UPSC 2013 Civil Services Topper Interview - AIR 3 Rachit Raj
UPSC Civil Services Exam 2013 topper Rachit Raj secured All India Rank 3 to enter Indian Administrative Services in his very first attempt. The B.Tech graduate in Biotechnology opted Zoology as optional subject for his UPSC Mains as he thoroughly enjoyed the subject.
In this interview with Careers360, Rachit who belongs to Naxal-hit Daltonganj district of Jharkhand, shares how his UPSC interview board grilled him over Maoist problems and bombarded him with supplementary questions around the theme and socio-economic problems prevailing in the region.
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Here, he also talks on his preparation strategy, and what led him to succeed in this prestigious Civil Services exam. Rachit suggests the civil services aspirants to divide their preparation in multiple stages in order to cover complete syllabus and do revisions systemically.
“The easiest part was Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) including Passages and Reasoning. The toughest part was General Studies that covers so huge area that one cannot be sure about what to study and what to leave.”
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Careers360: Congratulations for your outstanding performance in Civil Services Examination! How did you celebrate your success?
Rachit Raj: Thank you. I celebrated it with my family and we went for a party. I also had a get together with my friends. We enjoyed a lot.
Careers360: Tell us something about your area of studies, qualifications, degrees, and Job Experience?
Rachit Raj: I did my BTech in biotechnology from Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT). I was one of the Government awardees of the college. I got 100 percent scholarship for perusing Masters in Management (MBA) but I could not pursue the same as I preferred UPSC preparation rather than joining another course.
Careers360: What were the key factors behind your brilliant performance in Civil Services Exams? Please share separately for all three stages.
Rachit Raj: At Prelims level, you need to have knowledge of different subjects. At Mains level, your answer writing ability and viewpoint on various topics are tested. In interview round what matters is how you present yourself. Overall smart study with patience and positive attitude was required and that was what I did.
Careers360: What were the key career ambitions that kept you motivated towards IAS? Where did you get inspiration for IAS?
Rachit Raj: I have a passion to work for people, society and the nation. There are many problems which can be solved only through governance and administrationI belong to Daltonganj, Jharkhand. The region is facing a number of local, social economic problems. I had always a thought that those problems should be resolved. Civil service can give me a very wide horizon and an opportunity to work for the people of the country. So my passion made me to join this area.
Careers360: What was your subject at mains level? What was your preparation strategy? How did you divide your preparation schedule among the different subjects?
Rachit Raj: My subject at mains was Zoology. During my preparation, I studied 3-4 hours a day. I had a strategy to divide my day into 3 different slots. In one of the schedules, I kept on learning various subjects like GS, geography, history, politics. In other schedule, I kept on revision. The third slot was for question practice.
Careers360: How many questions from passages and reasoning were there? How tough were the passages and reasoning parts for you?
Rachit Raj: There were about 23 questions of passages and 25 questions of reasoning. There were also some mathematical aptitude questions. I was comfortable because I had practiced a lot.
Careers360: You are from BTech background. Was not it tough to take Zoology as subject in mains? How did you manage it?
Rachit Raj: It was tough and the syllabus was huge. I had a huge interest in Zoology and I was always comfortable with this subject and that was not a burden for me. Around 34-40 percent of the subject was covered in my BTech course as my area of study was Biotechnology for Environmental Management. I studied Zoology for 1-2 hour a day and practiced diagrams as the paper was more of diagrams based. My focus was on how to write and how to present.
Careers360: Which were the easiest and the toughest part of your preparation?
Rachit Raj: The easiest part was Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) including Passages and Reasoning. The toughest part was General Studies that covers so huge area that one cannot be sure about what to study and what to leave.
Careers360: Please share a few questions asked to you by the interview board? Which was the toughest question for you to answer?
Rachit Raj: The first question asked was – tell us about the industries of Jharkhand. Other questions were – as an administrator how will you address the Naxal issues, how will you engage the youth in the developmental work, what are the components of a good governance, who is your political role model, who is your administrative role model, as an administrator how will you address the issue of gender bias. I did not find any question tough.
Careers360: How was your interview board (numbers)? Did you also find any uneasy moment during your interview? How did you tackle that?
Rachit Raj: There were five members in the interview board. I did not find any uneasy moment. However, at the reception before the interview, I was very nervous. But in the interview room, I found the board members quite cordial and very pleasing. It was a nice interaction.
Careers360: What is “good governance” in your opinion?
Rachit Raj: Easy connectivity between people and administration and constant steps by administration for the benefit of people are the basic components of good governance. Bureaucrats must be humble with firm decision making. Transparency and honesty are the major elements of the good governance, where you are effectively implementing developmental plans.
Careers360: Who are your political and administrative role models? Why?
Rachit Raj: I don’t have any political role model but I admire some of the leaders because of their key agendas. I consider Mrs Indira Gandhi because nationality was always at the core priority for her. I also consider Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee because he adopted an approach of taking people together.
My administrative role model is Mr. T. N. Seshan because of some noteworthy reforms implemented by him, including election reforms. He always emphasized on following law and order and abiding by the provisions of Indian constitution through his articles.
Careers360: How important is coaching for preparations for top job exams like Civil Services? If an aspirant can’t afford coaching, how should he prepare for the exam?
Rachit Raj: There is a huge preparation material available in this space. Coaching helps the aspirants by consolidating it. You will have more time to study and also more time to revise, with this consolidated material. However, if a candidate cannot afford coaching, they can go with self preparation. Coaching can help you but it is not the only way. Self study and practice are vital.
Careers360: Besides studies, what do you do? Which sport do you like most?
Rachit Raj: I listen to songs, play Badminton and Volleyball, go for jogging and interact with people as I am a very social person.
Careers360: Which are your favourite books and movies? Which movie did you watch last time?
Rachit Raj: I read science fiction books. I read magazines to be informed about local and national problems. I like Bollywood movies. The last movie I watched was Aashiqui 2. You can learn emotional intelligence from the movie.
Careers360: Are you active on social media. How useful is this for you? Do you advocate spending time on social media like facebook, twitter, linkedin, etc, especially for those students who prepare for competitive exams? What according to you are advantages and disadvantages?
Rachit Raj: I am very much interested in social media. We connect and interact with more and more people. We can get lots of information through this media. It is very useful in preparation also. However, there are some disadvantages. Some people get addicted to it. One needs to do everything within limits.
Careers360: Please share your valuable tips and message for future Civil Services aspirants.
Rachit Raj: “When I started my journey, my path was full of thorns but I continued and they changed into roses.” They should have patience, positive attitude and social sensitivity. They should divide preparation into multiple slots and practice more and more. Be informed and be true to yourself. And you will definitely crack this exam in a year of preparation
Careers360: You would soon be joining bureaucracy. What are the top three agenda that you believe, should guide a bureaucrat?
Rachit Raj: My first agenda is effective governance. Second is connectivity with local people. Third one is development that is the main objective after all.
Careers360: How big is corruption a problem? What is your model for solving this evil from our system?
Rachit Raj: Corruption is a problem but with recent emergence of transparency and e-governance, it has reduced and it will further go down. People should be aware of what is happening in the administration. There must be connectivity between people and administration. E-governance and Information Technology are really helping in eliminating this evil.
Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) declared results of Civil Services Examination 2014 on Jun 12 this year. As many as 1,122 candidates selected for India’s top jobs including Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS).
Gaurav Agrawal topped the list by securing maximum marks in UPSC Civil Services Examination 2014, while Munish Sharma and Rachit Raj secured second and third positions respectively on the UPSC Result list.
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