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Why this doctor OPTED to be an IAS officer

Last updated on: May 25, 2013 16:28 IST

Why this doctor OPTED to be an IAS officer

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A Ganesh Nadar

Dr Vineeth Sukumaran Pillai, who cleared the UPSC exam in his third attempt this year, reveals how he cracked one of the nation's most competitive tests.

Seven of the top 25 in the Union Public Service examination this year hail from one state. Kerala.

The roster of achievers includes all-India topper Haritha Kumar, who we profiled a few days ago.

Dr Vineeth Sukumaran Pillai, who ranked 56th this year, and cleared the UPSC exam in his third attempt, is also a native of GOO aka God's Own Country.

Vineeth wanted to appear for the UPSC after completing his MBBS, but got a job at a government hospital in Kasargod, north Kerala.

Life as a house surgeon was hectic he recalls. "I did not have the time to prepare, so I decided to wait," he says.

You are a doctor. Why did you opt for the UPSC?

After my graduation I worked in the most rural areas of Kerala which are categorised as 'difficult' by the government. I knew that post graduation and the super specialist life after that would confine me to closed walls.

I saw a vibrant, dynamic, work culture in the civil services. It has to be seen how it works out.

How did you choose the subjects for the UPSC exam?

I took geography due to its scoring potential. Geography helps in general studies as well as the prelims paper. It is a multi-faceted option, easy to read, and fetches marks. I took psychology as I had a deep interest in the subject.

This was your third attempt. What mistakes did you make in your earlier attempts?

In the first attempt I scored very less marks in psychology paper 2. This was common for many aspirants who went with psychology as the optional subject.

Another mistake was to take the interview without seriousness. Most aspirants take the interview with the same seriousness as they would take the mains exam. I didn't realise this in my first attempt.

As a result I just went totally unprepared which cost me dearly. Always remember, the interview is a knowledge as well as a personality test.

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Image: Dr Vineeth Sukumaran Pillai


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What was the interview like, the first two times?

The questions were easy, but since I hadn't refreshed the subjects I could not answer them.

The second time I made a quick review in a week, which really helped me.

Mock interviews helped me in my last attempt.

What is the mantra of your success?

There is a syllabus for the entrance exams, but you have to know which part to study and which part to skip.

It is your gut instinct and it comes with studying repeatedly. Every exam was a learning process.

You have to have the concept clear in your mind and then learn what I call the compact process.

You identify the important topics and study it compactly. You have to make a precis and study it.

The age of mugging and clearing exams are over.

You have to understand and study. The syllabus and general knowledge are important.

Tell us about the preliminary exam.

This is basically an aptitude test. It tests your power of comprehension and your math skills.

You have to have basic knowledge of all subjects to clear this. You have to be good at math.

What about the main exam?

The main exam deals with the prescribed syllabus. Again, your comprehension skills are very important. How you study, understand and apply your knowledge is important.

In the main exam, your application skills are tested. And you cannot do that without understanding.

The interview is based on the bio-data you provide. I had told them I was a doctor. So all the questions were about my work, how I interacted with people and dealt with day-to-day problems.


Image: Image used for representational purposes

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