'Patience, hard work and perseverance are the three simple things that one needs to pass in the UPSC exam or for that matter any exam.'
From being an Indian Forest Service Officer -- he is currently deputy conservator of forestS, Uttar Pradesh -- to cracking the Union Public Services Commission exam and on his way to becoming an Indian Administrative Services officer, Bilal Mohiuddin Bhat, who stood 10th in the 2016 UPSC exam in Jammu & Kashmir, has come a long way.
Bhat, who cracked the exam in his fourth attempt, spoke to Rediff.com's Prasanna D Zore about his goals, his hard work, perseverance and values he learnt from his parents.
Tell us about your efforts and success mantras...
Patience, hard work and perseverance are the three simple things that one needs to pass in the UPSC exam or for that matter any exam.
This is a long process and it tests your patience and nerves.
What kind of challenges did you face while preparing for the exam and how did you overcome them?
It's like the fire inside you and it should burn brightly.
I did not face any hardships as such, but I faced lot of odds, and odds don't mean any negative things.
First, I qualified for the state service (the Kashmir Administrative Service) and then for the IFS (Indian Forest Services).
But my main aim was always to be an IAS officer.
I never lost sight of my main goal and that kept the fire within me burning brightly. That kept me going along with my family's support.
Family support is a must because they are the ones to enthuse you when your confidence is low.
Did you follow any particular study regime given that you were also working as an IFS officer in Lucknow?
I was consistently preparing for the (UPSC) exam. So, for me it was not a sudden, but gradual process.
I was well-versed with all the current affairs events and other basics of making good my attempts at the exam.
When the exam date came near, I took leave for some days and pushed myself more when I had time in my hands.
All said, it is a gradual process, evolution of a candidate who appears for the civil services exam.
Because the UPSC exam doesn't test your short-term knowledge; it tests your aggregate knowledge.
What values did you learn from your parents? How did they motivate you?
The value system and the socialising pattern that my family taught me had a tremendous impact on my personality, particularly with respect to integrity and honesty.
They had always told me that the civil services will not be a cakewalk and what will differentiate me from others will be my uprightness and integrity as a civil servant.
They told me that it was a noble job to be a civil servant, find out problems faced by the people and help them overcome them.
Those values will always remain an integral part of me.
How did you balance between fulfilling your duties as an IFS officer and studying for the exam?
I was always prepared with my basics and current affairs.
As I already told you, it preparing for the exam for me was a gradual, evolutionary process.
I always read two newspapers daily and would make notes from them.
I would always keep myself aware of my main goal and as the exam came nearer I took study leave and studied full-fledged.
14 aspirants from Jammu & Kashmir passed the UPSC exam this year. What's the reason behind so many Kashmiris succeeding in the civil services exam?
I think the myth of the civil services examination as a 'very difficult' exam and that it is beyond the reach of the common and rural masses has been shattered by the number of youth who are passing this exam, not only from J&K but from India.
For J&K youth, the selection of Shah Faisal in the UPSC exam created a wave and self confidence among J&K's youth and the effect is there for everybody to observe.
Also, the programme run by Abdul Ghani Mir Sahab (the inspector general of police, crime), the Initiative for Competition Promotion Jammu and Kashmir, offers Kashmiris training, coaching and orientation for preparing for the UPSC exam.
What was the most difficult question asked to you during the interview?
The interview went by smoothly; it was just like an interaction.
I did not face any tricky or difficult question from my interviewers.
I was asked about days and their significance; like I was asked about March 23, which is Shaheed Divas (Martyrs' Day, observed in memory of Shaheed Bhagat Singh who was hanged by the British on March 23, 1931).
Most of the questions asked to me were about my previous experience in the Indian Forest Services and Kashmir Administrative Service.
What is your message to India's youth?
Indians who aspire to succeed in the civil services exams should never feel low in confidence after failure.
Your strength lies in working towards achieving success after every failure.
That is the essence of life and human existence.
Remember, success is all about your will, determination and perseverance.
Photographs: Kind courtesy Bilal Mohiuddin Bhat/Facebook