1. Candidate Profile
  2. Education
  3. Introduction
  4. Electronic Vs Paper material
  5. Typical day in your Online life?
  6. Style of Preparation and notes making
  7. Prelims (CSAT) Paper-1: General studies
  8. Prelims (CSAT): Paper-2: Aptitude
  9. Prelim accuracy
  10. Mains: Compulsory language paper
  11. Mains: Essay
  12. General Studies (Mains) paper 1
  13. General studies (Mains) paper 2
  14. General studies (Mains) Paper 3
  15. General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude
  16. Mains answer-writing?
  17. ELASTICITY of Optional Subject Score
  18. Mains Optional Subject
  19. Before the interview
  20. During the interview
  21. CSE-2016 Marksheet
  22. Career Backup
  23. Views on UPSC reforms
  24. Insecurity about profile
  25. Internal Motivation
  26. Struggle of Working professional
  27. Grand wisdom
  28. Credit: Friends/family
  29. BOGUS Marketing Propaganda

Candidate Profile

Abhishek Singh

Q. Details
Name Abhishek Pradeepkumar Singh
Rank in CSE-2016 181
Roll No. 0101781
Age 26
Total attempts in CSE (including this one) 1
Optional Subject Anthropology
Schooling Medium English
College Medium English
Medium chosen for Mains answers English
Medium chosen for Interview English
Home town/city Thane
Work-experience if any Currently serving as a probationer in Indian Telecommunication service under Dept of Telecom
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failures AIR 1 in UPSC Engineering Services Exam 2014.
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used) Sriram’s IAS, Insights on India
Service preferences (Top-5) IFS, IAS, IRS(IT), IPS, IRS(C&CE)
state cadre preference (Top-5) MAH, GUJ,RAJ,MP,AGMUT


Education fill the details here
% in class 10 92.15
% in class 12 93.67
Graduation course and % B.E (EC) ,78.9%
Name of college, city, passing out year K.J. Somaiya College of Engineering, Vidyavihar, Mumbai,2013
Post-graduation M.E. (Communication Engineering), BITS Pilani,2015
Any other professional courses None
Hobbies & Extracurricular achievements Watching and Playing Football, Quizzing


Q. Tell us something about yourself, your family, when and why did you enter in this field of competitive exams?
I’m Abhishek, native place is Varanasi, born and brought up in Thane,Maharashtra. Did my B.E. in Electronics and Telecom from K.J.Somaiya College of Engineering, Mumbai and then did my M.E. in Communication Engineering from BITS Pilani. Currently serving as a probationer in Indian Telecommunication Service through UPSC Engineering Services Examination 2014.
My Father works in International marketing for a Pharmaceutical company, my mother a housewife, biggest influence in my life and who motivated and inspired me  to join public service, grandfather, an electrical engineer worked for TISCO and Mukand iron and steel company, grandma a housewife, sister studying M.B.B.S.
Had been planning to join government service since long and soon entered into competitive exams right after engineering. Having tasted success in UPSC Engineering Services Examination gave me the confidence to take UPSC CSE and this experience helped me in clearing it in the very first attempt.

Electronic Vs Paper material

Q. In recent times, there is spur in electronic material- blogs, sites, pdfs, RSS-feeds. Many aspirants feel bogged down by this information overload. So, how do you balance this i.e. electronic material vs. paper material (Books, newspapers)
Stick to one source for information and make notes out of them and keep on updating that and revising the same. I chose InsightsonIndia and VisionIAS Monthly editions for my current affairs.
Made notes on MS Onenote since read TheHindu in PDF and also made notes from InsightsonIndia on Onenote. Use marking tool and take screenshots and paste it on Onenote for future reference.
Used PDF Viewer for reading pdf since could use the various tools available as per my requirements for making notes.
With plethora of sources available choosing the right ones and sticking to it is important so that you use your time optimally and crack the exam at the earliest.
My notes are available on these links:


Typical day in your Online life?

