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. GS4 Ethics case study answers in Mains 2013
  18. Mains answer-writing?
  19. Mathematics Optional Subject
  20. Before the interview
  21. During the interview
  22. CSE-2013 Marksheet
  23. Career Backup
  24. Views on UPSC reforms
  25. Insecurity about profile
  26. Wisdom
  27. Credit: Friends/family
  28. BOGUS Marketing Propaganda

Candidate Profile

Name Sumit Kumar
Rank in CSE-2013 81
Roll No. 190640
Age 27
Total attempts in CSE Two
Optional Subject Mathematics
Medium chosen for Mains answers English
Schooling medium Hindi
College medium English
Home town/city Rohtak (Haryana)
Work-experience if any 4 year IT experience. I worked in IT sector before starting CSE preparation
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failures I did not appear in any other examination
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used)
  1. I joined GK today’s online subscription programme for supplementing my preparation in Mains examination.
  2. For Mathematics, I joined IMS institute and took 5 months coaching.
  3. Mrunal.org  for (free) guidance
  4. Sankalp/Vaji  for Interview preparation
service preference #1, 2 and 3 IAS, IFS, IPS
state cadre preference Haryana, Punjab, Himachal


% in class 10 75 %
% in class 12 78 %
Schooling (Medium) Hindi
Graduation course and % I am a Mechanical Engineer, 75%
Name of college, city, passing out year College Name : YMCA Institute of Engineering FardidabadPassing Year: 2008
Post-graduation No Post-graduation
Any other professional courses No
Hobbies & Extra curricular
  1. I read books on Non-fictional genre.
  2. My other hobby is writing articles and poems


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

topper cse 2013 rank 81 sumit kumar

  • I am Sumit Kumar and graduated as a Mechanical Engineer in 2008. After my graduation, I joined IT industry and worked for 4 years till 2012. I quit my job in 2012 and started preparing for CSE examination.
  • My first attempt was in 2012. I appeared in Mains examination, but was not able to clear it. CSE 2013 was my second attempt and I was able to clear it.
  • I belong to a middle class family and share big dreams as others do. I started preparing for CSE to achieve some objectives which were not possible in IT sector. My initial objective to start preparing for CSE was to work in the field of primary education for unprivileged children.

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.

  • As I was preparing by myself specially GS, I was relying heavily on Internet. For each and every topic I prepared, I did 2 hours search on Google. I was varying my search queries and finding different documents, pdf, research papers, presentations etc. After assembling and going through those documents, I prepared my notes and relied only on them. It took me 40 days in the end to just revise.
  • a ) Rajyasabha TV,   b) mrunal.org c) prsindia.org,  c) downtoearth, d) centre for policy research e) IDSA  f) Frontline  g) Gktoday.in were some other electronic resourcs which benefit in your preparation.
  • Regarding Paper material – Newspaper in the master key here. I spent close to 2-2.5 hours( notes making included)  . Apart from it, NCERTs ,bipin Chandra, D.D.basu etc. are inevitable and must be used before jumping to any other thing else.
  • Self study is my mode of preparation. I try to justice with each and every topic in syllabus. I adopeted a modular approach to cover topics(dividing them into 7day-10day-15 day time bound preparion).  As Mrunal sir, has already stated somewhere: “Read your syllabus multiple times and go what is required and try to relate with them newspaper articles”
  • A typical day starts from planning what I am going to do and just concentrate on it . I note everything, which I think is important and revise them when there is revision schedule.

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?

  • Study momentum can be sustained by continuous planning. Planning is important in this examination. If you do not plan and move in a random manner, you lose the plot and feel unhappy. It is one of the reason of Mood swing- no direction, random study and lack of Planning.
  • As, I was making 7 days, 10 days, 15 days plan for GS topics, I was not feeling major mood swings. Secondly, to remain elevated, you have to feel happy and trust on what you are doing.
  • I may suggest to have a long term perspective while preparing. A bad day must not make one tense. It happens with everyone.

Struggle of a Senior player

After 1-2 failures in any competitive exam, a phase of mental saturation comes. The person knows the booklist, he knows what is necessary to succeed. But it doesn’t yield result. The armchair ‘experts’ would point out UPSC is ‘testing’ emotional intelligence of the candidate or UPSC wants to break the backs of senior players, daily conspiracy theories on orkut involving DP Agrawal….…Not to mention all the emotional struggle-against those irritating neighbors and relatives…MY question are two:

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.

  1. Yes I do feel that UPSC is a game of uncertainties and subjectivity.  Hence those who are getting below 100  and  those getting 250 rank are no different in terms of capabilities.
  2. Similarly, those who wrote mains and do not clear are equally hard working and talented when compared with those who clear the final examination. So this is the examination nature and failures are more here than success. One feels dejected naturally but we can only move forward.
  3. Final rank depends upon so many “uncontrolled factors”. On which topic you wrote essay, which interview board, your optional subjects, weather on examination day. We have to undertake these factors when we tag somebody with “IAS, IFS, IPS etc.
  4. Specific incident: some of my dearest friends- 3 interviews, 2 interviews, 2 mains but no name in final list. Nobody can explain why it happens. I would say work hard and harder and prepare for worst. If still destiny does not help, move away from this trap.

