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Anand Vardhan 7th Rank in his 4th attempt in Civil Service Examination, 2016

“Firm belief in my dreams, hard work and perseverance are the keys to my success”

                                                                                                                         -Anand Vardhan

‘Pratiyogita Darpan’ arranged an exclusive interview with Shri Anand Vardhan, who has been selected in Civil Services Examination 2016, conducted by Union Public Service Commission. He deserves our appreciation and heartiest congra-tulations on his outstanding success. This important, thought-provoking and highly inspiring interview is being presented here in its original form.

PD—Achieving top slot in the coveted Civil Services Examination is no small feat; accept our heartiest congratulations on your splendid success.

Shri Anand—Thank you very much.

PD—In how many attempts have you achieved this success ?

Shri Anand—4.

PD—You achieved the desired success in this attempt; how do you visualize your previous attempts ?

Shri Anand—In my previous attempts I reached the mains exami-nation twice and the interview once. So in a way the previous attempts were incremental stages to reach upto this stage. The knowledge that I acquired during my previous attempts helped me to secure a high rank.

PD—What was your optional subject ?

Shri AnandOptional Subject : Political Science and International Relations.

PD—While making final choice for optional subject, what’s important and what’s not ?

Shri Anand—I think one must consider all aspects viz. interest in the subject, availability of material and overlap with the GS syllabus, if any; in that order. One must also not go by conventional wisdom and do one’s own research and evaluate one’s own interest.

PD—Give the basis of selecting the optional subject ?

Shri Anand—In my case 3 attempts had been taken with Public Administration, and while switching the optional in my fourth attempt, Political Science was a feasible option because it was somewhat similar to Public Administration. Also it had considerable overlap with GS paper 2. Considering the limited time frame I had, I decided to go for it.

PD—What preference in services have you opted for and any particular reason for that priority ?

Shri Anand—My first preference is IAS since it is one of the most dynamic and challenging jobs in the country.

Bio-data
Name—Anand Vardhan

Father’s Name—Shri Vishnu Dayal Mall

Mother’s Name—Mrs. Krishna Mall

Date of Birth—January 6, 1991.

Educational Qualifications

10th—2006, CBSE, KV No. 1 BHUJ (94·4%)

12th—2008, CBSE, The Air Force School Delhi (89·6%)

B.Tech.—2013, Delhi College of Engineering (70%)

PD—‘Success is sweet’ were you confident of your success with top rank and how did you react to this news ?

Shri Anand—I was definitely confident about success, but nobody plans for such a high rank. I reacted with disbelief at the news, but slowly it sank in as all my hard work had finally paid off. This was another proof for me that hard work and hard work only determines where you will end up, and toppers are no different from ordinary aspirants.

PD—Today, IAS Toppers are icons and lots of media coverage makes them popular. Before your success, what was your opinion about these toppers ?

Shri Anand—I had followed a number of toppers’ videos, interviews and blogs during my preparation phase. It always served as a source of motivation and inspiration. Before my success too, I understood that the toppers were highly organized people who had the clear goal in mind and worked seamlessly towards it. Of the toppers, Gaurav Agarwal Sir (2013 batch topper) inspired me the most.

PD—Can you recall the exact moment when you realized the importance of Civil Services ?

Shri Anand—It was in my final year of B. Tech. that I decided to prepare for civil services, because I felt my aptitude and inclination were suited for this job.

PD—Finally, at what point of time did you make up your mind to make career in ‘Civil Services’ ?

Shri Anand—After I made up my mind in my final year of graduation, I began my preparation.

PD—Was CSE your planned decision or your parents’ wish ?

Shri Anand—CSE was a completely personal decision, my parents had no idea that I was thinking about it. I told them that I had decided to prepare and they expressed their full support regarding the same. I would say that it was a well thought out and carefully considered decision.

PD—Did you keep in mind some time-frame for the examination preparation and number of attempts ?

Shri Anand—Initially there was no such thing. But as things panned out I understood that the preparation might take some time and patience. So, I adjusted accordingly and prepared myself for the long haul. I did not plan four attempts, but they happened.

Personal Qualities
Favourite Persons—Roger Federer

Strong Point—Calmness

Weak Point—Sometimes not con-sistent.

Hobbies—Lawn Tennis, Reading and Writing.

PD—‘Time Management’ is a key factor. How did you manage things ?

Shri Anand—Yes, absolutely. Time Management is key to clearing any exam. Especially in UPSC the stakes are very high and there is a lot of study material to sift through. I made a daily routine and tried to stick to it. If one breaks down the syllabus into small parts and then approaches each part, it becomes easier to manage. Making a routine is very essential.

PD—The first step is the most difficult; how to prepare ? From where did you get the right advice?

Shri Anand—Yes, for a person who is new to preparation it is difficult to get a grip on where and how to start. For this I consulted a few seniors from college and joined a weekend program at Rau’s IAS. It helped open up a window into the vast world of UPSC preparation. I also did some online research and looked at past years’ papers to under-stand what was expected in the exam. I started with the absolute basics like NCERT and built my preparation ground up.

PD—What was your approach towards Paper I (General Studies) and Paper II (Aptitude Test) during Preliminary Examination preparation ?

