Dr Iqbal Hussain Mir ranked third in the recently declared results of common service examination. He talks about his inspiration and preparation plan in an interview with Kashmir Life correspondent Ikhlaq Qadri
Kashmir Life: What prompted you to choose Civil Services?
Dr Iqbal Hussain: I may sound absurd but frankly speaking I had no intentions of joining the Civil Services. I studied for CAT and I was preparing for Veterinary assistant surgeon (VAS) interview simultaneously. Meanwhile forms of Civil service 2010 were out and I filled it like most of my friends did. We all qualified the prelims. Then I started preparing for mains, although it was a very casual effort. VAS interview proved a disaster for me as I thought I would get the job. When I felt that it would be wastage of time to wait for the next interview, I became serious towards civil services.
KL: Who are the people you give credit for your achievement?
IH: My entire family especially my father and mother for their blessings and support. My friends Dr Syed Faheem (KAS) for the material that he provided me during preparation, and for constant support and encouraging guidance of Dr Nasir Murtaza (MVSc).
KL: How should one assess oneself before deciding to opt for Civil services as a career?
IH: Few things are essential like answer writing skills. One should always try to avoid unnecessary details. Besides time management is also essential.
KL: When should one ideally start the preparation?
IH: Although it depends on optional chosen and also on the individuals, I think 3 to 4 months of preparation are sufficient.
KL: What were your optional subjects? And on what basis you selected them?
IH: Prelims: Animal husbandry and veterinary sciences Mains: Animal husbandry and veterinary sciences, Zoology.
KL: You were trained to treat diseases but you chose civil services as your career. Why?
IH: We all know the situation in J&K. There are limited options available. When I enrolled myself in BVSc and AH programme, everybody supported my decision. At that time no veterinary graduate was jobless. Today there are more than 600 jobless graduates and postgraduates. So I think I made the right choice.
KL: Is preparation strategy more important than hard work?
IH: Hard work has no substitute. But proper planning is essential, otherwise one will be on a wild goose chase.
KL: What was your strategy for optional papers?
IH: I concentrated more on Zoology, particularly on Paper I than Veterinary sciences.
KL: Did you draw any extra plan for general studies?
IH: I tried to focus on every component of GS, but I gave more stress on polity.
KL: How many hours should one devote to crack this exam?
IH: This varies from person to person. If you can comprehend everything you read, then 3 to 4 hours are sufficient. But if any one needs more clarity, then 6 to 8 hrs are needed.
KL: Which books and study material you read during preparation?
IH: For GS I studied from NCERT books. For Zoology I got material from my friend. Besides I’m a regular reader of Kashmir Life. When ever KL touches a topic, it is fully mentioned. Being a weekly, the copies are available for longer duration. In fact one particular issue that carried a story on the Census of J&K helped me to crack the interview.
KL: During preparation candidates face many problems like family expectations, peer group pressures etc. How did you overcome them?
IH: There are some situations wherein one feels exhausted and bored. But that’s where your ‘personal management’ comes into play. One should always be focussed and always strive toward achieving the goal.
KL: What if you were not selected?
IH: As I said this attempt was almost a non serious one. If I had not been selected I would have had no regrets. In fact I was preparing for the second attempt.
KL: Any suggestion for the aspirants?
IH: Proper selection of the optional is important. You should not go by the amount that you have to read. What is more important is that contents of the syllabus should be clearly understood. Then preparation should be done accordingly. One should always choose the optional in which one is comfortable. The exam is an easy affair to tackle!