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Harkeerat Singh Randhawa: AIR 10 in UPSC CSE 2021 in 6th Attempt, IFS Dream Kept Him Going

Harkeerat Singh Randhawa failed 5 times, bagged AIR 10 in the sixth. His intense dream to become a diplomat kept pushing him to try again and again. He views Civil Services as a deep calling, not just a career option.
Indian Masterminds Stories

Harkeerat Singh Randhawa does not look at Civil Services as a career, he looks at it as a calling. The unassuming boy from Gurugram, who suddenly finds himself in limelight after bagging the all-India rank 10 in the recently declared UPSC CSE 2021 results, is of the view:

Civil service is not to be looked at only from the career point of view. Look at it as a public calling. This calling should come from within. Only if you are ready to become a part of the country’s governance to selflessly serve the public, you should go for it.”

Join us as we take you through Harkeerat’s long UPSC journey – where he faced five failures before seeing big success in the sixth try – and know more about his inner calling that made him attempt UPSC Civil Services Exam again and again.

IFS: A TEENAGE DREAM

Ever since he stepped into his teens, Harkeerat just wanted to get into Indian Foreign Service and become a diplomat. This fixation for IFS was not just a career choice. For him, it was a bigger calling. Deep within, he started feeling that he wants to serve the country and its people and Civil Services offered the right kind of platform to do so. And, hence, civil services became a dream and Indian Foreign Service the preferred choice, as it would provide the opportunity to represent and work for his country on a global level.

“I was literally breathing and living this dream. It was with me all the time – when I closed my eyes, when I was studying, while travelling in the metro…” he told media, soon after his success in UPSC.

SUCCESS IN SIXTH ATTEMPT

According to him, when the dream comes from within, your heart and soul cry for it and you cannot sleep because of it. Then, the number of failures does not matter at all. You will want to keep on trying to fulfil it. It was the intensity of his dream that ultimately brought success, and that too, in a grand way with a rank in the Top 10 in his sixth attempt!

“Your dream should be true – it should come from within. There are people who have studied much more than me, worked much harder than me for the exam. But remaining committed to my dream brought me this far.”

COMPARES CSE TO EVEREST

Comparing UPSC Civil Service Exam to Mount Everest, he says that one has to be prepared for obstacles on the way up to the summit. “What is a dream without failures? If you dare to dream, you have to dare to take on failures, too.”

He says that after every attempt (six in all), he used to stop and ponder how far he had come. Has he reached a higher level, a meditative point from where his dream looks achievable?

Every failure taught him something that came useful in his next attempt. But it was his dream that kept on pushing him to keep going, keep moving higher after encountering failure after failure, until he reached the top (cracked CSE with AIR 10) and there was no further height to scale. He had summitted the Mount Everest of India’s competitive exams!

Firmly entrenched to his roots, and hence humble to the core, he doesn’t forget to thank God especially, and his parents, for helping him scale such heights by being with him all the way on the arduous journey to the top. “Would not have been possible without God’s blessings and my parents’ support.”

Harkeerat Singh Randhawa, UPSC CSE-2021, AIR-10 (P.C. Twitter)

DON’T FOLLOW TOPPERS

For all those aspirants who are preparing for UPSC CSE, he has this advice: “Please don’t follow toppers. Weigh in your personality and frame your own strategy around it.”

The reason he cites is, every aspirant has been a student once and has their own way of studying for exams. They should follow that style, work around it, improvise on it if they need to. “But don’t follow others’ methods blindly. What worked for them might not suit you.”

Every failed attempt made him pause and analyse where he went wrong and accordingly change his strategy for the next try. For his sixth and final attempt – the one that got him AIR 10 – his approach was very different. He didn’t make any notes! And overly relied on Internet for sources.

“The role of Internet is very, very important. The days of relying solely on standard books are over. Look up Wikipedia also. My Optional was Political Science & International Relations and I read Indian Express, Hindu, New York Times, Washington Post and a diplomatic magazine called International Affairs to form my own broad world view.”

MESSAGE TO ASPIRANTS

Harkeerat also says that maintaining emotional stability is crucial during the preparation as well as the exam periods. That helps to strike a balance between the different spheres of life.

He is categorically against giving up at any point of time, probably firmly believing in the adage, You do not fail until you give up.

“Do not give up after failure. If you feel like giving up, ask yourself whether this is actually your dream, or not? Because if it is, you will want to keep on trying till you have achieved it.”


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