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Avdhesh Meena 32nd Rank in his 1st attempt in Civil Service Examination, 2016

“Clear vision, dedication and hard work are the secrets of my success”

                                                                                                                         -Avdhesh Meena 

‘Pratiyogita Darpan’ arranged an exclusive interview with Shri Avdhesh Meena who has been selected in Civil Services Examination 2016, conducted by Union Public Service Commission. He deserves high appreciation and our heartiest congratulations on his splendid 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 Avdhesh—Thank you very much.

PD—Medium for writing in examination.

Shri Avdhesh—English.

PD—Medium for Personality Test.

Shri Avdhesh—English.

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

Shri Avdhesh—1st attempt.

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

Shri Avdhesh—This is my first attempt.

PD—What was your optional subject ?

Shri AvdheshOptional Subject : Civil Engineering.

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

Shri Avdhesh—Your interest and aptitude in the optional, your background and past few years’ performance of optional are the most important factors. Thinking about scaling of optional marks should not be considered about choosing optional.

PD—Give the basis of selecting the optional subject ?

Shri Avdhesh—See the past year papers, syllabus, give yourself time and only then can you finalize the optional.

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

Shri Avdhesh—IAS, IPS, IRS (IT), IRS (C&CE). IAS provides the highest diversity in jobs which can be used to improve the lot of all sections of the society. Police and Revenue are other important duties of the Govt. of India.

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

Shri Avdhesh—Yes, I was confident about this success with good rank. I am a firm believer of the sentence—“Karma karte jao fal ki ichchha mat karo”. I just worked hard and always believed the results would follow. I was extremely happy that my dream and hard work have finally paid off. But I was also calm and realized that this is just a stepping stone to success and much needs to be done before I can call myself successful.

PD—Today, IAS Toppers are icons and lots of media coverage makes them popular. Before your success, what was your opinion about these toppers ? Any particular success story which influenced your journey to this result ?

Shri Avdhesh—I was also among the ones who used to feel that the toppers were from another world; that they are very different from normal human beings and have extraordinary intelligence.

        I was inspired by various toppers including Shah Faisal, Rachit Raj and Gaurav Agarwal when I started my preparation.

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

Shri Avdhesh—Although I had an inclination towards civil services since my childhood but when in IIT. I used to attend different sessions and talks held there about different career prospects. During one such talk about Civil Services the role of Civil Services in the development of nation and specially the upliftment of weaker sections was discussed by few top bureaucrats. Coming back from the talk, I searched the various roles and functions of Civil Servants and examples of positive changes by some bureaucrats which are well known. This was the time I finally prepared myself to be a civil servant.

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

Shri Avdhesh—It was a mix of both. The initial push and encouragement was my father who explained me about various positions in the working of Govt. The final decision came from myself after analyzing various prospects and opportunities.

Name—Avdhesh Meena

Father’s Name—Mr. Khemraj Meena

Mother’s Name—Mrs. Janta Bai Meena

Date of Birth—7 November, 1994.

Educational Qualifications

10th—2009, CBSE, Central Academy Jodhpur (91·17%)

12th—2011, CBSE, Emmanuel School, Bundi (90·80%)

B.Tech—2015, IIT Delhi (9·29%).

Previous Selections—IES AIR 9.

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

Shri Avdhesh—Yes, I was sure about 2 years being required for preparation of Civil Services and hence I made a time plan for 2 years.

PD—‘Time Management’ is a key factor while making preparations as well as in writing examination papers, be it Prelims or Main Examination. How did you manage things ?

Shri Avdhesh—Time management is the key to success in this exam. Being known to this fact, I started preparing 2 years in advance of the year when I wrote the exam. Also I did not join any job, which provided me ample time to study. Also my second year of study was completely by self and I did not join any coaching for optional which saved some time. I made a clear cut plan as to when I will complete my GS, Optional and Test series.

        In papers practicing test series is the key to time management. I analysed and tried various different ways to solve the questions in test series and choose the best one where I could gain maximum marks in equal time. I stuck myself to word limit and wrote concise answers to ensure I finished my paper in time.

PD—The first step is the most difficult; how to prepare ? Which optional subjects to pick ? What to read ? How much to read ? Many such questions come to your mind when you really get serious about Civil Services Examination ? From where did you get the right advice ?

Shri Avdhesh—Advice should only be taken from serious candidates probably with same background. Advice of not just toppers but also those who failed is important. Some of my friends had started preparation before me. I took help of them about what to study. In the initial phase I also watched videos of toppers to know about their study pattern. I also took coaching which helped me put my efforts in the right direction. I listened to all the advice and finally devised a strategy of my own which suited me.

PD—What was your approach towards Paper I (General Studies) and Paper II (Aptitude Test) during Preliminary Examination preparation ? How much time and effort did you divide for each ?

Shri Avdhesh—For GS Paper-I (General Studies). For this I started in the very first year of my preparation. I read the basic books multiple times, revised my notes thoroughly. I did not classify my study into prelims and mains separately, instead I covered both the aspects simultaneously.

        Lastly before the exams I revised the current affairs notes. Also the most important thing is test series. I joined a test series and practiced all the tests. Practising and revising the test series is the key to clear prelims.

        For GS Paper-II (Aptitude Test). I did not prepare anything for Aptitude test because I had good aptitude. I had tackled all the exams especially IIT JEE and others which made me confident. But I practiced few test papers before the exams so as to get in touch with what is the demand of exam.

