Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Madarasa student cracks civils -- thanks to an RSS Centre.

NEW DELHI, MAY 18: It's easy to miss Samkalp Bhavan in Paharganj's Aram Bagh, on a narrow street dotted with small buildings. The white plaque announcing its existence is inconspicuous.

UPSC Delhi

But residents say the Bhavan, run by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), is always buzzing with activity, especially during that time of the year when young Civil Services aspirants, having cleared the two stages of the examinations conducted by the Union Public Service Commission, throng here for mock interviews and later for orientation camps.

"We serve free food to students while they train here for the interviews. Even the fees are nominal. It's a social service initiative to help students from disadvantaged sections," Anand Kumar, coordinator, Samkalp, says.

For the exams in 2007, as many as 825 out of 1,875 examinees called for the final interviews enrolled at Samkalp for mock viva voce classes. On Friday, when the final results came out, 295 of them students had made it to the Civil Services.

Besides mock interview sessions, Samkalp, set up in 1986, also offers coaching for the Civil Services Mains examination for a paltry sum of Rs 5,000 in its RK Puram branch and hostel facilities for the aspirants in its three hostels spread across Delhi. For the interviews, it charges a nominal fee of Rs 500.

"It is indeed the hub for IAS aspirants who are preparing for final interviews. The fees are minimal and the guidance is imparted through seasoned bureaucrats and academicians," explains Ranjan Kumar Singh, an ABVP activist and Samkalp student who ranked 257 on this year's UPSC list.

The enrolment figures at Samkalp, set up in 1986, have over the years translated into an impressive success rate for the non-governmental organization, which has Santosh Taneja, working committee member of the RSS as one of its founding members. According to the Samkalp website (www.samkalp.com), about 895 students, associated with Samkalp, succeeded in Civil Services examinations up to 2006.

Says AR Kohli, former Mizoram governor and BJP leader, who is actively associated with Samkalp as one of its mentors since the beginning: "Back in 1997 when we began coaching for the Civil Services, 84 of our students appeared for the final interviews and 59 made it."

The other mentors include columnist Narender Kohli, Dr Jagdish Shettygar, member of the BJP's economic cell and senior RSS leaders like Madan Das Devi and M G Vaidya.

Besides Delhi, Samkalp is also active in Mathura, Meerut, Kanpur, Kurukshetra, Bhiwani, Nainital, Gohana and Pathankot. Kohli insists Samkalp classes that include "nation building" as one of its most important goals are aimed at identifying and guiding students who can contribute towards social welfare through civil services and helping them inculcate true Indian values and ethos.

And, a decade later, with the efforts of Samkalp, the bureaucracy would change for the better, Kohli hopes. "Our students are going t take care of people. We teach them to be loyal to the nation and also work towards development of the society at large. We are open to everyone who needs help and guidance. And, we do not want any publicity for the work we are doing," he says.

Madrasa student cracks civils

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: At a time when eyebrows are being raised about education standards in madrasas, a maulana from the Darul-Uloom-Deoband in Uttar Pradesh has passed the country's most elite examination, the civil services exam, in his fourth attempt. For his interview, the maulana took training from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-run institute Samkalp at Paharganj in New Delhi.

Maulana Waseem-ur-Rehman, 31, is the first student from a madrasa to clear the civil services exams. Rehman comes from a poor family in Siddharth Nagar, Basti, UP. He stood 404th among 734 successful candidates. Rehman, who took history and Persian as optional subjects, wrote the exam in Urdu. He told TOI that he worked for four years. "In three earlier attempts, I failed in the prelims. As this was my last chance, I worked harder," he said.

Rehman completed five years of schooling in a madrasa, Ahyaul Uloom, before joining Darul-Uloom-Deoband. He did a threeyear course in Islamic studies, Hadith, the Quran and Shariat laws.

"Our Deoband certificate is equivalent to graduation and I joined a bachelor degree in unani medicine and surgery, at Jamia Hamdard, Aligarh. I realised that students from madrasas don't consider joining the civil services and becoming part of the system. I discussed this with my friends and teachers and started studying," said Rehman. He later took up and passed master of surgery, MD.

He did not know there was a syllabus for the civil service exam. "I had to collect books and notes from several places and would study at night and early morning as I had to attend MD classes during the day."

Was studying for the civil services exam difficult, since he came from a different academic background? "Yes, but madrasa education has given me the power to think and I have good knowledge of philosphy since it was explained properly in the madrasa," he said.

About his experience at the RSS-run Samkalp, Rehman said, "I did not feel any bias. They are doing a good job," he said.

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