching
achievements-prizes at school level in debate, quizing

INTRODUCTION

Q. Tell us something about yourself, your family, when and why did you enter in this field of competitive exams? a series of events throughout these years inspired me to go for civil services exam.
Till the age of 6 until my father got into INDIAN ARMY, i had experienced poverty and its spillover effect in poor education, health and basic amenities which seemed a luxury than. after his job our family condition improved but still every summer vacation visit to my village and still a majority of population stuck in poverty cycle dragged me to think for my responsibilities every time increasing my seriousness in academics.
While in 6th class I came to know about the role of civil servants in changing the living situation of society. My father sometime taunted me  ‘’agar tumhare jaisi facilities mili hoti to mai aaj IAS hota’’. Someone told that whatever you are studying is part of the IAS syllabus. So I started being focused creating interest in each of subjects.
in ISM Dhanbad, students run an NGO -kartavya. one evening my roommate anup kumar(coordinator) told me that a 12 year old girl who otherwise was regular in evening classes was absent for 3 days, later on news came that she died of hunger because for last one week the family was just having one time meal of salt & rice. The incident moved me greatly. The extent of disparity seemed draconic especially compared to situation of food wastage in hostel.
The time was ripe to decide on priorities and on advice of a senior i left PPO in TATA STEEL and started following mrunal.org in final year. Thus, in a quest to find a job which gives satisfaction and a reason to live and work for next 40-50 yrs, i started preparing for upsc.

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 do you balance this i.e. electronic material vs. paper material (Books, newspapers)
Being selective and choosing authentic sources according to your capacity of handling can be fruitful. For eg. i found economics difficult from sriram & ramesh singh so followed mrunal.org. for economic and Budget-economic survey.
When i found it difficult to handle The Hindu, i stopped purchasing it & started making notes out of insightsonindia (daily quiz, current affairs,) and later on formulas(selectively 2-3 article from important news article of the day) later on shifted to  VisionIAS monthly magazine.
Similarly, yojana-kurukshetra magazines seemed difficult & time consuming so i started making notes from Iasbaba site (summary of yojana-kurukshetra for 15-16 months). Yes, but you need to read certain specific books and make short=notes out of everything.
Wisdom is-complete the syllabus from what suits you best. Effective use of internet can save your time and money. In my case it helped score 466 marks in GS without newspaper or magazine reading ( this worked for me might not work for you. Choose wisely).

TYPICAL DAY IN YOUR ONLINE LIFE?

Online lifeAnswer
Daily hrs spent on online platforms for predicting cutoff / syllabus
change / age-attempt limit change and other
“peripheral-bolbachchan“ related to civil services.
0
Daily hrs spent on whatsapp and telegram studygroupstelegram-downloading question paper.
Daily hrs spent on online for exam prep.not regular, 3-4 hrs
Primary Device for online study: desktop, laptop, tablet, mobilemobile, laptop

Q. Any other things that you wish to elaborate on above table:
more you are isolated from your society, more you have the time for preparation. even i have deactivated Facebook, WhatsApp and mobile games.

STYLE OF PREPARATION AND NOTES MAKING

Q. What is your style of preparation and notes making? (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, I use xyz software etc.)
after going for 1 reading of each book, i found it more productive in making synopsis(shortnotes) of every chapter/book. Revising 35 page synopsis (6-7 hrs) was more time savvy than reading 560 page thick India’s struggle for independence by Bipan Chandra(6 days)
no reading is complete without a written notes. I used to make notes out of whatever read, seen (mrunal, unacademy video) or heard (sometime radio news at 9)
Try to incorporate as much (schematic, graphs, diagrams, cycle and mindmaps) in synopsis as possible, as they are easy to memorise ( in my case helped to directly present them in written answers which increased marks).

PRELIMS (CSAT) PAPER-1: GENERAL STUDIES

Topicstrategy/booklist/comment
History Ancientold NCERT(11th), class notes(vaijiram)
History Medievalold NCERT(11th)
History Modern (Freedom Struggle)Bipan Chandra- India’s struggle for independence
Bipan Chandra-history of modern India
selctively- spectrum-(a brief history of modern India)
(later i realized only this book is sufficient)
Culture and societyculture- Nitin Singhania; unacademy(roman saini)
Polity (theory + current)M.Laxmikant+objective indian polity(TMH) +visionIAS
Economy (theory + current)mrunal.org( videos, pdf)+ ncert (11th; 12th)+visionIAS
1 reading of SRIRAM-economy booklate
Science (theory + current)NCERT (9th +10th); visionIAS
Environment (theory + current)shankarIAS book; biology(12th last 4-5 chapters); NCERT visionIAS
geography physicalG.C LEONG ; mrunal.org  +NCERT (11th + 12th )
geography Indianew NCERT (11th + 12th)
geography worldG.C leong; mrunal.org; orient blackswan school atlas
other national/international current affairsvisionias
Schemes, Policy & Filler Stuffvisionias

Note-

  • visionIAS-monthly magazine Or PT365 of vision  (go to resources of visionIAS site)
  • solve previous year UPSC papers, few questions find repetition in prelims
  • solve about 25-30 test papers of different institutes and make short notes from solution given.

Q. Candidates are complaining that compared to earlier years, Prelim 2017 GS paper was very tougher, Tickmasters’ 90​+ strategy (and its perverted & populist version known as Guessmaster-​giri​) and E-learning materials had limited utility. What are you views and wisdom on all these?  
This year questions were more analytical and applied so one needs to study standard books carefully with reasoned approach. Linking different topics across subjects and putting yourself in that time frame can help in better understanding and memorizing. Last year most questions were current affair based so predicting the pattern of question and then preparing on that line may become non-productive with unexpected nature of exam. Q. Suppose, If you had to prepare for Prelims-2018, then after going through this 2017 paper, what changes would you make in your preparation?
I have not appeared for 2017 prelims, but still with current set of questions i will try to update my notes in much detail working on recent topic of interest. Creating understanding of issue seems equally important as memorizing its provisions. Trust me if you have habit of making synopsis, even this year question paper was not that much tough.

