Kavita Ramubhai Chunara.

  1. Name: Kavita Ramubhai Chunara.
  2. Age/DOB: 18th December.
  3. Educational Background (with passing year):Diploma in Electronics & communication (3 year after 12th)-1997 and B.A. with Gujarati-2001
  4. Exam: CSE 2008.
  5. Roll number: 107607.
  6. All India Rank: 269.
  7. Category: OBC.
  8. Service Allocated:
  9. Service Preference (top 5):IAS,IFS,IRS(I.T.),IRS(C.E.),IPS
  10. Number of Attempts: 4.
  11. Prelims Score: Pub. Ad.: 94, GS: 60.
  12. Score (for 2007): Essay: 116, GS: 398, Pub.Ad.: 296, Gujarati Litt.: 282, Interview: 147, Ms Parveen Talha board. .
  13. Score (for 2008):
    1. Essay: 100.
    2. GS: 279.
    3. Optional 1 (Pub Ad.): 332.
    4. Optional 2 (Gujarati Lit.): 352.
    5. Total: 1063.
    6. Interview: 150.
    7. Grand Total: 1213.

Q: Did you start early, since when you were motivated to be an IAS officer?
A: I started preparing for this exam very late. In 2005, I happened to read a career magazine which had all the details about civil services examination. After going through it, I decided to go for this exam.

Q: What were you doing from 2001 to 2005, i.e. after your graduation?
A: There were family responsibilities to look after, and I had a job in private sector. 

Q: Is there any significant event that motivated you to join civil services?
A: No, not any significant event, but yes I was searching for a new direction in life & I found this exam in front of me.

Q: Please tell us about your family background?
A: My Father is a retired government employee and my Mother is our home maker. I have two brothers also, who are settled in Bengaluru.

Q: How were you as a student in school and college?
A: I was brilliant student, I got first class through out.

Q: Did you also take part in some sports or extra-curricular activities?
A: No, but I like watching cricket.

Q: Tell us about your hobbies and how were you able to integrate them to your preparation.
A: My hobbies are diary writing, singing, and folk dance (Garba). I used internet and some Gujarati books to prepare for them.

Q: How did you choose you Optionals?
A: The main criterion was interest. I found both subjects friendly and easy, so I opted for them. 

Q: What was your strategy for Prelims?
A: First of all, I went through the NCERT books of all GS subjects. Then I also read newspapers viz. the Hindu, the Indian Express, and magazines like Frontline, Chronicle etc. For pub ad, I used reference books more.

Q: What was your strategy for Mains?
A: I always used to do analysis of previous years’ paper and accordingly make my own questions for optionals. But before doing that I went through the whole syllabus once. Thereafter I concentrated on analysis and preparing notes of important topics. Discussion with friends also helped a lot.

Q: What changes you made in your strategy to turn failure (in CSE) to success?
I changed my style of answering in Gujarati Literature. . In both papers, I wrote many lines of poetry and prose (from the syllabus) where ever it is necessary. In other subjects, I did not change my strategy much.

Q: Did you take the exam in Gujarati medium? If yes, tell us about the difficulties you faced during your preparation.
A: Yes, I have given the exam in Gujarati. I didn't face much difficulty but yes there are some basic problems one faces, for example we don't get any books for Civils Preparation here, so we have to purchase it from Delhi. A number of my friends went toDelhi just for purchasing books. Also we had the problem of English to Gujarati translation of reference books, so naturally we had to do more hard work and make notes in Gujarati.

Q: What is your view on Coaching Institutes? Did you join any or referred to their notes? Please tell us about the role of coaching institutes in your success. Why should one join them and how did you make your decision?
A: I don't know much about coaching institutes because I haven’t joined any. Yes in 2007 mains, I have joined ALS 20 days Mains crash course and it was a disastrous experience for me, simply a waste of time and waste of money, for me. Personally, I don't believe that these institutions can make any difference. It all depends on our hard work only.

Q: How did you prepare for Interview? Tell us about the role of Coaching, Mock Interviews, Internet, Orkut, etc. in it.
A: I did not go for interview coaching this time, as the experience from the last year was the same as of the mains, no benefit. I think it is better for us to sit down at home and think rather than go for these classes. I went through 4 mock interviews at my institution, SPIPA in Ahmedabad. I also used Wikipedia, Google, etc. a lot.

Q: Please give us a brief overview of your interview.
A: It was a 30 minute interview. The questions asked were on nuclear deal, why bomb blast in ahmedabad, what you will do as a DM in such cases, how to prevent it in future, women empowerment, diary writing (hobby), cooperative movement in Gujarat, corruption in NGOs, etc. I think it was an average interview.

Q: Any interesting question or happening from your interview.
No, nothing special, it was an average interview and that’s why I got average marks.

