IF (अगर) – The Story of every UPSC Aspirant
As I entered the jam-packed auditorium, I started feeling the heat. All the faces in the crowd were filled with confidence, were high on aspirations and were all set to crack the prestigious UPSC exam. The stage was set, the arrangements were made and the clock was set for the session that was about to change my life.
The dais was adorned by young and experienced bureaucrats. Soon, the session started and all I remember in the end was “I have to crack this exam at any cost”.
It’s been three years since then and here I am.
I am one of the aspiring candidates with an enlightening and challenging experience of struggling with UPSC preparation for the last few years. I could not even clear Prelims in the last two attempts. The only thing that makes me red-faced is my inability to realize my past mistakes. I, like all of you, had/have access to everything that is on the earth to crack this examination, except trust, honesty and sincerity.
I won’t talk about content or material since that is the only thing I am surrounded by at my home, and even on my laptop.
How trust deficit ruined me?
Remember, like many, I already have tasted the sweetness of joining and being part of one of the coachings in Delhi. It didn’t work out because of the recent changes of UPSC and its demand.
Carrying forward, I was part of the enchanting B2B (Business to Business) exercise done by all the aspirants i.e joining test series, collecting sea of content (only to drown) and accumulating false satisfaction that I am preparing well. I was no different when it came to efforts and all the holy things to be done. The D-day (prelims exam) made me realize that this exam is something else. It is not about your effort that is linked to success but about the level of trust in your preparation level.
Moving forward, I stumbled upon IASbaba’s initiatives and IASbaba’s ILP-2017 Programme and its details. In no time, the seed of preparation became sapling and I decided to join it next moment. (Nothing new -did the same previously with other such programmes).
The magma of qualifying UPSC was already at its peak and after joining ILP, my dreams started erupting like lava. All was going excellent as far as rejuvenation was concerned.
Three months passed and the eruption of lava stopped. The magma started solidifying.
Rather than assessing my abilities and procedural inefficiency, I started doubting IASbaba’s initiatives/ILP. It was all because of innate nature of constantly being in a dissatisfied state. I even started writing emails to IASbaba questioning the quality and credibility of their content and its relevance with UPSC. This audacity, to scold my mentor, came due to the years of tryst I had with CSE.
Over the period of few days, I fell into a vicious cycle of false satisfaction of preparation and it was well supported by covering everything that I felt was important (I was being very diverse by covering various websites, notes, Xerox etc. :P)
Days went by and I never looked back at ILP/IASbaba’s initiatives with the same zeal. To my ignorance, I even went on to miss most of the tests and content, thinking of them to be irrelevant.
Prelims arrived and I appeared for the exam. I fared well (at least I had that thought after the exam). Then B2B of comparing with various keys started and Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was done on Cut-Offs.
With the solar eclipse, the result was served and my roll number was missing from the list. Disheartened, disillusioned and fragmented I went into hibernation.
Nothing is permanent, not even hibernation, so I had to come to life. The first thing I did was to look back and connect the dots. I took the question paper and started analysing my faults. As I was going through question paper with much more attentiveness, realized that few questions were very familiar to me. I could not trace their source instantly but was very curious and that curiosity landed me to Babapedia and ILP/AIPTS Tests.
I started digging deep and found IASbaba’s post- Click Here
Initially, I was like “Huh”. Anything for publicity!
After 6-7 hours of assessment, digging all the links and content (since I had access), I was nothing but ashamed of myself.
To my surprise, not only 68 as mentioned in the link, I could have solved even more with my knowledge, had I followed it sincerely.
I realized it is not only about the direct appearance of questions but your ability to conceptualize and consolidate your preparation. The relevance of content was a confidence booster but at the same time a reminder of shame. And the only thing that played villain in my case was “TRUST DEFICIT”
Friends, trust is the foremost requirement if we have decided to learn under MENTOR/GURU. It wasn’t my blind eye attitude towards my preparation but towards my GURU. It hit me really hard when I realized “Why did I join IASbaba’s ILP or followed its initiatives in the first place when all I wanted to do was to satisfy my ignorance and over-confidence”?
Had I trusted my GURU and followed the advice sincerely, the story would have been different.
I never focused on consolidation and revision of content: I kept running behind the fascinating content and in-demand sources and get sinking in false bliss. The realization of truth has been quite a time-intensive process for me.
