[Topper's Interview] Dr. Mukul Anil Sharma Rank-13 (Age 27) (HPAS-2015) Public Administration and Geography Optionals from Biara, Palampur Valley, Himachal

Topper's Profile :  Dr. Mukul Anil Sharma

Meet a Doctor by Profession but Cracked HPAS 2015 become Tehsildar, Dr. Mukul Anil Sharma from Palampur Valley. He was happy to share his experiences with all of us.

 Dr. Mukul Anil Sharma
Roll No.
Total attempts in HPAS
Optional Subject
 Public administration and Geography
Medium chosen for Mains answers
Schooling medium
College medium
Home town/city/Village
 VPO Biara tehsil Palampur district KANGRA
Work-experience if any

Details of other competitive exams, including success/failures
 Cleared Capf(AC) ,CDS exam missed civil services main 2015 by 3 marks ,Couldn't qualify CSM 2016
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used)
 For GS-Abhimanu Chandigarh,vision IAS online test series, insightsonindia secure initiative
Optionals-public admin-no coaching ...Online handwritten notes available at flavido.com,pawan sir online test series
Geography-gs oriented study ,no specific coaching or test series
service preference

Educational Profile :

% in class 10
% in class 12
Schooling (Medium)
Graduation course and %
 BDS -64%
Name of college, city, passing out year
 Govt Dental college and hospital Patiala,punjab-passed out-2013

Any other professional courses

Hobbies & Extra curricular
Reading Mythology books by Dr. Devdutt Patnaik, bodybuilding, watching crime investigation series


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

Answer:  I am a dentist and preparing for civil services since 2013, after my graduation I Felt like being a dentist I have limited scope of work, I can only design  people's smile but being a civil servant I can  make them really happy and give them true smile by working for them in diverse areas and thereafter journey began..

Dr. Mukul Anil Sharma
My Father is superintendent in Customs and central excise dept, currently posted at Shimla and my mother is a housewife...My younger sister has just completed her BAMS..And preparing for MD

Electronic Vs Paper material

Question: 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)? If possible narrate a typical day in your study life. What is your style of preparation (e.g. I continue making notes no matter what I’m reading, I just read multiple times but don’t maintain notes, I make mindmaps on computer…etc styles or way)

Answer: It was a mix of both..predominantly electronic material..and I just read multiple times but don't maintain notes...
A typical Day-
Starts at 5:40 am ..Half an hour yoga and meditation to keep yourself
energised...and then from 6:15-8:15 newspaper
And then from 9:00 -1:30 pm-optional and then 1 hour rest
From 2:30-7:30- GS  and then again 1.5 hour break for walk +dinner
And then from 9:00 -10:45/11pm-any remaining topic +rajya sabha videos or some ethics videos  as by this time u don't want to read so watching these videos really helps
And every Sunday-only half day study...

Tempo and Style

Question: Students 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: mood swings and distractions are common during this journey so yoga and meditation really helps you to remain calm ,have patience and positive attitude..
Do give time to your friends And family and to keep study momentum always remember why you started this journey
and most importantly one need to enjoy this journey rather taking it as burden ...

If Struggle of a senior player

After 1-2 failures in any competitive exam, a phase of mental saturation comes. The person knows the booklist, he knows what is necessary to succeed. But it doesn’t yield result.

MY question are two:

Question: 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.

Answer: after 1-2 attempts a phase of mental saturation do come,so one needs to change his/her  style of studying ,habits,attitude....Here family plays a huge role as they will always stand by you and instill positive energy in you Varna rishtedar toh yehi bolenge(Atleast in my case)-CHALO KOI NA...KUCH AUR KR LO,YEH KAFI MUSHKIL  EXAM HAI,HAR BACHHA NHI KR SAKTA... But .Remember one thing --TAKE CARE TO GET WHAT YOU LIKE OR YOU WILL BE FORCED TO LIKE WHAT YOU GET..Hence never ever succumb to any pressure or stress ....So it's better to try again n again .And stop not....Till you reach your goal.

Question: What went wrong in your previous attempt? What changes did you make in this current attempt?

Answer:  My first attempt was to get feel of hpas exam with minimal preparation hence expected result , couldn't clear preIims, In my 2nd attempt  couldn't prepare my optionals well(especially pub ad),,also essay preparation was zero and again expected result...
In this attempt joined pub ad online test series (pawan sir) and studies geography more extensively..Wrote 4-5 essays, (though not satisfied with marks )hence , expected result-qualified mains ..


