Karnataka Hijab row face Tabssum Shaik offers tips for success in exams

Story by  ATV | Posted by  Aasha Khosa | Date 26-04-2023
Tabbasum Shaik with her parents and brother
Tabbasum Shaik with her parents and brother


Aasha Khosa/New Delhi 

Tabssum Shaik, 18, who topped the Humanities stream of the 12th standard PUC examination in Karnataka State education board by securing 593 out of 600 marks says the best time to study, is between 4 to 8 am. “My mind is fresh and free at that time and I think, that is the best time for one to study.”

Tabassum Shaik, was one among six women who were initially denied permission to enter a private PUC college in the Udipi district of the southern state following the government’s strict implementation of the college uniform rule in 2022. This led to protests across the district and four women approached the Court challenging the rule.

Tabassum's mantra for becoming a top scorer is "Energy management.” She says this technique helped her realize the kind of energy she had at a given hour of the day. “I studied the most difficult chapters when I had the highest degree of energy and a blank mind. I found it was between 4 am to 8 am.”

However, this bright-minded woman has moved beyond the Hijab controversy as her parents counseled her to pick education over hijab. “My parents counseled me to sidestep the hijab issue and focus on studies and I was expecting around 95 percent marks,” the Hijab-wearing Tabassum told the media persons.

She was sleeping when one of her college teachers called her to break the news about her topping the State in the humanities stream. ”My parents were very happy too”, she said.

Tabasum said that she had been wearing a hijab since she was five years old. “It’s part of my identity and I was very sad and disturbed due to this controversy.”

Following the controversy, her parents told her that “Imposing no-hijab rule was a ploy to keep the Muslims backward and deprived of education and that was not right.”

Her father, Abdul Kham Shaik, an electrician by profession, said he believes in following the law of the land and accordingly counseled his daughter.

Going back to the issue of hijab, Tabassum says, nobody imposes a headcover on Muslim women. “It’s not that you are asked to wear the hijab all of a sudden. I did ask my parents question about it and only after getting my answers I did take it.”

Tabassum who wants to pursue liberal arts and become a clinical psychologist says she topped the examination because of her systematic self-study and “the good teachers we had in the college.”

The best thing that happened to her, she says, was the college granting them a month-long leave for self-studies. “During this time, we were allowed to call our teachers any time for clearing our doubts and seeking guidance. This was a game-changer."

That month, she said, she ended up studying 8-9 hours per day.

However, Tabassum admits the controversy over Hijab was distressing. “I was very sad. I thought it was unjust. I missed college for two weeks; I was depressed and confused and wondered what to do.”

Today she feels bad for many of her classmates and friends who gave up college and choose to write the examination from an open school rather than remove the Hijab inside the college.

She says she wears a hijab on the way to college and then removes it in a designated room provided by the college authorities.

She has counseled the women not to give up on education in the name of the Hijab and instead complete their studies. “India is a nation of diversity and we have to adjust,” she said in an interview.

On her future, Tabassum says she is keen to pursue liberal arts, for she finds there is an overflow of sciences while humanities – social sciences, history, psychology, literature – are more relevant in understanding society and connecting with people.

Tabassum says she wants to become a clinical psychologist. Currently, she is planning to pursue a Bachelor of Arts from the RV University, Bangalore. Her elder brother, an engineering graduate, is currently pursuing an M.Tech degree.

She says her habit of making notes in college and then revising the same at home was helpful.

At the beginning of the academic year, she visited the library of her college to study all the previous question papers and out of these she deducted the repeated questions and compiled a must-study list of key questions.

Tabassum is not all study and no play. She watches Sitcoms on OTT platforms and YouTube specifically for arts and crafts tutorials.

She likes animated films and uses them to relax and feel rejuvenated after studying hard for her examination.

She reads books to increase her vocabulary.

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However, the most important for her is to speak her mind. “I want to speak my mind. Any thought in mind should be conveyed.