Inspired by his surrounding picturesque Zabarwan range Shahnawaz, a veterinarian, chose to follow his heart. He recently qualified Indian Forestry Services. Zubair Sofi tells his story
The neighbouring forests inspired Shahnawaz Ahmad Bhat, 31, to shun veterinary sciences and pursue a career in forestry. He recently cracked the Indian Forestry Services (IFS) securing 24th rank.
In 2009, a resident of New Theed area of Harwan, around 22 kilometres from Srinagar city, after clearing Common Entrance Test (CET), Shahnawaz did his bachelor’s in Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry from Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology of Jammu (SKUAST – Jammu)
“I was happy to realize my childhood dream,” said Shahnawaz, who believes proper guidance is important than attending coaching classes.
After completing his bachelors (B VSc), Shahnawaz appeared in Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), qualified JRF with all India rank of 42. Shahnawaz then did his M VSc from Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Izatnagar, Bareilly.
Shahnawaz completed his master’s with specialization in Veterinary surgery and Radiology. Meanwhile, Shahnawaz topped the ICAR all India test for Senior Research Fellowship (SRF).
“It was not just about degrees. I was in fact working towards my dreams,” said Shahnawaz, who loves to play cricket and chess in his free time.
Shahnawaz, after qualifying IFS exams, credits his parents, for their support. “My parents believed in me and gave me freedom to decide my future,” said Shahnawaz.
After master’s Shanawaz worked as assistant professor at Khalsa College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Amritsar. “It was there I started preparing for IFS,” he said. “I used to spend my free time in the college library.”
During his stay in Amritsar, tight academic schedule made Shahnawaz study till late hours. “I utilised every minute of my free time,” he said.
In the meantime, Shahnawaz qualified National Eligibility Test (NET) and an exam for Agricultural Scientist’s Recruitment Board (ASRB).
“I took these exams to check depth of my knowledge and understanding,” said Shahnawaz.
It was there he developed an interest in forestry and decided to prepare for IFS. “I have spent my entire childhood in areas surrounding Dachigam National Park in the Zabarwan range,” said Shahnawaz.
“This is one of the main reasons for me to choose this field,” said Shahnawaz. The last Kashmiri to clear IFS exams was four years ago. “There is lot of scope in forestry but I don’t know why people shy away from it.”
Shahnawaz, who was raised up in picturesque foothills of Zabarwan hills, wants to help improve the state of forests in Kashmir. “I am hopeful that I will be posted in Kashmir. It would be a great honour for me as I can serve my people.”
Shahnawaz is pained by the state of forests in Kashmir and the way they are destroyed by people with vested interests. “I will try my best to restore their lost glory.”
Ironically, throughout the world, people are planting trees, but in Kashmir it is just the opposite, feels Shahnawaz. “We should be greatful to nature for such green covers, but we are reckless instead.”