‘Law a great foundation for Civil Services’ says Siddhant Tiwari, soon to become DSP

Synopsis: In this interview, Siddhant talks about how he decided to go for the services, how his legal education gave him an extra edge in the exam, what advice he would give to law students/graduates who are unsure about these exams, his aspirations and much more. Also, he reveals his top five tips to ace the exam being a law student/graduate.

Congratulations on your Success Siddhant, that too 7th Rank in your first attempt. It is an amazing achievement!

Thank you so much. It was an amazing experience too.

Starting off with your foundation, when did you decide to get into the civil services? Was it something you decided during law school or was it on your mind even before that?

It was not a spur of the moment decision for me. I always wanted to be a part of the civil services, especially as a part of the Police force. Even as a kid I had the dream of wearing the Police uniform.  I think I was in the tenth standard when I decided to pursue it seriously and made up my mind about giving civil service examinations. Another catalyst in my motivation for the services was my family background. Both my parents are in the services and my mom was a first rank holder in CGPSC two years ago. That helped me a lot in the preparation too. As of the decision to join the police force, I decided during law school that it was something I was going to do.

What was your reason behind choosing law for graduation?

Law was something that really appealed to me, I think it helps in developing a rational and legal sense of thinking which is extremely important. When I was in school, I was introduced to the concept of law as a career and it was then that I decided to do law.  I chose law as an elective in UPSC and it was compulsory in the State PSC exam, so it was an added advantage of course.

How did your legal education help you in the exam preparation?

Law has been extremely helpful in my PSC prep, especially in the Constitutional Law aspects majorly. You see the exam itself is a long process: the Prelims, the Mains and then the Interview. As a matter of fact, Law helped me in all three stages of the exam. Most of the questions are based on the Constitutional Law aspects, and that holds true for the UPSC exam as well. They always say play to your strength for these exams and since Law was my strength it really helped me. Even in the UPSC where we have to choose one elective, I have chosen law for the same reason because why not choose what you have for the last 5-6 years of my life. 

Despite qualifying for the post of Deputy Collector why did you choose Deputy Superintendent of Police as your preference? Was law background your reason for the same?

Law played a key part in my decision, but other things did too. You are aware that I am from Chhattisgarh and the state has been affected by the menace of Naxalism. I have seen many people affected by it, so during law school, I decided that Police service is something which I want to get into. See it is a tough job and someone has to do it and I want to contribute to the betterment of my state by being in an enforcement position. 

Why do you think not many law students adopt for civil services?

The reason they don’t take it up is that they find the corporate jobs more appealing or they don’t see themselves doing well in the civil services aspect which I think is a very personal decision. I chose it because I envisioned myself in a uniform one day. If civil services are your passion, you can do great in it.

What are your goals and aspirations as a DSP? What are the changes you want to bring in the law enforcement process?

One thing I want to change is people’s mindset. There is a negative connotation attached to the police, they fear the police and do not respect them. I want to change that and instill a feeling of security in the people of my state. I want to do justice to my job.

What would you like to say to a lawyer/law student confused as to whether they should opt for the civil services exams?

I would say go for it. If you never try you will never know. If it works out that’s great, if it doesn’t, no worries you have a great backup, you are a lawyer. Even if you really work hard, these exams are still uncertain. Law gives you that support system where you can try out other things and still come back to it if needed. You will always have something to fall back upon.

Being a graduate from a reputed NLU do you think it was easier for you to prepare and do you think it will make your job as a DSP relatively easier?

It was a great help. Being in HNLU we had to go through tough exams and make sure we had enough attendance, there was no shortcut to clear exams. Moreover, what helped me most apart from Constitutional Law as I have said, were IPC, CrPC, Evidence Act among other laws I read during law school. They are the laws which form a core part of the Police work and studying in HNLU gave me a good understanding of the subjects. Also, I would like to add that these subjects also form part of the Academy training which I will start next month and having such a background is a great advantage.

Are you aware of what your training is going to be like? What kind of training do you think will be more challenging?

I did read up about the training bit and even got an opportunity to interact with some of the senior police officers. The training would be starting around April, it would be for 9 months first and then for the next 3 months I will have the special commando training with Greyhound Commandos of Andhra Pradesh in an undisclosed location of Chhattisgarh. 

What are the various career options available to you as a DSP? What are the various things you can do as a DSP?

I can do various things as a DSP ranging from being an instructor at the Academy, DIG, Governors and Chief Minister’s Personal Security Incharge, member of CID, CBI in the future. There are a lot of options, I want to be open for whatever comes my way.

What did you do to keep yourself updated? Since when did you actively start keeping a check on the news etc?

To clear this exam, consistency is the key. You cannot start one day and quit the next and then restart it again. I decided to thoroughly prepare in my final year at law school. Before that, I used to read newspapers and magazines but I was not that focused. After I finished college, I shifted to Delhi for a year and then the next year I shifted back home to study by myself. Those two years were the most crucial. I used to read Indian Express and The Hindu newspapers, I preferred Indian Express because I believe they have better editorials. For Current Affairs I started with Pratiyogita Darpan then I went for current affairs booklets of Vision and Vajiram & Ravi. 