Q: You got good marks in Mains but got average marks in Interview, can you see any other reason for it? Can you please elaborate on what went wrong? How many marks were you expecting in mains and in interview?
A: I was not satisfied with my interview; I felt it then, as I walked out of the room. I think that due to tension I could not give my 100% in it. I expected 1250 in Mains. My essay marks are very less and in GS and Pub ad. also I got less marks then my expectation. In interview I thought of average marks only.

Q: Tell us about SPIPA, what is it, what goes on there, how are you a part of it?
A: SPIPA is a government institution for training of state employees of all services. Alongside this, they are also running an IAS study centre in its premise where they give coaching for GS and some optionals such as History, Geography, etc. but mainly it is advantageous for Gujarati Lit., they teach it very well. (N.B. SPIPA stands for Sardar Patel Institute of Public Administration.)

Q: What was your backup plan in case you failed?
A: I have thought of joining an NGO to create awareness about this exam in our people.

Q: Did you appear for any State PSCs as well? If, yes, of which states? Please tell us about your experience with the State PSCs. Is this option a good backup in case you fail in CSE?
A: Yes, I have appeared in Gujarat Public Service Commission's Group 1& 2 Exam and passed the Pre and Mains. The Interviews are to be held in July this year. Civil service preparation help me lot in this. Yes, it is a good option.

Q: What is your opinion about necessity of going to Delhi for CSE preparation?
A: As I have told you, I’m not in favour of these crash course classes and mock interviews at Delhi. As I have not done any long duration classes at Delhi, so I can’t comment on them.

Q: Tell us about the books you referred for 1) GS, 2) Public Administration and 3) Gujarati Lit.
A: GS: spectrum series for all subjects,
Besides that,
History-Bipin Chandra,
Polity - D.D.Basu,
Economics-Pratiyogita Darpan,

Pub. Ad.: Ramesh Arora and Goyal, Sharma and Sadana, Stephen Robbins, Nicholas Henry, D.D. Basu, Mohit Bhattacharya, Devlopment Administration by Ramesh Arora, Comparative Administration by Ramesh Arora, IIPA journals, Internet. 

Q: Tell us about the magazines and newspapers your read and how much time did you devote for it daily.
A: I read Hindu, Indian Express, Frontline, Chronicle, Yojna, Kurukshetra, Economic and Political Weekly, Seminar, IIPA journals for pub ad. I gave 2 hours every day to it.

Q: How did you manage time during preparation? Can you give a glimpse of your daily and monthly schedule? For how many hours did you study?
A: I have a habit to read both optional and GS everyday. i manage 5 hours to subject and remaining to GS. I used to read for about 10 hours everyday and during exam time, it came about 12 to14 hours. I prepared my timetable daily.

Q: Now some opinion-based questions,
a. Criticism of UPSC for unnecessary secrecy about cut-off marks, scaling and model answer sheets, your view?
A: Yes, UPSC should definitely declare these.

b. Is the reservation system up to the mark, is it serving its purpose?
A: It is not serving its purpose. Well settled and rich people get its benefit while really deserving candidates could not avail its advantage due to their poor circumstances.

c. What reforms do you want in CSE or What reforms would have helped you much during your preparation?
A: There must be a change in the interview process. One cannot give full justification to candidate in half an hour. Nowadays, it is totally a subjective matter and whole discretion of board chairman.

d. A debate arose after this years result, first-timers vs. veterans, questions are being raised about evaluation procedure of UPSC, what’s your say? Is CSE a subjective and unpredictable exam?
A: It is true that this exam is subjective and unpredictable. There is a need for reform but it needs life cycle reform, from pre to interview.So many committees have made a number of good suggestions, they should be implemented.

e. (On Interview) some say be neutral at all cost, don't criticize the govt., some say be tactful, criticize intelligently, what's your say?
A: I agree with don't criticize the government, but yes answers should be given with intelligent mind and positive attitude.

f. Please tell us about the differences you observed between Ahmedabad-based coaching and Delhi-based coaching.
A: Much difference, here it is still in initial stage, not as intense coaching as Delhi. Here, we don’t get faculty like that of Delhi. Those who teach us are mostly college professors, who are unknown/unaware to this exam and its needs. So, there is no analysis, no notes, no strategy but still SPIPA doing its best for us. At the time of mains they call faculties from Delhi for 4-5 days. For Gujarati Literature it is the best coaching institute. SPIPA trying to be good alternative for Gujarat’s aspirants and I anticipate a very good future for SPIPA.

Q: Sum up your tryst with UPSC in a couple of lines.
A: There is very thin line between success and failure in this field and UPSC makes us realize that this journey is really a "tryst with destiny".

Q: Give a small motivational message to the community especially the newcomers?

Q: What is your opinion about this interview? Is something lacking or are there some areas where we can improve to make these interviews more informative and useful? Would you like say something else which we might have missed?
A: You have covered every aspect. Your gesture will be very helpful for our fellow friends. I hope that your sincere efforts will yield good results. 

(Thank you Kavita for sharing your experience with us. We wish you all the very best for your future.)

(Photo Courtesy: Divya Bhaskar.)

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