1. Topper Profile
  2. Education
  3. Introduction
  4. Electronic Vs Paper material
  5. Prepration Style
  6. Tempo and style
  7. Prelims (CSAT) General studies
  8. Prelim accuracy
  9. Mains: Essay
  10. Mains General studies paper 1 to 4
  11. General Studies (Mains) paper 1
  12. General studies (Mains) paper 2
  13. General studies (Mains) Paper 3
  14. General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude
  15. Mains answer-writing?
  16. History Optional Subject
  17. CSE-2013 Marksheet
  18. Career Backup
  19. Wisdom
  20. Credit: Friends/family
  21. BOGUS Marketing Propaganda

Topper Profile

Rank in CSE-2013 249
Roll No. 473620
Age 23.5
Total attempts in CSE 2
Optional Subject HISTORY
Medium chosen for Mains answers ENGLISH
Schooling medium ENGLISH
College medium ENGLISH
Home town/city CHANDIGARH
Work-experience if any TEACHING MATHS FOR IIT-JEE
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failures
  • IITJEE (2008)- AIR 4675
  • AIEEE(2008) – AIR 3784
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used)
service preference #1, 2 and 3 IAS, IFS, IPS
state cadre preference (top3) PUNJAB, HRY, HP


% in class 10 90
% in class 12 85
Schooling (Medium) ENGLISH
Graduation course and % ECE, 70
Name of college, city, passing out year PUNJAB ENGINEERING COLLEGE, CHANDIGARH, 2012
Any other professional courses
Hobbies & Extra curricular READING, DEBATING, QUIZZING, MOVIES.


Q. Tell us something about yourself, your family, when and why did you enter in this field of competitive exams?
UPSC CSE 2013 Topper Dinesh Gupta Punjab engineering college

I am Dinesh Gupta, born in 1990 in Patiala. My parents both belong to Patiala. My father works in a bank so have been to many cities as resident (Delhi, Kolkata, Bikaner, Chandigarh included). I changed 8 schools during earlier days, hence change is a constant part of my life. My mother is a housewife, and a big inspiration in my life.

I have interests in international relations, history, spirituality, mysticism, philosophy and in many other fields. I believe in healthy discussions based on facts rather than rhetoric.

I started preparation in 4th semester of college. Gave first attempt in 2012(the year I passed out). Gave interview, was not in the final list. This was my second attempt.

Electronic Vs Paper material

As far as General Studies is concerned I relied a lot on the net for paper 2 and 3. Just to give an example, while reading about ngo and other voluntary organisations I came across Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) again and again , which could itself be related to both economy as well as internal security (destabilising via foreign funding) ..such topics are best covered online as there are hardly any conventional sources for this. Again for critical analysis of many social sector scemes like ICDS , SSA as well as many acts like Forest Rights Act,2005 I relied on epw(online subscription of archives).

Also some websites like downtoearth, idsa , the diplomat , frontline archives(for the topic needed for holistic understanding), prs ,pib, mrunal were frequently visited. These are those which I found the best and most informative amongst all the online material.

But again , the purpose of using internet should be getting 360 degree views and clarity of the topic till a point you are satisfied, because as such there is no end to how deep you can go in just one topic..also it has to be kept in mind that you will have at most 200 words to write for one topic, so no point going very very deep.

Prepration Style

Q. What was your preparation style and approach to go about a topic?

My basic instict was to see what are the possible dimensions that could be covered as a part of that topic and what exactly is the core of all the subtopics that can be framed in that whole topic. Then discussing with my friends about their views on the topic ,possible subtopics and sources( yes a 5-6 people group with same zeal , intellect helps immensely in both reducing stress and in broadening the knowledge base.)

For the next step , Mrunal bhai is the best example. Just like he explains a topic – from the very beginning, the history, the core, and finally all the related issues- that is how a topic is to be dealt peronally. eg- if education is being prepared, one should first divide it into – primary, secondary , higher..these three hav different concerns and solutions..- then what all can be related to it?- all the educational schemes ..then critically evaluating the major ones like SSA,MDM ..comparison with SAARC and BRICS countries..aser and pratham reports- just basic figures and analysis..finally what ails the education system and some suggestions, The Higher Education and Research Bill, 2011 – in brief.

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?

One reason this prepeartion is considered very hard is because of the time it demands – both while prepation and the complete year it takes to complete the process. It is very human to get out of focus for few days , to lose the motivation or tu just be overwhelmed by the process. Personally also I faced this problem – firstly when even after 3-4 readings I could not recollect many things , that was very demotivating..nd secondly when I could not get through the first attempt.

The best solution for this is to surround yourself with enthusiastic and serious friends with whom you can discuss, synchronise some of the sullabus, do answer writing practice and look up to in difficult times..family and friends are your greatest support in these times. Besides, setting a target helps..as in one should have daily and weekly division of syllabus and after that target has been satisfactorily achieved, it is good to relax.

