"Hard work, sincerity and faith in oneself are important to succeed"
Dr Gaurav Dahiya, Rank 76th, Year 2010
Q To whom and to what do you credit your success?
A I would like to thank all my friends and well wishers who stood by me during preparation for this exam. But the greatest support was of my father. He helped me with his fullest potential.
Q Why did you choose Civil Services as a career?
A Civil Services provide a huge platform. A Civil Servant is the planner, formulator and executing authority of the policies of the government. Its a field where one can make difference in the lives of millions of people.
Q How should one assess oneself before deciding to opt for Civil Services as a career?
A Civil Services exam is a tough nut to crack. One should ask himself few questions before plunging into the preparation for this exam. Whether one would be able to devote 2-3 years of dedicated hardwork. Perseverance, dedication, sincerity, logical and rational thinking, all are checked in this exam.
Q When did you consciously start your preparation for this examination?
A I started preparations while doing my MBBS. I prepared notes of Zoology and Geography and only then I took coaching.
Q When should one ideally start the preparation process?
A One should ideally start the preparation during graduation only. But in full steam it can be done after graduations.
Q It is said that the Civil Services examination requires constant and sustained hard work. How did you keep yourself constantly motivated? What was your source of inspiration?
A Definitely it requires constant and sustained hard work. My source of motivation was my father, mother and also my wife. They constantly kept me motivated.
Q In your opinion how crucial is the selection of Optionals for success in the examination?
A Optional selection is the key to success in Civil Services examination.
Q What should be the criteria for selecting them and how should one go about it? Should one opt for the subjects studied at college or go for new ones?
A In Civil Services examination, Optionals should be decided based on interest, background knowledge and contemporary pattern in exams. It is not at all necessary to take optional purely on the fact that you have studied that subject during your graduation.
Q How should one prepare for Prelim, Main and Interview?
A Prelim: Prelim requires exhaustive study of subject and General Studies. General Studies is a vast area. One should focus on Polity, History, Geography, General Mental Ability, and General Science. NCERT books should be the base for preparations.
Main: Writing skills should be enhanced. One should practice writing answers. Take mock tests. Previous years’ questions should be analysed.
Interview: Strictly speaking it is a personality test. At this stage, there is no limitation of knowledge but how to present that knowledge in front of the Board. One should be optimistic and confident.
Q How can one score well in Essay, GS and Interview?
A For Essay, one should have a good practice of writing. List of probable topics which can be asked should be prepared and write-up should be made.
For GS, one should focus on extensive study. Atleast two-three newspapers should be read religiously.
Q What are the areas in GS Paper I and II in the Main examination in which the candidate can score marks easily?
A In GS Paper I, no area should be left. Indian polity, Socio-political issues, Indian History, Indian Economy, Current Affairs, Geography— all should be focused.
GS Paper II is very scoring. International Issues and Bilateral Relations, Science and Technology, Statistics all can fetch very good marks.
Q Did you commit any mistake during your preparations?
A In my earlier attempts, my presentation was not so good.
Q How many hours should one devote for the preparations regularly?
A It is the quality which actually matters rather than quantity. 7-10 hours of daily study is enough, though near the exams 3-4 hours more can be there.
Q Could you please give the aspirants a list of references for essay/GS/Optional I/Optional II and Interview?
A General Studies: Polity by DD Basu, History by Bipin Chandra and by Sumit Sarkar, Our Parliament and Our Constitutions by Subhas Kashyap, Newspapers, Wizard book on Science and Technology. And past years’ question papers.
Geomorphology by Savindra Singh, Climatology by DS Lal, Oceanography by Savindra Singh, Biogeography by K. Siddhartha, Models & Theories by Majid Hussain, Population Geography by Chandna, Indian Geography by DR Khullar, Industrial Geography by K Siddhartha, Books by K Siddhartha (for rest of sections of Paper-II).
Kotpal Series for Invertebrates and Vertebrates, Ethology by Reena Mathur, Ecology by PD Sharma, Instrumentation by Shukla, Biotechnology by BD Singh, Cell Biology by Veer Bala Rastogi, Genetics by PK Gupta, Physiology by Guyton, Biochemistry by Harper, Developmental Biology by Verma and Aggarwal and Ecology by Veer Bala Rastogi.
Q Besides text books what newspapers, magazines, novels and books of general interest should one read?
A Newspapers: The Hindu, the Times of India and Indian Express.
Magazines: Competition Wizard, The Week, Pratiyogita Darpan and Frontline.
Books of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam can be read. ‘India after Independence’ by Ramchandra Guha is also a good book.
Q How one should read newspaper?
