Ravi Anand, attained 79th Rank in 3rd attempt in Civil Services Examination-2017

“Self-belief, perseverance and ability to analyse my failures are the secrets of my success.”                                                                                                            -Ravi Anand

“Pratiyogita Darpan” arranged an exclusive interview with Shri Ravi Anand who has been selected in Civil Services Examination-2017, conducted by UPSC. He deserves high appreciation and our heartiest congratulations on his glorious 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.

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

Shri Ravi—In my third attempt, I managed to achieve this rank.

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

Shri Ravi—In my first attempt, in 2015, I could not clear the preliminary examination. I realised that I had not prepared fully and had not given any practice tests to evaluate my prepration. In next attempt, I focused on giving tests for prelims and was able to clear it with good marks. In this attempt, in 2017, I managed to prepare fully and with good health. The previous experiences also played a constructive role as I was able to pinpoint my areas of further improvement.

PD—What were your optional subjects ?

Shri Ravi—My optional subject was Geography.

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

Shri Ravi—A number of factors need to be considered for this. One needs to select an optional subject in which he/she is comfortable, which depends on the subject of graduation, availability of books and other study material, availability of good guidance, recent trends of marks, overlap with the general studies papers, the level of difficulty as per the syllabus and previous question papers. However, since the optional subject is dependent upon the candidate’s choice, interest in the subject should be given a higher weightage.

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

Shri Ravi—IAS followed by IPS, IRS (IT) and IRS (C&CE). Coming from a lower middle-class family and experiencing poverty from close quarters, I have recognized the role played by civil services throughout my career. As I grew up, I understood that the work done by the government machinery is immense and realized that civil service gives an excellent opportunity to work for the upliftment of the people. I chose this field to give back to society and the people as it has given me. As such, I have given IAS as my first choice.

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

Shri Ravi—I was confident of getting success from the day I started my prepration. I was confident of my success even during the times of my failure. When my brother announced me the result of getting a top rank, I could not react at all. Then after some time, I felt happy.

PD—Today, IAS Toppers are icons and lots of media coverage makes them popular.

Shri Ravi—The IAS toppers are indeed a source of inspiration and motivation. The media plays a very important role in not just spreading the stories of struggle which each topper undergoes during their journey, but also providing various inputs or strategies which can be of immense help to the aspirants in taking crucial decisions like optional selection, booklist etc. Many aspiring minds relate to their success journey and get confident that if the toppers can do it, they also can work hard and clear this examination.

I also used to read the success stories of the UPSC CSE toppers from various sources like Pratiyogita Darpan, Internet, newspapers, etc. and it immensely helped me. The toppers try to guide aspirants in the right direction and avoid the mistakes that might lead to a waste of time and money.

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

Shri Ravi—I realized the importance of civil services from the very early stage of my life. But the decision that motivated me to pursue it as a career choice came when I went to the USA for my internship. The stark differences between the life standards there and in India created this feeling in me that only while remaining in India and working at the grassroots level can the various policies and programmes of the government meant for the welfare of the people be effectively implemented. I realised that we, as a nation, have all the potential to lead the world. The only limitation was that bright young minds were not present in large numbers to address the concerns plaguing our development.

Name—Ravi Anand

Father’s Name—Shri Deepak Kumar Sharma

Mother’s Name—Mrs. Bindu Sharma

Date of Birth—24 April, 1991

Educational Qualifications——

10th—2006, CBSE, Model School, Dalmianagar (92·8%)

I.SC.—2008, Jharkhand Academic Council, JKS College of Commerce, Jamshepur (83·4%)

B.Tech.—2009-13 IIT Kharagpur, (8·12/10)

Shri Ravi
—During my third year internship, I made up my mind to make career in civil services.PD—Finally, at what point of time did you make up your mind to make career in ‘Civil Services’ ?

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

Shri Ravi—CSE was a planned decision. My parents have consistently motivated and supported me in all my endeavours and they were very happy when I told them about my decision.

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

Shri Ravi—Yes, I have thought that one year of preparation before the preliminary examination was required at the minimum. As far as number of attempts was concerned, I tried to give my best in each attempt but got success in the third one.

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

Shri Ravi—Time management is the key factor during preparation stage. The syllabus is huge but at the same time by allotting time proper to each paper, the syllabus can be covered in one year. As far as the time management during the prliminary exam is concerned, one needs to work on it by practicing mock tests at home or by joining any reputed test series. Similarly, mains exaination requires writing 20 answers in 180 minutes. But since the marks allotted to questions are different, one needs to focus on writing answers amounting to 80-85 marks in one hour. This needs to be practiced too by writing tests at home.

PD—The first step is the most difficult. From where did you get the right advice ?

Shri Ravi—One can get the right advice by going through the inter-views of various toppers in reputed magazines like the Pratiyogita Darpan and websites like iaspassion, Mrunal.org etc. Apart from that, friends who are preparing can also provide significant inputs at various stages of the examination. Though coaching institutes claim to give guidance yet I advise the aspirants not to depend entirely on them. The question of “What to prepare ?” can be addressed by going through the UPSC CSE syllabus provided by the UPSC and that of “How to prepare ?” can be addressed by going through the booklist and strategy provided by the toppers in magazines like Prati-yogita Darpan or their individual personal blog. Since the standard books for various topics remain the same, one need not look the booklist from various sources.

