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MOTIVATION and TOPPER’S STRATEGY: Suman Saurav Mohanty , Rank 9, Public Administration

  • IASbaba
  • September 17, 2017
  • 6
IASbaba's Toppers
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Hello Friends,

Suman Sourav Mohanty

  • Bhubaneswar
  • B.tech mechanical engineering
  • KIIT University
  • Attempt- 4th
  • Public Administration

Work experience

  • Reliance Industries 4 yrs.
  • Consultant State Government of odisha Urban Governance
  • Odisha Administrative Service dy collector
  • Indian Revenue Service Customs Central Excise

Sometimes you feel destiny decides everything for you. When I started my journey in 2014 I never thought I would reach this far.it is a surreal experience. The best part of this exam is the journey and the worst part is that not many people know the true secret of success. There are many false stories propagated by people who have never experienced the preparation and thereby create confusion and negativity among the students. This is just an exam and people must consider it not make UPSC your life. Secondly, if you are failing in the exam you must reconsider your strategy and reform your mistakes otherwise attempts would increase and you would not taste success. third have conviction in your goal and not think of anything else, for example when I left my job as a consultant and also had an offer from Odisha power generation corporation to focus on IAS  I had no plan b and because of my conviction I could resist any pressure . finally just cut off myself from social media and had friends only who were serious about preparation as UPSC is like a penance, if you devote your entire energy to this exam it would reward you your family throughout your life through the happiness you get by serving people, but there are many distractions also who can divert your mind from this noble goal.

Finally, the motivation why I wanted to be an IAS officer.

My motivation was to serve the pure and needy and serve as a changing medium for the betterment of society which this service can provide. if you are having this kind of positive motivation obviously you would succeed, and you won’t lose focus. But any other fascination like power money, crave for authority are negative motivators and won’t make u stronger in the long run. Also faith in almighty and his blessings are also very important.

First two attempts I was not serious and had given just for the experience. but later on when I resigned from service and this was my only way out I became serious .for my third attempt not having conceptual clarity and not having enough grip over pub ad and arc reports cost me dear as I got 209. in this attempt first, I reread pub ad from scratch and from fewer sources and additional case studies and examples fro the 12th plan, ministries, economic survey. Also, I had a standard operating procedure which I followed for answer writing such as introduction, body, facts and figures, examples/case studies and a futuristic solution. This i practiced a lot.

I come from odisha a state with lot of potential but lagging behind in social indicators. Since childhood being the son of a bureaucrat I had an exposure to the rural areas of odisha, the potential for community development and the power of IAS officer to bring about change in lives of people. While working as a consultant for state government i saw the value of networking that is forging a “coalition of actors model” for good governance administration, civil society, media. This I wanted to continue forward being an IAS officer.

Prelims: pretty intensive, focus on all the aspects, and give multiple test series, conceptual clarity with multiple revision is very important

Mains: for mains extensive reading with multiple revisions is the key. Have writing practice and focus on every answer rather being choosy about best answers. Read arc reports and 12th plan with a pro con approach for every current affair such as

CAG pros it helps in administrative accountability, cons it would lead to policy paralysis also. Secondly practice two essays per week.

Interview: for interview concentrate on your DAF and current affairs. Second be prepared for situation based questions such as if you are DM and there is a disaster situation how would you solve. Secondly be true to yourself and the interview board as they are likely to uncover if you are appearing different from the real you. for example if you are not a book reader and have put book reading as a hobby you are likely to fall into trouble with the board. Third be calm and have a positive attitude and dress properly.

Mains- Answer-writing (esp. since mains is round the corner)

Join a good test series.  I used to write TLP answers of IASbaba and compared with other students which helped me tremendously with a SOP.

IASbaba helped me tremendously during preparation as I got a lot of relevant reading material here such as monthly magazine daily current affairs and RSTV and AIR news analysis in concise form .

Secondly the analysis done by IASbaba regarding positive aspects of the problem be it commercial surrogacy, Indus water treaty helped me in my answer writing. Third it helped me save a lot of time in revision.


