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The law grads who cleared UPSC Civils 2015 interviewed
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The law grads who cleared UPSC Civils 2015 interviewed

Bar & Bench

As reported earlier this month, a number of law graduates have successfully cleared the UPSC Civil Services Examination this year. Like we did the last year around, Bar & Bench interviewed some of these candidates and this is what they had to say.

The law grads who cleared UPSC Civils 2015 interviewed

Abdaal M Akhtar (NALSAR University, Rank 35)

Bar & Bench: How did you go about preparing for the exam?

Abdaal M Akhtar: I was fairly comfortable with a large part of the General Studies syllabus as I have a deep interest in History and Geography. NCERT books are the best that one can do here. The key to acing the Polity part is to remember that you are not writing a law school paper but one intended for a non-specialist, so I avoided jargon completely. Referred to standard textbooks on Economics. The Law part was again done from my law school textbooks-the Avtar Singhs and the VN Shuklas. Lastly, signed up for a test series-more than anything else it helped me to improve my writing speed while acting as a revision of all that I had done.

B&B: Is it necessary to start preparing for the exam during law school?

AMA: Preparing for the exam in your fifth year is a good idea but I honestly think you can put your last year to much better use. I, for one, was unable to concentrate  on reading up obscure texts when much more interesting things are happening on campus.

B&B: Which of the services do you plan to join and why?

AMA: I plan to join the IAS-difficult to find a more challenging and diverse work profile anywhere else. Allows you to work both at the grassroots as well as at the policy making level. Hopefully I will be able to work in my home state-a state that faces plenty of development issues and challenges-both socio-economic and law and order based.

B&B: How do you think your law school education will help you at work?

AMA: I cannot think of a better degree to have in hand as a Civil Servant. The Constitution is ultimately the Bible of administration in India. Familiarity with its nuances is going to be a big help. Principles of natural justice and reasonableness lie at the core of discretionary decision making-again something that is much more easier for somebody from a law background to grasp. Lastly, Law teaches you that there is always more than one side to an issue and that one must never bring personal biases onto the table. When I need to take a call on complex questions, I hope this is one lesson from my legal education that I will always remember.

The law grads who cleared UPSC Civils 2015 interviewed

Abhishek Tripathy (NUJS, Rank 151)

Bar & Bench: How did you go about preparing for the exam?

Abhishek Tripathy: I had never given any serious thought about the UPSC exam till I started working. I was in the M&A team at  AMSS, Mumbai. I did not enjoy myself there, though the work was (needless to say) fantastic. The disillusionment crept in as I felt any law firm job, here or anywhere else, would take away more from me, than the material benefits it could potentially give. I am a person of diverse interests, and looking closely at how the various services work, I felt my skills could be better utilised if I could become a bureaucrat. However, I was determined that I should look at the UPSC for only the right reasons, not the superficial ‘consequences of success’ (as Prof. Shamnad Basheer had told us once in NUJS).

Therefore, I took more than a year to think about all the options, such as joining the development sector (NGOs, etc.), pursuing an LLM from abroad or India, litigating and so on. Most importantly, I decided to quit AMSS first so that I could definitely close doors to one significant chapter of my professional life, without which the prospect of other windows opening was bleak.

Having cut out the secondary aspects, I decided to full time focus on the UPSC civil services examination . I attended the updated Mains course at Sriram’s IAS in New Delhi,and found a brilliant and ever-motivating mentor and guide in Sriram sir himself. This was for about 3 months or so. I was then back home, and joined some tests locally. I found a mentor in Dr. Sohag Sundar Nanda, who religiously looked at my answers and kept pushing me. I heavily invested my time in test taking and evaluation.

B&B: Is it necessary to start preparing for the exam during law school?

AT: I cant comment on that, as I entered the journey pretty late. But for those who have that supreme clarity that the UPSC is the only thing they want, law school can be brilliantly tailored to make the most of all the experiences that it offers. In hindsight, I should have done that!

B&B: Which of the services do you plan to join and why?

AT: I am not stuck about any one service and have no biases against any. At my rank, it is not for me, but the DoPT to decide my fate! Personally, I think the administrative and the revenue services offer great promise and scope

B&B: How do you think your law school education will help you at work?

AT: Simply out, without law school, this would not have probably happened! Answer writing, attention to details, looking at both sides of a given situation, and most importantly, focus on facts and substance to back up a position, are all part of the training in law school.

My internships with the German and Spanish Red Cross in disaster management and sanitation were the reference points during my preparation (re the ground realities and role of the civil society).

Speaking, writing and articulation come naturally to me, and law school polished it thoroughly. The most significant asset for life as such, has been my association with the trend setting NUJS Law Review. Growing with it from a junior member to a senior grade member to two full terms of Editorship and now my continued association with it as part of its Advisory Council, has been significant. The challenge of creating an institution from scratch, and running it against all odds, is something that I shall always fall back on.

I would also like to thank Natural Justice, where I volunteered, for being ever-accommodating and flexible. This short stint has made me more aware of the practical problems on the ground and that is an asset for me.

Also, the role of alumni from college and serving bureaucrats from the law profession like Ashutosh Salil (NLS), Adwait Singh (NLIU) has been very helpful. A very big thanks to Rupavardhini B. Raju (NUJS, and a serving bureaucrat) for showing the light on this tricky path.

A special mention for Professor Mahendra Pal Singh, a father-figure and a huge inspiration. Thank you Sir.

The law grads who cleared UPSC Civils 2015 interviewed

Mrinal Meena (NALSAR University, Rank 174)

Bar & Bench: How did you go about preparing for the exam?

