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TOPPER’S STRATEGY: Srinivas Gowda, Rank – 105, UPSC Civil services Exam – 2015

Srinivas Gowda

Rank – 105, CSE – 2015

Srinivas was our student at Insights offline class for Mains – 2015. Towards his success, our contribution is minimal. Ultimately, it’s his dedication and hard work that has brought him a good rank.  We, on behalf of entire Insights community congratulate him on his success. 

Phalasyastiti vishvaasa siddhya prathama lakshanam

Dvitiiyam shraddhaya yuktam

Trtiiyam gurupujanam

Chaturtho samatabhavo

Panchamendriya nigraha

Sastthainca pramitaharah

Saptamam naeva vidyate

Hello friends,

        I know all of you are wondering what this shloka mean! This is the shloka of Lord Shiva’s “Seven Secrets of Success”.

“Phalasyastiti vishvaasa siddhya prathama lakshanam” – I must be successful in my mission – This is the first determination factor that always made me ensure that I will do my duty, before that I won’t take any rest.

“Dvitiiyam shraddhaya yuktam” – A man must have shraddha for his ideology – For me shraddha was to always be dedicated towards one’s goal no matter what hurdles one face in the journey to realize one’s dream.

“Trtiiyam gurupujanam” – I must have reverence for the guru – Matha Pitha Guru are always the streak of light who dispel the darkness. My parents have supported me in all my endeavors. They are the backbone of my life. My sister and Brother in Law, other friends and relatives guided me in the right path are my supporting organs. And my Guru – All teachers who taught, corrected and led me to this success are the life giving breath. I have high respect for them.

“Chaturtho samatabhavo” – One must maintain a mental equilibrium – I made sure I won’t suffer from any inferiority complex or from a superiority complex. “Ati sarvatra varjayet: Excess of anything is bad” guided me to maintain a balance in life which is requisite for an aspirant.

“Panchamendriya nigraha” – You must have self-restraint – Yes this is an important task which is difficult but not impossible. Sounds bit philosophical but the meaning I realized is that one needs to sacrifice few good moments for a larger happiness.

“Sastthainca pramitaharah” – That is, balanced diet, balanced food – People who know me would not agree with this sutra though 😉 because I’m overweight. But they don’t know that I reduced a lot of weight in this journey especially the head weight!!

“Saptamam naeva vidyate” – There is no seventh requirement – Success is different from happiness. Success is reaching what you strive for and happiness is accepting what you get. I was ready to accept whatever the outcome was to be.

This shloka was a driving force for my success. It was told to me by my Guru Sri Nirmalanandanatha swamiji. I hope it will also change many others life.

The Path of Preparation

I didn’t dream of being a civil servant since my childhood. It was only after I completed my Graduation in 2012 that I decided to prepare for civil services examination. I neither had any idea nor the inspiration to take up this examination. It was just the post named IAS that always activated my neurons. I knew it has power and status. But that was not the motivating factor. The desire to be called Srinivas Gowda R, IAS,  made me to work hard to achieve the goal. But I was proved wrong in this journey. It was not Srinivas Gowda R, IAS, that is the motivating factor, but the desire not to complain about the system being a citizen was the force.

Failure – The True Guide To Success

It was in 2013 I gave my first attempt. However, I failed in the preliminary examination. My thirst for achieving the goal gave me sleepless nights. I analyzed the question paper in depth and realized how many blunders I had committed. From then on no force could stop me from clearing prelims.

Again in 2014 I qualified in Mains and fell short of 19 marks to make it to the list. In the mains exam I had left nearly 200 marks in all the subjects. Even though I knew answers to most of them but due to paucity of time I couldn’t complete the papers. Then I realized that Mains exam is all about writing and not reading alone.

Strategy for preliminary examination

        I didn’t prepare separately for prelims, mains and interview. My preparation was integrated in two respects. One, except a month before preliminary examination I prepared for prelims and mains simultaneously. Two, while reading the newspaper if I come across any topic say for example, President’s rule in Uttarakhand, I used to refer to polity book and re-read the topics Emergency provisions, President’s power, Governor’s powers. Also made sure that i read Uttarakhand related topics like geography, culture etc.

