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Ms. Gandharva Rathore, attained 93rd Rank in 2nd attempt in Civil Services Examination, 2015

“An exceptionally postive attitude and hard Work are the secrets of my success

                                                                                                         -Gandharva Rathore

‘Pratiyogita  Darpan’  arranged an exclusive interview  with  Ms. Gandharva Rathore who has been selected in Civil Services Examination, 2015 conducted by Union Public Service Commission. She deserves all admiration and our heartiest congratulations on her 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.

Ms. Gandharva—Thank you so much.

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

Ms. Gandharva—IAS as my first and IPS as my second. IAS gives a more diversified work experience than other services. Order of my priority was based on this.

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

Ms. Gandharva—‘success is sweet’and it makes one very humble. I was surprised I am happy but at the same time I am also aware of that the responsibility on me has suddenly increased paramountly. I am no more a student and hence the behaviour automatically has become more matured.

PD—Before your success, what was your opinion about IAS toppers ?

Ms. Gandharva—Before writing the exams I tried to get in touch with the toppers to know their stories and all of them were very receptive and helpful. This always inspired me as to success should not make one high headed. The selected candidates must always help the aspirants for we’ve been through the same stages as most of the candidates and no one but we can understand how to get away with those feelings.

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

Ms. Gandharva—I made my mind after third year and started my preparation in 2014.

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

Ms. Gandharva—It was a planned decision.

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

Ms. Gandharva—I got rid of this problem by practicing a lot before the exams.

PD—What was your optional subject?

Ms. GandharvaOptional Subject : Commerce ad Accountancy.

PD—Give the basis of selecting the optional subject ?

Ms. Gandharva—I had done my graduation in the subject and so even though it was very lengthy and consumed most of my preparation time, I chose to go with the subject I was comfortable with.

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

Ms. Gandharva—2nd attempt.

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

Ms. Gandharva—My previous attempt was just a trial attempt, I had studied for a 3-4 months and hence knew I wouldn’t clear, but I just wanted to gauge the level of the exam and my strategy of preparation. Though I feel I should not have done that because rejection always hurts.

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

Ms. Gandharva—I did not take any coaching for GS. I had taken this decision because I could not sit and concentrate for long hours in a class so the first thing I did was I got in touch with other aspirants. I asked a senior to list out the books, I read interviews online and suggested booklist by them and then I made my own list picking out the common books. I bought all the latest material and then shifted back to Jaipur from Delhi. Also I chose the thinnest books for the preparation considering there was so much to be learnt. I relied on the old ncerts for developing a base in the subject and then referred to only one other book for each subject. So the strategy was as little material as possible. Also I was very regular with newspapers and yojna. I also read PD economic issue.

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

Ms. Gandharva—I had prepared holistically and did not leave any syllabus and hence I knew a lot of answers and hence was able to get a good score. Approach was to answer as many as I knew and did not guess anything extremely.

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

Ms. Gandharva—I attempted as it became qualifying. I only solved a few papers before examination and studied for one day in a week.

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

Ms. Gandharva—I read almost entirely the same books as in prelims only for the extra topics that extra reading was required. But the difference was that I practiced a lot of questions at home to sharpen my writing skills and increase my speed so that I could not leave any questions unanswered. Again, the strategy was to complete the syllabus and practice a lot of questions so that the final exam becomes just another exam and not the first exam you are writing.

PD—Was there any special effort for effective preparation for Essay Paper ? Paper? the tpics did you pick up this time and why did you choose these particular topics ?

Ms. Gandharva—I relied on yojnas and newspapers for the material. 10 days before the essay paper I practiced 4-5 essays. So there was no special focus on essay writing and preparation begins very early only as very generalized topics are asked. I chose the topic on ‘education without values’ and “dreams that should not let India sleep”. The selection of essay was based on my understanding of the topic and the quality of the material as the number of words for essay have been reduced.

