‘UPSC Civil Services Exam (CSE) provides a great level playing field and doesn’t do any advantage to people coming from IITs/IIMs’ says, Rushikesh Reddy, who secured All India Rank 95 in CSE 2019.
Rushikesh Reddy is a B.Tech graduate in Electrical Engineering from IIT Delhi.
He decided to prepare for Civil Services during his graduation days and continuously attempted the exam despite minor setbacks in between.
Rushi cracked UPSC Civil Services Exam 2017 with rank 374, however, he preferred the service IAS or IPS. He re-attempted the exam to improve his rank.
In his 5th attempt, in 2019, he achieved his dream! Rushikesh secured All India Rank 95. His allocation is expected to be in IPS.
ClearIAS is proud to announce to our readers that Rushikesh Reddy is an online student of ClearIAS who religiously took ClearIAS Prelims Online Mock Test Series.
In the toppers interview with ClearIAS, Rushi explains his UPSC preparation strategies with the readers of ClearIAS.
Brief Biodata of Rushikesh Reddy:
- Name: Rushikesh Reddy
- Age: 26
- Name of the Exam and Year: Civil services examination, 2019
- Rank: 95
- Roll number: 1011683
- Category (General/OBC/SC/ST): General
- Graduation Background and College: Btech in Electrical Engineering at IIT Delhi.
- UPSC Optional Subject: Electrical Engineering
- UPSC Mains Medium: English
- UPSC Interview Medium: English
- The number of attempts taken to achieve this feat: 5
- Performance in previous attempts (if any): 374 Rank in CSE, 2017
- State and Place of Residence (Permanent): Andhra Pradesh
- Percentage of Marks in 10th and Board: 89.5%
- Percentage of Marks in 12th and Board: 96.1%
- Percentage of Marks in Graduation and Board/University: 7.2 GPA
- What’s unique about your profile: Nothing Unique.
- Service Preference (Top 5): IAS, IPS, IFS, IRS (IT), IRS(C&CE)
- Cadre Preference (Top 5): AP, Maharashtra, Odissa, UP.
Inspirational Journey of Rushikesh Reddy
ClearIAS.com: Hearty congratulations from ClearIAS.com for this exceptional achievement! We are happy that your efforts are finally rewarded, that too in grand style! Let’s start from the beginning. How did you come across the idea of writing UPSC Civil Services Examination? Was it your childhood dream?
My Dad was always an inspirational figure in my life. He inspired me to go for the services for a very long time. But it was only during my graduation that I seriously decided to go for it.
ClearIAS.com: How did you feel when you came to know that your name is in the toppers list? Can you share the moments of happiness with our readers?
Felt very happy and, most importantly, relieved as I was in the process for 5 years.
ClearIAS.com: Can you share a little bit about your background? (Family, School, College, Work etc.)
I hail from Kadapa, Andhra Pradesh. Did most of my schooling in AP and Telangana. Did my graduation from IIT Delhi (2015 batch). Gave my 1st attempt in 2015.
ClearIAS.com: Do you feel that the competition level of the UPSC Civil Services Exam is on a rise? It seems that there is an increasing trend of candidates from IITs, IIMs and AIIMS attempting and clearing this exam. Is Civil Service the final destination /ambition of Indian youth, in this age of lucrative private-sector jobs?
It is definitely on the rise. The level of competition is certainly increasing. But I feel this exam provides a great level playing field and doesn’t do any advantage to people coming from IITs/IIMs.
Study Plan of Rushikesh Reddy
ClearIAS.com: What is the secret of your success☺? How did you approach this exam? What was your strategy in general (Prelims, Mains, and Interview)?
There is no such secret for success. I feel consistent hard work with smart strategy worked for me. I worked for an average of 8-9 hrs every day and planned the preparation on a daily, weekly basis and ensured that I stick to those. Writing more and more tests also helped me.
ClearIAS.com: How long (Years/Months) have you been preparing before you gave this attempt? Also, on an average how many hours did you put on a daily basis? How did you manage time?
It has been 5 years to date.
ClearIAS.com: Were you a person who studied alone? Or a person who favoured the combined study approach?
