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Manu Choudary 36th Rank in her 1st attempt in Civil Service Examination, 2016

“Self-belief, perseverance and a lot of hard work are the secrets of my success.”

                                                                                                                             Manu Choudary

‘Pratiyogita Darpan’ arranged an exclusive interview with Shri Manu Choudary who has been selected in Civil Services Examination 2016, conducted by Union Public Service Commission. He deserves high admiration 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 Manu—Thank you.

PD—Medium for writing examination.

Shri Manu—English.

PD—Medium for Personality Test.

Shri Manu—English.

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

Shri Manu—First.

PD—What was your optional subject ?

Shri ManuOptional Subject : Psychology.

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

Shri Manu—It depends on the interest level, availability of study material and coaching, previous years’ record.

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

Shri Manu—1. IAS, 2. IPS, 3. IRS(IT), 4. IRS (C&CE).

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

Shri Manu—I was sure of getting a rank in the top 100 but did not know that I would end up with AIR 36. I was feeling happy because the hard work had finally materialized in the form of AIR 36.

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 Manu—All the toppers had put immense efforts to clear the exam and their results symbolise self-belief, hard work and perseverance. I took inspiration from the success stories of many toppers and some of them had defied all odds to clear the exam.

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

Shri Manu—It was during my graduation that I understood the responsibilities and work profile of a civil servant towards public welfare.

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

Shri Manu—After my post-graduation, I decided to be a civil servant and started my preparation.

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

Shri Manu—It was my mother who inculcated in me the thought of becoming a civil servant during my childhood and later on I made a planned decision of pursuing it.

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

Shri Manu—I had thought of giving only 2 attempts and hence, I was determined to clear it in the first attempt.

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 Manu

1. Setting targets on a daily or weekly basis will help in effective utilization of time.

2. Making notes out of newspapers and reference books saves a lot of time.

3. Taking printouts from the internet on topics like National parks, Wildlife sanctuaries, Ramsar sites, GI products, Tribes etc will definitely help in time management

4. Creating separate topic wise modules for each subject in all GS papers is also beneficial.

PD—The first step is the most difficult; how to prepare ? Which optional subjects to pick up ? 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 Manu—Extensive use of internet has helped me clear my doubts and even coaching institutes proved helpful.

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 Manu—For GS Paper-I (General Studies). Initially, completed all the relevant NCERT’s from class 6th to 12th and then moved on to reference books. I used to make notes of all that is relevant and consolidate it in the shortest form possible. I had joined test series online mode and offline test series. I had referred to previous years’ question papers and tried to search on the internet all related questions. Lastly, revision is the key to success in prelims and read The Hindu and PIB on a daily basis.

        For GS Paper-II (Aptitude Test). I did not prepare much for this as I have an engineering background and also gave CAT exam for my PGDM.

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

Shri Manu—Mock tests help in understanding the number of questions one needs to attempt. So attempting only those questions which we have some idea about helps in reducing the negative marks.

PD—What was your strategy for Main Examination (Written) ?

Shri Manu—1. The topics mentioned in the syllabus have to be covered from internet, class notes and reference books. 2. Answer writing practice needs to be done by solving mock tests. 3. Notes have to be consolidated in to a smaller gist which will be helpful in remembering key points. 4. Rajya Sabha TV debates (e.g., The Big Picture), reports, data, schemes add value to the answers . 5. Revision and newspaper reading prove pivotal in the preparation.

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 Manu—Essay preparation requires a good introduction, thesis (clarifying one’s stand), narration (giving a story / example / recent incident/report data etc.), body (used causes-effects in water disputes / benefits of internet sector wise with examples in the essay on internet and dimensions like political, economic, social, environmental etc have to be covered), conclusion (can be summarised or the way forward can be explained). Practicing essays will help in developing coherence and logical flow of the essay.

        Topic I Water disputes between states in federal India. Topic II Internet and cyberspace.

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

Shri Manu—Personality test assessment is done to check the suitability of the candidate in terms of the traits needed to be a civil servant. I analysed my DAF, gave some mock interviews for its preparation. My Board was chaired by PK Joshi Sir. Questions were broadly based on the DAF, hobbies, economics, polity and decision making skills.

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

 Shri Manu—No.

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

Shri Manu—1. It helps to become a part of the governance structure of the country. 2. Greater responsibility of contributing to public welfare.

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 Manu—I think graduation is the period when most of the aspirants seriously think of pursuing civil services. This is the right time as aspirants become aware of their strengths and weaknesses, become more mature in analysing the demands of the exam. I had prepared for 1 year to clear this exam.

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

Shri Manu—I think score depends on the calibre of the person and the effort put by him irrespective of the subject.

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

Shri Manu—Medium does not play a significant role as long as there is conceptual clarity and balanced thought of mind.

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

Shri Manu—It might impact in terms of the ability to purchase reference books, joining a coaching institute but if the candidate can work hard and read the required books with consistency then he/she can clear the exam.

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

Shri Manu—I did not refer to competition magazines much because of greater reliance on internet, reference books and class notes.

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

Shri Manu—I did not refer to it.

PD—Did you refer to Pratiyogita Darpan–Panorama Year Book ? What is your opinion about the Current Affairs contents, size and the time of publishing?

Shri Manu—No.

PD—What is the secret of your success ?

Shri Manu—Self-belief, perseverance and a lot of hard work.

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

Shri Manu—My effort towards the exam, professors, parents and friends.

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

Shri Manu—Despite the economic and social constraints, candidates can clear the exam if they work hard and believe in themselves.

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

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