1. Candidate Profile
  2. Education
  3. Introduction
  4. Electronic Vs Paper material
  5. Tempo and style
  6. Struggle of a Senior player
  7. Prelims (CSAT) General studies
  8. Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude
  9. Prelim accuracy
  10. Mains: Compulsory language paper
  11. Mains: Essay
  12. General Studies (Mains) paper 1
  13. General studies (Mains) paper 2
  14. General studies (Mains) Paper 3
  15. General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude
  16. Mains answer-writing?
  17. Mains Optional Subject
  18. Before the interview
  19. During the interview
  20. CSE-2013 Marksheet
  21. Career Backup
  22. Views on UPSC reforms
  23. Insecurity about profile
  24. Wisdom
  25. Credit: Friends/family
  26. BOGUS Marketing Propaganda

Candidate Profile

Aditya Ranjan

Q. Details
Name Aditya Ranjan
Rank in CSE-2014 99
Roll No. 063487
Age 27
Total attempts in CSE (including this one) 3
Optional Subject Sociology
Schooling Medium English
College medium English
Medium chosen for Mains answers English
Medium chosen for Interview English
Home town/city Bokaro
Work-experience if any 20 months in Oracle
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failures Indian Revenue service (Income Tax) 2013Indian Forest Service 2014. Did not write mains.
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used) Vajiram (Mahapatra Sir) for Sociology. Synergy and Vision for test series. Ravi R. Chokkalingam for Current Affairs.
Service preferences (Top-5) IAS, IPS, IFS, IRS(IT), IRS(C&E)
state cadre preference (Top-5) Jharkhand. Bihar, Chattisgarh, MP, Gujrat


fill the details here
% in class 10 88
% in class 12 80
Graduation course and % 72.4
Name of college, city, passing out year BIT, Mesra, Ranchi. 2010 passout
Post-graduation None
Any other professional courses No
Hobbies & Extracurricular achievements Taking Initiatives and Web Designing


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

I come from a business family. Did my primary schooling from Govt. school of my village. We are three brothers and one sister. Elder most brother Dr. Rakesh Kumar is an orthopaedician who has been the torchbearer of my path to success right from my school days. The middle one Shrawan is self employed and Sister has done MBA. My brother in law Ramanad kumar is CA working with Reliance. I entered this field because I found it as the shortest and the fastest way to serve people. Having associated with many non- profit organizations like pustakseva, jagriti yatra, iseeindia.com , lifeline hospital bokaro and h.h. brambe school Ranchi I found immense satisfaction in doing something for the people. This made me to rethink about my job that time in Oracle and I resigned without giving a second thought to the risk associated with it.

Electronic Vs Paper material

Q. In recent times, there is spur in electronic material- blogs, sites, pdfs, RSS-feeds. Many aspirants feel bogged down by this information overload. So, how much do you rely on electronic material and how much on the paper material (Books, newspapers)? If possible narrate a typical day in your studylife. What is your style of preparation (e.g. I continue making notes no matter what I’m reading, I just read multiple times but don’t maintain notes, I make mindmaps on computer …or xyz style)

I believe the whole game of UPSC is all about Output Input ratio. The idea is to gain the most in minimum effort. The art of knowing what not to do can sail one through this vast ocean of resources. Online or Paper material is more about personal preference but for me it was mostly on paper. As MAINS is actually the main exam that decides one’s fate which is to be written on paper one should try to be paper oriented. Online material is very good in terms of accessibility and variety but habit of note making, answer writing, handmade flowcharts etc. helps one develop the art of writing quality answers.

I have seen people going to irrelevant videos, and websites pretending to study online. So the idea is use internet as much as you can but ensure that you do not waste your only precious asset during preparation – TIME.

I used evernote to some extent and bookmarked some websites like PIB, ISDA, MRUNAL and some others. Mostly my notes were on A4 size sheets. I used to cut and organize paper cuttings from the hindu and Indian express honestly. Sometimes Hindustan Times and Times of India for sociology case study and Interview preparation.

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?

