“I want to join IAS and not IFS (Indian Foreign Service), as I want to be in India and serve the people.” – Nandini K.R.
UPSC Results 2016 was declared on 31st May and Karnataka girl Nandini K.R. bagged the prestigious rank 1 in her fourth attempt at the UPSC CSE. Nandini is an Indian Revenue Service Probationary Officer. Read on for more about IAS topper Nandini and how she succeeded so magnificently in the civil services exam.
Get a glimpse into the life of UPSC topper Nandini and her approach towards IAS preparation.
- Nandini is a native of Kembodi village in Kolar district, Karnataka.
- Her father Ramesh works as an assistant schoolmaster in the Government High School at Mudiwadi in Kolar.
- Her mother, Vimala gave up a teaching career to aid her children’s education.
- Nandini has a brother who is pursuing post-graduation at the Indian Agriculture Research Institute in New Delhi.
- She belongs to the OBC category and loves to read and play volleyball in her spare time.
Education and professional background
- Nandini had graduated in civil engineering from the MS Ramaiah Institute of Technology in Bengaluru where she was a gold medallist.
- She did her schooling in Kannada medium from Thimmaiah Vidyalaya at Kolar.
- Her pre-university course was from Alva’s College in Dakshina Kannada district.
- She had previously worked in the state public works department as an assistant engineer for about three years.
- When the IAS Results 2016 was announced and proclaimed her a UPSC topper, Nandini was pursuing her IRS training at the National Academy of Customs, Excise and Narcotics, Faridabad.
Nandini KR Preparation Strategy
Optional Subject: Kannada Literature
Attempt: Fourth (In 2015, Nandini had cleared the CSE and secured the IRS)
Lessons learnt from previous attempts:
Nandini gave her first attempt in 2013 but without proper guidance and preparation. She couldn’t clear the prelims exam. But she wasn’t disheartened and decided that proper guidance and strategy would help her clear the IAS exam.
During her preparation for the second UPSC civil services exam attempt in 2014, Nandini started working as an Assistant Engineer with the Karnataka Public Works Department. This time, she started with basic books like NCERTs and the newspapers. Her optional subject was Kannada Literature. According to Nandini, she enjoyed the process of preparing for the optional subject because reading Kannada literature was a hobby she had nurtured since her childhood and she simply loved it. Even though she worked hard and crossed the mains barrier, her marks were not good enough to secure an IAS. She got selected for the IRS (Customs and Excise).
She had to leave unanswered 6 questions in GS Paper I, 8 questions in GS Paper II, 6 questions in GS Paper III, 2 case studies in the Ethics paper and 1 question each in the two optional papers.
As per Nandini, her mistakes in the second attempt were:
- No proper execution of the preparation plan.
- No proper revision.
- No writing practice.
When the results were announced, Nandini, instead of grieving, understood that her efforts were to be taken a notch up.
Nandini was intent on upgrading her IRS to an IAS. So, the third time around in 2015, Nandini started practising answer writing as well. But she suffered a terrible blow when she got afflicted with dengue and had to miss the UPSC mains exam.
A true champion treats both success and failure with equanimity and this is what Nandini did. She then braced herself for one more attempt.
Nandini made a daily timetable which included 8 hours of sleep and one hour of sports. She advises aspirants to make realistic timetables so that targets set are actually achieved. She also practised mock tests for prelims and mains and made sure she improved her speed of writing. She also learnt how to manage time more effectively during the test series.
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This time, Nandini prepared with an intense focus and continued practice, and the rest is history!
In 2019, the UPSC CSE was topped by IITian Kanishak Kataria, who secured the first all India rank with Mathematics as his optional subject. Read more about his IAS journey.
Nandini KR’s lessons learnt from four years of IAS preparation:
- One should not possess an inferiority complex.
- Language is not a barrier to anything. What is important is clarity in understanding issues.
- One should choose books and sources according to one’s level of comprehension.
- Gender is not a barrier to success.
- One has to overcome fear and self-doubt to achieve success.