A Editorial, front page, page of international affairs, page of economic business, and sports section for current affairs should be read.
Q How did the Competition Wizard help you in the preparation of the Civil Services examination?
A Competition Wizard is a very informative magazine. Especially for Main, it is immensely useful. Its coverage is holistic.
Q What is more important for this exam, intelligence or hard work?
A A blend of intelligence and hard work is required to succeed in this exam.
Q Do candidates with a technical background have an advantage over general students?
A No, I don’t think so.
Q Where did you prepare for the examination (at what place)? Does the place of preparation matter?
A I prepared from Delhi and my place of posting in Haryana (Gurgaon and Kaithal). Newspapers and magazines should reach on time.
Q In the course of preparation one is faced with many problems, queries and difficulties, where should one go for help, especially the students staying in remote areas?
A Seniors, experienced persons, selected persons and coaching institutes.
Q Do coaching institutes help? If yes, how should one select, when there are so many of them?
A Yes, coaching institutes does help. But the quality of coaching institutes needs to be taken into consideration before enrolling oneself.
Q In which stage should one ideally opt for coaching?
A Before preliminary stage one should opt for coaching. I will not advise students to take coaching for interviews.
Q Why did you choose ALS in the first place?
A Quality of teaching, study material and many other factors forced me to join ALS.
Q What is so special about ALS?
A At ALS, topic coverage is good. Test Series Programme at ALS is commendable.
Q Do you think that with increasing levels of competition, the preparation for Civil Services is getting too expensive?
A Yes, I think so.
Q Seeing the stiffness of the competition, is this exam meant for everyone who takes it?
A No, this exam is not meant for everyone.
Q Is UPSC really unpredictable?
A No, I don’t think so.
Q What all do you think is needed to make it to the top?
A Sustained hard work, sincerity, dedication, perseverance and some luck is required.
Q How would you rate luck as far as success in Civil Services is concerned?
A I think 99% hard work and 1% luck is required. The harder you work, the luckier you get.
Q How was the atmosphere during your Interview?
A The atmosphere was cordial. Few questions were put forward to test my nerves.
Q What do you think is the right way to face interview board confidently?
A First of all, the ground work should be done. One should be thorough regarding bio-data. Most of the questions are from bio-data. Secondly current affairs should be given due importance because questions are moulded in current scenario.
Q What types of questions did the Board ask?
A The questions were mostly on my bio-data.
l Why I want to shift from AIIMS to civil services?
l Why doctors are coming in Civil Services?
l Improvements that you will be doing in health department.
l Many questions on current affairs were also asked.
Q What is the most important thing, one should keep in mind, while facing the Interview Board?
A Balance of mind, confidence, and honesty should be there while facing the Interview Board.
Q During the Interview, did the board member(s) ask you any tricky question(s)?
A Yes, few tricky questions were asked.
Q How do you foresee your future as an administrator?
A My focus would be the “have-nots” section of our society. Below poverty line people needs special focus. Health, education and employment will be my key areas of work.
Dr Gaurav Dahiya
Date of Birth
03 June 1984
Dr R P Dahiya
Retired Chief Medical Officer in Haryana Govt.
Medium of Exam
Geography & Zoology
Army Public School, New Delhi
AIIMS, New Delhi
Medical Officer, Haryana Govt
Number of Attempts
IAS, IPS, IRS(IT), IFS, IRS (C&C)
Prize, Medals, Scholarships
Awarded National Scholarship Scheme Certification in class Xth. School topper in Biology and Physical Education in class XIIth.
Internet surfing, reading non-fiction books, Penning down my thoughts, Loves to interact/debate different issues with people.
My interview was on 9 April 2010. I was wearing a cream-coloured shirt and dark blue trousers. I got Mrs Shashi Uban Tripathi’s Board. The Board was cordial. But at times few patience testing questions were asked. Pros and cons of Bachelor of Rural Health and Medicine were asked along with my reasons for shifting from medical profession to administration.
Possibility of life on moon, Chandrayaan I & II, conditions prevailing on surface of moon, availability of water on moon, instruments which were there in Chandrayaan I were also discussed.
Questions on Khap Panchayats were asked in the context of honour killings and why are they taking place and as an administrator, how can I curb honour killings. What is Gotra system was also asked.
Many questions related to problems in Haryana, prospects of Haryana were asked. Among those, working of primary health centre, staffing of primary health centre, community health centre were discussed. How can internet be used to track movement of Naxalites and Google-Earth in tackling the naxal problem were discussed. I was also asked about earthquake prevention and in case of an earthquake, what are the steps to be taken (immediately, rehabilitative, long term).