A Mosque in Chennai helps Students Crack IAS

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Chennai: The Makkah Masjid on Chennai’s busy Anna Salai road is like any other mosque as you approach it. But enter and walk up the stairs, and you find 40 young men listening to a lecture or thumbing through reference books. They are all preparing for the civil services examination. The mosque doubles as a coaching centre for the Indian Administrative Services exam, to help bright young men from the community become bureaucrats. “This is our way of really empowering our community as we are only used as vote banks by political parties. The tokenism has not empowered us,” says Maulana Shamsudeen Qasimi, the chief Imam. He says no Muslim candidate from Tamil Nadu has cleared the IAS exam in 18 years and his effort is to reverse that unfortunate statistic.
It costs Rs 30 lakhs a year to coach 40 people and the Maulana has set up a trust called Alagiya Kadan for this. The community, he says, generously supports the cause. “Only honest and god-fearing IAS officers can end corruption in India. They could also help the Muslim community. These are our aims,” the Imam says. Over the last two years, the Trust has conducted awareness campaigns in Muslim colleges across Tamil Nadu to get more young people interested in the IAS. There is a selection process and those who qualify are given free lodging and boarding as well. The Maulana says this programme has not been extended to women for now, because there is shortage of accommodation, but he hopes to include them very soon.