ClearIAS.com: Did you attend any coaching institute or subscribe to mock tests for prelims or mains? If yes, can you provide the details for each stage (Prelims/Mains/Interview)? How helpful were the coaching institutes?
For Prelims, I mainly did mock tests of InsightIAS and of ClearIAS.
For mains, I attempted mocks at VisionIAS and NextIAS (for optional).
For the interview, I have given mock at NextIAS, Rausias, etc.
ClearIAS.com: What websites (online preparation websites or government websites) will you recommend for future aspirants for UPSC preparation?
VisionIAS for monthly Current affairs.
InsightsIAS for answer writing.
ClearIAS for referring to various wonderfully written articles (on Agriculture etc).
Has very good reading material and nicely crafted prelims test series.
ClearIAS.com: Please mention the programs of ClearIAS which you used from the list ( ClearIAS Free Online Study Materials and Guidance, ClearIAS Prelims Test Series, ClearIAS Mains Answer Writing Practice, ClearIAS Interview Program)
ClearIAS.com: Did you use Social Media like Facebook, Twitter or other forums for UPSC Preparation? Or did you say good-bye to the social media during preparation days? Any technology-tips (Eg: Mobile apps, Note making software etc.)?
Used social media.
Note making in Evernote. It’s a good app, can be tried.
ClearIAS.com: What were the Newspapers and Magazines (Eg: Yojana, Kurukshetra etc.) you followed? How many hours did you devote for newspapers? Any tips on newspaper-reading?
The Hindu. Maximum for 30 minutes every day. For pre, newspaper reading is very important as they tend to take titbits that appear in the newspaper.
ClearIAS.com: What was your preference: Reading online (Laptop/Tablet/Mobile) or reading the traditional way (Books)? Or a mix of both?
Reading online as it is convenient to edit the material.
ClearIAS.com: Can you elaborate your daily timetable (When will you wake up, study, sleep etc. )
I used to divide the day into various slots and used to prepare different topics in those slots.
ClearIAS.com: How did you keep yourself motivated for this one-year-long exam?
Don’t completely give up on your hobbies. Keep doing what you love doing. It keeps you motivated and gives you much needed time to recoup.
ClearIAS.com: Can you elaborate on your preparation strategies/approach and study materials and books used for Prelims Paper 1 and Paper 2? (Please mention books/materials used for each subject)
- Books/Study Materials for History: NCERT, Spectrum, CCRT, a few chapters from NIOS.
- Books/Study materials for Geography: NCERT (Class 6-12)
- Books/Study materials for Polity: Laxmikant
- Books/Study materials for Economics: Mrunal online lectures
- Books/Study Materials for Science and Technology: Internet
- Books/Study materials for Environment: Shankar environment book.
- Books/Study Materials for Current Affairs: PT-365; Test series current affairs.
- Books/Study materials for General Studies Paper 2 (CSAT): Nothing specific.
ClearIAS.com: Can you elaborate on your study materials and books used for each topic of Mains Papers? (Please give a detailed view, especially for sub-topics in all the general studies papers like books/materials used for each subtopic like Disaster Management, Internal security, Indian Society, Biodiversity etc.)
- Books/Study materials used for Essay Paper: Prepared some quotes from the internet.
- Books/Study materials used for General Studies 1 (Indian History, World History, Indian Society, Indian Geography, and World Geography): IH — Spectrum, WH — Norman Lowe., Indian society — NCERTs (12th class)., Indian Geography, and World Geography — NCERTs and internet for the mineral resource.
- Books/Study materials used for General Studies 2 (Constitution, Polity, Governance, Social Justice, Foreign Relations, and International Affairs): Laxmikant, VisionIAS study material, internet and test series answers.
- Books/Study materials used for General Studies 3 (Indian Economy, Biodiversity, Science and Technology, Internal Security and Disaster Management: Shankar environment book, VisionIAS study material, internet and test series answers.
- Books/Study materials used for General Studies 4 (Ethics + Case Studies): Mostly internet and enriched my notes with daily answer writing.
- Books/Study materials used for Optional Subject Paper 1: Will write a separate blog on this.
- Books/Study materials used for Optional Subject Paper 2: Will write a separate blog on this.