Q2. What went wrong in your previous attempt? What changes did you make in this current attempt?

  1. I was preparing both optional from beginning. I was not able to complete Mathematics syllabus and missed Mains cut- off by 7 marks.
  2. In this attempt, I knew GS would be key. I covered Newspaper more extensively.  I completed Mathematics syllabus and prepared GS thoroughly.

Working professional

If you’re a working professional, share some tips on how to manage studies with job

  • I cleared prelim-2012 while working.
  • Use your morning time and evening time optimally.
  • Try to read newspaper at your workplace.
  • Try to utilize Saturdays and Sundays to maximum extent.

Prelims (CSAT) General studies

Topic strategy/booklist/comment
History Ancient Old NCERT 11th class   b) New NCERT 12th class   c) Ancient India in Historical Outline by DN Jha d) selected IGNOU material.I divided ancient history into following parts and then prepared accordingly   1. Haradappa civilization 2. Old+new vedic age (1500 BC to 500 BC)  3. 600 BC to 200 BC (Mahajanpads, dynasty, socio life) 4. Jainism and Buddhism 5. 200 BC to 200 AD (Invasion, dynasties etc) 6. 200 AD to 700 AD ( Gupta Period etc)
History Medieval
  • NCERT 12th class
  • I covered only selected topics such as religious ideologies(Shankracharya , Guru nanak, Sufi) , architecture, Mughal Raj
History Modern (Freedom Struggle)
Culture society
  • As mentioned earlier: Taking help from NCERT, IGNOU
  • GK today material
Polity (theory + current)
  • Theory : D.D. Basu
  • current: PRS, PIB, Newspapers, Internet websites, Mrunal
Economy (theory + current)
  • 11th class NCERT
  • 12th class micro and Macro NCERTs
  • mrunal.org/Economy
  • RBI website and speeches
  • Daily newspaper reading
  • special emphasis on employment, inflation, fiscal consolidation, monetary policy, growth, human development, Financial inclusion by taking help from internet
  • Economic survey (selected chapters)
Science (theory + current)
  • 9th and 10th class NCERTs
  • daily news papers
  • Mrunal.org/snt
Environment (theory + current)
  • Mrunal.Org/enb
  • G.k. today website
  • Newspapers
geography physical I am weak in Geography and covered NCERTs from 6th class to 12th class number of times. For concepts such as Monsoons, ocean currents, mineral resources, I relied on youtube, govt. websites  resources.
geography India I am weak in Geography and covered NCERTs from 6th class to 12th class only. For concepts such as Monsoons, ocean currents, mineral resources, I relied on youtube, govt. websites  resources.
geography world Did not cover.
other national/international current affairs By 1) The hindu  2) PIB 3) G.k. today 4) Rajya sabha tv programmes 5) IDSA 6) Mrunal.org  7) PRS for bills  7) PIB for policies and yojnas
Schemes, Policy & Filler Stuff PRS for bills   2) PIB for policies and yojnas 3) Govt websites such as moef , planning commission etc.

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS prelim 2013 paper?

  • Paper 2 is the key here but you cannot clear prelims only relting on paper 2. Paper 1 requires atleat 80+ marks as cut- offs are rising.
  • Options are quite tricky, so always read study material as if you by yourself are making questions
  • NCERTs are the key. Revise them as much as you can. They are inevitable. See 2011, 2012, 2013 year question papers

Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude

Topic strategy / booklist
Maths In 2010, I prepared for CAT, so I had good material. No special preparation. Students can choose any good book and do practice. Mrunal has already posted detailed articles. My wisdom: UPSC never asks math.  It just checks your aptitude and people call it Math. Mathematics is entirely different than what we categorise in CSAT.
reasoning Again my CAT material. Do more practice on various topics. Please visit mrunal post once again and analyse paper 2011, 2012, 2013.
comprehension Pagal guy, GMAT material. They are not UPSC specific but help in quality RC. Wisdom: News paper reading helps in RC, so continue with it even prelim is approaching. Don’t make lip movement, read by your eyes. Practice hard .
Decision Making I think, no special preparation is required.

Q.Any observation / comments / tips about GS Aptitude 2013 paper.

  • At my home, I gave mock tests of two institutions ( photo copies). Students can purchase them from market. Give under strict exam conditions with OMR sheet. Do not just give mock test, analysis your mistakes.
  • First half an hour is crucial . Start with your strengths and gain confidence. Again RC is the key here.

Prelim accuracy

Q1. Did you attend any ‘mock tests’? do you think they’re necessary for success?

I already explained. Yes, they helped me a lot.

Q2. Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers.in CSAT-2013

attempted Q. correct (Expected after solving @home) Official score
GS 74 55 86
aptitude 79 74-75 175
total 261

Mains: Compulsory language paper

Compulsory language paper Your preparation strategy / booklist?
English paper I read the Hindu. No special strategy is required. Please do not take this paper in a casual manner.
your regional language Hindi. My schooling is in hindi language. Only one day newspaper. Please do not take this paper in a casual manner.

