[Topper’s Interview] Deepak Kumar (Rank-684/UPSC-2019) Public Administration, 3rd Attempt, Bihar

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  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. Mains General studies paper 1 to 4
  13. General Studies (Mains) paper 1
  14. General studies (Mains) paper 2
  15. General studies (Mains) Paper 3
  16. General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude
  17. Mains answer-writing from DAY1
  18. Mains answer-writing- real exam?
  19. Mains Optional Subject
  20. Before the interview
  21. During the interview
  22. CSE-2019 Marksheet
  23. Career Backup
  24. Views on UPSC reforms
  25. Insecurity about profile
  26. Struggle of a Senior player
  27. Message to Failed Candidates
  28. Credit: Friends/family
  29. Grand wisdom of LIFE
  30. BOGUS Marketing Propaganda

Candidate Profile

UPSC Topper Rank 684: Deepak Kumar standing outside UPSC office building with Public Administration optional subject for his interview personality test.

Q. Details
Name Deepak Kumar
Rank in CSE-2019 684
Roll No. 0834564
Age 25
Marital Status UNMARRIED
Total attempts in CSE (including this one) 3
Optional Subject PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION
Schooling Medium HINDI
College Medium ENGLISH
Medium chosen for Mains answers ENGLISH
Medium chosen for Interview ENGLISH
Home town/city KASBA/PURNEA
Work-experience if any NO
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failures BPSC 60-62nd (RANK-161)

BPSC 63rd (RAANK- 280)

Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used) I took GS coaching and mock test. I mostly used printed material.
Service preferences (Top-5) IAS→IPS→IRS(IT) →IRS(C&E) →IRTS
Preference for the first states in top-3 zonal cadres.
  1. ZONE 2 → BIHAR
  2. ZONE 4 → WEST BENGAL
  3. ZONE 1→ HARYANA

Education

Education fill the details here
% in class 10 79.8
% in class 12 78.8
Graduation course and % 61.20
Name of college, city, passing out year IGNOU, NEW DELHI, 2015
Post-graduation IGNOU, NEW DELHI,2017
Any other professional courses NA
Hobbies & Extracurricular achievements NUMISMATICS, UGC-JRF QUALIFIED

Introduction

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

I am an average student as it reflects from my educational background.  I studied in government school and colleges in my hometown till class 12th in Hindi medium. Right after class 10th I decided to go into the IAS preparation and I took humanities in class 12th. As I have already made up my mind for Civil Services I took my honors subject accordingly (PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION). After my graduation I started full-fledged preparation. I spent one whole year for foundational study from the sources mentioned below (Mostly from Mrunal.org) then I took coaching for GS. In 2017 I took first attempt and went up to Interview but I missed the final selection by 3 marks. In 2018 I could not qualify the mains by 10 marks. And in 2019 I got final selection.

My family background is very humble. My father is a retired Sub inspector (SI) from CRPF. My mother is a housewife, though I write home manager. My sister is also a home manager. My brother is clerk in SBI. And I live at nagar panchayat kasba.

Electronic Vs Paper material

  1. 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 mostly use printed material as I think, anything we study should be in our hands. Even if I study from site or pdfs I take printout and keep it for multiple revisions. I follow one principle for exam preparation that I avoid reading such thing that I cannot revise before exam(except newpaper). This helps me to short my material according to syllabus.

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 30 min.
Daily hrs spent on online for exam prep. 1hrs
Primary Device for online study: desktop, laptop, tablet, mobile Laptop and tablet
  1. Any other things that you wish to elaborate on above table:

Mobile VS tablet. I suggest my friends to use tablet for exam predations reason why?

  1. Since tablet is heavy in weight and size so even if we want to chat with xyz person we cannot do for longer time and can save our time for stu0dying books.
  2. One cannot carry tablet everywhere (like libraries) so no disturbance from regular notifications.
  3. Screen size is big for reading pdf in original size without stress on eyes.

Style of Preparation and notes making

  1. 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 read multiple times and seldom made notes. I just made one page or two page leaf notes of factual information to revise the previous night of all exams (pre, mains, interview). I used laptop for making the hindu notes only.

