Sometime in the February of 2017, Priyank called me up. He and a bunch of friends had appeared for umpteen interviews, with not so good marks . Some were in service with lower ranks, some did not make it the final list because of the interview. Priyank, for one, had a not-so-good score in a Kilemsungla Board. Old timers would know, she was responsible for half the IAS officers selected during her membership.
“Why dont you take a session on Interview preparation.?”
“Will you attend , If I take one?” I asked.
“It will be a secret affairs, even If I do one. Few people, but only open for those who have appeared for the Interview once. And it wont be on the Internet, I am trying to lose weight before I go on Camera. ” I said.
The session happened. And Priyank also got some 205+ marks in the Interview that year. ( He joined the IRS that year.) As for me, I never lost weight.
( If you have read any topper interview this year, you must have heard / read of the videos somewhere on the forum, or elsewhere on the Internet. It is not on Youtube for a reason 😛 )
Apurva Pandey told me last week, she made notes out of the video, when I last spoke to her. She has Rank 39 this year. She is the top ranker from Uttarakhand.
And it was there that I first met Pushp Lata.
She was different.
I spoke about why honesty in the Interview is important, and the psychology behind it.
And Pushplata asked me a question, non-chalantly, and rather innocently.
“Sir, if the board asks, why not IPS at No. 2, can we say that Sir, being ladies, we cannot train and be fit like other persons or men in particular. Sir, I am a housewife and have a five year old child, and live with my in-laws, I cant run and train like other men.”
I was a li’l amused. We would all meet again. Each one of us.
And we did. This January, after Mains examination.
She would come on Sundays from Manesar. So would Sachin Gupta , although he would come from his training academy, where he was serving as ICLS.
A few month later they would get Rank 80 and 3. And the coveted position in the IAS. But at that point, they did not know that.
Sometimes, you want some people to win. Sometimes, some people must win.
Because, sometimes, its personal.
Pushlata was one such candidate for me. When I saw her name in the final list this year, I was overjoyed.
But this is not my story. This is hers.
It is inspiring.
And here it is.
In her own words.
( This is unedited and NOT proof read, so excuse typos and grammar. Any nasty or derogatory comments will be deleted.)
I was born in Khushpura village in Rewari District of Haryana. I was married in 2011 to my husband in Manesar village in Gurgaon.
Three years ago, when I made my mind to appear for civil services exam I was totally unknown about sources for preparation, current affairs, books and other resources.
It had been 5 years I completed my MBA in 2010 and after working for 2years in private sector and 2 years in state bank of Hyderabad as assistant manager I wanted to be an IAS officer.
When I began there were many challenges in front of me.
I belong to a middle class family and I could not afford large amount of money required for taking coaching. Second I stay in outskirts of NCR region so it takes me around 2hours 15 minutes if I visit ORN for taking classes daily.
Thirdly I am a married women having 2 year old son (that time), living in a joint family with in-laws in a village in Haryana, So family and home responsibilities also needed to be fulfilled. And it has been long time for me I left studies so I needed to begin from scratch.
To begin my journey I visited few coaching institutes in jan 2015 like vision, KSG, BYJU’s, Vajiram etc for enquiry. Fee was very high and their batches were generally large.
Finally I found BYJU’s classes suited my requirements. There was one scholarship test before getting admission and classes were on weekends. I got 25% discount on fee and joined GS weekend course. For 4 months I attended BYJU’s classes. While returning back it used to get late around 9 while reaching Gurgaon and there was issue of security and getting bus connectivity so late to my home ( it is around 20km from gurgaon).
My husband would come to receive me on iffco metro on chilly nights after his daily tiring office duties. He is biggest support and because of him I could complete four months of coaching and this complete journey.
At the end what I gained was access to booklist and from where I could get that and few friends who were helpful in my journey ahead.
I could not clear my prelims that year. After seeing my result I was not sad. I knew my preparation was incomplete and there was a long way to go. I need to make my strategy and choose right sources. I opted for insights online test series and followed their timetable. I started writing their secure initiative. In starting one question took around 30minutes. For 3months I did it rigorously. I was able to gain many things from this experience.
With taking care of my 3years old son, doing my daily household chores I need to give around 10-12 hours to my study and that too dedicatedly. My husband supported me most in this. I was able to clear prelims this year.
Now I had challenge to prepare for mains. Before declaration of results I got selected in FCI. This government job was being looked at as biggest opportunity and god’s blessings for me by my family.
I was in huge pressure to join this job. Again my husband acted as a shield in front of me to save from family’s pressure. I straight forwardly rejected to join it because I wanted to pursue my dream only and give my best for that.
I did not had any other alternative in my mind and in my life. I did not had any plan B even. My husband took whole blame on his head and our family was angry from both of us for kicking off gotten opportunity.
I was preparing for my mains examination and just after declaration of prelims results I got affected by chikenguniya fever. Just after I recovered from it in one month from after fever body pain, severe pain in fingers while writing a new challenge came ahead in form of sudden demise of my nani.
