To whom would you like to attribute your
I attribute my success to the members of my
family and friends. In this attempt, especially friends were very supportive.
Besides, my single-minded devotion, intelligent hard work, determination and
dedication played an important role in lifting me to this position.
What prompted you to prepare for Civil Services?
I was brought up in a district-town. It is a
very old town, more than two hundred years old. In a district-town, the career
option as a district collector is seen prestigious. Moreover, the challenging
nature of the job and the opportunities to feel for the sufferings of people
and to solve their problems to a possible extent motivated me to prepare for
Why do you want to join Indian Administrative Service?
The first and foremost thing is that it
offers the spirit of full-time public service. Even in private sector one can
do public service by offering a portion of salary to charity after making good
money. But here a full-time involvement in public service is missing. Second
thing is that as a gentlemanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s career, I think, IAS is even better than a
good corporate job.
What did you do after your graduation in electrical
I completed my graduation in 2000. I had
taken the Prelim in the same year, cleared the Main but failed to get through
the exam finally.
What was your score in the first-attempt?
Electrical Engineering 294
General Studies 354
I found out that my marks in physics were
very low even in the old syllabus. Moreover, the syllabus of physics changed
in 2001. So, I decided to drop physics because the new syllabus was much more
complex, and I opted for Geography.
Why did you choose Geography?
I put forward my problems to an expert in
this field. He suggested me to go for either Geography or Psychology.
According to him engineers can opt for either Geography or Psychology. But I
was not confident of taking any social science subject. Psychology was a new
subject and I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t feel comfortable with its syllabus. In Geography at
least some science is involved. It is only an extension of what we studied in
the school. So it was purely a strategic decision without much options.
Why did you decide to join Ã¢â‚¬ËœInteractionsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ for
There were two institutes that I had
short-listed. I consulted with my seniors and friends; they suggested me to
join Interactions because at Interaction guidance is very authentic,
meticulously planned and to the point.
What were your experiences of learning
I understood that in Geography by studying
around 50% syllabus I can aim for around 400 marks. In the first attempt
itself I secured 396 and in the second attempt 336.
Geography has a very compact and comfortable
syllabus. There are around 20 chapters in the syllabus. What I felt that we
needed to study only 10 chapters in both the Papers. The ten chapters are also
delimited into Part A and Part B of both the Papers. Before the exam one can
decide which two questions one has to attempt from Part A or Part B. That is
how the syllabus becomes more compact. By good analysis of the previous
yearsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ question papers, one can reduce even ten topics to seven. In both the
Papers one can score good marks by using maps and illustrations.
What was your result in the second attempt?
Electrical Engineering 242
General Studies 348
I secured 137th rank
and was allocated to the Railway Traffic Services. I found that though I
prepared the best for electrical engineering but I could secure only 242
marks. I used to clear objective type questions of the electrical engineering
in Civil Services as well as other competitive exams without much preparation.
In the Main, I found that the syllabus was getting unmanageable and the
questions were getting beyond any reasonable standard. So, I decided to drop
electrical engineering and opted for Sociology.
Why did you choose Sociology?
One of my friends, Mr Deepak Choudhary
suggested me to opt for Sociology. He felt that I had an aptitude for
Sociology rather than Psychology.
Considering the fact that the time at your disposal was
limited, how did you manage Sociology?
In a sense, Sociology needs much deeper
understanding than Geography. In Geography, one could skillfully put a map and
explain to the examiner that he knows the subject. I was more comfortable in
Geography because I had a very good understanding of Indian Geography. But in
Sociology, I got around 150 in Paper I and around 130 in Paper II. My
preparation was inadequate. I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have the grasp of the subject itself.
This I could set right in the final attempt after a gap of one year. I
utilized the time to read some good authors so that I could get some
understanding of the subject. The subject became more clear when I read
GiddenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Sociology. I also prepared the syllabus very seriously.
Why did you take a gap of one year?
This gap was due to the training. Moreover,
I had no option other than joining training. Frankly speaking, I was expecting
to clear that year itself.
What was your score in the third attempt?
General Studies 330
How did you manage time in the final attempt?
I was very fortunate that I was granted
leave for preparing Main examination. For this, I should thank my chief
operations manager Mr R Sharma.
Was there any change in strategy in the last attempt?
