From Ranchi to Rank 1: Ritvika Pandey’s Journey to Become India’s Top Forest Guardian

    Ritvika Pandey topped the UPSC IFS exam 2023 with AIR-1.



    Ritvika Pandey’s story is an inspiration for anyone who has ever dreamt of achieving the seemingly impossible. This 27-year-old from Ranchi, Jharkhand, didn’t just crack the prestigious UPSC IFS exam – she secured the coveted All India Rank 1, proving that dedication, passion, and a touch of creativity can pave the path to success.


    Daughter of a retired Ministry of Agriculture officer and a homemaker, Ritvika’s upbringing instilled a strong sense of discipline in her. This quality became her anchor during her UPSC journey. Having appeared for the IES exam earlier, she knew the demands of civil service preparation. This time, however, she honed her strategy.


    “I set clear deadlines for myself and stuck to them diligently,” says Ritvika.  She created comprehensive study schedules and found immense support in her circle of friends. These 5-6 individuals, also driven by their own goals, became her backbone. They collaborated on group studies, holding each other accountable, and celebrating each other’s progress. This collaborative approach, a change from her previous attempt, proved to be a game-changer.



    While her initial foray was into engineering, Ritvika’s true passion lay in the embrace of nature. Her love for wildlife and the environment motivated her to switch gears and pursue the IFS exam.

    “I was always inclined toward public services. This, coupled with my passion for wildlife and nature, motivated me to go for the Indian Forest Service. I had always wanted to be close to nature and help the nation in its development, and I knew it would only be possible if and when I became an Indian Forest Service officer,” she told Indian Masterminds.

    Her heart belonged to the forests, and the IFS was the only path that could take her closer to them.



    Preparing for such a demanding exam meant long hours of focused study. However, Ritvika recognized the importance of maintaining a healthy balance.  To combat isolation, she found solace in her artistic side.  A natural painter skilled in Gond and Madhubani styles, her art became a powerful stress reliever.

    “Painting wasn’t just a hobby; it was a tool,” she explains.  She envisioned using her artwork to inspire empathy for nature conservation.


    When the results were declared, Ritvika was ecstatic to find her name at the top. While a good performance and a promising interview had given her hope for a top 20 rank, securing AIR 1 was a dream come true for her and her family.

    My friends also helped and guided me throughout my journey. They were my biggest motivators and all of us sat together and prepared for the same,” she shared.


    During her interview round, when asked about what steps she would take for the visitors and animals as the Director of the National Zoological Park, she replied that she would focus on the visitors’ safety, first and foremost, and then she would go forward to launch citizen science initiatives to inspire empathy for nature in the citizens. She also wishes to encourage folk paintings so that people could receive the message of wildlife conservation through paintings while simultaneously giving employment to the vulnerable sections of society.

    At the same time, she said she would like to form a dedicated team of experts to take care of the animals and encourage behavioral enhancement so that the animals who have been staying in captivity retain their natural behavior. Her answer was a game-changer for her, leaving the board members extremely satisfied.



    Now, with her sights set on the Jharkhand cadre, Ritvika has a clear vision for her future.  She aspires to involve citizens in nature trails and collaborate with design students to create wildlife conservation campaigns using folk art.  Her ultimate goal is to empower future generations to become responsible stewards of the planet.

    She gives special regard to IPS officer Mahesh Bhagwat for her success, saying, “Regarding the interview, I received great benefit from Mahesh Bhagwat sir’s mentorship; he is a role model and guided me step by step about both the DAF and current affairs. All interview candidates benefitted from his kind and free guidance.”

    Ritvika Pandey’s story is a testament to the power of focused determination, the value of supportive networks, and the unique ways in which passion can fuel success. As she embarks on her journey as an IFS officer, one thing is certain: the future of India’s forests is in good hands.







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    Also Read- 

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    2. Best Career Counselling Centre @ Ranchi
    3. Best career counsellor of Bihar – Jharkhand – Youtube

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