IAS Target

Anudeep Durshetty

Year : 2017

Rank : 1st

Topper Story - ANUDEEP DURSHETTY Background
Sometime in February 2016, UPSC declared that I had failed in the Civil Services Examination. That was my fourth attempt and third failure. The result didnít seem as bad then, convinced as I was of my own supreme ability and UPSCís blatant bias. My inner voice immediately went about searching for excuses. ďI must have flunked the language paper or some clerical mistake? Surely I must have been wronged!Ē I eagerly looked forward to my marksheet, mostly to confirm my own prejudice. When the marksheet finally arrived, the scores read as follows, starting with marks in Essay: 100,74,66,91,68, 75,91. A grand total of 565, way behind the cutoff. I get my worst result in the year I had worked the most. At that moment, the marks didnít seem so badó I knew I had failed that year anyway. My failure was undeniable and total, and it shook me to the core.
The failure crept inward into other aspects of my being. It eroded my drive, confidence, and morale. My day to day life became lethargic, timid, and was one of mere existence-I was a walking dead man. And within no time, I unconsciously fell into the most crushing of traps: I was convinced that I am not good enough.
I simply didnít have the courage to carry on, and I knew I had hit a dead end. Within days, I decided to quit. From that abyss, it took me a couple of months to recover. I realised that life was slowly drifting away, and I didnít want to standby as a mere spectator. I focused on work, learned taxation laws, pursued my interests diligently, and took up meditation as a hobby. Blaming UPSC or someone else only gave me a false sense of satisfaction, made me feel good about myself, and did not in anyway help my cause. Thus, instead of wallowing in self-pity and victimhood, I decided to own up to my failures and accepted that I failed because I didnít deserve it. Once I had accepted this, the inner voice that was so adamantly justifying my failings simply faded away.
The break helped me see that my failure was not that I couldnít clear in previous attempts, but that I had learned nothing from it. Year after year I kept repeating the same mistakes. I toiled hard, but hardly made any progress: I was running on a ground that was fast shifting beneath me.
In December 2016, eight months after my debacle, I sat down to think hard and think deeply to understand why I failed. Prelims couldnít have been a problemó I always got a good score. The personality test was ruled out too: in the only interview I had given, I got 204. The conclusion was inevitableó I sucked at Mains.
I downloaded toppersí answer booklets and invested endless hours going through them. After a while, one thing became evident: Their answers werenít in any way extraordinary. I zeroed in on the fact that it wasnít because of lack of knowledge, and that my failings lay elsewhere.
My optional scores were a big problem too. Iíve always felt my optional Public Administration was treated unfairly. But this time I faulted no one, and I had to do something about it. In Jan 2017, I decided to take up Anthropology. It was a bold decision: I hardly had 9 months to prepare an entirely new subject. On the other hand, I loved Anthro and it ignited my spirits and breathed intellectual fire into my otherwise dull preparation cycle.
In July 2017, I enrolled at the ForumIAS academy for GS and Essay mains test series (online mode). I timed the clock, took the test from my home, and wrote all answers at my usual writing speed. In a paper I took 3 hours 42 minutes to finish, I scored 87. I didnít lose heart but worked to improve. The next test took me 3 hr 20 min; and finally, by the end of the 4th test, I could finish my papers within 3 hours. The comments and assessment of my papers from mentors were incredibly helpful.
I worked on their feedback to improve my answer content and presentation. 1Overtime, Iíve learned to put dense, quality content in fewer words and tighter sentences. And so I practiced and practiced hard. On workdays, I used to take out at least 3 hours for preparation, and on weekends I slogged by the sweat of my brow. Just before my Mains exam in Oct 2017, securing a top rank was never on the mind. The immediate, burning goal in front of me was only this: in those 3 hours, for those 20 questions, Iíll answer and answer them well, which I did. When I walked out of that examination hall on Nov 3, 2017, I knew I gave my best shot.
When the final results were declared on April 27, 2018, the immediate feeling I had was one of overwhelming disbelief. No one expects to top the exam, especially after failing so many times. Itís only after sometime that the gravity of the accomplishment finally sinks in. And when it did finally sink in for me, I was slowly overtaken by a feeling that was much more precious.
The emotion wasnít one of ecstasy, but one of contentment. It was a feeling of fulfillment and satisfaction that I had won this personal battle. After my results, when I went back to my hometown, I had people who came up to me, pulled me close, cupped my face in their hands, and told me that they are so overwhelmed with joy as if their own son has topped this exam. The happiness I sensed seeing their faces and much more than what I had felt on the day of my results.
Today, at the end of my UPSC journey, I stand with a firm newfound belief: when you own your failures, you become a better person. And when you work hard to overcome them, you win and win big.