- Books/Study materials used for Regional Language (Compulsory): Nothing Specific.
- Books/Study materials used for the English Language (Compulsory): Nothing Specific.
ClearIAS.com: ClearIAS.com: Did you prepare hand notes or participated in mock answer writing before mains? What was the strategy for preparing current affairs topics in general?
Attended VisionIAS mocks for mains and prepared CA from VisionIAS mains-365.
ClearIAS.com: What are the government reports that aspirants should go through, before giving the Mains Exam?
If possible go through summary reports of ARC and Punchhi commission.
ClearIAS.com: What was the colour of the pen you used for writing mains (Blue Ink/ Black Ink)? Also, the company and brand name of the pen used:
Blue ink pilot v-5 pen.
ClearIAS.com: What were your writing style in GS and optional subject? Bullet Points/ Essay style or a mix of both styles?
Mostly bullet points.
ClearIAS.com: What are your suggestions to aspirants for improving the score in essay paper? What were the essays you choose to write? Did you use sub-heading/points/graphs in your essay paper?
I used sub-headings in the essay. Writing better introduction and conclusion will always fetch more marks. Flow is very important for any essay. Add data and lots of examples in your essay.
What are your suggestions to aspirants for improving the score in GS1 paper (History, Geography, Society etc?
Use flowcharts and data for society answers. Maps can be used for geography answers. For example, I drew a map for water scarcity question indicating why different places in India have water scarcity. Try to write examples as and where possible.
What are your suggestions to aspirants for improving the score in the GS2 paper (Polity, Constitution, Social Justice, International relations etc?
Write article numbers, data from reports and quote supreme court judgements where ever possible. Try to write examples as and where possible.
What are your suggestions to aspirants for improving the score in GS3 paper (Economy, Environment, Science and Tech, Internal Security, Disaster Management etc?
Use data (economic), maps (for the environment), SDG targets, Govt policies etc. to write better answers. Try to write examples as and where possible.
ClearIAS.com: What are your suggestions to aspirants for improving the score in GS4 paper (Ethics paper)? Can you brief on how you attempted the Ethics paper? Please explain the strategies and writing the style for Ethics case studies.
Attempt case-studies first. Allot 90 minutes each for the two sections. Prepare conclusions before-hand by identifying the broad topics (usually 10-15 topics).
ClearIAS.com: What was your optional subject? Please give our readers detailed insights on your selection and strategies regarding your optional subject. We are sure that there will be many who take the same optional subject as yours in future.
Electrical Engineering. It was my graduation subject.
ClearIAS.com: What was your exam hall strategy for mains: attempting all questions even at the cost of compromising quality or writing only quality answers compromising on the number of questions attempted?
Attempting all the answers.
ClearIAS.com: Can you elaborate on your approach and preparation for Interview? Did you attend any mock interviews?
Yes, 4-5 mock interviews. Do not overdo mocks. My interview was mostly on DAF. Prepare your DAF very well.
ClearIAS.com: Can you elaborate a bit on the things mentioned in your DAF (Detailed Application Form) like your hobbies, extracurricular activities or prizes won:
Hobbies: Remembering cricket statistics. Writing letters to editors of the newspaper. Jogging. Watching Stand-up comedy.
ClearIAS.com: What was your interview dress?
Blue coloured Suit and black shoes.
ClearIAS.com: Who was the Chairman of the board you faced? How long was the interview?
Smita Nagaraj Madam. 30-35 mins.
ClearIAS.com: Can you share with our readers your UPSC Interview experience? Our readers would be really happy to hear those questions and replies in UPSC Topper’s Interview.
- Why two Reddys in your name?
- Should we remove caste names from our names?
- What will you do — wait for society or be a change-maker?
- How as a society we are doing in this regard? (Answered AP giving cash rewards for promoting inter-caste marriages)
- Is it social engineering? Or they are giving money just because they have it? Why give money? Is it a good move?
- Which type of inter-caste marriages are discouraged? Only some or all?
- What happened in 2019 cricket world cup final?
- Is the rule fair? Have they changed it?
- Is the super overrule there in normal ODI series?
