The Indian Civil Services Exam is the toughest recruitment exam conducted by the Union Public Service Commission in India. UPSC toppers who manage to get appointed in the respective positions put in a lot of hard work, dedication, consistency and patience. Countless individuals make attempts to crack the UPSC exam but only few manage to get through. What is it that keeps off certain achievers from clearing the exams in their initial attempts? Strategy is one important thing you must consider before trying to prepare for the Civil Servant examination. The strategy that works for others might not work for you or may work far better in your case. It is your passion and perseverance that will eventually find a way to crack the UPSC.
In this article, we will talk about “What is UPSC” and discuss about the 2021 IAS toppers and share their inspirational journey.
So, let us not delay any further and get motivated as soon as we can!
What is UPSC?
UPSC, the short of Union Public Service Commission is an exam conducted by the UPSC board for the recruitment of civil servants. UPSC exams are conducted every year and has candidates contending for chief UPSC positions.
There are three steps to becoming a UPSC civil servant:
- Qualifying for the Prelims exam
- Qualifying for the MAIN exam
- Qualifying for the UPSC interview
Selections are made in either of the three main categories:
- IAS officer
- IRS officer
- IPS officer
There are other categories as well.
Toppers from UPSC CSE
The prelims of the 2021 UPSC exam took place on 10 October 2021 and the Mains occurred on 16 January 2022. The interview was conducted between 7 January to 16 January 2022.
The results of the 2021 UPSC Exam was out on May 30, 2022. 685 candidates qualified for the IAS exam, out of which 508 were men and 177 were women. This list of qualified candidates were recommended for various civil services.
The four IAS toppers from the recent IAS examination are as follows:
- Shruti Sharma
- Ankita Agarwal
- Gamini Shringla
- Aishwarya Verma
Shruti Sharma is a UPSC topper (Rank – 1) who originally hails from Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh. Her father is an architect while her mother is a former teacher. She studied at Sardar Patel Vidyalaya (Delhi) and graduated from St. Stephen’s College with History as her subject. For post-graduation, she chose Jawaharlal Nehru University where she opted for sociology before dropping out for UPSC preparation.
Shruti’s inspirational story
Shruti Sharma started off her Civil Services after her graduation. She started preparing with the free Residential Coaching Academy (RCA) at Jamia Millia Islamia. Her optional subject in the Mains was history. She points out to choose the optional subject based on your interests.
It was Shruti’s second attempt in the UPSC CSE. In the first attempt because of some technical faults she had to appear for the examination in Hindi rather than her chosen language English. It was because of her one mark difference she couldn’t appear for the UPSC interview. However, we can all it her first attempt as there were no issues from her part.
Shruti mentions that more than the hours of studying matters the quality of study time. What she means is that some students focus on the hours spent at study rather than realising their productivity within those hours. Thus, a student must always try to get the most out from their minimum study time.
Her strategy was to focus on the notes she prepared. She also put greater emphasis on answer writing practise for the Mains exam. Shruti Sharma suggests to read newspapers and make additional notes from them for self-study. For her, making copious notes shouldn’t be the goal, instead one should try to find some supplementary answers from newspapers for their UPSC exam or try to collate information related to the syllabus. Apart from studies, she also loved watching movies and used social medium in a balanced way.
Another strategy that she adopted was to keep her notes limited and stick to the syllabus. It was quite challenging for her as well to clear the Prelims but she points out that one has to get their base concepts clear rather than simply mugging up current affairs. Shruti also had great support from her family and friends which she highlights is important to regain lost motivation. Overall, for Shruti the journey was a “bittersweet” one.
To Shruti Sharma, her result came as a surprise as she didn’t expect to top the IAS exam. She aims to uplift the underprivileged and serve the nation by serving as an IAS officer.
Ankita Agarwal has secured the 2nd position in the UPSC exam. She is from West Bengal and wants her cadre in the same region. Her father is a businessman and her mother is a housewife. Initially she did her elementary schooling from Modern Public School, Bihariganj, Bihar and later shifted to DPS in West Bengal. She graduated from St. Stephen’s College with Economics as her Honours subject. She is a 2020 batch Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise) officer (cleared in 1st attempt), under probation at the National Academy of Customs, Indirect Taxes and Narcotics (NACIN) in Haryana’s Faridabad.
