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Pulkit Garg | UPSC AIR 27

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Pulkit Garg, a Civil Engineering Graduate of the 2014 batch, cracked the Civil Services Examination with an All India Rank 27,in CSE 2015. And that too in his second attempt,at the age of 24.He has been allocated IAS, UP Cadre. The Board of Student Publications, IIT Delhi comes up with an exclusive narrative from the topper himself, taking you through his journey of preparation and stay at the campus.

"Like most of you, I used to deliberate on various career options, trying to figure out what could be the field which could keep me excited and enthused for the next thirty-forty years of my life. It was rather a gradual process. I weighed a lot of factors. Satisfaction was definitely on the top of my list. I did not want to land up in a job which would make me cry for Sundays so that I could ‘enjoy’ my life. No. I actually wanted something which could give me thrills 24 X 7.

During the placements, the first question we ask is ‘Kitne Ki Job Lagi’ rather than analyzing the sort of work one would be required to do.This kills the true spirit of content from work. Instead of money, the major determinant of satisfaction is the impact that your work will produce.I don’t want to sell myself to the highest bidder and do any sort of work. Administrative Services can never be beaten in this respect. When you join as an IAS, you initially work on the implementation side and later work in the policy-making field. In the early phase of your journey as an officer, you have the responsibility of an entire district i.e. a population of around 30- 40 lakhs.  And holding a position of responsibility was something which always fascinated me. As a District Collector, you manage things right from infrastructure,education,health,industry to almost everything under the sun. And the more interesting is yet to come. Later when you get promoted to positions of policy formulation, you have a major say in determining the major directions of the country's functioning. For instance, if you become the Education Secretary, you would have to decide on an array of issues like whether to allow foreign universities in the country etc. And it would be your advice that will guide the Ministers in taking some breakthrough decisions.Thus making an impact not only on lakhs of people, but on generations. 

Next factor was the authority and responsibility. As a DC or DM, at around twenty-nine to thirty years of my age, I would play a major role in deciding the allocation of roughly 1,000 crores that every district gets annually, with a manpower of thousands working under you. In addition to this,diversity in the work is also a major factor which made me choose Civil Services. The fact that you have chances to work in numerous departments ranging from Health to Education is sufficient to quench your thirst for variety.

It was at the end of the second year that I began my preparations. I started with weekend classes for General Studies. I chose Chemistry as an optional. The major reason for this choice was the objective nature of the subject. The fact that in Chemistry when you know the answer then you will get the marks is simply appealing. Social Science subjects often require long subjective answers.So, a lot rests in the hands of the evaluator.

The preparation is quite intensive and time-consuming. You have to take out at least 5 to 6 hours if you plan to appear for the exam immediately after the college. Often it becomes difficult to manage academics along with the preparation. I used to study late at night and tried to squeeze in my sleep through some power naps during the classes. I often used to sit on the last bench and study my own stuff. And finally, I was a true devotee of the tradition of studying the night before minors. One thing that I would suggest to the IAS aspirants is that do not neglect your CGPA. My grade point was 8.15. Try to at least maintain a CG which is decent,something around 7.5 atleast. It ultimately reflects upon your attitude of handling things assigned to you.I was also involved in activities of Civil Engineering Society. Also the nature of exam now is such that intense focus needs to be given on newspaper reading. Dont focus on rote learning of books.Those times are long gone. 

During the preparation, there were ups and downs. But they are natural. I was lucky to have my family in Delhi which was a constant emotional support for me.
And finally, here I am. AIR 27 CSE. And as an IAS officer, I can say that the things are quite the way I had expected!