Online life Answer
Daily hrs spent on online platforms for predicting cutoff / syllabus change / age-attempt limit change and other “peripheral-bolbachchan“ related to civil services. 0
Daily hrs spent on whatsapp and telegram studygroups 0
Daily hrs spent on online for exam prep. 2-3
Primary Device for online study: desktop, laptop, tablet, mobile Laptop

Q. Any other things that you wish to elaborate on above table:
I would always suggest reading newspaper in PDF format since making notes is much easier than from a hardcopy. And read only 1 newspaper, for stuff from other newspapers use online sources like Insightsonindia.

Style of Preparation and notes making

Q. What is your style of preparation and notes making? (e.g. I continue making notes no matter what I’m reading, I just read multiple times but don’t maintain notes, I make mindmaps on computer, I use xyz software etc.)
Only made online notes on MS Onenote for current affairs, for other GS,etc only used to underline in case of hard copy and in case of soft copy used marker tools and when revising would rather read the marked parts instead of the entire chapter again,saved a lot of time this way instead of copying the same stuff in another notebook and carrying it along.

Prelims (CSAT) Paper-1: General studies

Topic strategy/booklist/comment
History Ancient NCERT(R.S.Sharma),Sriram IAS
History Medieval NCERT(Satish Chandra), Sriram IAS
History Modern (Freedom Struggle) NCERT(Bipin Chandra), Spectrum, Sriram IAS
Culture and society Culture: NIOS,Mrunal ppts, Society:Sriram IAS, Self made current affairs notes
Polity (theory + current) Laxmikanth,Sriram IAS, Self made current affairs notes
Economy (theory + current) Mrunal Sir lectures, Sriram IAS, Self made current affairs notes
Science (theory + current) Sriram IAS class notes, Tata Mcgraw hill S&T book, NCERT as dwld from mrunal resources,Self made current affairs notes
Environment (theory + current) Shankar IAS, Self made current affairs notes
geography physical NCERT as dwld from mrunal resources,Rajtanil Mam lectures, Sriram IAS
geography India NCERT as dwld from mrunal resources,Rajtanil Mam lectures, Sriram IAS
geography world NCERT as dwld from mrunal resources,Rajtanil Mam lectures
other national/international current affairs Self made current affairs notes, Shankar IAS notes on International Organistaions
Schemes, Policy & Filler Stuff Easily available nowadays in a compiled form from online sources, otherwise were there in my notes compiled.

Q. Candidates are complaining that compared to earlier years, Prelim 2017 GS paper was very tougher, Tickmasters’ 90+ strategy (and its perverted & populist version known as Guessmaster-giri) and E-learning materials had limited utility. What are you views and wisdom on all these?
Can’t comment since did not give the paper neither did I see that paper.
With respect to E-learning material, it will always supplement your newspaper and never complement that, so your preparation can’t depend entirely on online sources. Your base has to be strong for online sources to add to that.
Q. Suppose, If you had to prepare for Prelims-2018, then after going through this 2017 paper, what changes would you make in your preparation?
Can’t comment for the above mentioned reasons.
However considering the unpredictable nature of these exams especially the prelims, you anyways can’t do much about it. What you plan to do now in the future seeing what happened in this attempt may not work next time. So continue with your preparation in a focused manner. Sources will always vary, you just can’t change your sources from where to study based on that. Too many sources are never going to help.

Prelims (CSAT): Paper-2: Aptitude

Topic strategy / booklist
Maths None
Reasoning None
Comprehension None
Decision Making None

Q. In the recent two prelims (2016 and 2017), the comprehension portion becoming quite tough and lengthy. Candidates struggle even to finish the paper-II. Kindly provide some words of wisdom:
When reading a newspaper, how you extract information from it enhances your comprehension skills, so if you have a habit of skimming through the pages rather than trying to understand the same then you’re doing it wrong, so always especially for the editorials stress on extracting what the writer is trying to convey rather than only focusing on name of the policy, statistics etc.

Prelim accuracy

Q1. Did you attend any ‘mock tests’? do you think they’re necessary for success?
Yes gave mock tests of Sriram IAS and from different online sources.

Q2. Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers. in Prelim-2016
Attempted:74   Correct :67

attempted Q. correct (Expected) Official score
GS 74 67 129.33
aptitude Don’t remember Don’t remember 126.68

Mains: Compulsory language paper

Compulsory language paper Your preparation strategy / booklist?
English paper None
your regional language Hindi, Download Android Apps for Muhavre, Lakoktiya etc

Q. other observations / tips / comments on the length / difficulty level of compulsory language papers in CSE-2016
English grammar section was tricky, one should have a look at the basic rules before going for the paper, other sections should not trouble much.

Mains: Essay

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?
1 month before mains paper started picking topics from various test series available and targeted to collect as many points as possible within 20-25 minutes so I can construct a good essay. Thus, training my mind to gather points as fast as possible instead of writing the essay.
All the points that used to cross my mind were organized in different baskets(in sequence):
Intro,Background, Current Scenario,  Advantages, Disadvantages/Challenges, Solutions, Existing schemes and govt policies , Conclusion.
While gathering points used to look for all possible dimensions: Social, Economical, Political, Environmental, Technological, etc.
So once I have noted down these points I would arrange them within the basket so there is a smooth flow instead of any aberration which is appreciated and needed for a good essay.
Q2. Which two essays did you write and What key points did you include in it?
One was on Water disputes and the other was on Cyberspace.
Cyberspace: Began with our Prime Minister Sir’s vision of IT+IT=IT elaborated on the same and introduced definitions of cyberspace and related terms. Beginning from ARPANET how the internet has become ubiquitous today. Cyberspace and its applications in different fields.  Challenges wrt Cyber security, radicalisation, trolling, digital illiteracy, lack of physical infra to support etc. Govt schemes eg digital india, digital saksharta abhiyaan. Steps taken to overcome drawbacks like CMS, CERT-In, Counselling, Anti-trolling cells in Ministry of Women. How to make cyberspace safe and convenient to all. Conclusion.
Water disputes: Mostly laxmikant, current issues and affairs, environment, irrigation related stuff.

General Studies (Mains) paper 1

Topic How did you prepare?
Culture NIOS Art and Culture, Mrunal ppts
Indian history NCERT Ancient, Medieval, Modern, Spectrum Modern
world history Vision IAS notes
post-independence India Vision  IAS notes
Indian society Sriram IAS notes
role of women, poverty etc. Sriram IAS notes
globalization on Indian society Anthropology paper 2 notes…muniratnam notes
communalism, regionalism, secularism Sriram IAS notes, Anthropology paper 2 notes…muniratnam notes
world geo physical NCERT organized as downloaded from Mrunal resources, rajtanil mam lectures
resource distribution rajtanil mam lectures,chapter in Khullar
factors for industrial location rajtanil mam lectures,chapter in Khullar
earthquake tsunami etc Disaster management notes (Vision IAS), rajtanil mam lectures
impact on flora-fauna Shankar IAS environment

General studies (Mains) paper 2

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian Constitution, devolution, dispute redressal etc. Laxmikant, Sriram IAS polity notes
comparing Constitution with world Sriram IAS notes
parliament, state Legislatures Laxmikant, Sriram IAS polity notes
executive-judiciary Laxmikant, Sriram IAS polity notes
ministries departments Laxmikant, Sriram IAS polity notes
pressure group, informal asso. Laxmikant, Sriram IAS polity notes,Sriram IAS NGO notes
Representation of people’s act Sriram IAS polity notes
various bodies: Constitutional, statutory.. Laxmikant, Sriram IAS polity notes
NGO, SHG etc Sriram IAS NGO notes
welfare schemes, bodies India Year Book, Compilation available online resources most recent Shankar IAS compilation for schemes, Current affairs notes(Self made)
social sector, health, edu, HRD Mrunal PPts, Current affairs notes, Sriram IAS Economy notes
governance, transparency, accountability Parts in ethics notes referred from Sriram IAS notes
e-governance Current affairs
role of civil service Parts in ethics notes referred from Sriram IAS notes
India & neighbors Vision IAS Mains 365, IGNOU India and World, Current affairs notes
bilateral/global grouping Shankar IAS International Organisations notes, Vision IAS Mains 365, Current affairs notes
effect of foreign country policies on Indian interest Vision IAS Mains 365, Current affairs notes
Diaspora Vision IAS Mains 365, Current affairs notes
international bodies- structure mandate Shankar IAS International Organisations notes, Vision IAS Mains 365, Current affairs notes