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

Shri Avdhesh—Definitely as I was good in aptitude, thus making GS Paper 2 qualifying made the job a bit easier for me.

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

Shri Avdhesh—While practicing test papers I tried different combinations of questions. I finalized that I would attempt about 80 questions in the exam as after attempting 80 questions I got the maximum marks. I would choose those questions where I have eliminated at least 2 options out of 4. Thus eliminating options and choosing the best possible number of questions should be the strategy and should be decided after practicing various tests.

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

Shri Avdhesh—Most of my preparation was directed towards Mains examination. I read The Hindu daily which was really helpful for me in the exams. I tried to develop my understanding of things instead of memorizing.

        I practiced insights secure questions for Answer writing practice and then compared my answers with the ones written there. For mains focus should be more on the additional topics which are not in prelims. I gave special focus on optional as I believe optional to be game changer. More focus should also be given to current affairs.

        I developed a strategy of answer writing by following a fixed format of Introduction – Pros – Cons- Optimistic Conclusion and wrote my answer in points.

Personal Qualities
Favourite Person—No one person is free of flaws.

Your Strong Point—Taking interest in learning new things and self-belief.

Weak Point—Excessive use of social media.

Hobbies—Listening to old Hindi songs and playing cricket.

PD—Was there any special effort for effective preparation for Essay Paper ? Which topic did you pick up this time and why did you choose this particular topic ?

Shri Avdhesh—Yeah, I knew essay is a paper where the marks variation is huge. So I wrote few essays on Insights and also joined a test series for it.

Topic I—If development is not engendered, it is endangered. As I had already practiced an essay on gender equality and I felt I had fair knowledge about gender issues.

Topic II—Digital Economy : A leveler or source of economic inequality. Digital economy has been the new talk point especially since demonetization. I felt that I was not having enough knowledge in other options.

PD—How did you prepare yourself for Interview (Personality Test) ? When and which Board did you face ? How did your interview go on, how much time did it last and what were the questions asked during the Interview ?

Shri Avdhesh—I prepared my DAF (Detailed application form) thoroughly by going through each and every word in it. I searched on internet for various topics related to DAF. I read two newspapers daily—The Hindu and Indian Express. I prepared for my home state from internet. I also attended a few mock interviews in some coaching centres.

        I faced Shri Arvind Saxena Board. My interview was fine, nothing exceptional nor much bad. It lasted for about 30-35 minutes.

Questions :

  1. Your CGPA is so high, were you the topper ? Then what are you doing here ?
  2. What is caterpillar train ?
  3. Should we go for bullet trains ?
  4. What is the issue over Arunachal Pradesh between India China along with background.
  5. Is part of Arunachal with China ? Which part ?
  6. What are the issues with borders created by Britishers ?
  7. Where is Durand Line ? What are the issues with it ?
  8. How will you construct green building in rural areas where there is very less money ?
  9. Is this glass half full or half empty (by pointing towards a glass).
  10. How will you use civil engineering in smart cities ?
  11. How will you tackle farmer suicides ? Why are so many farmers committing suicide ? Where is the fault ?
  12. What are schemes for poverty alleviation ?

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

Shri Avdhesh—Although I was focused on civil services only, yet I appeared for ESE and GATE exams.

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

Shri Avdhesh—Since childhood I was never attracted to money. I belong to middle class family where enough money is available for basic needs. I did not have any big dreams of luxury life, so I didn’t have attachment towards money. I believed Civil services provides me the best platform to be a part of govt, execute policies for millions of people, formulate these policies where I could improve the life prospects of millions of people. This was the main attraction for me.

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 Avdhesh—As per me serious preparation should start in 3rd year of college. 2 years is the optimum time required for this exam.

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

Shri Avdhesh—After seeing my marks, I feel that you can score very well in technical subjects. But there are some science subjects where I have seen very poor marks on an average. So it basically depends on knowledge base, core competence and skills of those who are appearing. Even among humanities all subjects are not same, some are doing good others are not.

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

Shri Avdhesh—Most of the candidates selected in CSE belong to English medium. In Hindi medium not enough quality material is available which restricts the number of students selected from it. But this does not mean that Hindi medium students can’t do it. Some of my friends from Hindi medium have cleared the exam.

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

Shri Avdhesh—Definitely

        Financial status is very important as those with good status are able to take advantages of coaching and other relevant material. Educational and demographic status too have some impact.

        But we hear cases every year of many candidates with most adverse background being selected. So above all these factors, this is the will power to succeed.

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

Shri Avdhesh—With the help of magazines, we are able to analyze any topic in a comprehensive way with diversity of viewpoints. This helps to enhance the wholesome understanding of a topic. This is very useful while answer writing in mains and while answering questions in Interview.

PD—How do you find Pratiyogita Darpan ? Do you find it close to your expectations ?

Shri Avdhesh—Pratiyogita Darpan is a very famous magazine and even my father used to read it while he was preparing. It was suggested to me by a coaching teacher for some specific topics. I definitely found it to be close to my expectations as it provided me a better understanding of various issues and enhance my knowledge.

PD—What is the secret of your success ?

Shri Avdhesh—There is no secret of success. The formula of success is well known : clear vision, focus, dedication, hard work, enjoying whatever you do. I tried to follow all these steps.

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

Shri Avdhesh—First of all be clear about your vision : what you want to do, when you want to, how you will do it. Then strive to achieve the vision, without worrying about the end result. Give your best.

        “Karma karte jaa, fal ki chinta na kar”. Be sincere with yourself.

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

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