About Me

Hi, I am Dhananjay Singh Yadav. I got Rank 95 in UPSC CSE 2018. This was my first attempt. My optional was Political Science and International Relations (PSIR). I took the civil services exam to get into Indian Foreign Service.

I graduated from Shri Ram College of Commerce with a Bachelor of Commerce (Hons.) in 2014. I worked for 3 years with Reckitt Benckiser, a British consumer goods company, in sales and marketing. I worked there till June 2017 and quit to prepare for Civil Services Exam 2018.

I decided to prepare from home, utilising the abundant resources available online. In this journey, blogs and articles of people who took this exam before me were immensely helpful. Advice of people who could clear this exam, or not, both were important in helping me figure out my plan of action. I am putting together the pieces of my 22 months of preparation here, hoping someone somewhere finds this of use.

A word to the wise: There’s no one definite approach to this exam, everyone has to find their own method in this madness. This also means no can “guide” you. Somebody else’s strategy might not work for you. You will have to assess your own strengths and weaknesses, and as heartless as it may sound, figure your way out on your own. You cannot clear by hoping to be spoon fed. There’s significant trial and error involved, and whoever’s strategy you might be reading can only detail their own.

I have cleared this exam but not suddenly gained insights that people who didn’t make it are not privy to. I do not know what worked for me. I would have been as clueless about my strategy being right or wrong if I hadn’t cleared. All I can do is detail out everything I did during this prep.

Ernest Hemingway – “It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready.”

Knowing the unpredictability of this journey, I believed that hard work will make me luckier. Beyond that is intricacies of working of the cosmos. Maybe the babaji who accosted my mother many moons ago for Rs. 100, with an unsolicited prophesy that her son will become adhikaari, really set things in motion.

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The name of this blog – English, Agastya – comes from the novel “English, August” by Upamanyu Chatterjee. Inception of the idea of taking civil services exam took place with my reading of the said novel in 2016.

My mark sheet for both prelims and mains is attached here. I have talked about DAF here.

Comment here or reach out to me on Twitter for any doubt that you might have. I might take weeks to reply but I try my best to reply to relevant questions that I have not covered here already for things other than the exam.

UPDATE 8/Aug/20: Next week I leave for Taiwan for next 2 years to learn Chinese. I will not have the time to respond to comments here (I type this out while taking a break from my inspection of expiry date of an unhealthy number of packets of poha that just got delivered). It’s also the right time to let the more worthy 2020 batch take over and share their experiences.

Someone let me talk on the camera for more than 5 minutes, and this was the result: https://youtu.be/8IcvfKRxqUY

If you have recently heard of the UPSC CSE and are wondering what this exam is all about and Wikipedia hasn’t helped, I have written a short note here.

311 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Ashish sahu

    From insights daily current affairs how to know which article is for prelim or mains ?? And when you were making notes only for prelim from daily. Current affairs ?

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  2. Jharna Kamdar

    Hi Dhananjay!
    I’m preparing for CSE 2021, and I’m just finishing up with my NCERTS. I regularly follow Insights current affairs quiz and have enrolled in their prelims+csat test series. My Achilles heel is – Geography. I’ve been consistently scoring less in static world geography quizzes, and I can’t get one question right in Map based questions. I’ve tried following your strategy for maps on biodiversity and national parks, but I haven’t been able to apply the same on any other map based topics. If you have any suggestions regarding it, please do share.
    Thank you so much!
    P.S. All the best for your future postings! I look up to you so much.
    Regards.

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  3. anonymous

    Hello Sir,
    I graduated this year and would be joining a private frim, working from home, so I have planned for two years approach for prelims in 2022.
    I had doubt, shall I spend my first year i.e. the rest of 2020 preparing only my static portion and start making proper notes on Current Affair from next year January or continue it side by side from now itself?

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  4. Gaurav

    Sir did you start all of your mains prep(optional and ethics ) only after qualifying prelims ,how did you manage everything in a span of just 3 months.

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  5. wittyAyJ

    HI Dhananjay, I’d a couple of queries-
    1. As the pre 2021 might get delayed too, but still at best what would be the optimum month to start compiling my current affairs from?
    2. And for PSIR, everyone’s following the same notes, what unique one can do to stand out from the crowd?

