Kashmir’s participation in the state civil services has remained phenomenally low, historically. This year of the 51 candidates, who cracked the examination, only 13 are from Kashmir. Interestingly, ten of them were taught and guided by a Trust that people rarely know, reports Sheikh Saman
This season, there were only 13 Kashmiris in the KAS list. Interestingly, 10 of them were from almost the same stable; the Initiative for Competition Promotion (ICP), a trust that a group of IAS-KAS group is running for the last few years.“These candidates were waiting for their results since 2014,” one ICP members said. “Of the 10 who finally made it, six were actually the residents at ICP and four were attending classes.”
Elated over the results, the key functionary of ICP said, since 2008, their intervention has paved way for the entry of nearly 275 candidates into the state’s elite police and civil service. “With least resources, we are doing our best,” he said. “These 10 candidates were from the group of 26 member batch.” This season, they have started extending certain basic help, like the mock interviews in Jammu, too. There have been around half a dozen candidates in whom ICP has immensely contributed in making it to all India services.
“The ICP runs on donations by people from different walks of life and they contribute smaller sums on monthly basis and that is the sole capital of the institute,” said Faizan Ali, ICP Administrator and one of the beneficiaries of the Institute. “That is how this institute has been surviving since 2008.”
It operates from a rented accommodation in Raj Bagh where it has two buildings, near Abdullah Bridge with monthly rent and other costs of nearly one lakh rupees. The buildings are hostels and also house the classrooms.
The entire ICP team is happy that they have helped retain Kashmir’s 25 percent of the state’s administrative services. “This is what we have been doing without shouting from the rooftops,” one manager said. “This is a service we have voluntarily opted for and we will continue this.”
One of the candidates is Irtiza Jeelani, a resident of Illahi Bagh in Srinagar, and a professional dentist. Daughter of a well-settled couple, both in government service, she and her brother are both in the medical profession. Her brother is currently pursuing his Anaesthesia masters from GMC, Srinagar.
Schooled at Mallinson Girl’s schools, Irtiza has been a topper throughout. She completed her BDS and it was during her internship that she decided to attempt KAS. She did it in her first attempt.
“Postponement of examinations because of September 2014 floods gave me more time to prepare for my examinations,” Irtiza said. “After qualifying mains, I joined ICP classes where they have standard mock test sessions and later on discussed each and every portion of it which really gave me an edge over everything and helped me a lot in finally making it.”
Among others, Irtiza credits Dr Fakhruddin, her fiancé, who recently made it to the IAS. “We studied together from the grass-root level, tried to clarify each and every concept with each other and acted as a backbone through highs and lows,” Irtiza said. “My in-laws were also very extremely encouraging.”
Humayun Muzamil is a Humhama resident who made it to KAS. A Burn Hall student, he did civil engineering from SSM, Parihaspora and eventually he was appointed in Tehsil Social Welfare Office. He was working and started preparing for the examination. His interests were generated from the mock interviews at ICP.
“In my opinion motivation is a very negative energy,” Humayun said. “Motivation is what can make you get started but this is not what can keep you going. It is routine that is more important and that is what worked for me.”
But motivation worked hugely in case of Sajad Ahmad, a resident of Sholipora (Budgam), who finally made it to KAS in the third attempt. Schooled from Islamic Educational Institute and Rural Mission Public School, Budgam, Sajad graduated from Government Degree College, Bemina and did his masters in biochemistry from the University of Kashmir. He eventually became a school teacher.
“I started preparing for KAS in 2011, and in 2012, I qualified for an interview but didn’t get through it and then in 2013, I reappeared in the examinations but failed,” Sajad said. “Finally in my 3rd attempt in 2014, I made it after taking Urdu as an optional subject,” Sajad said the ICP’s contribution in his career was the fantastic mock interviews they conducted.
Lateef is another KAS entrant. A resident of Dogripora, Awantipora. He belongs to a middle-class background whose schooling took place from Bijbihara. A forestry post-graduate from the SKUAST, he qualified NET/JRF in Sociology and then attempted KAS in 2013 but couldn’t make it. In the second attempt, he got the twentieth position.
A peasant’s son, Lateef sees his cousin, Manzoor Ahmad Khan, a zonal educational officer, as his inspiration. He was already a forester.
“I was a resident at ICP for 18 months. They provided me with a great environment which is really a bonus point for a student who wants to qualify KAS,” Lateef said. “Those who guided me throughout included Shahnawaz Sahab, Shah Faisal and Mir Sir.”
What makes ICP an interesting initiative is that the individuals behind it are the teachers too. Basically, an initiative of Abdul Gani Mir, an IPS officer, currently heading state police intelligence, he is supported by IAS’s 2010 topper Dr Shah Faisal, Waheed Ahmad Shah, KPS, Syed Shahnawaz, KAS, and Aziz Ahmad, KAS.
“We have evolved a model,” Shahnawaz said. “Initially, we taught the first batch and when some of them cracked the examination, they also pitched it and then the series of next batches would contribute their bit.” In the last three years, the Residents at ICP would teach the newcomers and the process is still in place, he said.
The initiative was less expensive a few years back when the managers would hire a building deep inside, off track and it would not cost much. But for lack of access and supervision, they decided to get it closer to Lal Chowk and make it accessible to the students and the faculty. That has almost tripled the cost which, by no way, has crossed a million rupees a year, insiders said.
Initially, ICP would take less than 25 but now they go up to 30 and even more because it has adequate boarding and lodging facility. However, the lodging is for males only though females have been joining the classes and facing mock interviews in good numbers. It has a good library as well. In 2012, the ICP became a Trust.
Since the percentage of candidates getting into the KAS-KPS from Kashmir has remained historically low, ICP members say it is the lack of awareness and participation. In every examination, one member said, applications from Kashmir are normally one-third as two-thirds come from the Jammu region. “It is low participation from Kashmir and not the low success ratio,” Shahnawaz said. “Women participation is all the lower indicating a very low awareness level.”