Haritha V Kumar, who emerged topper in the All-India Civil Services Examination, initially did not believe it was true as she thought her friends had played a prank.
"I did not believe that I got the first rank. My friends told me that I am the topper but I refused to believe. They dragged me and showed it to me on Internet and then only I believed them," Haritha, a BTech degree holder, told PTI.
Haritha and two others -- Sriram V (Rank 2) and Albi John Verghese (Rank 4) -- from Kerala are among the top five in the Civil Services exam for which the results were announced today. The third rank was secured by Stuti Charan.
27-year-old Haritha, who hails from Kerala's Thiruvananthapuram, is at presently working as a probationer of Indian Revenue Services (IRS) undergoing training in National Academy of Customs Excise and Narcotics (NACEN) in Faridabad.
"I am very happy and you know nobody expects that one will get first rank. I thank God and parents. Special thanks to my teachers and friends," said Haritha, for whom getting a rank in academics is nothing new as she had earlier ranked seventh in Class X in Kerala.
This was the fourth time she appeared for the Civil Services exam and had previously ranked 179 and 294.
"I did not clear the exams first time. I got 179th rank in the second attempt and got IRS. But last year my rank dropped to 294. I did not lose heart and my efforts have borne fruit," she said.
Haritha, who has studied engineering, chose economics and Malayalam as her main subjects for the top most exam in the country.
"One's life revolves around economics. For any problem, you can find that the root cause in economics. Malayalam is my mother tongue and from my childhood I have a special liking for Malayalam".
It is after two decades that a candidate from Kerala has emerged topper in the All-India Civil Services Examination.
An ecstatic Dr V Sriram, who got the second rank, said he was 'overwhelmed'.
"I am on cloud nine," Sriram, who is doing his first year Post Graduation in General Medicine at the SCB Medical college at Cuttack told PTI when contacted.
He said he had appeared for the UPSC examination last year, but did not clear it. This time, he had done well both in the written examination and interview.
Sriram, who hails from Kochi, did his schooling at the Bhavan's Girinagar, passing out in 2004 and graduation in the Trivandrum medical college in 2010.
Asked about the reaction of his parents, he said they were 'shocked'. "Nobody expected a second rank," he said.
The training was expected to begin in September.
Fourth ranked Dr Alby John Varghese, hailing from Muvattupuzha, said he was very happy with the result. Alby, who did his MBBS rom Jubilee Mission Medical college, said IAS was his first option. "I was interested in civil service as I wanted to work for the people in lower strata of society," he said.