UPSC 2013 Civil Services Topper Interview - AIR 5 Bharti Dixit
UPSC Civil Services 2013 All India Rank 5 and topper among women candidates Dr. Bharti Dixit cracked the prestigious exam in her very first attempt. An MBBS, Dr Bharti left her PG in surgery (M.S.) at Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital, Delhi, to pursue a career in Civil Services despite reservations from her family members. Earlier, Dr Bharti had qualified UPSC combined medical services exam 2012 with AIR 13 and joined New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) as Medical Officer.
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In this interview with Career360, the topper shares UPSC Civil Services Preparation Strategy and advises aspirants to choose civil services only if they feel passionate towards contributing to society. Apart from sharing UPSC Civil Services Exam Tips, she also elaborates on her Interview round where she had tough time defending her argument on controversy surrounding bureaucrat Ms. Durga Shakti Nagpal.
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Careers360: Congratulations for your outstanding performance in Civil Services Examination! How did you celebrate your success?
Bharti Dixit: Thank you. On the day of result declaration, I was about to reach UPSC building and I saw the result in my mobile. I felt very happy when I saw my rank and I immediately called my parents. I celebrated my success by going to temples with my family because without their (God and My Family) wishes and blessings this wouldn’t have happened.
Careers360: What were the key factors behind your brilliant performance in Civil Services Exams? Please share separately for all three stages.
Bharti Dixit: First thing is the passion I had for the Civil services and next thing self-confidence. These factors were responsible for me to take very important decision in my life. I had to choose between Post Graduation surgery (M.S.) seat which I secured in RML Hospital and civil services preparation as it was not viable to do both of them simultaneously. Also my UPSC combined medical services exam 2012 preliminary result was expected to be declared soon.
Finally I decided to surrender my PG seat for Civil services against the wishes of my friends and relatives. It was only my mother who supported my decision. I took that step because of the confidence I had in myself that I would achieve my dream one day. It was the passion to excel and to realise my dream which made me work very hard and finally achieve this feat.
Careers360: Tell us about your area of studies, qualifications, degrees, and Job Experience?
Bharti Dixit: I did my schooling from Holy Child Auxilium, R.K. Puram in Delhi. Thereafter I did M.B.B.S from Lady Hardinge Medical College, Delhi. After finishing my graduation, I qualified post-graduation entrance exams of AIIMS, NEET and Diplomate of National Board (DNB). I took up post-graduation in surgery (M.S.) at RML Hospital, Delhi. At the same time, I cleared UPSC combined medical services exam 2012 with All India Rank 13. In order to pursue my dream for civil services, I surrendered my surgery seat and decided to work as a medical officer in NDMC. Along with the job I prepared for Civil services as well.
Careers360: Where did you get inspiration for IAS? What were your key career ambitions that kept you motivated towards IAS?
Bharti Dixit: Though a career in civil services was my childhood dream I realized its importance when I was pursuing my Graduation in medicine. The happiness and the satisfaction I get when my patients thank me from their heart, when they are completely cured by treatment, is immense. I realized the saying “Happiness is a by-product of an effort to make someone else happy” when I served as a doctor. I wanted to carry that beyond my patients, to more people, through civil services.
Careers360: What was your preparation strategy for Prelims and Mains level exam?
Bharti Dixit:First thing about my strategy for Prelims was that I memorized the syllabus. Aptitude is something that a person always has with himself or herself so the aptitude test does not really require any serious preparation. But attending plenty of mocks tests is must. For preparing GS, the NCERT books and Newspapers are the best sources. First try to be thorough with primary sources and then go to secondary sources such as coaching materials.
Under strategy for Mains, first thing I did was the same, I memorized the syllabus. Mains preparation requires exhaustive study. Going through Government websites, Govt of India reports, approach paper for 12th Plan, ARC, Economic Survey, newspapers and magazines, etc is must. Listening to AIR spotlight, current affair, interview programmes, Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha TV programmes is also a must. For essay practice, I wrote an essay on current happenings on daily basis. Also I prepared a few ideological essays with in-depth coverage. At the same time language papers also need to be taken seriously as many candidates even after scoring very good marks in GS lose because of their poor performance in language papers.
Careers360: What was your strategy for interview?
For interview, I extensively prepared for probable questions around my profile with attention to even the minute details which may have been overlooked all these years, starting from the most incipient stages, schooling, college, job profiles and native place. I tried to analyse current happenings in-depth with unbiased opinion. I knew that just the problems are not to be highlighted but solutions to those problems were to be suggested. The most important part was my attitude to be confident and hold stand till the last. It’s all about being yourself. Interview is ideally a test of honesty and integrity of a candidate.
