1. Candidate – Profile
  2. Education
  3. Introduction
  4. Electronic Vs Paper material
  5. Typical day in your Online life?
  6. Style of Preparation and notes making
  7. Prelims (CSAT) Paper-1: General studies
  8. Prelims (CSAT): Paper-2:Aptitude
  9. Prelim accuracy
  10. Mains: Compulsory language paper
  11. Mains: Essay
  12. General Studies (Mains) paper 1
  13. General studies (Mains) paper 2
  14. General studies (Mains) Paper 3
  15. General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude
  16. Mains answer-writing?
  17. Mains Optional Subject
  18. Before the interview
  19. During the interview
  20. CSE-2017 Marksheet
  21. Career Backup
  22. Views on UPSC reforms
  23. Insecurity about profile
  24. Struggle of a Senior player
  25. Grand wisdom
  26. Credit: Friends/family
  27. BOGUS Marketing Propaganda

Candidate – Profile

Manoranjan Behera

Q. Details
Name Manoranjan Behera
Rank in CSE-2017 826
Roll No. 0290684
Age 26
Marital Status Unmarried
Total attempts in CSE (including this one) 5
Optional Subject Sociology
Schooling Medium Odia
College Medium English
Medium chosen for Mains answers English
Medium chosen for Interview English
Home town/city Bhanjanagar
Work-experience if any 17 months as an Assistant manager in SIDBI
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failures
  • SIDBI Gr A- cleared in 2015
  • RBI Gr B- Cleared Phase-2 in 2014,2015 and 2016 but failed in interview in all 3 attempts
  • Rajya Sabha Secretariat examination for the post of Assistant Executive officer(4800 GP)- Cleared and was due to join in May 9, 2018
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used)
  • Sociology Coaching from Vajiram and Ravi in 2017
  • Test series- Sociology- Vajiram and Ravi and General Studies- Sriram IAS
  • Mock interviews- Vajiram and Ravi, Sriram IAS, Samkalp, KSG, GS Score
Service preferences (Top-5) IFS-IAS-IRS(IT)-IAAS-IPS
Preference for the first states in top-3 zonal cadres. Left all the options blank


Education fill the details here
% in class 10 80.5
% in class 12 57.4
Graduation course and % 7.27 out of 10 CGPA
Name of college, city, passing out year NIT Rourkela, Rourkela, 2013
Any other professional courses  
Hobbies &Extracurricular achievements Reading Cricket Articles, Watching documentaries and Travelling


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

My father is retired DGM of BSNL and my mother is a housewife. During my 8th semester of graduation I started to prepare for this examination. At first like many Indians the aim was to become an IAS and have lots of power but during that year also I came under influence of a certain IFS officer of Odisha, which changed my whole perspective of civil services and having job for myself and from that day onwards it was not just trying to become a government servant more than that I wanted to become an IFS, it felt like my life has a new goal and meaning.

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)

I am more of a old fashioned guy who is more inclined to use paper materials as much as possible as I get a different amount of satisfaction from it, that said I too followed internet for a lot of topics especially websites like Mrunal.org, Insights , forumias etc. For me primary was paper material as long its available but when it was not than electronic material and in current syllabus many topics can be effectively covered through electronic material as its easy to cover them selectively.

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 hours
Primary Devicefor online study: desktop, laptop, tablet, mobile tablet

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.)

I used to make notes, pen and paper notes, not the online ones. Notes were for almost all the topics, and I used to write a lot in those notes, in question and answer format, sometimes in flow chart and diagrams as well. I also used to make notes on the keywords of the syllabus as well.

Regarding style of preparation, I used to study upto 5 hours daily intensively, my primary focus was on writing hence I used to write a lot, like for example if I am reading an article, what I used to do is read it fully and write my conclusion, other than these I also used to make short notes by establishing inter relations between each topics and make flowcharts and diagrams and I maintained a small copy for important official statistics that can be used in mains examination.

Prelims (CSAT) Paper-1: General studies

Topic strategy/booklist/comment
History Ancient Old Ncert
History Medieval Old Ncert
History Modern (Freedom Struggle) Spectrum
Cultureand society Fine Arts book(Ncert 11th Class) and ccrt.nic.in
Polity (theory + current) Theory- Sriram Ias booklet on Indian Polity and Vision Monthly Booklet
Economy (theory + current) Sriram Ias Booklet and Vision Monthly Booklet
Science (theory + current) No specific preparation other than Vision monthly booklets
Environment (theory + current) ICSE medium book on environment , Vision Booklet and IAS4Sure booklet on Environment
geography physical GC Leong
geography India ICSE medium book (10th class)+Ncert(11th and 12th class)
geography world Old Ncert-6th , 7th and 8th (for resources part only)+ GC Leong
other national/international current affairs Vision Booklets(Monthly)
Schemes, Policy & Filler Stuff Vision Booklets(Monthly) and PT 365 by Vision IAS

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?