In the last attempt, I stuck to the
syllabus. For example, by the end of preparation in Sociology, I could write
at least 200 words on every sub-topic in the syllabus. 200 words means writing
10 to 20 points depending upon the writing style. This type of preparation I
had done for the 90 per cent of the syllabus. If you are confident on two
hundred words it can easily be expanded to 600 words. The same thing I did for
While reading magazine if I found anything
relevant to the syllabus I used to add that page to my study materials. For
example, whenever I saw a good map in any magazine, I entered that map into
the pertaining page of my study materials.
Generally, students are a bit confused whether to make
notes or only points or study directly from the textbooks. What was your style
I studied from the book directly. But, it
varies from person to person. I was never dependent on notes to revise. At one
point of time I was able to revise the entire syllabus in a single day. But
that is difficult, so it is better to make notes.
In which revision you reached that stage where you could
revise entire syllabus in a single day?
Third revision. Fourth revision should be
the day before the exam.
Do you suggest that at least four or five revisions should
Five revisions will be difficult. Three to
four revisions are required. At least second revision is a must. It should not
be like that one study the subject and take the exam directly. October onwards
it should be only revisions. One should not continue learning anything new.
Did you prepare notes other than reading books?
I did not make notes condensing the books. I
made notes heading wise, purely to write a 200 word answer. My notes were
skeletons of the answers.
There is a lot of confusion regarding
reading books. Some say that read only a few books, others suggest to go for
an extensive reading. What is your opinion about it?
I read very less number of books. For
Geography, I read both NCERT (Old and New) books. For entire Physical
Geography, I read only one book. For human Geography, I read only 2-3 books.
Other than these, I read a few general books like Survey of Hindu on
Environment and Industries.
What is the role of coaching in oneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s preparation? When
one should go for it?
In my personal case, it is a trade off. I
decided my second optional very late, only after receiving the mark-sheet of
the first attempt. It was mid-June. So, I did not have any other alternative
other than joining a coaching institute.
You went to the coaching classes without
any knowledge about the subjects. How did you manage it?
I knew that I could make maximum use of
coaching. I was a fairly keen student in college also. Sitting in a class with
competitive students and a good coach is an easy way of learning. I was making
a trade-off between my time and the coaching time. If I had more time I would
have prepared it by myself.
How did you utilise the coaching institute? Should one go
to a coaching institute?
There is no clear-cut answer to this
question. It depends on persons, resources, coaching institutes etc. If
somebody is confident that he will not waste time and will utilize the
coaching institute well one should go for it. But the most important thing is
that coaching institutes should be very reliable and dependable.
How one should choose an institute?
I relied on my friends. Students must
consult their seniors who know about different institutes in Delhi. Moreover,
your seniors should be your well-wishers.
You scored consistently in
GS in the first three attempts and this year it may be more than that. But
majority of candidates are unable to score consistently in GS especially in
Paper II. How one should prepare for GS? How one can do well in two marks
Let me explain it subject wise.
History: Go to the
basic books like NCERT, Freedom struggle by Bipin Chandra and SpectrumÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s
history. In 2001, they asked questions directly from NCERT. For a non-social
science student it will do.
Polity: I relied upon
NCERT books and the class-notes. Moreover, I answered the questions of last 15
years. Questions are heavily repeated. Answering the previous yearsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢
questions help in thinking faster in the exam.
Geography: I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t
go for any separate preparation.
Current Affairs: I
relied upon the crash course notes. I think, it is better to rely upon crash
course notes or something similar from any civil service magazines like Competition
Wizard rather than reading newspaper.
Science and Technology: From
the beginning I was strong in Science and Technology. I was also in touch with
my friends who work in different science streams. I kept abreast of the
relevant happenings. My sources were more varied. SpectrumÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Science and
Technology is good.
Economy: Uma KapilaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s
Ã¢â‚¬ËœUnderstanding problems of Indian EconomyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ is quite useful. Some of the
questions were directly related to the headings of its chapters. For kick
starting, we can rely upon some good coaching instituteÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s notes. Economy has
two types of questions Ã¢â‚¬â€œ one is current-oriented and the other is from
traditional core section of economy.
International Relations: I
relied upon coaching instituteÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s notes and other study material.
What was your strategy for 30 marks questions of 250 words?
Did you stick to the word limit? Did you write introduction, conclusion etc?