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. dhananjaysy Post author

      1. 15-18 months before the prelims.
      Honestly all this delayed business is beyond me and I can only give my opinion.
      2. (a) Actually understanding the concept. You will be surprised how many people don’t. (b) Do answer writing practice. I was doing it in my head instead of on paper

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  6. Anonymous

    I am really confused about the Ramesh Singh Book. With it’s changing editions and its bulkiness and written in a research paper style with a lot of relevant and irrelevant citations, I am not able to take a call whether to read it or not.
    I tried reading the 2 chapters specific to mains syllabus from the book, Agriculture and Industry, and Infrastructure.
    It will be very helpful if you can guide me in this regard. Thanks.

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  7. gayatri5474

    hi sir, I’m appearing 2020 prelims.
    Could you please guide me with my queries on Economic Survey, Budget and few topics on economics.
    I want to cover them in minimum time possible.
    My doubts…..
    1. What are the information to be stressed upon and noted down from Budget? I have covered budget summary from PIB
    2. Everyone says the best is to cover economic survey from original document. Since i’m running with less time and i have few other topics to cover as well. Please suggest me some unconventional way to go about economic survey?
    3. From where to cover Agriculture, food processing unit and irrigation? Three are huge information in Internet unable to segregate what to cover and what to leave.

    Looking forward for your help.

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    1. dhananjaysy Post author

      1. Any good summary would do. Budget is such a vast and technical document, I guess what is highlighted in news/summary should be fine. I don’t know about PIB summary, I covered from somewhere else
      2. I did the conventional. You figure out the unconventional and help our future aspirants 🙂
      3. I have detailed what I have done, there’s always going to be huge information on internet (on everything)

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    2. gayatri5474

      Thanks sir for replying.
      One trailing question regarding survey.
      Is it advised to read the Survey document line by line?

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  8. Shivam

    Sir, Im going to complete my MBA from Deakin next year. Im thinking of appearing for cse with ifs as my preference but im confused considering that I have spent so much money on tution fee here and the pay pakage il likely get as well. No where iv been able to get an idea of Salary figures for ifs including foreign allowance. Can you please share approximate figure, if not accurate for say someone posted as third secretary in paris/ Germany? Is it over 5000/ month or under? Even a hint will suffice. Thankyou so much!

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    1. Shantanu k.

      Sir, if you cannot disclose the accurate amount . Pls share approximate figure like 4500, 4800, 5000. Anything would be helpful.

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      1. dhananjaysy Post author

        1. I cannot share the accurate amount, but you are on the right track (basic salary + Foreign Allowance). FA changes based on your location, not every city has the same cost of living (but you won’t find it varying unreasonably between developed and developing countries). Also furnished house, health insurance, and children’s education is provided for abroad.
        2. In India your salary is same as any other service (Basic+DA+Transport+HRA if applicable)

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  9. Wang Yeo (@boxer__bhai)

    Hello Sir,
    Sir I am a beginner who is preparing for this exam and I am quite confused about how should I approach with current affairs at this point of time. I started UPSC preparations last month and have finished the Spectrum book only as of now. Thank you in advance sir.

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    1. Anirban

      Sir,
      As I’m unable to write a separate comment , I’m writing a reply to a comment.
      My question is that what kind of answer they demand from an aspirant in the mains papers specifically in GS papers ? Demand from every answer must not be the same, but there is something common to it.

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      1. dhananjaysy Post author

        1. Address the actual question
        2. Keep it well structured, use diagrams and flow chart if it helps explain the point better (I even drew world maps if warranted)
        3. If you bring points from reports/acts/judgments (GS2 and GS3) it indicates you are well read

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              1. Pintu Mallick

                Sir, what’s the difference between textbook based and subject wise test series of insight? Which one did you join?

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                Reply
  10. Anonymous

    Hello Sir,
    Good Evening.
    It is of immense help the way you are replying each and every comments. It would be of same help for me if my query is also resolved. I just wanted a clear picture of the Sticky notes that you have pasted on your wall about PSIR Crisp notes. Just wanted a glimpse of how you made such crisp and short notes for quick and effective revision.

    Thank you.

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    Reply

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