Prelims: General studies (GS)

Himachal Pradesh General Studies :
Art & Culture
Economic & Social Development
Economic survey
Punjab kesari and Divya himachal newspaper
Khadubhai district wise topics and selective topics
History Ancient
Ncert (both old and new)plus iasbaba notes
History Medieval
Ncert(both old and new) plus IAS baba notes
History Modern (Freedom Struggle)
Culture society
IAS baba notes + ccrt website
Polity & Governance (theory + current)
Economic & Social Development
(theory + current)
Economic survey+mrunal economic lectures
Science (theory + Current)
Ncerts , IAS baba + vision IAS magazine (available online)
Environment & Biodiversity
(theory + current)
Ncert + Shankar IAS environment  book (available online)
Physical Geography,
Indian and World Geography
Ncert (old and new),GC leong
Other national/international current affairs
Vision ias + IAS baba magazine
Schemes, Policy etc
Current affairs magazine

Question: Any observation / comments / tips about GS Prelim paper?

Answer: From this year  GS paper will be the sole factor for selection ,hence try to recollect and memorise more facts as exam is more of factual nature...For this -revise,revise and re revise....

Prelims: Aptitude Test (CSAT)

English / Comprehension
Newspaper reading
Reasoning and Analytical Ability
Maths / Quant / Data Interpretation
Interpersonal Skills including Communication
Decision Making and Problem Solving

Question: Any observation / comments / tips about Aptitude (CSAT) paper?

From this year Csat is qualifying in nature so little hardwork and more of smart work will get you through this paper...Behavioral psychology syllabus should be mentioned in prelim syllabus

Prelim Accuracy

Question: Did you attend any ‘mock tests’? Do you think they are necessary for success?

I didn't attend any mock tests , however one can opt for it,as in this prep there is no single way to achieve success

Question: Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers. in HPAS 2014 ?

Attempted Questions




Mains: Compulsory Language Papers

Question: How did you prepare for the Compulsory English Paper? (If then Book list and Study pan/comments/tips)

Answer: No special preparation...Just read newspaper...

Question: How did you prepare for the Compulsory Hindi Paper? (if then Book list and Studyplan/comments/tips)

Answer: hindi newspaper reading

Mains Essay Writing

How did you prepare for the essay paper?

Answer: practiced 4-5 essays before exam (iasbaba.Com)

Question: Which among the following essay did you write? What key points did you include in it? (If you remember)

Answer:  Fluctuating equations between upper and lower castes-reasons and remedies

Main points of Essay: started with quote ,then explained Various historical,social,economical , religious and other reasons ,why this is threat to society/nation and Various measures that can be undertaken and are being done ,gave some examples and again ended with quote..
 I was hoping to more score in essay but couldn't....

General Studies (Mains) Paper

How did you prepare?  Studyplan/booklist/comment
Indian History (Modern)
(Please give details for subtopics if used various study material or reference books)
Spectrum +bipin  Chandra book
Freedom Struggle
Post-independence India
Indian Culture
(Please give details for subtopics if used various study material or reference books)
Ccrt website + ncert+ insightsonindia art material
Physical Geography
(Please give details for subtopics if used various study material or reference books)
Indian Geography
(Please give details for subtopics if used various study material or reference books)
Indian Polity
(Please give details for subtopics if used various study material or reference books)
Laxmikant + public admin book (fadia n fadia)
Indian Economy
(Please give details for subtopics if used various study material or reference books)
Economic survey + mrunal lectures
Teachings of Mahatma Gandhi
Online- ignou material + other material
Himachal Pradesh General Studies:
Art & Culture
Economic & Social Development
Jagmohan balokhra+ budget + economic survey
Khadubhai selective  himachal gk topics

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

Answer: Till last year selection in hpas exam depended upon optionals but from this year one need to focus equally or more on GS ,himachal gk hence more need of conceptual clarity of GS topics ....Please don't ignore GS now ,more than hard work ,go for smart work...And again I'll stress upon importance of revision ...

Optional Subjects

What were your optional subject and why did you chose it and not something else?

My optionals were public administration and geography...I opted for public administration as it helps you in better understanding of administration and also for my civil services prep it helps me in gs2 and gs4 papers..
Geography-It is bit easier and with appropriate preparation one can complete syllabus in minimal time ....And it also helps to complete GS 1 geography syllabus for civil services..