Honestly speaking I had very few or none such moments, may be because I like reading a lot. Still discussion with friends on various issues gave me immense satisfaction and multiple opinions. In current pattern paper IV of General Studies (Ethics) can be the most interesting and refreshing topic to discuss. I, Swapnil (rank 740), Sunil (rank 1164), Vinit and Ritesh used to do this a lot. Reading remotely relevant but interesting novels can also be a good way to come out of the monotonous study routine. I read Imagining India, India after Gandhi, What young India wants, Discovery of India, Difficulty of Being Good, etc. in the course of my preparation only. Please avoid reading or watching unauthentic materials like Jodha Akbar, rajia sultana like serials or India TV discussions.

Struggle of a Senior player

Q1. How did you survive through this mental prison and what’re your words of wisdom to other senior players? If any specific inspirational incident(s), please share.

First of all, always have a plan B in accordance with your expectations from life. Like for me my heart lies in entrepreneurship and social service. So I never left it. As in between exams I participated in things like Startup Weekend, Jagriti Yatra, New Delhi Rising and organized series of health camps. I also used to discuss new ideas with my college friends Arindam and Amit on weekends and over phone. I used to teach part time in Delhi as well for free. This made me feel comfortable and kept me engaged in times of failure, breaks and low ranks.

Regarding relatives I have never told anyone about my preparation. Pretended to be Working from Home in my last company Oracle. This acted as relative repellent for a year and half and by the time they could know I was jobless I had IRS in my hands.

Interesting events were many like I used sit in my father’s and brother’s shop in the post exam periods. There were comments like ”aap padhai chor diye kya” (have u left study), “Aap Bangalore se Bokaro kahe aa gae” (why did u come to Bokaro from Bangalore). Some would be euphemistic – “Aajkal business me bhi achcha paisa hai” (there is lot of money in business these days) , “sab padh hi lega to dhandha kaun karega” (If everyone will study who will run business), etc. I always said yes uncle/ aunty u r right, because acceding to their comments avoids subsequent questions and gives them immense satisfaction : P J . It is always good to make others happy. J

Hence in short keep yourself engaged as much as you can in anything coherent with your likings and vision. Don’t react to others comments listen, avoid and wait for the right time. God will give you time to speak as well.

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

Attempt 1 …….

Butchering of Public administration (if someone remembers people got even 5 out of 600 that year) in 2012 mains and my underpreparation led to my failure in my first attempt. I got 30 + 82 that year in PubAd.

Lessons: 30 out of 300 shows UPSC does not award any grace marks. It only awards quality answers. So I started practicing writing quality answers in all tests without thinking about number of attempts. Marks in Essay was average so I joined a coaching for that. Left Public Administration when one optional was dropped.

Attempt 2 …….

The lessons learnt had very mixed effects. The number of questions in 2013 was increased drastically to 25. My focus was on quality of answer. I could attempt only 12 questions in Paper I of General Studies because of it. But had good marks in next 3 papers where I tried to ensure both quality and quantity. (57 + 63 + 88 +100)

Essay writing due to coaching became very mechanical and directed. The originality got killed and approach was misdirected by the coach. My marks got reduced.

Lessons: Looking at the pattern of marks in 2013 of all the selected candidates I could realize that to get good rank one must perform exceptionally well in Essay, Optional and Interview. My optional was Sociology and I found very less scope of improvement in it. So I wrote 20 plus essays and got it checked from people who had good marks in Essay that year like Navin (rank 738 ,910). He had 125 in 2013 and 144 this year in Essay. I also geared up for attempting all questions in GS without compromising quality.

Attempt 3 ……….

Lessons: There are things in UPSC which are not under one’s control like my Optional in my case but one can always have a grip over one’s own controllable variable to tame the lion. Find your strengths and weaknesses and work accordingly. I forgot my coaching of Essay and started afresh. Worked hard for GS and interview. This paid off accordingly.