Shri Anand—For GS Paper-I (General Studies) : This paper has become the backbone for clearing the prelims as only these scores are counted in cut off. I devoted 90% of my time to this area by going through various books and listed sources, and revising them again and again. For me it was a continuous effort across my four attempts.

        For GS Paper-II (Aptitude Test) : I did not prepare specifically for this as this is only a qualifying paper. I solved a couple of mocks before the actual examination.

PD—Was there any change in plan for General Studies Paper II (Aptitude Test) being qualifying in Preliminary Examination ?

Shri Anand—Earlier I tried to score better in this paper to maximize my score. I attempted the paper with care and was able to supplement my GS marks with CSAT scores.

PD—How did you manage to tackle the ‘Negative Marking’ in Prelims ?

Shri Anand—I was always conservative in attempting questions, attempted about 75-80 questions and left the ones I had no idea about.

PD—What shift did you adopt in your strategy for Main Examination (Written) ?

Shri Anand—There is only one strategy for the mains examination. That is answer writing. One needs to practice within the period of 3 hours to write 20 quality answers. Apart from that one needs to focus especially on the current affairs. For this a detailed analysis of issues and inter-linking them is very important. A lot of questions are from this area. I attempted nearly all questions in the mains examination.

PD—Was there any special effort for effective preparation for ESSAY Paper ?

Shri Anand—I wrote a few mock essays to understand the structure and the flow that one needs to get right. I made a strategy that in the mains exam I will devote some time to plan out the essay and then use the rest of it to write it. The knowledge one has gained for his GS papers has to be suitably moulded to be applied in the essay paper. I chose the topic about Need and Greed because I thought there were multiple angles from which I could explore that essay, and I understood the topic very well.

PD—How did you prepare yourself for Interview (Personality Test) ?

Shri Anand—The interview Board was very cordial and a very intelligent group of observers. They see through all aspects of your personality. One must maintain his or her composure while in the room. I worked on polishing some aspects of my personality, at the same time brushing up basic knowledge about my optional and current events. I had scored low marks in my personality test in my previous attempts, so this time I prepared myself better. I made sure I spoke to myself in the mirror, paid special attention to my posture and pace of talking. I spoke aloud again and again even the answers I knew very well. This helped me in visualizing myself in the interview room and speaking in front of the Board.

        I went through the Budget and Economic survey and other current issues that were likely to be asked. I also prepared my DAF thoroughly. I worked on maintaining my calm before entering the room. The Board was very cordial and cheerful and I nicely settled in after wishing them. The questions began on a familiar note and I was able to handle the first five minutes very well. Then the Chairman (P.K. Joshi sir) signaled to the other members one by one to ask questions.

        The questions asked were of varied nature, but none of them were very abstruse or tough. I tried giving logical and to the point answers to each one. The Board was encouraging and did not try to put me under any sort of pressure.

        The lady member was the last to ask the questions, and she was very expressionless. But I was able to answer well and she looked satisfied with my answers.

        Overall, it was a smooth and good interview. I ended up scoring 168 marks.

PD—Were you preparing for other career opportunities as well while preparing for your ultimate goal i.e., Career in Civil Services ?

Shri Anand—I was working in the private sector as Junior Project Manager.

PD—While the changing economic environment offers immense lucrative career opportunities in various sectors, still what kept you motivated towards Civil Services ?

Shri Anand—Like I said, civil services was a very well thought out and considered decision. I took it because of the diversity of work and the value to the society it offers. There’s no job like it.

PD—In your opinion at which Educational Level should one start preparing for Civil Services and what should be the minimum period of time required to prepare for Civil Services Examinations ?

Shri Anand—One may start the preparation in one’s graduation. However, this is an exam that tests your life knowledge and hence lessons learnt in school come in handy too. All things considered, it will take an aspirant one to one and a half years to prepare for this exam. One should plan accordingly.

PD—What is your opinion regarding the general view that Science subjects have better chance to score than Humanities ?

Shri Anand—There is no such thing. You may pull out the toppers’ list from all years and you will see that all kinds of optionals have done well in this exam. In fact science subjects become difficult to handle sometimes because the toughness level of papers may be higher.

PD—What is the importance of medium of examination for exams like CSE ?

Shri Anand—CSE is a medium neutral exam. AIR 3 Gopalkrishna is a live example. He has cleared with Telugu medium. UPSC provides equal opportunity to all candidates irrespective of their background, language or other factors.

PD—Does the educational, financial and demographic status of the family of an aspirant have any impact on the preparation ?

Shri Anand—Like I said, it has absolutely no bearing on the result of the exam. The only thing that matters is how you perform.

PD—In your opinion what role do the Competition Magazines play when you are preparing for an examination like Civil Services ?

Shri Anand—Magazines offer a condensed view of all things important, especially current affairs.

PD—How do you find Pratiyogita Darpan ?

Shri Anand—Yes, the magazine’s material is relevant for this examination.

PD—What is the secret of your success ?

Shri Anand—Hardwork and perseverance are the keys to clear this examination. I always had belief.

PD—To whom would you like to give the credit for your success ?

Shri Anand—My parents, friends and God’s grace.

PD—Any suggestion/advice you would like to give to the future aspirants.

Shri Anand—Please keep a firm belief in your dreams, and pursue them with utmost sincerity. There will always be challenges, but hardwork is the solution to everything.

PD—Thank you very much and wishing you all the best for your future endeavours.

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