Paper was conceptual not tough, there were few vague questions, other than that it was a good paper to test the clarity of the Candidate.  In 2016, paper was on easier side in the sense that people with a good ability to intelligently guess got through, this wasn’t the case with this year’s preliminary examination. That said luck definitely played a big role in this years prelim too, in a way that those 2-3 doubtful questions made and broke some, but it was more due to lack of information this time than failing to guess.


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?

First and foremost is the change in Prelim 2017 shows that a candidate can never be sure what UPSC is going to ask, hence one has to strengthen all aspects of his/her preparation. An all round approach is needed where one should try to strengthen both his Current Affairs part and Conceptual part. Mere rote learning won’t get one through; one has to be very clear on what he/she knows also, one has to be abreast with all the important current happenings. Focus should be strengthening ones conceptual clarity by solving MCQs of theories.

Most importantly one has to remember that no need to attempt all the questions and there are questions which are meant to be left behind, and for this to happen one should be clear on his/her concepts and knowledge od current affairs.

Prelims (CSAT): Paper-2:Aptitude

Topic strategy / booklist
Maths No specific strategy
Reasoning No specific strategy
Comprehension No specific strategy
Decision Making No specific strategy

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:

There isn’t a specific strategy in this case. I never intended to complete the paper, as paper 2 is qualifying my aim was always to maintain the accuracy. As you can see from my above scorecard, I got only 8 wrong out 0f 71 as per UPSC. Hence my advice would try to maintain accuracy rather than going for finishing the paper. For this look for easy questions, there are enough easy questions in the paper to score more than 80-90 in paper-2, when one focuses on that they easily score more than enough.

Prelim accuracy

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

No , I didn’t attended any, though solved few Xerox mock tests available in the market, but solving mocks has no correlation with success. I know people who have avoided these mock tests but still scored 120 in prelims 2017 and I on the other hand despite doing some of these mock tests also scored around 100. So you’re conceptual clarity, you’re analytical skills and elimination skills matters not how many mock tests you have given. That said solving MCQs are important, one can do it from websites like Mrunal or insights or forumias or one can simply do it from general studies manuals such as that of Spectrum publication or TMH publication.

Q2. Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers. in Prelim-2017

  attempted Q. correct (Expected) Official score
GS 82 60 100
aptitude 71 62 150.83

Mains: Compulsory language paper

Compulsory language paper Your preparation strategy / booklist?
English paper No specific strategy
your regional language I did few basic books on Odia, mostly focused on grammar part

Q. other observations / tips / comments on the length / difficulty level of compulsory language papers in CSE-2017

Compulsory papers are easy, it’s just that some people take it “too lightly”, so do not take it too lightly would be my only advice.

Mains: Essay

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?

No specific preparation, as such. My optional helped me tremendously in this regard, that said, this year  I scored less in essay after changing few things, that is drawing few diagrams and flow charts, so I feel one could avoid that and focus on writing a simple essay covering all the dimensions. Also always give a way out/solution to the problem statement, I didn’t do that either, this year and hence the low score. Most importantly be very careful on the topics you choose, mostly when one is well prepared he/she could write essays on almost all the topics, and with that some tend to choose the wrong topic and end up scoring average score, do not do that mistake.

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


Destiny of a nation is shaped in its classrooms


Here I started with a quote by Dr. APJ Abdul kalam on education and teacher, and from there I moved towards the role of education , what it should be preaching and than gave examples from independence movement as to highlight how education was a catalyst in independence struggle. I also emphasized upon right type of education and why its very important and also highlighted how even educated take advantages of the non educated and than finally concluded it with various examples of social reformers as how how education played a role in independence movement and various social reform movements.

Section -B

Social Media is inherently a selfish medium

Key points- I started with the definition of Social Media, than moved towards explaining what the statement means and highlighted both negative and positive aspects of social media. Also gave example on both aspects, included one flow chart to explain various functions of Social Media.

My whole essay was divided into

Introduction, what is Social Media, its various functions and how it has changed our life, gave examples on it.

Than tried to explain the statement and I kept the view that it is not a selfish medium, for which I highlighted various examples which supports what my theory and than I also listed out various negatives of social media, to highlight that there few negatives of it but at the same time I tried to highlight that these negatives are due to users not the platform itself.