Prelims (CSAT) General studies

Topic strategy/booklist/comment
History Ancient R. S. Sharma NCERT and NIOS material. Too much of cramming is required so must do last minute revision
History Medieval None. I have never read J
History Modern (Freedom Struggle) Muhammad Tariq (TMH) and Bipin Chandra- India’s Struggle for Independence. Connected it with current affairs.
Culture and society NCERT class XI new, NIOS, ccrt website, Spectrum and GOOGLE. I made a 10 page notes by connecting current with culture and got 3-4 questions directly from it for 2 continuous years.
Polity (theory + current) Laxmikant and Subhash Kashyap. For current thehindu and Indian Express. I also referred Chokkalingam sir’s classnotes sometimes for current.
Economy (theory + current) NCERT class XI and XII, Sriram’s printed material, Newspapers, Economic Survey and google for reference.
Science (theory + current) The Hindu speaks on S&T volume 1 & 2. CISR’s What, Why and How. Manorama Year Book only for S&T.
Environment (theory + current) Erach Barucha, NIOS, NCERT class XII Biology some chapters, mrunal and gktoday for current.
geography physical NCERT class VI to XII
geography India NCERT class VI to XII
geography world NCERT class VI to XII
other national/international current affairs Newspapers and PIB only
Schemes, Policy & Filler Stuff Economic survey, Newspapers and mrunal.

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS prelim 2014 paper?

It was more factual than previous years. It may continue this year. Please make sure you are prepared for both conceptual and factual.

Q. in GS-Prelims 2014, there was unusual questions from environment and agriculture portion. If you were to give the attempt again in 2015, what new strategy / books / sources would you focus?

I would have read more online for current affairs and some old NCERTs.

Q. Now that Aptitude paper has become qualifying, obvious more attention needs to be paid on the GS paper so apart from the books that you already have gone through, what else would you have tried for CSE-2015 (if you were going to appear)?

I would have taken some test series for prelims as well. I have never done this in my earlier attempts.

Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude

Topic strategy / booklist
Maths None
reasoning None
comprehension None
Decision Making None

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS Aptitude 2014 paper.

Accuracy was the key to my success.

Prelim accuracy

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

Paper I. No mock tests.

Paper II. Anyone like CL, Byju etc. in the market. But I practiced them at home.

Q2. Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers. in CSAT-2014

attempted Q. correct (Expected)
GS 63 55
aptitude 66 60

Q3. Your score in prelim (when UPSC uploads it please mail me your score)

GS — 105

CSAT — 140

Mains: Compulsory language paper

Compulsory language paper Your preparation strategy / booklist?
English paper None
your regional language None

Q2.other observations / tips / comments on the length / difficulty level of compulsory language papers in CSE-2014.

The papers were much longer and tougher this year. In fact I could not do translation well in English paper. Earlier the paper had options like attempt any 5 of the 10 questions but last year all were made compulsory. Hence one must be prepared for a tougher paper every year.

Mains: Essay

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?

Wrote too many essays on variety of topics and got it checked from candidates who have got good marks in 2013 mains. Please do not spend your time and money on coaching for essay it will destroy your originality. Essay has to be as simple as possible and never a collection of facts or ideas. It should never look like islands of ideas in the vast ocean of vagueness. There must be coherence, continuity, clarity and a fixed track with a lucid flow and simple writing. I did this by practice and self correction. Read Yojana and Kurukshetra to get an idea of how to start, move and conclude a piece of writing.

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

Wrote on Competition among youth and can tourism be the next thing. I developed a theme in both the essays.

Theme 1: The question is not completion is good or bad but competition for what, by what means and at what cost. Then I went on to give arguments on both the sides for and against right from the Mahabharat to Globalization, school days to times of death, etc.

Theme 2: Tourism can be the next big thing but only when big reforms come. Then I went on to write all dimensions with a story of a foreign tourist in the background from cultural to spiritual to medical to educational to work etc.

General Studies (Mains) paper 1

Topic How did you prepare?
Culture NCERT class XI new, NIOS, ccrt website, Spectrum and GOOGLE. But no source is sufficient enough.
Indian history Grover and TMH Mohammad Tariq.
world history Jain and Mathur (Selectively) I made notes of it. Ankur Sharma (Wizard) for quick revision.
post-independence India India After Gandhi and Pradhanmantri series of AVP news. (Made notes of it)
Indian society My optional was Sociology so nothing specific. But I had 3-4 pages notes on every topic mentioned in the syllabus. Mostly collected from Yojana and kurukshetra.
role of women, poverty etc. Same
globalization on Indian society Same
communalism, regionalism, secularism Same
world geo physical NCERT class XII and XII
resource distribution NCERT old “Land and People” and Mrunal
factors for industrial location Same
earthquake tsunami etc Same
impact on flora-fauna Same