Q2.other observations / tips / comments on the length / difficulty level of compulsory language papers in CSE-2013

It has become difficult. So be serious about this paper.

Mains: Essay

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?

  1. I have a hobby of writing. No special preparation was done. Newspaper is the key here.
  2. Always take 20 -25 mins before attempting any topic. Make a structure and then attempt.

Q2. Which essay did you write? What key points did you include in it?

I wrote on Topic 3 : GDP (Gross Domestic Product) along with GDH (Gross Domestic   Happiness) would be the right indices for judging the wellbeing of a country.

  • I started with Amartya sen’s welfare economic concept of human development and focused on deficiencies of GDP led development model.
  • I explained human development index, malnutrition, environment degradation, health, education with current data and analysis and explained why we can not move alone only with GDP led development model.
  • Then concept of GDH was explained along with its important components. GDH was explained with reference to as how it can empower people.
  • My essay was based mostly on facts, analyzing key aspects of GDP, GHP and was shown to supplement each other.
  • I expected much more in essay but was able to secure only 83.

General Studies (Mains) paper 1

Topic How did you prepare?
  • I used GK today notes along with ancient history prepared through NCERT books. For Buddhism/Jainism/Sufi/ Sikhism and other religious ideologies, one can also take help of IGNOU.
  • I also took help of Google images to understand Paintings, Architecture, sculptures etc.
Indian history
  1. I covered NCERTs, Bipin chandra’s both books  a)India’s struggle for Independence b) India since independence
  2. Apart from reading these books, one must do analysis as what can be asked in say modern history such as  a) Nehruvian period b) Indira Gandhi era c) India’s relation with  USA& Soviet Union, d) Opposition parties etc and prepared notes on important events.
  3. I have already explained how to cover Ancient History.
  4. Importance must be given to modern history.
world history
  1. World history NCERT books
  2. Internet material as many good pdfs are available.
  3. GK today notes
  4. Prepare 4-5 page notes on each topic given in syallabus.
  5. Some of my friends used professional books but it must be last resort if time permits.
  6. Mrunal sir articles.
post-independence India Already explained
Indian society
  1. IGNOU has very good material on topic such as India’s diversity. One can register on IGNOU and download material.
  2. Internet, Newspapers was used to prepare remaining topics.
role of women, poverty etc.
  1. Newspaper and Internet 2) discussion on Poverty by Amartya sen and P.Sainath  3)Polcies and legislations for both of these topics
globalization on Indian society Internet, Newspapers. Please remember definitions on globalization. Cover various dimensions such as 1) economy 2) agriculture 3) culture and society 4) urbanization 5)knowledge dissemination 6) dispora 7) science and technology while preparing globalization.Prepare 4-5 page notes
communalism, regionalism, secularism
  1. Regarding communism, Socialism, capitalism, IGNOU material on sociology( thinkers) can be used.
  2. I studied one chapter from Harlombus book(Sociology optional)
  3. Please make a table differentiating three ideologies.
world geo physical Weak in Geography. Did not prepared well.
resource distribution
  1. Internet  and govt websites are best resources.
  2. I tried to cover each resource in following dimensrions   a)Quantity  b) location c) types d) world standing  e) exports percentages
factors for industrial location
  1. Mrunal coverage
earthquake tsunami etc
  1. GKtoday material  2) Internet, as good pdfs are available.
impact on flora-fauna
  1. I prepared closed to 20 flora-fauna by taking help from greenpeace, IPCC, UNDP and other international websites.
  2. Cover newspapers . endangered species are mentioned whenever there is threat to them.

General studies (Mains) paper 2

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian Constitution, devolution, dispute redressal etc. D.D. Basu
comparing Constitution with world Internet, Mrunal’s writing competition
parliament, state Legislatures
  1. D.D. Basu.  2) Newspapers were used to cover issues such as Ordinance 3) Please listen to PRS discussions on its website  4) Anti-defection was lifted directly from 2009 discussion
  1. D.D. Basu.  2) covered current articles such as balance, judicial overreach, judicial independence etc  with the help of newspapers and Internet 3) use examples when explain these issues
ministries departments
  1. Govt. websites and Internet
pressure group, informal asso.
  1. Internet  and Newspapers 2) please learn how they work and their implications on issues ranging from macro-economy, lobbying, protests etc.
Representation of people’s act Mrunal’s writing competition series. 2) Internet 3) Newspapers
various bodies: Constitutional, statutory.. Mrunal’s writing competition series. 2) Internet 3) Newspapers 4) D.D. Basu
NGO, SHG etc Internet  and Newspapers 2) please learn how they work and their implications on issues ranging from macro-economy, lobbying, protests etc. 3) 4-5p age notes
welfare schemes, bodies
  1. G.K. today material 2) PIB 3)analyse pros, cons, design, challenges, reform aspects when covered 4) internet and newspaper
social sector, health, edu, HRD
  1. Newspaper and Internet  2)
governance, transparency, accountability Internet
e-governance Internet- good pdfs are available on internet. Please include case studies when you study them.cover various dimensions when study this topic
role of civil service Internet
India& neighbors
  1.  free book on IDSA website 2) IDSA 3) Newspaper editotial   4) Rajya sabha tv programme –India’s world 5) frontline’s world affairs articles
bilateral/global grouping
  1. G.K. today notes 2) Internet
effect of foreign country policies on Indian interest Newspapers, Indian external affair ministry website, PIB
Diaspora Newspapers, Indian external affair ministry website, PIB
international bodies- structure mandate Internet