Word limit is basically a time limit. I have
a sense of time limit and time limit, in a sense, is page limit. When you see
the question paper you can say that you are going to write this concept in
this much space. 250 words will be about two and a half page. If I know that I
want to talk about a concept in a quarter of page and if it exceeds that
limit, then in the next concept I need to write less. Inside the examination
hall, after every half an hour I used to check whether I completed 50 marks or
not. I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have time problem in any of my attempts.
In GS, there is no scope for introduction.
250 words is fairly less for a good students.
In Sociology, I explained the questions and
its components in introduction. In Geography, I had better introduction. I
used some direct phrases from the NCERT. I also used pre-planned introduction
in some topics. I quoted some paragraphs from NCERT in Essay too.
When one should start
preparing for Civil Services?
Ideally, the preparation process should
start during graduation, but even late comers should make it, starting 7-8
months before the Prelim.
Did you have any plan for
Civil Services during graduation?
During my graduation, I had a plan. But in
our college, we didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have many people who were preparing for it.
When did you finally
I finally decided in the fourth year of B.E.
What was your strategy for
A subject-wise analysis of last 10 yearsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢
question paper is required. The classification itself will give a feeling of
what is being asked in the exam. I had a matrix of last ten yearsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ paper of
the General Studies as well as the optional. Those areas in which I was not
competent, I studied in detail.
Did you practise answer-writing?
I wrote only a few answers, may be less than
ten in each paper. But I planned skeletons for entire last 10 yearsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ papers
including all 200 words questions. By writing 10 answers I got to know my
speed; my thinking power; whether I am able to give proper introduction or not
and whether I am exceeding word limit or time limit.
What was your strategy for Essay?
I did some brainstorming for some topics.
But in the exam I never wrote the topics, which I was prepared for. I wrote
approximately 1000-1200 words.
What is the most crucial thing in the essay writing to
fetch maximum marks?
A coherent essay may fetch around 115-120
marks. One should stick to the basic points. Beating around the bush will mar
the purpose. Good introduction, one concept in one paragraph and smooth
transition from one paragraph to other are the basic rules.
How did you prepare for Personality Test
In the previous attempts my preparations
were haphazard. I was rushing through coaching classes. More thinking about
personality and Bio-data are required rather than trying to know more about
current-affairs. This time, I asked myself why I wanted to join civil
services? Why did I leave a good engineering career and joined Railways? Why
do I want to leave Railways and go to IAS loosing three years of service? Then
I worked on my Bio-data and tried to generate as far away questions as
possible. Almost the entire interview was what I thought of.
What was your personal experience of Interview Board?
The interview depends upon with what frame
of mind one appears before the Interview Board. This year I was very confident
of my selection. I performed very well as a Railway officer. Second thing is
that interview itself is a purposeful conversation rather than a strict
question-answer session. Keeping it in mind I conversed confidently with the
Board members. Had I kept answering tersely to the question they would have
not even got a chance to find whether I was worth enough to the service.
What do you think about Competition Wizard?
Special issues on Prelim and Main are very
good and concise. It helped me a lot in the course of my preparation.
Simplicity, brevity, accuracy and quality consciousness are the other things
that impressed me much about Competition Wizard.
What is your impression about Interactions?
Fact speaks for itself. A person who has no
background in Geography had studied three months at Interactions and
secured 396 in the first attempt. On 15th June, I had decided to change one
Optional subject and chose Geography. On 17th October were the Main Papers and
I secured 396.
What is your hobby?
Reading and watching movies. In the
interview, they asked me what especially I read. I read both Tamil and
English. A member of the Board asked me whether I had read any works of the Jnanpith
award winner Jayakanth. I told them that I had read a number of his
short stories. Then I could tell a short story in the Interview. I felt that
they were quite impressed with my narration.
As regards watching movies, they asked me
about my favourite English actor and movies. I had never thought about my
favourite English actors. So, the answer came spontaneously in an unstructured
fashion. Had I planned about these questions earlier, I would have been able
to answer it in a more coherent manner.
What is your advice to new
Preparation should be structured,
methodical, scientific, meticulous and detailed. A good revision is needed.
DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t plunge into Prelim and waste attempts before having a clear-cut idea
about the nature of the exams and a good command over the subjects. Failure
will come but it should not deter us.
How many hours did you
At least six hours a day, morning and
evening three hours each. But I did not do any other activity. To keep the
momentum it is better to have teamwork.
What is the role of luck
in Civil Services?
Bad luck will put people out and without
preparation no luck will put anybody in.
Where do you see yourself
when you are at sixty?
At sixty, I will be starting a new career.