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

Shri Ravi—For GS PAPER I (General Studies): This paper requires indepth knnowledge about various topics and events of national and global importance in news. As such, besides standard books like NCERTs on history, geography, economy, polity, environment etc. one has to devote a good amount of time in reading newspapers on a daily basis. Depending entirely on current affairs magazines provided by various coaching institutes might prove insufficient in the examination. After the syllabus is done, the next step towards prelims GS Paper I preparation is to practice mock tests and analyse the mistakes that one can do in it. Proper analysis will help in gradually avoiding mistakes in the actual examination besides giving mental confidence to the candidates.

For GS PAPER II (Aptitude Test): For this paper, one needs to practice the previous years’ UPSC prelims question papers. For the comprehension section, reading English newspapers will suffice the need. Practice is the key for both the Papers of prelims.

Personal Qualities
Favourite Person—My mother.

Strong Point—Self-belief.

Weak Point—Being a workaholic.

Hobbies—Teaching, cooking, watching cricket.

Shri Ravi
—The candidates should mark only those questions in which they are fully confident. After counting the questions so attempted, the candidates can decide whether they need to go for marking questions on the basis of intuition or guesswork; and if so, how many questions should they attempt in this manner. This will automatically develop if candidates practice mock tests and analyse their performance. Thus candidates must practice papers at home beforehand to minimise the chances of negative marking.PD—How did you manage to tackle the ‘Negative Marking’ in Prelims ?

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

Shri Ravi—As far as the preparation for mains is concerned, this needs to be integrated with the prelims preparation itself. For example, reading newspapers will cater to the demand of prelims as well as mains. Similarly, reading standard books on subjects like history, geography etc. will serve the need of prelims as well as mains. The most important shift however is to devote time for those subjects/topics which are in the mains syllabus but not in the syllabus of prelims like world history, post independence consolidation etc. At last, mains strategy shoud hinge on writing practice and so candidates must write practice answers at their home regularly.

PD—Was there any special effort for effective preparation for Essasy Paper ?

Shri Ravi—Yes, essay requires special effort because it has 250 marks and generally candidates get much higher marks in this paper compared to other GS papers. The special effort is required only with respect to developing a proper structure for writing the essay and learning the quotes and sayings of great personalities. In CSE 2017, I chose the following topics because they provided ample dimensions to exhibit my understanding of the topics:

        Topic I. Destiny of a nation is shaped in its classrooms.

        Topic II. We may brave human laws but cannot resist natural laws.

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

Shri Ravi—For interview, I prepared by reading news of national and global importance from the newspapers, preparing my Detailed Application Form and analysing the possible questions from it, reading the books written by former career bureaucrats and those by great personalities. My interview was taken by Smita Nagaraj Board, on 20th April 2018 in the forenoon session. It lasted for about 30 minutes. I personally felt that my interview was not very good since the questions asked were less from DAF and more on facts like Water Policy provisions, ten indicators of ease of doing business etc.

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

Shri Ravi—No, I was not preparing for other career opportunities and was focused only on CSE.

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

Shri Ravi—The service and the scope that it provides for young people like us to bring change at the grassroots level and to contribute in the development process firsthand motivated me towards civil services.

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 Ravi—I think if one has decided to take civil services while pursuing graduation, he/she can start reading basic books like NCERTs during the final year. However, one can start preparation while in job as well, though it may be difficult. As far as the time required is concerned, in my personal opinion, I think at least one year of dedicated study before prelims is required.

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

Shri Ravi—As mentioned before, one can score good in any optional of his/her liking and interest. Some candidates do get very high marks in science optional but it is because they have invested heavily in terms of time and devotion. Not everyone opting for science optional get very high marks. Similarly, humanities optionals are also scoring provided one devotes adequate time and effort.

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

Shri Ravi—I think medium does not play a major role in exams like CSE if sufficient study material is available in that language. However, I feel that absence of material in many languages can act as a barrier.

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

Shri Ravi—The examination is based on general knowledge of various events and subjects which can be acquired through newspapers and standard books. The cost of application form is also minimal. For specific groups like females etc. this too is waived off.

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

Shri Ravi—Competition magazines play a very crucial role in preparation of competitive examinations. They provide information about the syllabus, the entire process of examination, the interview of toppers from various backgrounds, the previous years’ questions along with their solutions and motivation. They stream-line the efforts of the candidates and help to save their time. The guidelines they provide help the candidates avoid the mistakes that might hamper chances of their success.

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

Shri Ravi—Pratiyogita Darpan has been immensely beneficial to me. I used to purchase it to get an insight into the various aspects of the examination. The extra issues on specific topics were very insightful.

PD—Please give your comments on the PD Extra Issues Series on ‘General Studies’ and a few Optional Subjects ?

Shri Ravi—PD Extra Issues Series on General Studies are designed to cover every aspect of civil service examination requirements. The issue on GS Paper IV was especially insightful with the concepts well explained and ample amount of examples.

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 Ravi—Pratiyogita Darpan – Panorama Year Book is an important publication especially for the prelims examination. All important news are arranged according to their chronology. It gives a 360 degree view of all the national as well international happenings which are imortant not only for CSE but for other competitive examinations as well.

PD—What is the secret of your success ?

Shri Ravi—Consistency, perseverance, self belief and ability to analyse my failures.

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

Shri Ravi—I give the credit of my success to my parents and my elder brother who always supported me in my endeavours.

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

Shri Ravi—All the different stages have an element of uncertainty associated with it. However, I think if you are honest with your preparation and have practiced test papers, you will definitely clear all the stages. I will tell aspirants that the process of this civil service examination is such that you get to experience all kinds of emotions happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise and disgust. Embrace them with courage and keep your focus on your target. Analyse your failure, only then will you be able to improve upon them. The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance. Hardwork will pay off ultimately.

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

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