Meet UPSC 2018 AIR 1 Kanishak Kataria

“I never expected to get the 1st rank.”

Kanishak Kataria, a data scientist working in the silicon valley of India, Bangalore, secured the all-India rank 1 in the 2018 UPSC civil services exam. An alumnus of IIT Bombay, Kataria was able to crack one of the toughest exams in the country in his very first attempt. It is also inspiring to know that he left a job that was fetching him 1 crore as salary abroad to return to India and be a part of the country’s emerging story. Read on to know more about the 2018 IAS topper Kanishak Kataria.

Kanishak Kataria Background

A native of Jaipur, Rajasthan, Kataria comes from a family of civil servants. His father and uncle are in the services. His father, Sanwar Mal Verma, an IAS officer, is currently the Director of the Social Justice and Empowerment Department in Rajasthan. His uncle, K C Verma, is a Divisional Commissioner in Jaipur.

Kataria says, “Since childhood, I have been watching my father and uncle working as senior officials for the country. I too wanted to be the same…”


Kataria completed his schooling from Kota’s St. Paul’s Senior Secondary School. In 2010, he had secured an amazing rank of 44 in the IIT JEE. Accordingly, he joined the IIT Bombay where he pursued a BTech in computer science and engineering. He completed his engineering degree in 2014.

Work Experience

Until 2016, Kataria worked with Samsung as a software engineer in South Korea. There, he was reportedly drawing a fat salary of a crore rupees. Working “for the sake of money” did not satisfy him. He says, “Somewhere down the line, I had developed an aspiration to be a part of India’s growth story,”.

Journey towards the IAS

Even an enviable salary and a plum job could not keep him from his homeland. Kataria returned to India and started his IAS preparation. He also started working at QPLUM in Bangalore as a data scientist. Since he did not have much idea about the exam and its unique challenges, he stayed in Delhi and took coaching for about 7 – 8 months. But from March 2018, he stayed back home and engaged in self-study.

For the prelims exam, Kataria went through the previous years’ UPSC question papers and enrolled for test series.

Kataria opted for mathematics as his optional subject out of genuine love for the subject. He spent more time for his optional since it has a huge syllabus.

Strategy for Mathematics Optional for UPSC

For the mains exam, Kataria spent 13 – 14 hours studying everyday. His dedication and determination is evident from the fact that for about 2 months before the mains, he completely shut himself off social media. He also reveals that he never gave much thought to the results, and focussed only on the exam and the preparation.

His success mantra, in his own words, is hard work and staying positive. Having secured the first rank and having fulfilled his dream of becoming an IAS officer, Kataria now wants to work for the betterment of the country in his new capacity.

Kanishak Kataria Facts

UPSC Rank: AIR 1, CSE 2018

Attempt: First

Optional Subject: Mathematics

Education: B.Tech Computer Science & Engineering

Work Experience: Samsung (South Korea), QPLUM (Bangalore)

Age: 26

Native State: Rajasthan

Do you want to be an IAS topper? Check out Target UPSC 2019 Prelims – Question Bank for IAS Prelims and bolster your chances of acing the prelims 2019!

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