General studies (Mains) paper 2

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian Constitution, devolution, dispute redressal etc. Subhash Kashyap and D. D. Basu.
comparing Constitution with world Vajiram classnotes (No question came)
parliament, state Legislatures ARC IInd report
executive-judiciary ARC IInd report
ministries departments None
pressure group, informal asso. Yojana and ARC IInd report
Representation of people’s act None
various bodies: Constitutional, statutory.. None
NGO, SHG etc Yojana
welfare schemes, bodies Newspaper and Internet resources
social sector, health, edu, HRD None
governance, transparency, accountability ARC IInd report
e-governance ARC IInd report
role of civil service ARC IInd report
India & neighbors Read Rajiv Sikri once. Then current affairs notes of Chokkalingam Sir, Vajiram and Sriram
bilateral/global grouping Same
effect of foreign country policies on Indian interest Same
diaspora Same
international bodies- structure mandate Same

General studies (Mains) Paper 3

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian economy, resource mobilization 12th Five Year Plan
inclusive growth 12th Five Year Plan
budgeting ARC IInd Report
major crops, irrigation NCERT
agro produce – storage, marketing Yojana and Kurukshetra selectively
e-technology for famers Yojana and Kurukshetra selectively
farm subsidies, MSP Economic Survey
PDS, buffer, food security Newspapers
technology mission Newspapers
animal rearing economics None
food processing Kurukshetra
land reforms Yojana and Kurukshetra selectively
liberalization None
infra 12th FYP
investment models 12th FYP
science-tech day to day life The Hindu speaks on S&T volume 1 & 2. CISR’s What, Why and How. Manorama Year Book only for S&T. Newspapers
Indian achievements in sci-tech Same
awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPR Same
environmental impact assessment Googled and made notes
Disaster Management ARC IInd report and Yojana
non state actors, internal security Planning commission report on security issues.
internal security – role of media, social networking site Planning commission report on security issues. Yojana articles
cyber security Same
money laundering Same
border Management Same
organized crime, terrorism Same
security agencies- structure mandate Same

General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude

I did not read any specific book for it. Just read ARC reports well and gave thought to general issues in news. Discussed with friends a lot. Watched Michael Sandel’s Videos (made notes of it).

Mains answer-writing?

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

Paper Best attempted Average quality namesake answer Total attempt
GS1 18 4 2 24
GS2 15 10 25
GS3 18 7 25
GS4 10 4 All 14
Opt-P1 All
Opt-P2 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]

Quantity matters, but never at the cost of quality.

I believe there are two types of copy evaluators as well. Strict, who want good content only and Lenient, who award average for average type of content. Hence my strategy was to write 10-15 questions of very high quality then try attempting as many as possible till 25. This would ensure minimum 50-60 in each paper no matter who evaluates. One can ensure his/her name in the list by this strategy and can get very good rank if it is his/her day.

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

Very good experience as I practiced 100+ words per page. This saved my time as I need not take care of how much to write and that acted as a natural barrier to length.

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.

Again one should play safe and make a good mix of both. I wrote discuss and analyse in paragraphs and illustrate and explain in bullets. It also depended on time at hand. Less time left write in bullets.

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.

Mixture of both. But mostly I followed the pattern of I-B-C.

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

I tried to but could not in all answers. Merely underlined that too with same blue ink.

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

Yes but only in Geography.

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

Pen only.

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

Made by hand.

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

Blue. 5 rupees wala linc click. J

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

Mains Optional Subject

Q. What’s your optional subject and why did you chose it and not something else?

Sociology. In my first attempt I had four months and 2 optionals to prepare. So I went by the trend/length and chose Pub Ad and Sociology. But later I liked the subject a lot although I could not score well in it and it pulled my rank by a large extent.

Q. If a new player wants to pick this subject, would you advice for it or against it? (e.g. every senior player in Public Administration seems to be advising against pub.ad)

Yes Pub Ad is not performing well so is sociology. Technical subjects though demand more time and effort they are very predictable in nature. In my opinion one should go by interest and graduation stream only.

