[Topper's Interview] Mr. Surender Mohan Rank-4 Age-26 (HPAS-2012): Public Administration, Sociology Optionals, from Nirmand/Kullu/Himachal Pradesh

Topper's Profile : Surender Mohan (HAS)

  Surender Mohan
Roll No.
Total attempts in HPAS
Optional Subject
  1.Public Administration
Medium chosen for Mains answers
Schooling medium 
  Hindi(Upto 10th ), 11th & 12th with English Medium
College medium
Home town/city/village
Work-experience if any
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failures
- UPSC CPF assistant Commandant 2011- interview in Khan sir board( missed merit by 2 marks)
- Cleared CDS 4 times
- Inspector W&M (Cleared)
- UPSC CPF assistant Commandant 2013 Prelim cleared (Not appeared in Medical test)
- UPSC CSE  - 2011 ( failed to clear)
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used)
- UPSC CSE 2011 Pre. Test Series from Science Planet IIPA delhi

-Mock Test  & Study Material for HAS- NIMBUS ACADEMY FOR IAS CHANDIGARH ( I am associate with this institute from last 1 year)
service preference
HAS, HPS ( HAS has allotted to me)

Education Details :

fill the details below
% in class 10
% in class 12
Schooling (Medium)
 Hindi, English
Graduation course and %
B.Tech (ECE) : 81.57%
Name of college, city, passing out year
Green Hills Engg. College Kumarhatti Solan (H.P), 2011
Any other professional courses
Hobbies & Extra curricular
Quizzing, Reading books & Playing Cricket

Q. Tell us something about yourself, your family, your place, when and why did you enter in this field of competitive exams?

I belong to a rural middle class family. My father is in C.I.D - H.P. Police. My Mother is Govt.employee under ICDS. My brother is TGT (Medical). I have two elder sister. One sister is married and second sister is currently doing Master degree.

My native place Nishani is surrounded by Apple orchards from all sides. It is a beautiful village in the lap of middle Himalaya. Natlinag temple in Kandigarh and Ramgarh are famous temple often visited by the people of the area.

Right from the graduation I had always inclination towards Army and civil services, so used to read CSR, Pratiyogita Darpan, and Chronicle in my college days irregularly. I used to write essay in CSR Essay contest.

 I have always dreamt of Join Indian Army or Become Civil Servant. I appeared 8 times in Service selection Board of Indian army and Indian Air Force. 4 Times I got Conference out from SSB. So my dream of joining Indian Army was demotivating me after successive failure. After that I tried for UPSC CPF Assistant Commandant, CSE and HPAS(back up).

Study Style and Momentum :

Q.1 Nowadays many students rely on internet for study material, so how much do you rely on electronic material and how much on the paper material (Books, newspapers)? Narrate a typical day in your study life. What is your style of preparation in detail?

Internet is acting as an important resource for study nowadays. For HPAS Mains I relied more on paper material and theoretical static books than the electronics material. But HPAS prelims demand something different, so for prelims I relied more on Internet. I used to visit following blogs/sites:
1.      www.nimbusias.com
2.      www.Mrunal.org
3.      Insight on India
4.      PIB
5.      The Hindu e-paper

No typical study plan. I used to read- think - read…

Q.2 Student know what books and syllabus points are to be prepared. But most of them lack consistency in their preparation. So, how do you keep study momentum going on? How do you fight against the mood swings and distractions?

Answer: Study momentum get collapse due to unnecessary things.
I had many ups and downs during my preparation. It was my inner strength that keeps me going.

Q.3 How did you handle the mental stress and What are your words of wisdom to other senior players? If any specific inspirational incident(s), please share.

I never undergo mental stress during preparation phase. Don’t get over confident, instead you should read – think- read ( Analysis- synthesis- analysis). No such incident

Q.4 What went wrong in your previous attempt? What changes did you make in this current attempt?

I was over confident and second I never check the scorebility of Mains optional. HAS is the game of optional only.  Last year I got very less marks in History optional . So this time I shifted from history to sociology


Prelims: General studies (GS)
Himachal Pradesh General Studies
Art and Culture
Economic and social development
     -  HP govt. Official budget and Economic survey
     -  Jagmohan balokhra
     -   Himachal darpan by Akash publication
History Ancient
NCERT, NIMBUS IAS Academy notes , Ujjawal IAS history notes
History Medieval
Satish Chandra, NCERT,Nimbus notes
History Modern + (Freedom Struggle)
NCERT +Bipin Chandra + Bipin Chandra + Nimbus notes
Culture society
Nimbus  Notes
Polity (theory + current)
Lakshmikanth + Nimbus  Polity Notes
Economy (theory + current)
Nimbus  Notes + mrunal
Science (theory + current)
Nimbus notes
Environment (theory + current)
Nimbus notes +Mrunal
geography physical
NCERT + Nimbus notes + GC Leong
geography India
NCERT +Nimbus notes
geography world
NCERT + Nimbus notes
other national/international current affairs
Newspaper+ Nimbus current affairs
Schemes, Policy & Filler Stuff

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS prelims paper.

