Ritu Raj cracked UPSC 2014 Civil Services exam with an AIR of 69. For the topper, who possesses a degree in B.Tech and has got 2-year experience at Infosys, regular studies and daily work ethics have been the keys to success in this coveted exam.
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Sharing his success insights with Careers360, Ritu Raj says studying new chapters and topics are important but there is no escape from revision and getting back to old chapters while preparing for UPSC Civil Services Prelims and Mains exam. In this interview with Careers360, the topper says education is the best weapon to fight the menacing corruption in the system and his top agenda as a bureaucrat would be education, health and development in the rural areas.
He also shares his UPSC Civil Services strategy and insights on different aspects of preparation. Read below for full interview.
Careers360: Congratulations for your success in Civil Services Examination! How did you celebrate your success?
Ritu Raj: Thank you so much. It was the biggest moment in my life and I celebrated it with my family. We went out and partied.
Careers360: What were the key factors behind your brilliant performance in Civil Services Exams? Please share separately for all three stages.
Ritu Raj: For Prelims, I started preparing once I was done with my Mains preparation. It helped me to memorise facts easily and didn’t take too much time. Developing good command on General Studies helped me do well in Prelims.
For Mains, I used to write last 10 years of all test papers and write them continuously throughout my preparation. Writing Mains test series helped me improve a lot.
For Interview, I attended 6 mock interviews that helped me boost my confidence and also I came to know all relevant questions that could be asked by the board. I prepared my DAF well.
Careers360: What was the key career ambition that kept you motivated towards IAS?
Ritu Raj: Job satisfaction, social respect that it brings and motivation to do something good for the society. The motivation was completely self-made and sustained.
Careers360: What was your preparation strategy?
Ritu Raj: Daily work ethics is important; daily time table of what to study and how much to study. I used to take up a book and read it and leave it and then I used to go back to it after sometime and re-read it fully, and then make notes of the same for third revision. I attempted last 10 years questions.
Step by step as the syllabus got over, my confidence started rising. I focussed on Mains first then I moved to prelims preparation. Mains test series was of immense help which I solved before Prelims and this helped me to sort out all kinds of doubts and brought more in-depth knowledge.
Careers360: What was your subject at Mains level? How did you divide your preparation schedule between the subject and GS?
Ritu Raj: My subject was Public Administration. I divided adequate time for both subject and GS. I used to take up both at a time per day around 5 hours for each. One should not take anything for granted in UPSC.
Careers360: How much did you get in interview round? Please share a few questions asked to you by the interview board?
Ritu Raj: I got 165 marks in my interview. Questions asked to me were mostly related to my subject Public Administration and also a few related to agriculture and insurance. I would like to share a few:
1. Do you notice any change in nature of administration today and 15 years before?
2. What is good governance?
3. What is e-governance? Give examples.
4. What is the role of people in administration?
5. What do you want to become in life other than IAS?
Careers360: Did you also find any uneasy moment during your interview? How did you tackle that?
Ritu Raj: Yes, there was one uneasy moment where answer of a question I was not able to recall and a board member kept on asking me again and again and he was not leaving the question. I politely declined it a few times, saying sorry sir, as of now I am not able to recall it. But he kept on coming back after every two questions and I kept on declining it similarly.
Careers360: How important is coaching for preparations for exams like Civil Services? If an aspirant can’t afford coaching, how should he prepare for the exam?
Ritu Raj: It is a subjective question. Some aspirants need hand holding while others don’t. If one feels the need of coaching, one should take it. It’s a self-assessment thing. Those who can’t afford it, should keep in mind that coaching is not an essential criteria to get selected. What is essential is good preparation which can be done without coaching.
One must do all the research and gather knowledge of right materials and books required to study. Books and coaching materials are easily available in market and one can make ample use of it. The problem is of plenty so one should be prudent in reading the number of books.
Careers360: Besides studies, what do you do? Tell us about your favourite movie and book.
Ritu Raj: While preparation I didn’t do anything except studying. I loved studying and reading so I never required any other thing. Sometimes I used to chat with my close friends. I didn’t watch movies during my preparation. My favourite Hindi movie is 3 Idiots. I haven’t read much except academics.
Careers360: Are you active on social media. How useful is this for you?
Ritu Raj: I was on social media but I was not active. I used to visit it sometime as time pass when I was bored but very rarely I did. Social media is not meant for preparation. There are other websites which are very useful for preparation and should be followed very diligently and daily. Social media relaxes your mind for some time but it not much fruitful regarding preparation and are also a source of distraction.
Careers360: Please share your valuable tips and message for future Civil Services aspirants.
Ritu Raj: Hard work, dedication, daily work ethics is necessary for selection. Push yourself to the maximum limit of your hard work. Your heart should be satisfied with your own work ethics. If one does so, no one can stop one from selection.
Careers360: What are the top three agenda as a bureaucrat? What is your model for solving the evil of corruption from our system?
Ritu Raj: My agenda as a bureaucrat will be education, health and development especially in rural areas. Corruption is a menace today. There are various institutional mechanisms already available to fight corruption. There is a need to educate people to use education to fight this evil.
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