Dr. Showkat Ahmad Parray, hailing from Vizer village Block Wagoora in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, has qualified the prestigious civil services examination the second time. Showkat, a Veterinarian by profession, who figured at 256-rank in the UPSC Civil Services Examination 2009-10, has this time secured 41st position. Parrey said: “I am not excited but to qualify the civil services second time was to improve.” Parrey qualified the Combined Entrance Test (CET) in 2003 and got selected for the BVSc. He topped the BVSc in August 2008 and was later selected as an Assistant Veterinary he, says all it takes is diligence. A veterinarian, Parray could not think of seeking any help. He used whatever study material he could lay his hands on to for just two months before the mains and made it in the first attempt.Parray, son of a lower level government employee, hails from a remote village. He started thinking of competing for civil services after completing his veterinary degree. “If we prepare for civil services in the same manner as for medical and engineering entrance exams I am sure we can secure more than 50 seats in IAS list every year,” he says. Parray has set an example for many. He is now determined to guide aspirants. Parray advises aspirants to keep trying if success does not come in the first attempt. “You can rectify mistakes in subsequent attempts,” Dr Showkat Ahmad Paray Shares his Achievements, his Journey of Success, how to Prepare Civil Services and much more in an Exclusive Interview with Young Journalist MANSOOR PAREY.
Q1. Congratulations Dr Showkat Ahmad Paray, you didn’t stop thinking and aiming big?
Showkat: All praise to Almighty Allah because of whom it has been possible. I feel happy and much motivated to move ahead. At the same time, I am also conscious of the fact that this is just a beginning and still a lot needs to be done to achieve the long-term goals.
Q2. What prompted you to choose Civil Services Anything specific that motivated you to go for IAS?
Showkat: The decision to join civil services was dictated by my circumstances in 2008. Having completed B.V.Sc and A.H, there was uncertainty about the prospect of employment as a veterinary assistant surgeon. We did meet a number of officials in civil secretariat Srinagar but did not receive a much positive response and that was sufficient to ignite my imagination for a change in direction and creation of an alternative path.
Q3: The first step is the most difficult; how to prepare? Which optional? When to read? How much to read? From where you got the right advice?
Showkat: Everyone may not agree that prelims is the toughest part. There are many who consider mains to be tougher and more demanding. Nevertheless given that out of close to 4 lakh candidates only about 12-13 thousand make it to mains, the competition is much tougher in the first step.After the introduction of a new pattern in 2011, optional has been dispensed with in preliminary examination.The time required for preparation and study hours will vary based on the individual’s own assessment of his/her capabilities. There can’t be a ready-made formula for when and how much to read.During last days of my internship at F.V.Sc&A.H, I was guided by Fakhar Imam Shaad, Assist. Professor. He made me aware of the stages in the examination and also managed some study material. Thereafter I managed everything of my own and didn’t consult anyone. When you are determined enough to achieve something, try to give your best in your given circumstances, rest is taken care of by the Almighty.
Q4: Your father has been a lineman in the Power Development Department. And as per reports, you were not that sound financially. Did it affect your studies somewhere?
Showkat: No way. I mean I always believed that I could make it without any coaching and purchasing the study material (books, magazines, newspaper etc…) didn’t cost more than 10-15thousand and that too was not required to be managed at one go.
Q5: You have completed BVSc with a Gold Medal and got a job as well. What then made you think about the Civil Services two Times?
Showkat: I had already appeared in CSE-2009 mains before I was selected as a veterinary assistant surgeon and thereafter only appeared for Personality test while in service. On the basis of results of CSE-2009 I was allocated to IP&TAFS service and wasn’t quite satisfied and therefore decided to appear again.
Q6: Whom do you give credit for you ultimate success?
Showkat: All praises, credits and shukrana to Almighty for everything he has blessed me with. My parents, who have always stood by my decisions and prayed for my success, my brother Mohd Amin and sisters who have always shown faith in my capabilities and my teachers for their guidance and good wishes.Credit is also due to my friends for having supported and motivated me during my tough times.
Q7: Why did you choose Economics and Veterinary Science as your subjects?
Showkat: Veterinary science obviously because of my background. Economics because while teaching my sister for her class 12th exams I developed a great liking for the subject and found it to be interesting.