Now that I am in the second year of IASbaba’s Gurukul (ILP-2018), I am sharing this with my fellow aspirants and unknown friends, not because I am a preacher or have achieved a milestone to preach, but to help you learn from my mistakes. I am no achiever but a loser who doesn’t want the same attitude to destroy anyone’s precious time and effort; only to repent later.
My journey this year has been satisfying if not fantastic, to say the least. Satisfying, as I have taken each and every advice of my GURU with utmost sincerity.
Let me explain this with examples for you to connect better
ILP started in August (roughly)
I didn’t start it as a fresher but even if I had to start as a fresher, no change in planning was to be done by me.
I started revisiting the subjects more as a revision (not merely reading the Blocks as per ILP plan). Let me explain taking Polity as the discussion in point.
Since I was determined to consolidate my preparation, went through the syllabus of the given Block of Polity and spent few hours glancing through the topics from Laxmikanth. I made sure to take the tests on time with full sincerity and then spend more time in learning from the tests, reverting back to standard sources and taking the cue from the concepts I come across in the test. For example, 20 questions on DPSP and Fundamental Rights in a single test exposed all the important and associated concepts of that topic and by retrospectively going through Laxmikanth and Value Add Notes again for DPSP and FR, I made sure not to miss anything extra. This exercise along with innumerable revision (yes, I cannot compromise on my revision diet), has raised my confidence to some other level. Not sounding overconfident, but nothing out of FR and DPSP is unsolvable for me now.
Same thing I am repeating for other subjects as well. Contentment is all I can cherish now 🙂
Coming to Current Affairs
I am being very regular with Babapedia and everything mentioned in the ILP Plan as a follow-up, from Daily Quiz to DNA.
The best service IASbaba did to me was to force me in note making- hard notes of Babapedia, VAN and Test concepts as advised through various motivational posts also.
Now I carry very concise notes of everything; specially Babapedia and current affairs concepts fetched from Tests and Daily Quiz. This, I make sure to revise every 3rd day without fail. Somewhere (some motivational post) Baba mentioned to revise on daily basis and I wasn’t late to abide it. ‘The magic of Baba’s advice is in its implementation’ (This is all I can say)
It is all about your productivity in the process (Baba mentioned this in one of the motivational posts).
This exam doesn’t count your effort, time, money and sacrifices spent in the process but your productivity through which you get your name on the list.
Our preparation is just like Millennium Development Goal set for 2015 that shifted to Sustainable Development Goal- 2030 because of failed attempts due to failed productivity.
Failed crops or less production of food grains doesn’t mean efforts were not made or time/energy/money was not spent.
Mains related Preparation
Mains examination is all about your in-depth understanding of the subject and its relevance to current affairs. Most of the aspects of paper 2 and 3 are nothing but issues in current affairs.
The variety and quality of coverage that IASbaba provides through ILP Mains Value Add Notes, Mains Mocks and Synopsis, Monthly Magazines (DNA), AIR/RSTV, YK Gist and newly started EPW/Frontline/IDSA and the most famous Think, Learn and Perform (TLP)- Mains Answer Writing Programme where feedback/review along with Synopsis is more than enough to tackle Mains, to say the least.
I was wondering why fellow aspirants are not able to assess its importance by going through them and then tracing the UPSC Mains Question Papers themselves. It will surely be an eye-opener.
I would not hesitate, and I feel proud in saying that IASbaba’s content resemblance is nothing less than amazing as I went on for a proper assessment and found this:
UPSC Mains 2017
“If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. they are father, the mother and the teacher.” – A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. Analyse. (150 Words, 10)
IASbaba’s TLP 2017-Phase 1
“If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher.” Comment on this famous quote by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam.
You can cross check full assessment in this link- Click Here
This augments immense CONFIDENCE and BUILDS TRUST that most of us lack while preparing for UPSC.
Once I had a discussion with IASbaba: He explained to me the beauty of “THOUGHT PROCESS” and its exemplary relevance with enriching Mains preparation.
“Take any issue and put your thoughts before indulging in the race of accumulating the content around it. Pose as many as questions around the issue and start answering them one by one. Try to diversify as many as dimensions coming to your mind. Then simply Google the keywords from the issue and click on “NEWS” feed. Get all the articles linked to that issue in recent past and check which all dimensions you missed and update them. Use the latest articles for any relevant data/facts/reports etc. Since basics remain the same, stop reading multiple articles on similar issues and rather focus on revising the content you prepared through answering the questions around the issue. Interlink the issue with other aspects of Mains Paper- Use Key Words from mains syllabus. DONE! Keep on revising it. Update only if something unprecedented has happened around that issue, otherwise, move on”
Why be Honest and Sincere?
