IAS dreams rule young minds in conflict-torn Valley
When Shah Faesal topped the All-India IAS list in 2009, seven years after his father was shot dead by militants, he fired many a young dream in the trouble-torn Kashmir Valley.
“Faesal’s success is a landmark. The Kashmiri parent’s traditional mindset of making an engineer or a doctor of their children gave way to another window of tremendous opportunity—that of the Union civil services,” said Deeba Farhat, 23, a BTech in computer science.
“Taking the civil services is a craze among students now, it’s a must-attempt exam for graduates,” said Farhat, who is also preparing for the IAS exams.
IAS, IPS, allied services and the best ways to prepare for them dominate conversations in college campuses. “Kashmiris were always capable, only the motivation was required. Now, with many role models in the last few years, motivation and confidence have staged a comeback,” said Sameer ul Rehman, 24, also a BTech.
Incidentally, both Farhat and Rehman have already cleared the Kashmir Administrative Services exams. Unwilling to rest on their laurels, they then set their eyes on the central exam conducted by the Union Public Services Commission.
The new-found zeal for the Union civil services as a career finds a reflection in the increasing number of success stories from the Valley. From three candidates, including one IAS (Shah Faesal) who made it to the final list in 2009, about seven were successful in 2010 – which translated to 11 successes in 2011.
Before 2009, the number of Kashmiris who made it to the civil services could be counted on the fingers of one’s hand. The first Kashmiri IAS was Muhammad Shafi Pandit (1968 batch). Ten years later, Iqbal Khandey (1978) made it to the list, followed by Khurshid Ganai (1982) and Asghar Samoon (1993).
“The key reason why Kashmiris were not making it into the civil services was lack of awareness about the exams and lack of adequate facilities,” said Gani Mir, a 1994 batch IPS officer who conducted a survey among college students in 2007.
Mir has spearheaded efforts to set up infrastructure to train, guide and help Kashmiri aspirants keen on taking the exam.
Such youth hail from various groups and classes as well as rural and urban areas.