Daring to take a challenge


From being a banker to choosing civil services Syed Sajjad Qadri always liked challenges. In an interview with Tasavur Mushtaq he explains how he cracked the coveted exam.

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KL: Why did you choose Civil Services for a career?
After completed masters in Management Studies I was appointed as Financial Analyst in the J&K State Cooperative Bank where I worked for quite some time. I chose Civil Services when one day I felt I had nothing challenging to do but to sit in a chair in front of a computer counting and recounting numbers.  I am by nature a restless person. The Civil Services did not come as a means to get something better but to dare to take a new challenge.

KL: How should one assess oneself before deciding to opt for Civil services as a career?
Self assessment is the most important thing that has to be the precursor to any sort of decision you take in the life. And opting for the Civil Services means dedicating one or more years of your life to something that demands wholehearted contribution of time and energy, constant focus, dedicated time schedules and shunning away all social distractions. Other than that a SWOT analysis needs to be done to figure out your strengths that could make your choice of optional subjects easy, would give you an idea of your grey areas to which more attention would be garnered in the process, would help you to direct your energy in the relevant areas as per the exact requirements.

KL: When should one ideally start the preparation?
Ideally the preparations should be started right from the school days. But I think a year or so is enough to crack this examination provided you are out-and-out committed and dedicated to it from the bottom of your heart.

KL: The first step is the most difficult; how to prepare? Which optional, When and how much to read… How did you decide it?
The right advice is always the one that comes from your own heart because none other than you yourself knows you better. One should never rely on the stereotyped advices.
There is no limit to what you read. Anything under the sun can be expected especially from the general section, though within the syllabus.
How to prepare is not difficult. Once you are done with your choice of subjects, pick whatever you can from the market, libraries, internet and organise as per the syllabus. After organising the material, pick the topics and kick start the errand.

KL: what were your optional subjects and how did you select them?
My optional subjects were Management and Sociology in the mains. I had opted for Political Science in the prelims. Actually, almost 30% of the general Studies syllabus revolves around Political Science and 30% around History. In the prelims I thought opting for Political Science would give me the 30% advantage in General Studies straightaway. And not taking Political Science in the mains had the reason that both Management and Political Science are risky subjects, they either push you up or sink you.

KL: Is strategy more important than hard work?
Both are equally important. There is no substitute to hard work but hard work without proper planning and without a strategy at hand won’t lead you anywhere. If you want to go towards North but drive towards South, you won’t ever reach your destination, instead would waste you energy and efforts. Directionless hard work drives you to frustration and eventually leading to terrible failures. Adopting proper strategy is as important as hard work itself.

KL: Any suggestion you want to give for aspirants?
Be cool, don’t take this examination as the end of life. Improve your writing skills so that you are able to write whatever is asked in the most analytical and lucid manner and in the way you feel would befit the reply. Your opinion counts more than the pigeonholed answers.  This examination is the test of your intellect not anything to gauge your cramming power or how you mug up things.


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