Q:8 Can you share with us the names of books and other material you read?
Showkat: I read spectrum for history, wizard for polity, NCERT books for geography, Manish Ranjhan for CSAT paper ii, India year book (Ministry Of information and broadcasting), few issues of Yojana and Kurukshetra, a monthly magazine and national dailies (The Hindu and Economic Times).
Q:9 Is strategy more important than hard work?
Showkat: Both are equally important. There can’t be a one size fits all strategy and each individual will have to assess himself/herself, find out his/her strengths and weaknesses and accordingly develop his/her own strategy. The strategy must be flexible enough to take care of the exigencies likely to arise during the long period of preparation.
Q10: Tell me something about the interview and What Kind of Questions were asked?
Showkat: My interview was held on the 15th March by IMG Khan board. I was the last candidate in the day and the interview lasted for about 25 minutes. The board was extremely cordial and questions asked related to all aspects like my service background, veterinary and economics. However most part revolved around J&K like tourism, unemployment and AFSPA etc.
Q11. What is that one thing a Civil Service aspirant should definitely have?
Showkat: It needs a whole gamut of qualities to be able to make it however the most important thing is your commitment to the goal.
Q12. Do Kashmiris lack anything to compete in such exams at the national level?
Showkat: There is no dearth of potential and even the lack of exposure is a part myth and part reality. I feel we lack in the competitive spirit and perhaps it is the fear of failure that keeps a large majority away from these exams. The proportionate share of applicants from our state is much less. However, one important thing is the non-availability of the resource matter even in the major cities of Srinagar and Jammu.
Q13. What is your opinion about self-study? And what about time management?
Showkat: You have asked a Very Good Question If you receive adequate guidance at various stages, self-study can be more productive than studying in a coaching institute. If you are motivated enough and know what to read, self-study can save your time as well as money.Time management is an important aspect. The syllabus is vast and time is limited. The balance between the preparation of optional, GS, essay needs to be adequately maintained. It is better to integrate the preparation of GS prelims and mains.
Q14. How did your parents, family and friends contribute to your success?
Showkat: My parents, family and friends have contributed immensely to my success through their attachment, motivation and emotional support. My father and brother believe in me more than I believe in myself. When everybody else loses faith in you and even you start doubting yourself they are the ones who help you to overcome the lack of confidence and help you to restore the faith in your capabilities.
Q15: Cracking Such Prestigious IAS Exam What significance does this achievement hold for you?
Showkat: I believe every human being is special and has a definite role cut out for him/her in this world. As an individual, this success is special as it has boosted my confidence and my faith in myself to new heights. Being a civil servant was a short term goal and I take this success in civils as a step towards the achievement of my ultimate goals.
Q16. How do you look forward to your future?
Showkat: Success in civil services is an important step towards a bigger pursuit. It is an opportunity to make the best use of my capabilities for the benefit of society. I pray to the Lord that in future this individual success translates into a much bigger success in terms of achievement of societal goals. I look forward and hope for perceptible change for the better.
Q`17. How good are coaching institutes and what to be cautious of if you choose one?
Showkat: As has been proved time and again coaching institutes are absolutely dispensable if a person receives appropriate guidance. One should not get swayed by the tall claims and advertisements of the coaching institutes. Most of these claims are a farce. I didn’t go for any coaching except for a mock interview at Delhi and the same Institute has now published an advertisement in the Hindu claiming that I was one of their students. Same is true for most others.
Having said that, coaching institutes can guide the aspirants in initial stages of preparation and in choosing the right study material besides exposing them to a competitive environment and need to join a coaching institute will vary from individual to individual. It is better to meet some recent successful candidates and take their advice before finalising one.
Q18. Before we wind up what would be your suggestions for the youth aspiring for IAS?
Showkat: Stay calm, a bit of stress and nervousness is natural. Conquer your fears and give it your best. Remember that the cut off in last two years has been around 200-210 for general category and to tackle negative marking, don’t rely on guess work beyond a point. For all the problems that may come your way remember a beautiful couplet;
Tundi-e- Baad-E-Mukhalif se na ghabra, aey Uqaab;
Yeh to chalti hai tujhe uncha udane ke liye
Dr. Showkat, all the best for all stages ahead. It is pleasure to talk to you.
Thank you very much, Mansoor.
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