Finally I concluded by saying that its not a selfish medium and it depends upon the use , which makes what it is.

General Studies (Mains) paper 1

apart from your book/resource list, also comment on your own strategy after mains-2017 (e.g. after exam I realized that I shouldn’t have prepared xyz topic in so much detail, I couldn’t finish xyz syllabus topics properly before exam, I had expected UPSC to ask xyz from but they asked abc……etc.etc.etc.) [Same request for each table given below for gs2, gs3, gs4]

For me it was a case of under preparation of some areas in paper 1 resulted into lower marks, as I messed up around 50marks in the paper. One of the topic was world history , where I should have revised Norman Lowe properly, and the other topic was social issues part , where I was too over confident due to my optional hence I wasn’t able to do justice to the questions.

If you used “internet” as source of preparation in xyz, then provide website name as and where possible.

Yes I used internet for resources part of geography and culture part. For resources part I followed Mrunal.org only, I would like to thank him for all the articles for this part and for culture part I followed ccrt.nic.in.

Since mains-2013 had new syllabus and many people relied on Xerox of some coaching notes. so If you used such resource, please attest comment on quality e.g. “it was too deep, but I did only selective study/ It did not cover xyz. OR its quality was not upto the mark, so I suggest future players to avoid it and use ABC instead…..etc..”

I didn’t used any such notes for gs1, and I would advice future players to avoid xerox materials for gs1 at least as it’s always better to read from the actual source.

Anyways, here starts the list:

Topic How did you prepare?
Culture Ncert 11th class fine arts book+ccrt.nic.in
Indian history India’s struggle for Bipan Chandra, New NCERT books(all three sets of 11th class)
world history Norman Lowe(smaller book)
post-independence India Ncert
Indian society No specific book
role of women, poverty etc. No specific book
globalization on Indian society No specific book
communalism, regionalism, secularism No specific book
world geo physical Old Ncert- 6th, 7th, 8th
resource distribution Old Ncert- 6th, 7th, 8th
factors for industrial location Old Ncert- 6th, 7th, 8th
earthquake tsunami etc GC Leong
impact on flora-fauna GC Leong

General studies (Mains) paper 2

apart from your book/resource list, also comment on your own strategy after mains-2017 (e.g. after exam I realized that I shouldn’t have prepared xyz topic in so much detail, I couldn’t finish xyz syllabus topics properly before exam, I had expected UPSC to ask xyz from but they asked abc……etc.etc.etc.) [Same request for each table given below for gs2, gs3, gs4]

For me it was a case of under preparation of some areas in gs2 resulted into average marks, as I messed up around 60marks in this paper.

The topics were that of Governance part and also my lack of following up and revision of some of the current topics like that of election commission recommendations etc made me lose at least 20 marks here.

If you used “internet” as source of preparation in xyz, then provide website name as and where possible.

Yes I used internet for Governance part and international relations part. For Governance part followed PRS website and for International relations part followed IDSA and Frontline articles.

Since mains-2013 had new syllabus and many people relied on Xerox of some coaching notes. so If you used such resource, please attest comment on quality e.g. “it was too deep, but I did only selective study/ It did not cover xyz. OR its quality was not upto the mark, so I suggest future players to avoid it and use ABC instead…..etc..”

I did went for sriram ias material on Indian polity and studied the whole book for the exam and it did helped me a lot so one could definitely rely on it.

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian Constitution, devolution, dispute redressal etc. Sriram Ias material on Indian Polity
comparing Constitution with world Ncert
parliament, state Legislatures Sriram Ias material on Indian Polity
executive-judiciary Sriram Ias material on Indian Polity
ministries departments Sriram Ias material on Indian Polity
pressure group, informal asso. Internet
Representation of people’s act Sriram Ias material on Indian Polity
various bodies: Constitutional, statutory.. Sriram Ias material on Indian Polity
NGO, SHG etc Internet
welfare schemes, bodies Internet
social sector, health, edu, HRD Internet
governance, transparency, accountability Internet
e-governance Internet
role of civil service Internet
India& neighbors News papers and chokkalingam IR notes
bilateral/global grouping Internet
effect of foreign country policies on Indian interest News papers and chokkalingam IR notes
Diaspora Internet
international bodies- structure mandate Internet

General studies (Mains) Paper 3

apart from your book/resource list, also comment on your own strategy after mains-2017 (e.g. after exam I realized that I shouldn’t have prepared xyz topic in so much detail, I couldn’t finish xyz syllabus topics properly before exam, I had expected UPSC to ask xyz from but they asked abc……etc.etc.etc.) [Same request for each table given below for gs2, gs3, gs4]

My preparation on Budget and disaster management part was not upto the mark for which I had messed up around 40 marks, especially the budget question which I wasn’t able to recall as I didn’t revised properly.