General studies (Mains) Paper 3

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian economy,resource mobilization
  1. Economic survey 2) RBI website 3) Newspaper
  2. As syllabus is not mentioned in detailed, Newspapers become important
  3. Mrunal ‘s coverage on Economic articles is excellent.
  4. Reform aspects related to Taxation, expenditures , Inflation, manufacturing, agriculture, banking, Financial inclusion, external economy must be covered thoroughly.
  5. A typical search query on google say Finacial inclusion can fetch you good material  . search query Example :
    1. Financial  Inclusion and inclusive growth+pdf/ppt/research papers/ editorials/speeches/essays
    2. Financial inclusion and challenges+ pdf/ppt
    3. Financial inclusion and committees
    4. Financial inclusion + Priority sector lending+ credit challaenges
    5. Financial inclusion+e-technology+ infrastructure challenges/ppt/pdfs/editorials
    6. Search queries can be varied to get different results
  6. If you have time, please cover economic times editorials
  7. State of economy TV series on Rajya sabha Tv. Please visit youtube.com/rajyasabhatv
  8. “Macros with mythili “ TV programme on ET now.
  9. Browse Assocham, Ficci reports on various economic issues
inclusive growth  Planning commission approach paper 2) Newspaper editorials 3) cover this article through various dimensions such as a) Definition b) components of inclusive growth c) Vulnerable sections and Inclusive growth d) challenges e) Welfare schemes etc..Run  typical search query to get pdfs on this topic.
  1. Theory :Lok sabha website, D.D. Basu, Budget making process
  2. Current: contentious issues of fiscal, current deficit, taxation etc can be covered through newspaper
major crops, irrigation
  1. NCERTs for traditional knowledge.
  2. Covered critical issues say a) Kharif  crops and challenges(water) b) climate change and agricultural sustainability c)crop productivity d) Monsoon dependence f) Dry and wet agricultural crops-issues and challenges  g) irrigation types, methods, challenges, constraints etc.
  3. Relied completely on Internet. Used google search query to fetch pdfs.
agro produce – storage, marketing
  1. Newspaper and Internet is the best resource.
  2. Covered these topics through various dimensions such as a) APMC act b) FDI c) infrastructure d) FCI control, regulation and reform
  3. Cover ‘Sukhpal singh- IIM professor’ articles on agriculture. He has written on contract farming, APMC act reforms and other issues
e-technology for famers
  1. Again Internet 2) GK today notes
farm subsidies, MSP
  1. Research papers(IIT, IIM professor) 2) Newspaper editorials 3) again covered various dimensions related to a) swaminathan report b) Macroeconomic and food inflation c) reforms d) types of farm subsidies-water, electricity, fertilizers.
  2. One can cover other dimensions depending upon the current events such as a) WTO restrictions and india’s international obligations
PDS, buffer, food security Covered in the same manner as explained in earlier column
technology mission
  1. Mrunal  2) planning commission report
animal rearing economics Did not cover.
food processing Mrunal’s coverage on this topic is excellent. No need to look further.
land reforms Mrunal’s coverage on this topic is excellent. No need to look further.
  1. Traditional: 11th class economic NCERT
  2. Current: newspapers where issues such as globalization, FDI, IMF, rating agencies, WTO and their impact on Indian economy(Liberalization impacts) can be covered.
  1. Newspaper  2) Assocham and Ficci reports 3) cover separately Road, railway, Airport, Port, Energy, Urban and social infrastructure
investment models Mrunal’s writing series competition
science-tech day to day life G. K. today notes
Indian achievements in sci-tech G. K. today notes
awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPR G. K. today notes
environmental impact assessment
  1. Downtoearth.org  b) Frontline c) Newspapers  d) There is international organization and a standard code along with other information is developed –International association for impact assessment
Disaster Management
  1. Yojna  cover story b) G.K. today notes  c) ARC report- selected chapters
non state actors, internal security
  1. Internet (IDSA, IPSC web)  b)Newspapers c) G.K.today notes
internal security – role of media, social networking site
  1. Internet  b)Newspapers c) G.K.today notes
cyber security
  1. Internet(IDSA task force report etc.)  b)Newspapers
money laundering
  1. Internet (KPMG reports, PRS for bills,FATF website)  b)Newspapers
border  Management
  1. Mrunal ‘s writing series competition b) Newspaper  c) Internet (IDSA)
organized crime, terrorism
  1. Internet  b) Newspapers
security agencies- structure mandate G. K. Today notes

General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude

Topic How Did You Prepare?
ethics and interface, family, society and all the hathodaa topics Only internet. Material was difficult to fine. Did not prepare well.
attitude, moral influence etc. NCERT 12th class psychology, very good material is available on internet. Search google by varying your queries.
civil service: integrity, impartiality, tolerance to weak etc Internet,  b) prepared 1-2 page definition, characteristics on each quality and tried to find their application in day to day application.
emotional intelligence, its use in governance One document by Goleman. It appeared in Harward business review. Only studied that as he is the first-hand resource on this topic.
moral thinkers of India and world How many thinkers did you prepare?

