One goal, different stories – Tales of Odisha’s UPSC toppers

Odisha has never lagged in any sectors. UPSC is considered as the most honourable competitive examination in the Indian subcontinent. In this field too, the Odia aspirants have been seen reaching the peak with flying colours.


UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) is a recruiting agency for the Government of India, which conducts a national level exam. UPSC is considered one of the toughest exams in India. A UPSC aspirant has to sit in the actual exam for 32 hours from Prelims until the interview. Every year almost 9,00,000 to 10,00,000 candidates apply for the examination. The number of vacancies for the IAS posts varies every year. It is expected that the vacancy will be around 800 for the current year.

Every aspirant has its own story and struggles. ‘Hard work pays off’, this is the success mantra for all the UPSC rank holders. UPSC is more of a dedication, rather than just an examination.

Ram Chandra Patra, Dr Hrishikesh Panda, Lalit Mansingh, Sitakanta Mahapatra, Prafulla Chandra Mishra, Purna Chandra Hota, Anshuman Kamila, Anya Das, Pamela Sathpathy, Shri Durishetty Anudeep, Suman Sourav Mohanty, Asit Tripathy, Ashis Panda, Debasweta Barik, Sandeep Mishra, Ananya Das, Roopa Mishra, Upasana Mohapatra, Amrit Ruturaj, and many more rank holders have made the State proud.

UPSC toppers of Odisha:

Roopa Mishra

In 2004, Roopa Mishra became the first Odia lady as well as the first married lady of the country, to have topped the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) examinations. The resident of Angul, Odisha, Roopa Mishra was born on 9th June 1977. She did her schooling in St Joseph’s Girls High School in Cuttack and then studied 10+2 in DAV Public School, Bhubaneswar. For further studies, she went on to Ravenshaw College, before doing her Graduation in Commerce from BJB college. Roopa Mishra was raised in a very encouraging environment. Her husband, Anshuman Tripathy, has also played an important role in her success. He, along with her parents, motivated her to take the examination as she held the potentialities to crack it.

She stayed in Delhi and prepared for 10 months. Her advice to the UPSC aspirants who are willing to clear the examination is, the first important thing they must do is to choose the subjects carefully. She had public administration and psychology as her subjects. When Roopa Mishra was asked why she chose to join the Civil Service when she had a degree in management, she replied, “I believe a civil servant is the biggest manager of all.”

Roopa Mishra has turned out to be a powerful officer and has done many commendable jobs. When she was holding office in Nabrangpur, she took strict action against a few school authorities allegedly involved in the molestation of female students. She has worked hard for the successful implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act Scheme.

Presently, Roopa Mishra has been appointed as the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Delhi, under the Central Staffing Scheme, for 5 years.

Sitakanta Mahapatra

In 1961, Sitakanta Mahapatra became the first Odia to top the UPSC examination. He was born in the year of 1937, in the village Mahanaga, Kendrapara district. He went to Korus Government High School and then did his BA in History Honours from Ravenshaw University. After that, he pursued a Master’s degree in Political Science from Allahabad University. Before joining as IAS in 1961, he taught for two years at the Post Graduate Department of Utkal University. He has held several posts of higher importance including Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Government of India, and President at UNESCO’s World Decade for Cultural Development. He retired in the year of 1995, and since then he has held ex officio posts such as Chairman of National Book Trust. He has received numerous awards like Jnanpith Award, Sahitya Akademi Award, Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan, and several other prestigious awards for his extraordinary works.

Purna Chandra Hota

Purna Chandra Hota was born and brought up in Odisha. He went to Onslow Institute, Chatrapur, Ganjam, and later he did his BA Honors at Ravenshaw University. He pursued an MA in political science from the University of Allahabad. In the year of 1962, he topped the UPSC examination and became the 2nd Odia to have topped this prestigious examination. He has held many key posts like Commissioner and Secretary of Urban Development, Health and Family Welfare, Irrigation and Power, and many more. He was even appointed as the Chairman of the Tripartite Committee for framing the pension scheme for workers. PC Mishra was honoured with the degree of D.Lit for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Public Service’. Presently, he has been appointed as the Pro Vice-chairman of Delhi Public Society since 2014.

Lalit Mansingh

Lalit Mansingh born on 29th April 1941 at Nandala, in Puri district of Odisha, is a former Indian diplomat. He pursued a Master’s degree in Political Science. Before joining IAS, he taught in the Post Graduate Department of Political Science, Utkal University in Bhubaneshwar. In June 1963, he topped the UPSC examination and became the third Odia to have topped it. Lalit Mansingh has the brightest mind since childhood. He has held many posts of great significance like, he was the Foreign Secretary of India(1999-2000), Indian Ambassador to the United States, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs. Lalit Mansingh has achieved a great deal of success on the ground of his work.

These UPSC examination toppers are the inspiration for many young aspirants. Their journey of becoming a Civil Servant is something that everyone should get motivation from. UPSC is the most prestigious examination, and it should not be considered as an examination that one cannot tackle. It’s all about an individual’s patience, perseverance, and dedication. Every year, lakhs of people sit to appear the examination, from which only a few get selected. UPSC is more of a battlefield where the individual must fight with oneself, to bring out the best in themselves. ‘Hard work’, ‘patience’, and ‘determination’ do wonders in this particular examination. As it is said, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, similarly one has to work harder to achieve the greatest heights of success.


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