Careers360: What was your optional subject at mains level? How did you divide your preparation schedule among the different subjects?
Bharti Dixit: My optional subject was Medical Science. My in-depth study of medical science during graduation gave me an edge as it saved a lot of time for coaching and learning so that I could spend more time on General Studies. It also helped me at interview stage as questions from graduation are inevitable part of one’s interview.
For General Studies paper, I did extensively-focused preparation of important and selected topics. My method was to learn something of everything (like topics which are difficult and not of my interest) and everything of something (most important topics and the topics which I like and have an interest).
Careers360: Which were the easiest and the toughest part of your preparation?
Bharti Dixit: There is nothing easy and tough when you prepare for the exam with a joy. Don’t think civil service as a career option, have the passion for it, you will enjoy studying. I put equal effort in every stage of preparation. The only thing that was running in my mind whenever I cleared one stage of preparation was that I got to put in my fullest effort like never before.
Careers360: Please share a few questions asked to you by the interview board? Which was the toughest question for you to answer?
Bharti Dixit: The interview board asked me questions on article 370, essential services maintenance act, medical journals and television shows, Ms. Durga Shakti Nagpal’s issue and women empowerment. Also questions from Medical Science related to postpartum haemorrhage, its management, maternal mortality and steps to reduce it, along with a few situation-based questions were asked.
Careers360: How was your interview board (numbers)? Did you also find any uneasy moment during your interview? How did you tackle that?
Bharti Dixit: I was interviewed by board chaired by Ms. Rajni Razdan with four other members on April 25, 2014. The uneasy moment was when they asked me about Ms. Durga Shakti Nagpal’s issue. They wanted to know my opinion on that issue and they were refuting my stands and arguments. However, I was firm on my stand till the end and finally they were pleased with the conviction with which I held on to my stands when everyone was going averse.
Careers360: How important is coaching for preparations for top jobs exams like Civil Services? If an aspirant can’t afford coaching, how should he prepare for the exam?
Bharti Dixit: I believe that coaching is not mandatory once you know what UPSC expects. Apart from the optional subject, the syllabus of other papers includes the knowledge at 10th standard and the general awareness, therefore coaching is not required. The best thing for the aspirants who can’t afford coaching is to get the right guidance from the successful and the senior candidates and such students can visit free online portals related to civil services.
Careers360: Besides studies, what do you do? Which sport do you like most? Why?
Bharti Dixit: Once I got the job, I started preparing for Civil Services along with my job. So, I hardly got anytime to spend for leisure activities. I used to spend time with my parents and sister whenever I get spare time.
Careers360: Are you active on social media. How useful is this for you?
Bharti Dixit: I was not much active on social media before preparing for civil services. In fact, I opened account in Facebook only after the Civil services result. But I used to follow twitter especially the Government offices and News Channels. Though I used to refer and study a lot from online portals and websites, I did not use social media. It certainly has many advantages for persons preparing for competitive exam such as real time update of important events provides a platform for discussion, sharing materials, to get inputs from successful candidates, etc. Its disadvantages include the time factor as people get carried away by it resulting in wastage of precious time for preparation.
Careers360: Please share your tips and message for future Civil Services aspirants.
Bharti Dixit: Recognize your strengths and weaknesses. Build upon your strengths and minimise your weaknesses. Devise your own strategy and do not blindly follow what others say. Study with full devotion and dedication. Quality of study matters more than the number of hours you put in. Avoid distractions and once you have decided to do something, never deter from your path. Think 100 times before deciding anything, but not even once after you have taken the decision.
Careers360: You would soon be joining bureaucracy. What are the top three agenda that you believe, should guide a bureaucrat?
Bharti Dixit: No specific agendas. As a bureaucrat, one should fulfil the goals and ideals enshrined in our constitution with dedication, empathy, honesty and integrity.
Careers360: How big is corruption a problem? What is your model for solving this evil from our system?
Bharti Dixit: Corruption is indeed a grave problem which is eating up the system like a termite. However to be capable of tackling a problem of such enormity, we need to first of all understand the ground realities and the tactics employed by the corrupt officials to counter the system. Thereafter, we need to devise adequate safeguards in the system which should be extremely difficult to circumvent. The best way I believe is to move away from top to bottom up approach so as to ensure that people at large be the real stakeholders in policy decisions and there should be greater community mobilisation and participation.
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