India: Muslim civil services aspirants need better community support
Training centres in country not adequate enough.
Notwithstanding the modest awakening of political, economic and educational awareness among Muslims, the success percentage of candidates from the community in the 2020 Civil Services Examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) showed a substantial dip as compared to 2019. Of the 761 candidates recommended for induction into the nation’s civil services, 31 belong to the Muslim community. On the brighter side, this year there are three Muslim candidates among the top 100; in 2019 there was only one.
On analysing the results over the last decade, it can be seen that it was from 2016 that the representation showed some upward trajectory with 50 Muslim candidates succeeding that year. On an average, the success percentage has hovered around 4-5 in the last few years. If we take into account the Muslim population, a proportional representation in civil services should have translated into more than 100 candidates.
In a determined bid to motivate, groom, polish and prepare young Muslims for civil services, and offer them enabling factors such as coaching, scholarships, food and hostel facilities to succeed in these competitive exams, many training centres have come up across India. However, considering the large number of Muslim aspirants these days, they aren’t adequate enough.
Mohammad Tarique, deputy director, Residential Coaching Academy at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, talking to Khaleej Times, observed: “I do believe that there is an awakening among Muslims aspiring to pursue civil services, but lack of adequate number of community-run, professionally-managed coaching centres is proving to be a deterrent factor.
Of the around 10,000 aspirants, only about 600 could be accommodated in various coaching centres. The rest had to manage on their own, or due to financial constraints could not afford coaching in pricey centres. That leaves a big gap. We need to groom and facilitate them in a way that they have a better chance to succeed.”
Zafarul Islam Khan, former chairman, Minorities Commission, New Delhi, is of the view that Muslims are not participating in civil services exams in large numbers as per their population percentage.
Among the 31 who cleared the civil services exams this year is Mohammed Haris Sumair who hails from Bidar in north Karnataka. His elder brother, Mohammed Nadeemuddin, made it to IPS last year, hence Haris’ achievement have made their parents immensely proud. It was Harsh Gupta, the former deputy commissioner of Bidar who changed the face of Bidar, his hometown, for good, that spurred the spark in Haris to pursue civil services. In his second attempt, he cleared the IAS. Talking to Khaleej Times, Haris said: “My preparation was very modest. I didn’t stress too much, never counted hours. Instead, I counted my targets while studying. So, on some days I read for 4 hours, some days more. Both studies and enjoying life should be balanced.”
Among the top hundred is Faizan Ahmed, a mechanical engineer from Kota, Rajasthan who cracked the UPSC exams in his second attempt. Son of a railway station master, Faizan told Khaleej Times that with constant effort and belief in oneself, one can easily clear the exam. He was forthcoming, “We need more and more Muslims in governance and administration so that they can further contribute to the development of the nation as well as the community. I would highly recommend and encourage Muslims to pursue civil services and not be shy at it. For inclusive development of the nation, we need more Muslims to part of it.”
Also making it to the top 100 was Dheenah Dastageer, an engineer from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala who said she had learned to cope with challenges in the backdrop of the Covid pandemic.
She feels Muslims are now showing more inclination to serve the civil services, but added that their numbers should increase. Dheenah who had her schooling in International School Dammam, Saudi Arabia recalled her days discussing science and current affairs with her father, a research scientist at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Dahran, and said that had kindled her interest in pursuing civil services. On account of her high rank, she will be inducted into the IAS, and is very excited for having got an opportunity to serve the nation. Her mantra for success is planning well, revising and keeping trust in the Almighty.
For Iqbal Rasool Dar, a resident of Handwara in Kashmir, it was his third attempt that clicked; he expects to get into Indian Revenue Service. A B.Tech (civil engineering) degree holder, Iqbal avers that it is necessary to stay updated on what is current. It is also important to work hard consistently, and work on one’s weak areas in order to ace the exams, he added.
There are many like Shakeer Ahmed A. Tondikhan from Saundatti in Karnataka, who while being in the state services, worked relentlessly to get into the Indian civil services.
Shakeer Ahmed cleared the state civil service exams and served as an assistant director in the Department of Youth Empowerment and Sports, and subsequently got a better ranking in the state services to work as an assistant commissioner in Commercial Taxes Department. His goal, however, was the Indian civil service, which he did get through this time. Ranked 583, Shakeer Ahmed is passionate about civil services “which has a wider scope and provides an opportunity to serve in diverse fields. You get a chance to serve the downtrodden and the disadvantaged in a better way. It also gives one satisfaction and a sense of purpose.”
Aasim Kifayat Khan’s persistent efforts helped him realise his dream after his fifth attempt. Aasim, whose both parents were school teachers, did his B.Tech in biotechnology. From Dhule, Maharashtra, Aasim says, “It took me 5 attempts — 3 mains and 2 interviews — to get the required rank. Don’t get frustrated during preparation. It takes time, but finally success will be yours.”
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