“The civil services allows you to use your knowledge and learning to do something for the nation, to give back to society. So I worked hard for it.”
These were the words of Srushti Jayant Deshmukh, the 23-year old who secured the fifth rank in the 2018 UPSC IAS exam. Every year, lakhs of people attempt the civil services exam in the hope of becoming IAS officers. But, only a handful makes the cut in the end. What makes the few who crack the IAS exam so special and what drives them to take on an exam, considered the toughest in India?
Read on to know what separates UPSC toppers from the rest and how you can also see your name among the list of IAS Toppers.
We give you a few inspiring stories of IAS success. We are sure these stories of grit and determination will motivate you and propel you towards your IAS dream!
UPSC 2018, AIR 1 – left a high-paying private job to serve the country
The UPSC 2018 results declared recently, was a surprise to Kanishak Kataria, the IIT-alumnus who bagged the first rank in his very first attempt! Though he was confident about his preparation, he was not expecting the first rank. What is moving out of his story is that he left a job abroad where he was earning almost one crore as salary, in order to become an IAS officer and work for the benefit of the country and her people. He achieved this feat by sheer hard work without worrying about the results much. He studied almost 14 hours every day and shut himself of all social media. He attended coaching in Delhi, although his preparation style was a mix of self-studies and coaching-assisted.
Read more about Kanishak Kataria who bagged AIR 1 in UPSC 2018 in the linked article.
Success with just 4 months of preparation
Saumya Sharma’s story is one of inspiration. She cracked the IAS exam in her maiden attempt in 2017 and achieved a stupendous rank of 9! Sharma is a native of Delhi and a lawyer by training. She also has a hearing impairment, a disability which set in from her school days. According to Sharma, the most important thing to find success is self-belief. The next factor that is important for success is to find the right guidance. Since she did not join any offline coaching class, she relied heavily on online coaching material such as video lectures and interactive media. What makes Sharma’s success special is that she was able to crack the exam with just four months of preparation!
Read more about AIR-9, Saumya Sharma who proved disability is not an obstacle, in the linked article.
How a rickshaw-puller’s son became an IAS officer
Son of a rickshaw-puller, Varanasi-native Govind Jaiswal did not give himself any other option besides success. Jaiswal faced cruel taunts as a child because of his poverty and his father’s status, and this only propelled him to work hard. Despite studying in a government school and a modest college at his hometown, he had the IAS as his dream and knew that if he worked hard in the right manner with the correct approach, success would follow. Jaiswal struggled hard during his preparation days when sometimes, he even skipped meals to save money. But, he never lost his focus. In his very first attempt in 2006, Jaiswal cleared the IAS exam with a rank of 48. One decision, and the determination to fulfil a dream, changed the course of his life forever!
Read more about Govind Jaiswal who bagged 48th rank in UPSC 2006.
More UPSC Success Stories
These Bravehearts Lost Sight But Not Their Vision
NL Beno Zephine
In 2005, Beno Zephine created history by becoming the first 100% blind candidate to enter into the Indian Foreign Service (IFS). The Chennai girl was only 25 when she cleared the civil services exam. She had been till then juggling between getting a doctorate in English Literature and a Probationary Officer’s job with the State Bank of India. She credits her success to her teachers and trainers, and her parents for their unwavering support. She used Job Access With Speech (JAWS) software that allows visually handicapped people to read from a computer screen. Beno Zephine had secured AIR 343 in the IAS exam.
Ajit Kumar Yadav
Ajit Kumar Yadav, who lost his eyesight due to an illness when he was a child, had cleared the UPSC exam in 2008 with a rank of 208. Despite this, he had to fight for a place in the civil services. He was first offered a post in the Indian Railway Personnel Service. Even after a favourable verdict by the Central Administrative Tribunal in 2010, he wasn’t offered an IAS post. Finally, only after the intervention of the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled and politician Brinda Karat, Yadav was taken into the IAS. Yadav, whose academic studies happened in an era (the early ’90s) when technology was not so developed for the disabled like today, is truly an inspiration to young people everywhere.
Pranjal Patil’s story is the latest amazing story where a visually challenged person achieved what is considered impossible by many. Patil, 26, cleared the IAS exam this year with an all-India rank of 773. She would be offered an IAS. This Mumbai girl lost her eye when she was only 6 due to an incident in school when she was hit in her eye by one of her classmates. First, she lost one eye, then tragically, she lost sight in her other eye too. But this incident did not deter her and she was a consistent topper in school and college. It was during her graduation that the IAS bug bit her. She has an M.Phil. Patil also used the JAWS software to be able to read the computer screen. She didn’t take any formal coaching and thank her parents, friends, and husband for their support.
Also, read about a few other inspiring and successful toppers of Civil Services from the links mentioned below:
How to become an IAS topper?
There is no short-cut to success. There is also no sure-shot formula for success. Nevertheless, the success stories of all toppers reveal a few commonalities. These qualities and habits of toppers which when imbibed in the correct spirit, coupled with your own guided preparation strategy, can give you the UPSC success you dreamt of.
#1: Planned approach
The first step towards finding success in the IAS exam is to prepare a good study plan. The civil services exam is a process involving three exams spread over 12 months. This extensive process and the vast UPSC syllabus makes clearing this exam a tedious process. For this, you need to study the syllabus and then, chart out a plan as per your schedule and convenience. You must spend a fixed number of hours every day for your IAS preparation. Studying without a plan is like wandering aimlessly in the dark.
To clear an exam as demanding as this, there is a need for smart work also besides hard work. There are some things that only seasoned players and mentors know, like, for example, is the whole syllabus to be covered for all the subjects? How to select the important news from the newspapers for preparation? Which news items to leave out? How many past question papers to be looked at? Where to begin? A good coach or guide can help you get answers to all these questions and more. A good coach helps you with little tricks and tips by which you can increase your score with the same amount of work.
#3: Right Study Material
It is very important to study only from the recommended sources, whether it is offline or online material. There are books and online sources galore for aspirants to get easily confused. Always go by what your teachers or mentors suggest. Do your due diligence on books and magazines before acquiring them. Studying from the wrong sources would prove detrimental to your preparation. Many toppers suggest studying only from a few trusted books. For current affairs, the trickiest part of the IAS exam, it is very important only to learn from a few standard sources.
Also, check Daily Current Affairs for UPSC.
#4: IAS Test Series
Every topper swears by this. Test series, both for the prelims and the mains are crucial for success in the UPSC CSE. There are many advantages of enrolling for a good test series. They offer you real exam simulation and also teach you the nuances of time management during the exam. For the prelims, you can also learn how to deftly avoid negative marking and do intelligent guessing. A good series also gives you feedback without which a test series is not quite useful. This feedback on your performance will help you analyse your weak points and helps you improve. To know more about our UPSC Mains Test Series, click on the linked article.
Revision is utmost important when dealing with a gigantic syllabus. Every topper again, emphasises on the necessity of multiple revisions. (Check most useful revision techniques for UPSC in the linked article.)
#6: Optional Subject
The optional subject can make or break your mains score. A lot of thought has to go into deciding your optional subject. Choose wisely as the two optional papers count for 500 marks in the final tally.
The IAS exam is cracked by people from a variety of backgrounds – engineers, government servants, doctors, teachers, students, science graduates, humanities graduates, etc. The UPSC is, in fact, a level-playing field and anyone following the correct preparation methods and reading the right study material can be successful, irrespective of whether they were straight A’s students or just average. If a determined aspirant gets the right guidance to face this exam, success will surely follow.
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