Muslims must focus on cracking non-UPSC exams for govt. jobs: Zafar Mahmood

Story by  Aasha Khosa | Posted by  Aasha Khosa | Date 22-04-2024
Dr Syed zafar Mahmood, President, Zakat Foundation of India
Dr Syed zafar Mahmood, President, Zakat Foundation of India


Aasha Khosa/New Delhi

Dr. Syed Zafar Mahmood, President of the Zakat Foundation of India, should be a happy man since 24 of the 100 Muslim men and women whom his organization gave scholarships for coaching for the coveted Civil Services examination for the year 2023, have made it.

Of the 50 Muslims selected for the Indian Civil and allied services for 2023 the result of which was declared last week, 24 were sponsored by the ZFI. This is one of the highest scores of the community in recent years.

However, despite this Zafar Mahmood feels the UPSC’s civil services examination is overhyped and the singular focus of the institutions in helping the youth clear this examination is disproportionate to the huge problem of under-representation of Muslims in the government.

It may be recalled that Zafar Mahmood, as a bureaucrat, oversaw the work of the Sachar committee set up by the Manmohan Singh government in 2005 to study the "social, economic and educational status" of India's minority Muslim community.

Dr. Syed Zafar Mahmood presiding over a meeting

Zafar Mahmood was the OSD in the PM’s office and was closely associated with the project. The committee submitted its report in 2006 and it said India's minority Muslims constituted 1% to 4.5% of the civil services, judiciary, and government jobs - predominantly as clerical or janitorial staff, despite being 13.4% of the population.

This propelled several organizations including the ZFI to support Muslim youth prepare for these examinations and it showed good results. Each year, ZFI admits 100 meritorious Muslim aspirants to the Sir Syed Coaching and Guidance Center and arranges coaching for them for the civil services examinations.

Zafar Mahmood, who heads the ZFI that manages annual Zakat (mandatory donation by Muslims for social welfare) funds to the tune of Rs 5 crore, says as against some 1,000 posts of the UPSC Civil services for which there is big competition and fewer chances for Muslims to be successful, there are 5 lakh posts in the government where Muslim youth should sit in the competition examination and clear.

These competitive examinations are held across India annually and the aspirant needs to be just 12th pass to take these.

“The civil services are disproportionately hyped. This is the case of 1000 posts vs 5 lakh and Muslims need the latter more,” he said. While 99 percent of the focus of the Muslim institutions is on the UPSC examination, it should be on the non-UPSC administrative jobs for Muslims.

Zafar Mahmood said the Zakat Foundation started propagating this idea three years ago. The beginning was made in Kashmir, the most Muslim-majority region. “We visited Kashmir twice: once to do an orientation for the parents and a second time to the aspirants for joining the coaching for non-UPSC administrative jobs in the government.”

Dr. Syed Zafar Mahmood inspecting the under construction building of the proposed coaching academy at dasna

The ZFI has also set up coaching centers at Lucknow and in Bihar for the non-UPSC job-entry competitions including one in Bihar. The coaching there is free.

The former bureaucrat turned social worker says Muslims lack motivation and guidance to move ahead in life through ZFI but they don’t lack the intention and organizations like his were trying to address this.

The ZFI sponsors the coaching of meritorious aspirants in the top-ranking private institutions in Delhi by paying 90 percent of their fees and offering free lodging and boarding to 100 persons each year.

However, the ZFI is presently working on setting up its coaching institute for 500 aspirants. The building for this is being constructed at Dasna, Ghaziabad, about 25 km east of New Delhi.

The ZFI has collaborated with the Sheikhul Hind Trust of Maulana Mahmood Madani for this project. Mahmood told Awaz-the Voice that From the next session, 200 women and 300 men will be admitted there for the UPSC and nonUPSC competitive examination.

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The coaching academy will also have a library and hostels for men and women. He said the agreement has been signed with many coaching institutes to provide coaching.

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