Most of the toppers of the UPSC Civil Services Examination held last year had one thing in common. They all stayed away from social media, to avoid “distractions” and stay focused on their preparation. Many of them even deactivated their social media accounts. So, at first attempt, it is difficult to find them online.
Fourth-rank holder Shreyans Kumat, also from Rajasthan, did the same. So did Srushti Jayant Deshmukh from Bhopal (Rank 5) and Varneet Negi from Bilaspur (Rank 13).
Rahul Sharanappa Sankanur from Hubli, the topper from Karnataka with all-India rank 17, did not even use a smartphone. “I now have a smartphone and started using it,” he told The Sunday Express.
However, Tanmay Vashistha Sharma, a 26-year-old IPS officer who ranked 10th, said he used some social media platforms. “Not Twitter, but I used Facebook to follow pages of newspapers like The Indian Express. And also, YouTube — the Rajya Sabha proceedings on YouTube is very good for preparation for the civil services exam,” he said.
Akshat Jain from Jaipur, who came second, said he used WhatsApp “only because there were study groups there”, and about five minutes of Facebook “for refreshment”. “I never posted anything. After long hours of studying, my five minutes of Facebook was only for refreshment,” he said.
The toppers share another common link — at least 27 of the top 50 are engineers, including graduates from the IITs (five from IIT-Mumbai) as well as BITS-Pilani and NIT-Surathkal. Equally conspicuous is the absence of MBAs from the list.
Also, many of them gave up their careers in the private sector to be a part of India’s administrative elite. Kataria, for example, worked with Samsung, in South Korea, for over a year. Kumat worked with Ernst and Young for a couple of years before deciding to prepare for the civil services examination.
Pujya Priyadarshini (Rank 11) worked with Pricewaterhouse Coopers and is currently with the Reliance Foundation. Ankit (Rank 34), from Panipat, worked with Honda. And Tanmay Vashistha Sharma was with Goldman Sachs before deciding to join the administration.
Varneet Negi was with Power Grid Corporation earlier. “But I resigned and decided to try for the civils,” he said.
Barring the engineers, the other toppers have a varied background. Junaid Ahmed, who came third, is from Aligarh Muslim University; Kerala topper Sreelakshmi R, with all-India rank 29, graduated from the London School of Economics; Priyadarshini, daughter of former MEA Secretary Dnyaneshwar Mulay, is an alumnus of Columbia University; Saloni Khemka from Bihar (Rank 27) studied Philosophy at Bryn Mawr College in the US.
There are at least two lawyers from the National Law University, Delhi — Vaishali Singh from Delhi (Rank 8) and Rangashree T K from Tamil Nadu (Rank 50) — one from ILS Law College, Pune — Manisha Awhale (Rank 8). “I am going to be the first IAS officer from my village of Saikheda and the first woman IAS officer from my district,” said Awhale, from Washim district of Maharashtra.
Atirag Chaplot from Udaipur (Rank 15) is a chartered accountant; Rishita Gupta (Rank 18) is an English Literature graduate from Kirori Mal College in Delhi; Ankur Kaushik (Rank 37) is an amateur poet and an avid Quora user — he answers questions on UPSC preparations.
Some are children of bureaucrats — Kataria’s father is an IAS officer posted in Rajasthan; Priyadarshini’s father was Secretary, MEA; Akshat Jain’s father is a CBI Joint Director while his mother is a senior IRS officer; Gunjan Dwivedi (Rank 9) from Lucknow is the daughter of a retired IPS officer; Deeksha Jain (Rank 22) from Delhi is the daughter of an IPS officer.
Also in the list are Namrata Jain (Rank 12), an electronics engineer from Maoist-affected Dantewada in Chhattisgarh; Trupti Dhodmise (Rank 16), daughter of primary school teachers in Pune; Hemant Keshav Patil (Rank 39), an engineer and the son of a farmer from Palghar in Maharashtra; and Alok Kumar (Rank 41), from Sultanpur, who also hails from a farmer’s family.