If you used “internet” as source of preparation in xyz, then provide website name as and where possible.

Yes I used internet for resources part of economics, agriculture and security part. For economics and agriculture part Mrunal.org was a savior. For security part I followed IDSA website.

Since mains-2013 had new syllabus and many people relied on Xerox of some coaching notes. so If you used such resource, please attest comment on quality e.g. “it was too deep, but I did only selective study/ It did not cover xyz. OR its quality was not upto the mark, so I suggest future players to avoid it and use ABC instead…..etc..”

I used Sriram IAS economy book completely , and I for one would always recommend others to go for it.


Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian economy, resource mobilization Sriram Ias-Economy, Mrunal.Org
inclusive growth Sriram Ias-Economy, Mrunal.Org
Budgeting Sriram Ias-Economy, Mrunal.Org
major crops, irrigation Ncert Geography of India
agro produce – storage, marketing Mrunal.org
e-technology for famers Internet
farm subsidies, MSP Sriram Ias-Economy
PDS, buffer, food security Sriram Ias-Economy
technology mission Internet
animal rearing economics Mrunal.org
food processing Mrunal.org
land reforms Sriram Ias-Economy, Mrunal.Org
Liberalization Sriram Ias-Economy, Mrunal.Org
Infra Sriram Ias-Economy, Mrunal.Org
investment models Mrunal.org
science-tech day to day life No specific book
Indian achievements in sci-tech Newspaper
awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPR Newspaper
environmental impact assessment Internet
Disaster Management NDRMA website
non state actors, internal security Internet
internal security – role of media, social networking site Internet
cyber security Internet
money laundering Internet
border  Management Internet
organized crime, terrorism Internet
security agencies- structure mandate Internet

General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude

apart from your book/resource list, also comment on your own strategy after mains-2017 (e.g. after exam I realized that I shouldn’t have prepared xyz topic in so much detail, I couldn’t finish xyz syllabus topics properly before exam, I had expected UPSC to ask xyz from but they asked abc……etc.etc.etc.) [Same request for each table given below for gs2, gs3, gs4]

My preparation for this paper was the best one, and I have no issues with what I did. My marks also reflect that I did decently with my preparation.

If you used “internet” as source of preparation in xyz, then provide website name as and where possible.

Yes I used internet, and that is for almost all the topics especially for definition for keywords like that of ethics, morality etc. I didn’t followed any specific websites, I just used to search in google and used to write down the best possible definition I found.

Since mains-2013 had new syllabus and many people relied on Xerox of some coaching notes. so If you used such resource, please attest comment on quality e.g. “it was too deep, but I did only selective study/ It did not cover xyz. OR its quality was not upto the mark, so I suggest future players to avoid it and use ABC instead…..etc..”

I used Vajiram yellow book for it, and I found it good didn’t studied it fully especially the thinkers part just focused on broad themes of various thinkers and theories. Decent books and can be used by future players for gs4. But remember use it for broad studies , no need to invest your full time on understanding so many theories that is given in the book.

Topic How Did You Prepare?
ethics and interface, family, society and all the hathodaa topics No specific books, all part of my optional, and some from Internet
attitude, moral influence etc. Vajiram yellow booklet
civil service: integrity, impartiality, tolerance to weak etc ARC- 4th report and vajiram yellow booklet
emotional intelligence, its use in governance Youtube video- UGC video
moral thinkers of India and world How many thinkers did you prepare?4 to 5 all from vajirma yellow book
ethics in pub.ad, accountability, laws, rules etc. ARC-4th Report
corporate governance Vajiram yellow booklet
probity in governance, work culture Vajiram yellow booklet
citizen charter, ethics code, work culture etc. ARC- 4th report and vajiram yellow booklet
challenges of corruption ARC-4th Report
case studies on above topics Insights secure and vision ias past papers

Q. In ethics, 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?

Few Observations

Follow a basic template in case studies, and do use examples as much as possible and you will never score below average in Ethics paper.

The tone of of your answers especially in case studies should be realistic, empathetic and should be showing some leadership qualities. Keep your answers and solutions simple, do not write theories etc keep it as simple as possible. Do practice few case studies before the examination that helps, and make your answers presentable, like by using highlighting words or underlining them etc.

