No Mock Interviews, Test Series, Or Coaching, Yet Kerala UPSC Topper Gahana Navya James Got AIR-6

• Gahana Navya James cracked Civil Services Examwith AIR 5 • Her uncle is the Indian Ambassador to Japan • She dreams of becoming India’s face in foreign soil, and will choose Indian Foreign Services (IFS)
Indian Masterminds Stories

Talent is not dependant on anything. It can shine without any aid. Meet Gahana Navya James from Kerala, whose hobby since childhood has been to be “the topper”. She cracked UPSC CSE-2022 in her own style with AIR 6, without any coaching or giving test series or mock interviews.

It may be surprising, but that’s what Navya did. She loves to do things her own way rather than joining the herd. She prefers IFS over IAS as she is all for geopolitics.

Speaking with Indian Masterminds, she said, “This has been a much exciting journey and I enjoyed every phase of my UPSC journey. I always relied on my own methods.”


It was her second attempt and she was not expecting such high rank. But becoming topper is in her genes perhaps.

Despite hailing from Kerala’s coaching hub, Pala town in Kottayam district, she never set foot at any coaching centre.

In her first attempt, she couldn’t crack even prelims. She said, “It was a big lesson as I learnt how to effectively prepare for the exam.”

Gahana celebrating with her family (Credit: Navya James)


Coming from a highly educated background, Navya, 25, grew up under the keen eyes of her father Dr C K Jame, now a retired professor from Thomas College. Her mother Dr Deepa George is a former professor too.

It is her uncle Sibi George an IFS officer of 1993 batch and Indian Ambassador to Japan, who has been her inspiration and motivation for the civil services since childhood.


Navya completed her schooling from Chavara Public School, Kottyam and did her 12th from St. Mary’s School.

She did her BA in History from Alphonsa College, Pala and was the University topper. She held on to the top position even with her post graduation in Political Science from St. Thomas College.

She also got Junior Research Fellowship in UGC NET exam and is currently pursuing PhD in International Relations from Mahatma Gandhi University, Kerala.

Gahana Navya James, AIR-6, UPSC CSE-2022 (Credit: Navya James)


How did she come from research to UPSC? She said, “I love this job since childhood. In high school, once I was asked about my ambitions, I replied Civil Service. But on joining college, I also developed an interest in research.”

In her journey of self-study for UPSC she chose Political Science and International Relations (PSIR) as her optional. She read English and Malayalam newspapers thoroughly as it helped to many things and prompted her to explore deeper.


Talking about her strategy, she said, “I believed that I would be able to customize my strategy if I choose self-study. Therefore, I had very specific timetable. It was not very rigid and but flexible and regular according to my interest and day to day activity.”

For interview, her younger brother Gaurav Amar James helped her A lot. She loves sitting alone to study “as it helps me develop my own method”, she shared.

Gahana Navya James (Credit: Navya James)


Most of the questions asked were from her domain, International relations and economics. She was also asked quizzed in scienceand technology, Artificial intelligence (AI) and economics.

Asked “How would AI be related to the changes in the job market and its impact on employment scenario?

In hind sight, she says, “It was very diverse and very interesting Interview. It was one of the most exciting parts of my journey.”


Giving suggestion to UPSC aspirants, Navya suggests that aspirants must be multi-dimensional in their approach while writing or answering questions.

“Be confidant about your skills and keep updating yourself what’s happening around you and in the world. Current affairs should be your cup of tea every day.”

Indian Masterminds Stories

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