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Smita Das- Laughing her way to successOne more feather in the cap of Hyderabad. By achieving fourth rank in the Civil Services Examination conducted by the Union Public Service Examination, city girl Smita Das made us all proud. "Careful planning, proper time management, communication skills, all play a major role in getting a rank in the civils" says Smita. What makes her success unique is that she is the only graduate to have achieved such a top rank in this year's exam.

How did she achieve success? Why did she choose Civil Services? What are the things that make one to click in the exam? spoke to Smita Das to unravel the success formula of mother of all competitive exams 'Civil Services'.

When did you first get the idea to sit for Civil Services Exam?

After finishing my Bachelor of Commerce from St Francis College in 1998. I thought I should go for Civil Services Exam.

What made you to choose Civil Services?

Actually I was interested in civils from my childhood. At one point of time, I was thinking to go either for defense services or civil services. Since my father was a defence officer I was attracted towards Short Services Commission for women. But after consultations with my parents and other well-wishers, I ultimately decided to go for Civil services. I felt that it is a challenging and prestigious service and provides plenty of opportunity to do something for the society.

What were your optional subjects in the exam?

My optional subjects were Anthropology and Public Administration.

Why did you choose those two subjects leaving behind commerce subjects which you studied in graduation?

Actually I attended counselling sessions given by Mr Gopala Krishna of Braintree Coaching Centre who advised me to take these two subjects. These subjects are easy to follow and high scoring. You don't need any prior background to study these subjects. Moreover, you will get good coaching and plenty of study material. I am extremely thankful to Mr Gopala Krishna who guided me in Public Administration.

How many years of preparation is needed to clear Civil Services Exam?

It takes nearly one to one and half years of solid preparation to clear the exams.

Smita DasApart from hard work, what are the other essential things that are needed to achieve success in the Civil Services Exam?

Civil Services Exam is a tough nut to crack. It is not just the hard work that is needed to clear this exam. You should be extremely motivated and highly enthusiastic about it. You should enjoy preparing for the exam. Slogging for 24 hours with a book in hand is of no use. The preparation should be planned without wasting much time. While preparing, you should decide about your strengths and weaknesses on each subject and work hard on those subjects in which you are weak. Overall, careful planning and proper time management in the initial stages and communication skills and right attitude in the later stages play a major role in getting rank in the civils, which tests you rigorously.

How many hours did you study everyday?

I used to study for five hours daily.

Were you expecting fourth rank?

Actually I was expecting around 50 th rank. But fourth rank is certainly a bolt from the blue.

Do you think the process of Civil Services is OK? Or are you suggesting any changes in the format of the exam?

I feel that entire process of Civil Services Exam is good. People complain about the higher number of attempts given to a candidate. But getting through the exam is not an easy job. It requires lot of perseverance and hard work. It does take time to grasp the subjects which are diverse and hard. When I tried for the first time in 1999, I could not clear even the prelims. But the next time, I had enough time to prepare and clear the exam. So I feel that there is nothing wrong with the format of the exam and the number of attempts.

While preparing for the exam did you any point of time felt that you should switch over to other lucrative fields like IT, Marketing etc?

Yes, It did cross my mind many times. I was getting inclined towards doing a job in the banking sector. But my parents and Mr Gopala Krishna of Braintree advised me against it. I controlled my temptations and strived to achieve a good rank in civils. Moreover, I do not believe in the concept of working and studying together. I firmly believe that one should do only one thing at a time. Because of this, I did not pursue my post graduation also. I was completely dedicated to Civil Services and luckily I achieved it. And I am extremely happy about my achievement.

UPSC- Generating right candidatesMany aspiring candidates come to Hyderabad from different parts of India to prepare for Civil Services Exam. Do you think Hi-tech city is an ideal place to prepare for the exams?

Yes. I do believe that Hyderabad is an ideal place to prepare for the civil services. There are good coaching centers available here and you will find plenty of students preparing for the exam seriously. In other cities the students are not very serious about the exam. But in Hyderabad, you find candidates preparing for the exam with full dedication and hardwork. The mock interview sessions conducted by various coaching institutes are very useful in getting through the final interview. You will also find right candidates to involve in the group discussions. The easy going lifestyle of the city is also very helpful for the candidates preparing for the exams, specially new candidates.

What is the first thing that you would like to do after becoming an IAS officer?

Right now I don't have any plans. I am eagerly waiting for my training which begins in August at Mussorie. After that my main aim will be to do the assigned job perfectly.

Can you tell us about your other interests?

I love sports. I was actively involved in sports during my childhood days in Karnataka. I participated in the state level competitions in athletics and won many of them. I was a state level champion in 100 metres sprint. Besides sports, I also love Hindustani classical music. Infact, I was trained in the Hindustani classical music. I love listening to it whenever I get free time. I also have a group of close friends and I enjoy being with them.

Do you watch Television? If so what are your favourite programmes?

I enjoy watching light hearted programmes like Movers & Shakers. I also watch movies and other serials on the television. I don't watch news channels much. Instead I read newspapers and magazines regularly.

Do you love Hyderabad?

Yes. I love this city very much. Actually I was born in Bengal and I toured entire India along with my father who was posted in different places. We came to Hyderabad in 1991 when I was in ninth standard. I did my 10+2 in St Ann's College, Marredpally. Later I did my graduation from St Francis College, Begumpet. We built our home and settled here. The city boasts of good infrastructure and facilities. The theatre activity was lacking here but slowly it is also picking up. This fast developing metropolitan city is an ideal place to settle down.
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