C.S.C. : Heartiest congratulations to you from Civil Services Chronicle for your success. How are you feeling about it?
Dipankar Choudhary : I am very happy. I am also very excited for new challenges and opportunities. Finally all my hard work and patience has paid off and I can take a sigh of relief.
C.S.C. : 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 (teacher, friends) in your preparation and success?
Dipankar Choudhary : My father who is a retired civil servant was my primary inspiration. I could see myself working like him. Civil services give you diverse opportunities and the chance to grow to your full potential. That itself was a huge inspiration for me.
I give credit to my parents, my elder sister, my mentor Mr Smar Ranjan he is associate members of indian institute of public administration. He has always stood besides me throughout my preparation. He is truly my mentor in all respect.
my friends and my fiancé (Tanwika) for my success. Family, friends and your mentor are your support systems, your pillars of strength and a source of constant motivation and guidance in this long and arduous preparation. They help in every possible way be it mental support, emotional support, financial support or guidance of any sort.
C.S.C. : What strategy one should follow for preparing for General Studies Prelims & Mains? Did you integrate your Prelims and Mains preparation or was it separate?
Dipankar Choudhary : Yes, the strategy should be integrated but there are times when you need to prepare separately too. 3 months prior to prelims, you should be more prelims oriented and after prelims you have to be Mains oriented.
C.S.C. : How much time did you devote for Prelims, Mains, Interview, Optional ? How did you manage your time in both prelims and mains examinations?
Dipankar Choudhary : I started preparing in 2016 and in 2018 I was selected with a rank of 166 and was serving as an IPS in Kerala. So almost 2.5 to 3 years of dedicated preparation. Intially, like I said my preparation was integrated. For optional, it took me 5-6 months to finish it once and cover my basics. Thereafter I polished it; added more material, examples, theories; wrote test series and kept discussing with Smar Ranjan Sir.
I used to put in 8-10 hours of dedicated study everyday after I left my job.
C.S.C. : Did you prepare notes? How helpful are the notes? What is your advice on notes-making?
Dipankar Choudhary : Yes, I prepared notes for optional, ethics and modern history. For current affairs and everything else, I relied on the books and magazines but I used to scribble at the margins, cross reference everything and highlight using a marker. They served as my notes and I revised them over and over again for, maybe, I guess 7-8 times. I also prepared diagrams and flowcharts for many topics in my notes.
Notes are very important. They help you to revise speedily. As far as my advice goes, you can and should make notes specially for optional. The notes should be as concise as possible. You should be able to revise the entire paper 1 or paper 2 of your optional with the help of those notes in 2-3 hours.
The same goes for any subject you choose to make notes for. Making notes for current affairs can get very bulky in my opinion, so better rely on magazines and newspapers. But if one feels that some topic for current affairs is difficult to follow and understand then one can make notes for it.
C.S.C. : What was your optional?What was the basis of selecting this optional? What strategy one should follow for optional?
Dipankar Choudhary : My optional was Public Administration. I chose it because I had a very good mentor and the syllabus was simple. Moreover it overlapped with GS Paper 2, Indian economy, social issues and ethics.
For optionals it is very important to make notes and read good books. One shouldn’t completely rely on readymade notes but make it for oneself. Also keep reading Yojana, newspaper, NITI Aayog website etc for case studies, examples etc. Write test series to gauge your level of preparation.
C.S.C. : What was your preparation strategy and books which you referred for Ethics Paper?
Dipankar Choudhary : I relied on class notes of Mr Sanjeev Kumar, my public administration notes wherever they overlapped and examples from various sources like newspapers and Yojana. I also wrote test series for it.
C.S.C. : Tell us something about preparation of Essay paper.
Dipankar Choudhary : For essay I practiced a lot and focused on my flow and lucidity. The essay shouldn’t look abrupt and bumpy. The connection from one paragraph to another should be smooth. You don’t have to prepare extra GS topics for essay. All you should do is practice and focus on your writing skills.
The trick is moderation. Use of examples, stories, anecdotes, facts, case studies, personal life examples, quotations from eminent people, poems or couplets etc, but all in moderation. To develop these practice a lot and get it reviewed from peers and mentors. Read good essays written by toppers.
C.S.C. : 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?
Dipankar Choudhary : I focused a lot on presentation i.e. use of diagrams and flowcharts. I used it in almost 8-9 questions in every paper. Don’t overdo it though. Interlink your content by using cross referencing when revising as I have already mentioned. Focus on an edge of 1-2 marks in each question. Write answers point wise and also number all your points. You can use paragraph for introduction, conclusion and to connect two different parts of the answer but these should be brief, to the point and crisp. Avoid flowery and flamboyant language.
C.S.C. : How did you prepare for interview? Which type of questions were asked in interview? Did you answer all? Was there any specific area they emphasised upon?
Dipankar Choudhary : I prepared my DAF in detail and went for some mock interviews. They asked me questions mostly about my engineering background, my home-state and hometown and some situation based questions like-
If you have to make one amendment in the constitution of India, what would it be?
If you were asked to explain Fourier transform to a student of 9th standard, how would you do it?
What should India emphasize on, education budget or defense budget?
No, I didn’t answer a few questions. I simply said that I don’t know and I will look them up for the questions I didn’t know the answers to.
C.S.C. : Importance of coaching in the preparation of exam.
Dipankar Choudhary : Test series and the guidance of a good mentor is vital. You don’t have to join classroom classes necessarily.
C.S.C. : What is the role of Civil Services Chronicle in your success?
I have referred it for current affairs and a few other topics. I read topper’s strategies from it and used it to enrich my preparation.
C.S.C. : What is your source of Preparation? Which Books, Magazines, News Papers and Online Sources were used by you during your preparation?
Dipankar Choudhary :
C.S.C. : Suggested Book list for Optional paper 1 & 2.
Dipankar Choudhary :
- Nicholas Henry
- Stephen Robbins for selected topics,
- BL Fadia,
- MP Sharma,
- Prasad and Prasad administrative thinkers,
- Three books by Mohit Bhattacharya-Restructuring Public Administration, Public Administration: New Issues and Perspectives, Social theory and development administration.
- The public administration theory primer by H George fredrickson and Kevin smith,
- The public policy theory primer by Kevin smith and Christopher Larimer
- Post Modern Public administration by Hugh T. Miller and Charles J. Fox
- Selected IGNOU material.
- 2nd ARC report,
- Punchhi Commision report,
- Yojana which are relevant.
- RK Arora,
- BL Fadia,
Updates from NITI Aayog website
- Books: Ancientand medieval history: IGNOU Material.
- Modern history: Bipan Chandra andS.Chand publication BL Grover- A new look at modern Indian History.
- Geography: DR Khullar and Savinder Singh.
- Economics: NCERT of class 11 and 12; and current affairs of 2.5 years.
- Social issues: current affairs of 2.5 years and Public administration material.
- Polity: Covered in Public administration.
- Ethics: Sanjeev Sir's notes and Lexicon.
- International relations: current affairs of 2.5 years and online material to look up background.
- Art and culture: IGNOU and CCRT.
- Environment: Self made notes, NIOS and current affairs of 2.5 years.
- Newspaper: Indian express and Mint.
- Online news portals like: Scroll, HW News English, WIRE, Firstpost, The Print etc.