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

In my previous attempt , I had average marks in evrything but nothing outstanding that could have helped me get a good rank. So this year I increased my coverage of topics as well as the sources to be covered. I attended 3 months updated course at vajirams, read notes of srirams, synergy, puri sir as well as chokhalingam sir (topic wise). Also an year extra helped me gain more clarity in to many topics.

Prelims (CSAT) General studies

Topic strategy/booklist/comment
History Medieval Old NCERTS, Satish Chandra,
History Modern (Freedom Struggle) Old NCERTS, BIPAN CHANDRA , SPECTRUM BOOK
Culture society History optional helps + Nitin singhania notes+ internet for better understanding.
Polity (theory + current) Lakshmikant+ prs +frontline+ hindu
Economy (theory + current) Ramesh singh+ vajirams class notes+ sriram printed(selected)+ mrunal+ some current issue of a magazine like – cst, pd etc
geography physical CLASS NOTES+ GOH CHENG LEONG+ ncerts
geography India KHULLAR+ NCERTS
geography world
other national/international current affairs Hindu, frontline, cst/ chronicle
Schemes, Policy & Filler Stuff Pib, prs, hindu

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

Managing time well, not being struck on a seemingly difficult question. In addition to speed , accuracy matters equally in these exams.

Prelim accuracy

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

I attended Bulls Eye test series in Chandigarh In addition to that I solved 10 practice papers of CL. They helped me practice managing my time as well as gave me a good practice.

Q2. Your score in prelim — total 299.

GS 118
aptitude 181
total 299

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

The language papers should not be taken lightly as such. Many deserving friends could not clear mains just because of language papers.

Mains: Essay

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?

For Essay , I attended 12 classes course of vajirams. In addition I wrote 4-5 essays with friends and checked them amongst ourselves. A few points I think should be kept in mind for essays- especially this year after talking to many people it can be safely assumed that word limit did play an important factor in determining marks. Eg, if it was written that the essay should not be written more than 2500 words, then the essay should be around 2200- 2500 words. Secondly , choice of topic is very important. Essay should be written on that topic on which you have sufficient points to write these many words with good quality. Uniquness of essay topic should not be the top priority. Rest  to everyone has their personal style, but flow should be correct , which can be improved via practice and try covering as many dimensions as possible.

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

  1. Be the change you want to see in others (Gandhi)
  2. Is the Colonial mentality hindering India’s Success?
  3. GDP (Gross Domestic Product) along with GDH (Gross Domestic Happiness) would be the right indices for judging the wellbeing of a country
  4. Science and technology is the panacea for the growth and security of the nation.

I wrote on – Science and technology is the panacea for the growth and security of the nation. This is one topic I had the most idea about.

1. Included many dimensions , related it to many social economic problems like food -water shortage , housing problems, how development of vaccines led to eradication of many diseases.

2. Compared the Europe of Charles Dickens , Malthus’s times to todays Europe and how technology played a role in it.

3. Gave examples of cheap Indian innovations – tata swacch, tata nano, ISRO’s cheaper satellite launches. Also gave example of how better satellite imaging led to so less a loss of life and property in the 2013 orissa cyclone – Phailin.

4. ended by saying that technology should not divide the world further along north-south or developed- developing fault lines, but should act as a great unifier, for benefit of all of humanity.

Mains General studies paper 1 to 4

I attended updated course by vajirams for 3 months. I think this was a very good step. Before 2013 attempt, most of the people used to focus on mainly their optionals and in gs even if average marks were scored, a person used to get a very good rank. But since GS was going to be the main fighting point in CSE-2013, focus on GS was very necessary.

Personally History and geography had been my optionals ,and since syllabus of socio is very general , sources limited , my main focus was GS -2,3,4.

For paper 2 , I extensively used Puri sir’s class notes, found them very useful. For IR, economics, notse by chokkalingam sir were very useful. Besides I used internet extensively for these 2 papers. Also , for economics book by uma kapila is very good for better understanding of economics in general(though not written from syllabus point of view).

