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A Trip Across Rural India Changed the Course of His Life

Aakash Shrishrimal from Chhattisgarh did B.Tech in Civil Engineering from NIT Raipur. A trip to rural India as a guide helped him make up his mind to enter civil services. He secured AIR 94 in UPSC Civil Services Examination 2020.
Indian Masterminds Stories

According to AIR 94 rank holder Aakash Shrishrimal from Kawardha district of Chhattisgarh, one small incident during his engineering days sowed the seed of civil service in his mind. While volunteering as a guide to a team of foreigners, he had firsthand experience of the problems of rural India. This moved him so much that he decided to dedicate his life to the service of rural folks by joining the civil services. In an exclusive interview with Indian Masterminds, Aakash revealed how he prepared himself for his journey to UPSC.

THE INCIDENT THAT CHANGED HIS LIFE

In his third semester of engineering at NIT Raipur, Aakash Shrishrimal volunteered as a guide for a team from University of Florida. It was during this trip that he saw for the first time how people in rural India lived and what kind of problems they faced in their everyday lives. He realized that there were easy solutions, but it was not possible to execute them without administrative authority. It was then that he decided to become an officer with administrative powers by entering the civil services.

THE JOURNEY TO UPSC

Speaking about his successful UPSC journey, Akash said, “Initially, I started the preparation on my own and finished most of the important books like M. Laxmikant, NCERT and other basic books in my final year of graduation itself. After that, I made my first CSE attempt to test my knowledge base. That time, I was not able to clear the exam.”

Aakash Shrishrimal

However, it helped him to understand the examination better and he had a clear vision now how to go about it. He decided to move to Delhi for full-time preparation. “I did not rely only on coaching institutions. I took coaching only for my optional subject Sociology. For the Mains preparation, I solved past 15 years question papers and focused mainly on writing because if you cannot express what you already know in your answer sheet, then there’s no point in having a headful of knowledge,” he said.

SUCCESS STRATEGY

As for his strategy, Aakash said that he focused mainly on covering the Mains subjects and practiced a lot of answer writing. “I targeted small and easy topics first, like International Relations, Disaster Management, Ethics, etc.,” he revealed. For Prelims, he revised the subjects and solved test series as much as possible and, also, discussed them with peer groups.

PEER GROUP DISCUSSION HELPED

Discussion with peer group members took a lot of pressure off his shoulders. “In my case, peer group evaluation and dedicated answer writing practice proved to be the keys to crack the exam,” he admitted.

SPORTS AND MEDITATION KEPT STRESS AT BAY

Aakash revealed that there were times when he was under a lot of stress, and to manage it, he started regular exercise and meditation. He also took to active sports. “l kept myself busy by participating in small sporting events in our locality. It worked as a refreshment during my preparation and kept me away from negative thoughts,” he said.

All these stressbusting efforts did yield good results, as can be seen by his top UPSC performance. His story proves yet again that there is a solution to every problem if one is willing to tackle it.


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