General studies (Mains) Paper 3

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian economy, resource mobilization Mrunal ppt, Sriram IAS economy notes
inclusive growth Mrunal ppt, Sriram IAS economy notes, current affairs notes
Budgeting Mrunal ppt, Sriram IAS economy notes
major crops, irrigation Rajtanil Mam ppt, Khullar
agro produce – storage, marketing Sriram IAS economy notes (some part there)
e-technology for famers Current affairs notes
farm subsidies, MSP Current affairs notes, Sriram IAS economy notes
PDS, buffer, food security Current affairs notes
technology mission Current affairs notes
animal rearing economics Current affairs notes
food processing Current affairs notes
land reforms Khullar
Liberalization Mrunal ppt, Sriram IAS economy notes
Infra Mrunal ppt, Sriram IAS economy notes
investment models Mrunal ppt, Sriram IAS economy notes
science-tech day to day life Current affairs notes
Indian achievements in sci-tech Current affairs notes
awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPR Current affairs notes, Sriram IAS notes made in class
environmental impact assessment Shankar IAS Environment notes
Disaster Management Vision IAS notes, , Sriram IAS notes made in class
non state actors, internal security Sriram IAS notes made in class
internal security – role of media, social networking site Sriram IAS notes made in class
cyber security Sriram IAS notes made in class + training material as part of training during probation
money laundering TMH book on internal security….(since reference was notes I made in class…for other topics not covered in great detail in class I referred to TMH book on internal security)
border  Management Sriram IAS notes made in class
organized crime, terrorism TMH book on internal security
security agencies- structure mandate Sriram IAS notes made in class

General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude

Topic How Did You Prepare?
ethics and interface, family, society and all the hathodaa topics Sriram IAS notes
attitude, moral influence etc. Sriram IAS notes
civil service: integrity, impartiality, tolerance to weak etc Sriram IAS notes
emotional intelligence, its use in governance Sriram IAS notes
moral thinkers of India and world How many thinkers did you prepare?
4-5….mainly Bentham,Kant,Gandhi and others whose theories were included in those notes…although Sriram IAS had given separate notes for thinkers but could not go through them.
ethics in pub.ad, accountability, laws, rules etc. Sriram IAS notes
corporate governance None
probity in governance, work culture Sriram IAS notes
citizen charter, ethics code, work culture etc. None
challenges of corruption Sriram IAS notes
case studies on above topics InsightsonIndia Mains Test Series Solutions to have a look at how to go about and construct your solution to a case study.
The way I constructed the answers were(in separate paras): Brief of the case study, ethical dilemmas involved, what are the possible solutions unless question asks for specific ones, which one would you choose and why…always preferred the middle path.

Q. In ethics, they’re asking random definition and concepts out of the book. Most of the serious candidates (both topper and non-toppers) have received marks in similar ranges. What are your observations and tips for future aspirants regarding preparation of this paper?
If it’s out of your sources of reference so you have not studied, then based on what you understand you need to generate an impromptu answer for that. You cannot study everything so can’t do much about that.
I did not prepare much for this paper as you can see I just used one source for reference and based on what I read wrote answers in the paper. In case studies, my experience in Govt setup as probationer helped since answers have to practical and implementable.

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 9-10 5-6 3-4 Attempted all
GS2 4-5 10-11 4-5 Except McBride..all
GS3 12-13 5-6 2-3 Attempted all
GS4 8-9 4-5 4-5 Attempted all
Opt-P1 14-15 3-4 1-2 Attempted all
Opt-P2 10-11 4-5 3-4 Attempted 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]
Tried to attempt every question.
In case of those questions for which I had not much idea wrote some points which I could relate to the keywords present in the question but did not leave them, since if you leave them you are guaranteed 0 marks while you present some thoughts which should be somewhat related to the question then you might score some marks.
Q. How was your experience with the ‘fixed space’ answer sheet?
No problem…there is ample space to write the answers.

