IFS officer Himanshu Sagar cleared UPSC CSE in 2017 while working at an American banking company in Gurugram. He shares how other aspirants can do the same.
Himanshu Sagar (30), is an Indian Foreign Service officer from Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. While working at an American banking company in Gurugram, he simultaneously began studying for UPSC (Union Public Civil Service) Exams.
Originally a student of IIT Kanpur, Himanshu eventually dropped electrical engineering when he found it was not what he wished to pursue any longer. He was pushed by his father, who worked in the government sector, to prepare for UPSC exams. By this time, Himanshu had cleared the Common Admission (CAT) and joined IIM Bangalore to pursue a postgraduate degree in management. While he did sit for the exam, he didn’t clear it the first time.
“My parents were disheartened that I didn’t make it,” he recalls. “Regardless, I enjoyed my time at IIM, and got a job with an American company. During my time at IIM, I met my roommate’s relative, who was preparing for the UPSC at the time.”
“I realised that if I continued in the company, my knowledge would be limited to the banking sector. But the UPSC would help me expand this knowledge across different fields,” Himanshu says.
After rigorous preparation with his roommate’s relative, he appeared for the exam again in 2017, and cleared his paper, securing a rank of 716. After receiving three months of training at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, five months at the Sushma Swaraj Institute of Foreign Service India, and two months at the Desk attachment, he joined the Indian Foreign Services in Myanmar in August 2019.
In a conversation with The Better India, Himanshu discusses tips and tricks on how one can crack the UPSC while simultaneously juggling work.
Time Table: Himanshu made a time table and allotted a certain amount of time to each subject. He made sure he completed each chapter within that specific time only. “I calculated the days I had week offs and made the time table accordingly. This helped me learn quicker, as I had assigned time for myself,” he says.
Time Management: “I cut down on all my tea and lunch breaks and used that time to read newspapers. I had a two-hour journey back home, so during that time, I watched videos related to UPSC. Initially it was exhausting, but then it became a habit, and I started to love giving time to the preparation,” Himanshu says.
Peer group: Himanshu found colleagues in his office who were also preparing for UPSC. He spent time with them and discussed current affairs and questions for the examination.
Make good use of holidays: Himanshu says he spent most of his holidays studying. “I was selective. Say there were four birthday parties to attend — I would attend one. This way, almost every holiday became extra time to learn,” he says.
Wake up early: “For me, the morning was the best time of the day to study. Before heading to work, I would spend at least five hours studying. Personally, I feel that in the morning, the brain is more refreshed, and ready to take in information.”
Meditation: Himanshu says meditation helped him focus, and that one must make a regular practice to get the best results. “This isn’t limited to studies. Meditation is something that one can practice for everything.”
Self motivation: “I was my own motivator, and I believe there’s no success without self-motivation. There were many times I felt helpless, but I talked to myself to build myself back up. Sometimes, even parents can’t give enough motivation to their children, so we have to do it for ourselves,” he says.
Social media: Himanshu says that social media helped him get a lot of useful and timely information about current events.
(Edited by Divya Sethu)