Born to a small-time mica trader in a traditional Marwari family in the Giridih district of Jharkhand, K K Khandelwal did not aspire to join the family business like most other boys. Instead, he had his eyes set on a different goal.
Studying in a government school and intermediate college did not restrict his academic aspirations. He wanted to study at the IIT.
While his father was a bit reluctant at first, the results of the exam dispersed all his doubts. He had secured an AIR 52 in the 1981 IIT-JEE, becoming the first boy from his district to join the premier IIT Kharagpur.
And in 1988, he decided to attempt the much-coveted Union Public Service Commision Exam, securing an All India Rank of 8!
An IAS officer of the undivided Bihar cadre (erstwhile), he later served the government of Jharkhand for several key assignments. Presently, he is the Additional Chief Secretary in charge of the department of personnel and administrative reforms, and looks after the commercial taxes department too.
But despite having four more years of active service left and several candidates eyeing his position, he is now quitting his post.
To mentor deserving IIT aspirants.
The government has accepted his appeal for voluntary retirement and will release him on December 31, 2018.
In an exclusive interview with The Better India, the senior babu speaks about why he decided to trade his government service for the chalk and duster!
It all began in 2009, when Khandelwal’s older son, Ankur, wanted to attempt the IIT-JEE. Despite enrolling him in coaching classes in Ranchi as well as sending him to Kota in Rajasthan, the young boy was struggling, without much success. The father decided to take the matter into his hands and began shuttling between his service and his son’s studies.
It wasn’t easy.
But he would take time out to make notes, understand the concepts clearly and then teach physics and mathematics to his son.
Celebrations hit home when the IIT-JEE 2011 results were declared, and Ankur got an AIR of 570.
“This was the beginning of my journey into teaching. I knew if efforts were put into attaining an in-depth knowledge of the subject and giving the student conceptual clarity, it could reflect in the results,” he says.
It did not end there.
In 2011, he decided to take on teaching yet again, this time for his younger son, Anupam, who was preparing to appear for the IIT-JEE in 2013.
Impressed by Ankur’s result in the past, his sister asked him to teach her son, Aniket, too. And so, the IAS officer coached both of them.
“This time I was better prepared. I did not have to apply for leaves,” he smiles.
The results this time were more than exceptional, with Anupam securing an AIR of 9 in JEE (Adv.). He was the Zonal topper from the IIT Kharagpur Zone (which comprises West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand, Part of Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, and a few other states) with the highest marks in Mathematics in the country, and 100% marks in Physics Paper-2.
Aniket secured an AIR of 56 with 100% marks in Physics Paper-1 and was the second topper from the states of Jharkhand and Bihar.
The IAS-mentor decided to extend his knowledge to more deserving candidates outside his family, completely free of cost. Despite his pressing official engagements, Khandelwal continued to make time from 7:30-9 pm every day and dedicate his weekends to mentor the students.
The result was a cent percent yet again.
All of them cleared the IIT-JEE (Advanced) 2017. These included Yash Raj (AIR-224), Aranya Aryaman (AIR-570), Mayank Kumar (AIR-827), Amitanshu Kumar (AIR-2814), Ray Apoorva Nach (AIR-3210) and Mayank Kumar (AIR-3624).
Today, his passion for teaching has driven the top official to quit his service and mentor more students to get through the llT-JEE.
Was the decision easy? Was it supported by the family?
“They were reluctant to accept it at first. But they knew about the joy teaching brought me. My passion to help and shape young minds made them more receptive to the idea. Today, they have extended their full support to me,” he adds.
Under the banner of Khandelwal Classes, the IAS officer is set to prepare aspirants for the llT-JEE (Advanced) in 2021. Applications are being accepted from students currently in class X, who will be selected through a written entrance test.
Apart from the IAS officer mentoring students in both Physics and Mathematics, a set of dedicated and experienced teachers will also join him. The faculty in Chemistry is also an alumnus of IIT, he adds.
When I ask him about the students the coaching class will cater to, he says, “No matter what their financial or social background–we are open to hardworking and dedicated IIT aspirants who would give their hundred per cent. We will keep the fee reasonable, just to help us bear the operational costs.”
What about underprivileged students who cannot afford the reasonable fees? He is quick to quip, “Such students will be provided coaching free of cost.”
He signs off with a message for students, “Don’t stop asking questions. Don’t pile on your doubts. Education shouldn’t be looked upon as a burden. It can be a joyful experience for both teachers and students if they work together to attain conceptual clarity and focus on the fundamentals. You can achieve anything and crack any exam if you put your heart and mind to it.”
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)
If this story inspired you, get in touch with K K Khandelwal at email@example.com