Alumni Talks with Bikash Kumar Kanhar
OPSC Examinations is one of the most difficult and esteemed examinations which can be only cleared by hard work and determination. We had an opportunity to have a talk with Mr. Bikash Kumar , who with his constant efforts and persistence has become an Assistant Executive Engineer (AEE). Being an alumnus of the institute, he took out time from his schedule to guide the students and help them achieve their goals. Here is an excerpt.
CEST Club (CC): Enlighten us about your life before joining NIT Rourkela.
Mr. Bikash Kanhar (BK): I was born and brought up majorly in a town called , situated in the Gajapati district of Odisha. Due to my parent’s job, we had to shuffle from place to place which is why I changed as many as 3 schools during my primary level education. I joined Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya after qualifying in the JNV entrance selection test and spent 7 years of my life there, completing my matriculation and intermediate. It was the most stable part of my life in comparison to the earlier chaos I mentioned and the beginning of my so-called “hostel life”. I had a great schooling year, filled with a lot of memories, challenges, and discoveries. Due to a closed environment there in JNV, I haven’t had the opportunity to explore the competitive scenario outside, apart from few debates, essays, and occasionally quiz competitions, in which I got to represent my school. In that period, I harbored some hobbies like reading novels (mostly fictional), playing table tennis, and cricket. In fact, I played at the regional level in Table tennis. Came out of JNV after my completion of 12th in 2014 and had to make some hard decisions regarding the road map for my career. And in search of that, I stumbled into NITR.
CC: How did you join NITR? Did you choose civil engineering or it just happened?
BK: I joined NITR via JEE mains in 2014. When I left JNV or when I was in my 12th class, I didn’t have so as to say a fixed plan or vision of what I am going to do. So I dabbled into multiple entrances including engineering, medical, and even agriculture as I had a biology background in my intermediate. Even after finishing the exams, I wasn’t confident enough to put my paddle down along a certain road. But after the JEE counseling, I got civil engineering in NITR on the second round and coincidentally it was my second choice as well, which by the way I had filled in the order my cousin sister along with few seniors of my alma mater studying in NITR had suggested. So yeah! It can be said that NITR along with civil did happen to me, mixed with the effort I put in.
CC: Were you a part of any of the clubs at NITR? What do you think about the club culture here? What would you like to say about CEST and ICE?
BK: Apart from CEST, I actually wasn’t part of any club. I was a pretty shy person and wasn’t confident enough to bring out my personality in large gatherings, people might term that as “introvert” qualities. I actually even attended the inductions in my first semester just because my then neighbor and now friend, coaxed me into doing this, for which I am eternally grateful. CEST and its active members, my peers, seniors, and juniors made sure that I don’t miss out on the wonderful club culture that NITR presented to its students. I think the culture was groomed beautifully and is an essential part of the campus environment. It has plenty of benefits such as engaging students outside their academic curriculum into something productive. It offers introverted kids, like me, to get comfortable and showcase the talents and acquire many important skills like teamwork and leadership, to list a few. The best part is definitely the bonding formed between the club members, and the opportunity to be part of organizing many activities. This ensures that you never run out of tales and stories to narrate your grandkids, about your life at NITR. Each day, you learn and encounter something new and it ends with you being proud on the fact how you handled it.
CEST club is certainly like the extra cheese topping on the pizza that is my BTech life. It got me involved in many activities like organizing events, workshops, exhibitions, etc. It was this beautiful initiative, started by 2 of our super seniors, which has continuously grown and flourished as the leadership baton was passed from one batch to another. It’s impressive to see how it has now established itself as one of the top technical clubs in NITR now. The club has even contributed to me personally, in honing my technical skills in civil engineering, as it must be doing to you too when you go out to research kinds of stuff to write in blogs or post on social media. The recent efforts put in by the members and the passion that comes through while witnessing this is truly top-notch.
ICE was a great addition and I remember that it was newly opened when I was in my 3rd year. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to contribute much to its growth but it has found able hands, in the members to pull it up and get going, while being very active and functional. With all the reach both of these clubs have been able to acquire, I wish for many more heights and levels to be breached in the future, as we ex-members proudly look at it.
CC: What are some of the best tips/life lessons NITR has taught you? How have these been useful in your life outside of NITR?
