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Meet the IRS Toppers (Part-II): A few tips for the Civil Services aspirants.

This is the second part of the article. in case you have missed the first part, read Meet the IRS Toppers (Part-I) where Mr Satish Reddy interacted with Cyber Diary.

(As per the recent trends, about 10 lakh people apply to write for the Civil Services Examination conducted by the UPSC each year. Almost half of them fail to write the preliminary examination, after receiving the admit cards, mostly due to lack of preparation. Out of about 5 lakh people who write the examination, around 15000 persons clear the preliminary examination. After the main examinations, around 3000 people make it to the personality test cum interview. Only less than half of them get listed in the final rank sheet.  

There are many successful candidates who prefer to join the IRS (if they miss the IAS for a few marks or if they don't get the preferred state in IAS) ) instead of joining the IPS and other services. I could devote some time at the National Academy of Direct Taxes, Nagpur, India  a few days back. IRS officers undergo their training in this world class training center for the tax administrators. I was invited as a panelist for their annual literary festival to speak about my books to the trainees. I utilized my spare time to interact with the young officers.)
In this article, let me introduce you to two more successful officers: Mr Rakesh Chintagumpula and Ms  Pryati  Sharma

It was a pleasure to meet young and cheerful Mr Rakesh Chintagumpula. His parents came to Hyderabad from a village in Guntur in search of a livelihood. Schooling was tough as he faced many hurdles. He got selected for Engineering in Osmania University. Being a meritorious student, he was placed at Infosys immediately after the course. He aspired to be a Civil Services Officer. He resigned his job as a software engineer and joined the IAS Academy Hyderabad, both as a student and as a lecturer. Meanwhile he took his masters degree in Public Administration. He also got the job as Inspector of Income Tax. 

Rakesh wrote the Civil Services Examination and secured the Rank 122, and was allotted the Indian Revenue Service (IRS) in 2015.

Let us get a few practical tips from Rakesh for all young civil services aspirants.

What was the reason for your failure in the earlier attempt? 

My strategies were wrong. I took the wrong optional. Though I was not confident about the subject, I had taken psychology as my optional. I didn’t practice writing the answers. I didn’t focus on the essay paper. In the next attempt, I took Public Administration, in which I had a Masters degree. Another reason for the failure in my earlier attempt was my lack of focus. I collected so much study materials and started reading everything. Instead of that, I should have studied thoroughly what I read rather than referring multiple sources for the same topic. 

In the successful attempt, I topped in Public Administration. 

What are your tips to succeed?

  1. While preparing, there should be priority for the Essay paper, the optional and the interview. Marks in these are critical to get to the top. One has to focus more on these. 
  2. Both online and offline preparations are required. There are unlimited resources in the internet. At the same time, reading from text books, periodicals and reference books are vital. One should use the ‘notes’ applications in the smartphones. 
  3. NCERT books of Class 6 to Class 12 should be studied thoroughly.
  4. Past question papers of Preliminary examinations are available for the period from 1979. Download or buy all the question papers and prepare the answers. For the static general knowledge (not current affairs), they are very useful. Questions are repeated, including the choices.
  5. Question papers of other competitive examinations should also be collected and prepared. 
  6. You should form a group of sincere civil services aspirants. You should prepare and solve questions along with them. Friends will be a great consolation when you are depressed. I used to sit with my friends and solve the problems together. We never forget those answers. Collective energy is greater than individual energies. You will not get bored in group. (Only if all the group members are sincere.)
  7. Don’t read more number of books for each subject. Read less number of books, but more times.
  8. There should be many revisions. At the time of mains examination, we hardly get time to answer the questions. First few seconds will be consumed in reading the question. Next minute to understand the question and prepare the answers. You need to present the answer comprehensively with facts, figures, examples, references, suggestions etc in the remaining minutes. Unless you are thorough, you cannot present the answer within the allotted time. There is no time to think and write. 
  9. People join test series paying heavy fee. But only a few complete the tests using the time sincerely. If you join such courses, you should complete the course by attempting all tests. You should be used to sitting three long hours. Mind/memory needs to shift quickly from one topic to another as questions will be given at random on various topics. 
  10. Apart from reading the newspapers, listen to All India Radio news at 9 pm every day and the discussion of the experts after the news. I greatly benefitted from this. I never forgot the points discussed there.These discussions are also uploaded in the internet. 
  11. The candidates have to write mock tests sincerely and regularly. They are essential for completing maximum number of questions in the examination in the limited time given.
  12. Inculcate a habit of reading books right from the beginning.
  13. Write answer for one 10 marks question daily. This will go a long way in coping with the pressure in answering the questions in the Mains. Send your answers to experts or teachers or peers to evaluate. 
  14. Economic survey is a goldmine of information not only on economic issues, but also on social and ecological issues. one should not miss it. India Year Book and Manorama Year Book can be studied selectively.
  15. The second report of the Administrative Reforms Commission is a storehouse  of useful information. Read only the recommendations. No need to read the whole report. Concise version of the recommendations is also available for sale. 
  16. Answers of the Main examination should have a ‘’balance” which UPSC expects from an aspiring civil servant. So unless asked explicitly, don't take extreme positions. Present all perspectives of the answer and give innovative solutions.
  17. Always remember that the ending of a typical answer should be on a positive tone, solution oriented and futuristic. Such answers tend to get good marks.
  18. Answers need not be too technical. Remember to keep them as simple as possible and include different perspectives. 
  19. Don't miss to read NCERT books of Class 6 to Class 12 especially for a new aspirant before the start of his preparation. This will be the base for all future preparations, and will be a solid foundation indeed. 
  20. One hour of physical activity along with meditation will do wonders in the long run.
  21. Aspirants need to appear for other competitive examinations too. There should be a plan-B. Luck is also a factor!
  22. Don’t take Civil Services Examination casually. Give it a serious thought before you decide to go for it: Is it the right choice? Once you have decided, commit yourself fully for the examination. 