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 8 9 3 20
GS2 9 8 3 20
GS3 11 7 2 20
GS4 8 6 0 14
Opt-P1 14 4 1 19
Opt-P2 10 7 2 19

Q. What was your approach in the exam (I wrote all, I only focused on the questions where I could answer perfectly, I just not to high quality points to reach the word limit etc.) Because the UPSC aspirant Community is divided over what counts as a ‘good’ paper. Some experts claim you should attempt all- even if it involves “making up” an answer with filler lines, some claim attempt only those questions you know perfectly. Where do you stand on this? [Based on your experience and of your seniors/buddies]

I attempted all the questions, but in 70-80% questions I knew the theme and only few I had to make up, that said my writing speed is good, hence was able to attempt all, that said it didn’t had any impact this year on me as I mad blunders and too many mistakes in questions I had to make up, so I personally feel it doesn’t matter whether you attempt all or only focus on questions you know, you will score well as long as you have more quality answers(10+) in each paper.

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

No issues as such, but I had to face problem while writing conclusions, but that is mostly due to the fact that my handwriting is big.

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.

It was combination of both bullet points and paragraphs, depending upon the demand and the nature of the question. But one has to put special emphasis on what the examiner is asking, just because some xyz topper did that one must not follow it blindly, one has to devise their own plan.

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.

I did wrote in “introduction-body-conclusion” format, that said it was not possible for me to write in that format in all the questions, but I know some of the toppers they followed this in all the questions and some didn’t do that, so it’s all about what are you comfortable with, you stick to the point you score marks.  Again just because I am saying or some other topper is saying this, one should never follow it if he/she is not comfortable.

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?  
Q8. Did you use ruler to draw the lines in diagram? Or did you just make it by hand?  
Q9. You wrote the answer in blue pen or black pen? Both

Mains Optional Subject

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

It’s Sociology. My reason for choosing this optional was its benefits in General Studies Paper, plus my own familiarity with the Subject, as I had Indian sociology as my open elective during my final semester in College.

Q. If a new player wants to pick your subject, would you advice for it or against it?

Sociology has performed well in 2017 exam , selection wise. That said if one is able to grasp the subject well than he or she can definitely score above average. Unlike other optional Sociology doesn’t see a lot of high neither a lot of low, so it depends upon the clarity of the student how much he/she will score.

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.)

Unfortunately I didn’t had a lot of base books, I relied upon my class notes from vajram completely, that said there are few base books that can be used

Sociology by Haralambos and holborn(blue book)

IGNOU modules for both paper 1&2

Essential sociology by nitinsangwan

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?

I did relied upon current affairs and made notes of important up to date statistics, for answer writing so it is essential if your optional is sociology.

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

Around 4 months

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

3 months before Mains

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

Yes, and it was in paper format.

Q. Your observation about the difficultly level of 2017 mains vs previous papers. And what precautions / rectifications are necessary in the future strategy for given optional subject?


I felt this year’s paper was of similar level to last year, but there were some specific questions which were tougher and were very vague compared to last year, but at the same time some were too easy.


Revise properly especially first 3 topics of paper 1 majority of the questions comes from that topic only. Never ever forget to write test series, write as much as possible, 50% of sociology is writing so write a lot and write well, would be my advice. Finally, keep a list of readymade data that can be used in your answers along with 3-4 thinkers on each topic, 2 who is for the theory, 2 who is against it.

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?

For college graduation subject I revised few basic concepts though they didn’t asked me anything but still such revision is necessary. For hobbies, I didn’t prepared much as they were the things I normally used to do , like I love to watch documentaries so that was never an issue for me.

For place of origin I read few state government books and did some internet research myself and also asked my family about some of the information.

For Current affairs, I used to follow the Hindu fully along with Hindustan times and Times of India.

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, in fact 11 of them. Regarding similarity, not a lot and that I never expected even as I knew that , UPSC interview is going to be something different. Well, honestly speaking it didn’t changed my marks in interview as I still got 140, but still it helped me to be confident before the interview at least and I felt I was well prepared, so in that way I could say yes it can be useful if we focus on the type of questions that is asked as it increases the array of youre questions that you can prepare, also remember we are paying these people to be more critical hence take their feedbacks in a positive manner and try to improve on that.

Q3. Where did you stay for the interview? (Hotel / friend’s home …) and what books/material did you bring for the ‘revision before interview’?

I stayed with my cousin in Noida. Not a lot, only few class notes of mine for sociology, economic survey and one book on my home state.

Q5. Describe the formal-dress worn by you in interview.

A black color suit and inside a light blue Shirt, with a dark brownish long tie.

During the interview

Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board?

Dr. Manoj Soni.

Q2. How long was the interview?

30-35 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?]