When do you think is the best time to prepare for civil services? When do you think it is too late?

I don’t think it is ever too late to give civil services until you are above the age limit. Before that it is never too late. If you have that dream, that drive, then go for it whenever you want. Put in efforts, be consistent, and just keep at it. 

What activities in your law school help you in your preparation? Moots/ MUNs/Debates/ research papers?

I think mostly quizzing and research papers. Quizzing helps you be aware of specific topics and it gives you an extra edge in these exams. MUNs also help for the international relations aspect of the exams, so all in all these activities do help in a lot of ways.

What was your plan B if not CGPSC?

I never exactly had a Plan B per se because actually I am not that kind of person who keeps Plan Bs but I had thought about the worst case scenario to be that I go for an LLM abroad and come back after gaining some expertise and practice in India.

Why do you think CGPSC is such a rigorous process?

That is a tricky question. I think it is so because they want to select people who are consistent. It is a very thorough exam which covers a vast area covering varied subjects which may not seem relevant. I think they do it to test your patience which is what these exams want to test majorly.

Do you think coaching classes are necessary?

For the state exams, I did not take any classes, but for UPSC I went to Delhi to get an idea of it. I lived in Delhi for a year and studied at Vajiram & Ravi. I think taking up coaching is essential because it gives one a platform. Also, they give you a lot of material to study from. Essentially they give you the base of what you need to cover and you need to build upon that after you get a fair idea. Most of it is on you after that.  

How was your interview like and what were the expectations of the interviewers?

The interview experience was quite surreal. I am from an English medium background so they started questioning me in Hindi and Chhattisgarhi and later they switched to English. They wanted to rattle me in the beginning. The interviewers were 5 eminent personalities from various fields: Law, Local Literature, Hindi Literature, Medicine, Law etc. They asked me various questions but their questions were mainly from Law because of my background. Their second focus was if I will be able to handle the affairs related to the state itself like small towns and villages. They gave me tasks such as translations from English to Hindi, Hindi to Chhattisgarhi, and even English to Chhattisgarhi. They even asked me to think of them as 5 villagers and tell them about a scheme knowing that they don’t know either Hindi or English. So I had to convince them in Chhattisgarhi which was a fun task. Although I am not from a rural area, I have interacted with the rural people. My roots go back to rural Chhattisgarh and hence I was able to do that task comfortably.

How is it important to be focused on what you want out of the Civil services. Some people say they will join anything if they get selected. How do you view this mindset?

I think it is very important. You just can’t do this for the heck of it. You have to have a goal when you are getting into it. If you go with the mindset of wherever I go, I go, you will not clear it because you won’t have that drive. You have to be in the services for 35-45 years of your life. You cannot be in it randomly, you need a goal to drive you. It is not just about the exam, it’s your life.

Who do you think should not take up civil services?

If they have the drive they should do it. No restriction on when it should be. But one thing is clear that if one is thinking of civil services as an alternative to let’s say a corporate firm’s salary, they shouldn’t come to the civil service with that money mindset. I think the grass is always greener on the other side, one should be happy with what he wants and go for it. I have interacted with a lot of people in the services who think of corporate jobs as glamorous and more rewarding and I have heard the opposite as well. It is about individual perspective and what you want out of your life.

How did HNLU help you in this prep other than the law education aspect?

I think my classmates and friends from HNLU helped me a lot. We had a certain group of people who were focused on the Civil Services we used to discuss the exams and exchange notes with each other. When I was in Delhi I was in constant touch with them and used to prepare with them. Overall, there was an atmosphere which gave me a headstart and I think it was very necessary. You need to surround people who are driven towards that same goal. 

There has been a lot of news about bribes and other things to get through interviews in PSCs, what do you have to say about that? Is it a myth or a reality?

I think in my state that is definitely a myth. I haven’t come across any such instances myself or heard it from anyone. It is about studying hard and dedication and these things are just rumours as far as my state is concerned. It is impossible to bribe your way out of the interview because there are 5 people from varied fields and they prepare questions meticulously. Moreover, many top rankers do not even come from the families which can afford such bribes. I really can’t say anything about other states, I haven’t come across anything like that in Chhattisgarh.

In the end, what are Siddhant Tiwari’s top 5 tips to crack a State PSC exam?

My mantra has been concerted efforts. You need to have determination, regularity, consistency, and you need to have discipline because this process can be tedious and boring sometimes. Another thing is focusing on your strength and while not completely ignoring other subjects. Your strength will help you score higher and you can have an even break in other subjects. 

We thank Siddhant for sharing his valuable insights about his journey from a law student to a high ranking police officer and wish him the best for his future endeavors.

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