D K Balaji, a government school student qualified UPSC (AIR 36)


Background: D K Balaji, is from a small town. He studied in dilapidated government school and learnt English literally on his own. He realized his dream overcoming many struggles. Today across Karnataka, especially in rural regions, he is inspiring a generation of school children (on mission mode) to chase their dreams.

AS 10-yr old, the innocent child, after a personal experience, started believing that ‘Learning GK would help me win anyone’s heart’. That made him read GK books. Whenever I asked any uncle which exam needs a lot of GK? The obvious answer was ‘IAS’. This is where the seeds of IAS were sown in my mind.

His teachers further inspired him for civil services. After securing 93.76% in class 10th, with 100/100 marks in Mathematics, he decided to take up HUMANITIES to pursue his IAS dream, when everyone ran behind SCIENCE.

He commuted long distances to his college and once, he passed by a book shop from where he bought the magazine ‘Competition Success Review’ (CSR). However, he could not understand anything in that, since his English was pathetic, owing his high schooling from a government school.

Learning English: That evening itself he realized the necessity of learning English to chase his IAS dream. He kept thinking in English and always formed English sentences in mind. While eating, bathing, almost all the times, he thought framing English sentences. Reading CSR in parallel helped him acquire a lot of new English words. He tried using new words in his own sentences. Doing this continuously for about 3-4 months made him learn good English and acquire reasonable command over that language.

His journey: For 12th standard, he joined hostel. Seeing engineering people being placed in MNCs with nice pay packages did worry him for some time. Then his Principal cleared his worries and suggested him to pursue further studies in MANAGEMENT since that would mould his personality suitably for a civil servant. He prepared for CAT. The rigorous CAT preparation didn’t help him get a seat in any of the IIMs or any of the topmost B-schools but it was to help him in CSAT in future.

After his MBA, he was all set to jump into IAS preparation. I was under the false impression that one could clear CSE only if coaching is taken in Delhi. He then met Mr. Nakul (CSE 2010 – AIR 32) who convinced him otherwise.

Optional Subject: Kannada Literature

Prelims Strategy: With only 5 months left for prelims and practically zero preparation, he started studying. Study of Humanities during 11th and 12th came handy to him because he had fair understanding of basics and need not have to go through all NCERTs. He strongly recommends every aspirant to read each and every NCERT as they are ‘bible of CSE preparation’. While reading, he made a point to consciously think of nature and content of possible questions from that portion of reading. Rigorous preparation for 5 months helped him clear prelims and CAT preparation did help in CSAT

Mains Strategy: He was too naïve for Mains. He firmly believes ‘the best way to do multiple things at a time is to do one thing at a time’. Accordingly, he decided to focus on his optional Kannada Literature first few months and then focus on GS. He couldn’t get through in this attempt and with introspection, moved on for second preparation.

Second attempt preparation made things fall in place for me, themselves. He joined online test series and stuck to the following points:

  • He would not ‘read’ much, but ‘think’ most.
  • He would give first preference to ‘revision’ and second preference to ‘studying new things’.
  • He would prepare separate notes for compiling the information that he would have to use for substantiating his points in exam (such as statistics, research findings, illustrations etc.)
  • That he would write all GS tests religiously, even if he would not have covered the prescribed syllabus.
  • Most importantly, he would stay calm and poised throughout the preparation.
  • He would not be overconfident or under-confident with respective better marks or worst marks and would just be ‘normal’.
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By Root

Caretaker @civilsdaily

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