This IFS Topper Suggests Not To Take UPSC As A Journey, But Why?

Sai Charan Reddy cleared the IFS-2022 with AIR 38 He was working in Coal India Limited since 2016 His journey is very different from the usual UPSC aspirant
Indian Masterminds Stories

“Never take UPSC as a journey. Never lose your prime years and time in taking up UPSC as the only goal. If you really want to prepare for this, have a plan B and give some attempts. If you pass, then celebrate the success, and if not, then don’t waste your time. If you are not learning any new skills and succumb to the mental pressure of UPSC, then your life ruined.” These are the exact words of DV Sai Charan Reddy from Andhra Pradesh, who cleared UPSC IFS-2022 in his 3rd attempt.

Living up to what he has said, he had made up his mind that this was going to be his last attempt, whether he gets through or not. He also did not leave his job for preparation and had a plan ‘B’ from the starting. Unlike other aspirants, Charan strongly reaffirms what he said about aspirants – that they should not waste their time for long on such an unpredictable journey. And without being pessimistic, he gave true examples of lakhs of aspirants who are still preparing for over 7 to 8 years and have never thought of doing something else.

Indian Masterminds spoke to the topper to know about his IFS journey, and how he got through.

DV Sai Charan Reddy, UPSC IFS-2022, AIR 38


Working in Coal India as deputy manager, Sai Charan Reddy has done many things in a short span of time. Alongside his job, he not only prepared for UPSC, but also started a political startup. Unlike others, for him UPSC is not an ‘only goal’, but just another goal. He thinks that India is a land of opportunity and one should always look for his share here, avoiding sticking to one and only destiny.

Unlike others, he was sure that his rank would be in top 10, and when results were out, he only checked the top 10 roll numbers in PDF. And when he did not see his name there, he thought that had not cleared the exam. But, later, when came to know that he had secured AIR 31, he accepted it with happiness.

With his wife and mother


He completed his graduation in 2016. After that, he joined Coal India limited. Then, he started his UPSC preparation towards 2017 end and gave his first attempt in 2018. This attempt was only for UPSC CSE, not for IFS. But, he could not qualify Prelims. After that, for two yearss he did not give any UPSC attempt as he focused on a different project which was politics related. Then, he gave another attempt in 2021. This time he also appeared for IFS, but still could not clear Prelims again. But, in his third attempt in 2022, he cleared Prelims for both CSE and IFS. Though he could not clear Mains for CSE, he cracked the IFS with AIR 31.

Speaking to Indian Masterminds, he said, “While working for Coal India, I observed coal mining and deforestation for a long time. The kind of pollution it causes in the environment and the kind of remedial measures that the company has taken. These things motivated me to do something for nature. I found IFS as a platform where I can do something for nature and the environment.”

With Ex-CBI joint director Lakshmi Naarayana – during Politics With Standards project


Alongside his job, he started working on a politics related project in 2018 with 5 of his friends from college. It was like a political consultancy, a platform where they worked for people’s political aspirations and created a system for their win. He said, “We wanted to give a platform to people who are motivated and wanted to join politics.”

With his wife


He belongs to Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh. His father was a police personnel, who passed away in 2021. His mother is a homemaker. He has an elder brother.

He is married and considers his wife as his closest friend, who helped him a lot while managing the job and preparation.

He did his basic education till 10th from Kurnool and 12th from Hyderabad. After that, he did his graduation (B.Tech) in electrical engineering from IIT Madras in 2016.

Coal India limited induction programme in 2016

Then, he joined Coal India Limited, a government PSU. He is still working there, and never left his job for preparation, only took leave for two months.

He said, “It was a very difficult journey for me. In Coal India, I am a deputy manager and it is a field job. So I had to manage many things at one time.”

Screen grab from a short film that he made during IIT Madras days


“UPSC demands more logical aspects than knowledge. Earlier, I was only focusing on the knowledge aspects, but later, I got the point and started focusing on logical aspects as well,” he said.

His preparation was in two parts and focused on many innovative steps. First preparation was in the last months of 2017 but after the 2018 failed attempt, he lost momentum and left the preparation. He started preparing again towards 2020 end. This time, he started again from zero. But, he focused more on Prelims as he was not able to clear it till then.

“In UPSC, this is so true that if you lose your preparation momentum even for one week, then, you will be far behind. Earlier, I could not give the amount of time that this exam preparation needs.”

With his mother

In, 2020, when he started preparing again, he got a lot of help from the book ‘Prelims Simplified’. He said that he understood the demand of examination process with it as it excellently points out the intricacies of solving a particular question.

He prepared with one of his IIT Delhi graduate friend and discussed with him each and every topic. He tried reverse engineering in preparation, like if this was the answer, why not the other one?

For CSE Mains, his optional was Physics and for IFS, his optionals were Physics and Forestry. He took coaching only for Physics’ second paper. Rest, he prepared by himself.

With his father who passed away in 2021

For all GS papers, he did not do anything extra and only focused on understanding the demand of the paper. Solved test papers and PYQs and used diagrams and maps in Mains. He also said that aspirants should focus on the English paper as it provides good marks.

He said, “I analyzed questions from PYQs and tried to figure out what they are going to ask. It is necessary to adopt an analytical approach for studying PYQs.”


His interview was focused on DAF and his job profile. Charan said that in the interview, the panelists are not there to reject you, but select the better candidates from the entire pool of candidates.

There were questions from behavioral insights as this is his hobby. One member asked him to ‘link Physics and spirituality’. To which he replied that if we don’t find any answer for a question, it is a human tendency to go towards spirituality for an answer.

Friends during graduation (left)


Giving suggestions to the aspirants, he said, “I am not discouraging anyone, but my message is, never take it as the only goal. There are millions of people who are not taking up any job and not looking for any other opportunity, just focusing on UPSC. I will never ever encourage this kind of thing. Always look for many opportunities and if after few attempts, you are unable to pass the exam, then move on and do something else. But, don’t waste your prime years for just UPSC. Life does not end there.”

In fact he advises not to take UPSC as a journey as it does not make any sense if you don’t do reality checks. “Ask yourself after two attempts, whether you are prepared enough and really want to do this. Then take the decision.”

Indian Masterminds Stories

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