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[TOPPER’S STORY] Abhishek Gowda M J Ranks – 278 CSE-2020: Inspirational Journey

abhishek gowda IAS rank 278

Few days ago I updated my whatsapp status as “Success introduces you to the world, but failure introduces the world to you”. This quote is a  solace in these tough and difficult times. The failure of past attempts had an unfathomable degree of pain(mainly borne out of huge expectations of self and others around me) and a lasting impact to crave for better prospects than before. These failures eventually acted as a fuel to help me clear this exam in this attempt and get into IAS. Making this August 2020 as one of the  milestones of my life(despite being such a bad year). 

The  CSE-2019 results still stand as a moment of euphoria to me – because of how and from which position I started this journey. Having said, since the declaration of results – attending innumerable phone calls, replying to so many wishes etc etc… has been a new experience. While giving interviews to the media, sharing my story everywhere –  it makes one feel so overwhelmed and also delightful.  Words aren’t sufficient to express this feeling. I wish all of you will reach a similar milestone and experience the joy of freedom from this cycle of exam and multiple failures. 

I am Dr.Abhishekgowda M. J. from Mandya (D), Karnataka. I have secured  AIR 278 with optional Kannada literature. I am an MBBS graduate and till 10th standard studied purely in Kannada Medium. I wrote this exam in English medium though.  I stayed back in Bangalore without going to Delhi for coaching. Took classes, tests and guidance at InsightsIAS OGP from beginning to end.  


What?-  Life doesn’t always give you an easy choice. Also when you have an assured best end result(IAS), what’s wrong to blend in and beat the best? It just requires courage, confidence and lots of sacrifices. “If you can dream it, you can do it” -Walt Disney. I started from a position of zero – didn’t know how to write in english, no communication skills, it was totally new journey. 

Why? –  ‘Instead of asking why, I frequently asked Why not’. This exam is not a tough one, but it’s made to be considered as the toughest one. Certainly it’s not an easy one too but It demands a certain level of dedication, discipline & commitment. If you are ready to espouse it, none can stop you!

Where?-  Present day realities have proven the extensive adaptability in our education system. Both digital and old school are inextricably linked. Perseverance of digital India – prevalence of internet has to be taken at our advantage and one should continue the use of internet and digital technology responsibly. Thankfully InsightsIAS is playing a major role to enhance these possibilities. I used all its initiatives as part of OGP thoroughly. 

When?- Any time between the age of 21- 32 years(GM) a person with Indian citizenship can apply and write this exam. Also the average age of selected candidates for the year will be approximately 29 years. If you have a dream, you can always achieve it. Age is just a number, let not it be an impediment in your path to success. But it is sooner the better. Start early so that you can have an advantage and work extensively on honing your skills. 


  • Past attempts’ (CSE-2018) debacle had shaken my confidence within and had challenged my courage. However I didn’t take much time to bounce back. Rather started working towards my dream – suppressing the emotional aspects and focusing on the single goal with a strong mindset. This stands as a key factor (How I used time, post prelims result) to my success. This was possible due to the support of family, friends and my mentors at Insights. 
  • Throughout the year maintaining consistency demands extra stamina, this is one thing where I might stand apart from others. I made sure that there was consistency in my answer writing practice(I had to write so much to overcome many issues related to writing in English as I studied majorly in Kannada medium). But I believe with timely support and focus we get used to it and become consistent. 
  • Self motivation was definitely a need. As the journey is a lengthy process it’s quite obvious to feel dejected, exhausted, lose confidence, doubt our abilities. But overcoming it all the time was challenging, yet managed as there was no other option left. 
  • Having studied in kannada medium  till matriculation(10th class). Writing answers wasn’t an easy job. But I did not let go of my faults easily. I loved the challenge of learning new things mostly through self-study. I worked on it, I acted upon it, I kept working on it – without judging myself (because I used to write ridiculously poor answers and essays). I kept on practicing.  Eventually leading to writing decent answers to score well in tests. Special thanks to InsightsIAS Secure initiative and extensive writing practice we have had in the institution.
  • Initially, integrating  digital medium as an option into preparation was challenging for me. Nonetheless with time I overcame this fear too and started extensively using the internet for my preparation.
  • During the Mains preparation, due to paucity of time I kept a major chunk of revision for the last few days before exam. Unfortunate, I fell ill. Severe fever, headache, burning eyes etc. This illness just before exam made me feel that all my efforts were in vain and made me anxious. Constant thought of illness affecting my mains performance had a deep impact.
  • Overcoming this anxiety was a necessity, and I somehow managed it with the help of friends and willpower. It was possible mainly because of the support of my roommate cum friend Durgaprasad BN. He read aloud many of my notes when I was bedridden and I would listen and try to remember. This is how I did most of my revisions just before the exam. Always indebted to Durgaprasad.
  • During the mains exam, I enjoyed writing answers as I was finally putting into use all my efforts. With little illness still persisting it was difficult. Yet the desire to fight for what I had dedicated to and what I had worked for helped me endure this phase.
  • Thankfully I cleared Mains. In the  final stage of preparation i.e. Interview – very fact of  Speaking in English, communicating with officers of higher level had made me nervous initially.  Added with the lockdown, and uncertainty around the date of Personality test (which got postponed in the third week of march 2020) was painful. However during this time helping myself with my interview preparation and infusing positive thoughts, instilling confidence and timely motivation to my preparation was essential. I was fortunate enough to have a friend like Samarth CS who helped me out. Also frequent mocks with Vinay Sir helped me overcome many fears. 

Considering all these hardships I faced and the way I overcame them, today I believe anyone can clear this exam with the right support and mindset.

Glimpse of my journey:

I Started schooling in my village in a Kannada medium in government school. With successful completion of SSLC, I joined PUC(+1 and +2) in English medium, as it was science stream, I secured good marks & opted MBBS for higher studies.  Since I had a strong  connection with rural people and had witnessed lack of medical facilities there, it acted as my strongest  motivation to dream for IAS. The life lessons, moral values and principles taught by my mother & father stood as an all time motivation to me. Added with that my teachers MP sir, Sampath sir & KMB sir has toiled with selfless efforts in showing me the right direction creating a bedrock foundation to who I am today. 

The urge to achieve something big  became stronger as days passed. Coming from a backward class & rural background, there were limitations of my own. In spite of all that, I never stopped. Thanks to my siblings Sunitha, Anitha & Manjesh who take’s a lion share in my success. Thanks for their constant effort to support me emotionally, psychologically, financially etc.  Along with that all my friends have always supported me, thanks to them all. 

Last but not the least, My mentor, my guide, my guru, my inspiration & what not, our VINAY sir has always stood with me in my preparation phase and always boosted my confidence and instilled faith in me whenever needed and was always available at my timely  need. Whether it was answer writing, essays or interview preparation – his support in the form of feedback and constant positive boost was available in all my time at OGP. 

Thanks to all, Here comes the successful completion of my UPSC preparation journey(as I am assured of IAS). It feels so relieved now. I need not prepare for the next prelims. But the UPSC journey has shaped me to become tough. It was an opportunity to learn many new things and become who I am today. 

However, I am aware that passing this exam  is just the beginning of a long journey  and considering where I have come from, the real journey starts now with enormous responsibilities on my shoulders. 

With a leap of faith and confidence one can achieve anything. If I can do it, anyone can do it.You can do it. 

(I will be writing one more article related to Kannada literature optional preparation)