Only 5% Muslims Among Successful UPSC Candidates: Zafar Mahmood

Zakat Foundation wants to increase the number of successful Muslim UPSC aspirants.

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According to the 2011 Census, Muslims constitute 14.2 percent of India’s total population. However, the community accounts for less than 5 percent of the total number of people who clear the UPSC exam. We need to work towards increasing this number. Our aim is to make it 15 percent in the coming years.
Syed Zafar Mahmood, chairman, Zakat Foundation of India

Of the 51 Muslim candidates who cracked the UPSC exam in 2018, 26 are from the Zakat Foundation of India (ZFI), an NGO that supports and sponsors the education of students from economically weaker sections of the society.

Syed Zafar Mahmood, the president of the organisation, told The Quint that the government should alter some of its policies.

For instance, the government gives financial assistance to NGOs that help students from the minority community, but on the condition that the teachers must be from the NGO itself.
Syed Zafar Mahmood, chairman, Zakat Foundation of India

Mahmood suggested that the Ministry of Minority Affairs should give students the liberty to choose the coaching they like. "The funds extended to students can be monitored," he added.

Formed in 1997, the Zakat Foundation of India is engaged in several social activities, but the 2006 Sachar Committee report on the socio-economic and political state of Muslims compelled the organisation to help the community increase its role in governance.

The Sachar Committee had delineated that lack of Muslim participation in governance was one of the primary reasons for their backwardness in education and society.

The ZFI selects students after conducting an entrance exam. The selected students can attend classes anywhere. In Delhi, however, they can avail hostel facilities as well. The NGO sponsors their expensive education over the next two years and prepares them for their interview round as well.

After this year's results, Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi claimed that the number of Muslims who cracked the UPSC this year was the highest ever and "a result of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's policies."

Mahmood dismissed Naqvi's claim, saying it would be against the spirit of the Constitution. "The UPSC is an independent and transparent entity where only students' capabilities can get them through. The country's atmosphere has never had an impact on the UPSC results and will never happen either."

The ZFI president, however, asserted that in order to improve the state of affairs, the Muslim community should also put in extra effort. Quoting philosopher and poet Muhammad Iqbal, Mahmood said, "Apni duniya aap paida kar agar zindon mein hai."

(The article was originally published on Quint Hindi and was translated by Mirza Arif Beg)

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