For becoming IAS, Persistence paid off as Sumit Kumar Rai (AIR 54; CSE 2018) accomplished his Goal in 5th attempt

A Gold medalist for the best academic performance at IIT-ISM, Dhanbad Sumit Kumar Rai began his career with Cairn India Limited; but, very early in life he had set his career destination as Indian Administrative Service (IAS).

As such it is a grueling exam-plan and preparing while working is more challenging. However, Sumit kept moving on the path and hope of big rewards motivated him to stick to it and finally, in his fifth attempt he cracked CSE 2018 and secured 54th rank.

He has chosen Public Administration as optional subject.


When we talk about Civil Services Examination the exam-plan involves intricacies, success is elusive and failure is quite common.

No doubt, failures are upsetting; getting frustrated and blaming UPSC for unpredictability are common reaction candidate show.

But, we all react to failure in the wrong way.

Taking failures in to stride and by identifying mistakes and trying to put things right and an adaptive approach helps one succeed.

Sumit Kumar Rai survived failures one after another; but, persistence paid off and finally in his fifth attempt he tasted the sweetness of success.

When it becomes hardest to stick to it Sumit has shown grit and perseverance to achieve brilliant success by securing 54th rank in Civil Services Examination 2018.Sumit-Kumar-Rai-IAS-Topper-54th-Rank-CSE-2018

Immediately after completing M.Tech in 2013, Sumit has been working with Cairn India Limited as Senior petroleum Engineer. Simultaneously, he commenced preparation for Civil Services Examination and took his first attempt with CSE 2014.

You are the master builder of your life; sharing his charm for career in civil services Sumit said, “I come from a rural background and had seen problems of people from vary close quarters. I had seen limitations and shortcomings in rural areas, so always had a desire to contribute to society through a big platform like Civil Services.”

“Also, in my college (IIT-Dhanbad) I got involved in KARTAVYA, a student initiative to teach underprivileged children living in slum areas near the campus. All these experiences strengthened my faith to join civil services and contribute to the welfare of society, especially weaker and marginalized sections.”

The right advice on preparation plan

My aim was to understand and simplify the complex exam-plan and being in job, it was little difficult to decode it initially.

Unfortunately I didn’t have right guidance in first two attempts. I explored all these aspects myself.

I went through various toppers blog, got active on few websites, and formed a close peer group on telegram. All this happened in a gradual manner. By third attempt, I was much aware and had a greater understanding of what I need to read and how I need to read.

The Process of learning continued

As I mentioned, in first two attempts I was still trying to understand the demand of the exam.

Managing preparation along with a full time job was challenging and lack of proper guidance did lead to some misdirected efforts.

In next three attempts I was able to reach interview stage and was finally selected in my 5th attempt. There were few areas which needed improvement and one can only learn from one’s failures. However, I am also glad that I was able to withstand all the pressure that comes with repeated failures. It ultimately made me a stronger person and gave me a chance of self-discovery.

What contributed the most in getting top ranks in this attempt?

In previous attempts I was missing selection by few marks only. This time it was a decent performance across all papers and a good interview score.

I had developed habit of self dependency during the preparation of IIT-JEE itself. This helped me in CSE preparation also. As I was a working aspirant, I couldn’t join classroom coaching; but, my habit of “Doing it by yourself” helped me in covering syllabus through self study.Sumit-Kumar-Rai-IAS-Topper-54th-Rank-CSE-2018

Secret of Success

DCP strategy: Dedication & Discipline, Consistency and Perseverance. Being a working aspirant I had to show utmost level of discipline in time management and always be dedicated to CSE preparation. There were ups and downs but I did ensure a consistency in my preparation despite having a challenging work environment. Ultimately this exam is also a test of your mental strength and a lot of perseverance is needed to keep going through different failures.

Credit for success

My parents and my big brother

A supportive family and a positive environment at home helped me in reaching my dream.

My father is a farmer, my mother is a homemaker and my elder brother is a station master in Indian Railways. My family has immense contribution in my success. My father always motivated me, especially when I faced failures. He always spoke in a comforting tone making me believe that “Thik hai, koi na, is baar nahi to agli baar sahi” ठीकहै, कोईनाइसबारनहींतोअगलीबारसही.

He will keep bringing various stories to keep me motivated. My mother always had greatest faith in me. She will pray to God a lot for my selection. Ultimately God helped me in the end.

Words of Advice to motivate future aspirants

UPSC journey is full of unpredictability.

There will be moments of failures at various stages. What is important is protecting yourself in all such moments.

I say this because I know how difficult it is to not see your name in the pdf, either after Prelims, after Mains or even after Interview. In those dark moments be a little kinder to yourself. Look in the mirror, look at the person looking in the mirror, feel a little proud of the journey you have taken so far, sacrifices made so far. Give that person a pat on the back, and smile a little bit.

“Not today” as Syrio Forel told Arya Stark, you tell yourself the same thing…” Not today”.

Today is not the day you let your guards down. Be the finest warrior you are.

Be the best on those days. It's a game of mental strength.

You need to become that person; same way Arya stark becomes the sharpest warrior through years of pain and training.

Success will be there eventually with such an attitude.

Last Update Sunday 21st July 2019     

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