ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Defying the Odds: IFS Harsimran Singh Cheema’s Remarkable UPSC Journey, Triumphing Against Time

Cheema's resilience: 9-year UPSC journey, setbacks to IFS triumph, defying age limits, inspiring aspirants with perseverance and wisdom.
Indian Masterminds Stories

“Taking your final shot while perched on the edge: succeed, and the world will remember you; fail, and the world will forget.” These lines, immortalized in a renowned novel, epitomize the pivotal moment of a hero’s last chance in a high-stakes scenario. The razor-thin boundary between becoming a legend and slipping into obscurity is unmistakable. Harsimran Singh Cheema’s narrative mirrors this tension in a compelling manner. Approaching the age of 32, the maximum limit for a general candidate in the UPSC, Cheema embarked on his UPSC attempt in 2018.

For him, it was a make-or-break moment. The most daunting aspect was the possibility of his nine years of toil and sacrifice amounting to nothing. Yet, as the adage goes, a hero often emerges from the ashes. Through perseverance and unwavering dedication, Cheema finally attained the long-awaited culmination of his aspirations.

Currently undergoing training at the prestigious Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy in Dehradun, Cheema ultimately triumphed, proving that setbacks are merely stepping stones to success. 

In an exclusive conversation with Indian Masterminds, Mr. Cheema recounted his inspiring journey.

Harsimran Singh Cheema, UPSC IFS-2022, AIR 16

FROM STATE CIVIL TO IFS: JOURNEY SO FAR

After completing his engineering degree in 2013, Harsimran Singh Cheema briefly worked in the private sector before embarking on his Civil Service preparation journey in 2014. Despite his dedication, his first attempt at the UPSC CSE-2014 saw him clearing the prelims but faltering at the mains stage.

Undeterred, he persisted, attempting the CSE-2015 and CSE-2016, making it through the prelims each time but stumbling at the mains. His resolve was tested further in his fourth attempt at CSE-2017, where, despite reaching the interview round, he fell short of making it to the final list.

Harsimran Singh Cheema at IGNFA, Dehradun

Four consecutive setbacks left him disheartened and despondent, feeling the weight of hopelessness settle in. However, amidst the gloom, a glimmer of optimism emerged when he successfully cracked the Punjab State Civil Services (PCS) exam in 2016, securing a position as Inspector of Cooperative Society in July 2017.

Deciding to take a break from his pursuit of the UPSC, he dedicated himself to his new role. Yet the desire to fulfill his dream lingered. In 2020, as he attempted the CSE for the fifth time, the outcome remained unchanged—he faced another setback. With just a year left before surpassing the maximum age limit for UPSC candidates, anxiety loomed over his prospects.

However, a moment of inspiration struck in 2020 when he drew strength from the journey of Vejayanantham, an IFS officer from the 2018 batch. With newfound determination, he set his sights on the Indian Forest Service (IFS) exam. 

After two more years of relentless studying, he achieved a remarkable feat in the UPSC IFS-2022, clinching the exam with an All India rank of 16th in his first attempt. Thus, after nine years of arduous perseverance, his journey culminated in a triumphant conclusion, just shy of the eclipse.

With his family

BACKGROUND

Originally from Hoshiarpur, Punjab, Cheema now calls Jalandhar home, where his family has settled. His father, retired from Lovely Professional University, and his mother, a dedicated homemaker, provide the foundation of support and encouragement in his life. Additionally, he shares a close bond with his younger sister, who pursues a career as a doctor.

His educational journey began in his hometown of Jalandhar, where he completed his schooling up to the 12th grade. Following his passion for engineering, he pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from DAV Institute of Engineering and Technology, Jalandhar, graduating in 2013. 

UPSC PREPARATIONS

With a lengthy journey of Civil Services preparation dating back to 2013, his groundwork for the Indian Forest Services (IFS) exam was already laid. Transitioning his focus to IFS meant fine-tuning his preparation by incorporating current affairs and delving into new topics while maintaining timely revisions.

Harsimran Singh Cheema

Understanding the nuances of the IFS exam was paramount. He meticulously studied the syllabus and engaged with previous year questions (PYQs) to grasp the exam’s requirements. Subsequently, he restructured his approach, honing in on Forestry and Geology, his chosen optional subjects for IFS, whereas in the CSE, his focus was on Political Science and International Relations (PSIR).

Despite facing hurdles in cracking the CSE in multiple attempts, his success in IFS on his first try was notable. When asked about this disparity, he emphasized the distinct nature of each exam. However, he highlighted several universal strategies applicable to any competitive examination. 

