An interview with Mr Dinesh Kumar, who scored a state rank of 2 in UPSC examination about cracking the toughest exam in India!

By Priyankha J (MSc Theoretical Computer Science, 2015-2020)

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

-Robert Frost

Every one of us has dreams of becoming successful in a variety of fields – Music, Performing arts, law and order, among others. While the society might dismiss some voices as pure noise, there are some achievers out there; for whom the dreams had seemed implausible at first, but with willpower and time, they have managed to climb the mountain. Dreaming big and then executing those dreams requires a lot of willpower and hard work. This fruit of labour is something that many want to reach. Anyone who has achieved it knows just how true this quote is – “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”.

THE BRIDGE had an opportunity to interview one such achiever, our alumnus Mr. Dinesh Kumar (B.E SW Mechanical,2003-2008), who secured AIR 24 (State rank 2) in UPSC examination last year.

Mr Dinesh Kumar

Here are excerpts of the interview for the eager minds out there:

Why UPSC? What was your motivation towards it?

UPSC is the only thing that has been thriving in my mind since childhood. I wanted to become an IPS (Indian Police Service) officer, but IAS was an unexpected twist. My father is a police officer and has been a great inspiration in my life. UPSC has been a constant chant in mind; that paved the way to achieve it and it’s that which kept me going. It is very important to be committed to a task, else it is very difficult for you to prepare. You ought to know where you see yourself in the next 20 years. Unless and until you have the thirst to get into civil service, there is no point in preparing.

My mother is my biggest motivation. She never tried to evade any problem; she always faced it head on with a strong will. We keep learning from our parents and my mom taught me a great deal in life. There are always going to be problems and one is faced with two options: Whine about them or find a solution for them. The world is black and white; it sees you either as a winner or a loser. You need to suit your armour up to face the problem in its face – That’s one of the things I learnt from my mother.

A person can succeed in UPSC by doing either smart work or hard work. Can you brief us on your opinion about it?

If you are inspired to do UPSC, a lot of hard work is required. Smart work should be around 25 percent and 75 percent must be hard work, but that 25% should be such that the hard work is channeled in the right direction, which will definitely result positively. You are the best judge of yourself, to decide whether you need to take the jump or not. With the right amount of will power anything can be achieved.

Mr Dinesh Kumar’s civil service examination mark sheet

What subject did you choose in your UPSC exam? How does it affect one’s preparation?

My subject was public administration. There are two reasons as to why I chose this. For becoming an IAS or IPS officer, public administration is one of the subjects I have to learn. The first reason being an idea that if I started out with public administration, I would be able to understand the nature of the job. The second is that I need to have a subject which would coincide with other subjects so that I could manage my time better. We have 9 subjects of which public administration covers two papers; both the papers of public administration helped me to understand the rest easily, thus easing my preparation.

How was your UPSC preparation? Is it true that one needs to take notes meticulously for the preparation?

The thing is that I have been blessed with a memory good enough to remember the points without the meticulous effort of notes. The examination demands varied reading. I used to read two to three newspapers everyday, apart from selected articles from other sources. Note-taking was not my forte – it might work for some people but not for everyone. If one is able to remember, then it’s well and good without notes. But continuous reading is important.

At your 4th attempt, you’ve secured a state rank in UPSC exam. What was your mantra in accomplishing this task?

In my 4th attempt, I secured AIR 24 and state rank 2. Basically, there are a lot of factors that come into play. If there were just one paper, it would have been well and good; but you have different levels like the prelims, which you need to clear successfully. Then you have mains wherein you have 7 papers – This requires your best effort. Then comes the interview where even a small mistake will become very costly in the process. One more important thing you need to keep in mind is that you need to continuously improve yourself in this approach; you need to find out your mistakes and learn from them.

I wasn’t able to think of anything other than UPSC as a career option in the long run. Whenever I faltered, I took it as a motivation and questioned myself ‘How can it go wrong?’. Hence, I kept on correcting them which lead me to the milestone – AIR 24.

Mr Dinesh Kumar along with his father, Mr Chandrasekaran

You were previously working in Ashok Leyland before UPSC. How was it to be a student while working? What is your opinion on a working employee succeeding in UPSC exams?

When I was working in Ashok Leyland, the biggest hurdle was to sit down for studies after office hours. You will be exhausted and you will be in no mood to study. However, once you cross this hurdle, a good amount of time (minimum 4 hours) can be spent on studying. You just need something to keep you going and feel motivated. I had the photographs of Vijay Kumar IPS and my dad (he is a police officer too) on my study desk which kept me motivated. 

It is very much possible to succeed in the exam while working simultaneously; you just need the willpower to do it and a little inspiration to go on. I know many people who have achieved the same goal. You are stress-free as you are economically stable, but at the same time you are sacrificing some of your free time, instead of spending them on worldly pleasures. I felt that this time was better used to prepare for a better cause.

Can you say a few words to motivate our youngsters?

Aim higher! There is no point in aiming for something low-key and being content about it. There is so much that can be achieved with the human potential; you will never know your capability unless you aim big. My only point is that “Even if you die in a battle, die for something worth fighting for”. Just aim higher and keep working towards the goal. Don’t get satisfied with a meagre job. Use your potential to the best.

You must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it all” – Good Will Hunting.

THE BRIDGE expresses its gratitude to Mr.Dinesh Kumar for having agreed to the interview amidst his busy schedule and wishes him all the best of luck in his future endeavours.

 

PRIYANKHA J (MSc Theoretical Computer Science, 2015-2020) is an avid book reader who likes to explore and to learn from anything to everything, when she is not glued to her phone or her laptop binge watching. She wishes to be a part of the world that helps in bringing a positive change around her and others.

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