General Studies (Mains) paper 1

Topic How did you prepare?
culture History optional helped + Nitin Singhania notes+ ncert on culture (very good) + internet
Indian history History optional helped + bipan chandra two books -1. Struggle for independence(1857- 1947) 2. History of modern india(1700 -1857)+ old ncerts
world history World history baliyan sir class notes..(very helpful)+ vajiram new syllabus class notes + normal lowe + history channel short summary of major events (helpful even for optional) + random internet
post-independence India India since independence – bipan chandra
Indian society NCERTS – Two of them . not too sure ,but most probably +2, discussions and point jotting , attended 3 lectures at vajirams as part of updated syllabus course + social issues from hindu , frontline.
role of women, poverty etc. -same-
globalization on Indian society -same- + vajiram handout on this topic.
communalism, regionalism, secularism -same-  +  India since independence – bipan chandra
world geo physical Had geography as my 2nd optional in 2012 attempt..that helped ..all the conventional topice – geomorphology, oceanography, climatology, soils, environment covered thereby.
resource distribution Vajiram booklet + mrunal
factors for industrial location Vajiram classes  + mrunal
earthquake tsunami etc Geo optional + general
impact on flora-fauna Geo optional + general

General studies (Mains) paper 2

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian Constitution, devolution, dispute redressal etc. Lakshmikant + puri sir notes for polity updated course (very useful) + ncert
comparing Constitution with world Vajiram classes updated course (by ravindran sir) + vision ias document
parliament, state Legislatures Lakshmikant + puri sir notes for polity updated course (very useful) + ncert
executive-judiciary Lakshmikant + puri sir notes for polity updated course (very useful) + ncert
ministries departments Vajirams booklet
pressure group, informal asso. Vajirams booklet + shreerams printed notes + puri sir notes for polity updated
Representation of people’s act Vajirams booklet
various bodies: Constitutional, statutory.. Lakshmikant + vision ias document
NGO, SHG etc Vajirams booklet + shreerams printed notes + puri sir notes for polity updated
welfare schemes, bodies Vajiram booklet (basics) + coverage of all schemes from a common source (like chronicle etc) + coverage of all schemes from year book + current issues like mid day meal scheme fiasco of bihar from hindu, frontline + critical analysis from epw other magazines online eg ICDS , MGNREGA.
social sector, health, edu, HRD Vajiram booklet (basics) + coverage of all schemes from a common source (like chronicle etc) + coverage of all schemes from year book + current issues like mid day meal scheme fiasco of bihar from hindu, frontline + critical analysis from epw other magazines online eg higher education, women health etc.
governance, transparency, accountability Vajirams classnotes updated + Vajiram booklet+ vision ias document
e-governance Vajirams classnotes updated + Vajiram booklet+ vision ias document
role of civil service Vajirams classnotes updated + Vajiram booklet
India & neighbors Rajeev Sikri book + current from hindu, frontline, thediplomat + world focus (selected articles) + puri sir ir class notes + chokhalingam sir class notes
bilateral/global grouping Rajeev Sikri book + current from hindu, frontline, thediplomat + world focus (selected articles) + puri sir ir class notes + chokhalingam sir class notes
effect of foreign country policies on Indian interest Rajeev Sikri book + current from hindu, frontline, thediplomat + world focus (selected articles) + puri sir ir class notes + chokhalingam sir class notes
diaspora Covered as part of rajiv sikri book..he talks about diaspora in a particular country while talking of different countries + current
international bodies- structure mandate Wikipedia and online material for general ones and the ones in news.

General studies (Mains) Paper 3

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian economy, resource mobilization Ramesh singh + newspapers
inclusive growth Shreerams printed notes (very good)
budgeting Ramesh singh
major crops, irrigation Vajiram class notes (manocha sir)
agro produce – storage, marketing Vajiram class notes
e-technology for famers Gk today
farm subsidies, MSP Vajiram class notes + shreerams printed
PDS, buffer, food security Vajiram class notes + shreerams printed
technology mission left
animal rearing economics left
food processing Vajirams class notes + mrunal
land reforms Vajirams class notes
liberalization Ncert (very nicely explained)
infra Vajirams class notes + internet + ramesh singh
investment models Vajirams class notes + vision document
science-tech day to day life Mrunal + frontline (science) + gk today
Indian achievements in sci-tech Gk today
awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPR Vaji science and tech class notes
environmental impact assessment Vajirams updated class notes (manocha sir)
Disaster Management Many sources including gktoday document of 27 pages and a yojna issue + in depth coverage of phailin + ncert on disaster
non state actors, internal security Vajirams booklet(vry good) + classes + idsa website + random internet + puri sir notes
internal security – role of media, social networking site Vajirams booklet(vry good) + classes + idsa website + random internet + puri sir notes
cyber security Vajirams booklet(vry good) + classes + random internet + puri sir notes
money laundering Vajirams booklet(vry good) + classes + random internet + puri sir notes
border  Management Vajirams booklet(vry good) + puri sir notes
organized crime, terrorism Vajirams booklet(vry good) + classes + idsa website + random internet + puri sir notes
security agencies- structure mandate Vajirams booklet(vry good)

General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude

I attended 22-23 lectures by vajirams on ethics covered by 4 different teachers. These classes were very helpful. I combined these with ethics classnotes of mohanty sir from Synergy and the 3 booklets given by vajirams itself.  Plus some random articles on internet(very few) . For thinkers, I did shreerams booklet, but prepared only around 20 main thinkers and leaders etc.