  1. Covered from chronicle magazine. They produced 4 issues on ethics papers, I found them more useful, appropriate than any other coaching institute notes.
  2. I covered close to 20 thinkers. They are covered very well in these magazine issues.
ethics in pub.ad, accountability, laws, rules etc.
  1. Chronicle magazine, ARC report- selected chapters. B) One can listen to CAG/dignitaries speeches to get fodder points.
corporate governance
  1. Internet case studies with components, different component- principles, framework, organizational challenges, various committee recommendations etc.  b) relied on Internet
probity in governance, work culture Internet, chronicle magazine
citizen charter, ethics code, work culture etc. ARC report – selected chapter for citizen charter, ethics code b) for work culture relied on internet
challenges of corruption Chronicle magazine notes
case studies on above topics Generated a standard template. You can also generate your own template which can be tweaked and be fitted in almost every case study. Points of my template:

  1. Short term solution vs long term solution
  2. Use of words such as transparency, accountability, legality, probity, Integrity depending upon the case
  3. Trust, honest and confidence building exercises- write those activities which generate these qualities
  4. Personal v/s professional dilemma(Mostly found in many case studies)
  5. People empowerment/interests are supreme.
  6. Formal, professional conduct according to standard procedure, protocols.
  7. Taking actions considering department, company’s vision and conduct rules
  8. Reward, sanctions, regulation and monitoring actions (almost it happens in every case study)

Any other comments, word of wisdom after going through the mains-2013.


  1. Ethics can be a differentiating factor, so prepare it as if one is preparing other GS subjects. Basic and fundamentals are important.
  2. Make a vocab list of qualities/ values such as A-Affinity, accountability , I-Integrity, C- courage, conscience from A to Z and prepare something on these qualities. It will improve fundamentals and will add value to case study answers too.


  1. Make notes on each and every topic mentioned in syllabus. In the end, they help you to revise and ease off pressure.
  2. Self- study can help you immensely. Use coaching notes/other material in a supplementary manner. Do not become over dependent.
  3. Note making and writing skills will play a huge role in your selection. Do more writing practice even if it leads to less subject coverage.
  4. Planning and strategy will lead to efficiency and effectiveness.
  5. Some people say, optional has become more important, keeping in mind this year marksheets but for me, GS is more important.

GS4 Ethics case study answers in Mains 2013

Q. in GS4 ethics papers, please give a sketchy overview of your case study answers:

Case your approach/keypoints
1: RTI: To hide or not to hide My approach in all the case studies and in this case study too was to represent a balanced approach. I tried pros and cons analysis and used my standard template approach as explained earlier.
2: Engineer: Bogus flyover vs deadline I gave priority to safety aspect and all other aspects become secondary for me. I explained how accidents may end up in taking precious life.

  1. I tried each question-subpart depending upon how I can maximize safety through  media or any other communication to handle public pressure.
  2. Do not include merits where they are not. In one option, I stated they are no merits involved at all.
3: Child Labourers in Sivakasi
  1. Issues of economic security and child labour b) safety issues  c) legislation perspective d) international obligations e) ambiguity of legislation norms
  2. Not able to reproduce further.
4: Nepotism in Job recruitment
  1. I will not listen to PS and move in a transparent manner by following standard procedures with objectivity without partisan and bias.
  2. I will contact the senior minister bypassing the PS and will make sure whether the minister thinks the same.
  3. I will act as a whistleblower and will contact appropriate authorities (CVC).
  4. Then I analysed giving pros and cons.
5: Leaking information Options are :

  1. Disclosing the information : No merit, only demerits- explained them.
  2. Not disclosing the information
  1. Public good
  2. Competition, transparency
  3. Non-partisan, equal opportunity
  4. Professional responsibility supersedes personal goals.
  5. Trust of people when in future if they come to know
  6. Legal issues can arise in future hence info. must not be disclosed.
6: Narrate one incident in your life when you were faced with such crisis of conscience and how you resolved the same. I stated how I inflated Travel allowance once while working in company. I felt a crisis of conscience and went to travel department, withdrew my bills, stated correct expenditure and promised myself not to do it again.

Mains answer-writing?

Q. How was your experience with the ‘fixed space’ answer sheet?

  • I do not felt space constraints as a source of problem.
  • Space provided is sufficient .

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.

  • yes, I agree with their claim. I wrote too in point –wise form. I wrote in heading-subheading, bullets and  mind map diagrams.
  • Time is a major constraint in the examination. Just produce your best in whatever form you are comfortable with. You can not dwell on these terms  ‘examine, comment, discuss or xyz’. I felt if you want to complete your paper then you can not afford to do analysis there.