PRELIMS (CSAT): PAPER-2: APTITUDE

Topicstrategy / booklist
Reasoning
Decision Making

Q. In the recent two prelims (2016 and 2017), the comprehension portion becoming quite tough and lengthy. Candidates struggle even to finish the paper-II. Kindly provide some words of wisdom:
my english grammar is poor but i am confident about my abilities in maths. i attempted only 37 questions of maths and managed to get 80 marks
Wisdom is- analysis your strong area, practice few test papers or standard book and get the minimum qualifying marks. i gave at least 2 hrs for last 2 months of prelims for CSAT (even though i am an IIT product). So you need to practice. Don’t take anything for granted.

PRELIM ACCURACY

Q1. Did you attend any ‘mock tests’? do you think they’re necessary for success?
GS-paper 1= either purchase from market or download from telegram
–  vajiram & ravi(10 test) ; visionIAS(24 test), insightsonindia(8 full length) test papers, previous year question bank
While sitting in library i used to attempt test in 2hr time frame & than made short notes out of the solutions given at back in case of visionias, vajiram and by following the link of news article in case of insightsoninda. Also for questions of history, polity, geography it’s wise to refer your synopsis or standard books (it leads to more number of revision of book or notes).
The marks you get on self-evaluation give you the idea of your preparation in comparison to previous year cut-off. They are also an effective tool to cover up the current affairs.
Q2. Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers. in Prelim-2016

attempted Q.correct (Expected)Official score
GS8568127
aptitude373480

MAINS: COMPULSORY LANGUAGE PAPER

-with medium of writing in english, you need not prepare especially.

Compulsory language paperYour preparation strategy / booklist?
your regional languagehindi- solved previous year question.

Q. other observations / tips / comments on the length / difficulty level of compulsory language papers in CSE-2016
-these paper are qualifying in nature so howsoever lengthy one can easily attempt a major part of it once practiced before exam.

MAINS: ESSAY

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper? 
Joined mock test at GS SCORE for writing essay. I maintained a diary for writing quotation on different topics. I read essay written by some of toppers (at VisionIAS) and analyzed the pattern of writing an essay. i started writing essay once in 2 week after prelims.
For any essay to start nearly 20-25 minutes was devoted to-

  • Frame different questions relevant to topic, than in order to answer these questions formulate the introduction. If you have ready quotes it adds the flavor.
  • Search the issue in diverse field like economy, polity, social, historical, environmental aspects of topic for the main body with varied examples from past, present and future expectations.
  • Search for possibilities of counter argument of topic supported by examples and viewpoints
  • Finally conclusion of futuristic ideas along with ongoing government schemes or initiative to support your ideas. If it ends with quotation still a bonus.

After the above rough work, i wrote the essay in next 1 hrs. with introduction, body, conclusion format. Q2. Which two essays did you write and What key points did you include in it?
Suggestion- Take proper rest before your mains written exam. Because of my habit of late night study I suffered from sleeplessness and bad health in last few days especially the essay.
If development is not engendered, it is endangered.

  • B.R.Ambedkar quote “i measure the progress of a society by the degree of prosperity enjoyed by its women”.
  • Role of both gender in evolution process.
  • Prosperity of Vedic period followed by declining recognition to women and consequent subjugation of Indian society under foreign invasion.
  • Triple burden of globalization on women, Preston curve showing lower life expectancy vs GDP due to high MMR.
  • Cycle of poor growth transmission across generation through mother leading to poor quality future workforce.
  • Economic prosperity of haryana-punjab vs declining child sex ratio and associated cultural decline.
  • Better performance in terms of life expectancy and happiness index of countries with favorable sex ratio.
  • Positive note of India’s growing concern and initiatives taken such as gender budgeting.

Jobless growth in India: an anomaly or an outcome of economic reform ( i was not able to understand​  it properly and hence explored only 3 sectors of economy)

  • “economic reform has transformed India from a socialism with limited entry to ‘’marketism’’ without exit’’- economic survey 2015-16 ( heard it from mrunal sir in a  video)
  • Jobless growth because of immature understanding of its impact across sectors.
  • 50% population (unskilled and semiskilled) depends on agriculture but due to minimum return attracts least investment and was thus neglect.
  • Manufacturing sector having its own limitations in terms of policy paralysis, bureaucratic hurdles, exit issues and chakravyuh challenge failed to benefit under economic reforms of 1990s.
  • Service sector having highest propensity to grow attracted maximum investment but creates minimum employment opportunity and highly skilled based.

GENERAL STUDIES (MAINS) PAPER 1

-N.Singhania should be read selectively(not every detail is important)

-a good book for creating in-depth understanding –read selectively (eg- started from chapter 11).

– time consuming, such detailed study not necessary because of paucity of time and low probability of questions.So left it after one reading rather I followed:
Pradhanmantri serial (ABP news) visionIAS write up.

TopicHow did you prepare?
Indian societyrajkumar sir class notes (vajiram)
role of women, poverty etc.visionIAS  + yojana/kurukshetra
globalization on Indian societyrajkumar sir class notes(vajiram)
communalism, regionalism, secularismrajkumar sir class notes(vajiram)
world geo physicalG.C Leong
resource distributionNCERT (11th  +12th )
factors for industrial locationNCERT(11th 12th ) + Wikkipedia
earthquake tsunami etcG.C Leong, ncert(11th +12th )
impact on flora-faunancert  + visionIAS

GENERAL STUDIES (MAINS) PAPER 2

 

TopicHow Did You Prepare?
comparing Constitution with worldM.laxmikant
-not prepared specifically, luckily no question asked.
parliament, state LegislaturesM.laxmikant + visionIAS
executive-judiciarym.laxmikant
ministries departmentsm.laxmikant
pressure group, informal asso.m.laxmikant +visionIAS test
Representation of people’s actm.laxmikant
various bodies: Constitutional, statutory..m.laxmikant + visionIAS
NGO, SHG etcm.laxmikanth & internet +visionias
welfare schemes, bodiesvisionias test
social sector, health, edu, HRDvisionias test + yojana/kurukshetra
e-governancevisionias test +yojana/kurukshetra
India & neighborsvisionias
bilateral/global groupingvisionias + mrunal.org(economic survey)
effect of foreign country policies on Indian interestvisionias
Diasporavisionias
international bodies- structure mandatevisionias + wikkipedia

GENERAL STUDIES (MAINS) PAPER 3

or mrunal.org or SriramIAS economy booklate

 

