IAS topper Karthik G Iyer cleared his exam in one attempt

KARTHIK Gurunathan Iyer, 22, who bagged the 7th rank in the Civil Service exam says that a Master’s in Political Science in the Distance Learning mode from IGNOU was of immense help in realising his dream. Karthik's special interest is Foreign Services.   

Q. Karthik, tell us about your academic background. What motivated you to take up the Civil Services?
A. I did my tenth from Bhavans, Nagpur, and then joined Services Preparatory Institute. I did my twelfth standard there from the State board. After class 12 I did BSc Physics (Honours) from Fergusson College, Pune. I was passionate about joining defence services and become a fighter pilot. I achieved 6th rank in the NDA exam, but my dreams were shattered when I failed the medical test. Then I joined MA Political Science in Distance Learning mode from Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). I was still pursuing the course when I cleared the CSE. 
Q. From Fergusson College to IGNOU, how did this shift happen?
A. Even as I was studying at Fergusson College, my only aim was to clear the Civil Services examination. An MA from IGNOU was the means to achieve my aim. IGNOU was a good option because it has better structured programmes and outstanding course study material which is already popular among the IAS aspirants.
Q. What were your strategies and subjects in the CSE?
I cleared the CSE in my first attempt. For Prelims, I chose Political Science. For mains, I opted for History and Political Science & International Relations. I did not have any definite strategy. I prepared to the best of my ability. I chose subjects I was keenly interested in, and it helped me to enjoy studies a bit more.

Q. Can you explain how the IGNOU course helped you? Did you join coaching classes also?
A. I did not join any coaching class. IGNOU notes were extensive and helped to lay a good foundation in Political Science. This helped me to score well in the Mains. I secured a total of 346 marks in my two papers on the subject.
Karthik Gurunathan Iyer’s
CSE Mains result
Marks obtained
General Studies Paper 1
Paper 2
Paper 1
Paper 2
Political Science & International Relations
Paper 1
Paper 2
Total (Written) 

Q. Can we assume that Distance Learning is a good option for Civil Service aspirants?
A. Learning is a very personal thing. Learning is a process that we begin with something definite in mind, and the larger picture determines what mode of learning you chose and what works for you. There can be ABSOLUTELY NO COMPARISON between any two modes of learning on any count. Civil Services aspirants come from a diverse background, and one way of learning cannot be labelled a better choice for the entire category of aspirants. At the end of the day, we all need to find what works for us, and do things accordingly.
Q. So which service are you going to choose from among the various Civil Services?
A. Indian Foreign Service is my favourite one. From a very young age my ambition was to represent my country as a diplomat one day.
Q. What is your biggest source of inspiration and energy?  
A. My source of inspiration was my ambition to become a diplomat one day.
I drew on all the setbacks I had received in life to give me energy. I tried my best to draw upon my past disappointments and anger into constructive study for this examination, and that gave me plenty of energy!
Q. What are your hobbies?
A. Reading, writing poems, travelling and other outdoor activities.
Q. What is your advice to students preparing for Civil Services?
Be honest to yourself, and back your potential to the fullest! The only thing that can overcome Hard Luck is Hard Work!!  

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