New Delhi: When a record 51 Muslim candidates cleared the civil services examination in 2018, the Haj Committee of India (HCI) had announced that it will start free UPSC coaching in Haj Houses across states and union territories from 2019.
A year on since the announcement, the Haj committee says it hasn’t been able to start free IAS coaching due to lack of good faculty in states and UTs outside of Delhi.
“The state and UT Haj committees have to come up with proposals to start UPSC coaching in their respective Haj houses. But none of them have done that yet,” Maqsood Ahmed Khan, CEO of HCI told ThePrint.
The reason, Khan believes, is that good UPSC coaching is only available in Delhi. “Delhi is the hub of UPSC coaching and this is the only place in the country where you find faculty par excellence,” he said.
Coaching via video-conferencing
Headquartered in Mumbai, the HCI has been providing free coaching to Muslim UPSC aspirants since 2009. But they have had to resort to video-conferencing in order to make teachers in Delhi accessible to students in Mumbai.
“The HCI is spending a lot of money and resources in doing so,” Khan said.
Working under the central government, the HCI had first established its ‘IAS and Allied Coaching and Guidance Cell’ in 2009 in the backdrop of the Sachar Committee report — which highlighted how the Muslim community in India was lagging behind on various counts.
The report, released in November 2006, had concluded that Muslims comprised only 3 per cent in the civil services despite it being the largest minority community in the country.
Their numbers subsequently increased. In 2018, out of the 51 who cleared the IAS exam, two had taken coaching imparted by the HCI.
The committee had then sent a proposal to the minority affairs ministry to provide free coaching for IAS aspirants at Haj houses in all states and union territories.
“We have told all the state Haj committees to utilise their spaces for the free UPSC coaching,” Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Union minister of minority affairs minister had earlier told ThePrint.
Lack of funding
The Patna Haj Committee, which conducts free coaching for the state service exam — Bihar Public Service Commission — doesn’t have any plans to start free UPSC coaching.
“The primary issue is that of funding. State Haj committees don’t have the kind of funding to enable free of cost UPSC coaching. We are just able to afford taking limited students for the state services coaching and teach them well”, Ilyas Hussain, chairman of the Bihar Haj Committee told ThePrint.
An HCI official, who did not wish to be named, further said that only 14 of the 31 state Haj committees have Haj houses in the first place. These include Lucknow, Ghaziabad, Srinagar, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Ranchi, Patna, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Calicut, Tripura, Chennai, Jaipur, Nagpur and Mumbai.
Of these, none have yet given any proposal to the HCI to start free UPSC coaching.
Syed Zafar Mahmood, founder of the Delhi-based Zakat Foundation which provides subsidised coaching to Muslim civil service aspirants, agrees that good UPSC coaching outside of the national capital is scarce.
“This has been a fact of life in India for many years. Going purely by statistics, the coaching centres in Delhi are the ones which have been truly successful. We have been keeping a watch on this as we have been in this fraternity for 10 years”, Mahmood told ThePrint.
Eighteen out of the 28 Muslim candidates who cleared the civil services exam in 2019 had taken coaching at Zakat Foundation.
In 2019, while the three students coached by a Haj Committee cell cleared the civil services exam, the overall number of Muslim candidates to succeed fell to 28 from 51. But this can also be because of a reduction in the total number of candidates recruited — from 980 in 2018 to 782 this year.
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