I am FARHA HUSSAIN. I belong to Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan and I cleared UPSC Civil Services Examination this year with a rank of 267. I want to share my story with you all and try and contribute towards motivating young students and aspirants. I cannot make any tall claims like a lot of successful aspirants of having suffered hardships or any lack of facilities. I have led a fairly comfortable life and have extremely understanding parents. There are dozens of civil servants in my family, thus the atmosphere to excel and do something in the public life was always there without anyone reinforcing it or talking about it at all. These things work as a great motivation, however, it also brings in a lot of expectations from you and then starts the struggle to try and match upto them. When you have everyone’s eyes set on you to see where you end up, it really weighs you down. Also, for girls there is a lot that the society expects from her.. to get married early, to settle as a happy housewife. If a woman thinks about herself first, she is thought to be selfish. I feel we must always be respectful to others’ wishes and thoughts but please do not let it stop you from achieving something that is dear to you. Listen to everyone, but follow your heart!
Despite coming from such a family, I too have faced a lot of these things and at times it took a toll on me. But in times of distress, I never stopped believing in my capabilities and I was certain I would make a mark surely. And my efforts paid when I became the second muslim girl from Rajasthan to clear the UPSC Civil Service Examination. This exam is definitely a test of intelligence, but it also tests your mental strength, patience and the like. It does not require you to be a master in each field of study, you are only expected to do a generalized study which I feel translates to studying SMART, rather than studying like a maniac cutting yourself from the world. I think studying 5-6 hours a day is enough provided you are consistent throughout the year. It tests your knowledge about the things happening in the world, around you etc.
I recommend the following combined strategy for Prelims and Mains as I never studied separately for them:
BOOKS for GENERAL STUDIES:
NCERTS – class 6 to 12th if you have times. Otherwise do atlas class 11 and 12th NCERTs.
Polity by Lakshmikanth
Environment by ShankarIAS
Geography – NCERTs, GC Leong, Wizard Publication
Culture – Nitin Singhania
CSAT Guide by Arihant
History – Tamil Nadu Board Textbook for class 11,12 and Rajiv Ahir’s Modern History; Modern history by Bipin Chandra
India After Independence by Bipin Chandra
Economy by Ramesh Singh
India Year Book
Newspaper : Indian Express
Current Affair Notes by Vision IAS Institute
Reports of Finance Commission, Centre State relations etc.
Follow latest cases from newspapers, internet and Quote them in your answers! Always write in points, quote section numbers if possible, write case laws. If you don’t remember the name of the case, write the facts at least! I remember reading a blog by one of the toppers and he had said when he could not recall any case laws he wrote about a Madhuri Dixit movie and how there was a controversy regarding copyright infringement relating to it.
When you can’t recall any case laws, say in a question about defamation, you can at least explain defamation by quoting the recent news about Kejriwal and cases filed against him regarding an issue. It would give the impression that you are well aware of the things around you and understand them well.
I strongly feel that most questions are current affairs based, so they are the most important portion of the syllabus. Do not ignore Newspaper reading at any cost. I helps you even in improving English Language which is a must. For ANSWER WRITING, please try and write in points, draw many diagrams, mind maps, quote from reports, data and recent schemes of government. Always write recent happenings in each paper, even in optional.
Never write extremely negative answers. Please write answers like a government servant, as if you are already an IAS officer. Do not criticise the government at every step. Always conclude your answer with a suggestion to improve things and on a positive note. Also, write one answer everyday. It will help you immensely.
Please remember, When you decide to take another step when you don’t think you can, that is what makes all the difference in your life! Go ahead, dream big, aspire high… Good luck to you.. Hope to meet you soon as an esteemed colleague very soon!
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