What Does Success in Civil Services Tell About Kashmiris?

SRINAGAR: Kashmiris are in the news again-this time for reasons other than the usual ones. Seven Kashmiri youngsters have qualified and passed the gruelling civil services tests. Allied to this news is the first female pilot from Kashmir. Both these news items have been received with great aplomb and joy in Kashmir. Two strands or themes emerge from both the success of Kashmir students and the reception these received in Kashmir. Both pertain to the psyche and psychology or collective unconscious of Kashmiris. Both are suggestive and may not be definitive. One pertains to the prosaic and material dimensions of our aspirations; the other is more or less inspirational.
Consider the material aspirations aspect first. While Civil Services tests- right from the exams(prelims, mains) to interviews- are a gruelling and exacting exams in terms of the preparatory input that is required, in the final analysis, the tests are not a big deal. Cut through the knots , what these exams test is neither critical thinking, nor logic or reasoning ability but merely ability to memorize copiously vast amounts of information and then presentation of this information. So if you have got the staying power to memorize a lot and present this information sequentially complemented by reasonable language skills, you have got in it to crack the exams successfully. But such is the halo effect around civil services that it is held to be a benchmark of great intelligence and intellectual ability. The question then is why do Kashmiris get jubilant over a fellow Kashmiri cracking the tests?
The answer lies in the abridgement and curtailment of our material aspirations. Our aspirational and the metal outlook that flows from it is so circumscribed and constrained that we think that the civil services test are the ultimate or epitome of intelligence and success. Young students then often aspire to this benchmark and yardstick. Anything beyond the prosaic and the pedestrian is seen a  ‘ no go” area for Kashmiris. But this is, for want of a better word, self censorship or self curtailment of aspirations. We live in a globalized or more accurately a “glocalized” world- wherein a synthesis of the global and the local- makes it eminently possible for anyone with talent , oomph and gumption, to aspire for and even reach the stars. The IAS pales into comparison to the great opportunities that our glocalized world presents. How can this issue be resolved?
The answer is obvious: we need to push the boundaries and scope of our mental horizons and concomitantly aspirations. Once this is done, the world can be our oyster.
This ties into our talent pool. Given that the IAS is held to be the epitome, and given that Kashmiris have and are cracking the tests, it stands to reason that Kashmiris especially our Gen Next is a talented generation. However, they hit this mental block that we have delineated here. This block needs to be expunged by mentorship , and creating mental outlooks that challenge the boundaries and let imagination soar. The world then can correspond to this imaginative dynamic and this in turn can be made real. The question is of resolve and quiet confidence- something that needs to be worked upon with dexterity and astuteness amongst our gen Next. Time, however, is of essence here.


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