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.
Did not follow any pattern strictly..some in bullet points..some in paras…even a mix of both in the same answer.

Q. Did you follow the “introduction-body-conclusion” format? because some mains-qualified candidates claim they simply wrote the points they could recall within the time, instead of bothering with proper introduction and conclusion.
Yes. I followed the “introduction-body-conclusion” format for all my answers, this format gives your answer a structure which is required.

I don’t like asking following rudimentary questions, but these are the most frequently asked questions by new aspirants.

Q5. Did you use highlighters / sketchpens in your answers? No
Q6. Did you draw any diagram in any paper? (e.g. in GS1 Geography) No
Q7. If yes, Did you draw diagrams with pencil or pen? NA
Q8. Did you use ruler to draw the lines in diagram? Or did you just make it by hand? NA
Q9. You wrote the answer in blue pen or black pen? Blue, Cello gripper to be precise

ELASTICITY of Optional Subject Score

Q2. What are you views on following observation: “In CSM-2016, the marking gap between average to brilliant scorers is smaller in Essay to GS papers and interviews; but in optional subjects there is huge difference among average to brilliant scorers.” Therefore, the deciding factor was the marking in the optional. I have not asked this question to suggest in anyways that you got ‘lucky’ with your optional. But I’ve asked this question because these days younger candidates tend to select or change optionals based on how their coaching-walla, peer-group or social media portrays the particular optional subject. E.g. some three Mains back, there was an atmosphere “you should shift from Public Administration to Pol.Sci or Sociology or anthropology because of Public Administration is giving only two digit scores in each paper.” Similarly, two mains back, some were preaching others to avoid LAW optional because not even 20 are getting interview calls and so forth (data unverified). So, kindly provide wisdom for younger aspirants.
Choose an optional that interests you and it should be manageable with your GS syllabus so that you can balance studying for both along with preparation for Essay. Also another factor one can look into is its better if studying that optional also helps in attempting GS questions for eg. Anthropology.
And I didn’t take coaching for the optional so I don’t think that should be a criteria in choosing your optional.
Again every person you meet will discuss why he/she has chosen that optional you can talk to people but decision should be yours and always an informed one.

Mains Optional Subject

Q. What’s your optional subject and why did you chose it and not something else?
Anthropology. Began with Electrical Engineering, but later realized that it’s not working out well.
So I had to switch to an optional which had concise syllabus and is related to other GS papers alongwith that was advised by a colleague that ultimately influenced me to choose Anthropology.
Q. If a new player wants to pick your subject, would you advice for it or against it?
One can definitely choose Anthropology because of its concise syllabus which gives you time to prepare for GS and other components which comes in handy in other GS topics as well for eg those modules based on tribes.

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.)

Abhishek UPSC Anthropology Books
Sequence I studied these books in:
1) general anthro …Nadeem Hasnain
2) socio cultural anthro …Vaid
3) history of anthropological thought (Strictly as per syllabus, not cover to cover)…Upadhyay
4) Indian anthropology ….Hasnain
5) tribal India …Hasnain
6) physical anthro….Nath
(evolution from  apes to humans read from muniratnam) –

