This year 11 candidates from Jammu and Kashmir made it to the final list of Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) examination. Eight successful candidates hail from Kashmir, while the other three belong to Jammu. In their pieces exclusively written for GK Education and Career page, here five IAS qualified Kashmiri youth write about the meaning of their success and how Kashmiri youth can excel in competitive exams.

‘Kashmiris are second to none’
By Showkat Ahmad Parray
Rank 41

It was June 2008 and uncertainty loomed large. Few representatives of J&K unemployed veterinary doctors association (I being one of them) were running from pillar to post  at the civil secretariat Srinagar, meeting officers, trying to apprise them of our problems and putting in our best efforts to convince them of the need to create adequate posts of veterinary assistant surgeons. Few listened to us while many disapproved and shut the door on us. Disillusioned and disheartened, we moved along the streets of Lal Chowk, with drooping shoulders, trying to pacify and console each other for the sheer disrespect and humiliation we suffered.
The words of my father uttered way back started reverberating in my mind. While working in the apple orchards in July 2003, my father had quoted a Quranic verse and a couplet of Allama Iqbal (R.A):
Mita de apni hasti ko agar kuch martaba chahey
Ki daana khak main mil kar gul-o-gulzar hota hain
I found myself frozen in time and it suddenly occurred to me that joining F.V.Sc & A.H was just a small cog in the wheel of a long and arduous path towards a bigger pursuit. I found myself in a bookstore laying my hands on a copy of “India’s struggle for freedom” by Bipin Chandra and “An introduction to Indian constitution” by D.D.Basu”.  Thus began my journey for civil services.
With the benefit of hindsight, I would sum up the journey as a roller coaster ride. It has been quite enriching, enthralling and a highly value-adding exercise to say the very least.  Given the humble background I came from, I had never dreamt of being a civil servant in my wildest imagination. I had a strong conviction in the notion that every human being owes its existence to the Almighty and he has a role cut out for him in more ways than one.
In my two previous two attempts of CSE-2009 (rank 256) and CSE-2012 (rank 41), the difference perhaps was only in the availability of the resources (study material for current affairs, national dailies and magazines), the degree of exposure and most importantly the luck of the draw. Few mistakes that I could have avoided during my previous attempt came to the fore:
1). Not consulting some civil servant for basic guidance.
2). Waiting for the results of prelims before starting the preparation for mains.
3). Not consulting some civil servant while filling up the preference for various services (that landed me in IP&TAFS instead of IRS).
I believe there are two fundamental approaches to our lives. Either we move towards an enlightened goal with clear intentions devoid of any ulterior motives (akin to moving towards the sun) and let the shadows chase us, or we chase the shadows with our back turned towards the enlightened goals set for us ( akin to moving away from the sun). For me the former holds true. The shadows have followed my destiny. I am conscious of the fact that I shouldn’t read too much into my success story. The long term goal is still far away but achievable. I am reminded of lyrics of a song from Nikah movie: Bujhi magar bujhi nahin na jane kaisi pyaas hain....” And I hope that this unquenchable thirst remains and never allows me to be complacent.
The year 2009 was the watershed moment for the Kashmiri youth. That year Dr. Shah Faesal led the way by topping the civil services along with Rayees Bhat, myself and Dr. Umair Mir. Our success was celebrated and most importantly doing away with the unknown fear of competing in the civil service exam at the national level and rubbing shoulders with the best in the country. Kashmiri youth started believing in their abilities and the results are very tangible and for everyone to see. Kashmiris have shown that they are second to none.
For a common man, the success of J&K youth at the national level will be meaningful only if it brings about a change. A change that improves service delivery, improves his quality of life, brings back his lost self-respect, respects his basic human rights and values and alters the manner he is treated by the officials.
A person who is unable to meet even his basic needs of life is indifferent about the agent of change vis-a-vis whether that change is brought about by a person in the mainstream, upstream, downstream or out of the stream. What matters is his life are his basic needs and his human dignity. Instead of trying to read too much between the lines in the success of J&K students at the national level, let’s wholeheartedly welcome this change to celebrate and bring about a difference at the grassroots level for ordinary people. Reiterating an old adage “Try to be outstanding in the ocean of mediocrity “.

