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‘Don’t stop before giving your best shot’

Haryana girl cracked Civil Services again; jumped from All-India Rank 474 to 72



Pelé, the celebrated Brazilian footballer said, ‘Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.’ These lines summarise the story of Muskan Dagar, an alumna of Apeejay School, Charkhi Dadri in Haryana who stood tall in the UPSC Civil Services 2022 examinations.

For those who don’t know her, Dagar comes from a family of farmers in Sehlanga village of Jhajjar district, Haryana. She completed her undergraduate degree in BSc Physical Science from Hindu College, University of Delhi in 2020. Last year, she cracked the UPSC Civil Services examinations in her first attempt and began serving as Indian Civil Accounts Service (ICAS) Probationer in Faridabad. However, the drive to make it count and the fire of her dreams didn’t dull there. She wanted to do something more. So, she gave the papers another shot. Not just that, she got herself back up, tuned her mind and started at it, all over again.

She says, “After I cleared it once, I felt secure that I had made it. So, getting back into the same cycle of exams was not easy. However, I took the leap and decided to see how it goes. During the Mains, I realised that I have to work harder. With more hours and more effort, I made it this time. In such circumstances, one needs to remember the goal they started with. Honestly, I was afraid of not trying hard enough. So, I pushed myself because I didn’t want to stop before giving my best shot.”

Read the story of this remarkable achiever below. Edited excerpts from the interview.

How did you feel after the results of the said exam?

Everyone at home is very happy. Things have become quite busy with many of our well-wishers coming and calling to congratulate us. Honestly, I feel relieved. I am still trying to let the feeling sink in completely. I wasn’t expecting anything at all since one cannot predict the outcome of such an exam.

Your preparation journey lasted about a year along with continuous job training. How did that happen smoothly?

For my second attempt at the papers, the Prelims were to happen in June and the Mains were scheduled for September. Besides, I had to join from December onwards. So, I skipped the foundation course in Mussoorie initially.

Then I appeared for the final interview during my training. To prepare for it, I took out time in between the class sessions and studied for a month and half. It became slightly hectic but I was able to manage it.

Improving the rank by such a jump is phenomenal! What were your focus areas?

I self-assessed and re-read, unlearnt and re-learnt things I thought I knew. I practiced more and appeared for as many mocks. Further, I identified my strengths and weaknesses and thankfully, was able to improve my scores in General Studies by 69 marks. Besides, in my optional subject too, I took that jump. My mantra was: self-reflection.

The interview-round remains a mystery for many. How was your experience?

The panel of experts ensure that you are comfortable during the interview. The questions can range from current affairs to your personal statement. Even if one doesn’t know a fact, the honesty of expressing it is much appreciated by them. Above all, they are trying to gauge aspects of your personality, background and moral values.

A crucial learning from home which you carried to the exam hall?

At home, there is a lot of focus on doing what one loves to do. So, I did exactly that. In addition to this, my family has been very supportive and they encouraged me to achieve my target. I couldn’t have done it without them. I would also like to mention the role of my cousin and friends who helped me a lot in the year gone by.

The UPSC exams are round the corner. What is your advice for aspirants?

Be confident about your hard work and capabilities. Practice well for both Prelims and Mains. Remember, there is always scope for improvement and refinement even if you think you are ready. As I have drastically improved my scores in the written examination over the past one year, I found so many ways to enhance my knowledge. So, keep at it. 

Mrini Devnani is a Senior Correspondent and Marketing Coordinator at Newsroom. She covers student achievements, interviews and contributions for the website. She was a former Correspondent covering Edutech for the India Today Group, and has passion for Social Media and Digital Marketing. You can reach her at [email protected]

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