After that muniratnam notes….especially its paper 2 notes .
Website for anthropological thoughts not covered in the book
Only these material I referred to from cover to cover unless stated otherwise…these were sufficient for attempting maximum questions in Anthro paper.
Q. How much of internet-research / current affairs is necessary for this optional? OR can one simply rely on the books and be done with this subject?
For Paper 1 I relied on the books that I have mentioned.
Whereas for paper 2, there is a need to be updated with the govt schemes, its impacts and always be on the lookout for tribal issues being discussed in the newspapers, they’re of help in answer writing.
My paper-2 Notes are available here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0ByLJaX_yH_LoUk5sMUh0a19oaDA
Some material which I had referred to for anthro paper 2, I’m sharing the same, can give you an idea of the type of material one needs to look out for.
Q. How many months did it take to finish the core optional syllabus?
Around 2-3 months
Q. How many days/ weeks before the exam, you started answer writing practice?
No practice…since changed my optional in between and did not have much time to prepare for the subject itself since I began studying it after prelims ..so chose to study and shunned any writing practice.
Q. Do you maintain self-notes for revision of optional? In which format- electronic or paper?
No notes…only underlining stuff for hard copy and marking in case of soft copy.
Q. Your observation about the difficultly level of 2016 mains vs previous papers. And what precautions / rectifications are necessary in the future strategy for given optional subject?
Paper 2 was a bit different than previous years.
And there were quite a few questions related to archaeological findings which I had not studied much. So need to give stress on those topics too even though it has to be read and revised so that you remember it and there is hardly any logic or any concept involved. You just have to remember them as it is that’s what makes it difficult.

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?
Online sources for every possible question that can be made from my DAF. Made concise notes of the same since had to refer to many sources to compile them.
For Current affairs, used newspapers like Indian Express, Mint.
For gaining info about your residence, place of birth etc you can lookout for the presentations prepared by the municipal corporation or state govt for the Smart City initiative presented to Central Govt wherein they have done SWOT analysis of their cities.
Also other information about your state, district can be obtained from Gazette of that place which can be seen on the website of the collector office  for eg for Thane, Maharashtra:
Q2. Did you attend any mock interviews by coaching classes? How were they similar / different than official interview? Do you believe it is necessary to attend such mock interviews?
I attended a handful of mock interviews.
2 in Mumbai..1 conducted by SIAC, Mumbai other by Lalbaug Library,Mumbai
4 by coaching classes…1 each at Chanakya’s IAS and KSG,2 at Samkalp
The final interview and the questions turned out to be much different as compared to the mocks.
Yes it is necessary to attend mock interviews since you can understand your shortcomings and improve upon them before D-Day.
Q3. Where did you stay for the interview? (Hotel / friend’s home …) and what books/material did you bring for the ‘revision before interview’?
Hotel..my notes that I had prepared.

Q5. Describe the formal-dress worn by you in interview.
Black blazer, White Shirt, Black Trouser, Red and Blue striped tie.

During the interview

Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board?
Bhonsale Sir
Q2. How long was the interview?
35-40 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?]
My potential and expertise shall be used for the greater benefit of my country. Was already in Technical cadre of govt but Civil Services provides an opportunity to work in much more diverse areas that govt service can provide.
Social service can also be done from private sector but the platform that civil services provides with opportunities to do good is unmatched this is why my decision to join civil service.
One can also mention the respect for civil services, power to good (that in a positive way), social prestige also influenced in taking this decision.
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.
Air vice Marshall Mr.bhosale panel
Entry at 17:45 PM….left at 620 evening.. Last to go in
So late in evening… How was the wait?
You must be aware of all the questions then?
-Then I explained how the people at UPSC were preventing from people to meet others after the interview not even revealing the panel…so I was a blank slate and not aware of the questions asked. To which the panel had a good laugh, so starting on a lighter note reduced the tension a bit.

Academically you have done so well…is Abhishek all work and no play…a dull boy?
-Explained my interest and participation in sports and other extra curricular activities.

Difference between Argentina and German football team?
Explained their team strategies in brief, starpower vs team effort , ultimately 2014 Fifa WC final between Germany vs Argentina won by Germany ultimately showed who the better team was.

You made manager of Argentinian team… What will you do?
Member 1 —
Mid may meal scheme? Why?
To arrest drop out rate and improve nutrition status of the children.

