Ravindra Khatale, 283rd Rank, 2015 calls himself an accidental IAS because two years back UPSC was not even on his agenda. He was planning to apply for MS in Germany. However, routine job became monotonous. The feeling of spending rest of his life in this way became really boring.
At the same time the passion for MS started dwindling and he started exploring other options which could make his life more dynamic, meaningful and satisfying. This, he describes, was the “beginning of an interesting and best phase of my life”.
He chose civil services not because it has power, authority, and glamour but because it provides you an opportunity to live a dynamic, satisfying life. Each day is new, so nothing monotonous. It allows you to become an enlightened citizen of India and to widen the horizon of your understanding. It allows you to directly help downtrodden. Most importantly it allows you to be a change that you want to see in the world.
Tips for aspirants:
- If your impression of UPSC is mugging up 30-40 boring books, then you are living in the Stone Age. UPSC has become very dynamic and he says he read hardly 10 books to prepare UPSC. UPSC is all about common sense
- Say Bye Bye to WhatsApp- Chatting is the most time, energy consuming task and its very tempting, may eat away hours of your study every day. (WhatsApp groups for UPSC preparation are nothing but waste of time)
- A sleep of 8 hours is a must: You are not here to become a Psycho, so never compromise on a sound sleep. It keeps you fresh and energetic.
- Make The Hindu or Indian Express as your BIBLE or Gita ( Never miss even a day’s newspaper- 80% of UPSC is based on newspaper)
- Revision is the master key of UPSC Success: Instead of reading 10 different books, revise one book 10 times.
- Cultivate the habit of making your own notes. They help you a lot during revision in the last few days. Opening a bulky book 15 days before prelims of mains puts a lot of pressure on you. (He revised whole of philosophy in 6 hours before mains paper through his micro-notes)
- Follow only one good source for Current affairs. No need to read Pratiyogita Darpan, CSTimes,etc. They are waste of time.
- Plan your study or let others plan it for you (Joining a test series for prelims and mains makes your planning very easy). But never give a test without preparation.
- If you are taking coaching, then revise it daily. Keeping backlog for last 2 months will not help here. UPSC is “Kal Kare so Aaj.. Aaj Kare so Ab”
- Don’t worry about your English accent or rural background. In fact they shall be your assets as you have seen the ground reality and are in better position to empathise with masses.
- Cultivate good hobbies to lighten up your mood and reduce stress ( He used to listen good music by AR Rahman, Pt. Bhimsen Joshi, used to watch comedy shows like Big Bang theory, Chala Hawa Yeudya once in a while).
- Doing Yoga and Meditation helps you immensely ( He used to listen Osho’s discourses to keep himself grounded and humble).
- He had joined classes and they helped him in focussed study.
- During his preparation, he did not give any other exam (like CAPF, MPSC, etc.) so as to give his 100% to UPSC. Many people waste their energy and time in giving multiple exams. He suggests to give one year fully for one particular exam so as to build a solid foundation and from thereon you can give other exams.
Start preparing for your GS and in the process select your optional. No need to take rash decision. Select such an optional in which you have interest and which you can sustain for next 2-3 years.
Socology, Political Science, Philosophy, History are safe these days (Avoid Geography and Public Administration). He had selected Philosophy as an optional, as he was having a deep interest in Indian philosophies of Yoga, Vedanta, Shunyavad, Buddhism. It is a very conceptual subject having short syllabus. It can give very good marks and very bad marks as well.
- Keep practicing previous years questions(Since 2011 and even old papers if time permits)
- Join a test series for prelims if possible to evaluate yourself
- Read Budget, Economic survey, New schemes thoroughly
- Economy, Polity and modern India are scoring areas for prelims. Prepare them well
- Practice mapping for geography (8-10 questions will be related to mapping)
- Have the habit of attempting more number of questions ( He suggests somewhere between 85-95
- Take calculated risks, eliminate absurd options and make measured guesses, for he has seen people attempting only 60-70 questions and missing the cut-off by 2-3 marks. Don’t be one of them)
- Make best use of 100 days between Prelims and Mains, since they are the most precious days
- Test series for Mains is a must. It will give required momentum for your preparation.
- Write 6-8 essays and get them evaluated.
Some things to do:
- Read some good books in between, such as: Imagining India by Nandan Nilekani, Getting India Back on track by Bibek Debroy, Uncertain Glory by Amartya Sen, Pax Indica By Shashi Tharoor, Difficulty of Being Good by Gurusharan Das, India Unbound by Gurusharan das, etc.
- Watch Pradhanmantri Series, Samvidhan Series, Satyameva Jayate episodes, Justice Series by Michael Sandel
- Rajyasabha TV debates (Only relevant to syllabus)
Enjoy the process without worrying too much about the result. Irrespective of the results, you will be a good human being and enlightened citizen which is not a mean achievement. Enjoy exploring the great history of India, Become aware of the beautifully crafted Indian constitution, explore Unity of India through its diverse geography and cultures.
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