Hariram Shankar (CSE 2016 Rank 145) UPSC Topper’s Interview: From NIT, SBI PO, IAAS, and now IPS!

Hariram Shankar, 26, is a young man with a lot of confidence and energy. Knowing him for many years, what makes his special, in our opinion, is his unique analysis and opinion about various things around him. And that includes what works well in UPSC Civil Services Exam and what may not.

Hariram is not a one-time lucky guy. He is now in IPS because of sheer dedication, hard-work and his own strategies. He is bold – he took the risky decision to quit his job as SBI PO – when he failed to clear IAS Mains the second time. He made it to IAAS next time. And now, with an all-India rank of 145, Hariram Shanker can be sure of IPS (Indian Police Service)!


Brief Bio- data:

  • Name: Hariram Shankar
  • Age: 26
  • Name of the Exam and Year: CSE 2016
  • Rank: 145
  • Roll number: 0525284
  • Category (General/OBC/SC/ST): General
  • Graduation Background and College: B Tech, Mechanical Engineering from NIT Calicut
  • Post Graduation Background and College (if any): NIL
  • Work Experience: Organization and Duration: IA&AS officer trainee (2014 exam), SBI P.O (2013 exam)
  • UPSC Optional Subject: Geography
  • UPSC Mains Medium: English
  • UPSC Interview Medium: English
  • The number of attempts taken to achieve this feat: 5
  • Performance in previous attempts (if any): Rank 483, CSE 2014
  • State and Place of Residence (Permanent): Kerala, Thrissur
  • Percentage of Marks in 10th and Board: 94
  • Percentage of Marks in 12th and Board: 94.6
  • Percentage of Marks in Graduation and Board/University: 8.51/10
  • Extra qualifications or achievements (if any): Participated in school and college mimes, Debating competitions, science fiction writing
  • What’s unique about your profile: I usually take initiatives, though many of them do not reach any fruitful conclusion. But some do succeed and those things make my profile (DAF, I am assuming) unique.
  • Service Preference (Top 5): IAS, IPS (already in IA&AS.)
  • Cadre Preference (Top 5): Kerala, Karnataka, Telangana, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu.

Background + Inspirational Journey So Far:

upsc.dreamupsc-mpsc.com: Hearty congratulations from upsc.dreamupsc.com for this exceptional achievement!  We are happy that your efforts are finally rewarded, that too in grand style! Let’s start from the beginning. How did you come across the idea of writing UPSC Civil Services Examination? Was it your childhood dream?

Thank you for the appreciation. It was a long journey for me too. So all the happier. I decided to write civil service exam in my final year of Engineering. Till then, I had planned on going for higher studies, preferably somewhere abroad. Then my college senior Gokul G.R (now Idukki Collector) cleared the exam in his very first attempt straight out of college with 19th rank. Seeing this, a few of us felt that Civil Service is an achievable goal if we work hard enough. That’s when I decided to take the plunge. It was never my childhood dream.

upsc.dreamupsc.com: How did you feel when you came to know that your name is in the toppers list? Can you share the moments of happiness with our readers?

Haha..I was with my parents and brother when the results came. I was hoping that if my name came in the list, it should be below 200 so that I get IAS or IPS. Since I am already in IA&AS which is an excellent service, I hoped either get me in top 200 or out of the list. So I was really happy when I saw my rank at 145.

upsc.dreamupsc-mpsc.com: Can you share a little bit about your background? (Family, School, College, Work etc.)

My dad Venkitachalam V.H, works as a section officer at IMG, Kochi (a Kerala state autonomous body). My mother works as an Ayurveda Doctor at Vaidyaratnam Ayurveda College, Thrissur. My brother Bharadwaj is going for M Tech (Research) in Machine design at IIT Bombay. I studied at St Pauls School in Thrissur till 4th standard and from 5th to 12th at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s Vidya Mandir, Poochatty. Then I did Mechanical Engineering at NIT Calicut. After 1 attempt, I joined SBI as a P.O. Then I realised I have not done justice to the exam when I gave the attempt. So I quit SBI and wrote again and cleared on my 3rd attempt. I underwent 1 year of training at National Academy of Audit and Accounts (Yarrows), Shimla and 6 months of On the Job Training at Kolkata.

upsc.dreamupsc-mpsc.com: How can you correlate you graduation background, work experience (if any) and entry into civil services? Can you brief us your thoughts, views, and ambitions when you climbed each position in the ladder of your life?

Well, during my college days, few of us had tried to focus on developing socially relevant and impactful projects like Low-Cost Housing. But then we realised technical ideas and solutions are aplenty in our country. It’s just that not many are proactive enough to implement these things. This sense of helplessness made me feel that civil service is probably the best platform to take charge of the situation. My work experience in SBI as a P.O exposed me to the problems faced by poor especially when it comes to financial access. These insights will definitely help in my career. But most importantly, my experience at NAAA, Yarrows helped me to clear this time. The professionalism and training imparted there not only improves your knowledge but improves your confidence and personality as well. It’s very difficult to quantify such things but let me put it in perspective. During my first CSE interview, I had 168 marks because I was doubtful and less confident. All the exposures in the academy made me much more confident, which translated into 206 marks in the interview this time. The Indian Audit and Accounts Service is also so diverse and interesting that a small exposure to it gave me many insights which I could share during my interview.

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