“Firm will Power, exceptional strategy and hard Work are the secrets of my success”
‘Pratiyogita Darpan’ arranged an exclusive interview with Shri Saurabh, who is selected in Civil Services Examination 2015, 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 Saurabh—Thank you very much, I am honoured.
PD—What preference in services have you opted for and any particular reason for that priority ?
Shri Saurabh—1. IAS 2. IPS 3. IFS The first and second choices offer immense opportunity to directly work for people and participate in the development of an area and are most diverse. The third one gives an opportunity to represent India abroad and participate in ever changing complexity of foreign policy.
PD—‘Success is sweet’—Were you confident of your success with top ranks and how did you react to this news ?
Shri Saurabh—I was reasonably confident of qualifying the exam but definitely not sure of the rank. I am happy that I got a fairly decent rank. The reaction was to first give the news to parents who have supported me throughout my preparation. Felt happy, satisfied and somewhat relieved.
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 Saurabh—I always had immense respect for the toppers which continues even today. Their interviews and blogs served as inspiration in my own endeavour of qualifying civil services. Though every topper has inspired me, I am especially thankful to blogs written by Gaurav Aggarwal, 2013 UPSC topper which has busted many myths and shown right path to many including me.
PD—Can you recall the exact moment when you realized the importance of Civil Services ?
Shri Saurabh—People in my state of Bihar have always seen civil servants with great respect. So, I had realized the importance of civil services quite early but the thought of entering this service came much later.
PD—Finally, at what point of time did you make up your mind to make career in ‘Civil Services’?
Shri Saurabh—Few years ago, in 2012 when I half heartedly appeared in prelims examination and failed miserably. This was the time when I was assessing multiple careers and after much thought, I realized it is the civil services which can fulfill my goals in life.
PD—Was CSE a planned decision or your parents’ wish?
Shri Saurabh—My parents have never forced any decision on me and it has always been my wish about career and they always supported that.
PD—Did you keep in mind some time-frame for the examination preparation and number of attempts ?
Shri Saurabh—I started preparing seriously in 2013 after I had failed twice. I had thought 2015 was to be my last attempt and I qualified this time.
PD—Time Management is a key factor. How did you manage things ?
Shri Saurabh—Since, I was working in a PSU and that too in shifts, time management was the most important thing that I could think of in bringing success to me. I always had paucity of time, I tried to study in whatever less time I had e.g. even 15 minutes break would attract me to study some topic.
In writing, time management is again crucial as completing the question paper in mains is of vital importance. This comes through practice. In total, I had written about 30 tests of 3 hours each. It gave me an idea about how to write.
PD—While making final choice for optional subject, what’s important and what’s not ?
Shri Saurabh—If one has interest in his/her graduation subject, it would be the best optional one can choose. If not, then look at the syllabus of various optionals available and try to find out which one interests you most.
PD—What was your optional subject?
Shri Saurabh—Optional Subject : Sociology.
PD—In how many attempts have you achieved this success ?
PD—You achieved the desired success in this attempt; how do you visualize your previous attempts ?
Shri Saurabh—My first two attempts were half hearted while the final two were given with commitment. In my first two attempts I did not even qualify in prelims due to lack of hard work and proper guidance. However, I reached interview stage in third but could not finally qualify. In this attempt, I focused heavily on answer writing, filled the gaps in preparation and most importantly I enhanced my goal in this attempt to get a rank within top 100 while the earlier attempts were to just qualify. Setting the goal high reflects in enhanced hard work and focused approach.
Father’s Name—Shri Pramod Kumar Das
Mother’s Name—Mrs. Ranjana Das
Date of Birth—June 13, 1987
10th—2002, CBSE, Holy Mission High School (77%)
12th—2004, CBSE Holy Mission High School (91.8%)
B.Tech—2005-2009, IIT Roorkee (6·943/10)
PD—The first step is the most difficult. From where, did you get the right advice ?
Shri Saurabh—Such questions also came to my mind. Hence, taking the right guidance becomes important. Here the role of toppers, magazines like PD come into picture.
PD—What was your approach towards Paper I (General Studies) during Preliminary Examination preparation ?
Shri Saurabh—Prelims requires extensive reading. Prepare all static part quite well such as modern history, polity, geography, economy and environment. Also prepare current affairs of at least last 8 months. While reading current affairs, stick to the syllabus and before at least 1-2 months practice as many tests as you can. The benefit of writing tests is that your mind processes questions and if you don’t know, you go back to books and this remains in your memory for a long time. I followed this path of thinking.
PD—Was there any change in plan for General Studies Paper II (Aptitude Test) being qualifying in Preliminary Examination ?
Shri Saurabh—After Paper II was made qualifying, I just ensured to qualify by sufficient margin.
PD—How did you manage to tackle the ‘Negative Marking’ in Prelims ?