‘An average aspirant can achieve his goal’
By Khursheed Ali Qadri
Rank 95
I have done M.Sc Botany from Jamia Hamdard. I also qualified NET JRF and was selected as 10+2 Lecturer. Later on I was selected in KAS. I also qualified UPSC in 2010, got group A central service but didn’t join. Currently I am working as Assistant Director in CAPD.
I believe the civil services exam conducted by UPSC at national level requires at the vary inception certain enigmas to be demystified. It is never anything unattainable for an average aspirant. The fundamentally inevitable requirement that pique the curiosity of the aspirants is that the aspiration must come from inside. I always believe that we should struggle for excellence rather than struggle for existence.
Well designed strategy and effective preparation plays a key role for cracking civil service exams. Since I had a limited time, being already in the government services, my strategy and design of preparation was simple and more effective. Before an aspirant starts his preparation, he must divide and delineate in his mind a very clear and unambiguous strategy. The aspirant must be planned in his efforts and must continuously update himself with current affairs. Kashmiri people are very talented and if their intellect and talent is channeled in a right way, they will bring a sea change in the overall development of the society.
There is a desperate need to develop a conducive environment so that the efforts put in are productive. The comprehensive counseling programs, initiatives of colleges and university in this direction are required for motivating the aspirants.
My advice to the aspirants is “efforts may fail but never fail to make efforts””. An average aspirant can achieve his goal and I am a symbol of it.
I feel that the representation of Kashmiri youth in civil services reflects a healthy development and instills a sense of hope. In recent years this healthy trend is molding the thought process of youth and young people want to be the part of development and join civil services.

‘Study hard and remain focused’
By Adnan Nayeem Asmi
Rank is 189
I have done my schooling in Srinagar–till class 11th from Tyndale Biscoe School and class 12th from S.P. H Secondary.  I topped the state board in humanities stream in class 12th, and was awarded with state gold medal. I then pursued graduation from St-Stephens College, University of Delhi in B.A (Program), with Political Science and Economics subjects. Thereafter I started my preparations for UPSC exams. Currently I am pursuing Master’s degree in Sociology from Kashmir University.
Civil services has been my dream from class 12th itself. Inspiration was drawn from family itself, from my late grandfather, Professor Mohammad Sharief who inculcated the concept of this exam in me. My dream got direction in college, which has been a factory of producing civil servants.
Yes, the journey has been tough. It took me three attempts to finally make it. But at same time it was a tremendous learning curve. This process brings out the best in you and also makes your views broader.
My hard work wouldn’t have been fruitful had I not been blessed with conducive and a desirable atmosphere.  I would like to extend my gratitude, first of all to almighty Allah. And my gratitude is also to my parents and younger brother for their untiring patronage and affection.
 Suggestions for future aspirants:
My message is simple: “if you can dream you can do it.” Study hard; remain focused, let nothing whatsoever distract you. Trust in God, stay humble and bring the change within. Increase your strengths and reduce your weaknesses. Don’t go overboard in doing so. We are all humans, so everyone has limitations. The important thing thus is to be tolerant and to constantly strive hard.
Constantly follow all the recent happenings at all levels: local, national and international. Everything is important in its own place. Separating wheat from chaff can come only with experience and thorough preparation. Newspapers and journals are the flesh and blood of the exam preparation, because the examination is based on current issues. Even the optional papers have maximum quotient of that. Plus the exam is a combination of theory and application. Unless one is acquainted with worldly happenings, one can’t even fancy ones chances to make it. I personally referred to following papers and magazines: The Hindu. Frontline; Chronicle; World Focus. Greater Kashmir, Yojna, All India Radio news.
All the three stages of the exam have to be taken with all seriousness. Both papers of the screening test, i.e. preliminary exam need detailed and vast study. Recent trends suggest its becoming highly conceptual rather than factual. The second paper, i.e. CSAT, needs consistent and thorough practice. The time management for the exam decides the fate of the candidate.
The mains stage: Under the revised pattern of exam only one optional subject is to be taken, so choosing has become slightly easy. Still, familiarity with the subject, level of comprehending it and the desired result, i.e. marks one can secure in the subject has to be weighed before deciding. But at same time the quotient of general studies papers has been more than doubled, so the role of newspapers and journals has further increased.
Personality test as the name itself suggests is test of one’s personality and not of knowledge (that has been tested already in the written exams). But that doesn’t mean one shouldn’t be aware of recent happening and ones background. One should know himself or herself thoroughly. And most importantly, one has to be completely honest and transparent to the board members. A little lie or concealment of information can ruin your chances