Be prepared for anything , hope for the best and  ready for the worst

Prelims: Aptitude Test (CSAT)
strategy / booklist
English Comprehension
Didn’t prepare
Reasoning and Analytical ability
Didn’t prepare
Maths/ Quant/ Data Interpretation
Interpersonal skills including Communication
Didn’t prepare
Decision Making and problem solving
Didn’t prepare

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about Aptitude paper?

Paper of CSAT aptitude was easy and I did not prepare for this

Q. Did you attend any ‘mock tests’? do you think they’re necessary for success?

Answer: In 2011; I attend mock test in Science Planet delhi. After that I never attended. Yes mock test are absolutely necessary.

Q. Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers by you in prelims?

attempted Q.
Difficult to recall
Difficult to recall
Difficult to recall
Difficult to recall

Your official Total score in prelims (IF you don’t know then expected marks):
Answer: 245+

Mains: Compulsory language paper

Q. How did you prepare for the compulsory English paper?(If then Book list and  study plan/ comment/tips?

Previous Year Papers

Q. How did you prepare for the compulsory Hindi paper?(If then Book list and  study plan/ comment/tips?

Previous Year Papers

Essay Writing:

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?

Answer: I did not practice any essay before Mains. I analyzed my mistakes of previous year and improved upon them by including various aspects of my optional (Sociology and Public administration)

Q2. Which among the following essay did you write? What key points did you include in it? (if you remember)

Answer: I wrote essay on WOMEN EMPOWERMENT. I include various aspects , future prospects and example. Sociology help me lot in this Endeavor.

General Studies (Mains) paper

How did you prepare? strategy/booklist/comment
Indian History(Modern)
Bipin Chandra + Nimbus notes
Freedom struggle
Bipin Chandra + Nimbus notes
Post-independence India
Did not prepare
Indian culture
Nimbus  Academy for IAS notes
Physical Geography
NCERT + Nimbus notes
Indian Geography
NCERT + Nimbus notes
Indian Polity
M. laxmikant/ Nimbus notes
Indian Economy
Nimbus notes/ mrunal
Teaching of Mahatma Gandhi
Himachal Pradesh General Studies
Art and Culture
Economic and social development
 HP govt. Official budget and Economic survey
 Jagmohan balokhra
 Himachal darpan by Akash publication

Q. Any other comments,Tips or word of wisdom after going through the mains?

HAS mains wala mahina sachhi ko maut ka mahina hota hai….snow snow snow … snow all the way….

Optional Subjects

1st Optional : Public Administration

Book list for Public admin:

Paper 1 : 

- M. Laxmikant
- Kumar IAS Notes
- Yojna Magazine
- IIPA journals

Paper 2 :

- Mohit Bahttacharya
- Arora & Goyal
- IIPA journals

2nd Optional : Sociology

Book list for Sociology

Paper 1:

  -IGNOU Notes
  - Sociology by S. Shankar Rao

Paper 2 :

-IGNOU Notes
- Sociology by S. Shankar Rao

Q1. How much of internet-research / current affairs is necessary for this optional? OR can one simply rely on the books and be done with this subject?

Current affairs, examples of recent burning issues and yojana can be beneficial.

Q2. How many months did it take to finish the core optional syllabus?

4 months approximately

Q3. How much writing practice  you did for optionals?

Answer: I used to write one answer on daily basis of both optional

Q4. Do you maintain self-notes for revision of optional? Or you simply rely on reference books?

I did not prepare many notes.

Q5. What do you think about the importance of optional in HPAS in existing pattern?

Optional are magic wand in HPAS Mains. HPAS mains is the battle of only optional.

Q6. What you will suggest to the young aspirants about how to choose the optional subject?

Take up the optional subject on the basis of scorability and your own interest.

Mains answer-writing?

Q. What style you follow like “introduction-body-conclusion” format or just simply write down what comes in mind first or any other style?

I follow that format in totality with proper flowchart.

Q. Did you write answers in bullet points or in paragraphs or any other style?

Yes i write in bullet points with proper headings, sub headings, underlining and when necessary I inserted flowchart.

Q. What was your approach in the exam writing questions in fixed word limit?

There is only 1 compulsory question in which you have to follow word limit


Q1. How did you prepare for the interview?

