Ever since UPSC civil service second topper Athar Aamir-ul-Shafi Khan cleared his examination this year, his life has changed. He not just made his village Devipora, in Kashmir, proud but he has become a role model for the youth.
“Students come for advice and I tell them that clearing civil services is not difficult. All you need is dedication. Though the exam is not as big a fad as it is in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, you will see there is an interest among the youth,” says this year.
An IIT Mandi product, Khan always dreamt of becoming an IAS officer. “I wanted to be a catalyst for growth. Though all other professions contribute to the society, a civil servant’s reach is higher,” says Khan who first appeared for the civil services exam in 2014 while he was in the last year of his B Tech programme.
“I was focused and knew what I wanted to be, therefore I always tuned in to current affairs. While in college, between semesters seven and eight, I studied religiously for two months. I made a strict time table where my morning started with reading newspapers. Thereafter, I attended classes till 2 pm. I was attentive in the class and therefore never found a need to revise. Later my day was spent in the library preparing notes. While I spent Saturday doing regular college assignments, Sunday was dedicated for Civil Service Examination (CSE) preparation,” said Khan who was a bright student in school as well.
He was also awarded the best young scientist award when he participated in the National Children’s Science Congress in 2007.
He started appearing for mock tests from college itself. “From Mandi I used to travel overnight to appear for the mock tests in New Delhi. I cleared the examination and my rank was 560,” he said. Though Athar got Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS), he felt he should give one more try to improve his ranking. “I took philosophy as an optional subject but was not well-prepared in it and scored low in this section,” he said.
In his second attempt, however, he evaluated his loopholes and focused on correcting them. “You have to fill the gaps and analyse where you went wrong. This will help you to be more focused in your preparation. So I revised the chapters in depth, did more mock tests and concentrated on current affairs,” said Athar.
Athar advises CSE aspirants to not take too many breaks. “I consistently gave six hours a day and during examination it was extended to 10 hours but I also ensured to listen to music and interact with family and friends,” he said.
Did at any point of time he felt low? “Everybody feels low but you need a pure mind. It all depends on how you take it,” he said.
Athar has a piece of advice for those who consider CSE tough and highly competitive. “It is not a difficult exam but it definitely tests your patience and requires hard work and a positive attitude. The paper is lengthy and the syllabus is vast but all you need is commitment and focus,” he said.
The topper never limited his life to academics. He founded an electronics club in IIT has also co-founded the Society for Collaborative Research and Innovation. “I have never let an opportunity to learn go away. I am fond of reading and writing and have edited the college’s technical magazine Essent. Besides, I have actively participated in college festivals too,” said he.
Tips for UPSC CSE 2016 candidates:
You need to relax and feel confident. Don’t look at new material on any subject except current affairs. You need to consolidate what you have learnt. Also, take care of your health.
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