Realize your potential and harness it’
By Dr. Syed Sehrish Asgar
Rank 23
At the very outset it is important to realize that IAS is the mother of all exams and therefore a thorough, concerted and conscientious effort is a pre-requisite for success. To begin with any aspirant must carefully analyse the requirements of this exam. The exam seeks to select officers for running the higher echelons of governance in the country. Thus as a natural corollary any serious aspirant must have or inculcate certain basic qualities which include a progressive and constructive mindset, the ability to think rationally and objectively, innovative ideas, dispassionate decision making ability and above all a confident and optimistic persona.
The exam overall is a prolonged three-stage process, which includes the preliminary, mains and the personality test. At all three stages the aspirant is required to process vast information with a deep understanding and analysis of the issues. The idea is to clear your concepts and then to apply them practically. The preparation for all three stages should be holistic, taking into account multiple dimensions and perspectives of a topic. Also the need is to make ones knowledge broad based.
Important pre-requisites for success:
The choice of optional in the mains should be contingent upon ones interest and the availability of study material. There is no good or bad optional and the decision to choose an optional must not be based on a herd mentality, hearsay or random trends.
 The choice of study material is of prime importance. Considering the level of these exams, standard books should be referred to for any subject. Further it is better to master limited number of standard books than to read large number of books superficially.
 Time management is crucial to success in this exam. Both quality and quantity of preparation time is important. Study effectively and efficaciously to the extent one can.
Have Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time bound (SMART) goals. Above all cultivate the habit to work hard with single minded dedication and focus, not being distracted by adverse circumstances or situations.
It is a matter of common observation that people from J&K are gifted with par excellence intellectual endowment. Therefore this exam is a natural opportunity to put to test this endowment that a candidate possesses. All that is required is proper guidance and directed efforts with the right approach .There is no dearth of talent or the capacity to work in adverse circumstances in the state, particularly in Kashmir. The people of J&K are by nature resilient and have great potential to succeed in the toughest of competitions at the national level. The need of the hour is to realize their inner potential and harness it in a positive way. This is all the more required of the youth from the Valley so that they become agents of positive change and usher in a new era of growth and development for all in the society.
If more and more people come into the IAS and IPS from the valley, it will be a great instrument of building a brighter future for our state. Having been through decades of turbulence, it is all the more important for us to work collectively for a good future.
I would like the youth of J&K, particularly those from Kashmir, not to be subservient to any negativity and neither be pessimistic about their future. As Churchill says, "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."

