New Delhi: It’s celebration time for Aranyak Saikia, yet again.
Currently serving as an IPS officer of the 2017 batch from the Karnataka cadre, Saikia, born and brought up in Guwahati, has once again brought laurels to Assam by clearing the 2019 UPSC Civil Services Examination and securing 59th position.
Last year, Saikia stood 148th in the highly competitive examination. During a tête-à-tête with EastMojo, Saikia spoke at length about his ways of preparation, aspirations, hobbies, well-wishers, and more.
Armed with a Bachelor’s degree in economics from St Stephen’s College, Delhi, and M.Phil in the same subject from Delhi School of Economics, Saikia, initially wanted to pursue a career in academics, despite belonging to a family of civil servants. His father, Kuladhar Saikia, was the former DGP of Assam Police, and his mother, Leena Sarma, is an IRTS officer.
“I had plans to study abroad and continue my academics, but my parents wanted me to stay in India. It was in 2016 that I decided to prepare for UPSC, and in 2017 I took my first exam,” he said.
When asked about his expectations, regarding the results, Saikia said, “UPSC is very unpredictable. I was expecting a much better result in my second attempt, but that wasn’t the case. I’m happy with my current rank; this was my third attempt. I don’t really hold high expectations; I work hard and try to give my best.
Saikia, unlike most aspirants, doesn’t have the habit of making notes. “I read notes by various toppers and faculties available on the Internet. If I come to know something new and important then I add those to my reading material. However, I did make notes by reading newspapers. My personal go-to websites for learning and updating my knowledge were ‘Insights on India’ and ‘Demystify CSE’. I attempted the test series frequently for revision and to gain confidence,” he said.
Saikia feels one should attempt every question, doesn’t matter if the aspirant knows the exact answer or not. Even if some questions may look unfamiliar, he uses his intuition and common sense to write a line or two. Saikia observed that there can be no ‘perfect’ answer. No matter how well one writes; it’s unlikely that the ‘perfect’ answer will fetch full-marks. But one mark here and there from the questions attempted can make a difference in the total marks. “My philosophy was to keep on attempting all the questions as long as I can,” he added.
Sharing with EastMojo about his Interview preparation and the actual process, Saikia said, “Before I appeared in my first exam in 2017, I did attempt one mock interview. While it can help you to gain a certain amount of confidence, it is quite different from the official interview procedure. The questions in mock were straightforward, while those in the actual interview were analytical and required a lot of critical thinking. I practised a lot at home. I would analyse the possible questions with my friends and parents.”
Saikia’s interview lasted for around 25 minutes. There were one or two unexpected questions, but he chose to be honest with the interviewer. “The examiners, of course, know that it may not be possible for everyone to be aware of everything. When you try to bluff or beat about the bush, it creates a negative impression. One should be honest. After all, they are highly experienced people sitting on the other side of the table,” he said.
The chairman of the board during his interview was Bharat Bhushan Vyas, a senior IAS officer of the 1986 batch.
Since the UPSC exam consumes a lot of one’s efforts and energy, it gets exhausting at times. Saikia, a sports lover, would rejuvenate himself by playing football and badminton daily, at least for an hour. A writer and columnist by passion, on days when Saikia didn’t feel like studying, he wrote stories and articles. Saikia also runs two blogs – one by his name that lists articles on serious social, political, and economical issues, and the other ‘Rhapsodic Ruminations’ that features stories and other fiction writings.
Saikia is thankful that he had a great support system. “I’ve a wonderful set of friends. Then my parents, relatives, and teachers were always helpful.”
So, what’s that one advice he would like to give to the new aspirants? “Never give up. I learned this in my National Police Academy training. Our physical training is so rigorous. We literally have to train our minds that we can do it. My [UPSC] preparations also helped me in building patience, dedication, and confidence.”