Wife is My Lucky Charm, Says UPSC Topper

(Gaurav Agrawal, 29, topped the Union Public Service Commission or UPSC exam, the rigorous entry exam  which selects the top cadres of India's civil servants. He has a degree in Computer Science from IIT Kanpur and a post-graduate diploma in Management from IIM Lucknow, where he was a gold medallist.  He is an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of Rajasthan cadre.)

When I found out I had topped the UPSC exams, there was total disbelief. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw my name online. I didn't expect to find my name on top. I got it verified just to be sure before breaking the news to my wife and parents. I got married recently - my wife is my lucky charm.

I gave up a corporate career - as an investment banker in Hong Kong - three years ago.It was a well-paid and comfortable job but I decided to come back for taking the civil services examinations.  

I took the tests  in 2012 and my rank was 244. Though I got into the Indian Police Service (IPS), I thought I had the potential to do much better. So I decided to try again and I'm so glad I did. 

In the Indian Police Service, you are dedicated to policing, but the Indian Administrative Service (IAS)  gives you many more options and much greater scope for learning and self-development.

For the first time in four years, a male candidate has topped the UPSC exam. But the gender of the candidate is not important. All you need to be is a good student and then you can achieve anything. I studied for six to eight hours a day to prepare for these exams.

In my first attempt, the problem did not lie with my preparation but with my language and writing skills. I had been trained as an engineer and I had to focus a lot on my writing skills.

I had very limited interaction with my friends while I was preparing for the exams. They were very understanding and did not disturb me. But I did take breaks while studying to play cricket or to jog.

The biggest success of my life has come from failure. I would not have taken the exams a second time had I not failed to make the cut for the IAS in 2012.

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