TopicHow Did You Prepare?
Indian economy, resource mobilizationvisionias + mrunal.org
inclusive growthyojana/kurukshetra
Budgetingmrunal.org + visionias
major crops, irrigationvisionias + yojana/kurukshetra
agro produce – storage, marketingvisionias + mrunal.org + hindu editorial
e-technology for famersvisionias + yojana/kurukshetra
farm subsidies, MSPvisionias +mrunal.org
technology missionvisionias
animal rearing economicsyojana kurukshetra + mrunal.org
food processingvisionias
Liberalizationvisionias + The Indian Economy(Sanjiv verma)
Infravisionias  + yojana/kurukshetra
investment models Visionias + The indian Economy (Sanjiv verma)
science-tech day to day lifevisionias
Indian achievements in sci-techvisionias
awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPRvisionias
environmental impact assessmentvisionias+ geography optional shabbir sir notes
Disaster Managementshabbir sir classnotes(vajiram) + visionias
non state actors, internal securityvisionias + rajyasabha tv(insightsonindia)
cyber securityvisionias + rajyasabha tv (insightsonindia)
money launderingvajiram class notes + visionias
border  Managementvisionias
organized crime, terrorismvisionias
security agencies- structure mandatevisionias

GENERAL STUDIES 4: ETHICS, INTEGRITY, APTITUDE

-i was betting on my knowledge about Gandhi, mahavir, buddhha, swami vivekanand

TopicHow Did You Prepare?
emotional intelligence, its use in governancemrunal.org + lexicon +mukul sir
ethics in pub.ad, accountability, laws, rules etc.Bijender sir (vajiram)+ lexicon
corporate governanceBijender sir(vajiram)
probity in governance, work culturevisionias test+ lexicon+ Bijender sir
citizen charter, ethics code, work culture etc.lexicon
challenges of corruptionBijender sir, visionias test

important points:

  • visionias=monthly current affairs or mains365 of visionias( go to resources of visionIAS site)
  • i made synopsis of yojana/kurukshetra from their summary on IASbaba relying maximum on schematic, diagrams, cycles.(reading magazines seemed more time consuming).
  • i took coaching for GS at vajiram but the nature of question asked these days made the class notes not of much use except for few. I have mentioned actual sources which I used for covering each topic.
  • To cover many topics, i used to make short notes from the solutions of visionias mains test.(you can purchase them from market or download from telegram)
  • economic survey: visionias summary + notes from mrunal.org videos (it is must to enrich GS-2,3)
  • Ideas regarding way of writing answer (intro-data/definition based; body; conclusion) i got from videos at mrunal.org for mains. (2 questions on flood completely copied to mains).

 Q. In ethics, they’re asking random definition and concepts out of the book. Most of the serious candidates (both topper and non-toppers) have received marks in similar ranges. What are your observations and tips for future aspirants regarding preparation of this paper? 
-​i got 116 in GS-4 even though what i realise today is that i was not knowing proper answer to a single question.. Even during BYJUS test series i used to get 100+ in ethics under similar situation.
-i had made write-up of definition of terms in syllabus from lexicon. Generally random definition revolve around terms in syllabus. Using definition instead of words like integrity, probity make your answer more subjective and thoughtful. Further you need to explore different dimensions of terms. try to make a schematic to be on safer side in such question.
eg- in question of analysing John Rawl’s concept of social justice in Indian context. the name itself was known for first time to me forget about his concepts.
-​intro​: started with defining social justice and its utility in promoting welfare.
body-​ considering india’s socio-economic diversity and difference, john rawl’s idea of social justice having great role in decreasing social disparities. used terms like need for distributive justice, sense of equity in resource management and underlying challenges in indian context. creation of opportunities for all. Even quoted Gandhiji idea of ‘’earth has enough for everyone’s need..’’ further used a schematic about sources in Indian constitution speaking about social justice.

Conclusion-​futuristic idea about what social justice concept of john rawl’s can bring for Indian society.
In similar way I have attempted almost every question.

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
GS11523(used schematic, diagram there )20
GS21712 (coelho case, macbride)20
GS31721 (allelopathy)20
GS41821(gandhi 7 sin)21
Opt-P1attempted all
Opt-P2attempted all

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]
I attempted all questions in every paper even in few unknown questions I tried to write up to (1 + ½) page by guessing around the known issues and if there were possibilities of diagram or schematic I used them effectively. Few eg
UPSC topper answer writing notes making
One never gets enough time to think in exam hall. Leaving 2-3 questions per paper may create difference of nearly 36 marks (3 question*4 paper*3marks). I maintained my speed of (6Q-1hr;6Q-2nd hr; 3 Q-30Min; 5Q-30min).
Many of my friends have got less marks in GS due to leaving 2-3 questions per paper. Even probability of selected candidate favorable to maximum attempt was much higher than those giving few quality answers.
Q. How was your experience with the ‘fixed space’ answer sheet?
The fixed space saves your time for next question. In geography optional PAPER-1 i was not able to manage my time because of more space provided for each answer and got 117, while in paper-2 space was limited so I got enough time for each question. Thus presenting more information in less space I got 149. In GS (2+ ½) page were provided per answer which I used as given below.
intro​ -​ data/definition based (1/3 page)
Body- one part (1st page) – discussing what question tries to explore, along with some schematic, diagram, cycle, map etc.
2nd part (2nd page) – presenting diverse points from what being asked or answering sub questions (add schematic or diagram if possible)
Way forward-(1/2 page) – neutral-futuristic mostly in point format.
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 mixture of paragraph (introduction, showing thoughtful ideas) bullet points (when needed to show multiple issues and subheadings) and schematic (with bullet points- to show additional information, this technique saved both time & space).
Being 1st attempt it was difficult to understand the technicality of examine, discuss , critically analyze, xyz so I tried exploring various dimensions such as if there are advantages, what are associated challenges, whether there is disadvantage, if yes, what are these, how to resolve them, what is being done, what is better option and at last positive conclusion( well it covered all above technical aspects and gave high marks even though I am not good at languages) eg-
In question of- our party system is passing through a phase of transition which looks to be full of contradiction and paradox. Explain (my answer would have been same in case of comment, discuss or critically analyse)
Intro- type of party system india has, why it needs to transit.
Body- I have shown the transition from (INC (common issue-freedom based)-ML/HMS (community interest based)-BSP( upliftment of BCs)-AAP(modern issue-corruption eradication based))
Than shown contradiction & paradox as-changing nature, deviation from singular issue, formation of coalition going against their fundamental principles; explained why this shift taking place; is this necessary in present situation if yes why again no than why; what India will gain or lose by this paradoxical change
Conclusion- what India aspires with its party system how this contradiction & paradox needs to be harnessed?
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, actually this format breaks your answer in 5-6 parts (as shown above) where you can expect 1 marks in each part summing upto 100 marks per GS paper. Even if you don’t know much content for the question, this technique can still make you to manage to write 1 +1/2 page.
(eg MacBride commission report- GS2-Q20;
Intro- UNESCO and its role in promoting global culture (1/3 page)
Body- India’s role in UNESCO…(1/3 page)
Guessed MacBride about information sharing to promote easy accessibility to shared culture of world; guessed common concern of India regarding global welfare, distributive justice and no monopoly over information sharing (1 page)
Way forward- need for implementing MacBride report recommendation for greater cultural integration in era of globalization.)(1/2 page)
Seriously MacBride was new to me but still I managed to write it.
I don’t like asking following rudimentary questions, but these are the most frequently asked questions by new aspirants.