- What is this china’s century of humiliation?
- It started with which war?
- What is China doing in Hong Kong? Is it correct?
- Is it same as what India doing in Kashmir?
- Privatisation of Indian railways— has IR failed?
- IR doing many reforms like RMS etc .. Is privatisation a part of the process of change? (A lot of discussions and cross-questioning. He listened very patiently)
- Did you sit for placements after graduation?
- When did you decide to write this exam?
- How will you develop a start-up culture in Anantapur (birthplace)?
- Compare entrepreneurship culture in UP (training at Lucknow) and AP?
- From Which place (AP or UP) are the entrepreneurs would have better conditions? Why?
- The average speed of goods train?
- What is the average speed in other countries?
- Does railways need reforms?
- Tell me one good technology which emerged during word-war 2? (I told Fission reaction.. he was expecting that)
- What other technologies? (I told Turing machines)
- What is more required for technologies to percolate? Nature of Technology or political will? (I said both)
- Don’t you think political will also come from technology?
- Don’t you think technology can’t be stopped? Like WhatsApp spread everywhere? (gave the example of North Korea where the dictator closed the boundaries)
- Compare railways, highways and airways from administrator point of view?
- What is the average carbon emission per NTKM in railways?
- Where does this IIT tag useful?
- Is this tag good or bad? (Said each person should be judged based on their merits as many don’t get access to same resources to clear JEE)
ClearIAS.com: Were you happy after the interview? Did you expect good marks?
The interview went well. I was quite happy at the end of it.
ClearIAS.com: Any tips for aspirants going for UPSC Interview?
Be calm and cool. It’s easier said than done, but its best way forward. Try to have a good conversation with the board. Never lie to them.
Do you think that there is a relation between the profile of the candidate (age or education background) and interview marks? At a time when lot many candidates from top institutes like IIT, IIM or AIIMs appearing this exam, is there any matter of worry for other candidates from state colleges or those without work experience?
They judge you based on your performance in those 30-35 mins, nothing else.
Previous Attempts/ Backups/ Others Jobs Qualified
ClearIAS.com: Comment on your previous attempts on UPSC Civil Services Exam, if any? What have you learned from the mistakes/failures?
This was my 5th attempt. I wrote mains 4 times and gave interview thrice and is my 2nd selection.
ClearIAS.com: What was your backup plan in case you didn’t qualify?
Was already in IRTS.
ClearIAS.com: Did you write/clear any other exams (like Bank exams/State PSCs/ Private Jobs) during the preparation period or before:
Success and Rushikesh Reddy
ClearIAS.com: What do you think of as the main reason for your success? (Feel free to name any special help from friends, teachers, family, coaching institutes, websites, or other sources)
Family and friends were crucial pillars in my preparation. I also used a lot of free websites (as mentioned above) during my preparation.
ClearIAS.com: What preference for services have you opted for? Is there any particular reason for that priority? What are the novel ideas you have for the country, to be implemented once you get into civil services?
IAS. 2. IPS.
ClearIAS.com: Did your life change after success/attempt in UPSC Civil Services Exam? If yes, how?
It’s same as before. I was content with the previous job too.
ClearIAS.com: Does the educational or financial status of the family of the aspirant impact the UPSC preparation and result?
With increasing free digital resources, I feel the differences in educational or financial status doesn’t matter much.
ClearIAS.com: Any tips on Civil Services exam preparation and other priorities in life (Financial security, Higher Studies, Marriage, Family life etc.)
Nothing in particular. Everyone has their own priorities.
ClearIAS.com: What is your advice to the freshers who are going to appear in this exam?
Be good with basics. Cover the entire syllabus. Do not neglect mock tests and interviews.
ClearIAS.com: What is your advice to all those candidates who didn’t succeed in this exam yet?
Keep working hard. Success is only delayed and not denied.
ClearIAS.com: We like to express our heartiest congratulations once again for this grand success. We are happy that you chose ClearIAS.com to share your happiness on this special occasion. ClearIAS.com sincerely thank you, on behalf of our readers and ourselves, for the spirit and benevolence to find time to write answers to our detailed questionnaire. Wishing you, all the very best in career and life.