Resident of New Theed Harwan, around 20 kilometres from Srinagar city, after clearing Common Entrance Test (CET), Shahnawaz did his bachelor’s in Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry from Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology Jammu (SKUAST – Jammu).After completing his bachelors (BVSc), he appeared in Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), and qualified JRF with all India rank of 42. He then did his MVSc from Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Izatnagar, Bareilly and completed his master’s with specialization in Veterinary surgery and Radiology. Meanwhile, he topped the ICAR all India test for Senior Research Fellowship (SRF). Shahnawaz, who loves to play cricket and chess in his free time. He talks about more in an exclusive interview with Young Journalist Mansoor Parey
Q1. It must be great feeling to get through IFS exam with 24th Rank.
Ans: Yes definitely. It is like a dream come true. I hope it will be inspiring to so many of our youth to aim and think big even in this atmosphere of hopelessness and despair.
Q2. Do you think professional coaching is important or self study can be beneficial to crack this exam?
Ans: Since there is huge and cut-throat competition and people from diverse educational backgrounds appear for this examination, I consider a right guidance at right time is the most important thing to crack it. A formal coaching may provide that right guidance but at the same time it can be time wasting, expensive and unaffordable for many. There are lot of people with experience and professional acumen who are ready to help and guide. Ultimately it comes down to hard work, perseverance and determination.
Q3. Dr Shahnawaz , you didn’t stop thinking and aiming big?
Ans: Well I can say it is a human desire to achieve more and more. Everyone wants to contribute for the good of society and at the same time gain social acceptance and prestige. All India Service is the biggest platform which satisfies both the conditions.
Q4. Does computer and internet help in exam preparation?
Ans: Yes definitely it does help immensely. Internet is like a sea of knowledge and one can access it anytime anywhere nowadays. A huge reserve of material regarding civil services is available online. As I did not get any formal coaching I was mostly dependent on internet.
Q5. Tell us something about your schooling and family background?
Ans: I did my schooling from Imamia Public School, Shalimar; Iqbal Islamia Mission High School, Brein Nishat and Government Higher Secondary school, Shalimar. I graduated in Veterinary sciences (B.V.Sc & A.H.) from SKAUST-Jammu and have Post graduation from prestigious Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Izatnagar, Bareilly. My father is in a private job and my mother is a homemaker. I have one brother who has completed his Post graduation in Pediatrics’ from SKIMS, Soura Srinagar and a sister who is married and a homemaker.
Q6. Can you describe the feeling once you came to know about your Selection? What has been your biggest learning?
Ans: It was really a proud and ecstatic moment. The response I got from family and friends and on social media was overwhelming. I really feel privileged. At the end I learnt that nothing is impossible provided you are sincere and determined.
Q7. Best advice you have ever received from anyone.
Ans: My grandfather used to say, “Give your best and rest your faith in Almighty who is the best planner. This is what I did.”
Q8. When should one ideally start the Preparation? And how many hours one should devote to crack this Exam?
Ans: One may start preparing after graduation but I think developing a habit of reading a good newspaper daily and listening to News from early age can help in cracking the examination early and make the process easy. How much time one should devote varies and depends on individuals potential to retain the things. There is no fixed rule but as one is going to compete with lakhs of other candidates one should utilize as much time as possible.
Q9. Do you think an average student can crack this exam? Does the place of preparation matter? How did you cope up with the pressure of Job, family and friends?
Ans: Yes an average student can even be a topper and many have proved it. I too fall in the same category of average. The simple rule is one needs to be honest to himself; wether he or she can be sincere, dedicated and hard working.
Yes a place which provides the right atmosphere and keeps you motivated matters.
My family gave me a free hand in choosing my career and were always supportive. My friends especially Dr. Shabir Ahmad Dar, Dr Bilal Ahmad Bhat, Dr. Ishtiyaq Ali Bhat, Dr Zubair Ahmad Lattoo (KAS), Dr. Bilal Mohuidin Bhat (IFS) and Dr. Dimple Puri have been a great source of motivation and material help to me. They believed in me and always encouraged me.
Regarding the job, I believe one should keep a backup plan as this examination can be unpredictable and uncertain. I took a leave of couple of months before preliminary stage and stayed in touch with current affairs during my job through Newspapers and internet.
Q10. In Kashmir people are obsessed with medicine and engineering. Why did you opt for a different line?
Ans: Good Question Mansoor, I think the reason for this obsession is that we lack exposure and awareness regarding various other fields where we can excel and their importance in society. The world is very vast and there are lot of opportunities available. There is need to change our mindset and come out of this self made cocoon. I too appeared in Common Entrance Test and got admitted in a Veterinary college. There I saw some of my seniors like Dr. Shahid Iqbal Chowdary (IAS), Dr. Nadeem Hussain (IFoS), Dr. Sarvjeet Soodan (IFS) and several others cracking this examination and getting applauded for their work as administrators. It inspired me and made me confident that I too can do it.
Q11. Is strategy really more important than hard work? Do Kashmiris lack anything to compete in such exams at national level?
Ans: As this examination demands an all round knowledge of diverse fields and as there is huge information flow these days, the strategy definitely is more important. It is very important to know what to read and what not. Otherwise one can succumb to the pressure. I believe kashmiris are immensely talented. I have been to many places of learning and have seen Kashmiris excelling in every field. Many from the state have got top positions in national examinations including All India Services. As I said we just need right guidance at right time.
Q12. What charm attached with civil services attract aspirants?
Ans: Civil services provides a platform where from one can immensely contribute in improving the socio-economic parameters of society and one can make a bigger impact in lives of poor and downtrodden. These attributes along with the satisfaction, social status and prestige which one achieve are the biggest attractants.
Q13. The first step is most difficult, how should we prepare? From where did you get the right advice?
Ans: As the first step is all about ones general awareness, a beginner should start from NCERT social science and science text books of class 6th or 7th till 12th. Thereafter, different books are available for different areas of preparation. Reading daily one good national newspaper and listening to news analysis from All India Radio and different TV news channels helps one to keep abreast with current affairs. Various websites provide the summary analysis of daily current affairs and aspirants can use that source as well. I received guidance from my seniors and friends and also in the process of preparation one learns the right areas one should focus on.
Thank You Dr Shahnawaz for sharing your experience with our readers !
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