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'There are no shortcuts to success'

By Mukhtar Ahmad
Last updated on: May 18, 2016 21:51 IST
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Athar Aamir Ul Shafi Khan is thrilled that he stood second in his second attempt at cracking the prestigious UPSC civil services examination.

Athar Aamir Ul Shafi Khan

Athar Aamir Ul Shafi Khan has made Jammu and Kashmir proud. He stood second in the all-India Union Public Service Commission civil services examination, the results of which were declared last week.

"I knew the results were coming that day," says Athar. "So I started surfing the internet and, around 4.30 pm, I got to know my result."

Back in 2009, Dr Shah Faesal had created a record by becoming the first person from Jammu and Kashmir to top this exam.

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Athar, 23, who hails from south Kashmir's Anantnag district, made no bones about acknowledging how inspirational Dr Faesal, now director, school education, Kashmir, has been.

"Dr Shah Faesal made us proud by topping the examination," says Athar, who decided to try and get into the Indian Administrative Service when he was a student at IIT Mandi. "I had enrolled in a coaching class. I did some crash courses, mock interviews and test series," he says.

IMAGE: Athar's parents (extreme left) and relatives at their residence. Photograph: Umar Ganie

Athar studied philosophy, sociology, psychology, political science, economics and international relations at IIT Mandi. The lad, who belongs to a humble family, did his early schooling from Iqbal Memorial High school in Anantnag. He later joined Tyndale Biscoe School in Srinagar for his higher secondary education.

He then appeared for the AIEEE exam and joined IIT Mandi in Himachal Pradesh. After graduating from IIT, Athar made his first attempt at cracking the civil service examination. He was ranked 560 and was selected for the railways.

Recalling the mistakes he made in his first attempt, he says, "It could probably be the paucity of time. There were some areas in my optional subjects for which I should have prepared better."

In his second attempt, he did marvellously well and secured the second position. When asked about the most difficult part of the exam, Aktar says, "Preparation for the mains is crucial."

Kashmir topper

IMAGE: Athar's parents holding photographs of their son during the celebrations at their residence. Photograph: Umar Ganie

He also credits his family, "especially my grandfather, Ghulam Ahmed Khan, and my father, Mohammad Shafi Khan, a lecturer in a government higher secondary school in Anantnag", for their support. 

Athar has a brilliant academic record. A regular topper, he has opted for the Jammu and Kashmir cadre with the aim of "serving my people and the state".

Like Dr Faesal, Athar is now a role model for youth of the state. He hopes his success will inspire more youth in the valley and increase the state's share in the coveted service.


IMAGE: Athar interacts with students at his alma mater. Photograph: Umar Ganie

Athar says, "Civil service in itself is a great motivation; you get to work at the grass root level for the people and also with them."

He is proud that Jammu and Kashmir has bagged six more positions in the service this year. Earlier, the state would hardly figure in the prestigious civil services results. That changed after Dr Faesal topped the exam in 2009.

While congratulating Athar, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said she is sure his feat will inspire many other youngsters to follow suit. She also lauded the performance of all those who cracked the country's premier civil service examination from the state.

Athar signs off with a bit of advice for UPSC aspirants. "Stay focused, be consistent in preparations and work hard. There are no shortcuts to success."

Lead Photograph: Umar Ganie

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Mukhtar Ahmad Srinagar