Harshika Singh at her Ranchi residence on Friday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
She’s chirpy, loves chilling out with friends and follows fashion like any other PYT. And yet 27-year-old Harshika Singh is more feisty than most people her age.
Undeterred by her average performance in her first UPSC attempt two years ago, the Ranchi girl worked harder to clinch an all-India rank of eight in the 2011 civil services exam, the results of which were declared on Friday.
“She was a champion right from her school days,” beamed mother Rekha Singh, a senior executive with Central Coalfields Limited.
As Rekha busied herself attending to a drove of visitors — from relatives to mediapersons — at their Kanke residence, her real estate developer husband Anil Singh pitched in: “Most importantly, our daughter was always clear on what she wanted to do. As parents, we supported her in every possible way.”
Harshika took the hot seat only after her parents. On what was her first reaction when the results were announced, she said: “I simply hugged my parents and said ‘thank you for having faith in me’.”
The girl, who dreamt of being an IAS officer since adolescence, completed her matriculation from Bishop Westcott School and senior secondary from DAV-Hehal. She graduated in economics from St Xavier’s College before moving to London for her masters in 2007.
“While in school, we used to take study tours to villages. Lack of basic healthcare was a persistent problem. Even anganwadi and block workers had little idea about health services. I always wanted to help, but probably waited for the right moment,” she said.
A candid Harshika minced no words to admit that this was her second UPSC attempt. Last time, she ranked 638, but her confidence didn’t waver. “I had returned from London in December 2009 and taken the exam in May 2010. I had only four months to prepare. It was random study. My performance was average. But, I took it as a challenge and started preparing thoroughly,” she said. “After my examination and interview, I knew I would be through, but didn’t expect a single-digit rank,” she added.
Jharkhand and Bihar are Harshika’s first and second posting preferences. “Issues involving women are big here — be it crime or mortality rate. My aim will be to address these first,” she said.
And what is her take on Naxalism in Jharkhand? “I think we need to look at two things — development and policing. The two need to be synergised to work as complementary forces for a better future,” she pointed out.
Harshika alone didn’t bring laurels to the state. Ajay Katesaria of Jharia, Dhanbad, ranked 28th in his third UPSC attempt, while Bokaro boy Chandra Mohan Thakur bagged the 36th place. Ravi Shankar Shukla, son of a Hazaribagh district judge, has stood 39, while Deogarh boy Pallav Gopal Jha has ranked 93.
Another Ranchi boy, Harsha Vardhan Mandava — son of IPS officer M.V. Rao — ranked 165. “I wanted to be an IAS, but later realised that law and order too plays a pivotal role in development. I will follow in my father’s footsteps. I am happy with my score as it was my first attempt,” Harsha said.