Prelims (CSAT) Paper-1: General studies

Topic strategy/booklist/comment
History Ancient NCERT CLASS 11th, ANCIENT INDIA OLD BOOK(RAM SHARAN SHARMA)
History Medieval NCERT CLASS 11th, MEDIEVAL INDIA OLD BOOK(SATISH CHANDRA)
History Modern (Freedom Struggle) MRUNAL HISTORY LECTURE BY PRATEEK NAYAK FOR FONDATION THEN SECTRUM MODERN INDIA, RAJIV AHIR
Culture and society MRUNAL.ORG-ART CULTURE BY ISHANI PANDYA FOR FOUNDATION THEN NCERT, INTRODUCTION TO INDIAN ART, for society just current affairs
Polity (theory + current) M. LAKSHMIKANT+ CURRENT
Economy (theory + current) VIDEO LECTURE BY MRUNAL SIR AND PRINTED NOTES
Science (theory + current) UNACADEMY VIDEO LECTURE BY ROMAN SAINI FOR FOUNDATION THEN NCERT 6TH TO 10TH + COACHING NOTES+ CURRENT AFFAIRS
Environment (theory + current) MRUNAL.ORG, ENVIRONMENT VIDEO LECTURE FOR FOUNDATION  THEN  SHANKAR IAS, ENVIRONMENT + CURRENT
geography physical RATANJALI MAAM’S VIDEO LECTURE FOR BASIC FOUNDATION THEN NCERT, FUNDAMENTALS OF PHYSICAL GEOGRAHY, CLASS 11TH  + COACHING NOTES
geography India RATANJALI MAAM’S VIDEO LECTURE FOR BASIC FOUNDATION,  NCERT, INDIA PHYSICAL ENVIRONMNET CLASS 11TH + COACHING NOTES
geography world RATANJALI 2VIDEO LECTURE FOR FOUNDATIONAL PREARATIONS THEN OBS ATLAS  WITH COACHING NOTES
other national/international current affairs CURRENT AFFAIRS NOTES+ COALCHING NOTES
Schemes, Policy & Filler Stuff SHANKAR IAS SCHEME BOOK
  1. Candidates are complaining that compared to earlier years, Prelim 2017, 2018 and 2019’s GS papers were 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? If you were to prepare for the Prelim-2020, what changes would you make in the strategy?

Earlier year specifically in 2016- 60 to 70 % questions came from current affairs and the monthly magazine market boomed. But 2017 reversed the trend, as it was my first attempt, I could qualify prelims only with core studies because my current affairs have always been weak. The trend continues since then. 2018 was the toughest exam ever and 2019 prelims set a new normal of toughness. In all these years my strategy was to focus more on the core studies than the current affairs.

For prelims 2020 my strategy would be the same plus current affairs since last 3 years as the year 2020 has very few new developments due to covid19.

Prelims (CSAT): Paper-2: Aptitude

Topic strategy / booklist
Maths ONLY TEST SERIES OF VISION IAS AND ARIHANT’S CSAT BOOK
Reasoning SAME
Comprehension SAME
Decision Making SAME
  1. In the recent prelims, the comprehension portion becoming quite tough and lengthy. Candidates struggle even to finish the paper-II. Kindly provide some words of wisdom:

Since paper II is qualifying only, so no need to finish the whole paper. My strategy was to first do the comprehension portion within 1 hrs. 15 min, as my math section is weak. Then in rest 45 min I do the reasoning and math. Overall I do 55 to 60 questions only.

One word of wisdom is that, candidate should do one section at a time. For ex. If candidate is strong in maths and reasoning, she should complete this section first then should come to comprehension portion and vise-versa. In paper II one should avoid answering one by one, it should be section by section. Reason why?

  1. If we do one section at a time our brain gets conditioned for those things and process faster for the same thing repeatedly.
  2. Many a times the previous questions help in the next que, so if we do maths only then our mind remembers the previous functions and help in faster calculation in the next one. 

Prelim accuracy

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

Yes I attended many mock tests. They are very useful for gauging our preparation as well as helps in revising our weak areas. They are utmost necessary for success.

Q2. Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers. in Prelim-2019

Attempted Q. Correct (Expected) Official Score
Paper-1 (General Studies) 86 56
Paper-2 (Aptitude) 50 33

Mains: Compulsory language paper

Compulsory language paper Your preparation strategy / booklist?
English paper NO SPECIFIC PREPARATION
your regional language NO SPECIFIC PREPARATION
  1. other observations / tips / comments on the length / difficulty level of compulsory language papers in CSE-2019

No specific tip as this paper is easy to complete. Time is enough. These two papers are easy to handle. Just be careful to score as much as possible because in the case of tie breaker this paper’s marks are counted. Those who will get more will be ranked above. So try to score maximum and write seriously this paper even if it is easy.

Mains: Essay

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?

I prepared intro and conclusion of some hot topics. I just studied the GS paper for essay content. Yes, I had prepared the quotation notes. I memorized 50 quotes from different sections to use in the essay. Almost all para started with a quote. I also used 2nd ARC’s quotations in the essay. I wrote essay in heading-subheading format. I used 2nd ARC’s chapter punchlines in the sub-headings.

For essay I would suggest to read the Hindu. The style of the hindu editorial is apt for scoring good marks in essay, as the hindu always gives heading to each paragraph in the editorials, This helps to organize the thoughts systematically.

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

Courage to accept and dedication to improve are two keys to success.