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.

  • No I did not follow this format in the examination.
  • I just wrote points only what I knew at that time. Again ‘Time is a major constraint’. Only produce your best.

Q. In GS papers, Since UPSC came with those 100 and 200 words questions. 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.)

1) My approach was to complete the whole paper. On questions, in which I was strong, I gave more time as compared to those where I have to just produce an answer with filler lines.

2) I compromised with quality to an extent but one has to choose between two options

a) Whether she wants to complete her paper with medium quality answers. Or

b) Attempting close to 18-20 questions with good quality answer writing.
Q. How many marks worth questions did you skip/couldn’t finish in the GS papers?

GS (Mains paper) Couldn’t finish __ mark
GS1 I attempted all questions. I did not know answers to all questions but still I wrote something
GS2 23.5 attempts, 1.5 no attempt
GS3 24 attempts,  1 no attempt
GS4 240 mark attempt

Q5. Did you use highlighters / sketchpens in your answers?


Q6. Did you draw any diagram in any paper? (e.g. in GS1 Geography)


Q7. If yes, Did you draw diagrams with pencil or pen?


Q8. Did you use ruler to draw the lines in diagram? Or did you just make it by hand?


Q9. You wrote the answer in blue pen or black pen?

Blue pen

(Mrunal – since readers keep mailing such queries, therefore I’m asking the topper to clear all the air haha.)

Mathematics Optional Subject

Q. Whenever an Engineer or B.Sc/M.Sc aspirant thinks about maths optional, the seniors &  coaching sirs discourage him saying “maths is too lengthy, competition too high given the scaling & IITians etc.” What’s your take on this? Why didn’t you settle for something like political science or sociology?

Yes Mathematics is lengthy. It takes more time than any other optional subject. But once syllabus is over after 6-8 months, it gives you scoring opportunities. Competition is tough everywhere. One who takes pub-ad or sociology, with whom he/she is competing- with master /PHD students in that subject! When an average participant is spending 2-3 years for becoming IAS even after becoming IPS, IRS etc., why not take mathematics and get good marks in first attempt.

But remember, Mathematics is a Monster subject (Syllabus) and will demand time. If you’re still not able to decide whether to opt it or not, do 15-30 days experimentation with it in your own manner and see by yourself, whether you are able to handle it or not.

I had sociology and Mathematics in 2012 but due to scoring opportunities, I settled for Mathematics.

Q1. First the essential book/resource list stray.

I’ve relied on past topper Mr. Prakash Rajpurohit’s strategy, booklist. Here is the link


Q2. How much of internet-research is necessary for this optional? OR can one simply rely on the books and be done with this subject?

No major Internet research is required for Mathematics.

Q3. How many months did it take to finish the core optional syllabus?

6-8 months time is required to complete the core syllabus.

Q4. How many days/ weeks before the exam, you started answer writing practice?

Mathematics requires constant practice. I was doing it throughout exam preparation time.

Q5. Do you maintain self-notes for revision of optional? In which format- electronic or paper?

In Paper format. I made formula note for each chapter.

Q6. Your observation about the difficultly level of 2013 mains vs previous papers. And what precautions / rectifications are necessary in the future strategy for given optional subject?

  1. Paper was easy/average as compared to 2013 mains in difficulty level.
  2. When you rely on a particular chapter, do not leave any topic from that chapter.
  3. Try to complete syllabus.
  4. Practice hard.

Q7.How much did you skip OR couldn’t answer properly, in the optional paper?

optional paper Couldn’t finish __ mark
Paper I 40 marks
paper II 60 marks

Before the interview

Q1. How did you prepare for the interview? Particularly college graduation subjects related questions?

I did not prepare this area. I am not good in technical studies. I prayed to destiny not to run my interview on technical lines. Luckily, My interview was on social issues.

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?

  1. I joined Vaji ram and sankalp mock interview classes.
  2. Yes, they benefitted me a lot.
  3. They are entirely different from the examination interview, but one can improve his/her weakness by giving some mock interviews.

Q3. What did you wear? Some experts say coat is must, some say tie is must, and some say black shoes must. What attire did you pick up?

I went in white shirt, grey trousers, blue tie and black shoes.

Q4. Where did you stay for the interview? (Hotel / friend’s home …) and what books/material did you bring for the ‘revision before interview’?

  1. I stayed at my friend’s place. I was reading 3 newspapers before the interview. For home state, one can buy state gk  book(arihant). As my hobby was reading books, I read few books as well.
  2. Please prepare your DAF very well. My interview ran mostly on DAF information.

During the interview

Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board?

P. Kilemsungla madam.

Q2. How long was the interview?

30-35 mins.

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?]

My answer would have been :  Sir/Mam, I want to expand my learning opportunities, to engage in a work where I am able to execute my characteristic traits, to take decisions which affect not just few people but bring a change for large number of people. I was doing some form of social service in private sector but felt its impact was limited, so I decided to quit and thought of preparing for 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.

Chairperson:  We are listening so much about Sustainable development these days. What should be the ‘characteristics of development ‘according to you?

