Not so fast, Mr Faesal: Why IAS topper Shah Faesal's reasoning behind his resignation is unreasonable

There’s nothing wrong if a youth icon quits the civil services. But the lust for power shouldn’t be confused with the proverbial desire to 'serve the people'.

 |  5-minute read |   10-01-2019
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In an era of fake news, it took some time for this rumour to turn true.

The celebrated IAS topper from Kashmir, Shah Faesal, has resigned from the elite civil services – bringing an end to months of speculation. And, as expected, he is set to join politics soon.

A recipient of the 2018 Fulbright-Nehru Master's Fellowship at Harvard Kennedy School, Faesal announced his decision soon after returning to his homeland from the US, where he was completing an international program.

Well, there’s nothing wrong if a youth icon quits the civil services.

But the excuse he gave sounds half-baked.

After all, sudden cynicism towards milestones achieved shouldn’t be a stepping stone to new optimism.

shah-faesal-facebook_011019011839.jpegGlad you enjoyed your tenure, Mr Faesal. A better excuse to leave would have been appreciated. (Photo: Facebook)

The introductory para of the Facebook post confirming his decision says: “To protest against the unabated killings in Kashmir, and lack of any sincere reach-out from the Union Government;  the marginalisation and invisiblisation of around 200 million Indian Muslims at the hands of Hindutva forces reducing them to second-class citizens; insidious attacks on the special identity of the J&K State and growing culture of intolerance and hate in mainland India in the name of hypernationalism, I have decided to resign from Indian Administrative Service.”

By raising concerns on Kashmir and Hindutva in the same breath, Faesal has touched on the raw nerve of the twin-narratives, which sell like hot cakes in Indian politics.

From “marginalisation” to “invisiblisation”, his selection of words looks impressive – as expected from a man of his intellect. But then, the larger message conveyed in the post isn’t that compatible with average commonsense.

Well, if “unabated killings” make a reason for his resignation, his civil services innings had actually started in the midst of an unusual level of killings in 2010. That year, Kashmir witnessed street protests that left around 120 civilians dead. Interestingly, that time, it was the government headed by Omar Abdullah, the same man, who looks at Faesal’s resignation as a “loss” for bureaucracy and “gain” for politics. His political party, to be precise. 

Then, there was an even longer agitation in 2016. Around 100 civilians were killed and more than 20,000 wounded.

According to official data, since the 1990s, when militancy erupted in Kashmir, more than 41,000 people have been killed in armed violence in the state. 

If “unabated killings” are really Shah Faesal's concern, the 35-year-old seems to have just come out of a prolonged slumber. And then, the larger question is – if a resignation can bring an end to “unabated killings”? Well, if words alone could ever make a shield against bullets, Kashmir would have been a fortress of peace.

On the Hindutva issue, Faesal complains of the “invisiblisation” of “Indian Muslims at the hands of Hindutva forces”. 

indian-muslim-copy_011019011925.jpgFaesal complains of the “invisiblisation” of “Indian Muslims" under "Hindutva”. Is resigning from the IAS a solution? (Photo: PTI)

Well, is this man – who is also an MBBS doctor by qualification – prescribing escapism for Muslims from the bureaucracy as an antidote to “hypernationalism” of the Hindutva forces? In a country where the Sachar Committee report observed that Muslims with “marginal representation” in the civil and police services were more backward than even the SCs and STs, Faesal’s newly-found reasoning can only further that backwardness.

The youth icon, who shot to fame for being the first Kashmiri to top the IAS, now sounds confused about his own achievements.

In 2016, Faesal hogged the headlines when a section of the media compared him to slain Hizb commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani. Annoyed at the “juxtaposition”, the young officer had threatened to resign from the services at that time.

In 2018, he stoked an even bigger controversy by calling India “Rapistan”.

Putting onto social media the explanation as sought by the government for his comments, this civil servant termed official correspondence “love letter from my boss.”

A cursory glance at his service tenure looks interesting. He remained more in the news for controversies surrounding his social media posts – as opposed to something extraordinary this IAS toper could have actually done for the people.

A daredevil move to resign from a secure job of high repute is appreciable.

But the lust for power shouldn’t be confused with a desire to serve the people.

However, as Shah Faesal eyes new achievements, it’s time to wish him all the best. 

Hope that the controversial bureaucrat proves a better politician for the people!

Also read: If you ban the pheran, you're banning Kashmir itself

Writer

Majid Hyderi Majid Hyderi @majidhyderi

The writer is a journalist based in Kashmir.

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