Saumya Pandey, who secured fourth position in the UPSC 2016 results that were announced on Wednesday, says that civil service aspirants need perseverance more than coaching.
Pandey, who cleared the competitive examination in her first attempt, said candidates from small cities and towns did not have to rush to the metros for coaching facilities.
She had initially joined a coaching institute in Delhi, but said she returned home after feeling homesick. She later enrolled in an Allahabad coaching school, where she got “some help” in general studies, a part of the Union Public Service Commission-conducted examination syllabus.
“But ultimately it is all about your own efforts. A smart strategy and perseverance helped me crack the exam,” Pandey, the only child of a gynaecologist mother and a businessman father, said.
An alumna of the Moti Lal Nehru National Institute of Technology in Allahabad, Pandey has been a topper all through her academic career.
She stood first in the district in her Class X and XII examinations and earned a gold medal after completing a B.Tech in electrical engineering two years ago.
“I can guarantee that others living in small cities can achieve success without having to leave their home towns if they apply themselves with diligence,” she told PTI-Bhasha.
A trained Kathak dancer, Pandey thanked her parents, God and “a bit of luck” for her success, and strongly advised young aspirants against rote learning.
“It is essential that while in school, children develop a good understanding of their subjects and read standard books, especially those published by the NCERT, to build a strong base,” she said.
Asked what inspired her to opt for the Civil Services, Pandey - who hopes to be attached to her home state of Uttar Pradesh -- said she interacted with successful civil service candidates at a State Bank of India workshop, to which she was invited after she aced the 12th standard exams.
“They helped me understand the duties of an IAS officer which left me thrilled and filled me with the determination to give it a shot,” she said.