Swachh bharat? What’s so special? What would you do?
Basic objectives of the scheme; Especially the awareness that it has created makes it special; keep my surrounding clean, organise people to spread awareness, report manual scavenging, pressurise local bodies in order to ensure that dustbins are kept and toilets are built.
Member 2 —
Telecom related.
Internationally who decides spectrum allocation……….ITU
Defence has so much spectrum… Kaise loge….By establishing a secure communication infrastructure that will replace the one which was earlier functioning on that spectrum.
Telecom PSUs not performing well..why? legacy manpower issues, much of revenue goes off in paying salaries, less aggressive marketing, always catching up with the market rather than leading, poor customer care.
Vodafone Idea merger and impact of new aggressive players…good for customers but also need to make sure that in long run sector does not get hurt.
Free basics..Supported net neutrality
Vidarbha issue…regional disparity…governance and admin. Deficit…need for region specific schemes.
Importance of western ghats…….monsoon,micro climate, biodiversity, endemic species, sacred groves, also a storehouse of natural and mineral wealth, number of tribes reside (counter question: what is endemicity?)
Member 3-
Power generation.how to make it efficient…efficient appliances, low losses in transmission, ultra critical technologies at the generation end.
One technology that can change power sector…use of SCADA in smart grid explained
Nuclear power..does it have a future? Yes but more stress should be given on solar, wind, biomass etc since no need for international obligations like NSG,IAEA,etc, inherent advantages in solar, wind energy and positive externalities involved vs Nuclear Energy….(Counter: What about the 3 stage nuclear power strategy, since we have lots of thorium?……But the earlier stages need Uranium, procuring which involves a number of issues and also involves a number of negative effects so instead should stress more on solar, wind etc.)
Member 4:
Mobile tower Radiation and health effects…Presented government stand that there does not exist one to one correlation between the two..even supported by WHO study.
Fear of interception of call..There exists a number of legal provisions safeguarding the same…however Indian Telegraph Act 1885 empowers authorised government officials for interception..CMS developed by Dept of Telecom explained.
Why anthropology….No option of Electronics Engineering, Concise syllabus, linked to other GS syllabus
Chairman again:
Name global problems…Global warming, water crisis, Terrorism, refugee issue, etc.
Questions regarding Russia-Crimea issue, South China Sea.
Why IFS? Representing India, Great diversity of challenges presented in this service, Opportunity to explore and experience number of cultures

You are in pmo…how would you advance relations with west Asia considering their closeness to pak!
India…a big market for oil..large investment potential..
Large diaspora
Terrorism and radicalisation
Co operation in naval domain
Have to balance relationship between Israel and middle east
Israel…Partnership and leverage their expertise in Water, agriculture, technology, defence

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?
Not totally on the expected lines.
It was not a stress interview, it was a conversation that went on smoothly.

Q6. Any side details about technicalities like “make sure you bring xyz document or do xyz thing, or you’ll face problem”?
UPSC does inform about what documents, how many photos you need to bring along with their photocopies. So just follow their instructions.
Q7. Any word of wisdom / observations about medical checkup?
Few of the candidates face an issue regarding blood pressure wherein due to stress it shoots up resulting in delaying the checkup wherein they call you the next day otherwise it goes on smoothly.
So stay calm..there is nothing to worry.

CSE-2016 Marksheet

Q1. Please provide both prelim and final mark sheet:

PAPER 1 129.64
PAPER 2 126.68


GS-1 116
GS-2 76
GS-3 106
GS-4 114

Career Backup

Q1. If you were not selected, what was your career backup plan?
Was already serving as Indian Telecommunication Service Officer so would have continued with that.

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

Views on UPSC reforms

Q. Optional subjects should be removed altogether. The present stalemate is helping no-one, except coaching-owners, book publishers.
Optional subjects give you a choice so I doubt it should be eliminated instead I would prefer understanding how UPSC balances between different subjects and their scaling procedure. If UPSC gives any information then that would be of greater help because ultimately optional subjects turn out to be the difference between making the list and not.
Q. Your views on the decision to make CSAT paper 33% qualifying?
Totally fine with that since this paper only judges our basic aptitude required for a job in bureaucracy so setting a threshold is fine because the real test is ultimately the Mains paper where your views and the way you present the same in that much time is tested.
Q. UPSC should disclose official prelim answerkey and cutoffs, immediately after prelim is over, instead of postponing it till interview phase is over.
I think UPSC wishes to avoid any controversy which can delay the entire exam process which is already so long since there are always a few questions that have multiple answers which can be taken as correct, so they release it once the entire exam process is over, so I’m fine with that.
I would hope they release the result as soon as possible to help people decide better for the future.
Q. UPSC should be conducted online like IBPS and CAT exam to shorten the duration of exam.
Especially the prelims part since it can reduce the duration of the exam as a whole.
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.
Q. If you are made the UPSC chairman, what other reforms would you initiate for the civil service exam?
Conducting just the one exam for so many services requiring different skill sets and expertise should be changed. One can club all those services that require similar skill sets like the many Account Services and conduct a separate exam with syllabus that tests the skills needed for those services.
Services and cadre should be decided as per a post result counseling process rather than asking for these options right after clearing prelims.