Q. First the essential book/resource list. (Also mention which one is the “Base book” for covering the theory? + Whatever comments you’ve for a particular book e.g. “my seniors said read xyz book but I found that ABC book was better”. “xyz topic not given properly in this book, so prepare from xyz website or book…” OR and so on.)

  1. Anthony Giddens and Haralambos for paper 1.
  2. MA IGNOU notes for paper 2.
  3. Classnotes of Dr. Mahapatra and Upendra sir.

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?

Simply rely on books. Add with newspaper current affairs.

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

2-3 months.

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

2 months

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

Self notes in hand written format.

Q. Your observation about the difficultly level of 2014 mains vs previous papers. And what precautions / rectifications are necessary in the future strategy for given optional subject?

It was less vague. One should try to make micronotes of all topics for quick revision in last few days of the exam.

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?

Made an extensive notes on each and every word mentioned in the DAF. Then tried to derive possible questions out of it and answer it. Read 4 newspapers for current affairs. Thehindu, Indian Express, Times and Hindustan times. I also tried to read my state’s newspapers online.

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 did practice many mocks. Some in coaching institutes and many at home with my friends Swapnil, Deepak, Niraj, Sunil and Vinit.

They were quite different from official one. In mocks one is not as much serious as in final and the expressions of members in mocks were indicative. Official board members never show any reaction to my answers. It was very neutral.

It is not at all necessary and sometimes harmful as well. One must attend mocks only if he/she takes them as source of rectification only. It must neither demotivate you nor make you overconfident.

Q3. Describe the formal-dress worn by you in interview.

I was wearing laced black shoe, light blue shirt, red &black tie, smoke grey trouser n summer coat.

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

I was in my own rented room in Delhi. Internet was mostly the source. But I revised my optional and GS notes of mains as well.

During the interview

Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board?

Kilemsungla Madam

Q2. How long was the interview?

45 minutes.

Q3. Why do you want to join civil service? Why don’t you continue in your graduation field? Social service can be done from private sector too. [Since I don’t know whether they ask you this question or not. But if they had asked- what will be your reply?]

I have done a lot of non-profit good works in the fields of health and education since my college days. I was also part of many startups.

Hence my answer was to serve the nation. I could have done it remaining in private sector but I wanted to work on the fields, bring a direct impact and above all, I believe I can bring faster and bigger changes with same amount effort as an officer than as part of any NGO or startup. And madam, in case i donot get through I am very clear about my aim of life, I would continue with my social entrepreneurship.

Q4. Please narrate your entire interview- what questions did they ask and what did you reply and other pleasant or uncomfortable experiences during the interview. (Earlier some toppers only tell me their question but not their answer. I would appreciate if you give both Question + your original answers)

Would write extensively in a separate article as I have decent marks (210) in interview.

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?

Fifty percent of it went on the same lines as I prepared but there were unexpected turns as well. It was not a stress interview but one member was asking very negative questions which I reacted to positively.

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

Make sure your read instructions in your call letter and follow them.

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

Bring 10 photographs (I forgot, had to run a lot). Any past record related to surgery etc. can be brought.

CSE-2013 Marksheet

Q1. Please attach both prelim and final marksheet. (when it comes)

Prelims :

GS – 105

CSAT – 140

Mains :

Essay 132

General Studies paper 1 — 93

General Studies paper 2 — 92

General Studies paper 3 — 93

General Studies paper 4 — 113

Sociology paper 1 — 129

Sociology paper 2 — 90

Interview : 210

Q2. After looking at the marksheet, suppose you had to prepare again next time, what changes will you make in your studies?

I would have either changed my optional to Physics or have done something new for Sociology paper 2.

Career Backup

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

I would have continued with my startups. Or have started new ones with my old team.

Q2. When were you going to “execute” that backup plan? (e.g. after __ failed attempts/ after I cross __ age/after dad retires/ after girlfriend dumps me etc.)

That backup plan is not in the backseat, I would execute them or at least try to execute them even after joining civil service with the help of my friends and new people.

