Even before he topped the UPSC examination Friday, Jaipur’s Kanishak Katariya had an impressive record. The 26-year-old topped the IIT-JEE in the SC category in 2010 and graduated from IIT-Bombay in 2014, eventually going on to work for Samsung in South Korea.
But more than money, his motivation was “to improve the quality of public governance and administration in India”. Moreover, he had observed public service from close quarters — his father Sanwarmal Verma and uncle Kailash Chand Verma are both IAS officers. While the former is the director of the Social Justice and Empowerment Department in the Rajasthan government, the latter is Jaipur’s Divisional Commissioner.
After completing his schooling from Kota in 2010, Katariya cleared the IIT-JEE, getting all-India rank 1 in the SC category, and rank 44 in the general category. He then pursued Computer Science and Engineering from IIT-Bombay. “In South Korea, I worked for Samsung Electronics for one-and-half years as a software engineer. And then for one year I was in Bangalore, where I worked as a data scientist at a technological solutions firm,” he told The Indian Express.
READ | Who is Kanishak Kataria
In 2017, he quit his job to focus entirely on appearing for the Union Public Service (UPSC) examination. “I was in Delhi for seven-eight months where I had joined coaching classes for foundational understanding. After that I moved to Jaipur for self-studies, and had been preparing by myself for the last year or so,” he said.
Katariya said he studied 8-10 hours a day and kept one day of the week to watch movies or follow sports. “But when Mains were round the corner — one-and-a-half or two months — I substantially increased my efforts and put in 13-14 hours daily. I had to study because this was my first attempt and I had a lot of things to cover. And my optional was mathematics, so that also takes a substantial amount of time,” he said.
Explaining the jump from engineering to civil services, he said, “I had seen public service from close quarters and I wanted to experience private (work) life also before making such a big decision… I felt I can create an impact in India. When I compared my life in Bangalore with that in South Korea, I realised our country needs good quality of public governance and administration, so that all people are able to get all basic needs. I felt that if I can contribute in a very minuscule way, it will be much more satisfying than earning a lot of money.”
Advising other UPSC aspirants, he said, “People shouldn’t take unnecessary burden — like UPSC is the only thing in life. If they take unnecessary burden, their performance also gets affected. I didn’t take too much pressure; that I have to clear an examination. I took it step by step at each stage and was able to clear it. If people have clear minds, they will be able to concentrate better and perform more efficiently.”
He added that he followed sports — cricket, football and tennis — “whether it was exam time or not”.
At his Jaipur home, celebrations have just begun. His mother is a homemaker and elder sister is in the final year of post-graduation. Katariya said that for now, he wants to travel to make up for the time he spent studying.
Incidentally, Akshat Jain, who stood second, also hails from Rajasthan and has civil service officers in the family. The family comes from Tonk and his father, Dharam Chand Jain, is an IPS officer of 1991 batch who recently joined as a Joint Director in the Central Bureau of Investigation. Akshat’s mother Simmi Jain is an IRS officer and is posted in Jaipur. “I would like to serve as an IAS officer in my home state, Rajasthan,” Akshat said.