“The culture in Kashmir is a little different. There people are more passionate about medical and engineering career. Kashmiris make the best doctors. Kashmiri doctors are renowned all over the world. Even the George Washington Cardiology Centre in the US is headed by a Kashmiri.
Defying the culture and by overcoming all ordeal and militancy atmosphere in the valley, A doctor from Srinagar,Shah Faesal,topped the Civil Services Examination 2009. Faesal made to the list in his first attempt. Faesal's success will also inspire talents in the valley and they will help Kashmir to join the mainstream of society and will see many more Kashmiri youth in civil services.
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Despite his science background, Faesal had chosen Urdu literature and public administration as his optional subjects for the civil service exam.
Faesal, who topped the list of 875 successful candidates, said “It is not only my own success; I feel I have broken the jinx that Kashmiri students cannot reach the top. I am an orphan with a scarred childhood. There was a tragedy in my family; my father was killed by militants for not giving shelter to them. I was raised by my mother who is a school teacher. I belong to a far-flung village in Lolab in Kupwara and I studied in a government school.” he adds,”he was not only the first Kashmiri to achieve the milestone he was also second Muslim in the history to achieve the feet and I am sure my story will become a model for our students who fear to dream big.” And I think my selection is to some extent a punch on all those stereotypical notions that Kashmir can only produce terrorists,”
Faisal, who did his MBBS from Srinagar's Sher-i-Kashmir Medical College, adds, he was confident of qualifying but never imagined he would be right on top. His mission now is to serve his people in the strife torn area of Kashmir. "I wanted to serve the people and in the role of an IAS officer I would like to reduce the communication gap between the people and the administration. I will give audience to them to hear their problems, cares and worries. I want to bring a change, especially for women and the youth," he further adds, he didn’t take any formal coaching for the exam. “I took Public Administration as a subject and for sometime studied geography too. But then I decided to study Urdu literature. I am emotionally attached to the language.”
Faisal’s one regret is that his father isn’t around to savour his success. “I’m missing him today... He taught me that I could take on any challenge, only if I work hard. He was my guide and my teacher and can you imagine, the basics that he taught me in Class XI came as a big help during the (Civil Services) preliminary (examination),”Faisal added in emotional voice.
Among those who inspired him to take the civil services exam were his late maternal grandfather Mohammad Maqbool Wani. He qualified for the Indian Forest Service 45 years ago, but disappeared while on his way for training. “We never heard of him again,” Faisal says. “But my mother always talked about him during my childhood and the family was proud that he had qualified. I think that pride with which my mother remembered my uncle became a reason for my interest.”
Abdul Gain Mir, who qualified for IPS in 1994 and belongs to Kupwara too, was also a big inspiration and kept motivating Faisal. A Deputy Inspector General now, Mir is a delighted man. “Faisal has made all of us proud... His success has sent a clear message that there is no dearth of talent in Kashmir,” he says.
When asked why he chose not to pursue medicine, he said: “I felt that I could not have made a change by being at a hospital and wanted to work with the government.”
Appearing resolved about which service he wanted to get into, Dr. Faesal said: “I have chosen the Indian Administrative Service already.”He would like to serve from Kashmir, as he was familiar with the environment and had a vision for it. However, he would not mind serving in any part of the country.
When asked,what triggered the shift? He replied “I am a restless person. People call me a career chameleon, as I keep looking for new challenges, and believe me, if there would have been a more difficult exam in India I would have appeared for that as well. But yes, when I started preparing for IAS, there was this motive of serving the country in my mind, as being a technocrat you can only talk about things, but being a bureaucrat you can actually do things,”
And when asked, while preparing did he ever think of breaking into the top three or being the topper himself? He replied,“I always wanted to break into the top 50 so as to get IAS and my own cadre. “It was only a matter of a year of diligent preparation. And I was 100 per cent sure that I will clear it. I had told my mother that it has to be this year only, because I cannot improve upon what I have done in the exams. I gave it my best shot by staying home and reading,”
Talking about his whole experience of sitting for the UPSC exams and emerging as a topper, Faesal said that the whole process was a learning experience. “But the main thing that I learnt is that despite evidence of favouritism, merit is respected,” he says, adding, “India has to be a joint enterprise; we all should contribute towards making it a better place. It is not only the role of the politicians to work for the country; everyone has to play a role. The main problem with all of us is we are not bothered. We pass on the blame to someone and move on,”
MOTHER,Mubeena’s views on her sons success:
"Faisal has made every Kashmiri proud with his hard work and dedication." Her husband, she says, was killed because he refused shelter to militants. Ironically, it was the tragedy that opened a window to the wider world for the family. "After the killing, I shifted from village Sheikh Nar in Lolab Sogam area of Kupwara to Srinagar with my children ^ two sons and a daughter. My elder son Shah Faisal had done his class X from Sogam high school while my two other children were in middle school there. I was a broken woman but never gave up and fought against all odds to bring up my children," says mother,Mubeena, a teacher, like her husband. Faisal's younger brother Shah Nawaz is also a doctor while his younger sister Talat Shah is a library assistant.
While he had always been an achiever, Mubeena didn’t expect him to do this well. “I didn’t see him with books all the time. He did study but in a very normal way,” she says.
What the family had no doubts about was Faisal’s determination to become an IAS officer and to do something for the state. “He always wanted to do something big. Even after qualifying for MBBS, he didn’t seem satisfied. It was his passion to qualify for the civil services exam. He would store photographs of Kashmiri IAS officers in his cellphone,”.