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

Ms. Gandharva—My interview was scheduled on the very first day i.e., 8th March and hence just had 10 days to prepare. I took 2 mocks to gauge my confidence in front of a panel and did not prepare specially anything other than my detailed application form which I read throughly. My Board was of Mr. Saxena and the Board was extremely cordial. It lasted for about 35 minutes and the questions were asked mostly about India’s relations with other countries and how to improve them (viz Pakistan, Sri Lanka), from my optional and rail budget (As budget had just come out). The questions were mostly opinion-based and I figured that no special preparation was actually required to answer those questions.

        I only answered those in which I was atleast 75% sure. I was not scared of the negative marks and went ahead to answer questions comfortably because the competition is tough and getting a for good score is necessary.

Personal Qualities
Favourite Persons—My mother. For serving meals in bed and tolerating my mood swings during the prepara-tion time and showing me the way ahead.

Strong Point—Ability to slog hard without focusing on results otherwise the focus would have shifted on future which was as it is not under my control. Because of this I started my prelims 2016 preparation again without waiting for the result as I was hoping for thebest but preparing for the worst too.

Weak Point—I would get distrac-ted a lot of times and then regret wast-ing time.

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

Ms. Gandharva—I had planned of tak up lectureship and kept it as a back up plan so that I would not be demotivated. The preparation itself helped me clear net-jrf of December 2015 and hence I thought I could take another attempt this time if required as I thought I was a bit more secured this time.

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

Ms. Gandharva—One has to be really clear about his goals and life which can be different for different people. My goal was to do some work that I would not want to change later in life and be really satisfied about everyone can earn a lot but the chance to affect lives of so many people cannot be offered by the so called ‘lucrative’ jobs.

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 ?

Ms. Gandharva—Ideally one should start preparing in the final year of college, though I started after college. It takes about 1·5 years of focused preparation.

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

Ms. Gandharva—The subject choice should be based on comfort level and not as per perceptions.

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

Ms. Gandharva—The medium does not matter as plenty of materials are available in both the media.

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

Ms. Gandharva—I referred to only yojna and PD economy extra issue. Constraint of time leaves no time for referring multiple material.

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

Ms. Gandharva—PD extra issue of economics is very helpful as it is concise and yet covers the entire economics exhaustively.

        Very helpful and must be read especially for Preliminary examination. All material related to economy can be found in summary form at one place. Great work !

PD—Being a reader of Pratiyogita Darpan, how did you find the articles written by Atul Kapoor specifically for Civil Services Examination preparation ?

Ms. Gandharva—The selection only depends upon the individual candidates’ will power to do it as the preparation can be done from anywhere without much effect of extraneous factors.

PD—What is the secret of your success ?

Ms. Gandharva—A very positive attitude and working very hard without the eyes being on the result. Also a lot of self-reliance rather than being swayed by the rumours and negativity.

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

Ms. Gandharva—I’d like to give the credit to my friends for keeping me motivated, my parents for having faith in me and teachers for the guidance.

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

Ms. Gandharva—Do not refer to multiple sources, focus on quality material and don’t be tempted to buy just ‘all the material’ in the market.

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

List of books /magazine

Preliminary Exam.

Paper-I : General Studies

History : Old NCERT (6, 7, 8); spectrum for modern history.

Geography : Old NCERTs (6-10), GC leong for physical geography.

Polity : Laxmikant.

Culture : New NCERTS of culture, Nitin Singhania Sir’s notes and spectrum (for selected topics).

Environment : Ministry of envi-ronment website and 12th biology book.

Science : 6-10th NCERTs, new ones.

Economics : Sriram notes of economics, 11th, 12th, NCERT, PD Economic Special Issue.

Current : Hindu and Yojanas.

Paper-II : Aptitude Test

CL : Material.

Main Exam.

General Studies

Paper-1 : History, same as prelims, geo, same as prelims, world history, old NCERT.

Paper-2 : Laxmikant and Yojanas.

Paper-3 : Same as prelims and for misllaneous topics.

Paper-4 : G. Subbarao


Commerce and Accountancy : Rankers Material. For paper one and two.

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