Why civil services


Though it wasn’t asked but had it been asked I would have said

Civil services due to following reasons

  • Good career scope
  • Good exposure
  • Great opportunity
  • Opportunity to work for the society and for the Government at various capacity
  • Diversity of profile even in services like railways where the challenges are very diversified


I had an interaction with and IFS officer he is the father of my friend and from there I got attracted to IFS.

What attracted me

  • It’s cultural diversity-one gets to work in different countries
  • Learning – different languages and hence the culture
  • Allows me to go different places (traveling as my hobby)
  • Allows me to represent my country at a global stage
  • Also another incentive was it will provide me an opportunity to work for the people as in today’s globalised world everything is interconnected and foreign relations has become a vital part in determining the health of a society


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]

Date -05/04/2018

Time -12:25-1:00(5th one to go)

I am posting whatever I am able to recall

Chairman- Dr Manoj Soni

  1. Welcome Manoranjan, you are from Odisha , nice nice.

I smiled and nodded

  1. So are you comfortable in explaining me the topography of Odisha

I said yes and started to explain the various geographical regions of Odisha.

  1. Soils of Odisha

Answered(not convincing though )

  1. Crops of Odisha

Answered (missed quite a few things)

  1. Do you follow commonwealth games

I said, I just know that yesterday was their opening ceremony

  1. What happened till now

I talked about that ceremony only , than he said the competition has started, and I obliged and said sorry Sir but I wasn’t aware of it and thanked him for the information

  1. Are you aware of the medal tally till now

No sir

  1. Do you think promoting sports help our country

Yes, it will , than I highlighted few pointers to support my argument that how it empowers our youth , how it generates income for many and how it bring pride to our country

  1. But I think it’s completely waste of money so how do you justify it

Than I said, it’s impact on the economy side as it brings tourism, income for vendors etc

  1. A cricket team only empowers some 20-25 players but for that we are spending crores in infrastructure etc, do you still think it’s justified.

I nodded and said yes if we see in the hindsight but if we look at the multiplex effect than it helps not just 25 players but more than a lakh are benefited by it.(not very convincing)

Than he asked about some data , which I’m unable to recall now.

Member 1-

  1. Are you anyhow related to zinc smelting , than he inquired about my schools name

I told him that my institution was affiliated to it.

  1. Ok, Manoranjan as you have stayed in Visakhapatnam for some time and have also stayed in Mumbai so please compare and highlight the similarities and differences both the cities.

Than I highlighted the similarities such as coastal cities, port and also the differences such as Mumbai the trading hub of India etc.

  1. Which would you rate higher, Vizag or Mumbai in terms of swach Bharat .


  1. Explain about MSME industries briefly

Explained along with various schemes of SIDBI.(best answer in the whole interview )

  1. How can SIDBI bring more inclusiveness in MSME sector , any such schemes.

I told him about MUDRA, Jan Dhyan Yojana and I also told him that a similar scheme like that of Nabards SHG linkage program can be lunched for SIDBI as well.

Member 2

  1. Have you ever visited to Lingaraja Temple, how is the hygiene there


  1. What about other temples like that of puri and Konark

Told him about the scenarios of most of the temples

  1. How can it be solved

Gave example of my local area temple as how they used the milk poured on linga and process it and make food out of it to be distributed among the bhaktas and poor people.(still could have done better here)

  1. How will you solve it as a DM, than suddenly he asked what do you want to become , than he asked about my preferences , and the time he heard that IAS is not my first service option he said so ok you are not interested about administrative job

I was just nodding the all time

  1. What recent issue comes to you’re mind when I say Parliament

I told him about special category status issue of AP, than that of CJI issues and about SC/ST act

  1. What are the issues

Again explained those mentioned previously

  1. What is the issue of CJI impeachment

Explained about it

  1. Do you know why the issue started

Started from the medical college issue and how a NGO filed case for it and all(messed up here)

  1. No, no I am asking about the actual issue , the issue that you mentioned was not mentioned by the judge

Than told him about the issues raised by those other judges including the second senior most judge , regarding transparency etc

  1. So, it’s the same issue of transparency accountability etc

I nodded

  1. Are you aware of the current issue in Paradip refinery

Said no, and he further poked but I still said no.

Member 3

  1. So you’re first choice is IFS, so are you aware of the dignitary who will be visiting India in next few days

I told him about Nepal’s PM who was due to visit India on 6th April.

  1. So how do you think will the Nepal PM approach this tour and what all will he do

I told him about how Nepal needs to ally India’s fear on China and India’s investment etc., not a very satisfactory reply from me.

