A Kashmiri Muslim has topped the prestigious civil services examinations in India this year sparking celebrations across the country. The Indian Muslim community, which has always found itself in the mainstream media for all the wrong reasons, is particularly delighted at the good news.
Physician Shah Faesal stood first among 875 candidates who qualified for the demanding Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) examinations. The results were announced Thursday, May 5, 2010, in New Delhi. Faesal took Urdu and Public Administration as his main subjects and cleared the examination in his first attempt. Each candidate can appear three times for the key examination provided they meet the age criterion.
Faesal hails from Lawlab Valley in Kashmir near the Line of Control dividing India and Pakistan. The area is known as the birthplace of famous Islamic scholar Anwar Shah Kashmiri.
Speaking to Arab News from Srinagar, columnist and political analyst Zahid G. Muhammad said Faesal’s success sparked celebrations in the state. “Faesal is in Delhi, and his relatives are being interviewed on various television channels. This is one happy moment in the life of Kashmiris. I am very happy for him,” he said. “Without a doubt his success will inspire others to follow in his footsteps.”
According to Zahid Muhammad, Faesal was among one of very few Kashmiris who make it to the Indian civil services. “There may have been hardly three or four Kashmiris to join the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in the last couple of decades. The last Kashmiri success in the civil services examinations was in 1984-1985. Faesal’s success is coming after a gap of almost 25 years,” he noted.
One major reason for the lack of Kashmiris in the civil services was the ban imposed on young and educated Kashmiris by militants who see any association with anything Indian as “a betrayal of the Kashmiri cause.”
Faesal was coached by Saiyid Hamid, a retired officer of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and former vice chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University. Hamid now is secretary of the New Delhi-based Hamdard Education Society, which runs the Hamdard Study Circle. It was there that Faesal received his coaching.
Hamid was absolutely thrilled by his student’s success.
“The Hamdard Study Circle has been in operation since 1991, and we have had many successes in the past. More than 220 students have qualified from our institute. The best result was when one of our students secured fourth place at the All-India level,” he said. “However, nothing matches Faesal’s success. This is great news for us all,” he told Arab News from his home in New Delhi.
Indians in the Gulf were also excited.
“It is a great moment for all of us. Faesal’s phenomenal success and of other Indian Muslims will sow the seeds of inspiration in our community,” said Zishan Ali Khan, the Dubai-based regional manager for a UK-based oil and gas company. “This will go a long way fighting negative stereotypes of our community.”
A total of 875 candidates — 680 men and 195 women — were recommended for appointment to Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service, Indian Police Service and other central services. Besides Faesal, there are 20 Muslims on the list of 875 successful candidates. Among them are Mohammed Y. Safeerullah, Mohammed Shahid Alam, Rayees Mohammed Bhat, Muhammad Siddique Alam, Abid Khan, Abu Imran, Ashiquzzaman, Tamanna Alam, Mohammed Yusuf Qureshi, Mir Umair Nabi, Danish Ashraf, K. Asif Hafeez and Rizwan Ahmed.
A total of 409,110 students applied to take the test in 2009. Of those 193,091 appeared for the preliminary examination. Only 12,026 of them qualified for the written test, and then only 2,432 of them were short-listed for the all-important personality test, which was conducted in March and April this year.
Prakash Rajpurohit, a bachelor of technology from the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi, came second while Iva Sahay, a masters in geography from Jawaharlal Nehru University, secured the third rank.