Mains answer-writing?

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

Space was hardly an issue.

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.

Around 80 percent of the answers in paragraph, 20 % when time was less in points. But it was generally said by teachers(atleast mine) during preparation that it is better to write in this examination in paragraphs.

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.

Past 1.5-2 years of answer writing had trained the mind to go about in “introduction-body-conclusion” format. So though given the number of questions to attempt , neither very good beginnings , nor conclusions could be framed everywhere, but the general pattern of attempt remained that way only.

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.)

Given the marking of UPSC over the past 2 years one thing was very clear to me, that getting 3-4/10 in any gs answer would also be really tough and 5 or 6  would be almost the highest.(though the general trend of marking this year shows conclusively that a decent answer would fetch u only around 3 marks, not more) . And I had not left any major portion of syllabus untouched. So my focus was to attempt as many decent enough answers as I could, even if I had to compromise on very good quality in some.

Q. How many marks worth questions did you skip/couldn’t finish in the GS papers?

GS (Mains paper) couldn’t finish
GS2 20,did not know both of them
GS3 30 ,here also did not know paper of 30 marks
GS4 10 , got emotional in answer wiriting, poor time management.

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

No time for all this.

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?

No time to change to pencil. So with pen only.

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

No ruler

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


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

History Optional Subject

Q1. First the essential book/resource list and strategy


  3. DN JHA




    1. Struggle for independence(1857- 1947)
    2. History of modern india(1700 -1857)
    3. India Since Independence
  4. IGNOU



Q2. 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?

Mostly internet is to be used for world history topics only. Imp websites include wikipedia, history channel.

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

6-8 months. History is a lengthy optional.

Q4. Do you maintain self-notes for revision of optional? In which format- electronic or paper?

Yes given the diversity of sources for History Optional , it becomes necessary to have some short notes for almost everything.

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?

History paper 1 was very difficult(or I would rather say that it was of those topics no history optional student would think are important. ) Paper 2 was on conventional lines. Given this trend, it becomes absolutely necessary to cover as much of the syllabus as is possible, focus more on societal, religious aspects along with political history. Also, fair amount of writing practice is must!

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

optional paper Couldn’t finish __ mark. + comments on any weird questions
Paper I 20 (medieval india 10 markers , had not even heard of)
paper II

CSE-2013 Marksheet

Essay 135
GS1 79
GS2 58
GS3 85
GS4 85
History Paper 1 103
History Paper 2 107
Written Total 652
Interview 160
Final total 812

Career Backup

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

If I was not selected, then I would have continued with my teaching career. Teaching comes very naturally to me and it is something I enjoy a lot. So even my backup plan was something of interest.


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?

The biggest thing this exam has taught me is patience. Rome as they say was not built in a day. Keep working hard, success will follow sooner than later. To the new aspirants I would say that this journey, though tough is very informative. Even a days newspaper can teach us so much. If serious efforts are put, clarity of any topic is achieved and a good and simple way of presenting your ideas is developed, a very good rank is certainly guaranteed..:)

Q. Many hardworking candidates have failed in Mains/Interview of CSE-2013. They’re feeling cynical, hopeless and depressed- what is your message to them?

I have myself been through this stage. Could not have my name in the final list for CSE-2012. But this is how life is. The fact that I am not successful one time, does not mean that I have to carry it with me. Next attempt should be with better preparation , more vigior and success will surely be yours. And do remember, writing mains in this examination is in itself a very big achievement. All that is required is a little more push, which will get your name in the final merit list..:)

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?

Firstly I would like to admit that I believe that though I consider myself very worthy of this selection , there are many deserving candidates who could not make it to the final list. So my biggest thanks to the almighty who has rewarded me amply for my hardwork.

Secondly , whatever I am is because of my parents. My father has taught me not to rest until I have achieved what is meant for me. He is the one who pushes me to fight even harder. He has believed in me more than I hav in myself. My mother has been a constant pillar of strength. Through all the highs and lows, she has always been with me.

Then my friends, especially my branch mates from Pec(Rishabh, Vaibhav, Aanchal, Anurag, Neha, Aayush, Nidhi, Sahil.) and the ones who have been with me in this preparation (Kirti, Utkarsh, Samarth)..without their support and belief too this journey would have been much harder.

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 first of all a big thanks to you from the side of all aspirants. You are doing so great and selfless a work..:) these days there is hardly anyone preparing who does not know about you!..not only is the clarity you bring in the topics you discuss appreciable, but the amount of material that is present on your site – both guidance and subject matter is priceless..keep up the good work..:)

With so many good contacts you have, ask people to write on many topics, just like you do on economics, so that for starters, their rush to find source reduces and they can find good quality material at just one place..in short, a one stop shop for all aspirants.