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In a 1st in 7 years, 3 women top UPSC exam. Among them, student of ‘controversial’ Jamia academy

Although there have been several instances of women topping UPSC exams in previous years, the 2021 result is the first time since 2014 where the top three scorers are women.

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New Delhi: Women have scored the top three ranks in the 2021 civil services exam organised by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), the results of which were declared Monday. 

Shruti Sharma from Uttar Pradesh’s Bijnor emerged as the topper, while Ankita Agarwal from Kolkata and Gamini Singla from Chandigarh ranked second and third, respectively. 

Although there have been several instances of women topping UPSC exams in previous years, this is the first time since 2014 that the top three scorers are women, a source in the UPSC told ThePrint.

Both Shruti and Ankita are alumni of Delhi’s St Stephen’s College. Ankita joined a private firm after graduating in economics, only to quit within a year and start preparing for the civil services exam.

Shruti enrolled in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) for her postgraduation but later dropped out and joined the Delhi School of Economics.  

She prepared for the civil services examination at Jamia Millia Islamia’s Residential Coaching Academy (RCA), which offers free coaching to minorities, SCs, STs, and women candidates.

In 2020, the academy was the subject of a controversial show that sought to project it as the fountainhead of so-called “UPSC jihad”, or an alleged conspiracy to push Muslims into the civil service.

Gamini is a computer science graduate from Panjab University.

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‘Confident about cracking exam’

Speaking to ThePrint, Shruti said she had been confident of her success but did not think that she would emerge as a topper. 

“The first rank came as a surprise to me. A large part of the credit goes to the Jamia academy, where I prepared for the exam,” she said, adding that she had been preparing for the last couple of years and this was her second attempt at the examination.

The Jamia academy Shruti attended has coached more than 500 serving civil servants so far, according to data provided by the academy. According to a 2021 IANS report, as many as 220 students who were coached at the RCA cracked the civil services exams over 10 years. This year, 23 of their students got selected for the UPSC, the academy has said. 

Jamia Vice-Chancellor Najma Akhtar congratulated Shruti and visited her at her Delhi residence Monday. 

(Edited by Gitanjali Das)

(This story has been updated.)

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