ASMITA REKHA BORA: Optionals Geography and History
- Name: ASMITA REKHA BORA
- Year of Qualifying APSC CCE: 2016
- Rank: 9
- Service Allotted: ALRS
I am a free spirited person who has confidence in the good of people and in being a source of goodness. I believe that one single person can actually bring a revolution if she wants to. Regarding my family, my dad is a retd. Geologist of Geological Survey of India. My mom is a home maker and my elder sister is a deputy branch manager of ICICI bank. She and my Jiju stay in Pune. My Jiju also is a DBM of ICICI bank. Coming to the exams, I was a lost engineering student in plain and direct terms. Something which I accept pretty openly. By my third year (2014), I was extremely sure that I did not want to spend the rest of my life with arithmetic sums I did not love. So around 2016, when the rest of my circle was getting ready for GATE and Jobs here and there I sat and made a Venn diagram of what I wanted in life. One set of jobs I fantasied about, another set of my capabilities. The intersecting set came to have two options: 1. Civil Service 2. Joining an NGO and I chose the option which felt right.
I write a lot. I read the original books and I make notes: comprehensive and original notes. I don’t copy paste from the book. I read and I jot down what I understood. They become my books for the second or the nth time I take up the topic as now they are shorter to read (saving my time) and easier to understand ( saving my time again.)
|Topic||strategy/ booklist/ comment|
|History Ancient||R.S .Sharma ( NCERT and the actual book)|
|History Medieval||Satish Chanda ( NCERT and the actual book)|
|History Modern (Freedom Struggle)||Bipin Chanda ( NCERT and the actual book)|
|Culture and society||Unacademy courses|
|Polity (theory + current)||Laxmikanth, D.D.Basu, Subhash Kashyap|
|Economy (theory + current)||Sanjiv Verma + NCERTs|
|Science (theory + current)||Not anything.|
|Environment (theory + current)||Not anything.|
|geography physical||Savindar Singh|
|geography world||Arihant publications|
|other national/international current affairs||Insights and Vision monthly magazine.|
|Schemes, Policy||Insights and Vision monthly magazine.|
|Assam Culture, Literature||Not anything particular|
|Assam Geography||Taher sir’s book|
|Assam Economy||Economic survey|
|Assam Current Affairs||The Assam Tribune|
|Topic||strategy / booklist|
|Topic 1 : Physical Geography||Savindar Singh|
|Topic 2 : Indian Geography||Khuller|
|Topic 3 : Human Geography||Majid Hussain, Sudipta Adhikari|
I am also a UPSC aspirant. So I attended mocks for UPSC under Vision. It helped me clear both my prelims for UPSC and APSC.
Q 8. What was your approach in the exam (I wrote all, I only focused on the questions where I could answer perfectly, I just not to high quality points to reach the word limit etc .) Some experts claim you should attempt all- even if it involves “making up” an answer with filler lines, some claim attempt only those questions you know perfectly. Where do you stand on this? [Based on your experience and of your seniors/buddies] Attempt each and every question, whether you know it or not.
Paper completion is important. Super Important. There is a popular belief that “Completing the paper is impossible.” Trust me, it is not. Do not believe these type of negative conclusions. But if you are blank on some question, leave that to the very last. Substantiate all that you can on other answers and then make up whatever you can, that too something relevant. Not something out of the blue. Irrelevant answers will not add up to anything good.
Depended on the question. Questions with self-explanatory points were generally bullet wise in format. And the questions which needed explanations were paragraphs in format.
|Did you use highlighters / sketchpens in your answers?||Not at all. Nobody should.|
|Did you draw any diagram in any paper? (e.g. in GS, Geography)||Almost in all the questions I had some kind of diagram.|
|If yes, Did you draw diagrams with pencil or pen?||Pencil drawn. Labelled with Pencil. Heading given with Pen.|
|Did you use ruler to draw the lines in diagram? Or did you just make it by hand?||Ruler.|
My first optional was Geography and Second optional was History. I chose Geography because it was the closest thing to general science amongst humanities subjects. And I chose History because I love stories. There was no speculation regarding marks and all when I chose my optionals. It was purely interest based.
Geography is exceptionally dynamic. But the good news is that APSC rarely emphasizes on the dynamicity of the subject. Most of the times, static portions of the books suffice. CAs may help in substantiating and adding value to the answer, but I personally do not think they will be ingrained in the core of a question.
There wasn’t any fixed schedule for my answer writing. I wrote answers to questions as soon as I was done with one topic.
For the Indian History part it was the same as the Prelims list. For World History, I read Eric Hobsbawn ( all three parts).
I actually had a few notes of a soft skill session I attended in my college by Bhushan Kelkar sir. That’s all I referred to. No extra preparation was done.
No, I did not attend any mock interviews and I scored one of the high scores of the interviews: 156/200 on my own. So, I do not think they are necessary as well.
I wore a Muga Chadar and a muga Mekhela with no gorgeous design. It was very subtle to the eyes.
I do not know. Though other candidates said there were two boards: Deepak Sarma Sir’s board with an all-male panel and Mukti Gogoi Sir’s board with one lady member. I had a lady member in my board.
No, it was not as I expected as the first 7-8 questions were not known by me. The first 10 minutes of my viva, I could not say anything. Questions like why Khanapara is called Khanapara, Hatigaon is called Hatigaon were asked. But even after the initial setback, I did not break down. I kept on searching for an opportunity to take hold of the interview which I held after a question on Jyoti Prasad Agarwalla and from then till the end of the interviews I answered every question correctly. Questions were also thrown to check my political alignment. I answered them by giving no comment. I remained neutral. Questions were asked to know my motivation behind pursuing Civil Services which I answered by showing them my desire of doing goodwill. The key is to keep calm, be confident, remain neutral and have a presence of mind.
I have a weird analogy for the Civil Service Examinations. According to me, CSE is like a Marathon across a desert. A long harsh desert where no milestones exist to tell you the distance covered. You have to run the race alone finding your own way. It sounds very tough and I am not going to make it any subtle by hiding the truth. IT IS VERY TOUGH. But at the end of the marathon, when you reach the other side, you will understand that all the efforts were worth it. All you need to complete the marathon is:
- Patience ( High dosages of it)
- Confidence ( Super high dosages of it)
- Perseverance ( Super duper high dosages of it)
- HARD WORK.
Take pride in being an ‘Aspirant’. It is no less than a full time job. You are preparing to jump several levels in your career quantum shell. Not everyone can dare to pursue what they want in life. So, be proud. You are an ‘Aspirant’, an officer in making.
I had an army with me when I was preparing. Not a shred of negativity was around me. Somewhere my army was more confident of me than I was of myself. My mom-dad were super confident that their daughter will make it. My friends were celebrating even before my results were declared. In this environment I somewhat took pride in being an ‘Aspirant’. I remember one thing which one of my closest friends said to me when I was feeling low during my struggle. She told me, “Asmi, always remember this. More than you deserve this job, this job deserves you. More than what you’ll gain from entering the system, the system will gain much more.” It doesn’t matter whether what she said was true or not, but it instilled confidence in me and thus became my mantra. And even before my interviews I said this to myself and entered the room with a confidence that “It is okay. I can do this.”