In this essay first I wrote about what is success? (this was my beginning sentence). I elaborated upon this. Then I situated my whole essay on the success-failure paradigm of India since freedom struggle. My focus was how Indian freedom fighters and national leaders took courage to accept the situation of British India and dedicated to improve the situation and we got freedom.

Then I wrote sbout india after independence how we reached from the state of sub-servience to state of self sufficient, I kept giving examples from all fields of national development.

To present the counter view I wrote about some failures of our nation such as communalization, class divide, casteism, criminalization of politics etc. this reflected how we could not take courage to accept the neutral picture of our diversity and did not show dedication to improve the situation as a result we have failed at many areas.

I wrote the whole essay around this plot only.

Neglect of primary healthcare and education in India are reasons for its backwardness.

This essay was very easy going for me as I had already prepared on both these topics I just assimilated the points and wrote there. The beginning line was “ sarve bhavantu sukhinah, sarve santu niramaya”. Here I equated sukhinsh to education and happiness  and niramaya to healthy and wellness.

I also made a diagram in this essay .

The upright  triangle shows the bottom Heavy primary education and health

System where we have maximum load at primary health system and it is not

Sustainable. Our desirous goal is toward top heavy top heavy where primary level will have minimum load and efficient functioning. The essay was around this plot only.

Mains General studies paper 1 to 4

General Studies (Mains) paper 1

Topic How did you prepare?
Culture Ncert ancient India calss 11th + Introduction to Indian art
Indian history Spectrum, rajiv ahir
world history Mrunal.org (world history ncert notes)
post-independence India Ncert class 12th political science
Indian society Ncert class 12th sociology books+ current affairs of social issues+ MRUNAL’S ECONOMIC LECTURE PILLAR 6: HRD
role of women, poverty etc. same
globalization on Indian society Same source
communalism, regionalism, secularism Same source
world geo physical Ncert class 11th fundamentals of physical geography + ncert, india physical environmnet class 11th
resource distribution I made notes from D R khullar’s indian geography (only economic geography part)
factors for industrial location Same
earthquake tsunami etc Ncert class 11th fundamentals of physical geography + ncert, india physical environmnet class 11th
impact on flora-fauna Ncert class 11th fundamentals of physical geography + ncert, india physical environmnet class 11th + Shankar ias environment

General studies (Mains) paper 2

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian Constitution, devolution, dispute redressal etc. m. lakshmikant
comparing Constitution with world same
parliament, state Legislatures same
executive-judiciary same
ministries departments 2nd ARC chapter on union government
pressure group, informal asso. 2nd ARC
Representation of people’s act m. lakshmikant
various bodies: Constitutional, statutory.. m. lakshmikant
NGO, SHG etc 2nd ARC chapter on citizen centric governance
welfare schemes, bodies Current affairs
social sector, health, edu, HRD Current affairs
governance, transparency, accountability 2nd ARC RTI chapter, chapter on personnel administration (good explanation about governance, transparency, accountability etc. )
e-governance 2nd ARC chapter on E-governance
role of civil service 2nd ARC chapter on personnel administration
India & neighbors Coaching notes + current affairs
bilateral/global grouping Coaching notes + current affairs
effect of foreign country policies on Indian interest Coaching notes + current affairs
Diaspora Coaching notes + current affairs
international bodies- structure mandate Coaching notes + current affairs + Shankar ias international organisation

General studies (Mains) Paper 3

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian economy, resource mobilization Mrunal sir’s economy lecture notes
inclusive growth Mrunal sir’s economy lecture notes
Budgeting Mrunal sir’s economy lecture notes
major crops, irrigation Ncert class 10th geography book
agro produce – storage, marketing Mrunal sir’s economy lecture notes
e-technology for famers Current affairs + coaching notes on science and technology
farm subsidies, MSP Mrunal sir’s economy lecture notes
PDS, buffer, food security Mrunal sir’s economy lecture notes
technology mission Mrunal sir’s economy lecture notes
animal rearing economics Mrunal sir’s economy lecture notes
food processing Mrunal sir’s old economy lecture (mains series) notes +Coaching notes+ current affairs
land reforms Mrunal sir’s old economy lecture (mains series) notes + current affairs
Liberalization Mrunal sir’s old economy lecture (mains series) notes +Coaching notes+ current affairs
Infra Mrunal sir’s economy lecture notes pillar 5
investment models Mrunal sir’s economy lecture notes pillar 5
science-tech day to day life Current affairs + coaching notes on science and technology
Indian achievements in sci-tech Current affairs + coaching notes on science and technology
awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPR Current affairs + coaching notes on science and technology
environmental impact assessment Shankar ias environment
Disaster Management 2nd ARC chapter on crisis management + current affiars
non state actors, internal security 2nd ARC chapters on public order and crisis management (for basic)
internal security – role of media, social networking site 2nd ARC chapters on public order and crisis management (for basic) + current affairs
cyber security Current affairs
money laundering Mrunal sir’s old economy lecture (mains series) notes + current affairs
border  Management Coaching notes only
organized crime, terrorism 2nd ARC chapters on public order + current affairs
security agencies- structure mandate Coaching notes + current affairs