Book list : NCERT books for geography, history, culture, environment and economy from std 8th till 12th standard. Apart from NCERT I referred to Indian Polity by Lakshmikanth, Spectrum’s Modern India, Physical Geography by G C Leong and few other notes I had prepared. These are the basic books which we need to read time and again to master the basics. Prioritize by analyzing previous year question papers. Be thorough with the subject which you are comfortable with and give repeated reading to score good marks. My main focus was on the following subjects: Polity, environment, economy, geography, modern Indian history, current affairs and culture. Though I dedicated little time for science, ancient Indian history and medieval Indian history but still I could answer most of the questions by elimination method.  

(Polity: Indian Polity by Laxmikanth

Environment: NCERT and Shankar IAS printed material

Economy: NCERT, Sri Ram IAS printed material

Geography: NCERT and Physical and Human Geography by Goh Cheng Leong

Modern Indian History: NCERT and Spectrum

Current affairs: Hindu newspaper, Vision magazine, Insights and Mrunal websites

Science: NCERT and newspaper

Ancient Indian History: NCERT

Medieval Indian History: NCERT)

Magazine :

Vision current affairs magazine. Though every magazine gives you a plenty of information but if you follow the newspaper daily then any one magazine can be referred to just in case if we have missed any important topics.

Test series:

I had solved a dozen test series of various institutes like insightsonindia and vision

Website :

Insightsonindia – It is the best website that one can rely on during preparation. It’s daily news analysis and answer writing practice helped me a lot to improve my writing skills.

Strategy for mains preparation:

As I told you earlier that I followed an integrated approach in my preparation, I didn’t have to go through the basics again for mains exam. My main focus was on current affairs for GS Paper I, II and III. I read newspaper intensively and followed Vision magazine.

Essay : The only strategy for essay I used is to think ‘out of the box’ about the topic. But I made sure that I won’t deviate away from the topic at any instance. I practised as many essays as possible at Insights offline tests.

GS I, GS II, GS III –  I used to write the answer in points form when the question was more direct and needed little analysis. However, I used paragraph where in my analysis was needed and where I had to form an opinion. So, I used  both forms of writing skill to present my answer. This made my answer rich and diverse.

GS IV – Ethics is my favourite subject because it always used to make me feel comfortable. It is the only GS paper that gave me confidence that I’ll definitely score more than 100 marks. I made sure that I’ll write what I felt about the topic rather than being bookish and used to give examples. Ethics requires free flow of  your thoughts rather than thoughts of an author!!

Optional : Kannada Literature – Practice is the only friend that stands by your side.

I would like to remember here the requisite help extended by Vinay Sir (InsightsonIndia – The lone captain of the ship) in improving my answer writing skill and speed. If it was not for his support I wouldn’t have been able to achieve this feat. It was his Mains Test Series Programme that made sure that I won’t leave a single mark unanswered in this year Mains examination. I wholeheartedly give my sincere gratitude and humble pranams to him. Thanks a lot sir.

Personality test : I doubt they identify the real me!!!

But I’m wrong. They do identify the real me because both in 2014 and 2015 PT I’ve been awarded the same marks!!! The difference is in 2014 they gave marks to my knowledge and in 2015 they gave marks for my personality (body language). I think so!!! Be yourself and speak the truth is the only mantra that fetches marks. This is exactly what I did in the panel.

The Last Words

I thank my Guru Sri Nirmalanandanatha swamiji, my friends Girish, Harikrishna, Arjuna and Manoj for being the best room mates one can get in life and also for mentoring me to reach my goal. I thank Vinay Sir for being with me as a mentor and guide. I thank all those who have been directly or indirectly been part of my success.

Thank you

Wish you all the Best.

Srinivas Gowda R

My Marks

Essay – 134

GS-1 – 97

GS-2 – 84

GS-3 – 103

GS-4 – 102

OPTIONAL(Kannada)-1 – 141

OPTIONAL (Kannada) – 2 – 117