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Her advice to civils aspirants is to be frank during the board interview.

In her first attempt, this 24-year old law graduate from the School of Excellence in Law, Chennai couldn’t clear the UPSC Civil Services Preliminary but in her second attempt, she emerged the first ranker! Daughter of V Shanmugam, a customs consultant and homemaker S. Padmavathy, Divyadharshini was working at SBI for the past six months. She shares her journey. 

Name: Divyadharshini Shanmugam
Rank:  1
Exam: Civil Service Exam 2010

Q.How did you hear the good news? 
A.I was in office when the results were declared, and a friend informed me of the results. It came as a shock! At first I did not believe but it but confirmed it through my brother. It took a while to realise that it was not a dream.

Q.Who is the inspiration behind your success?
A. My mentor Prabhakaran sir (Director of Prabhas IAS Academy) and my parents. All have given me ample confidence, motivation and have placed belief in me.

.How different was it in the second attempt? What made you crack it?
A.I think one year’s consistent preparation made the difference between the two attempts.

Q.What were your optional subjects and why did you choose them?
A.Prelims – I chose Public Administration due to easy availability of books and study materials, availability of guidance and above all my interest.
Mains – Ichose Public Administration and law, as law was my graduation subject and I felt comfortable with the syllabus.

Study Materials
Public administration
Books by Lakshmikanth and Maheshwari
Solved previous years question papers
Journals by Indian Institute of Public Administration on current topics like RTI and Civil Society
Constitution by Jai Narayan Pandey and M P Jain
Contracts by Avatar Singh
Torts by Atchudhan Pillai
International Law by Kapoor and Agarwal
Indian Economy
Dutt & Sundaram, Economic & Politically Weekly, Yojna
Indian Polity
Science & Technology
Spectrum, NCERT
Indian History
NCERT, Bipan Chandra
NCERT, Atlas
Current Affairs
The Hindu, Frontline, India Year Book

Q.How was the interview? Can you recall any questions from the board members?
A.The interview board was cordial. I answered to my satisfaction. There were one or two questions for which I didn’t know the answer but I was frank with the board and told them the truth that I did not know.

The questions were based on my profile and were based on the RTI Act, Lokpal Bill etc.

Q.How good are coaching institutes and what to be cautious of if you choose one?
A.Coaching centres are a guiding light but it all ultimately comes down to your individual effort. Attending mock tests would help a lot to ascertain where we stand. Choosing the right centre would have to be made cautiously.

There are many money sucking institutes and we need to be careful not to get into their hands and waste our money and time

Q.Do you have any priority areas where you would like to see you making a difference in the administrative services?
A.IAS gives a wider scope to serve the society and make a difference. I think bridging the rural – urban developmental divide would help in the longer run.

Q.Your message to future CSE aspirants…
A.I would like to wish them all the very best for the exam. It’s a way to go forward with confidence and belief in yourself. It’s not too easy but neither too hard. Right amount of effort would pay good results

Q.What was your strategy for optionals, GS and Essay?
A.Optional – I covered the entire syllabus and prepared concrete points for each topic and always revised before exams. Notes are really helpful especially during exam times.

GS – In addition to prelims preparation, adding personal view and analysis of the questions

Essay – I think there is no need to special preparation for essay. Preparation for general studies help in writing the essay paper. Newspaper reading builds ideas which helps in essay.

Courtesy: Careers360


1. Wal-Mart Stores

Rank: 1 (Previous rank: 2)
CEO: Michael T. Duke
Compare tool: Wal-Mart vs. Top 10
The mega-retailer knocked Exxon Mobil out of the top slot to rule the Fortune 500 again this year. Wal-Mart managed to lift revenues, on top of a big increase in 2008, by attracting bargain-hungry customers from competitors with remodeled stores and inexpensive private-label goods, offering everything from frozen pizza to patio furniture in one stop. A single trip also meant less spending on gas. Result: Profits surged a whopping 7% to $14.3 billion.