General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude

Topic How Did You Prepare?
ethics and interface, family, society and all the hathodaa topics 2nd ARC chapter 4: ethics in governance+ COACHING NOTE + test series
attitude, moral influence etc. COACHING NOTE + test series
civil service: integrity, impartiality, tolerance to weak etc COACHING NOTE + test series
emotional intelligence, its use in governance COACHING NOTE + test series
moral thinkers of India and world COACHING NOTE + test series(not specific thinkers I prepared as these days only quotes are coming and we need to explain)
ethics in pub.ad, accountability, laws, rules etc. 2nd ARC chapters on governance as mentioned in paper II
corporate governance 2nd ARC chapters on governance as mentioned in paper II(above)
probity in governance, work culture 2nd ARC chapters on governance as mentioned in paper II (above)
citizen charter, ethics code, work culture etc. 2nd ARC chapters on governance as mentioned in paper II (chapter 12: citizen centric governance)
challenges of corruption Ethics in governance
case studies on above topics Test series
  1. 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?

This paper should be prepared with flexible strategy as there is no fixed source except for some basic concepts. So in last two attempts I scored very less in this paper (less than 80). But in 2019 I practiced more on test series and made short notes of definitions that I revised before going into exam hall. I also made notes of 2nd ARC in 10 pages to revise just the concepts. I did test series of case studies that helped me a lot and more or less same case studies came in the exam.

So for future aspirants I suggest to make handwritten notes of 3 lines on each terminology. And do give test for this paper. And revise the test before going to exam.

Mains answer-writing from DAY1

  1. Some toppers and coaching classes are advising students to start mains answer writing from day1. Your inputs/suggestions in this regard- when exactly should a candidate start practicing for answer mains?

Answer writing should not be started from #day 1. The perfect time to start answer writing is after completion of particular section’s syllabus. For beginner I suggest to do sectional answer writing like- history for one week, society for another week etc… this will help candidate to collect and sort ideas and data of particular subject area. At the end of test series one should go for the full length test.

Before going for next test- previous test should be revised and analyzed for mistakes. I did not do this in second attempt and failed.

Mains answer-writing- real exam?

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 8 4 20
GS2 15 4 1 20
GS3 6 6 8 20
GS4 15 3 1 19
Opt-P1 10 6 3 19
Opt-P2 12 5 2 19
  1. 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 wrote all answers. After three serious attempts and one selection I realized that candidate should attempt all questions. Even if last question is filler, one should try to give body and conclusion no matter what is the length of the answer. Considering the diversity of syllabus everyone may not give best answers in all questions, so it is better to write good answers and above average answers in at least 16-17 questions. 3-4 questions can be below average but should not be left out blank.

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

Fixed space answer sheet is quite helpful considering the no. of question and time limit. The fixed space give clear picture about how long answer we should write. No need to fill all the pages, but the answers should be complete.

  1. 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.

 I wrote in mixed format. Since I am a student of humanities so I have kind of habit of writing more in paragraphs. But for this exam I write bullet points also whenever I think appropriate.

  1. 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 strictly follow the “introduction-body-conclusion” format.  Same rule of being humanities student applies here. Without giving conclusion I cannot move to next que and without intro I cannot start the answer even if it is of one line.

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) YES
Q7. If yes, Did you draw diagrams with pencil or pen? PEN
Q8. Did you use ruler to draw the lines in diagram? Or did you just make it by hand? I JUST MADE BY HAND
Q9. You wrote the answer in blue pen or black pen? BLUE PEN, IN EARLIER TWO ATTEMPTS I USED BLACK PEN

Mains Optional Subject

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

My optional is Public Administration. Since I had to get into civil services so the study of public administration was relatable to the preparation.

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

For a new aspirant I would strongly advise for this subject. Though this optional has been notorious since last 4-5 years, I secured 280 in first attempt, then 250 in second(despite leaving 2 twenty marker que.) and ………. So I would encourage for public administration and suggest to do deep study.

  1. 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.)

Essential books…

Books  for paper I Comments
Administrative theories and management thoughts by R K Sapru (A MUST BOOK) For 1st, 2nd and 3rd units

Though many senior players suggest Prasad and Prasad but I suggest this book because it elaborates in lucid and easy to understand manner. The missing chapters like “DROR” can be done from Prasad and Prasad.

This book covers almost all the theories and theorists. The 1st 2nd and 3rd units of the public administration paper I syllabus can be covered from this book.  Illustrations in this book is very good and can be used as it is in the exams.

