Brought up in an uneducated North Kashmir’s family Ajaz Hussain Malik’s Journey to KAS is wonderful. He has been a meritorious student all through his career – qualifying JRF, being a Gold Medalist, Dhadkan Winner, and now a KAS Qualifier, his talent speaks more than his words.Journalist Mansoor Parey sat down with emotional Ajaz Hussain Malik hailing from Sonim Pattan, district Baramulla to talk about his preparation, achievements and Success in a exclusive interview.
Q1. What motivated you to choose civil services when many other career options are available?
Ans. The will to serve. The charisma associated with the job. The space it offers for development for increasing knowledge and the experience to see in person the problems confronted by our society and the responsibility to resolve them with a concern for public welfare was by highest motivation.
Q2. Please tell us about your schooling and family background?
Ans. I did my early schooling from MMKPS Nehalpora Pattan , Graduation from Amar Singh College Srinagar, then MA History from Jamia Millia Islamia , New Delhi (Gold Medalist), I also qualified JRF in history and I did my Mphil from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. My father Gh Hassan Malik is a farmer, Mother Home maker and brother Sarafraz is in Indian Air force.
Q3. To whom do you give credit in your success?
Ans. Well first of all Praise be to Almighty. It is for my father and grandfather who inspired me right from 8th standard to aspire and work for getting into Civil Services. This success would not have been possible without the support of my uncle, Malik Mehjoor who worked as a dedicated teacher until my 8th standard and provided me with best of knowledge. And for my dearest uncle Mohammad Akbar Malik who always kept his ATM card at my disposal without ever calculating the amount I spent. My mother has also been one of the greatest inspirations; stories she narrated during hardest times still brings tears in my eyes. I wish every mother could infuse the spirit of writing in her children like my mother did. It was also my younger brother Malik Sarfaraz, who sacrificed his education for my aspirations. I was born in a family where every member worked for me to reach where I am today. So I dedicate this success to all of them.
Q4. Any person who has been a constant source of encouragement for you?
Ans. My elder sister, Masarat Parveen.She reared, cared and moulded our attitude when our mother was not there. She is the person I would like to return all kindness she bestowed on me, although I know no amount of my gratitude could ever return that. She remained illiterate for us to achieve the academic heights. Thanks to Almighty for blessing her with a kind hearted life partner and two naughty gifts, Aatif and Aamir. I missed them badly during my stay in New Delhi. They call me DC Maam.
Q5. In how many attempts you achieved your goal?
Ans. This was my first serious attempt. I always thought of doing it on priority basis. However, my engagement with M. Phil. played a positive part in sharpening and enhancing my writing skills.
Q6. Can you please tell us about your optional subjects and how did you prepare for this exam?
Ans. My optional subjects were History and Public Administration. I have done Masters in History from Jamia Millia Islamia and Public Administration from IGNOU. I have also qualified JRF in History, which is my favorite subject. I focused more on Public Administration, since I was very much clear about major concepts in History. I focused on reading one text multiple times for Public Administration. I read Lakshmikant many times and also used Internet for details. Besides, preparing notes always helps you in the end. For General Studies, I relied more on Newspapers and Magazines like The Hindu, Yojana, Kurukshetra, Frontline and Civil Service Chronicle. For local events, I regularly read local dailies of my Kashmir.
Q7. How many hours one should put in to sail through this exam?
Ans. I think, it is more about how you study rather than how much you study. I used to study constantly for 6-10 hours. I play Badminton regularly, watch movies, and enjoy discussing things with my friends.
Q8. Were you sure of cracking this exam in your first attempt?
Ans. (Smiles and sigh) Frankly no. But after Mains I was sure to get a call for interview. All my smart work paid. Like instead of just writing long answers in History, I focused more on flowcharts, making my answers interesting and precise. I practiced writing answers, with flowcharts and to me they were quite amusing to read and comprehend. In Public Administration, I focused more on providing details rather than flowcharts since everyone is now using flow charts in this particular subject. So, I think this worked for me.