I had spent my childhood with her and only after losing her I came to know that I was so attached with her. I was not able to consol myself with this sudden demise of my lovable nani. But anyhow I made up my mind strong and prepared for mains rigorously. I purchased vision test series and solved it self. I reviewed it myself and noted down my weaknesses.
A pleasant result was reward of my rigorous hard work. Now to prepare for interview forum IAS workshop helped me. Ayush sir’s guidance helped me. After interview there was 50 days left for next prelims. I opted to continue preparation rather than resting for a single day. I purchased vision test series solved it by self and reviewed my mistakes. I opted to revise again and again my self made notes and single sources I opted rather than searching for new material.
On 31st may when result declared there was a failure waiting for me. I felt bad but did not give up. My whole family was like broken off including my husband. Even neighbours were visiting our home to console. I managed everything and told my family it is not end of life. it is just an exam. I have not lost any battle. I won’t give up. I will try again until my age limit doesn’t lapse or I don’t get selected.
Few lines which motivate me during difficult times are
Girte hai sasawaar hi maidaan e jung me
Wo tifal bhala kya girenge jo ghutano k bal chalein.
On next morning I again resumed my normal routine. Getting up at 4’o clock, solving one prelims test in early morning, revising, making my son to get ready for his school and my other schedule.
In next week when marks were out, I found out I had missed list by 7 marks. I had performed worst in optional paper 1 geogrphy about which I had idea. Good thing was my GS marks were very good. I had scored 428 marks in GS without any coaching, without any test series. I need to work upon my optional now and to some extent on essay. I had scored 127 in essay.
My prelims went good and I was almost sure of result this time. 40 days time period between result and prelims I make best use to utilise for my optional paper 1. I completed it within this much time. For essay my one friend Keshav kumar (who selected IPS rank 222 in CSE2016) helped me. I wrote around 2 essays weekly and he reviewed it and highlighted my mistakes. In end of this practice he confirmed my improvement in essay.
For writing practice I followed mains marathon practice of Forum IAS. My one friend Rahul kumar who has taken test series at Forum IAS we both reviewed each other’s answers. I could get some new insights where I lacked. Along with it I solved one test series by self as well. I did multiple revision of my notes and selected books as well as optional.
To prepare myself for exam exercise I wrote practice tests organised by Forum IAS. Although papers were not reviewed but I was sure of completing my tests within given time. there I met YO YO CHOTI SINGH. After seeing my answer sheet he told me maintain your pace and write in this manner only you will come out with flying colours. Even after watching his answer sheet I also get some idea about improving quality of answers. His answer writing on different aspects was so dynamic and very quality rich answers.
This time I was more confident about my preparation.
But a new challenge was waiting for me. Before one day of beginning exams, on Friday I got sick. I was suffering from fever, headache, body ache, dizziness, vomiting, stomach upset and low blood pressure. In spite of taking medicines I was not able to recover till Sunday.
Now continuously giving 2 exams and completing it was a challenge. My husband who is a BAMS doctor helped once again at time of crisis. Although symptoms were similar to dengue. But my husband told me don’t worry its normal. He was doubtful I won’t be able to write exam properly if I came to know its dengue.
I prayed to God and promised to myself that if I gave up in front of this problem I won’t be able to justify it to myself through out my life.
Nobody sees your problems everyone watches result. To prove to myself I determined to perform best in my possible manner and thankfully I was able to write all exams after taking paracetamol before every exam. I became fine next Sunday after exams getting over. I was almost sure of mains result. So I continued reading newspapers and listening rajya sabha news analysis.
After declaration of results in forum IAS workshop I got some insight about mode of preparation. Few lines from ayush’s lecture always echoed my mind during this preparation like in interview they found out ‘ki aap kitni imaandari se sochte hai”. I met at forum ias centre to sachin gupta (rank3). As per ayush’s suggestion sachin made a group of 5 people belonging to Haryana for interview preparation. But that could not work out. But after meeting sachin I observed how a civil servant should think and various facts should be considered for giving balanced answer.
During my mock at samkalp I met anu kumari (rank2) and we both asked each other for interview preparation. Our homestate, background, family structure, nature and importance of this exam for us were almost same.
Our frequency matched with each other and we started preparing through daily discussions on phone. We cross questioned each other, asked situational questions, from current affairs, newspapers and almost my whole interview preparation was based on discussions which sometimes extended upto 90minutes daily. In just a short span of 2months I found a very good friend as well.
Interview was on expected lines and I could perform well. I had satisfaction with my performance this year from all three stages. Now this time I did not studied for next prelims in wait of results and results brought a pleasant thing and finally my dream come true.
During my preparation journey I always had a thought”perseverance is my cult and success is my obsession” and it worked for me. I always had belief in teachings of gita.
“Karam karo fal ki ichcha mat karo and utho jago or ruko mat jab tak manjil na mil jaaye”
and finally every dream turned into reality.
( Pushpa Lata, with her son )
Pushp Lata, IAS