Administrative theories by Prasad and Prasad Unit 1 and 2.Those units which are not covered in sapru.
Public Administration by Fadia and Fadia This is book is bulky. So to best utilize this book arrange its chapters according to the units of syllabus. If possible tear apart the chapters.
IGNOU MA PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION BOOKS MPA 11, 12 FOR unit 1 and 2. MPA 15 for unit 10 : public policy
Disclaimer: All these books have fragmented chapters of our syllabus. So our effort should be to arrange all these sources as per our units and make short notes on each concept.
For beginners
Public administration by bidyut chakrabarthy (covers new public management, development adm, comparative adm, etc.)

Or,

If a beginner has to start the preparation then she can read this book. This is a very good and lucid book on new concepts of public administration.
IGNOU NEW BOOK SERIES OF BA (AFTER CBCS AND SEMESTER SYSTEM) IGNOU has revised its books recently and added many new concepts on public administration. It may be available soon on egyankosh.
Book for paper II
Arora and goyal Indian Public Administration: Institutions and Issues For unit 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12. The description in this book is lengthy. Need to make self-notes in concise and crisp manner.
2nd ARC For units 4,6,7,8,9 10, 11 , 12, 13
indian administration by prasad and prasad For unit 3, 13, 14. Just selected units as many things are already covered under above mentioned sources
Note: all these sources are for basic understanding of the Indian administration. For exam oriented preparation we should focus on the test series and answer writing practices. The current affairs section should be covered from regular magazines and hot topics of the newspaper.

To get extra marks in public administration we should learn to integrate the concepts of paper I into paper II. For example while writing answer on LPG reforms IN PAPER II we should mention about the new public management theories.

I have mentioned very few sources. Because after failing in first two attempts I realized that we should focus on limited sources and read the same thing multiple times. 

  1. 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?

Public Administration is very dynamic in nature every year one or new theory gets added. Internet research is necessary for current as well as theory. For example- in 2018 a question came on New Public Service which is not mentioned in the syllabus. These and many other concepts can be covered from internet research. For this internet should be used judiciously not haphazardly. I suggest some good sources for studying new development in pub ad.

  1. IIPA journal (only syllabus related topics) can be accessed from sage publication website https://journals.sagepub.com/home/ipa this journal is paid. There is one way to get its articles free. Copy the doi link of any article and paste at https://sci-hub.tw/ (Russian website: caution of privacy issue).
  2. For current affairs especially in paper II-polity magazine + hot topics from newspapers.
  1. How many months did it take to finish the core optional syllabus?

3 months (3-4 hrs.’ per day) is minimum time to finish the syllabus including the study of current affairs and GS. Then revision takes 20 to 30 days.

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

60 days before the exam, as I lose my one month in the celebration and waiting of prelims result.

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

Yes, short notes for quick revision is very necessary for this optional, as there are so many thinkers and their theories. Most of them are similar in nature so we need to be clear at every thinker. I made it in paper format.

  1. Your observation about the difficultly level of 2018 mains vs previous papers. And what precautions / rectifications are necessary in the future strategy for given optional subject?

Compared to previous years the Public Administration is slightly easy since 2016. The questions are direct in nature except 2-3 questions. The scope of making diagrams and charts is good.

In coming years public administration paper may become tough. One totally new concept came in both 2018 and 2019 exams. This trend may increase as public administration’s core syllabus has been saturated. Our strategy should be to focus on the current and new developments in both papers (The sources have been given above).

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?

College graduation subject and optional is the same so did not find tough to prepare it separately.

Hobby is a continuous thing but still I prepare some factual information on numismatics (my hobby).

Place of origin, home state- I thoroughly prepared from internet and government websites.

Current affairs- I made notes from the Hindu since January 2020 till 5th march, as my interview was on 6th march.

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 8 mock interviews. They were more or less similar to official interview. It is very necessary to attend mock interviews it helps in many ways such as- dress codes, greeting behavior, expressions, stress buster, mode of answering, body language. Apart from this in mock interview we get to know some hot areas related to our DAF that can anytime be asked by the board and we reach in the official interview well prepared.

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 in friend’s home. I did not bring anything for revision before interview. I read some news during documents verification before going to boardroom. As I was second in line so I got that much time.

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

 I wore full formal dress- Black pant, white shirt, blue stripped tie, black blazer, black shoe, and black belt.

During the interview

Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board?

  1. S. Bassi

Q2. How long was the interview?

30 min.

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?]

Since I come from Bihar where government job is the prime source of employment so I chose to join civil service as this is the best job one can get through competitive exams. I am continuing in my graduation field as I am doing Ph. D. in public Administration

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]

Before formal discussion starts my interview had some interesting incident that I would like to narrate.