2. Exxon Mobile

Rank: 2 (Previous rank: 1)
CEO: Rex W. Tillerson
Compare tool: Exxon Mobil vs. Top 10
The oil giant made a big bet on the domestic natural gas market late last year buying Texas-based XTO Energy for $41 billion. But refining and exploration remain its backbone. The company drilled 45 new wells last year and hit pay dirt on nearly two-thirds of them. Other big projects: new ventures in Qatar, the Black Sea, and Kazakhstan, including the giant Kashagan field located offshore in the Caspian Sea. With operations in nearly every corner of the planet, Exxon always seems to get a seat at the table when big projects arise. Maybe size does matter. –Peter Newcomb

3. Chevron

Rank: 3 (Previous rank: 3)
CEO: John S. Watson
Compare tool: Chevron vs. Top 10
With prices for crude oil and natural gas off sharply from their recent highs, revenue at the oil giant tumbled 37%, from $265 billion to $167 billion. The good news: Production of oil and gas jumped 7%, thanks in part to a 57% success rate on its exploratory drilling. But another pitfall looms: Chevron has a heavy exposure to high-acid crude, particularly its deep-water projects in the U.K. If the government forces it to start processing the high-cost oil, Chevron may opt to cede its drilling rights, a move that would result in a sizeable charge against earnings. –P.N.

4. General Electric

Rank: 4 (Previous rank: 5)
CEO: Jeffrey R. Immelt
Compare tool: General Electric vs. Top 10
The house that Jack built ended 2009 by selling a controlling stake in its NBC Universal entertainment unit to Comcast, a deal that valued the new entity at $37 billion. Investors largely shrugged off the deal, but as concerns over its finance unit begin to fade — and talk of a dividend increase start to heat up — GE stock lately has been on a tear. GE chief Jeffrey Immelt hopes to keep the momentum going. He’s investing $6 billion to develop new medical products and technologies, and is making big bets on green technologies, from fuel-efficient turbines to “thin film” solar panels. –P.N.

5. Bank of America Corp.

Rank: 5 (Previous rank: 11)
CEO: Brian T. Moynihan
Compare tool: Bank of America Corp. vs. Top 10
Say this about Bank of America chief Brian Moynihan: He certainly knows how to talk the talk. In his letter to shareholders, Moynihan went out of his way to thank U.S. taxpayers for making $45 billion in TARP funds available. He also described how he is working closely with “policy leaders” on financial reform. Whether he can walk the walk — i.e., turn around BofA’s fortunes — is another matter. While the company did repay its TARP loan in December, it is still sitting on billions of dollars of vulnerable residential and commercial mortgage debt — one reason the company spent 8,000 words discussing risk in its annual report. –P.N.

6. ConocoPhillips

Rank: 6 (Previous rank: 4)
CEO: James J. Mulva
Compare tool: ConocoPhillips vs. Top 10
When Warren Buffett said he was “dead wrong” to invest in ConocoPhillips, Conoco chief James Mulva must have taken note. The Texas-based oil company — the nation’s third largest — has been going to great lengths trying to shore up its balance sheet by selling assets, reducing debt, and reining in capital spending. In March, Conoco said it would sell half of its 20% stake in Lukoil, a move that could raise $5 billion. Other potential sales: the company’s 9% stake in its oil sands venture Syncrude and its 50% ownership in the Flying J truck stop chain. –P.N.

