By Sangita Bakaya
Lucknow, May 3 Twenty-six Muslim candidates cracked the coveted civil services examination this year, thanks to the able guidance of the Zakat Foundation of India.
The foundation, whose most promising candidate has been 2009 IAS topper Shah Faesal of Jammu and Kashmir, had trained 51 candidates from the minority community for the exam this year.
Of the 26 winning candidates, nine belong to Uttar Pradesh, eight to Kerala, three to Jammu and Kashmir, two each from Bihar and Maharashtra and one each from Karnataka and Gujarat.
"Sir Syed Coaching and Guidance Centre, run by the foundation, has been preparing the Muslim candidates for one of the toughest exams in the country since 2008," Zakat Foundation president Zafar Mehmood told over phone from Delhi.
He said the idea took shape after the Sachchar Committee report stated that Muslims were lagging behind in every field owing to their under representation in the governance of the country.
"Civil servants are the backbone of 90 per cent of decision-making where the community representation was low. So we thought we could do something here by training IAS aspirants from the community," Mehmood said.
"The brightest brains are picked up from across the country through orientation programmes. We provide them with the best possible coaching and monitoring," he said.
The foundation bears the cost of coaching and provides hostel facility and other necessary infrastructure to the candidates. It also provides food to around 6 per cent of the needy candidates.
"At any given time, the foundation supports around 50 candidates for every level of examination," the foundation chief said.
The Zakat Foundation is run through charity - mandatory and optional. Prior to this, it had been mainly involved in micro works like running orphanages, widow remarriage among others.
"The work has been going on for the past 10 years and thankfully, the foundation has been able to make a difference. The number of students qualifying the exams has also seen an increase in the past few years. This has also created awareness in the community," Mehmood said.
The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) had last week recommended a total of 990 candidates - 750 men and 240 women - for appointment to various central government services.
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