Me:  Mam, Development must be inclusive, participative and sustainable. Development ought to increase human capabilities and freedom. People have high aspirations in our democracy and development must fulfil those aspirations. Development must raise living standards of citizens so that they have a reason to assign values to their lives. Development should assure them a safe and better future.

Chairperson:  You are going to become a civil servant. What are the qualities, which you think, a civil servant must possess?

Me: Mam, I think, a civil servant is a ‘servant of people’. His every decision must results in people centric governance and benefits of citizens at large. I also think, transparency and accountability are two other important qualities of civil servant. He is expected to be thoroughly professional in his work. Legality, objectivity and people centric governance too have important place in modern governance.

Chairperson:  You have Mathematics as your optional subject. What qualities/ values you learnt while you were preparing for civil services and how you would use those learnt values in administration?

Me: Mam, Mathematics thought me values of objectivity and precision. I have to be pin point accurate in my decisions. I also leant value of optimum utilisation of resources and how rational decision making is made. I will use values of objectivity, rationality, precision, accuracy and optimum utilisation of resources in day to day governance.

Chairperson:  You are from Haryana and there is problem of Khap panchayat and castism and other social evils. Suppose you are made district collector, what would be your priority and how you would resolve these problems?

Me: Mam, as a long term solution, I will try to change people’s mindset so that they themselves realise that these bodies(Khap Panchayat) are regressive bodies. I will take help from social mobilizers, NGOs and educational institutions to spread positive values. India can learn from its past when in 19th century, there was a problem of sati, child marriage but through a social revolution, we were able to eradicate these social evils.  As, a short term solution, I will ensure that rule of law is established and illegal diktats from these bodies do not violate citizens’ rights. I will try to address this problem through a multi-dimensional framework.

Chairperson:  Recently, there was a statement from a politician that person who commit rape must not be hanged and be given a lenient treatment. What is your opinion on that?

Me: Mam, We can debate whether these culprits deserve capital punishment or not but lenient treatment is not a point of debate. This is a brutal crime and strong punishment must be given to them. We are already witnessing increased crime against women and lenient treatment will give wrong signals. We have to protect women’s rights and a strong deterrence mechanism is needed. I, as a person strongly condemn the statement. We as a citizens must instil confidence in the other half.

(Chairperson Pointing to Member1)

Member1 : Who was Baba Mastnath? (My school name is based on this saint)

Me : Fumbling, Sir, I think he was a social reformer and he worked for girl education.

Member1: His operations were limited to Haryana(my home state) or else?

Me: Sir, I am not sure but he concentrated his efforts specifically to Haryana.

Member1: Your hobby is reading books, on which issues you read books.

Me: Sir, I read non-fiction books. I generally read books on Social issues, historical events such as Partition, and 1989 Kasmiri Pandit exodus crisis and welfare economics.

Memeber1: Any other?

Me: Sir, I have started to explore more on biographies.

Memeber1: Which books you read recently?

Me: Sir, I read ‘an uncertain glory-India and its contradictions’ by Amartya sen and ‘Every body loves a good drought’ by P. Sainath.

Memeber1: But P. Sainath always pelts stone at govt. Machinery. Don’t you think his criticism is always justified?

Me: Sir, In a democracy, we have to take every criticism in a constructive manner .It can increase administrative and governance standards and consequently helps in meeting people’s expectations.

Memeber1: Suppose, you are selected as head of district administration. You are sitting in your office, tired, just signing off your day. But there is a long queue of people in front of your office with petitions in their hands. They want resolution of their problems and that’s too with written assurance. What will you do?

Me. Sir, those people have come to my office with lots of expectations and it is part of my duty to hear their grievances. So firstly, I would listen to them. I would try to resolve their problems by taking help of my seniors and subordinate staff members. If their problems are beyond my jurisdiction, I would politely say no. Regarding written assurance, I would say, please have a trust on us. I would urge them to leave their contact address. Once your problems are resolved, we would convey the same at the earliest.

Member 1: On what issues you write articles. Why you write them?

Me. Sir, I write on social issues which draw emotions out of my mind. For me writing is a way of expression to convey experiences based on my observations to others. Writing these thoughts help me to refine my understanding effectively. Sharing one’s thoughts help others to learn as well. So these are the prime motivations, why I write and share.

Member 2: M2

M2: India is facing lot of challenges on ‘Internal security’ fronts. We have so many complex problems. Suggest, how we can resolve these problems.

Me: Sir, Mistakes are great assets and collectively, India can learn from past mistakes. In the past, in Naxal areas, standard operating procedures and protocols must be followed with strict top to down communication mechanisms. Coordination mechanisms between centre and state, between different states, and also with neighbouring countries such as Nepal, Bangldesh, and Bhutan need strengthening. It can help us to fight three evils of Terrorism, Naxalism and Insurgency. Better intelligence at ground level is other area where we need to improve. Training human resources, modernisation of police forces and e-technologies can add strength to existing capabilities. Besides, we need strong deterrence mechanisms , legislative reforms, implementation of existing laws to fight these complex problem. Citizen awareness too can prevent many undesired events.