Q9. Which stage is harder, the prelims or the Mains?
Ans. For those who qualify Prelims, Mains is harder. But, we must first focus on Prelims since it opens up the window towards Mains and subsequently the final selection.
Q10. How did you prepare for the interview?
Ans. For me this was the toughest stage. There was no one to guide. So I outlined all the possible things I could and prepared each and every one of them. I asked myself questions and answered them the way I answered them before the interview board. I talked to some people who have qualified particularly Showkat Ahmad (KAS-2012) and got some fruitful insights. After all interview is all about your personality. There are myriad ways to answer a question. I choose my way, and I got through. Coaching people induce artificiality, so I refrained from coaching. I had good command over language, and I had only to boost my confidence. My family who kept pouring in with positive insights did that and it was really worth the gold.
Q11. What questions were asked in the interview?
Ans. They asked some tricky questions and I clearly refrained from hazarding any guesses. For all preparing for interview, please feel confident, and be sure to answer what you know. An administrator is expected to speak truth, and be honest. So don’t give them the impression that you have the art of befooling people. They are an expert group of people who know what they ask.
My Interview started at 10:30 am on June 26, 2014. I was the first to enter the interview room. There were three members, Chairperson JKPSC S. L. Bhat and two others. After greeting (good morning), I introduced myself.
The first members (M1) asked me about why I intended to pursue research on the topic I mentioned as my research topic (Sufism, State and Shi’ism in medieval Kashmir). He asked another question regarding importance of religion in our lives in the contemporary technological world where more and more logic is being used to defy myths and superstitions. He continued and asked whether majority or minority is following religion in today’s world.
Then the third member (m3) asked about Mir Shamsu’d-Din Iraqi and what kind of resistance he faced during his proselytizing activities in Kashmir. Who where the Sufis who opposed his mission and why?
The Chairperson interrupted and asked did Mir Shamsu’d-Din Iraqi introduce Shi’ism in Kashmir and is Nurbakhshiya order Shi’ite or Sunni in essence.
M1 then asked about difference between IAS and All India Services.
M3 asked about Indus Water Treaty
C asked to differentiate between Pakistani Taliban and Afghanistani Taliban.
Then M1 asked whether IAS helps Centre to unify India. He continued and asked when I am pursuing research then why do I prefer Civil Services. How is research not solving the problems of our society and how does Civil Services resolve these issues. What is it that makes Civil Services Best?
C asked about the contradictions in the Pakistani Society. How is history being written in Pakistan?
M3 asked about Indus Water Treaty and why is it important for the economy of J&K. which river does Indus water Treaty cover. What do I think about Union Health Minister’s statement about Values and condoms?
C asked that when Amartya Sen is talking about Argumentative Indian, which Indian is he referring to, the pre Partition India or post partition India. When was the foundation of the Pakistan laid or when was the idea of Pakistan conceived?Whether it was Aligarh Movement, Muslim League or else. Name any famous book of Ayesha Jalal. Is division into Shi’ism and Sunnism on the basis of political, social, religious or otherwise?
M3 asked about Single Line administration.
C asked whether I am getting any scholarship in JNU. Then they asked me to leave. I thanked them and left with both satisfaction and curiosity whether I did well or not. Finally I got one thing, read less and watch more, because the interview board reads Newspapers and watches news. So aspirants focus on these two during your preparations.
The board was very cordial; they were ready to give hints to substantiate my arguments. I think that they always take a stand and see whether we have any of our own. The debate about religion dominated my interview. It lasted for some 25 minutes and most of the questions were related to religion in one way or other. My stand was clear, that no matter how technologically advanced we become, we need an ideology to infuse values, responsibilities, and common concern. And this ideology is religion, no matter which religion.
Q12. What is your advice for Civil Service Aspirants?
Ans. I must say that this exam is not about your family background, your academic excellence, your average intelligence or any other weakness. It is about dedication and consistency, which any one can inculcate in himself or herself. The more you love your subject, the better you get out of it. So start early and focus on each and every thing. Make notes and revise them regularly. Value your time.