in GS1 Geography)

In GS1 & GS3 almost every answer was having diagram, schematic, cycle.
In GS2 (6 Q) & GS4(3 Q)-where ever possibility.
May be these have been the reason for 466 marks.

MAINS OPTIONAL SUBJECT

Q. What’s your optional subject and why did you chose it and not something else?  
Optional subject should be taken according to your interest in subject. During my preparation time geography was not performing well according to my seniors but still I took it because I found other subjects difficult to handle. Given the fact highest score in geography is also 320+, we can easily understand that every optional has its own strength and the potential to score high if you are interested in it. More the number of students are taking a particular subjects, more are the range of marks & more are the chances of getting most failure from these subjects. So one should not panic.
Geography; my father being in Indian army I visited many parts of India which created interest in varied physiography across region and people. Having seen poverty of villages, I wanted to choose a subject which deals with resource distribution and solution to developmental challenges. There was always an interest in understanding why some regions or people are the way they are ( eg tribes of Andaman & Nicobar). Geography syllabus seemed to cover various aspects of development and society. Also it covers major part of GS and prelims so I choose it.
Q. If a new player wants to pick your subject, would you advice for it or against it?
If you have interest, you will find geography easy to understand. Also It helped me to score pretty good marks across GS 466(118, 115,117,116) and essay because most of current affairs, economic survey or yojana/kurukshetra you study are part of geography optional.  You need to be innovative with diagrams and schematic wherever possibility arises for this subject.
Since the syllabus is vast taking coaching for optional seems time savvy. Given the fact it was my first attempt and I switched from being a mechanical engineer graduate to geography, enough time was not there to refer book. It was only through class notes of Shabbir sir I scored 266(117 +149) a pretty good marks in geography. Thus syllabus in not much difficult as common perception goes.
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.)
Initially G.C Leong and class 11th and 12th geography NCERT (new)
Paper-1 = I mostly relied on class notes(shabbir sir) because of time constraints.
(Books which my seniors and teacher suggested but I kept them for my 2nd attempt
Physical geography –savinder singh
Geomorphology, climatology-savinder singh
Human geography-mazid Hussain
Model and theories-mazid Hussain
Environment- NIOS
Economic and social geography- rupa made simple)

Paper-2

Mostly current affair based + NCERT (11th +12th)
(Again I relied only on class notes of shabbir sir and my current affairs notes, but there are books which my seniors advised)
India a comprehensive geography-Dr. khuller
Geography and you – monthly magazine)

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 geography, paper-1 can be managed with books/notes
but paper-2 you need to be updated with current affairs
eg-yojana/kurukshetra- it covers various topics like social issues, climate change, smart cities, inclusive growth, tourism etc;
Economic survey +current affairs for current status of different sector based initiatives.
Q. How many months did it take to finish the core optional syllabus?  
Apart from 5 months of coaching of optional,
after prelims 1 month- making synopsis of ( class-notes; yojana/kurukshetra (iasbaba) ; economic survey (visionias summary)); referring standard books selectively ; current affairs(vision mains 365))along with ethics & essay
Than 2months completely devoted for revising geography synopsis 5-6 times and writing answers of optional+ GS + essay.
Q. How many days/ weeks before the exam, you started answer writing practice?
After 2 weeks from prelims, I joined a test series and also used to write some test in library with friends.
So every week I was writing 2 GS test, 1 optional test, 1 essay. But in last 1month frequency declined and in last 15 days I was only focusing on revising short notes.
Q. Do you maintain self-notes for revision of optional? In which format- electronic or paper?
Maintained short-notes in paper format, I found it easy to carry & revise. In fact no reading was complete without a synopsis. I tried to revise things with maximum use of schematics.
Q. Your observation about the difficultly level of 2016 mains vs previous papers. And what precautions / rectifications are necessary in the future strategy for given optional subject?
2016 paper seemed easier than 2015. Paper-1 was little tough because many questions were not directly from notes (for me). Standard books need to be referred to cover further topics. More of practice needed for presenting ideas through schematic and diagram.

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?
Graduation- mechanical engineering hand book for GATE (made easy) ;made short notes of conceptual topics and theoretical part. Prepared notes on college project and machine involved (this helped me to answer the question- tell me about the most fascinating machine you saw in college and how it works)
Hobby- meditation (prepared questions on definition, types, what ,why and how you do)
Place –Gaya & Bihar (why named so, present challenges –solutions and opportunities)
Current affairs- newspaper (the economic times, the Hindu, ToI, Indian express- in last month)
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 mock test at samkalp, vajiram and Byjus. My interview was mostly different from mock interviews. But It helped in exploring different aspects of contents in my DAF. Further you learn how to remain confident and balanced while answering.
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 live in hostel in Delhi. Notes of mechanical engg, and those related to my DAF
Q. Describe the formal-dress worn by you in interview.
Cream colored full sleeve shirt, black full-pant, dotted red tie, black shoes, white shocks