Optional & strategy – Score Card

Public administration score 209-2015 and 299-2016

Again Public Administration has been scoring a lot less than expected and the major reason is students are unable to cope with the level of questions and the answers demanded by UPSC. Till 2012, this optional had very straightforward questions which a person by mugging could score easily. But after 2012 the questions have been tough and students did not write expected answers. Hence scoring went down. After my last attempt i rehearsed my strategy. Reread public administration from scratch and cleared my concepts. Solved the toughest questions from pub ad of last 10 years and again I had a standard operating procedure for my answers

  1. use of thinkers such as Herbert Simon and decision making in RTI as information is key to decision making and good governance.
  2. use of facts and figures such as PSU losses, disinvestment target, no of psu operating in profit, RTI percentage of awareness etc.
  3. use of ARC and multiple committees such as Mani Shankar Ayer on Panchayati Raj Isher judge Ahluwalia on urban reforms and their recommendations
  4. Relevant examples such as RTI on wheels campaign by Gujarat govt.
  1. Have positive and futuristic solution in paper 2
  2. Focus on writing constitutional article in paper 2

I joined pavan sir test series for pub ad and found the questions were simple and got confidence after writing test series with case studies and examples provided by sir.

My advice to students please do not go for statistics as to which optional is good or bad   hence for pub ad go to a test series where you find it easy to understand and feel the answers discussed are better than yours and not complicated. UPSC wants you to be simple and to the point and not unnecessarily complicate matters. And pub ad is one subject which has direct linkages with GS 2 and 4, essay please remember that.


Scores – prelims, mains & interview

  • Prelims 136
  • Mains 927
  • Interview 168

Friends my journey must inspire you to do it as two years ago to this date I had no idea that I would reach here. First remember your hard work would pay off. Focus on rest and study in this crucial period. Be focused and avoid friends who are cynical and negative. If you are doing test series focus on time management and score improvement rather than just sitting and writing and thinking all improvement would come in the exam. Also please have a fixed plan and specially the last 15 days of your revision cycle. You would feel depressed and negative but remember it would take you bit farther from the goal rather than towards it. Also remember that we all who are preparing for UPSC are all winners as we have forsaken the comforts of a safe job, good life, and enjoyment and are toiling mercilessly for the betterment of the nation and be an agent of positive social change while being selfless. Keep this and regularly chat with you parents and positive minded friends to keep motivated. Finally my secret to keeping myself really motivated was a tight hug to my mother after a hard day’s work. Please remember success is around the corner and we are a stone’s throw away from it. Keep working hard and stay blessed.

When I saw the results I just could not believe to have secured 9th rank all India . It took a lot of time to sink in then when there were congratulatory calls and specially my mother for whom I achieved, was the happiest of them and her tears made me feel the magnitude of the achievement. The most special part of the achievement was going to DoPT meeting the honble minister for felicitation and his warm behavior and also meeting the honble finance minister. Second by being honored in my own state by the honble CM and the Maharaj of puri whom we consider the living embodiment of lord sri jagannath. Finally, the sense of relief at finally being an IAS officer which I dreamt since childhood.

Also this time the pressure was really intense because last time I was in an insulated atmosphere in my home but this time I was preparing with my fellow colleagues in Indian Revenue Service and seeing the level of talented people within the fraternity I had real doubts about my own ability and performance . Somehow after the results have come out I feel it’s a bigger challenge to remain in IAS and work for bringing about social change and development while being within confines of law and rules.


What would I like to do as an IAS officer?

Focus on basic such as education, health, infrastructure, employment creation and skill development. Then focus on ancillary services such as grievance redressal, delivery of public services, make government more accountable to the people and participatory governance with a coalition of actors model such as ngo civil society people media coming together for development.

I wish IASbaba continue the good work it does through its ILP, test series and various initiatives and articles. It’s becoming a very good tool for civil services aspirants and expects IASbaba to put in more work on public administration optional answer writing.

All the very best!

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