Candidates of Jammu and Kashmir (J-K) have been lagging behind in qualifying the country’s premier examination – Civil Services Examination (CSE) – as this year number of selected candidates has been recorded as the lowest in the past decade.
The final selection list of 761 candidates who cracked the country’s top exam was released on Friday evening, among them, at least six candidates from strife-torn Jammu and Kashmir qualified for the prestigious exam, the interview of which was held last month.
In 2011, 11 candidates from J-K including Ladakh that is now a separate Union territory qualified for CSE by UPSC, 10 in 2012, 11 in 2013, 10 in 2014, 9 in 2015, 14 in 2016, 14 in 2017, 15 in 2018.
In 2019, after the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir was bifurcated into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh – 12 candidates from J-K qualified for the exam, the result of which was declared in 2020.
The CSE is conducted annually by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to select the country’s bureaucrats, diplomats, and police officers, among other civil servants.
Twenty-two-year-old Suchiter Sharma from the Jammu division of J-K with All India Rank (AIR) 146 is at the top of the list of successful candidates from the region. He was followed by Waseem Ahmad Bhat from the Kashmir division’s Dooru Anantnag with AIR 225.
The country’s premier recruitment institution UPSC said that the exam was topped by Shubham Kumar from Bihar, Jagrati Awasthi secured the second position, and Ankita Jain, the third across the country.
One of the qualifiers from Kashmir valley is Iqbal Rasool Dar of Jaggerpora in border district Kupwara, 100 km away from the capital city Srinagar, who qualified for the exam with AIR 611.
Speaking to The Kashmir Walla, Dar said, “I am happy but will improve my rank in the next exam. It was my third consecutive attempt.”
The CSE is conducted in three stages — preliminary, main, and interview — to select officers of Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and Indian Police Service (IPS), among others.
Lone candidate from north Kashmir, Dar, prepared for the exam at Jamia Milllia’s Residential Coaching Academy after completing Civil Engineering from Bharati Vidyapeeth University in Pune. He could not qualify for the first tier – Preliminary examination in his first two attempts.
“I was short of 0.2 points in the Preliminary Examination of my second attempt due to which I could not qualify, but remained committed to it,” he said. “I had come to know nearly two hours before that the result would be out at 6 pm on Friday.”
He added that “the exam drains a person emotionally and one should start preparation in the last year of the bachelor’s degree with guidance from seniors. One should focus on the field one is good in.”
The major reason for the less number of qualifiers from J-K, as per Dar, was Covid-19 and Jammu Kashmir Administrative Service (JKAS) interview that was held just days before the CSE interview was conducted by the UPSC.
“Due to (JKAS interview) many aspirants could not concentrate on this interview. If I had to appear for the KAS, I would not have made it to the list,” he pointed out.
Candidates from J-K, other than Suchiter Sharma, Waseem Ahmad Bhat, and Iqbal Rasool Dar who qualified for the CSE-2020 include Shivia Hangloo (AIR: 261), Amir Bashir (AIR: 625), and Majid Iqbal (AIR: 738).
Jammu and Kashmir, now a union territory, has a small fraction of officers in the civil services as only around 100 candidates have qualified for the prestigious exam in the past decade. This year none made it to the top 100.
In the 2009 exam, Shah Feasal, became the first Kashmiri to top the CSE. A year later Syed Aabid Rashid, hailing from Srinagar ranked at 23 in 2010. Athar Aamir-ul- Shafi Khan bagged the second position in 2016 while Fazlul Haseeb secured AIR 36 in 2018.
This year a total of 2046 candidates were shortlisted for the interview among them 761 qualified for the interview including 545 males and 216 females.