Mrinal Meena: I got serious about the exam only after my graduation. Decided not to take the Prelims in 2013 as I was quite underprepared. This gave me more than a year’s head start to prepare for the next round in 2014. I started slow with the NCERTs and the newspapers and worked on my basics in the initial days. From there on the preparation was quite chaotic, there wasn’t really a plan. I switched between subjects a lot to avoid getting bored, skipped chapters if I didn’t feel like it. But at the same time I made sure I was putting in at least 2-3 hours of reading daily. I doubt you need more than that over the long run.

B&B: Is it necessary to start preparing for the exam during law school?

MM: I won’t say it’s necessary to start preparing during law school unless you plan to take the exam the same year as you graduate. Besides, you wouldn’t want to be stuck in your room in the last semester reading about Chola architecture when the rest of the batch is busy planning trips. I personally feel preparing after graduation allows you to concentrate on the exam better without any distraction.

B&B: Which of the services do you plan to join and why?

MM: I hope to join the IAS. It provides a challenging and an immensely diverse work profile and allows you to make a positive contribution to the society all at the same time. You can’t really ask for anything more from a job.

B&B: How do you think your law school education will help you at work?

MM: This is a generalists’ exam and a person with a well rounded and broad knowledge of various fields is best suited for it. Law school ensures that you leave with such education and thus provides you with a distinct advantage. I had a sense of familiarity with everything that I read in my preparation whether it was ancient history or issues with the India society and all that is owed to the way law school curriculums have been designed.

The law grads who cleared UPSC Civils 2015 interviewed

Debanjuli Ambuly (GNLU, Rank 212)

Bar & Bench: How did you go about preparing for the exam?

Debanjuli Ambuly: I started preparing by reading The Hindu and basic standard books based on the syllabus. Throughout the course of the preparation, I stuck to these only and kept revising them. I don’t like reading various sources for the same thing. I only wanted as much knowledge necessary to write a 200 word answer.  With a syllabus that huge, I could not afford enough time to do in-depth analysis of topics.

B&B: Is it necessary to start preparing for the exam during law school?

DA: I started preparing a year after college got over because that was when I realised that it was my true calling. In college, it is easy to get swept by popular affinity for the exam, but it cannot be sustained if one does not love the idea of preparing for it. So, I think that preparation should start only when the person wants it herself and is able to put in that much work. Whether that realisation happens during or after college, depends from person to person.

B&B: Which of the services do you plan to join and why?

DA: My first choice was IAS, and my second choice was IRS (Income Tax). With my rank, I’m going to join IRS (IT) only. I had already decided that if I get Income Tax, I would not appear for the exam again. So I am more than happy with the rank. The reason behind my choice is the role played by revenue in fulfilling the nation’s development expenditure needs. I have immense interest in learning about revenue management and international best practices for strengthening it.

B&B: How do you think your law school education will help you at work?

DA: Law school taught me a lot about the Constitution, Civil and Criminal Laws. The basic knowledge that I have got in these subjects will provide a foundation for everything that I need to learn to perform my official duties. In my opinion, study of law provides oretical and practical structure needed in governance, in a much stronger and consolidated way than other subjects. So I am really glad that I studied it.

Harshit Bansal (NLU Delhi, Rank 333)

The law grads who cleared UPSC Civils 2015 interviewed

Bar & Bench: How did you go about preparing for the exam?

Harshit Bansal: I thought of sitting for the UPSC exam in 2012. However, I continued with my law school activities but developed habit and interest in reading newspaper and magazines. I consulted my senior Paramvir Singh regularly about preparation. I started devoting my full time after law school and decided to stick to basic books for all the subjects.

B&B: Is it necessary to start preparing for the exam during law school?

HB: It is advisable to have strong concepts and understanding and as soon as one realise that one is destined to sit for exam, one should, develop strategy and start studying. However, it is not mandatory that you start in III year or IV year of law school.

B&B: Which of the services do you plan to join and why?

HB: At my Rank, I would be likely to get Indian Revenue Service. I do not have any reservation or preference for any city. Indian Revenue Service is central government service and there is no cadre system like IPS or IAS in this service.

B&B: How do you think your law school education will help you at work?

HB: My law school education helped me immensely. My optional subject for the examination was Law. Apart from that, understanding of law and legal education is a must for GS Paper II and GS Paper III. In addition, skills developed in law school activities such as mooting helped me immensely at the interview stage. I regularly received encouragement from teachers and friends.

The law grads who cleared UPSC Civils 2015 interviewed

Khushboo Ratre (HNLU, Rank 956)

Bar & Bench: How did you go about preparing for the exam?

Khushboo Ratre: I started right after the final semester and headed for Delhi. I joined institutes like ALS and Synergy to prepare the General Studies and Optional part for the exam. Apart from the classes, I had regular sitting back home and prepared for Prelims and Mains together.

B&B: Is it necessary to start preparing for the exam during law school?

KR: That’s entirely a personal choice. It’s not ‘necessary’ to prepare for the exam during law school but might be helpful to an extent. If one has decided to opt for law as an optional, she can decipher the syllabus and prepare accordingly from the very beggining. Other than that, keeping oneself abreast of the current affairs would be a good step towards preparation.

B&B: Which of the services do you plan to join and why?

KR: My first preference is Indian Administrative Service followed by Indian Foreign Service, Indian Police Service and Indian Revenue Service. All these services provide an excellent platform to serve the nation and it’s people.

B&B: How do you think your law school education will help you at work?

KR: As a student of law, you have an indepth understanding of the state, in all possible dimensions. The state machinery at all levels fucntions as per the Law of the land, The Constitution, apart from various other important civil and criminal laws required for maintaining law and order in the society. Therefore, the knowledge of law, imbibed for five long years definitely improves your performance at work by giving right direction to the decisions you make and infuses in them elements of justice and equity.

(This piece shall be updated as and when we get more responses)