If a new player wants to pick this subject, would you advice for it or against it?

One can pick any subject of his/her liking but when you pick any subject you need to give your 100% in it.....

First the essential book/resource list and strategy of Optional 1: (Also mention which one is the “Base book” for covering the theory? + Whatever comments you’ve for a particular book e.g. “my seniors said read xyz book but I found that ABC book was better”. “xyz topic not given properly in this book, so prepare from xyz website or book…” OR and so on.) ?

Answer: Public administration

Book List: Paper 1 of Optional 1:
Mohit bhattacharya
flavido.com online notes of pawan sir + synergy
Online lectures by ignou

Book List : Paper 2 of Optional 1 :Arc reports

Question: First the essential book/resource list and strategy of Optional 2 ?

Answer: Geography

Book List : Paper 1 of Optional 2:
Ncert(old and new)

 Book List : Paper 2 of Optional 2:

Ncert (old and new)
For HP-internet

Question: 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?

Answer: books are sufficient ,internet can be used to limited areas

Question: How many months did it take to finish the core optional syllabus?

Answer: 6-7 months are sufficient

Question: How much writing practice you did for Optionals?

Answer: For Pub ad -joined pawan sir online test series and gave 6-7 tests and for geography -2 vision IAS test(general studies test covering geography).

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

Answer: I don't maintain self notes ..I like reading again and again

Question: What do you think about the Importance of Optionals in HPAS in existing pattern?

Answer: till now optionals were bedrock/cornerstone  of this exam ,but from this year there will be level playing field as one need to be strong in both GS,optional ..

Question: What you will suggest to the young aspirants about how to choose the Optional Subjects?

Answer: If possible take your graduation subjects  ,it is easier to get hold of that subject ..If you want to take some other subject ,Just go through the syllabus , previous year papers of every optional ...no optional is good or bad,it's your preparation level that decide fate of your optional

Mains Answer Writing

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

Answer: intro-body-conclusion

Question: Did you write answers in bullet points or in paragraphs or any other style?

paragraphs and points

What was your approach in the exam writing questions in fixed word limits?

Answer: no strict adherence ...Depends upon demand of question


How did you prepare for the interview?

Answer: prepared my profile-graduation,residence ,hobbies and other interests
Used internet , tried to develop opinion for Various issues like demonetisation,surgical strikes,
Discussed with my friends and seniors

Question: Did you attend any mock interviews by coaching classes?

Answer: no

Question: How long was the interview?

Answer: 25 minutes

Question: Please narrate your entire interview- what questions did they ask and what did you reply and other pleasant or uncomfortable experiences during the interview. (Or you can simply tell about the questions asked in the interview, but it will be better if you try to narrate in question-answer pattern).

Answer: Why hpas and not dentistry
COP 21
India -balochistan issue
Compare-india and China
Removal of governor (provisions)
How to measure inequality
Tourism in himachal(wat can be done)
Health sector
HIMACHAL land act ,recent controversy
Us presidential election

Question: 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?

Answer: Yes,it was on expected lines.. was hoping to get  more marks but you can't do anything about interview marks....

Insecurity about profile

Question: 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? What is your message to these candidates?

Answer: I guess that hardly matters.... Just be confident and have positive attitude..Biggest disability in life is bad attitude ...,nothing else

Mark Sheet

Please provide your marks when they will reveal the marks it will help future aspirants.
Geo-78 & 88
Public admin-102 & 110
Written Total = 492
Interview : 80
Overall = 572

Career Backup

Question: If you were not selected, what was your career backup plan?

Answer: would have joined a coaching institute...Was also thinking of doing LLB evening course from PU-Chandigarh

Question: When were you going to “execute” that backup plan? (e.g. after __ failed attempts/ after I cross __ age/after dad retires/ etc.)
Answer: from this year ....

Views on HPAS Reforms

Optional subjects should be removed altogether or not? Does Present pattern seems biased these days when importance is being given to GS more? What is you take on this?

Answer: I personally feel ...Optionals should be removed as in Punjab civil services exam..and more topics can be added ...Like a separate paper for himachal pradesh

Question: What are your thoughts on the Aptitude test (CSAT)? (Honest Views) It should be only Qualifying in nature or not?