‘The success of Kashmiri youth in civil services should be seen in the light of their personal desires to make a mark in their career’
By Dr Ruveda Salam
Rank 820 
The thought of cracking civil services examination crosses the mind of almost every undergraduate student. However, only few make it their goal and pursue it after completing their graduation and I am one amongst them. I remember when I was in school my father would tell me, "one day my daughter would become an IAS officer." The prestige associated with civil servants and the considerable impact they have on the development of our society was always an enticement for me to become one. Therefore, I had made up my mind to compete for civil services immediately after I had completed MBBS.
 The perseverance and patience that I had developed in Govt. Medical College,  Srinagar came in handy for my IAS preparation. This exam entailed one or two years of zealous preparation. In the meantime I decided to appear in KAS exam in 2009 and qualified it in 2011. My KAS probation and subsequent job assignments prevented me from taking up coaching. Hence, I made it a point to study whenever I found time in between my work and almost for 4 to 5 hours at home every day. The syllabi and pattern of IAS exam varies considerably from that of KAS and therefore I had to adapt to IAS pattern for almost a year before my IAS prelims, 2012.
I was well aware of the fact that the majority of other IAS aspirants were undergoing quality coaching in Delhi and elsewhere. But this never became a handicap for me, as I was my own student and a teacher. I learnt from my mistakes and kept an eye on previous year's question papers, which helped me in deciding what not to read. My preparation for prelims, mains and personality test was an integrated one. While reading a particular topic I would mark out facts for prelims, opinions for personality test and details for main examination. I read standard NCERT textbooks, newspapers like The Hindu, one competition magazine - civil services chronicle, wikipedia, Yojana and Kurukshetra journals for General Studies in both prelims and mains. Arihant's CSAT helped me immensely in prelims paper II. My optionals were Public Administration and Sociology. For Public Administration, I read Fadia and Fadia, Sadhna and Sharma, Prasad and Prasad, Rajni Goyal and Arora and Laxmikanth. For Sociology, I referred to IGNOU B.A course material, George Ritzer, Haralambos and Yojana.
Since Personality test mostly revolves around one's place of birth and place of education and work, I was, therefore, in touch with local dailies on everyday basis. Handling negative marking at prelims stage and managing time at mains stage was made possible by me through regular practice of answering previous year's question papers. At every step of my endeavor I had the support and encouragement of my parents, who respected my decision to forego my social engagements. At times, it was quite tiresome to continue my studies after appearing at each stage of the exam, but my enthusiasm to achieve my goal never died down. And despite hurdles on the personal and job fronts, I progressed gradually with firm faith in the almighty.
There are many mistakes aspirants commit during their preparation for IAS exam, which need to be minimized, if not possible to be avoided. To start with, many aspirants take up coaching without verifying the credentials and success track record of coaching institutes. Only successful candidates can help one in deciding for him or her. The decision of taking up coaching must be in tune with one's requirements. It's important to first read standard books prescribed by most experts rather than straight away jumping to notes as this exam requires basic understanding of issues and is an ever evolving platform. Negative marking must be minimized by avoiding guesswork and taking minimum risk in prelims. It's significant to start preparing within two weeks after prelims for mains irrespective of one's performance in prelims as it will help not just in the ensuing mains but also in the subsequent prelims exam.
Revision is the key to fetch more marks in mains, without which ones hope to crack this exam turns into despair. Choosing one's optionals should be based primarily upon one's interest in the subject, rather than hearsay, as the same would make the journey enjoyable without losing interest. The changed pattern of mains from this year demands wide coverage of newspapers, journals, internet and good observation skills to fall In line with the increased weightage given to general studies instead of emphasizing more on optional subject.
I believe aspirants from J&K have great potential to not just crack Civil services exam but other competitive exams like SSC, IIT/JEE etc as well. Awareness regarding diverse career opportunities and the strategy to grab and achieve them is generally lacking, more so, in the valley. Internet, newspapers and career magazines can help in this regard. The great beginning made by senior civil servants to motivate youth towards civil services has to be continued by the subsequent qualifiers. In this regard, I would advise young aspirants to seek help from such officers via e mail and social networking sites, in terms of clarification of their doubts and the correct strategy to be adopted in realizing their career related dreams.
Civil Services has now become a game changer among the list of careers available for J&K's youth. Their efforts to be a part of the elite service have borne fruit. Civil servants rise above political considerations and their contributions towards society is a part of the whole gambit of steps taken by political authorities to resolve disputes, prevent alienation of citizens, minimization of human rights violations and restoration of peace and development. The success of Kashmiri youth in civil services should be seen in the light of their personal desires to make a mark in their career and play a positive role in ensuring welfare for the people.

Lastupdate on : Fri, 17 May 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 17 May 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 18 May 2013 00:00:00 IST

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