DURING THE INTERVIEW

Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board?  Chattar singh.
Q2. How long was the interview?
Nearly 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?]
-this question was not asked.
-due to medical issues I don’t have opportunities in technical field, also the motive for doing engineering was to develop scientific temperament and rationality, the bigger aim is its application through means which influences larger mass at disadvantaged ends.Civil service provide much broader scope to influence the society with the acquired skill and knowledge at much early stage of life.
-NGOs & private sector initiative are just like a drop of water in ocean. It suffers from challenges like finance and manpower. Moreover you need to be rich enough, powerful and ethically strong beyond personal greed to take private sector route which further involves longer time.
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.
(When I entered)
Chairman- Prabhat you are not wearing specs in your photograph but now you are having it. Why is this difference?
Me- sir, with specs there were flashing and reflection so I removed the specs during photography.
Chairman-but my photographer has never complained about it?
Me- actually there were 2 photograph, the better one I choose which was without the specs.
Chairman- I think you might have told him that your photo is for some matrimonial.(started laughing)
Me- (I to joined him saying- ‘’no sir, I told him it is for upsc’’.)
I wished everyone good evening (well it was told that I have to wish mam first. But I forgot)
Chairman- take your sit. You have written about social empowerment. What do you understand by it?
Me-(not asked in any mock, even I missed to prepare) sir, it’s about increasing the choices of people by providing them information and knowledge which further creates enabling environment where they find opportunities to better their standard of living.
Chairman- I am asking about what exactly you have done.
Me- sir, teaching them how to read and write and telling them about various opportunities and government schemes.(meanwhile I was interrupted)
Chairman-what kind of government scheme?
Me- sir, like those of scheme related to cheap rice and wheat and other like free education to girl child. (Again interrupted, but this time he seems annoyed)
Chairman-why you think that it is needed to be told them. Such kind of schemes are always known to them. What a backward kind of village you have.
Me-(well, even I was unaware of most of government schemes until jumped into UPSC preparation) sir, most of those manual/casual workers don’t have access to newspaper or radio (still a luxury) neither they are literate enough to understand directly. So it is required to tell them.
Chairman- how far is your village from main city?
Me-it’s about 48 kms from GAYA.
Chairman-ok, tell me one thing. You are very small at this age. Why people would listen to you?
Me-while in ISM Dhanbad; college is highly reputed in nearby slum areas so people think of of us as highly qualified and tend to listen what we suggest as they hope it would be for their betterment.
Chairman-what about your village, do they know about ISM Dhanbad?
Me-no sir they don’t, but my father being in Indian army they respect us and seek help. Also when I qualified IIT, it was seen as a grand achievement and people started expecting some guidance for their betterment.
Chairman- I think they were more influenced due to your father. Ok, tell me why you do meditation?
Me-sir to get concentration and focus to a particular issue such that multiple thoughts are managed properly.
Chairman-you mean, it’s about avoiding distractions.(I nodded “yes”) Ok Prabhat tell me the most fascinating machine you have seen during your mechanical engineering?
Me- sir, its plasma arc cutting machine.
Chairman-why so? How does it work?
Me-sir, it cuts the metal with help of electric spark across plasma of gas. Due to electric discharge gases are converted into plasma, an electrically ionized gas which creates a huge amount of heat across the workpiece thus melting it.(caution- you must remember such definitions. I took it lightly)
Chairman- suppose you have a 2 inch thick plate. What different technique you can use to cut?
Me- sir, one is plasma arc cutting, than with use of water (I was interrupted)
Chairman-what are you saying, how water can cut a metal? (he was annoyed as it was new invention)
Me-sir, it actually uses hard particles like granite the mechanism is called abrasive water jet machining. When such mixture is blown, a very pressure cuts the metal (again interrupted)
Chairman- but can this process cut 2 inch thick plate? Have you seen its use?
Me- I am not sure about 2inch thick plate, but it is used for cutting metal.
Chairman-ok. What else? ( he seemed annoyed at my answer)
Me-lathe machine
Chairman- lathe machine!!! How? (I thought this was a wrong guess, so he was giving weird look, but now I had to justify my answer)
Me- sir in lathe machine we fix the work piece and then use the drill machine.
Chairman (seemed satisfied) ok but than one whole per drill is possible.
Me- yes sir, I have used it.
(this part with chairman was completely unexpected,I never prepared on these lines)
Moving to next member
M2- Prabhat you have written about your involvement in coordinator kartavya-NGO, ISM2IIT, SCG in kVs. What are these? Please explain?
Me- sir kartavya is an NGO to educate slum dwelling children and create employment opportunities for their parents it is run by ISM DHANBAD students in nearby BASTI. ISM2IIT initiative is about. (as I was explaining ISM2IIT I was interrupted by member )
M2-no no. just tell more about Kartavya. What was your role there?
Me- sir I was the coordinator of academic team. My role was to manage junior teachers motivating them for the cause and interacting with Basti (slum) people regarding need of sending their children to evening classes.(again interrupted)
M2- so how much hours you used to devote there.
Me-sir nearly 2-3 hrs in weekends
M2- every weekend?
Me- yes sir, but if there were some meeting of ISM2IIT or college exam than it became challenging.
(I wanted to shift interview toward ISM2IIT but the trick didn’t worked)
M2- is this NGO your initiative or you became a part of it?
Me-sir it was started by a 1999 batch-IPS Amresh Mishra sir. I became a part of it while in 2nd year.
M2- you have been a faculty for pretty good time about 3 years that also during your college time. Don’t you think it affected your college studies?
Me-no sir, it actually helped in overall personality development. Even in TATA STEEL placement only 2 among 150 mechanical students were selected. I was the one. Many of subjects like thermodynamics which I was poor in college exam, I needed to study deeply just to teach there. So it was beneficial.
M2-which subject you were teaching there?
Me- sir, physical chemistry.
M3-ok than you might be strong in thermodynamics. How many laws are there?
Me- sir, 4 (I was confident enough so a big smile came on answering)
M2-you spoke about TATA STEEL. Why you left it?
Me- sir. I got pre placement offer there, but it was underground mining and my medical conditions don’t suits it so it was rejected.
M2-prabhat what would you like to improve in your personality.
Me- (without much thinking) – sir, English in which I am not good at speaking; and decision making because..
(I think it was a blunder, decision making was not the thing I ever thought. Everyone was shocked. I was interrupted in-between by chairman)
Chairman- why you think so. Have you seen your friends making better decisions than you?
Me-(once you have spoken, you need to defend and justify) – sir, whenever issues arises which needs your decision, I used to analyze all the aspects involved and then came to conclusion. It took time so my friend used to say that I am confused kind of person, not able to decide.
M2-what you think about this situation. Should you work on it?
Me- sir, whatever decision I take by proper analysis, it is beneficial for me in longer time. Even there are less incidences where I had to regret for my decision being taken. But yes in situations where i don’t have enough time I become anxious. So I need to work on it.
M3-prabhat how your hobby of meditation helped to get over this weakness. Is some diseases has been cured by meditation?
Me- sir, during meditation when you sit silently you spend time with yourself. Your Introspection shows your areas of strength and limitations. Even I realized, whatever decision I have been taking it is according to my aim, objective and my priorities. So not being football to other ideas I must take enough time to decide than only I can be most efficient in such decision implementation. It increased my self-confidence. Regarding disease I don’t know specific name.
Chairman-can you narrate one incidence where you have done so what you said now?
Me-yes sir, when I was in 2nd year there were different options like gurkul (educational institute), a network marketing company (I was a part), kartavya-NGO, IAS preparation, engineering studies, college activities and other things. Ultimately I prioritized GURUKUL, kartavya and engineering studies after introspecting my abilities and priorities.
