People of Jammu and Kashmir had a moment of elation as a record number of 10 candidates made it to the prestigious All India Civil Services this year, the results of which were declared last week.
Apart from eight male candidates, the list included two women, Syed Sehrish Asghar and Pooja Hali. Not only this, one of the candidates, Syed Aabid Rashid, figures in the first 25 position holders.
The list includes candidates from both regions of the state, Jammu and Kashmir while Ladakh, the third region drew a blank this year even though a year ago, it achieved the distinction of having the first Muslim girl, Ovessa Iqbal in the list of the successful candidates.
Dr Shah Faesal, who topped the All India Civil services list in 2010 seems to have surely triggered the enthusiasm of the state's youth to participate in the civil services examination and with increasing success.
Most of this year's successful candidates have had to qualms to publicly recognise Faesal as an influence and a role model.
This year's candidates who have made it to the list reflect a wide variety of backgrounds, both social and academic. While three of them are doctors, one is a veterinarian.
As far as social backgrounds, some are wards of retired government official while the veterinarian, Bashir Ahmad Bhat comes from a humble background whose father runs a grocery shop in north Kashmir apple rich Sopore own.
Sehrish, figuring at 118 in the list comes from the mountainous district of Kishtwar had topped the states civil services examination last year and was not content with it. Daughter of a former bureaucrat, Sehrish attempted the Union Public Service Commission exam and cleared it in first go.
She credits her achievement to the ncouragement she received from her family. "After topping the states civil service exam, my dream was to serve the people from a bigger platform," Sehrish said.
"Nothing is impossible," she said. "Work hard and success will touch your feet. One just needs proper guidance and planning to crack the examination."
Aabid Rashid, figuring at 25 in the list had appeared in the civil services examination for the first time in 2010 securing 180th rank. He was awarded state Indian Police Service cadre and is presently undergoing training in National Police Academy, Hyderabad.
"There is a need of more than one and a half year strenuous studies to qualify the civil services examination. "The quality of studies is more important than the quantity and an average eight hours of hard work should help one get through, "Aabid said.
Given its population, the ratio of successful candidates in the all India civil service exam 2012 from Jammu and Kashmir is nearly equal to that of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, two Indian states known to have sent the maximum number of successful candidates to the country's elite administrative service.
Instead of chasing the traditional careers like medicine and engineering, which remained the thrust areas for Kashmiri boys and girls for more than seven decades, the local students are now reaching out for the fiercely competitive careers like the civil services.
This, according to educationists is the reason for the majority of Kashmiri boys and girls opting for social sciences instead of pure sciences while choosing subjects for the higher studies.
Image: Syed Aabid Rashid, who figures in the first 25 position holders
Photograph: Umar Ganie