Views on UPSC reforms

Q. Optional subjects should be removed altogether. The present stalemate is helping no-one, except coaching-owners, book publishers.

Yes it should be dropped. It will bring a parity in the scheme of exam.

Q. Your views on the decision to make CSAT paper 33% qualifying?

It is good for the serious aspirants. I think there should be reforms in training module to improve aptitude as it is a requirement in administration today. Keeping it in prelims was putting many in disadvantage especially from rural background hence question on democratic nature of our country.

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 2014. Let’s face it, most candidates who gave Mains-2014 have relied on (authentic OR Xeroxed) coaching notes because there was hardly any time left to prepare so many topics in such short time. This system work against an individual preparing from far-away area, without any financial resources, high-speed internet or contacts in Delhi.

I agree with it but I have made my own notes for all the topics. In the age of internet and with efforts of mrunal like websites I don’t think system can work against anyone living in far flung areas.

Q. Half-merger of IFoS with CSE is a bad move because it has raised the cutoffs for players who’re solely dedicated to IFoS only (and not to IAS/IPS). Adding salt to the wounds, many who had applied for both jobs, cleared the prelims- they did not even bother to appear in all the papers of Mains-IFoS. (atleast that was the scene in 2013).

The concern is genuine. Even I did that by appearing only in GS paper of IFoS. There must be a change.

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

Yes. It will help one improve upon his flaws in preparation.

Q. UPSC should be conducted online like IBPS and CAT exam to shorten the duration of exam.

Prelims can be online.

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

I would have tried to drop optional and bring in 2 more papers of General Studies in mains. NDA’s SSB like thing for personality test would bring in more genuineness in the scrutiny.

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?

I was not suffering from any such insecurity despite having a hindi medium primary schooling. Still my message would be that everyone is unique and has his/her own advantages and disadvantages. You just need to orient yourself and present best of you there.

Urban background people have the advantage of being a good speaker, extrovert nature and openness in answers. On the other in the answers of rural people one can see honesty, integrity, emotions, empathy, etc. Hence it is more about realizing and working on one’s strengths and weaknesses.


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?

I have learnt how hard work, perseverance and having a vision in life pays off despite all uncertainities and hindrances. Public Administration butchering, syllabus change, increase in number of questions in GS, change I number of essays, etc. have never let me down but only acted as boost to work harder. Wisdom of life is to have vision and go on to pursue it till the end of your life. Wisdom of competition is know yourself and work accordingly. Improve yourself everyday in terms of number of hours of work etc.

Q. Many hardworking candidates have failed in Mains/Interview of CSE-2014. They’re feeling cynical, hopeless and depressed- what is your message to them?

Keep trying till your heart and mental strength permits. Please don’t keep on taking attempts half heartedly because it comes with very high opportunity cost at such age. My message to them is IAS is not the end of world. Popatrao Pawar, a Sarpanch from Maharashtra heads a panel of IAS officers and Raghuram Rajan or Sam Pitroda were never an IAS but went on held some of the highest posts in govt. Just love whatever you do and feel proud to be yourself.

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 parents never questioned me in any of my decisions right from leaving IIT to leaving my sinecure job. They never had any expectations as well. Their selfless support and non interference was precondition to my preparation and success. My elder brothers Rakesh and Shrawan gave me both financial and moral support. Friends are the one with whom you live during preparation. My Jijaji Ramanand and didi Ruby always used to call me and reinstate the belief that I am the best and I can crack this exam. I credit Abhilasha, Swapnil, Vinit, Arindam, Sunil and Ritesh for bringing me upto the level I am today in terms of knowledge and personality. Discussions with them have helped me a lot in honing my writing skills and developing multiple opinions on issues.

Incident : When I was feeling a lot of risk in leaving my job my brother Dr. Rakesh called me up and said, “Go ahead. I will pay your salary in your account till you clear UPSC”. Although it didn’t materialize in literal terms J but that gave me immense courage to leave job and sufficient push to take the unpredictable path.

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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.

I have not been a real ardent follower of mrunal but yes I did refer it many times for geography, economy and current affairs. Thumbs up for your graphics and videos. Honestly although I was not a regular user I recommend most of the students who ask me for guidance to visit your website. Keep up the good work.