In Baba’s words,
Honesty is not an outward attitude you add on to your personality when required and take it off when not needed; honesty is the very foundation of who you are. Honesty is not a behaviour; it is a science of measuring yourself against the world. If you are not honest, then you lose all possibilities of learning and growing.
Honesty taught me to explore my potentials; redefine my limitations; reinvent my attitude towards this preparation. It taught me not to miss my targets; that revision is my only saviour and that consistency in redoing the things will make me sharpen the skills I need for this examination.
Honesty is the only shield because there is no other communication channel that connects you to yourself. If you are not honest, you sever all connections with your personality/preparation. If you are not honest, you lose track of your life/preparation and everything that is happening in it/preparation. Without honesty, you are just a collection of experiences that have no meaning and purpose.
This realization will make you sincere. And coupling of honesty and sincerity will open the heaven’s door in no time.
(See, honest flow of thoughts will also help us in ETHICS, What if UPSC asks “Why is it important for an individual and public servant to be honest in public and private life”. Explain with examples? 🙂 )
We have been busy stating goals and targets all through our preparation only to reset it.
When it comes to stating goals, it often is a slightly easier process for many. Some may struggle. Some may just decline to state. Some may state them casually. Sometimes you take longer than expected to even come up with them.
But what happens when one starts working towards them? For you, what were the first steps that you took to achieve your dream of becoming a civil servant?
After those first set of steps comes the hard part – the Preparation itself. You start preparing. You are glad that everything is happening according to your set vision. And slowly the day of your first test comes. You performed brilliantly. You scored really well. You are elated. Happiness all around!
One day, in a test, you scored slightly lesser than expected. You start feeling that the walls are closing on you. How could this happen to you? You had prepared well. In fact, you were more than just prepared. And yet, here you are. With the test marks that you never wanted to see against your name.
You start wondering – What if this is not what I am supposed to be doing? Or what if I am going on the completely wrong track altogether? Is this right? Is it time to consult a person who can help me excel? Should I quit?
Thousands of questions, and a sense of dejection due to a short-term failure!
Struggle, setbacks and short-term failures don’t have to drain your motivation. They don’t have to make you want to quit before you’ve put in enough time and effort to reach your goal.
According to decades of research, it has been found that there are two fundamental belief systems, also known as “mind-sets,” that determine how people respond to struggle, setbacks and failure when pursuing their goals. In one mindset, you’re likely to get discouraged and give up on your goal. In the other, you tend to embrace the struggle, learn from the setbacks and keep moving forward – you persevere.
If you study the background of any successful person in any field, you’ll often see a long road of struggle, setbacks and failure stretching out behind them. J.K. Rowling is a fine example. Depressed, practically broke and living on welfare, she was rejected by a dozen publishers before she finally found one to publish her Harry Potter book series. As you probably know, she’s now a multi-millionaire.
So it is not about your destiny or luck or circumstances – what ultimately made them successful was their choice to keep learning, keep working and keep moving confidently in the direction of their dreams, no matter how hard it got. What ultimately made successful people successful was their choice to persevere.
When you adopt the right mindset, that choice becomes much easier to make.
“When we hear about extremely successful people, we mostly hear about their great accomplishments – not about the many mistakes they made and the failures they experienced along the way. In fact, most successful people throughout history are also those who have had the most failures. That is no coincidence. People who achieve great feats, no matter what field, understand that failure is not a stumbling block but a stepping-stone on the road to success. There is no success without risk and failure. We often fail to see this truth because the outcome is more visible than the process—we see the final success and not the many failures that led to it.” — Tal Ben-Shahar from Choose the Life You Want
Recent notification of UPSC should give a clear indication of the level of competition we are going to face. The total number of intake is further reduced to 782 much lower than previous years. It becomes imperative to identify past mistakes and work in the right direction.
On an ending note,
IF I have had the courage to continue with the TRUST
IF I have had the Honesty to learn and grow
IF I have had the Sincerity to follow
IF I have had the Perseverance to muster
IF I have had the ability to translate the Stated Goal
IF I have had the Right mind-Set to make Choices
I would have found my name in the Rank List last year!
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