M3- Prabhat regarding engineering I want to ask. Should engineering drawing be replaced by AutoCAD. Because I have seen students carrying drafter to even final years.
Me-sir engineering drawing is considered as one of the toughest subject in mechanical because of this Drafter issue. However drawing different perspective of structure with hand needs concentration and focus which challenges the mental abilities. AutoCAD which is software based needs input of data and uses ready structure. So if we are replacing than we may loose on some fronts of developing better understanding of structures.
M3- what do you think, can machine replace human being in the society.
Me- though companies like google & microsoft are working on artificial intelligence but the human emotions, choices & desire for better improved version of products are the things where it would be difficult to replace human.
M3-ok. Prabhat, I have heard that knowledge is power. What are your views?
Me- sir knowledge is power provided there are opportunities to apply that knowledge.
M3-but I think its application is important because you have to create opportunities. What you say?
Me-(I didn’t want degrade my interview further by arguing to this statement so I nodded yes). Yes sir its application is important.
M3- what is this CNC machine?
Me-sorry sir, I don’t know about it.
M3(laughing)- you are a mechanical engineer and you don’t know about CNC. It is the most important part of mechanical. What kind of engineer you are.
(Other board members joined the scene. Accordingly I also smiled and answered)
Me-sorry sir, maybe I didn’t worked on it or if worked I am not able to recall which machine was called CNC.
(Later I realized it was an optional subject during engineering which I didn’t choose so I was not knowing even the definition)
M4-prabhat, what is the difference in breaking system of cycle, car and train?
Me-(drawback of last night study and passing exam with calculator use has inbuilt disadvantage of no concept building so I replied) sorry sir. I don’t know.
M4- try a little. I am asking about mechanism. Eg. In car we use hydraulic system.
Me-(all of sudden) sir in train we use pneumatic system. (Remembering about chain pulling and associated noise of pressure of gas releasing)
M4- ok, than what is difference between pneumatic system and hydraulic system?
Me- in pneumatic system we use compressed gas while in hydraulic(I got blank because with hydraulic, only water as example was coming to mind & who uses water for breaking system in car.)
Sorry sir, I am not able to recall the differences.
M4-ok.how has satellite increased weather predictability?
Me- initially while on ground, we were able to analyse the wind movements and cloud formation on smaller scale. With satellites our footprint has increased so now more accurate predictions can be made.
M4- how does satellite help in tracking rain and storm formation?
Me-(not knowing what exactly being asked I tried to give general answer) sir knowing the nature of cloud one can predict possibilities of rain since all clouds are not rain bearing. Also regarding storm the wind speed and its accumulation can help in predicting storm.
M4(annoyed at my answer he again asked with serious face) I am asking about some exact term. Do you remember?
Me- sorry sir, I don’t know.
(Well when I was saying ‘’no’’ a sense of guilt was there but not of shame. Well you can’t know or memorise everything so be confident with what you have)
M4-ok Prabhat tell me whether the drought issue of Marathwada region was always there or it has increased over years. How you can solve it being a MECHANICAL engineer.
Me-(having geography optional, I memorized things for solving drought but solution through knowledge of mechanical engineering seemed tricky). Sir, the drought situation has gradually severed over the years. The region is elevated because of plateau region where most of rivers flow below the base level so using effective lift irrigation can be one solution. Also this region lies in rain shadow zone of western ghat so transferring water from western side of western ghat which receives monsoon rainfall (meanwhile I was interrupted. You never get enough time to explain every possible cause or solution so I tried giving solution along with causes)
M4- you just said that this region is elevated. But western part of western ghat is at lower level. How you can transfer water than?
Me( this has been challenge to even river interlinking project, but didn’t came to mind at that moment) sir, Mumbai floods every year so twin solution can be provided if such water is preserved and then mechanical technique is used to transfer the water.
M4-ok. you do sprinting. Who is the fastest sprinter?
Me-sir its Usain bolt from Jamaica, the record being 9.58 sec for 100 m.
(Passing on to madam)
M5-ok Prabhat. Tell me the state which touches maximum number of states?
Me-(I was completely stuck. I started calculating number of states around MP, Than MH. Already 6-7 seconds passed but I was silent)
M5- ok Prabhat tell me later if you get it (I nodded without a single word. I should have told I don’t know at earlier stage but question seemed easy yet difficult at that moment). You told about social empowerment, do you think there is need for women empowerment?
Me- yes mam, it is required because even IMF pointed out that India can increase its GDP by 60% with more women participation. Also most of the work performed by women are considered as non-economic work hence not being considered in GDP calculation and are not recognized( interrupted in between)
M5- what do you mean by non-economic work?
Me-mam, household and domestic work which is also referred as care-economy is called non-economic work which is non-monetized for the purpose of GDP calculation.
(the next question was something which I found difficult to understand so I apologized ‘’ sorry mam, I am not able to understand the question please explain again” to this next question was)
M5-what do you think, issues of gender empowerment be seen exclusively or inclusive to other issues?
Me-(I was not able to hit what exact thing was demanded, so I again took general stand)-mam, things can’t be seen in compartments. Whatever decision are being taken makes equal impact on member of society. Every individual is working in an integrated system of society so things should be inclusive.
M5-what kind of decisions you are speaking of and what person?
Me- mam, decisions pertaining to impact in socio-economic and political participation and decision making positions. Persons being man women both across the age group. (this answer was no well thought, so might have created a bad impression as seen from the emotionless face of madam ji. You need to think a bit).
M5-ok. My last question. You are also involved in debating. How will you debate on the topic. ‘’if life can be a teacher than why to read books’’.
Me (everyone was feeling delighted at the question as it seemed something to provoke thinking ability. I paused for 2 sec for the last hit and then started) mam, in our life we learn from various situations, events and experiences but given our short life-span we can’t have all the experiences, it is where we need to learn from the experiences of other people. For eg- to know that fire causes burning, one need not jump into the fire rather he can learn from the experiences of other.
(I stopped, being little nervous, little anxious with the way my interview was, but I found 2-3 more members nodded at my last answer.)
Chairman-ok Prabhat your interview is over. Thank you (other members joined the tune)
Me-thank you sir, thank you mam (I left the room. Just coming out, my reaction was. What a disaster was it. Something beyond what I prepared. Not the place of origin or why I want IAS, no current affairs. Only philosophy, mechanical etc)
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?
Few questions were on expected lines while many other were unexpected. Initially it was stressful later It was manageable. Many factual questions which I was not aware of, I simply replied “sorry sir, I am not able to recall it”. While in questions which were opinion based I tried to explain what general belief says.
Q6. Any side details about technicalities like “make sure you bring xyz document or do xyz thing, or you’ll face problem”?
No such things happened. Regarding DAF (detailed application form), you need to be honest in writing things which gives conviction in your answers otherwise you should be confident enough to give a satisfactory answer else chances are there that they will ruin you. (eg. I think I failed to convince them that the work of social empowerment can be done by people of my age. Moreover I was not prepared on what actually is social empowerment)
Q7. Any word of wisdom / observations about medical checkup?
They will guide you for proper medical checkup. Don’t try to hide your diseases or disabilities during your medical checkup otherwise you may pass medical checkup at this stage and end up in some services which don’t suits you and later on while in service you may have to face consequences.