After my document verification is over I was taken towards the board room. Before entering into the board room candidates are required to sit outside the room for few minutes. Here starts my interesting story. I saw that tea coffee and snacks was being taken inside the room. I was observing minutely as 5 cup of tea and snacks were taken into. At the end one single plate snacks was also taken inside. Here I could guess that this extra plate was for me. Then only I made my mind that this time I will eat snacks. Because in my first interview I was in the same board of Mr. Bassi and he gave me 160 marks. So I thought he will anyhow not give more marks, then why not to enjoy the interview with bite of snacks. With this mindset I entered into the room.

As soon as I entered I greeted the chairman then the lady member then I was asked to sit. The moment I sat the chairman offered me the snacks as I guessed earlier and was ready to accept offer. Without hesitation I said yes sir, I will take it, he smiled and said you take as per you convenience we will wait until you finish, but I said thank you sir, I will take after the interview is over. Then my interview started.

Chairman:

Tell me three problems and their solution in administration

Ans: 1st non responsiveness and poor delivery of services in administration solution e governance and right to public service acts

        2nd non participation of grass root level citizen solution RTI

       3rd corruption in administration solution legal provisions of lokpal and citizen involvement into administration through social audit

Then he passed to next member

Member 1, lady member:

Continued the previous discussion and asked about lokpal (not any specific thing about it)

Ans: I pointed out some specific provision that I prepared and additionally I pointed some lacunae as well like- cannot investigate  older cases, do not have separate investigation wing, cannot take suo moto cases (it was simple discussion).

Member 2:

What is the difference between CAPF and army, what are the problems and suggest solution?

Ans: CAPF is specialized force has less advantageous position than army because of lack of unity of command, less equipped and less privileged than army.

Then he asked the difference between CAPF and civil police.

Ans: on the same line as above state police are under the command of state government they are neared to public than CAPF, civil police has dual responsibility of security as well as law and order.

Then he asked for solution to make all the forces more efficient

Ans:  the training and work jurisdiction can be made integrative for example- BSF can also be posted in naxalised areas, civil police can have mid-term service at Nepal and Bangladesh border.

Cross question: kargil review committee has recommended for one border one force system but you are giving the opposite. How will you substantiate your view?

Ans: I gave example of election when BSF forces are brought for peaceful election and riot conditions when CRPF are brought to impose peace. Since state police are under political pressure and CAPF forces are bereft of public engagement, my view of integrative training and service will help enhance the efficiency of both the forces as CAPF forces can have people’s engagement and civil police can have efficient training of dealing in tough situations without political pressure. (This was the longest discussion of whole interview)

Then he asked about the indo Nepal border- should it be fenced like Pakistan?

Ans: no, sir, with Nepal we have strong cultural and economic connect people from Bihar and up have day stay in Nepal and night stay in India so fencing the border is not a sustainable solution.

Then what to do to stop infiltrations?

Ans: SSB is guarding the indo Nepal border and this force is always in contact with local people and civil police. Here I again substantiated my earlier view of integrative training and service. I said SSB should engage people to make them eyes and ears. Local population should be capacitated to report the cases of infiltrations. (Here discussion finished).

Member 3:

Que. 1 recently the interview for group b and c jobs have been removed. What is your view.

Ans: it has both advantage and disadvantage. Advantage- save time, faster recruitment process, less streesful for candidates. Disadvantage-only cognitive evaluation of candidates and lack social and behavioural aptitude.

Que.2 what is your stand?

Ans: interview should be taken as it helps to evaluate candidates on multiple scales. To reduce the time consuming process we can look for group interviews, online interviews group discussion and other methods of interviews.

Que 3: should a civil servant raise voice against political executives? (Gave some references)

Ans: yes, if political executive is not appropriate in its decision then civil servant should raise voice, gave example of whistle blowing act.

Que4: economic and social status of bihar. Is it bimaru?

Ans: no, it is no more bimaru. As it has highest percentage of GDP growth at 10 %. Jivika mission, mgnrega scheme is working very efficiently. And I gave examples of some best performing schemes.

Member 4

Que: five benefits of IGNOU(my educational institution)

Ans: 1. Flexibility 2. Open to all 3. Study on demand 4. Inculcating habit of self-learning 5. Negative thing like less student teacher interaction and some technical issues like online video lecture, study material do not reach etc.

Que: what are doing these days?

Ans: Ph. D in public administration

Que: topic?

Ans: towards new public governance: a study of bihar right to public services act 2011

Que: what is new public governance?

Ans: it is the third wave of reform in the field of public administration as it not only based on the principles of classical public administration but also encapsulates the fundamentals of new public management. It is based on the public service delivery paradigm and it is network oriented governance.

The chairman said your interview is over.

Now the best part of the interview came.

As soon as I stand up Mr. Bassi said your pakoda is waiting. I said, yes sir now I will take. Then one member said you take it and eat outside. Then Mr. Bassi said you take the plate with pakoda and go. UPSC is giving you the plate for memory. Take it and go. I took it and came out. (I did not take the plate home…)

The interview finished…I finished my pakoda took tea then came out happily.