  1. Why the fear for India and Nepal relations

Told him about the changes in Nepal’s attitude Plus the issues within Nepal , again not too convincing

  1. So what’s the change in the system in Nepal, he was the PM last time as well, so what’s the change

I said no, than he told me about how he won the election with a huge majority with an anti India campaign

  1. He came with an overall majority

I again nodded

  1. Are you aware of Nepal elections and its procedure and the number of seats

I told him about Nepali elections and their process , how much FPTP and how much PR system, but said no idea about number of seats.

  1. What was the issue with last constitution in Nepal

Under representation of Madhesis, and their election system , but wasn’t able to completely explain it

  1. Who are the madhesis exactly

Told him that they were from Bihar and UP.

Member 4(expert in foreign policy)

  1. Asked about some datas on MSMEs

For this I said a big NO all the time

  1. Do India need a foreign policy

I said we already have , but he said that’s outdated and all

  1. Do vantatu need a foreign policy

I said may be as they are facing climate change threats

  1. Do USA needs a foreign policy

I said no, than he said USA doesn’t have a foreign policy as such,

  1. Do you think Kashmir is the problem between India and Pakistan

I said no it’s more than that, not a great answer m when I later analysed it

  1. Do you think that giving away Kashmir will solve this issue

Again I approached it Ina wrong manner , I said as Kashmir is not the issues so it won’t , Pakistan’s feels inferior to us and there are other issues (language and the approach was not good and smart)

  1. How will India counter china

I told him about ASEAN , than he countered

  1. I am talking of China and you are talking of Improving relationship with ASEAN countries

I said still by increasing our influence we can counter China strategically , than I also mentioned about quad etc.

  1. Do you think war is an option

I said no

  1. You might not think that war is an option, but still 1962 war took place

I just nodded and said still we need to avoid war as much as possible.

  1. Tell me in economic respects

I talked about tourism and other export potential from India (not a very satisfactory reply from me), and than he interrupted me and asked the next questions

  1. Tell from the perspective of diplomats

Repeated few of the things mentioned above but still I felt and I guess all felt that I was not very convincing and it was not like someone who is aspiring to become a diplomat , I felt I lacked information on this issue

  1. Your being too optimistic but I see no future between these two countries

I just simply smiled here

  1. Tell me why SAARC was constituted

Talked about the similarities in social problems (again missed out in cultural similarities, hence resulted in a very poor response )


Manoranjan, You’re interview is over , Thank You.

Final marks -140 which shows that I wasn’t upto the marks despite of all the preparation.

Q5. Was your interview on the expected lines of what you had prepared or did they ask you totally unexpected questions?  Was it a stress interview, did they ask any uncomfortable questions? If yes, how did you handle it?

Few were on expected and few were unexpected like one question on temple hygiene but again that happens a lot, at least unlike some it was not completely unexpected. It wasn’t a stress interview, but the last member countered me a lot but it wasn’t a stress interview per se.

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

Make sure you’re caste certificate is verified and signed by at least Tehsildar or else they create a big fuss.

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

If you’re an outstation candidate than book you’re ticket for your home journey at least 2 days after you’re medical checkup, some hospitals create a lot of issues.

CSE-2017 Marksheet

Q1. Please provide both prelim and final mark sheet:

Prelims Paper-1 100
Prelims Paper-2 150.83
Mains Subjects Marks
Essay 129
GSM1 99
GSM2 101
GSM3 127
GSM4 94
Optional Paper-1 151
Optional Paper-2 130
Written Total 831
Interview 140
Final 971

Career Backup

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

I was due to join in Rajya Sabha by May 9, so Rajya sabha was my only available career backup.

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.)

On May 9, had I not qualified in this attempt.

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 removed, optional isn’t a level playing field at all especially for those who have to go for something other than their graduation subject. I have seen the marks of most of the toppers and it was optional that mainly created the difference in rank not essay or general studies.

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

Well, CSAT paper was always a bit biased but that said making it qualifying and that to with 33% marks makes no sense either, it should be atleast 50% so that people take it seriously.

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

I am all in for it.

Q. UPSC should disclose the evaluated mains- answer sheets like some StatePCS are doing.

Might create legal tussles for UPSC, as all have different interpretations for an answer, but at the end of the day we have to live by what UPSC thinks is correct hence disclosing answer sheets might delay the process.

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

Not feasible.

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

List out basic books, make model answers available so that people will know what is needed for UPSC, knowledge should not be tested through vague questions or through questions like McBride commission , aspirants are humans and they have their limitations so accordingly questions must be prepared.

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?

Well it doesn’t matter what is your background; if you do well you will succeed. Now look at my profile other than my engineering college nothing stands out. I did my schooling from vernacular medium school and than in 12th class scored only 57%. Even during my engineering I scored merely 7.28, when everyone else in my branch was having more than 8 CGPA.