7. AT&T

Rank: 7 (Previous rank: 8  )
CEO: Randall L. Stephenson
Compare tool: AT&T vs. Top 10
Ahh, the glamorous life of AT&T: best friends with Steve Jobs, exclusive rights to the iPhone (for now) and carrier of choice on the iPad. So why, with everything going for it, did the stock miss a huge rally? In the year ending April 1, Apple soared 109% and the S&P 500 rose 41%. AT&T? Down 2%. The problem is growth, or lack thereof: little in its saturated wireless business and a decline in landlines, which still accounts for 25% of sales. Unless its high-speed Internet business takes off or the iPad drives new wireless growth, the beatings by Wall Street will continue. –Michael Copeland

8. Ford Motor

Rank: 8 (Previous rank: 7)
CEO: Alan R. Mulally
Compare tool: Ford Motor vs. Top 10
In March, Ford completed its exit from the luxury car market by selling Volvo to China’s Geely Automobile for $1.6 billion. Although the sale represents a sharp loss — the company paid $6 billion for the Swedish automaker eleven years ago — Ford posted an annual profit of $2.7 billion in 2009, its first profitable year since 2005. Assisted by the “Cash for Clunkers” program (not to mention Toyota’s accelerator woes), Ford recaptured its position as the nation’s largest carmaker in February. Which is why Ford’s CEO Alan Mulally can now look abroad, including big markets like India, where it recently introduced the compact Figo. –P.N.

9. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.

Rank: 9 (Previous rank: 16)
CEO: James Dimon
Compare tool: J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. vs. Top 10
CEO Jamie Dimon, who’s been hailed as one of the banking industry’s top leaders, called J.P. Morgan’s annual results “mediocre.” The industry must beg to differ. J.P. Morgan’s revenue jumped in 2009 and profits more than doubled. It’s the latest proof that J.P. Morgan was the country’s strongest bank through the financial crisis. Last year it raised capital for businesses when others couldn’t; it was the top merger and acquisitions advisor; and it never posted a quarterly loss. –Scott Cendrowski

10. Hewlett-Packard

Rank: 10 (Previous rank: 9)
CEO: Mark V. Hurd
Compare tool: Hewlett-Packard vs. Top 10
As the biggest technology company by sales, HP now competes with every other IT shop that offers one-stop shopping for corporate buyers and consumers alike. IBM remains HP’s biggest foe on the services front, while Oracle’s purchase of server-maker Sun challenged HP on corporate hardware. The company’s pending acquisition of networking-gear manufacturer 3Com puts this Silicon Valley pioneer in the crosshairs of Cisco. Printers once accounted for the biggest chunk of HP’s profits, but with size comes diversity: Services, software and computers are all making healthy bottom-line contributions now too. –Adam Lashinsky

11. Berkshire Hathaway

Rank: 11 (Previous rank: 13)
CEO: Warren E. Buffett
Compare tool: Berkshire Hathaway vs. Top 10
If Warren Buffett has lost a step, it didn’t show in 2009. Berkshire rolled up its gaudiest net-worth gain ever and arranged its biggest deal, a $26 billion purchase of railroad Burlington Northern that was completed in 2010. The company also announced a stock split that brings Berkshire ownership within reach for those reluctant to plunk down thousands of dollars for a single share. Skeptics complain Buffett has drifted from his value-seeking discipline, but the stock is up 23% this year. Maybe that’s why fans spend so much time debating who might eventually fill his rather large shoes. –Colin Barr

12. Citigroup

Rank: 12 (Previous rank: 12)
CEO: Vikram S. Pandit
Compare tool: Citigroup vs. Top 10
The sickest of the major banks is finally getting healthier. In 2009, Citigroup split itself in two — a good bank and a bad bank — in its effort to sell off more than $500 billion in toxic assets. After passing a government stress test, Citi officially paid back TARP funds to the U.S. Government in 2009. Still, a $25 billion bounce from last year’s losses couldn’t move Citi into the black. It lost $1.6 billion during the year because of consumer credit losses and costs to repay TARP. –S.C.

13. Verizon Communications

Rank: 13 (Previous rank: 17)
CEO: Ivan G. Seidenberg
Compare tool: Verizon Communications vs. Top 10
Like chief rival, AT&T, Verizon also missed this year’s stock market rally. In the year period ending April 1, Verizon’s stock was down almost 4% while the S&P 500 rose 41%. In the same period, Verizon partner Motorola came back from the dead with Droid and was up 52%. Not even the chorus of rumors saying Verizon will get an iPhone has helped. For all the nifty devices Verizon is stocking, what it can’t buy is growth. Analysts project an average annual earnings growth rate of just 5% over the next few years. That’s nothing to phone home about. –M.C.