BK: My life at NITR sure has a lot of lessons written in the syllabus that continued for 4 years, imbibing me with values that will be relevant throughout my life. First off, I realized that just reaching a level is not a big deal but putting work to perform continuously and maintaining that level is more important. Just because I got into NIT doesn’t mean it’s all done, I need to do well in order to have the platform and chance to compete further. This was an eye-opener for me in the first year. And throughout BTech, I have come to realize how to have more faith in your abilities and keep focusing on the process, without being overwhelmed by negative results. There have been instances when I have found myself in tough spots, which had led to panic and discouraging thoughts. But through experience, I felt that having a calm head throughout is foremost important, things one way or other, works out. So, my outline would be to keep believing and hang in there even when it gets really tough. These were the biggest take away from my BTech, which has brought in an incredible change in how I view life right now. It would be quite a long list if I start mentioning all lessons, I got from interacting with my fellow , but these are the major takeaways.
CC: How did the idea of appearing for OPSC come to your mind?
BK: It was quite straightforward actually, the OPSC notification came when I was preparing for the GATE examination. I perceived it as a great employment opportunity and decided to apply for it. The post of AEE did boast of group A post under state government and presented itself as a fantastic opportunity to implement our knowledge and tackle many new challenges, to grow as a better engineer with vast experience while making a vital contribution to society.
CC: What was your preparation strategy for OPSC? What book/materials did you refer to for the examination purpose?
BK: For me, my foundation of OPSC preparation actually stemmed from GATE preparation. I have been fortunate enough to study in an elite institution and under the tutelage of outstanding professors, so my foundation was had followed various books of renowned authors such as Devdas , , , and etc. But while my coaching days I followed the material and the class notes, occasionally checked the textbooks for reference, and much clearer understanding if and when felt troubled. I even made a short note of each subject, compacting all the important points, which saved me a lot of effort and time when I wanted to revise it. I strongly recommend each and everyone to prepare one, it will be massively helpful to you countless times in future. The strategy was simple, to go through as much as question banks as I can. My understanding of the concepts was actually taken care of when I was in the coaching, so the next thing was to improve the timing and accuracy. However, the difference in the strategy of preparation both lied on the question patterns. OPSC, due to its restriction, didn’t have the scope to give complicated numerical questions. So I focused on the question pattern which is relevant. I gave plenty of test series available on apps such as and . For question bank, I referred to made easy's state PSC question bank, Gupta and , R. Agor, objective question and answers. All of them helped me sharpen myself up for the question, building on the conceptual knowledge I possessed. The mantra of being cent percent prepared is not only to read all the concepts but also to do loads of questions and giving mock tests. Which serve as a great indicator of your time management and also help you improve it.
CC: Did you enroll for the prestigious IES examination?
BK: I had enrolled for the IES examination, however, due to my lack of preparation in general studies; I haven’t been successful in my attempts. Also while coaching I had opted to prepare for GATE as it gave me a safety net to either join PSUs or pursue higher studies in good institutions.
CC: What message would you like to give to all the OPSC aspirants?
BK: The only message I want to send out to all the OPSC aspirants is to be relentless in preparation and never break your continuity and touch with your subjects as well as questions. With so many distractions and other commitments, it is quite easy to lose track of things. I would suggest the candidates never be complacent, if they study hard for a week and loosen it up later; it might have some bad repercussions. So, you need to pace yourself, achieve daily goals, and make a planned schedule according to the days you have left till examination, along with maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
CC: Share with us any memorable incident of NITR life which you still cherish.
BK: There are a lot of memorable incidents that happened in my tenure at NIT, that it is hard to pick a definitive one. I got to do a lot of stuff while enjoying campus life, such as actively participating in the events organized in fests. Got to organize a few events, of which the “shake it off” event done in 2015 stands out to me, as it was a failure converted to success. Enjoyed the treasure hunts in particular, for the thrill it brought. Late-night snacking, weekend binging, night outs, treat outings, all encompass my delightful NITR stay. Being involved with club activities, making new friends, going out to other IITs to participate in competitions, were all part and parcel of the fun package. Reaching at the exact moment of taking attendance in the classroom, creating chaos in laboratory experiments (not too much!), includes anecdotes that never fails to make me chuckle. I remember I particularly enjoyed Sunidhi Chauhan’s concert a lot, loved breaking a leg in DJ events too. All in all, my good BTech life became legendary due to the company of some wonderful people I had around me and the gorgeous campus that surrounded me.
CC: What are your future goals?
BK: I don’t have any such long-term vision for now per se, looking forward to taking up my duty as the Assistant Executive Engineer. Get more acquainted with the work environment and my duties, gradually developing my skills further with experience. Complete my MTech thesis that I am currently doing in structural engineering at IIT Bhubaneswar. I am just excited and looking forward to what life has in store for me.
We congratulate Mr. Bikash Kumar for his achievement and wish him a future full of happiness and prosperity.