Shri Saurabh—My idea was to attempt 85 questions at least and even if I get 15 questions wrong, I would qualify by a fairly good margin.
PD—What shift did you adopt in your strategy for Main Examiantion (Written) ?
Shri Saurabh—Stick to the syllabus, prepare concise notes for revision, read same source multiple times rather than reading multiple sources for same topic, relate current affairs with static part, think in multiple dimensions about any issue and most importantly, practice writing answers in stipulated time. I did as above.
PD—Was there any special effort for effective preparation for ESSAY Paper? Which topics did you pick up this time and why did you choose these particular topics ?
Shri Saurabh— I had joined test series for essay preparation and wrote 10 essays as practice. This time I picked up education topic and dreams of India topic. The reason was that I had read multiple dimensions of these topics multiple times in newspapers and magazines, so I felt comfortable in writing them.
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 ?
|Favourite Person—Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
Strong Point—Strong will power to cope with failures and strive towards goalsWeak Point—Sometimes, I try to achieve many things at the same time and that results in failure.
Hobbies—I like watching movies.
Shri Saurabh—I prepared my DAF thoroughly and brushed up current affairs. I also appeared at few mock interviews at different coaching centres in Delhi. I faced Prof. H.C. Gupta Board. This time the interview seemed more factual and stressful. However, I must admit that Board members were very supportive. The interview lasted around 35 minutes and I think about 35 questions were asked. There were only few opinion based questions. I was prepared to say no to questions whose answers I did not know. I can’t say I wasn’t nervous but as the interview progressed, I think I tried to remain calm.
PD—Were you preparing for other career opportunities as well while preparing for your ultimate goal i.e., Career in Civil Services ?
Shri Saurabh—I was already working with a PSU, so I did not prepare for other career goals this time.
PD—While the changing economic environment offers immense lucrative career opportunities in various sectors, still what kept you motivated towards Civil Services ?
Shri Saurabh—Money can give satisfaction only in the beginning of career but as time progresses one realizes that money can satisfy the bank account, not you. Meaningful tasks that I could accomplish in civil services were my biggest motivation.
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 Saurabh—If one has the realization of importance of civil services and one is inclined towards it at an early age, say graduation, one should prepare at that stage. However, even if one prepares at a later stage after the realization has come, one can accomplish it if he/she gives a minimum time of 1 year.
PD—What is your opinion regarding the general view that Science subjects have better chance to score than Humanities ?
Shri Saurabh—Any subject is scoring if one does well in that subject. There are people who have topped with science subject as well as the ones who have achieved the feat with humanities.
PD—What is the importance of medium of examination for exams like CSE ?
Shri Saurabh—Though most people write in English medium, yet that is because most people are from this medium. CSE offers equal opportunities to all mediums. And this year also, there are good ranks coming from Hindi Medium. So, don’t worry about the medium.
PD—Does the educational, financial and demographic status of the family of an aspirant have any impact on the preparation?
Shri Saurabh—Inequality exists in our society and if does have an impact on one’s future but with will power and commitment, no hurdle can stop a person from achieving what he/she wants. What can be a bigger example than the story of our beloved former President Dr. Abdul Kalam.
PD—In your opinion what role do the Competition Magazines play when you are preparing for an examination like Civil Services ?
Shri Saurabh—Such magazines are important sources of information. They collect the information especially current affairs and hence save time. One can spend the saved time on covering other topics in the syllabus. Moreover, the current pattern of CSE calls for dynamism which is awareness about different issues. These magazines bring special articles about such issues which are worth reading.
PD—How do you find Pratiyogita Darpan ? Do you find it close to your expectations ?
Shri Saurabh—It is a nice endeavour towards providing structured information to aspirants. The special articles on some emerging issues provide insight into different topics. Current affairs can be sourced from PD. So, overall PD is coming closer to expectations of many aspirants.
PD—Please give your comments on the PD Extra Issues Series on ‘General Studies’ particularly ‘Indian Economy’ and a few Optional Subjects ?
Shri Saurabh—Though I have not read it yet I am sure PD would have come with splendid issues.
PD—Being a reader of Pratiyogita Darpan, how did you find the articles written by Atul Kapoor specifically for Civil Services Examination preparation?
Shri Saurabh—I have read some articles of Atul Kapoor. He gives deep insight into strategies of preparing for CSE. He cites various toppers’ opinions which boost readers’ morale.
PD—What is the secret of your success ?
Shri Saurabh—Faith in myself, perseverance, will power and belief of others in me.
PD—To whom would you like to give the credit for your success ?
Shri Saurabh—My family especially my mother is the first one. However, there are a number of people who have contributed in their own way which include my teachers and friends.
PD—Any suggestion/advice you would like to give to the future aspirants.
Shri Saurabh—Aim high, preserve your dream, work hard and be honest.
PD—Thank you very much and wishing you all the best for your future endeavours.
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