Afroz Alam Sahil and Kamala Kanta Dash for BeyondHeadlines
Muslim representation in the elite civil services has remained within 2 to 3 percent. There are free coaching centres around the country to provide training for the UPSC examination. Despite this the result has been disappointing. I wanted to know why this is the case and who is responsible. I visited the Minority Coaching Institutions in Delhi to get a better understanding of the problem.
Muslims are 16% of the total population in 2011 but they only have 6-7% of the total employment. Only 3% are in the civil services. This year, out of 998 successful candidates, 31 were Muslims. The percentage of qualified Muslim candidates in the current year stands at about 3.1%. 29 Muslim candidates were successful in the 2011 UPSC examination out 910 posts.
In the entire country there were 108 Muslim IAS officers out of 4790 IAS officers in 2010 and 109 IPS out of 3209. Most Muslims selected in the UPSC in any particular service in a year was in 1997 when 9 Muslims were successful in being IPS officers and 6 Muslims being IAS officers in 2009. As per the available data 47 Muslim candidates became IAS officers during the two decade period of 1990-2010. This data speaks for itself and presents the dismal share of the Muslims in the country’s premier service.
Zafar Mahmood of Zakat Foundation believes that as per the 2001 population, Muslim population is 13.5% of the total population and out of 900 seats there should be 122 candidates selected in the UPSC. When 5.5 lakh candidates appear for the Prelims of the 910 seats at least 78,000 Muslims must appear for the prelims, instead 1200 Muslims sat for prelims this year in 2011. Even though the figure of 1200 has been disputed by others, Mr. Mahmood’s concern echoes everywhere in the community.
Sachar committee had mentioned that 2.3 million Muslim educated youth are unemployed and Mr. Mahmood believes that there is hardly any initiative from the government to remedy this situation. He feels that the Muslim community needs another Sir Syed. In addition he wants the religious and community leaders must work to encourage the youths to apply for government jobs especially for the UPSC.
It is universally known that skill has no religion and educational excellence is not confined to any community. For skill and excellence there is a greater need of government and community synergy. Government is encouraging students through free coaching, but coaching quality remains below average. It is equally the responsibility of the community to take charge of the situation and support UPSC aspiring youths. He suggested that there should be some kind of a voucher system that provides monetary support to students who have qualified the Prelims and this would help the candidates to prepare for the Mains and the personal interview.
Jusuf Kabir Ansari who cracked UPSC and got selected in Indian Railways Service in 2010 feels that UPSC preparation has become a national hobby. Most of the educated youth want to be civil servants hence prepare for the UPSC. Only aspiration has no value. A proper civil service nurturing atmosphere is the need of the hour. He further says that as basic schooling is weak it weakens the overall educational background of majority of Muslims. Lack of proper guidance worsens the situation. Coaching remains inadequate and most often are confined to formality and reduced to officialdom. Mr. Ansari strongly feels that Prelims and Mains don’t have bias. He did not agree with the figure of 1200 Muslims to have appeared in the last examination. He feels that it would be more.
Najeeb Jung, the Vice-Chancellor and a former civil servant asserts that there is no bias or discrimination in UPSC. Instead, he noted that people in UPSC think that Muslims have a higher success rate in comparison to their number of applications. Mr. Jung observed that many Kashmir youths have recently succeeded in the UPSC. Stressing that struggle is the need of the time, he does not believe that one has to resort to begging for a post rather study at least 12 hours a day to succeed at the UPSC. He confessed that during his preparation for the UPSC, he kept himself confined to a room for three years, followed a strict disciplinary life and kept away from most of the social circle. He advised that serious aspirants must also follow a strict discipline. He feels that there is a contradiction in today’s youth as most of them are addicted to their mobiles, have girlfriends/boyfriends and still feel that they can crack the toughest examination in the world! He took a dig at the youth who watch Three Idiots and think that they will become civil servants one day. He believes that candidates who are self-driven are more likely to be winners at the civil services.
Students at the famous Hamdard Study Circle believe that there is no dearth of talents in Muslims. But they feel that not many know about the UPSC and don’t have the wider community awareness and expertise. Ashraf and Intakhab, students at the study circle feel that UPSC preparation must start from schooling days. Government also needs to give reservation to Muslim candidates.
Hamdard’s success rate has been outstanding. But it is not a coaching centre in the classical sense but a study circle where students who have been trained elsewhere and have advanced level of preparation come and join it for preparation purposes. All facilities are provided to encourage hard work and excellence.
My interactions at Jamia Hamdard Coaching and Guidance Centre revealed that coaching systems are not okay. Finding good quality teachers have been a great problem. The problem of teachers is one of the major problems and is felt everywhere including at the Centre for Coaching and Career Planning of Jamia Millia Islamia. Many admitted that Jamia centre is good for Prelims but not very good for mains. Teachers are not training properly for the mains. Some students mentioned that the distance between the hostel and campus is a major concern and moreover the library is not well equipped for the mains examination. Prof. Anisur Rahman, the Director clarified that the centre takes an exam, then selects students. He agreed that hostel problems exist but explained that they have taken a rented apartment to facilitate the stay of aspirants. He was candid that the library is okay though not the best and was confident that the level of awareness is increasing and the centre will slowly create and provide better facilities for the serious aspirants.
The one year coaching facility at the India Islamic Cultural Centre has also been stopped as the students’ response was not encouraging. There are many such instances where the centres are struggling and aspirants are suffering due to the apathy of the management and the government in general. The economic backwardness of many aspirants has also created problem for serious preparation. In this backdrop the problem is multi-dimensional and any solution to this complex issue has to be multi-pronged. Scholarships and fellowships to Muslim youth to prepare for the UPSC must be the first solution simultaneously followed by the capacity building of the coaching centres. Augmentation of the library facilities and appointment of good quality teachers are the two most required initiatives that the government, university authority and the community leadership must ensure.
Related Story: 31 Muslim Candidates Selected in Civil Services