CSE-2016 MARKSHEET

Q1. Please provide and final mark sheet:

prelimsmarks
Paper-1127
Paper-280
MAINSMARKS
Essay133
GS-1118
GS-2115
GS-3117
GS-4116
Geography(paper-1)117
Geography(paper-2)149
Personal interview165

CAREER BACKUP

Q1. If you were not selected, what was your career backup plan?
Having experience of 3 years teaching, I was thinking to join some coaching institute either for IIT or IAS.
Q2. When were you going to “execute” that backup plan? (e.g. after __ number of failed attempts/ after I cross __ age/ after dad retires/ after girlfriend dumps me etc.)
My savings has just finished in april 2017, so I was thinking to join after 18 june,2017( after UPSC prelims).

VIEWS ON UPSC REFORMS

Q. Optional subjects should be removed altogether. The present stalemate is helping no-one, except coaching-owners, book publishers.
Optional subject provides an in-depth understanding of subject. For me, geography has played a great role in understanding issues and challenges, the reasons underlying them and prospective solutions which in turn makes us a good administrator. Every optional subject provides such expertise and help us to appreciate the things around us. So I don’t strongly support the above statement.
Q. Your views on the decision to make CSAT paper 33% qualifying?
A major section of students leave math and English after class 10th. So If not made qualifying these people would have been on disadvantaged side (even I didn’t attempted a single English question). So CSAT paper being 33% qualifying brings everyone on equal footing. However, removing CSAT altogether is not suitable since a minimum level of being analytical and logical is needed to efficiently occupy such high post of responsibilities. The questions asked in paper-1(GS) makes the core of mains written exam, so it’s fine to judge the eligibility based on GS marks.
Q. Despite what UPSC has done in last seven years in syllabus and pattern change, it has failed to curb the nuisance of Delhi’s coaching factories and the readymade e-material sellers. In fact, it’s increased under the new Mains-syllabus post-2013. Let’s face it, UPSC added so many topics and so many random questions, even fulltime student struggles to gather and process all standard reference books and material himself within the short time available to him. and This system work against an individual preparing from far-away area, without any financial resources, high-speed internet or contacts​ in Delhi to procure the said material in authentic or pirated form.  
-the kind of questions being asked in GS are making coaching irrelevant. Even for me, class notes had no major role in GS-1,2,3,4 it was mostly internet based sources. Moreover I have met many students during mains exam who were completely dependent on online websites for preparation. Since competition is increasing day by day one needs to follow some authentic sources. Regarding other issues, sacrifice and struggle is always there for bigger achievements. Moreover, reliance JIO service has helped in narrowing the digital and financial gap.
Q. UPSC should disclose official prelim answerkey and cutoffs, immediately after prelim is over, instead of postponing it till interview phase is over.  -this is one of the reforms upsc needs to take because mains preparation (mostly based on current events of 1 yr) doesn’t seem worthy unless you are confident enough that you are in the list.
-however, there are always issues related to some answers of UPSC which can create unwanted delays in conducting written exam which further delays next stage.
-this exam is like a cycle, one should not worry about prelims and just focus on preparation for written exam. What you learn never goes invain rather it reinforces your preparation. I have few examples.
One of my friend was not sure about his qualifying prelims so he waited for its result to go for mains  preparation. Result came, he passed but the little time of merely 2 months is not sufficient and he failed in mains. The other example is of 2015 topper (she might have opened book from next day of prelims without calculating her prelims marks).
Q. UPSC should be conducted online like IBPS and CAT exam to shorten the duration of exam.
– The written nature of exam is something which everyone is familiar of till graduation. Till today a country where 27% population is BPL, computer is a luxury. However prelims can be conducted online provided other associated challenges are taken care of.
Q. If you are made the UPSC chairman, what other reforms would you initiate for the civil service exam?
-display of mains written test paper
-a parameter to decrease subjectivity in interview. I have found few students getting 200+ in one board and then 132 in other board in span of 1month period. Personality can’t deteriorate to such extent in few days.

