(MENAFN- Kashmir Observer)
THE results of the coveted and prestigious administrative service exams (JKAS) were declared recently, and as is a norm, the results have stirred a cascade of reactions on social media, ranging from hyper-glorification of such exams to the outright dismissal. This issue has multiple layers and a number of facets which deserve proper understanding before we reach any conclusion and make sense of the comments being made on either side of the divide and in the vast spectrum in between.
Let me start with a personal experience I had almost a year ago. It was the cold night of January and I had been struggling against the cold and sleeping to continue my studies and at one point I decided to come down from my study and take rest. But before I could have yielded to sleep, I cursorily happened to visit Facebook and to my great joy discovered that a Kashmiri girl had secured the prestigious Chevening scholarship. The news filled me with such enthusiasm that I threw my quilt away and rushed back to my study – maintaining my vigour and enthusiasm till dawn. But equally appalling was the phenomenon that barring two or so news portals, the news had not hit the headlines, neither was there any widespread celebration on social media and nor was the girl congratulated and celebrated the way we celebrate UPSC/PSC qualifiers.
Was it because people don't understand the enormity of this feat or that we don't want to celebrate the stories of scholarship, of learning and research, of academic excellence and that we have conditioned ourselves to celebrate the posts and exams which bring with it power and prestige? I believe that all these factors augment in shaping our reactions and responses to these episodes and I shall be explaining the same in what follows. But we need to caution ourselves of another extreme which has popped up out of this nexus and some people have swung to the extreme of downplaying these examinations, robbing them of their sheen and glory, pitting these exams against others to bring down the qualifiers, make them look as“others” and sometimes demonising to the extent where we leave the standards of civility and humanity far behind. Let's then try to understand what to make of these results.
Nobody denies the historicity of Public Services and it is well known that the model was introduced by the British imperialists to keep India running on the pattern that suited their (nefarious) designs. After independence, the model was found fit for recruiting men who run the administrative machinery and this gave birth to the entire panorama of Civil Service Exams. But is this historicity, the historicity which claims that these exams, even today, smack of master-slave mentality and in the recess of this hierarchy are to be found elements of colonial and imperial mindset, justified in giving a bad name to these exams? We need to remember that the origin of this doesn't and can't rob them of their merit and decor, but it is the ends which they serve and strive to that determine the respect and regard they command and demand.
Having said that, we need to see these exams not as something which is a leftover from the colonial period but as a suitable and relevant mechanism for recruiting people into Civil Services. In Kashmir, owing to certain ideological differences, the exams like IAS/JKAS are perceived the same way in which the Civil Service Exams used to be perceived when the British conducted them in India – with suspicion and scorn. The feeling continues to persist in Kashmir on various grounds and it is very difficult to decide in favour of or against this opinion in itself, for this opinion stems from certain ideology, the details of which are beyond the contours of the present piece.
Facebook and twitter are filled with posts condemning these young qualifiers, making this exam seem as if it carries no weight and water and anybody who sits in it will make it through. This is notwithstanding the rigor of the exam, the patience and consistency it needs, the encompassing nature of the syllabus which it covers and the multiple stages a candidate must pass through before he is declared successful or qualified. There is a class of people who have taken to Facebook to celebrate how they never cared about exams like JKAS and decided to do something“greater”. On closer scrutiny, this“greater” turns out to be nothing more than posting on Facebook sickening comments about the success of others and in the heart of hearts wishing for the same posts and privilege which they happen to condemn in public for their lack of ability to reach the same by means of hard work and efforts. It seems very probable that the very posts and privileges, which our Facebook warriors keep fighting and commenting against, if they are offered without efforts and endeavours, will not wait for a blink to accept the same. The only thing that provokes disdain in most of the cases is inability and not the difference rooted in ideology or principle.
When a teacher is recruited, we never hear something like,“he will misguide children tomorrow”, when a doctor qualifies medical entrance, nobody says,“he will prescribe spurious drugs and will put the lives of patients at risk.”
Can we not learn from the hard work, the persistence, the dedication and discipline of these students who burn themselves out to achieve their goals? Shall we for all times remain in the web of our failure psychology and the hatred it generates for others' success? Do we have the courage to appreciate and celebrate the success of others without necessarily agreeing with their ideology? Has our education, the books that pile in our rooms, the articles we keep reading and sharing, the sermons we keep playing and the lofty ideals we so often preach, trained us to celebrate the differences, to give people the respect where it is due and to see the light where it is?
Views expressed in the article are the author's own and do not necessarily represent the editorial stance of Kashmir Observer
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