CSC: Heartiest congratulations to you from Civil Services Chronicle for your success. How are you feeling about it?
Uttam: Thank you very much sir. I am quite happy and feeling is beyond description- a combination of excitement, joy, nervousness for upcoming transformation in life.
CSC: What is your inspiration for becoming an IAS officer? Whom do you give credit for your success? What is the role of family and others (teachers, friends) in your preparation and success?
Uttam: My inspireation for opting civil service is social service - lessening sufferings of people, helping them to achieve their dreams. I would give credit of my success to my family (parents, siblings). They supported me throughout this journey. During my preparation, my teachers (special mention here for Sunil Gupta Sir) gave me proper direction and motivated me.
CSC: What strategy one should follow for preparing General Studies - Prelims & Mains? Did you integrate your Prelims and Mains preparation or was it separate?
Uttam: General Studies, being the most important component of both the stages (49% in mains and 100% in prelims), requires special focus. I would say revising, and practicing regulary is the key for both the stages. Regular writing for mains, daily practice of MCQs would be helpful. I prepared for prelims and mains in an integerated manner. Only three months before prelims, I dedicatedly worked for prelims only.
CSC: What was your optional? What was the basis of selecting this optional? What strategy one should follow for preparing?
Uttam: My optional was Public Administration. Basis for selection of this was – my interest for knowing all about administration, short syllabus, and comparative advantage (overlapping with general studies syllabus). Fore preparation, my strategy was joining a good coaching (I joined INSPIRATION IAS ACADEMY), revising coaching notes, daily answer writing and doing test series.
CSC: What was your strategy for preparation and books of Ethics Paper-IV?
Uttam: Ethics Paper-IV is the area where one can score very high with little effort. I did two readings of Lexicon book, practiced a lot of case studies and added a number of examples from Ramayana and Mahabharta.
CSC: Tell us something about preparation of Essay paper.
Uttam: Essay again is an area where little efforts can fetch you good marks. I followed a strategy of writing essay every Sunday on INSIGHTS ON INDIA platform.
CSC: What was your style of writing in the exam? How was it distinct from the general writing style? How did you develop this writing style?
Uttam: My style of writing comprised a good structure (Introduction- Body- Conclusion), filled with data, substantiated with examples and case studies (for instance, if I have to write something about Urban Planning , I used to refer Indus Valley Civilisation). I developed my writing style with practice (I wrote four answers per day since the beginning of my preparation).
CSC: How did you prepare for interview? Which types of questions were asked in interview? Did you answer them all? Was there any specific area they emphasised upon?
Uttam: Interview preparation for me was most scary one (because UPSC CSE Interview was first interview of my life). So, I dig a lot from internet and listened to a number of toppers’ videos. I prepared a list of questions (personal questions, questions from current affairs and optional). I prepared those questions in front of mirror every day, gave 2 mock interviews also.
In my interview, questions were asked about my name (Uttam – How your name motivates you?) my hobbies, questions on optional paper, J&K Issue, Russia – Ukraine war and India's stand, two situation-based questions.
They also asked me 4-5 questions from Chemistry (my academic background).
I answered all of the questions except the name of chief minister of J&K at the time of drafting of Constitution of J&K.
CSE: What is the importance of coaching in the preparation of this exam?
Uttam: For me, I would say, coaching from INSPIRATION IAS ACADEMY has played an important role. Coaching decides a path for you. It draws boundary line, so that student does not drift here and there.
Mentorship of Sunil Gupta Sir (Director of INSPIRATION IAS ACADEMY) has helped me sail through this exam. He has supported and guided me during coaching and even after that for public administration preparation.
CSE: What is the role of Civil Services Chronicle in your success?
Uttam: Civil Services Chronicle has helped me for preparing Ethics (Paper-IV) and following magazines every month for Model MCQs (Prelims) and exclusive topics for mains. Chronicle has helped me for General Studies & Current Affairs.
CSE: What is your source of preparation? Which books, magazines, news papers and online sources were used by you during your preparation?
Uttam: My preparation was based on standard books for each subject, following magazines like Civil Services Chronicle, Yojana, Kurukshetra, reading The Hindu newspaper and following INSIGHTS IAS for daily answer writing.
CSE: Suggest a book list for Prelims, GS & CSAT and Mains Paper (1 to 4) and Essay.
Booklist for GS (Prelims + Mains)
Polity – M. Laxmikant
History – Spectrum
Economy – Sri Ram Notes
Geography – 11th & 12th NCERT
Environment – Shanker IAS
Disaster Management – Current Affairs
Internal Security – Class Notes
International Relationships – Current Affairs
Ancient & Medieval History – Class Notes
Essay – Ultimate Cheatbook for Essay written by IRS Ravi Kapoor
Ethics – Lexicon by Chronicle
CSE: Suggest a book list for Optional (Public Administration Paper 1 & 2).
Class notes + Handouts given by Sunil Gupta Sir (Inspiration IAS Academy)
Prasad and Prasad (for thinkers)
Mohit Bhattcharya (for selected topics)
Aribam books for both - Paper 1 & Paper