by Khalid Bashir Gura
SRINAGAR: The news is still sinking in. His phone is still ringing as congratulations continue to pour. A long journey found its closure on the evening of September 29, 2020, when the Public Service Commission declared results of KAS 2018. Savouring eureka moments, the delirious, ambitious Dawar Habib, 25, who got the second rank in the KAS exams, says KAS is not the final stop for him.
Dawar who had his schooling from Iqbal Memorial Institute Bemina qualified JEE mains in 2013 and was selected in NIT Srinagar in civil engineering branch.
In June 2017 he completed his degree and his next destination was Gate examination in February 2018 which he qualified with All India Rank of 3000. “I was offered admissions by IIT Bombay and IIT Bhubaneswar but I decided against joining those colleges,” he said. As the notification for KAS came in 2018, Dawar instantly decided to prepare for the preliminary examination which was to be held on September 16, 2018.
After finishing engineering he got a job In Jammu and Kashmir Bank but he left the four-month job to prepare for civil services. “In 2019 I was recruited as Relationship Executive in the bank’s financial services,” said Dawar who dedicated only six months for the mains after qualifying prelims.
An epitome of ‘less is more’ and ‘smart work’ Habib says: “I focused a lot on previous year papers especially of UPSC and besides General Studies 1, 2, 3, and 4; the optional subject I selected was anthropology. I referred to only one specific book for it which I remembered at the tip of the tongue.”
When asked if he ever felt giving up in such a long journey of civil services which is designed to check persons other characteristics besides intelligence, he said, the fear was there but I didn’t let it control me. “The fear is always there but I was confident of myself. I believed in my writing skills and I knew whatever I have accumulated all these months, I will be able to articulate it in a better way in mains,” he asserted. The brownie points to score better in exams was to use quotes of government data, statistics, and reports and back up answers with factual data. He secured 1115.44 marks.
At a place where internet is frequently snapped and accessibility is the issue as people in Kashmir still grapple with sluggish 2G, the internet was never a hitch for the topper. “These are external factors and out of one’s control and should not be relied upon. The Internet never mattered much for me during preparation as there are alternatives. Internet is a big distraction but depends on how each individual uses and benefits from it,” said Dawar, who never used social media during the preparation process and only used WhatsApp.
Dawar Habib had never any formal coaching but he had done online free courses on YouTube. “For current affairs, I referred to Vision IAS booklet,” he said. As most of the candidates are supposed to focus more on current affairs via newspapers to which they complain that newspapers consume a lot of time, Dawar laughed and said: “ I have never read newspaper up till now for exams. One can’t revise newspapers. And what matters at the end of the day is what a candidate remembers and presents in the exam.” But people who are not sure of their writing skills and have language problems should read a newspaper says Dawar.
As the congratulations and adulations are pouring in, at the back of the mind Dawar has other plans in store for himself. “I want to target now IAS. It has been my strategy to target only one exam at a time. It is my next goal.”
To any aspirant of civil services, Dawar says that they should study previous one decade’s solved papers as they will give the idea of what the exam demands, how answers should be written and what should be studied and how. “They can be completed within a couple of months. One will get to know how to write an introduction, body and conclusion.”
When asked who he credits his success to, Dawar said: “my parents and grandmother”.
Dawar’s father is serving as a senior executive in the J&K Bank, while his mother is a school teacher in a government-run school. They live in Srinagar old city. When asked why he chooses to flip his career from an engineering background to a banker to administration, Habib said that he wanted to be an administrative officer since childhood. “It was my grandmother’s wish to see me as a civil service officer,” he said as he had decided in the fifth primary that he will be a KAS officer. “There are many members of my family who had cracked it and I looked up to them,” he said.
“I always wanted to serve people and I believe civil services provide that opportunity.”