I read the newspapers every day and prepared many questions based on my DAF

Q2. Did you attend any mock interviews by coaching classes?


Q3. How long was the interview?

Answer: Around 30 min.

Q4. Please narrate your entire interview- what questions did they ask and what did you reply and other pleasant or uncomfortable experiences during the interview?

I will write in detail about my interview experience and it will be available on www. Nimbusias.com

Q5. Was your interview on the expected lines of what you had prepared or did they ask you totally unexpected questions?  Was it a stress interview, did they ask any uncomfortable questions? If yes, how did you handle it?

The panel members were very cordial and intellectual one. 90 % was expected. No uncomfortable question…

Insecurity about profile

Q. Many candidates prepare sincerely but constantly live under fear about ‘profile insecurity’. I’m not from a big college, I’m not from English medium, and I don’t have work-experience. What if they ask some stressful questions in the interview about this? Did you suffer from such insecurities? What is your message to these candidates?

No such insecurity. HPAS interview panel is very much cordial that you don’t need to worry.

Please provide your marks when they will reveal the marks, it will help future aspirants?

Answer: of course buddy, I will.

Career Backup

Q1. If you were not selected, what was your career backup plan?
Answer: To be very frank I am keeping HPAS as my career backup if I don’t make it to UPSC CSE

Q2. When were you going to execute that backup plan (e.g. after- failed attempt, after I cross – age / after dad retires etc.)

With 4th rank I had already executed my career backup plan ( kyun ki bhut dhake kha liye the) (dude you have missed one thing ( GF dump)…… ).“Acha kiya dude apne hme aashiqui and deewangi se dur rkha…. Vrna shabdon ki aisi bochaar hoti aashiq deewane ho jate or deewane aashiq”

Views on HPAS reforms

Q. Optional subjects should be removed altogether. The present pattern is helping no-one, except coaching-owners, book publishers and the candidates whose optional subjects get favourable treatment. Whats you take on this?

I am in the favour of removal of optional in totality. This pattern according to me is not helping coachingwals or publishers; rather it is more helpful for the traditional players who always play on optional. This is very clear from the average age of selected candidates.

Q. What is your thought on the aptitude test (CSAT)? (Honest View)

Answer: Aptitude test is playing the rational game against the old player who play (foul game) on the optional only. It should be continued ……

Q. What other reforms you would like to see in HPAS?

Answer: Nothing and They (HPPSC) are doing extremely well ( Raj. /Haryana / MP  psc ke hal to sbne dekh hi liye hain). I salute HPPSC for various initiative and reforms in last 2 year.

Q. Through this struggle and success, what have your learned? What is the wisdom of life and competition? What is Your message to the new aspirants?

Answer: Learning :”Aaankhon me apni hairaniyan ( kbi pass/ kbi fail) lekr chl rhe ho to zinda ho”
Wisdom: Struggle – truce- struggle

Message to new aspirants:
The path you have chosen to walk will never be an easy one. At every moment you have to fight, fight to win, fight to let the glimpses of success lighten the most dark night of your life.. so be motivated… Never say die..

Q. Many hardworking candidates have failed in Mains/Interview. They’re feeling dejected- what is your message to them?

Answer: khule aasmaan ko lakaar ke kho (I used to do this):
Waqt aane de ai-aasmaan , bta denge tujhe:
Hum abhi se kya btayein kya hamare dil me hai ( U r all winner, so don’t feel dejected, harte to vo hain jo maidain – e –jung me bhag jate hain,)

Q. Behind every topper are many people who stood by during those uncertain times when he/she was merely an ‘aspirant’. Would you like to tell the world, who were those people in your case? Any specific incidence that you would like to share with the readers?

Answer: I dedicate this success to my parents, brother ,sister, brother -in –law , friends (ST – thanks :your help for HP GK and Hindi was of immense importance ),Nimbus academy for IAS, Team IBS ; you all were constant source of inspiration for me.

Thanks A lot for the valuable Knowledge and Experiences you shared, you will be inspiration for many many young aspirants, thanks again for giving such a nice interview, Wishing you All the best for the Great Job.


  1. Great one, truly very inspirational.

  2. Congratulation for being selected HAS.

  3. good bro....congratsss...u changed ur phne number?

  4. congratulationsss sirr.................. its gonna help me do.
    motivational 1.

  5. Inspirational Legend Surender Mohan ! great interview.................

  6. As an Electronics Engineer why you choose Sociology & Public Admin. as optional subject?

  7. I think few years ago sir you joined SDM office banjar

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  9. great info shared..
    keep it up..