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?
Being from village background and most of studies in govt. school (KVs) qualifying IIT or IAS was just a dream (that too in 1st attempt was close to impossibility). But I performed well in whatever class i was, creating interest in every subject. It’s just the conviction and dedication to work that takes you to better opportunities or better colleges. I was such a fearful student that someone once pointed “a serious person like you can never be an IITIAN”
Many of selected candidates in UPSC (CS) are not from IIT, IIM or AIIMS they belong to some average colleges. What I read during graduation (B.Tech Mechanical) became irrelevant for my preparation as I took geography (a completely different subject). So your background has no role in preparation.
I knew that I am not good at memorizing so I used to make shortnotes of whatever I read of listen to. Even followed different methods, patterns, imaginations to remember things. You know you forget easily so increase your frequency of revision howsoever longer you need to sit.
My English has never been good so I feared on my capabilities to qualify mains written exam. I started writing diary regarding what my aspirations are or about things that I have to challenge with my successful results. Whenever good words or lines I heard, I used to write them and find their applicability. Well it worked for me and I got 466 in GS (one of the highest in 2016).
If you are honest in your work your true story will fetch you good marks in interview. You just need to find convincing answers to questions like why you are so long unemployed or why civil services.

INTERNAL MOTIVATION

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?
– When there is a will you find a way to motivate yourself. For me,
-Fear of failure- the imagination of result day and the pain of not being in the list. It was not acceptable since someone is getting into list but it’s not me. Thus, I wanted to use every single available minute so that I don’t have to regret about my extent of efforts even if end result is negative.
Joy of success- imagine of happy moments when you will get in the list despite all challenges and disadvantages you are in. you can read success stories and their life transformations after positive results.
-Practical exposure- the rich society of Huaz Khas village compared to your poor status always motivates you to work to change the conditions in which you are.
-I was having friends like those who have written 3 prelims (no mains), 1 mains, 3mains(no interview call) talking to them and knowing their reasons of failure helped me to rectify my activities and be away from distractions, finding my own strategy of studying. Isolation has made America a superpower, even you can be.
– Someone promising me to help recover the old wounds once I make a respectable comeback or someone always there waiting to criticize your failure always acts as a tonic.

GRAND 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?  
-nothing is impossible to achieve, what has been just a dream to my father and many of my village friends came to reality due to consistent and dedicated hard work. Life is a life-long learning process, if you enjoy being in competition you end up working on your weaknesses, excelling yourself in various fields which ultimately brings you ahead in the competitive crowd as a successful personality.
-what my father use to say, make studies your hobby than you will enjoy the process. Think every subject or issue an opportunity or challenge where you have to prove your mettle by achieving expertise in it. Especially in those subjects where you think you are weak. Every year there are people getting success, you can be the next.
Q. Many hardworking candidates have failed in Mains/Interview of CSE-2016 and scored quite low in Prelims-2017. They’re feeling cynical, hopeless and depressed- what is your message to them?
-being the world toughest exam (sources) it provides opportunities that ends your competition and comparisons from around once you qualify, so 3 or 4 attempts are worthy. The rejection ratio being so high with everything under the sun being in syllabus you are just becoming a better person with consistent accumulation of information which will ultimately help in your written exam( main scoring area to be in final list).
Many candidates have got under 10 rank in their 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th attempt. Getting into the list is all about patience and positive outlook to your hard work. Becoming demotivated or suspecting your abilities will only weaken your strength and consume your precious time for next attempt. You need to work on weak areas and relook the way you are managing your notes and study material. Just make a restart forgetting the past, may be you are the next topper with your own unique success story.

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 tested my will power time to time. Once he asked me “what you have thought to do if you will not qualify?” I simply replied “I haven’t thought about failure, let’s first see what I can achieve”. He hugged me saying you will definitely get through it, I only wanted to hear these things from you.
My mother and brother always supported my hard work, they used to say “you are already there, you just have to fulfill the formalities of giving exam but do it in a way that make you yourself proud of”.
I was always motivated from the successful stories of my colleagues. When a drunken friend like A.rahul (now in IIM-A) says that “if you can’t, than no one can” than you have to take it seriously.
when you are firm to do anything to get your dream, you start relating every incident, statement or criticism positively to your need of and abilities to achieve that dream.

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.  
-initially when knowing nothing about how to start, my senior told me to follow mrunal.org (in fact other online sites were not properly developed at that time). I read many of the toppers strategy here and purchased books accordingly.
For economics and economic survey I was completely dependent on mrunal.org. I think I have seen and made written notes from almost all videos of economic (like banking, balance of payment, GST etc); economic survey( BES series) (you can’t find better way of explanations elsewhere) even geography and ethics.
Just before mains written exam, it was beneficial to see how to write intro, body and conclusion. I made notes of all the questions discussed here and luckily 2 questions on flood (along with diagram) came in exam.
Links are provided for old NCERT (world history), NIOS, Tamil Nadu books and other important topics. These have helped me to find good articles on topics not covered in newspaper or book entirely.

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

11 Comments on “[Topper’s Interview] Prabhat Ranjan Pathak (Rank-137/CSE16): Geography Optional, Bihar, First Attempt”

  1. Congratulations Prabhat
    Thank you for ur interview.
    Give us how to prepare &handle interview.
    Mrunal sir I Request to you give one motivation interview whose school medium have Gujarati or paper writing is also in Gujarati lauguage.
    😊

  2. Thank you so much sir for detailed interview.

  3. Its always heartening to listen about successful candidates from your native place coming out of same sort of difficulties, struggling to create a better conditions of living for self and the others as well. Many Congratulations!!

  4. Thank you, sir. 466 GS awesome

  5. Congrats Prabhat.
    But please don’t try to portray yourself at any disadvantage when you were really not. It has became a trend especially in UPSC exams.
    You studied in Kendriya Vidhyalas which have better facilities than many of the private schools and many students from KVs perform very well in academics. You studied in IIT and had access to one of the best facilities in the country .
    You have worked really hard for your rank which is what we all need to emulate.

  6. Congratulation brother

  7. caongratulations ..prabhat…. this was inspiring..

  8. Sir please share some of synopsis for geography it will useful for us to make such kind of notes my mail id is [email protected]

  9. Much tough interview.Thanks for sharing so that we Engineering Graduate should not ignore basic knowledge of engineering whole appearing civil services interview.

  10. That’s where work experience could save you. If you don’t have work experience, they are bound to ask question from your educational background. It’s like a test match where you have to perform well in all session (exams).

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