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When A Sportsman Turned Civil Servant Found Solace In Academics

Indian Masterminds Stories

‘We don’t have control over our destiny, everything is written and pre-decided’. These are very strongly held thoughts, especially in our country. However, we have seen many such stories where individuals have changed their fate with hard work. One such story is of former IRS officer turned UPSC CSE mentor, Mr. Ravi Kapoor. He was never a studious student, but when it came to sports, his passion & dedication were unmatched. Yet, life had other plans for him, and he landed in the civil service. 

Indian Masterminds reached out to him to learn more about his story and how, after being a passionate powerlifter and rugby player, he got into the civil service, which led him to quit the IRS and become a full-time UPSC mentor.

SPORTS JOURNEY

Born and brought up in New Delhi, Mr. Kapoor was an average student. After passing out of Class 12th in 2004, he got admission in engineering. Unlike many, college was not a very happy phase of his life. He put on weight and lost confidence in himself. During that time, he was introduced to bodybuilding and powerlifting. It became his life and he began his training in 2005. There was no turning back after that. Simultaneously, he also played rugby for his college and slowly moved to the national level. 

Then came a time when he won everything. He earned bronze in Asian powerlifting in 2006, Mr. Delhi in 2008, and was also selected for the Indian rugby team. However, fate had other plans for him. He was unable to attend the rugby national camp, and when practicing, he was involved in an accident. 

“It was a difficult phase. The moment I was trying to make it big in sports, everything was just taken away from me. I couldn’t imagine my future ahead”, Mr. Kapoor told Indian Masterminds. 

ROAD TO UPSC 

His dreams were always big. He didn’t want to settle down for an average job & life. While he was not very good in his studies earlier, being in sports made him tough and instilled a competitive spirit in him. UPSC CSE was not something, he hadn’t heard of. So, he decided to prepare for that in 2008, after he recovered from the accident. 

It didn’t bother him that he never scored 90% in any exams. “I was confident and I was desperate. Corporate was not an option for me because that could never give me satisfaction. Plus, I thought, could studies be tougher than sports? I went from lifting 50 kg to 200 kg. If I could change my body, then I could do anything,”  said Mr. Kapoor. 

So, he continued with the preparation. In the first six months, he couldn’t get the hang of the syllabus. Slowly, he started taking an interest, especially in psychology. He chose it as his optional subject and cleared the exam in 2009. However, he was on the reserve list and didn’t take any posting. He cleared it again in 2010 and joined the IRS (Customs & Central Excise). Since his eyes were set on the IAS, he attempted the exam again in 2011 and cleared it, as well. However, he couldn’t get any upgrades due to his rank, which is why he continued with the IRS. 

After completing the training, he was first posted to Chennai in 2013. Everything was going well, and he liked the service. But there was something that felt amiss. “IRS is a great service with many opportunities, but it doesn’t have a direct impact on society. The core area deals with taxation only. This thought frequently crossed my mind and made me restless,” said the former civil servant. 

FROM IRS TO A MENTOR 

Before COVID hit in 2020, the officer began working on a book on essay writing called ‘The Ultimate Cheatbook of Essay and Answer-Writing’ which was published in 2021. The book was a hit among aspirants. Lockdown gave him ample time to focus on other things, in the meanwhile.

Many students and aspirants started approaching him with their doubts. He realized that they were facing the same issues that he faced during his days of preparation. So, he started to prepare the ultimate guide for UPSC CSE aspirants. “Every year, lakhs of students appear for the UPSC CSE. Each one of them required guidance. So, I tried to make out a full end-to-end mentorship program that can help the students,” said the officer. 

The journey started with emails and soon became a systematic plan. It is available for free, and any aspirant can access it. The officer also provides mentorships to individuals. In UPSC CSE 2022, six of his students cleared the exam, and one another got into Indian Forest Services. 

From 2020 to 2023, he struggled to balance his work and his commitment to aspirants. It was becoming tough to manage both, and the time had come to make a decision. Because there is always a pull and push aspect in all decisions, the students were dragging him, and he left the service in 2023. Now, the officer is providing full-time mentorship to numerous aspirants.

All this happen because Mr. Kapoor in love with psychology as a subject, chose it as his optional subject and later did MA in clinical psychology. His free mentorship program is using psychology insights to enhance learning, motivation, discipline and maintain mental health of upsc aspirants.


Indian Masterminds Stories

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