Disclaimer: I narrated my tea-pakoda story for reference as many candidates face this kind of situations. CSE interview is the test of personality so it’s not just about question and answer. In the interview the presence of mind and minute observation play key role. For example: many candidates are asked to recognize their photo, while chairman covers the face of the photo- here close observation is REQUIRED. Like this my interview started well before going into the board room, when I was sitting outside and observing the process that helped me to take easy decision on the snacks-offer of chairman. So observe everything carefully at least since last 1 hr. before interview.

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

Yes, my interview was 100% on expected line. They asked me all related questions of my DAF and I had prepared almost all of them. One good thing was that they asked me one question on advantage and disadvantages of CAPF AND ARMY. This I had prepared from newspaper in February only. Rest all was from my subject area.  It was a very light interview as I narrated earlier ‘the story of Tea pakoda’ made my whole interview light and easy going and in the last as well, it was a happy exit.

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

No, nothing like that except Mr. Bassi told me to take the plate and pakoda with you– UPSC is giving you plate for memory (it was the funniest moment of last 30 mins).

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

It was all simple and very fast. I submitted my attendance slip in the same day afternoon. Only think that candidate should take all the prescriptions (like eye glass prescription) with them. Else candidate will be asked to bring from outside doctors’ prescription and it delays the process.

CSE-2019 Marksheet

Q1. Please provide both prelim and final mark sheet:

UPSC has notified that marks will be disclosed after 7th September

Subjects (Max. Marks) Marks secured Cutoff ranges

(PH to General)

Prelims P1-GS (200m) Cutoff: 40-98
Prelims P2-Aptitude (200m) Passing Marks: 67
Mains Subjects Marks secured
Essay (250m) Passing Marks: 25
GSM1 (250m) Passing Marks: 25
GSM2 (250m) Passing Marks: 25
GSM3 (250m) Passing Marks: 25
GSM4 (250m) Passing Marks: 25
Optional Paper-1 (250m) Passing Marks: 25
Optional Paper-2 (250m) Passing Marks: 25
Written Total (1750m) Cutoff: 561-751
Interview (275m) N/A
Final (2025m) Cutoff: 708-961

Career Backup

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

I was already selected in state PSC two times. So I had strong 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.)

I had kept my joining in the state PSC (BPSC) job on extension. And I was to join that service after my 2020 attempt.

Views on UPSC reforms

  1. Although Political science and sociology are both humanities subjects, yet depending on exam year, one of this subject gets more favorable scaling-treatment than the other, consequently some candidates are denied even interview calls, despite having good marks in GS and Essay parallel to toppers. So, optional subjects should be removed altogether. The present scenario is helping no-one, except coaching-owners, book publishers.

Yes optional paper should be removed and a general paper of administration should be included.

  1. After Mains-Syllabus change of 2013, initially some candidates got very high ranks, despite scoring poorly in interviews- thanks to their tall scores in written (mains). So in recent years, it seems UPSC has tweaked the mains-evaluation process in such manner that everyone gets similar range of marks in Essay, GSM2 and GSM4. Thus, selection is majorly dependent on optional scaling and interview score. In CSE-2018, total 759 successful candidates in a spectrum of mere ~403 marks. Yes, UPSC does have internal mechanisms to reduce panel-wise variation of interview marks, yet many candidates didnot make it just because of a ‘strict’ interview panel. So, what should be done to reform A) the mains-evaluation system and B) the interview evaluation system?

No specific idea about the internal mechanism of scalling. So no comments on that.

  1. Despite what UPSC has done in last seven years in syllabus and pattern change, it has failed to curb the nuisance of Delhi’s coaching factories and the readymade e-material sellers. In fact, it’s increased under the new Mains-syllabus post-2013. Let’s face it, UPSC added so many topics and so many random questions, even fulltime student struggles to gather and process all standard reference books and material himself within the short time available to him. So, apart from revamping the mains-evaluation system, the mains-Syllabus needs to be compressed.

Yes certain sorting is requires as the same topic is asked in multiple places. For example- environment ques is in paper I as well as paper III. Some compression and clear cut categorization is required.

  1. (in context of my earlier question on transparency vs litigation) UPSC should disclose official prelim answerkey and cutoffs, immediately after prelim is over, instead of postponing it till interview phase is over. Your thoughts?

Yes UPSC should reveal the official prelim answer key and cutoffs, immediately after prelim is over it will help candidates to prepare more seriously for mains.

