How Jamia's Residential Coaching Academy helped aspirants crack UPSC

When Nadia Beig from Kupwara in Kashmir was felicitated at a function organised by the Indian Army for scoring 97% in her Class X board examination, the chief guest asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Without hesitating, she said she wanted to be an IAS officer. Only that she did not know what an IAS officer did.

“Ironically, I did not know back then what an IAS officer does and only found out when I left Kashmir and came to study at Jamia Millia Islamia on my brother’s advice. But once I found out, I was determined to crack the examination,” said Ms. Beig. Securing rank no 350, she is among the 30 students and six women candidates who cracked the civil services examination from the Residential Coaching Academy (RCA) at Jamia Millia Islamia.

Speaking about her achievement, Ms. Beig said: “The RCA was the best thing that could happen to me as it was not possible to stay in Kashmir and prepare for the examination as even newspapers reach one day late.”

Many of her classmates at the RCA also agree that the academy played a pivotal role in their success and it provided them more than just academic guidance.

Sufiyan Ahmed, who secured 303 rank, reflected that being a full time resident at the RCA for two years has helped him meet students from diverse backgrounds and interacting with them has shaped his personality. “I came from a town in Rajasthan’s Chittorgarh district and understand the problems rural India face. But living with students from Manipur, Kerala and Kashmir, I understood the diversity of the problems and challenges the country faces and how issues are unique to a region,” he said.

Serious group

Mr. Ahmed added that the RCA is different from other coaching centres as it has an entrance examination and only those who are serious about the examination are admitted here. “At a private coaching institute, anybody who can pay the fee is in your class and not everybody has the required dedication. I graduated from IIT – Kanpur after studying design and was the only person from my class that did not sit for placements and gave up on a job. This is how serious I was about serving the nation,” said Mr. Ahmed.

For Dhiman Chakma from Tripura, getting into the RCA that offers free coaching was important as he could not afford coaching classes and was doing self study. “What I liked most about the place is its liberal atmosphere and that there are no restrictions... The environment is very conducive to studying,” Mr. Chakma said. He added that there are a lot of people from weaker sections of society and staying together helps them relate to their common struggle.

They helped him get over his low moments. “The academics and preparations are challenging. But the less talked about challenge is the emotional toil. When you are having your low moments, you confide in them as they understand the struggle and help you believe in yourself,” said Mr. Chakma.

Information gap

He feels that there is a trend that applicants from larger cities mostly get higher ranks as an information gap exists between people from small towns and larger cities. “The RCA helps bridge the gap between aspirants from bigger cities and someone like me who comes from Tripura by exposing us to a lot of information,” said Mr. Chakma.

Ruchi Bindal, the RCA topper who bagged the 39th rank, said that although she joined the institute only for her mains preparation and was not a resident, meeting people from such diverse socio-economic backgrounds gave her a new perspective on life. About her preparations, she said solving one paper a day gave her the required confidence to clear the examination.

Short-lived euphoria

But Ms. Beig realised that the euphoria and accolades that come with success in cracking one of the toughest exams in the country has its pitfalls. She was shocked to find that fake Twitter accounts were created in her name, from which opinions linking her with groups she is not associated with were tweeted. Needless to say, she was heavily trolled.

“I have been feeling depressed over the past two days. Since the results have come out, some people are trying to destroy my image online. I am worried that it will impact my career in the future. I have created a Twitter handle and have asked for it to be verified. But there are people trying to play mischief,” Ms. Beig complained.

Back in Kupwara nearly a year, she said her home is peaceful and people have accepted the change and are looking forward to a new future.

For a cause

RCA was established in 2010 by the UGC under the aegis of Centre for Coaching and Career Planning (CC&CP), Jamia Millia Islamia, to provide free coaching and residential facilities to the students of SC/ ST community, minorities and women for civil services and other competitive examinations. Students are selected for comprehensive coaching on the basis of an all India written test followed by individual interviews.

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Printable version | Sep 24, 2020 9:12:20 PM |

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