Struggle of a Senior player

(Answer only if you’re a senior player.)

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

Well, I am not the right person, to give any word of wisdom, even though I was a senior player, in any case I would like to share one thing, when I used to feel frustrated or depressed I used to take time off and pursue my hobbies, I used to talk to my trusted people such as my mother or my dear friend who is an IFS now, has been a great inspiration to me.

Another thing I would like to say to all who are in their 3rd 4th attempt , that failing in this exam doesn’t define you, you are more than an examination, you can do anything you want to , it doesn’t need you to become only a civil servant. After all its just another job, and you’re life is much more than this, I’m seeing people who have cleared are not happy because of their cadre or their service , hence its not the end of the world always keep that in you’re mind.

Do it for yourself , you’re the only one who is responsible for our own destiny so keep that in mind and do it for yourself. Many a times we give excuses we start to scold UPSC for our failures but remember that’s not going to change the problems we are facing, that’s not going to help us to clear this examination, hence try to analyze your mistakes, learn like a first timer and shed your egos a bit, most importantly be honest to yourself and you will be successful.

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

Quite a few things actually, one of them was my poor performance in my optional subject Sociology. Second was my poor performance in Personality Test. It was clearly visible from my mark sheet as what went wrong in those attempts.

What changes I made for this attempt- Joined a coaching for Sociology, and wrote a lot of tests and questions on Sociology, similarly for interview I made extensive preparation, such as making notes and attending mocks etc, that said it didn’t brought about any changes in my personality test marks, but at least I know that it wasn’t due to my lack of preparation.

Grand wisdom

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?

Well I am not the right person to advice on it as I have done too many blunders hence the fifth attempt, but I have seen my friend who has given her attempt relentlessly for 5 years till 2015, when she finally cleared and I feel the most important lesson that I picked up from her was when ever you feel distracted or frustrated talk to you’re family members or you’re friend or you’re partner , never ever keep yourself too isolated at the same time avoid too many of friends that can hamper you’re preparation as well.

Try to take time offs, it’s ok sometimes take a bit of time off from study and pursue you’re hobbies than comeback and fight harder and most importantly never ever lie to yourself or you’re dear ones, be honest with you’re assessments and results, it will do you a world of good.

Finally I would say you’re doing it for your own self no body is responsible for you so keep that in mind and do it accordingly.

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?

One of the biggest thing that I have learned is that we are doing it of ourselves no one is going to help us or come to our rescue if we don’t clear this exam, keep that in mind. Also this is just another job, its not the life itself neither it defines you at all, so enjoy the process and try to learn as much as possible, at the end of the day it teaches you a lot and it makes you a better and informed human being and that learning is not going away anywhere.

Be honest o yourself analyse your mistakes, learn from it be open minded, learn from others, but most importantly give your 100% and have no regret, no matter you clear or not just give your 100%.

Remember this exam should never be the end in itself its more than that, it’s a platform where you can be an agent of change and do for it not for bunglow in a village or having a government car or having some power, that should not be youre aim, it should be more than that, this country needs a better informed civil servant who can be the true servant of our wonderful nation.

Q. Many hardworking candidates have failed in Mains/Interview of CSE-2017. They’re feeling cynical,hopeless and depressed- what is your message to them?

Never give up, as I have said earlier its not the end of the world, its just another job, so keep that in your mind, some are still no satisfied after getting IAS because of their cadres, so keep that in youre mind and fight on, happiness they comes from yourself hence as long as youre able to find that than you will be happy anywhere or else you wont be even happy even if youre the rank 1.

Most importantly you guys are very good, and you should always remember no matter who says what, and a single exam should never be able to determine you’re capability and what you can achieve, I know many who are not in the list , are much more talented than me but unfortunately it wasn’t their year and as we all can see a single mark has differentiated more than 10-15 candidates , which shows that this exam goes beyond talent and capability hence keep that in mind and fight on.

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?

Of course first would be my parents, and then a special friend who too cleared in 2015 and now she is in Indian Foreign Services. These are the people whom I would like to thank the most, because of them now I am a civil servant.

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 definitely, I will list out the topics for which it helped me

  1. Economics and budget – the place for self study and the best online platform for economics for UPSC
  2. Resources part of gs1- those materials were awesome and it helped people like me at least , where we could find all at once.
  3. Industries part of gs3- again mrunal to the rescue here.
  4. Investment model topics.
  5. Some fodder topics as well, such as one topic in land reforms.

So all in all I can safely say that this website has played a vital role for me in my preparation.