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?
One should never be insecure of one’s profile just because you don’t have a tag of some big school/college/university.
A lot of the candidates who clear don’t boast of a strong profile but it’s their desire, ambition and will to succeed that is more important in this exam since it is a marathon and not a sprint. So you have to be motivated throughout and fatigue should not set in till you taste success.
So don’t worry about your past and now aim for how you can make the best out of this opportunity that is in front of you.

Internal Motivation

Q. People know what books and syllabus points are to be prepared. But most of them lack consistency in their preparation. So, how do you keep study momentum going on? How do you fight against the mood swings and distractions?
Was self motivated since the beginning to clear it in the first attempt itself and get out of this vicious circle of preparation and examination as soon as possible.
Starting early in civil service where your age and seniority plays an important role throughout your career should be kept in mind so aim for clearing it in the first attempt which should be your best attempt.
There will be mood swings and distractions, so whenever you are not in a mood to study practice your hobby for some time and then sit back because time flies before you even realize and there is a lot of ground to cover in CSE.

Struggle of Working professional

If you’re a working professional, share some tips on how to manage studies with job
When I began preparation I was undergoing training at the academy for I.T.S., had to attend that so made the most of my time that I had free especially the evenings and weekends so that I can cover the time I lost when I was undergoing training and since you have less time choose a few sources to study but study it well rather than reading every source that you come across.

Grand wisdom

Q. Through this struggle and success, what have your learned? What is the wisdom of life and competition? What is your message to the new aspirants?
Always believe in yourself. You will be surrounded by all kinds of people and will bombard you with their ideas, don’t get distracted or intimidated by that, listen to everyone but do what you feel right because it’s ultimately your name that is going to be on the list, so choose the right sources and strategy to approach the paper.
Q. Many hardworking candidates have failed in Mains/Interview of CSE-2016 and scored quite low in Prelims-2017. They’re feeling cynical, hopeless and depressed- what is your message to them?
Lage raho..next year will surely be yours..double the efforts and stay focused.

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 family and my mother in particular was the biggest influence and motivation for me to join  civil services and their support was always there and especially my relatives who helped in every way possible and ensured that my preparation period was as hassle free as possible.
All of my friends were always a constant motivation throughout the preparation phase.
Special thanks to those friends I made during the preparation phase, they were great people who made sure that my notes were updated since I had to skip classes once I joined training as a probationer which helped me a lot in achieving this result.
Even during the probation my colleagues were extremely helpful throughout the preparation.
A big thanks to the faculty of the institutes that I took guidance from and also the people who run these online sites which were compiled so meticulously thus reducing our pain in compiling them ourselves.
I sincerely thank them all it is because of their motivation and unwavering support I managed to do all this.
Last but not the least Mrunal Sir, whose videos and articles were always the reference for me to devise any strategy and choosing the right booklist for clearing this exam.

BOGUS Marketing Propaganda

Q. You are well aware of the sacred rule of conducting toppers interview- the last question must be about self-marketing. So, Did you use Mrunal.org for your preparation and if yes, how did it help you?  And you can even reply “No”. I’ll still publish your answer without tempering.  
Yes Mrunal.org was the reference for booklist and strategy since the beginning of the preparation.
I did watch the videos of economy, geography and also downloaded and studied from the presentations for other subjects.
NCERTs,IGNOU and NIOS materials shared by you and the way these were organized were of immense help.