  1. Due to protests by Hindi-belt, UPSC made Prelim-Paper-II qualifying in nature (33%) but in recent prelims, you’d have noticed that each passage is followed by only 1 MCQ (instead of 2-3 MCQs as in past), and maths-reasoning also became increasingly complicated, so finishing the paper in time limit and scoring that 33% is also a headache for non-engineer candidates from Rurban areas. And although Decision Making and Basic English comprehension are part of official prelim paper-2 syllabus, due to fear of backlash, UPSC stopped asking this since 2015. So, don’t you think Paper-2 should be removed OR merged with Paper-1 just like CAPF- where same one paper has 125 MCQs containing both GS and Aptitude.

Paper II after making it qualifying serves no purpose. It should be removed.

  1. UPSC has converted COMBINED MEDICAL SERVICE (CMS) exam into online test. RBI Officer’s exam has descriptive paper at mains-stage, yet it’s completely online -candidate has to ‘type’ the answer on computer screen. So, 1) Whether Prelim should be conducted online 2) whether mains should be conducted online. Your views?

UPSC prelims should be conducted online as it will reduce the time for declaration of result and candidates will have more time to prepare for mains. MAINS, for the time being should be conducted offline considering the digital divide of our country.

  1. 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.
  1. If you are made the UPSC chairman, what other reforms would you initiate for the civil service exam?
  2. I would have eliminated one of the language paper. For example if a candidate is writing in English medium the she should not be required to appear in English paper. Likewise if a candidate is writing in hindi she should be exempted from hindi paper and this can be applied to all laguages.
  3. I would have suggested to conduct ALL INDIA PRELIMS for all the state pcs as well. After prelims score state psc may call candidate directly for mains according to the cutoff required.

Insecurity about profile

  1. Many candidates prepare sincerely but constantly live under fear about ‘profile insecurity’. I’m not from a big college, I’m not from English medium, and I don’t have work-experience. What if they ask some stressful questions in the interview about this? Did you suffer from such insecurities? What is your message to these candidates?

I personally did not suffer from any such issues. But UPSC is a level playing field and equals are treated equally here. If a candidate id from rural background with no hifi degree, she is treated accordingly in the interview. The board member does consider the background of the candidate.

Struggle of 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.

I failed in my first two attempts. After failing in each attempts I felt to quit the preparations but I survived due to peer groups. I was not alone in my preparation we are four friends. We have always supported each other’s.

One word of wisdom I would like to share to bear the mental pressure of failure.

Candidate should always keep one exit plan (career backup). And that exit plan should be activated after 2nd attempt or 3rd attempt. I activated in 2nd attempt. For serious UPSC candidates state PSC is a good exit option. This exit plan should only be to reduce the family and relational pressure, not to quit the UPSC.

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

I did not focus on self-notes making and test that resulted into failure in my earlier two attempts. In 2019 attempt I limited myself to notes, revision and test. I even focused more on revising same thing multiple times that helped me to recall the content in the real exam.

Message to Failed Candidates

  1. Many hardworking candidates have failed in Mains/Interview of CSE-2019. They’re feeling cynical, hopeless and depressed- what is your message to them?

My message to them is only one to keep writing exams with confidence. UPSC exam is not only the game of study it is also a mental game where confidence play a very big role.

Credit: Friends/family

  1. 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 elder brother and elder sister have been my supports. When I failed in first attempt and then in second attempt I was on the verge of leaving the preparations but they always motivated me to keep going on.

Grand wisdom of LIFE

  1. People know what books and syllabus points are to be prepared. But most of them lack consistency in their preparation. So, how do you keep study momentum going on? How do you fight against the mood swings and distractions?

One should not study only for qualifying the exam. The study should be done to learn something new. One should always study and learn to gain maturity in thinking as well as in day to day life. The day when the level equals with UPSC we get the selection. My brother used to tell me “if you don’t want to study don’t study, you go and enjoy with friends. One day you will get bored of that life and then you will start studying without outside force.”

  1. 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?

UPSC is not the end. There are many things to do in life before qualifying and after qualifying the UPSC. So do prepare while enjoying the preparation and the life as well. Don’t waste your precious youth in the closed walls stuck with books but take the breeze of outside world and study with free mind.

BOGUS Marketing Propaganda

  1. 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 I used Mrunal.org thoroughly as I have already mentioned in the strategy list. It helped me to make my basic foundation before going to coaching classes. The updated economy course is of utmost helpful for me. Even in 2020 attempt I will read the mrunal sir’s economy notes and write the exam.

Visit Mrunal.org/Toppers for More Success Stories and Motivational Interviews!

Indian History Freedom Struggle Pratik Nayak

One Comment on “[Topper’s Interview] Deepak Kumar (Rank-684/UPSC-2019) Public Administration, 3rd Attempt, Bihar”

  1. Inspiring story of non- technical background student. Please give such backgroundsany more like Hindi medium, poor in maths but still got selected , no HiFi degrees. That motivates rural students. For such students like me Mrunal.org is the best source of learning.

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