How fair and transparent is the conduct of this examination?

“There is no doubt about the sanctity of the conduct of the examination. However, I feel that there are chances of evaluators becoming casual in their job or likelihood of errors in data entry (I am not sure. This is my presumption) I have a personal example to narrate. I had to face a terrible situation like many hundreds of aspirants face each year regarding the abnormally low scores awarded by UPSC in optional and other papers which are beyond rational comprehension. The sad part is that although several cases have been files regularly against this discrimination, there has been nothing worthwhile coming out of it. I am a victim of such scoring which had caused several mental and psychological agony beyond loss of a year's time which is invaluable. I have scored 168/300 marks in paper 1 of psychology optional in UPSC Mains examination 2011, while in the second paper I scored only 39/300 marks, which was a big surprise for me. Despite an outstanding interview score and excellent General studies papers scores, I couldn't make it to the final list of recommended candidates that year because of the score in one psychology paper I am sure there was something wrong with the evaluation or in the data entry. I am of the view that there should be opportunity for revaluation in deserving cases.” 

Let us meet Ms Pryati Sharma, who secured 136th Rank in the Civil Services Examination and joined IRS.

Pryati who is a native of Jammu is the daughter of Mr Jitinder Pal Sharma, a Deputy Director in the Dept of Horticulture in the Jammu and Kashmir Government and Smt Neelam Khajuria, a teacher in a Government school. 

Pryati picked up the habit of reading and creative writing early in her life. If someone asked her what was the secret of her success, this was her only answer: Handwork with commitment. She nurtured her dream to become a civil services officer from the school days. All along her educational career, she keenly observed how government worked and what role and responsibility  senior officers played in the governance. She believed that to be a winner, one has to give up the comfort zone and take challenges. 

Pryati took Zoology as her optional for the Civil Services Examination. Studying the NCERT books has helped her a lot in the General Studies papers. She also attended an coaching center at Delhi. 

Her advice to the young aspirants is as follows: “Read as much as you can from selected sources and prepare your own view points about the subject matter. It is important to be original in your answers than copying from the guides”

About her training she said: “ Both the the Civil Services foundational training and the IRS training are very comprehensive and of very high standard. We also undertake ‘On the Job Training’ by visiting the field offices.”

Following are a few photos of IRS Probationers and the activities at the campus

IRS Trainees with the Vice President of India

Cultural programs by IRS Trainees

Sports Day

Did you read Part-I of this? Click Meet the IRS Toppers - Part-I

(c) Sibichen K Mathew  Views are personal  

Related articles from Cyber Diary

To  read all articles click CYBER DIARY

1 comment:

  1. Very nicely written. Will be very helpful to civil services aspirants.


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