One should be studying all the while is a general myth that guides those preparing for the civil services examination. There are other smaller notions too - like you should know everything under the Sun and that the preparation should start right at the school stage.
The truth is far from this and many successful civil servants are a living testimony to this fact. Illustrious former civil servant Alphons Kannamthanam secured just 242 marks in his SSLC examination.
A lot of youngsters are leaving their lucrative corporate jobs to join the civil service. They intend to make a difference and choose civil services. One such example is Nithin Kunneparambil, a Palakkad native, who secured 565th rank in the civil service.
Nithin did his schooling at Kendriya Vidyalaya, Kanjikode. He completed his BTech from CUSAT and MTech from IIT Kharagpur. He worked in Germany and Bengaluru for a while before taking up full-time preparation for the examination.
He cleared the preliminary and mains in the first instance but got rejected at the interview stage.
“I come from a small town. I thought civil service was an unsurmountable thing. In Bengaluru, I used to take part in some community work. This motivated me to take up civil service; to do something for society,” he said.
“All my friends helped me. Najeem even helped me financially,” Nithin said thanking his parents, sister, and the students of civil service whom he had taught briefly.
Nithin said the interview was good and the panel made him very comfortable. He said many questions were picked based on the detailed form that he had filled in. He was asked about Tagore as he did his MTech in Kharagpur. Then the questions turned to the historian of his liking and then to Hitler, Germany, and Indian judiciary.
Nithin took his examination in English and the optional was history. Nithin says 80 per cent of questions in history come from 20 per cent of topics in the vast syllabus.
“We get nine minutes to understand answer one question. So, time management is very important,” he said. Nithin says it is important to present what one knows clearly.
Nithin recollects how he was saddened when he could not clear the examination in 2018. He said he got involved in the flood-relief activities of that year and took up short trips. Also, he read up inspirational books to stave off disappointment.
Nithin says it is essential to study all nine papers. “Understand the strength and weaknesses and work hard,” he says adding the preparation went up to 13 hours a day as examination closed in.