Ankita’s inspirational story
Ankita Agarwal thought of appearing in the Civil Services Exam in her second year graduation course. However, she was not serious about it in the beginning and therefore started working in the private sector Dalberg that lasted for a year. After quitting her job in 2018, she decided to prepare for the UPSC exams.
She had political science and international relations as her optional subject. Ankita Agarwal managed to clear the UPSC exams in her third attempt. In her previous two attempts hardwork and time fell short but in the third attempt she managed to crack one of the toughest exams in India.
She quit all her social media handles and devoted her entire time to UPSC preparation. Her success mantra doesn’t lie in the quantity of hours she put in her studies but in her ability to maintain a sustainable time schedule. In her pastime, she loved to read, talk to family members and also played basketball earlier.
Ankita as an IAS officer seeks to work at the grassroots level. She wants to put her efforts for women empowerment, school education sectors and primary healthcare in particular.
Gamini has secured the All India Rank of 3 in the UPSC exam 2021. Her parents are both medical officers with the government of Himachal Pradesh. She has pursued B.Tech in Computer Science from Punjab Engineering College and got a job at JPMorgan Chase & Co. where she worked for half a year. She was inspired to attempt for the UPSC exams in her fourth year of her graduation but she could not clear in her first attempt in 2020. Her next attempt proved to be her final attempt and one that secured her position among the top 3 contenders. Gamini’s optional subject was sociology.
Gamini’s inspirational story
Gamini mentions that she received a lot of help from her father as he helped her in preparing for the current affairs. Gamini devoted 9-10 hours for her study and most of the time it was a self-study session. She did not take help from any coaching institute and serves as an inspiration for many. Gamini cut off from all kinds of social activity for three whole years and her private life consisted of dedication and hardwork for the UPSC exams.
Shingla did join some test series but majority of her preparation was a self-study process. Gamini mentions that she had this intense desire to serve the people of her country which helped her pass the exam with flying colors.
Her sparetime interest lies in participating in the Model United Nations which is an educational simulation involving knowledge about diplomacy, international relations and the UN. She also assumed the position of the Director General for PECMUN 6.0 for 2019. Kiran Bedi and IPS Navjot Simmi are Gamini’s role models.
As an IAS officer, Gamina Singhla intends to work for the development of the country and the welfare of the people.
Aishwarya Verma has secured 4th rank in UPSC exam and hails from Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh. He belongs from a middle class family where his father is a banker and his mother is a housewife. He was schooled in Ujjain, Neemuch and Katni in Madhya Pradesh and completed his matriculation and intermediate studies from Uttarakhand. Aishwarya got his Bachelor of Technology degree in Electrical Engineering from G B Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Uttarakhand, in 2017. After his graduation was over, he skipped placements and chose UPSC as his ultimate aim.
Aishwarya’s Inspirational Story
In the first attempt, Aishwarya couldn’t crack the prelims. In his subsequent two attempts he managed to clear the Prelims but did not get selected for the interview. In his fourth and final attempt, he not only cracked IAS exam but also got a 4th AIR rank. Thus, it was a journey that evolved gradually. Before reaching the skies, he did face challenges but with his perseverance, he managed to overcome them. He also passed the CAT test and got roughly 98% in 2019.
He was in Delhi preparing for his UPSC examination when it was interrupted by the pandemic. Although he returned back to his home, he continued with his self-study.
His parents were very encouraging of him and if he felt disappointed or demotivated, they were always there to back him up. His friends even boosted his morale and propelled him to keep going.
Aishwarya Verma chose Civil Services because he could make someone else’s life better. He was pursuing something that he was passionate about.
Surely, the inspirational journey of each of these UPSC toppers motivate us. Their useful advices and tips can help us take a step forward in our preparation for the UPSC exam. These IAS toppers have set examples that anyone with determination can achieve the goals they desire and stand out as the best all over India. In other words, the simple argument is “if they can, so can you”. Moreover, the top 3 are women and they do inspire all women to come forward and serve the nation. If you have a burning desire to get to the top of the IAS list, with the right action success is bound to come to you.
Hopefully, this article has provided you motivation above all to sit for your UPSC exam and come out with flying colors. Try and you’ll be there!