Answer: Csat tends to give advantage to science students ,so it should be qualifying ...

Question:  HPPSC have amended the Mains Pattern & Syllabus and scraped one optional subject and 3 General Studies papers have been added, what do you think about these changes how they will affect the preparations of HPAS overall?

Answer: It's a progressive step ,provides level playing field to all ,will definitely reduce role of optional

Question: What other reforms you would like to see in HPAS?

Answer: Removal of optional and reduction  in interview marks weightage

Inspiration & Wisdom

Question: 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: hardwork never lets u down.... Anyone irrespective of his/her background can clear this exam...Karat karat abhyaas te jadmati hott sujann ,rasri aawat jaat te sil par parat nisaan....

Question: Many hardworking candidates have failed in Mains/Interview of HPAS-2014. They’re feeling dejected- what is your message to them?

Answer: Jab tk na safal ho neend chhain ko tyago tum,kya kami reh gyi usko sudhaaro tum,kuch kre bina hi jai jaikar nhi hoti ,koshish krne walon ki kbhi haar nhi hoti...

Question: How did you kept motivating yourself in these years for this journey? Or form where you got the inspiration? Please share.

Answer: To keep yourself motivated just imagine that moment when your name will be in "divine"list and how your parents will react....those joyful tears in your parents eyes... Nothing can be more motivational than that moment....

Credit: Family/ Friends/Tutors

Question: 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 was those people in your case? Any specific incidence that you would like to share with the readers?

Answer: First and foremost -My parents
,My grandmother who expired on 13th Jan this year but was very very happy on result day ,gave me a tight hug (last) ....Miss her....
My sister
My friend-Gurveer Singh Grewal (He gave me pub ad notes and made me join pawan sir online test series

Khadubhai : Thanks a lot for the valuable Knowledge and Experiences you shared, hope that it will inspire youth more and more and you will become a great source of inspiration. Wishing you all the best for the Great Job.


  1. Nice bro.....have a great future....

  2. Very good...u studied hard

  3. Congrats man !!! Well deserved !! Hard work turning into success....Priceless !!
    Just wondering the kind of mentality people have when they had essays to write despising another well deserving Pankaj Sharma's success citing OBC background but still don't have any words of encouragement or wellwishing when it came back to "their own" General category person...just 3 people wishing...Double standard hippocrates...neways besties for your future mate !! :)

    1. Shut your mouth,read 2nd comment,still iam saying he was not deserving and moreover he is pandit so how can you suppose that he belongs to your so called SC,obc category.

    2. Article 19(a)...just a reminder to ur pleasantry...NT exam'z on d way...n fr d secnd part f ur comnt...my comnt waznt meant fr u...it was fr n nmbr of odr rabid hippocrates suprtng ur stupid bullying/banter on a neutral platform fr a reazn unknwn. None xcpt 3 actlly wishd up "ur typ" of candidate...maybe community hs some issues or heartburn on dis success as well...n y smone's belonging to any category dats not for me or u to decide upon...u hv issues.. courts d platform for u mate...n if ur d same guy who was selling "i gave up my 8-9 lac ka package job for doin smthn fr HP" crap...dude some part of d amount every month could had been spend on a social cause in hp if u wr actlly commitd to social cause...dont hide ur lust fr power n fame under d garb of social service...if u'l search buyers to ur crap n stupidity...u'l b disapnted my friend...besties fr NT though...n I just hope people get more generous in wishing every fellow aspirant's success...dan just enquirng "khadubhai cutoff toh btao kitni jani hai"

    3. Bhaiji itni taabadtod angreji kahan se seekhi..... English k paper mein toh aap chha jaate honge guru. Waise NT exam ki date kya hai? Koi idea bhai.

    4. Yeah ,you are right but you missed something here.Right to speech.What I feel I can speak out

    5. Yes u can,ur "Shut ur mouth" explains dat...misuse/ignorant f ryt to b specific...bt my concern was on few people celebrating a success n comin in plenty despising it...as fr ur opinionz concerned u can hold it fr n entire lyftime...dznt bother me...what concerns.. is a bias person holding a responsible govt office position in future n people frm all walks of lyf including minority community people coming and expecting neutrality frm sch a person...ironical but true !!

  4. .....it was Rishabh Sharma...bt still dznt make a diffrnce

  5. congratulations mukul.. good to see u over here