14. McKesson

Rank: 14 (Previous rank: 15)
CEO: John H. Hammergren
Compare tool: McKesson vs. Top 10
In March, McKesson finally washed its hands of a decade-old accounting scandal when former CEO Charles McCall was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Maybe that will help people refocus on the company’s impressive fundamentals. With revenues of more than $100 billion, McKesson generates far more top line than its cooler corporate neighbors in Silicon Valley. The company’s strong performance during the recession recently prompted Standard & Poor’s to upgrade the company’s rating. Best known as the nation’s largest distributor of pharmaceuticals — the company processes some 4.5 million items a day — McKesson is making inroads on others fronts, digitizing patient records and developing after-hours prescription machines. –P.N.

15. General Motors

Rank: 15 (Previous rank: 6)
CEO: Edward E. Whitacre Jr.
Compare tool: General Motors vs. Top 10
2009 was a tornado for the 101-year-old automaker. There were three CEOs, four divested car brands, and a bankruptcy reorganization that left American taxpayers as its largest shareholders. Don’t forget 2,300 eliminated dealers, 10 closed plants, and 21,000 layoffs. The world’s second-largest automaker is now run by CEO Ed Whitacre and CFO Christopher P. Liddell, neither of whom have previous auto experience. Liddell says GM has a “reasonable chance” of making a profit in 2010, expects to pay back the remaining $5.6 billion in government loans by June, and plans a public stock offering “as soon as it makes sense.” –Alex Taylor III

16. American International Group

Get Quote: AIG Financials: Latest Results Rank: 16 (Previous rank: 245)
CEO: Robert Benmosche
Compare tool: American International Group vs. Top 10
The good news: AIG chief Robert Benmosche is making good on his promise to repay $180 billion in government bailout money. The company sold two insurance operations earlier this year for $50 billion, most of which will go to repaying its debt to the government. The bad news: AIG lost $11 billion last year. Then there’s the company’s ugly balance sheet — $140 billion in debt, $150 billion worth of credit default swaps — its numerous legal entanglements, government investigations, and inability to hold onto key executives. It all makes AIG stock, which has gyrated wildly in the past year, better to ogle that own. –P.N.

17. Cardinal Health

Rank: 17 (Previous rank: 18)
CEO: George S. Barrett
Compare tool: Cardinal Health vs. Top 10
Even a company with ultra-slim margins can churn out a billion-dollar profit — if it sells nearly $1 billion worth of stuff, that is. Drug distributor Cardinal Health simplified itself in 2009 by spinning off its higher-end clinical and medical products group, now CareFusion. As a result, the company boosted its stock price and narrowed its focus. It also has a new CEO, drug-industry veteran George Barrett, who helped Cardinal move beyond embarrassing earnings re-statements in past years. –Adam Lashinsky

18. CVS Caremark

Rank: 18 (Previous rank: 19)
CEO: Thomas M. Ryan
Compare tool: CVS Caremark vs. Top 10
If you picked up a prescription last year, chances are you interacted with at least one of the two sides of CVS Caremark, the drugstore chain cum pharmacy benefits manager (PBM). The company’s retail side operates 7,000 stores, and its PBM handled 660 million prescriptions in 2009. CVS Caremark increased sales and profits last year — but its growth, while steady, wasn’t uniform. Caremark has struggled since the 2007 merger, losing $4.8 billion worth of 2010 contracts last year. Investors will be watching to see whether the PBM’s new president, Per Lofberg, can execute a turnaround — and whether investigations by the FTC and a multistate task force cause trouble for the health-care giant. –Mina Kimes

