‘I want to be guiding light for Muslim girls’

By Prashant K. Nanda, Indo-Asian News Service

New Delhi: Deploring the state of education in India and especially among the Muslim community, Shammi Abidi, who has stood 16th among the successful civil service candidates this year, said she wants to be a guiding light for Muslim girls.

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The 28-year-old Abidi, daughter of a professor in Lucknow, has also topped the list of Muslim candidates who have qualified the most competitive civil services examination of the country.

Of the 474 successful candidates, only 17 candidates from the Muslim community have achieved success.

“I am really thrilled after receiving the news. I want to tell all girls of my community to study hard and achieve whatever they want to. I want to be a guiding light for Muslim girls,” Abidi told IANS from Lucknow over telephone.

“Had I not received support from my family, I would have been a mother of two or three kids by now. I wish all Muslim girls should pursue their dreams. Even boys, who get involved in small businesses must take education seriously,” she explained.

Asked which job she would like to take up, she quickly replied “District Magistrate”.

“Health and education sector in India is in a very bad shape and my priority would be to improve these conditions. I think by becoming a district magistrate, I can do this for people,” she said.

Abidi, who had her Masters in Economics from La Martiniere Girls College, Lucknow, qualified the prestigious civil services in her third attempt.

Thanking her parents and the Sriram’s IAS coaching centre in Delhi, she said: “The news of my success is sinking slowly. Both my parents and teacher at the coaching centre gave me confidence to believe in my self. And finally I managed to crack it.”

The successful candidates generally get appointment in the four categories of services – the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Police Service (IPS) and Central Services Group A and B.

There were some 200,000 applicants who appeared for the examination and only 474 finally qualified – a selection rate of a mere 0.237 percent. Of the selected candidates 373 are males and 101 females. Among the successful candidates only 17 were Muslim candidates.

The list of the successful candidates includes 214 general category aspirants, 144 from OBC, 80 scheduled castes candidates and 36 from the scheduled tribes.

A total of 18 physically challenged candidates qualified the October-November 2006 Main examination and the April-May 2007 personality test, and they include 13 general category candidates, three OBCs and two scheduled caste members.