He stressed the importance of understanding the exam’s demands thoroughly and addressing them honestly. Furthermore, he advocated for a result-oriented study approach, rooted in analyzing PYQs spanning over a decade to discern recurring patterns and tailor preparation accordingly.

Drawing from his own experiences, he emphasized the necessity of strategic resource management. While acknowledging the vast expanse of study material, he advised aspiring candidates to streamline their resources, focusing on essentials, and prioritizing consistent and structured revision, facilitated by personalized notes.

Addressing the audience with passion and purpose at the IGNFA program

INTERVIEW

His interview for the IFS went smoothly, albeit with rigorous questioning spanning environmental concerns and current affairs. Highlighting the distinctions between IFS and CSE interviews, he noted the emphasis on technical expertise in IFS interviews, with the board expecting detailed technical responses.

Throughout the interview, he faced a barrage of inquiries ranging from his Detailed Application Form (DAF) to his current role in the Punjab State Civil Services and his background. The board delved into regional issues, particularly focusing on Punjab’s environmental challenges. Questions concerning Punjab’s groundwater crisis and the prevalence of pollution and cancer in the Malwa region underscored the depth of their examination.

The board’s scope extended beyond national borders, probing into global environmental issues such as forest fires and their pollution repercussions in Canada and the USA. Such inquiries demanded a comprehensive understanding of international environmental dynamics.

In a more nuanced query, he was asked to elucidate the significance of Civil Engineering in the context of forestry, demonstrating the board’s interest in interdisciplinary connections and the practical application of knowledge in forest management and conservation.

At LBSNAA campus

MESSAGE 

In delivering a message to UPSC aspirants, he imparted valuable wisdom rooted in positivity and resilience. He emphasized the importance of understanding one’s capabilities and aspirations, crafting a strategy aligned with these insights, and pursuing the goal with unwavering determination. 

However, he cautioned against viewing UPSC success as the ultimate endpoint, advocating instead for a broader perspective that acknowledges life’s myriad opportunities beyond this examination.

Encouraging aspirants to dedicate themselves sincerely to the UPSC journey for a span of two to three years, he advocated for preparedness to explore alternate paths should success prove elusive. Echoing the sentiment of not placing all hopes solely on one pursuit, he underscored the necessity of cultivating a Plan B, emphasizing the importance of diversifying one’s endeavors to mitigate risks and maximize opportunities for personal and professional growth.


Indian Masterminds Stories

Related Stories

News

Punjab-Police-Logo
Police Transfer In Punjab, IPS Abhimanyu Rana Made ADCP, Amritsar
IAS Krishna Teja
Andhra Govt. Requests Centre To Depute IAS Krishna Teja As OSD To DCM Pavan Kalyan
Gujarat-government resized
Gujarat: Five IAS Officers Transferred, B J Patel Made AIG (Reg), Vadodara Zone
BPCL_resized
BPCL's "eDrive Stores" Aims To Boost EV Adoption By Tying Up With Bounce Infinity
ministry-of-petroleum-and-natural-gas
ONGC and Indian Oil Limited Join Hands To Establish An LNG Plant At Hatta, Madhya Pradesh
IREDA logo 1
IREDA Comfortably Ropes In Rs. 1500 Crores By Issuing Bonds
Tamilnadu police
Administrative Shake-Up in Tamil Nadu Police Department Following Kallakurichi Hooch Tragedy
Govt of West Bengal
WB: 5 IPS Officers Reshuffled, Koteswar Rao Made SP of Sundarban Police District

Videos

Hemant Pareek
Listening to Toppers Can Help Shape Your Own Strategy, Says Hemant Pareek
IMG-20240611-WA0018
Crack UPSC CSE Prelims 2024: Exclusive Tips from IFS Officer Yash Kale
WhatsApp Image 2024-06-10 at 4.18
Navneet Anand's Strategic Preparation Leads to UPSC CSE Success | Video Interview
ADVERTISEMENT
Latest
Latest
Punjab-Police-Logo
Police Transfer In Punjab, IPS Abhimanyu Rana Made ADCP, Amritsar
IAS Krishna Teja
Andhra Govt. Requests Centre To Depute IAS Krishna Teja As OSD To DCM Pavan Kalyan
ADVERTISEMENT
Videos
Videos
Hemant Pareek
IMG-20240611-WA0018
WhatsApp Image 2024-06-10 at 4.18
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT