CHENNAI: If you are a civil services aspirant and wondering how to crack the UPSC exams and the interview, here is a free online platform, where serving civil servants of different cadres are mentoring hundreds of students through Telegram messenger groups to help achieve their goal.
IT engineer Sharanya Ari, who secured the seventh rank in the UPSC Civil Services Examination in India and (also the Tamil Nadu topper), is a product of this virtual medium. Having cleared the test in the fourth attempt, Sharanya is now considering joining these serving officials to share her expertise with the other aspirants.
Called ‘CivilServicesExam.guru’, it is a voluntary pro-bono initiative that was started by a few civil servants of India three years ago. Today, the number has grown to 60 civil servants, including IAS, IPS and IRS officers from across the country.
Speaking to City Express, Sharanya said she learned about it from a Facebook post of one of the founders P Manivannan, a native of Tamil Nadu and senior IAS officer serving as MD of the Karnataka Water Supply and Drainage Board in Bengaluru.
“I registered with the group in 2014. I was preparing for two years and took coaching for a year, but failed to crack it. However, my interaction with serving officials through Telegram messenger groups on a daily basis helped me channelise the preparations better.”
There are some senior IAS officers mentoring students as well. No institution provides an opportunity to interact with serving civil servants. “I have attended classes for prelims, mains and the interview. The mentors help you prioritise the syllabus. Also, it gives different perceptions on topics like judicial appointments during the group discussions with the co-aspirants.” Sharanaya said she was getting married in another two weeks, after which she will also join the initiative and deliver guidance classes.
Manivannan told City Express that this year, as many as 79 of them have cleared the UPSC examination and now there have been requests from candidates who are appearing for the interview to conduct an introductory class on how to handle the interview process. “So now, we are conducting classes for interview support for KAS from May 15. A total of 172 candidates are taking interview classes.”
Interestingly, many of the officers who volunteered to join the initiative haven’t met each other. Some of the dynamic officers like Balamurgan, 1997 batch IRS; Sachin Shinde, who is the South Goa district Collector; Dr P C Jaffer, 2003 batch IAS; and Alex Paul Menon, who is 2006 batch IAS officer and currently serving as deputy secretary in Department of Housing and Environment in Chhattisgarh, are all bringing their vast experience and knowledge to guide the students.
Who can apply?
- This mentoring is for candidates who have already started their preparation and have done at least one reading of the entire prelims syllabus
- So if you’ve already attempted prelims once, then you are the ideal candidate
- Selection of candidates is done through an online entrance test where the desirable qualities that would make the candidate an ideal civil servant later are tested
- The OET is conducted in January every year
How mentoring is done?
- Mentoring is done online, through classes, assignments and counselling. First, there are regular virtual classes held twice a day — one hour in the morning (6 am to 7 am) and 1.5 hours in the evening (9.30 pm to 11 pm). They are conducted in the Telegram super group, having all 300 students in the same virtual class room.
- Apart from attendance in the morning in the respective teams, the morning class is compulsory. Evening classes are optional.
- These classes are conducted on all days except Sundays.
- On Sundays too, at times, there are special classes.