Thinking beyond Shah Faisal
BREAKING THE SHELL
WHAT HIS SUCCESS TELLS IS THAT THE STUDENTS MUST ALSO EMBRACE DISCIPLINES BEYOND MEDICINE AND ENGINEERING, WRITES ASHOK OGRA
I read with interest excellent commentary by Ajaz ul Haq “Kashmir or no Kashmir, merit means merit” in this paper on May 9. The writer is right when he says “they say Kashmiris are a bright lot. On all such occasions the first thing we shall do is to suspend all our cynicism and despair. But that must not make us flatter ourselves into belief that we are the best and the unbeatable. These four boys no doubt have done us proud. But that is not a document for us to project ourselves as winners. It's merit that has come through taking territory along as an incidental appendage.”
It is true that Shah Faisal has made all of us proud! As have other candidates from the valley – Dr. Showkat Ahmad Parray, Rayees Ahmad Bhat and Mir Umar- and Udham Das and Vinod Kumar from Jammu region.
Thanks to the TV satellite channel Doordarshan Kashir, I got to see the warm welcome accorded to him by the villagers of Sheikh Naar, Kupawar.
It was a nice feeling !
However, what defines the narrative that captures the student journey of Shah Faisal is his very easy personality, friendly yet respectful demeanor and self confidence. No trace of arrogance or keenness to communicate that “I have arrived.” He has ‘clarity of thought and expression’ as was evident both in the interview on Doordarshan Kashir and in his interaction with the correspondent of Greater Kashmir. Perhaps this clarity emerges from a strong sense of observation and reading, not limited to ones course books. Remember sometime tragedies too can make a person reflective in his thought process.
His remark that the ‘Enterprise of Violence’ must yield place to the ‘Constituency of Peace’ reveals a mind that is active, present and ever evolving. A mind that is desirous of re-painting the blood- stained canvas of the past with colours that reflect the new and ever changing hopes and aspirations of today’s tech-savvy youth and the dreams of future digital generations.
The other important facet of his personality is his ability to not only dream BIG but also act DIFFERENTLY. Here is a boy who hails from a village in district Kupwara, belongs to a average middle class family and lost his father to the bullets of un-known gunmen- a euphemism for militants. Earns a medical degree with distinction, and going by the current craze should have opted for higher studies in medicine.
Instead, he decides to take a shot at the Civil Services Examination and tops the list. This calls for both courage and commitment and clarity of purpose of what one wants to achieve and pursue in life. Credit must also be given to his mother – she came across as extremely calm and composed on TV – who did not succumb to the societal pressures, and encouraged her son to pursue the dream to be a civil servant. Not an easy decision for a widow to take, particularly when the transition from medicine to IAS is neither natural or nor smooth. Stakes were evenly balanced. But Faisal knew that for dreams to be realized one should be ready to embrace the risk of failure, without which success will remain elusive. As noted inventor Thomas Edison has remarked so aptly: “genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration……. Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
There is a lesson in this for all those parents who force their children to pursue disciplines that do not fascinate them. Schools must employ career counselors who advise not only students but also establish rapport with parents and counsel them to consider other options that may also interest a child.
It is indeed a sad commentary on our education scene that the valley of Kashmir - so big a place both in size and population - should confine its ambitions to the traditional disciplines of medicine, engineering and administrative services including KAS/KPS and IAS and other allied services.
I must inform the Greater Kashmir readers that the two earlier Kashmiri Muslim IAS officers starting with my own friend Muhammad Shafi Pandit first to make it to the services in 1969 secured 4th position and Khurshid Ahmed Ganai secured 2nd position in 1982 in the merit list in their respective years.
It was equally difficult then as it is now. While the number of the candidates competing for the seats has substantially gone up, there has been a shift in the profile of the students competing and succeeding in this examination from key metros and semi-metros towards states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa and so on. Most, if not all, bright metro students nowadays also look at other options that have become equally , if not more, attractive than the administrative services- thanks to the changing job profiles as reflected by the emergence of sun rise industries. The profile of the global economies has changed drastically in the last three decades. Today entertainment industry in Britain employs more people than did British Coal industry in its hey days.
The society, teachers, parents and the students must start according respectability to these new sectors of economy including media and entertainment that require different mind set and skills and incidentally also offer attractive remunerations. The state needs hundreds and hundreds of Shah Faisal to usher in the much needed change in governance and business enterprises and in public life.
Let us hope that in the year 2011 we will see more Kashmiri Muslim students competing and succeeding in various examinations for admissions to the prestigious Indian Institutes of Management, National Law School, National Institute of Design, Indian Institute of Sciences, Tata Institute of Social Sciences etc.
In most of these institutes, interviews carry small percentage of marks and hence make little difference to those who have secured high marks in the written test. Great secrecy is maintained in the conduct of the written examination with the identity of a person not known to the evaluators.
Roll Numbers do not reveal the person’s name or caste or religion! Meanwhile, here is wishing Faisal all the best as he gets ready to leave for Mussourie for training. Going by his position, he should get the state cadre of his own choice. That I assume will be the state of Jammu & Kashmir- a state that he is keen to serve and contribute. We hope he survives the ‘babudom’ that goes with our administrative and bureaucratic set up and retains his optimism and idealism. He owes that to his people !
(The author, a native of the valley, is a noted Management and Media Educator and is currently Founding Director of Apeejay Institute of Communication. He was till recently Vice President, Discovery Channel & Animal Planet in South Asia. He is also member of the Advisory Board of ASCENT GROUP that counsels and coaches the Kashmir-based students for both state and all India competitive examinations. He can be reached on : email@example.com)
Lastupdate on : Mon, 10 May 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 10 May 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 11 May 2010 00:00:00 IST
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