19. Wells Fargo

Rank: 19 (Previous rank: 41)
CEO: John G. Stumpf
Compare tool: Wells Fargo vs. Top 10
Wells Fargo sold more mortgages than any other bank in 2009. As consumers reacted to record-low interest rates, earnings rose more than four-fold as sales doubled. The bank posted a profit in all four quarters. But analysts were most excited about Wells Fargo’s purchase of Wachovia. The deal was expected to burden Wells with a huge portfolio of shaky adjustable-rate mortgages, but Wachovia proved to be a shrewd pickup. Wells Fargo gained 15 million customers, and after writing down Wachovia’s bad loans, merger costs will be a third less than expected.–S.C.

20. International Business Machines

Rank: 20 (Previous rank: 14)
CEO: Samuel J. Palmisano
Compare tool: International Business Machines vs. Top 10
Sales at Big Blue were down – as was its Fortune 500 ranking – but that doesn’t mean it was an entirely bad year. Earnings and cash flow were stronger than ever despite the recession, thanks to a continued focus on selling high-margin software and services that are designed to help businesses save money and find customers. Another sign of a solid 2009: Two of the most powerful enterprise technology companies in Silicon Valley, Hewlett-Packard and Oracle, regularly singled out IBM as a chief rival. Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, but vilification is a close second. –Jon Fortt