Pointing to Member 3 : M3

M3: You are a mechanical engineer. Tell me about ‘ Pelton Wheel’

Me : Sorry sir, I am not able to recollect at this moment.

M3: Ok, leave it.

M3 : Your optional subject was Mathematics. Tell me how you will use mathematical knowledge in Governance and Administration?

Me: Sir, I leant how to optimally utilise given resources through lineal programming models such as simplex and will utilise in wide range of governing areas such as health and education’. Computing models such as Newton-raphsons can help us how to effective handle inflation, unemployment. They can also help us how we can better reap benefits of demographic dividend. Integral and calculus can help us to understand frequency and solve problems of congestion, transportation and infrastructure bottlenecks. Children too face problems in understanding mathematics and I can help departments how innovative and exciting learning models can make learning more attractive.

Some more questions on power sector reforms were asked.

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 on expected lines. They made me comfortable and it was not a stress interview.

Q6. Any side details about technicalities like “make sure you bring xyz document or do xyz thing, or you’ll face problem”?

Just follow the instructions given by UPSC.

Q7. Any word of wisdom / observations about medical checkup?

Bring eye prescription along with yourself at medical check up day

CSE-2013 Marksheet


Career Backup

Q1. If you were not selected, what was your career backup plan?

I would have given another attempt and after that if still not selected, I would have joined IT sector. Like I said in the beginning, If still destiny does not help, move away from this trap.

Q2. When were you going to “execute” that backup plan?

After one more attempt.

Views on UPSC reforms

What are your views on following issues?

Q. Optional subjects should be removed altogether.

Yes, I favor complete GS based evaluation. Optional subject this year too has introduced an element of subjectivity and created a difference in final ranking.

Q. Despite what UPSC has done in recent years, it has failed to curb the nuisance of Delhi’s coaching factories. In fact it’s increased under the new syllabus in 2013.

  • Due to wide syllabus, students are looking for guidance and consequently joining coaching institutes.
  • But I feel, in medium term, people will realize the importance of self-study in new scheme of things. After solving the paper at home, we can see that by focusing on thehindu, certain books and internet it is possible to cover up the syllabus through self-study.

Q. UPSC should disclose official prelim answerkeyand cutoffs, immediately after prelim is over, instead of postponing it till interview phase is over.

Absolutely. As they have introduced Ethics papers, transparency must start from Institution itself. why people should wait for full year to know/analyse their weakness in prelim examination.

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

I would cut the subjectivity involved in Interview process. Transparency with respect to mark sheet, marking criteria, evaluation benchmarks need reforms.

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? What is your message to these candidates?

1) It does not matter in this examination from which college you are. I suffered from insecurity related to my graduation subject, but one of my friends told me that you cannot dip your confidence based on one or two weakness.

2) What required is strengthening your strengths. That day is not in your control. Pray to destiny to help you.


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?

  1. Planning and strategy is most important.
  2. Before taking nay coaching, ask yourself whether you actually need coaching (Financial constraints, time, less time for self study, delhi’s harsh environment). Take some time to decide.
  3. Self-study is the key here. GS papers have changed; they require your own understanding. Newspapers, Internet, TV debates role have increased manifold.
  4. Take a long term perspective while you prepare. No shortcuts. Plan for 7 days, 10 days, 15 days.
  5. While under stress, take some rest. Talk with family member and friends but never feel dejected. IAS, IPS etc is just a tag, life is much more than that.
  6. This is a subjective examination full of uncertainties and as Mrunal sir always say: Make a back up plan; please do it else it will become a trap.
  7. First complete NCERTs, Basic books, Newspaper etc. before jumping to coaching institute notes. Do not commit the reverse else you would end up wasting your precious time.
  8. Take care of your health.

Q. Many hardworking candidates have failed in Mains/Interview of CSE-2013. They’re feeling dejected. What is your message to them?

There is no difference at all who get a rank below 100, or say 250 , 350 or 700. No difference between who writes main, went to interview or finally clear . Please do not make a perception about yourself only based on final rank. Game is full of subjectivity and you must take subjective factors into account when you make an assumption about yourself.

You are a different person now what you were before. You have never failed but learnt.  Time is to move forward and learn more. Rank is not at all in our control. Take care of your health and work hard with peace and calmness.

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 mother and father, who ensured not a single day- breakfast, lunch and dinner, was missed. I will not say much more about their sacrifices. My dearest friends -Rahul, Raghu and Vijay guided me at every moment.

BOGUS Marketing Propaganda

Q. You are well aware of the sacred rule – 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, unlike those competitive magazines.

Mrunal bhai , you are a true inspiration for those who study at home and cannot afford to go to Delhi to spend lakhs. You are making significant efforts to help students. This is brilliant. No more words. Every aspirant knows this. Quality of your posts speaks about your research efforts. Participants can complete previous posts.

I visited your site every day while preparing and made notes. I try to remember your wisdom.

Mrunal: Thanks a lot Mr. Sumit Kumar for giving us such a detailed walkthrough of your exam preparation. We wish you the best for service and cadre allocation. Keep in touch.