Fifty of the 1,099 candidates who cleared the civil services examination this year were Muslims, the highest since Independence.
“This is the first time so many Muslims have cleared the Union Public Service Commission examination since Independence,” said Zafar Mahmood, chairman and founder of the Zakat Foundation. “It seems the community is progressing.”
The NGO runs a civil service coaching centre for Muslim youth in Delhi’s Jamia Nagar.
A panel headed by retired judge Rajender Sachar had noted in 2006 that Muslims enjoyed just 3% representation in the civil services and 4% in the police service. About 4.5% of the students who cleared the civil service examination this year are Muslim.
About 10% of the top 100 candidates also hailed from the community, which is considered the most deprived among all religious groups. In fact, candidates from strife-ridden Jammu and Kashmir took the lead – with Bilal Mohiud Din Bhat bagging the tenth rank and 13 others emerging successful.
“If you are determined to push your limits, nothing is impossible. My feat will mean a lot to Kashmir, and inspire its youth to seek a career in civil services,” Bhat told HT.
Abdul Jabbar (28) made history by becoming the first Meo Muslim to clear the civil services examination. He hails from Bharatpur in Rajasthan’s Mewat region, which hit the news in April over the killing of dairy owner Pehlu Khan by gau rakshaks.
“I want this image of Mewat to change,” said Jabbar, who ranked 822nd in the other backward class category. “It is synonymous with criminal activities and backwardness. Children either stay away from school or drop out early to enter the world of crime.”
The number of Muslims clearing the civil services examination is steadily rising. While 30 candidates from the community cleared it in 2013, the number rose to 34 in 2014 and 36 in 2016.
Although Muslims comprise 13.4% of India’s population, they find dismal representation in top government services due to lack of educational facilities and resources.
“On an average, only 3% Muslims cleared the civil services examination in the last few years. This is not a very encouraging figure, if you note that nearly 14% of India’s population hails from this community,” said Agha Pervez Masih, administrator of the Lucknow Guidance Centre, which provides free coaching to Muslim students.
Mahmood, a former Income Tax commissioner and member of the Sachar panel, said the report’s finding came as a wake-up call for the community. However, experts feel that the community still has a long way to go before a fair representation of Muslim candidates (about 170 to 180, going by the population share) make it in the civil examination.