The release of the UPSC exam results has had a dual effect. On one side we celebrate Tina Dabi, the Delhi girl who topped the UPSC exams, and on the other, our eyes open to the social stereotyping that still persist in our society, and how we really haven’t grown in 69 years.
The struggle of UPSC rank holder, Ansar Shaikh a.k.a Shubham is not only heartwarming but also shameful.
What is Ansar’s story?
Ansar belongs to a family that has struggled all their lives to fill their stomach and support Ansar’s education. The family of an auto-rickshaw driver never gave any importance to education, and Ansar’s UPSC AIR 361 came in as a surprise to them. A political science graduate from Pune’s Fergusson College, Ansar came to the city to pursue his degree in Arts and focus on his UPSC preparations.
In search of accommodation, Ansar was denied every place he had applied solely, because of his religion. Mortified by the experience, at the next place, Ansar gave his name as Shubham, only to find it being accepted gracefully.
Now that Ansar has cracked the UPSC exam, he feels that he no longer has to hide his real identity. It is probably because his success will speak for him, and magically break all forms of social shunning and stereotyping.
Has social rejection become a natural phenomenon?
Even today, people like Ansar still find it difficult to make a place in our social setup. The politically created communal wars have seeped so deep in our society, that it has not only made us fear for our lives around fellow Indians, but has also created an aversion for people who follow a different religion. Prejudices and stereotypes have engulfed us to an extent, where judging others almost comes to us, naturally.
The entire notion of, “Naam mein kya rakha hain?” is highly questionable in India, because here, the name is the only thing one needs to know. Along with making the person a proper noun, it tells you the person’s religion and gives you the freedom to access the ‘stereotype file’ in your brain and create an image of the person that may or may not exist, in actuality. A change in name defines a whole new portrait which maybe good or bad, and clearly, for Ansar it worked for good.
So, what’s next?
As of now, Ansar, one of the many victims of social rejection, has taken it upon himself to bridge Hindu-Muslim disparity and promote unity. His bitter experience has had a great impact on him, and he has made it his mission to promote religious equality.
As for the rest of us, a change in the gut is a necessity, so that we can justify the ‘secular’ nation we claim to be.
If you liked this article, go on to read about the urgency in a change of our social attitude.
Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.