Zainab Sayeed: UPSC cracker who wants more Muslim girls to be IAS

By Zaidul Haque,

Kolkata: She set a target, studied hard and achieved her goal. Now, she wants other Muslim women to make an attempt at a similar goal. Meet Zainab Sayeed, the first Muslim woman from West Bengal who cracked the civil service examination 2014.

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Zainab cleared the UPSC examination with 107 rank, result for which was declared about a fortnight ago, and has also topped the all India UPSC interviews. “Muslim women should come forward more and more for getting into government service. What is needed is good preparation. If Muslim organizations take initiatives to give training to Muslim girls for UPSC, then the whole community will benefit,” Zainab told

She says she wants to help if set up a special UPSC coaching centre in West Bengal by the Social Muslim organisation.

Zainab Sayeed, First Muslim women in West Bengal who cracked the UPSC.

Zainab, 25, a resident of Sutarkin Street of Kolkata comes from an elite Bohra Muslim family. After completing English Honours from St Xaviour’s College here, she said, she realised the need to take professional training to crack the UPSC. So, she went to Delhi and enrolled at the AJK Mass Communication and Research Centre at the Jamia Millia Islamia and completed Convergent Journalism.

Zainab Sayeed

While pursuing Masters in Jamia, she simultaneously signed up at the Jamia’s coaching centre for the UPSC examination. “After I completed the Masters, I went in for full time civil services coaching at Jamia. At that time, I cut off my mind from rest of the world and went all out for success,” Zainab, who wears a hijab regularly, adds.

Zainab then realized that without proper coaching, she may not be successful in UPSC. Finally she got the chance at Jamia IAS Coaching Centre and she cracked the UPSC in her third attempt.

Her father Taiyab Sayyed is Kolkata based hardware businessman. Mother Farida Sayyed is a homemaker and assists her father’s business. Zainab is second daughter of her family. Eldest sister Tasneem Sayyed after completes B Tech running her own consulting firm. Youngest daughter Fatima Sayeed pursuing BDS at Jamia Millia Islamia University, Delhi.

Zainab Sayeed with her mother

Her parents were very supportive even after she completed Masters and encouraged her to go for UPSC. During preparation for the civil services, she got married. Zainab said, “My husband Hussain Izzy played an important role to motivate me. He set the time table for me to study. That was very much of help.”

Her husband is a hardware businessman. She says she is lucky to have parents and husband who always encourage her to go ahead.

Having benefitted from the coaching centre at Jamia and Zakat Foundation of India, Zainab says more such centres are needed. “First of all, Muslim women should be allowed to study more. Given a right direction and guidance, just as I got from Jamia or Zakat Foundation, I am sure more Muslim women will appear for the civil services and crack the examination.”

Given a choice, Zainab says she will prefer administration and opt for IAS or then IRS. (Indian Administrative Service / Indian Revenue Service). “If we want to see real development, then it is administration that is the main option. I want to emphasize on primary education. If this foundation is strong, a whole new world opens up,” she says, adding, she prefers West Bengal cadre as she wants to work for her home state and improve the conditions here as the state suffers from lack of education among large section of the population.

She wants to change from the home level. “Parents need to take responsibility to send children at least to the government schools. Child will not be motivated himself/herself. The state should provide scholarship to the children.”

“Muslims should educate all children at least up to class X. I mean, that should be the basic target. After that, one may take it forward to graduation level.”

She thinks all Muslim organization, even the Minority Departments, should be more active to give focused attention to education, she says adding, “I want to help those who are taking initiatives to build an IAS coaching centre in Kollkata on the lines of Jamia Millia Islamia or Zakat Foundation of India.”

The West Bengal Minority Finance and Development Corporation should take initiatives in this kind of development project and hopes, beside the WBMDFC state committee should be active to set up a Civil service centre.

After coaching from Jamia IAS Coaching Centre, she returned to Kolkata and got a job in the English daily ‘The Telegraph’. Till her final UPSC results, she worked in the editorial department of The Telegraph, Kolkata.

WB state Minority Commission chairman Intaj Ali Shah felicilated to Zainab Sayeed in presence of her parents and husband on 8 July, 2015 in Kolkata.

After her achievement in the UPSC examination, Intaj Ali Shah, chairman of the Minority Commission of West Bengal, felicitated Zainab on July 8 at the state office in Kolkata. Minister of Minority Affairs and Madrassa Education Department for West Bengal Giasuddin Molla, who is also the secretary of Al Ameen Mission Nurul Islam; social activist Nazia Ilahi Khan; O P Sha; Kamruddin Malik; Mohammad Kamruzzaman and many others Muslim intellectuals were present during that programme.


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