Fortune 100 Companies

Rank Company Revenues
($ millions)
($ millions)
1 Wal-Mart Stores 408,214.0 14,335.0
2 Exxon Mobil 284,650.0 19,280.0
3 Chevron 163,527.0 10,483.0
4 General Electric 156,779.0 11,025.0
5 Bank of America Corp. 150,450.0 6,276.0
6 ConocoPhillips 139,515.0 4,858.0
7 AT&T 123,018.0 12,535.0
8 Ford Motor 118,308.0 2,717.0
9 J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. 115,632.0 11,728.0
10 Hewlett-Packard 114,552.0 7,660.0
11 Berkshire Hathaway 112,493.0 8,055.0
12 Citigroup 108,785.0 -1,606.0
13 Verizon Communications 107,808.0 3,651.0
14 McKesson 106,632.0 823.0
15 General Motors 104,589.0 N.A.
16 American International Group 103,189.0 -10,949.0
17 Cardinal Health 99,612.9 1,151.6
18 CVS Caremark 98,729.0 3,696.0
19 Wells Fargo 98,636.0 12,275.0
20 International Business Machines 95,758.0 13,425.0
21 UnitedHealth Group 87,138.0 3,822.0
22 Procter & Gamble 79,697.0 13,436.0
23 Kroger 76,733.2 70.0
24 AmerisourceBergen 71,789.0 503.4
25 Costco Wholesale 71,422.0 1,086.0
26 Valero Energy 70,035.0 -1,982.0
27 Archer Daniels Midland 69,207.0 1,707.0
28 Boeing 68,281.0 1,312.0
29 Home Depot 66,176.0 2,661.0
30 Target 65,357.0 2,488.0
31 WellPoint 65,028.1 4,745.9
32 Walgreen 63,335.0 2,006.0
33 Johnson & Johnson 61,897.0 12,266.0
34 State Farm Insurance Cos. 61,479.6 766.7
35 Medco Health Solutions 59,804.2 1,280.3
36 Microsoft 58,437.0 14,569.0
37 United Technologies 52,920.0 3,829.0
38 Dell 52,902.0 1,433.0
39 Goldman Sachs Group 51,673.0 13,385.0
40 Pfizer 50,009.0 8,635.0
41 Marathon Oil 49,403.0 1,463.0
42 Lowe’s 47,220.0 1,783.0
43 United Parcel Service 45,297.0 2,152.0
44 Lockheed Martin 45,189.0 3,024.0
45 Best Buy 45,015.0 1,003.0
46 Dow Chemical 44,945.0 648.0
47 Supervalu 44,564.0 -2,855.0
48 Sears Holdings 44,043.0 235.0
49 International Assets Holding 43,604.4 27.6
50 PepsiCo 43,232.0 5,946.0
51 MetLife 41,098.0 -2,246.0
52 Safeway 40,850.7 -1,097.5
53 Kraft Foods 40,386.0 3,021.0
54 Freddie Mac 37,614.0 -21,553.0
55 Sysco 36,853.3 1,055.9
56 Apple 36,537.0 5,704.0
57 Walt Disney 36,149.0 3,307.0
58 Cisco Systems 36,117.0 6,134.0
59 Comcast 35,756.0 3,638.0
60 FedEx 35,497.0 98.0
61 Northrop Grumman 35,291.0 1,686.0
62 Intel 35,127.0 4,369.0
63 Aetna 34,764.1 1,276.5
64 New York Life Insurance 34,014.3 682.7
65 Prudential Financial 32,688.0 3,124.0
66 Caterpillar 32,396.0 895.0
67 Sprint Nextel 32,260.0 -2,436.0
68 Allstate 32,013.0 854.0
69 General Dynamics 31,981.0 2,394.0
70 Morgan Stanley 31,515.0 1,346.0
71 Liberty Mutual Insurance Group 31,094.0 1,023.0
72 Coca-Cola 30,990.0 6,824.0
73 Humana 30,960.4 1,039.7
74 Honeywell International 30,908.0 2,153.0
75 Abbott Laboratories 30,764.7 5,745.8
76 News Corp. 30,423.0 -3,378.0
77 HCA 30,052.0 1,054.0
78 Sunoco 29,630.0 -329.0
79 Hess 29,569.0 740.0
80 Ingram Micro 29,515.4 202.1
81 Fannie Mae 29,065.0 -71,969.0
82 Time Warner 28,842.0 2,468.0
83 Johnson Controls 28,497.0 -338.0
84 Delta Air Lines 28,063.0 -1,237.0
85 Merck 27,428.3 12,901.3
86 DuPont 27,328.0 1,755.0
87 Tyson Foods 27,165.0 -537.0
88 American Express 26,730.0 2,130.0
89 Rite Aid 26,289.5 -2,915.4
90 TIAA-CREF 26,278.0 -459.1
91 CHS 25,729.9 381.4
92 Enterprise GP Holdings 25,510.9 204.1
93 Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance 25,423.6 -115.1
94 Philip Morris International 25,035.0 6,342.0
95 Raytheon 24,881.0 1,935.0
96 Express Scripts 24,748.9 827.6
97 Hartford Financial Services 24,701.0 -887.0
98 Travelers Cos. 24,680.0 3,622.0
99 Publix Super Markets 24,515.0 1,161.4
100 24,509.0 902.0

For the 50 most admired companies overall, FORTUNE’s survey asked businesspeople to vote for the companies that they admired most, from any industry.
Rank Company
1 Google
2 Apple
3 Berkshire Hathaway
4 Johnson & Johnson
6 Procter & Gamble
7 Toyota Motor
8 Goldman Sachs Group
9 Wal-Mart Stores
10 Coca-Cola
11 Microsoft
12 Southwest Airlines
13 FedEx
14 McDonald’s
15 IBM
16 General Electric
17 3M
18 J.P. Morgan Chase
19 Walt Disney
20 Cisco Systems
21 Costco Wholesale
22* BMW
22* Target
24 Nike
25 PepsiCo
26 Starbucks
27 Singapore Airlines
28 Exxon Mobil
29 American Express
30 Nordstrom
31 Intel
32 Hewlett-Packard
33 UPS
34 Nestlé
35 Caterpillar
36 Honda Motor
37 Best Buy
38 Sony
39 Wells Fargo
40 eBay
41 Nokia
42 Samsung Electronics
43 Deere
44 L’Oréal
45 AT&T
46 Lowe’s
47 General Mills
48 Marriott International
49 DuPont
50 Volkswagen


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