Kanwal Singh and Sohail Malik
Providing job opportunities, a better life, have to be thought as fundamental values but unfortunately, very few governments think about youth unemployment when they are drawing their policy framework. Over the years, the political dispensations have shown least interest in to issues concerning the Youth of J&K. The lackadaisical approach has turned the youth to a state of disappointment and dilemma. Moreover the recent change in the constitutional status of J&K has only added to the ongoing predicament, with no clarity on entitlement to government jobs thus leading to a state of disconcertment. This is quite discernible from the fact that from the last 150 days, the erstwhile state of J&K is without any internet services thereby affecting a huge lot of candidates preparing for civil services and other competitive examinations. Post the abrogation of article 370/35A, the assurance by the former governor, Satya Pal Malik of providing 50000 jobs to the youth of J&K in a time frame manner has turned out to be a mere political rhetoric. In the name of new job opportunities, the state only saw two job notifications, one by JKPSC for the posts of Munsifs and another by HC, J&K for class-4 employees. But sadly both were withdrawn on the pretext that one demanded state subjects from the domicile and another advertised posts on Pan-India basis. The roll back clearly showed the perplexity to deal with the growing unemployment in J&K. It also fanned the growing apprehensions regarding safeguards of local youth in government employment.
The country’s unemployment rate is at 45 year high and the recent NSSO survey shows surge in joblessness among youth in 2017-2018. The unemployment figures with regard to J&K are alarming, appalling and distressed. As per the economic survey report, the unemployment rate in the J&K is 24.6%. However, in the age group of 18 to 29 years, the unemployment rate is at 13.2%. The data also suggests that unemployment rate is high among the highly qualified i.e better you are educated more are the chances of you being unemployed. This has exactly been the case in J&K. The recent survey conducted by Government of J&K to figure out the total no. of unemployed PG scholars suggests that around three lakh PG scholars from Kashmir and Jammu divisions are unemployed. The unemployment rate among graduate, technical degree holders, post graduates, is the highest. From a state of joblessness the youth of J&K is now moving toward a state of hopelessness.
Another major concern in J&K is the time bound completion of recruitment processes. Over the years many institutions have faced allegations of irregularities and discrepancies in their working mechanism and thus most recruitment processes ends up in courtrooms. For one reason or the other, a single competitive examination process takes years to conclude leaving many candidates overage and thus ineligible for future examinations. The notification for recruitment into the posts of Naib Tehsildar and Patwari was issued by JKSSB in the year 2015-2016. Till date the recruitment process for the post of Naib Tehsildar is not completed and the final list is pending. Another example is of the ongoing process of recruitment into the posts of PO and Banking Associate in J&K Bank. The posts were advertised in the year 2018 and an approximate one and half lakh candidates appeared for the examination. The result is pending for the last eight months and the prolong delay has pushed thousands of candidates to a state of misery and ambiguity. The KAS 2016 examination also faced litigations on grounds of errors in Answer Keys of the preliminary examination and thus was delayed for years. Also, the last major recruitment for the posts of Teachers was in the year 2013 and the recent decision by SAC to regularise the RET and SSA employees by merging them with the posts of teachers has freezed the vacancies for the next fifteen years. This has discouraged and downcasted the Post Graduate Scholars (Bed and Med). This decision was regarded as anti-youth and it faced strong resistance from students demanding complete roll back. The redressal of the grievance is still pending. Lack of jobs for the youth trained in professional courses like engineering, BDS, health, social welfare is another reason for the growing unemployment in J&K. Every recruitment process meets a similar fate and the list is long.
The existing recruitment policies have failed in dealing with the growing employment distress. The policies need to be updated with more focus on fast track recruitment and time bound completion of examination process. The need of the hour is functional and institutional changes with better transparency and a just system. There is a dearth of employment exchanges and they need to be expanded. There are plenty of jobs or vacancies in various government departments but they have neither been notified or advertised. The government must come up with a new recruitment policy enabling Youth to make their own choices vis-a-vis their educational qualification. Special employment drives should be conducted for the youth living along border areas of Poonch, Rajauri and across the LOC.
The saying- “Jis Baat Ki Koi Baat Nahi, Us Baat Ki Baatein Hauti Hain, Jis Baat Ki Baatein Hauti Hain, Us Baat Ki Koi Baat Nahi Hauti” fits right for the current political discourse in J&K. It is sheer irony that none of the main issues which the youth of J&K are facing finds its space in political debates, deliberations or vision documents. We have never seen a political consensus or a cordant approach within state and at the national level about a formidable policy or a road map for empowering the youth of J&K.
With the current economic crisis, manufacturing sector growing at negative rate, agricultural growth rate at 1%, dip in eight core sectors of the economy, GDP at 4%, without internet services, how are we going to establish a new Industrial and IT sector in J&K. The claims seem to be a fallacy.
With regard to the increasing unemployment in India, majority of Youth in J&K is of the apprehension that post the abrogation of Article 370/35A, their right to 100% entitlement to government jobs, admissions to universities and accredited institutions now stands null and void. Thus, it becomes very important for the government to issue an official notification regrading the same and putting an end to all the apprehensions.
Throughout country the youth is in a distressed phase. They are up in arms against the government policies and it’s indeed a build-up of the prolong phase of Unemployment and illconcieved priorities/policies of the Government. In J&K, many post graduate scholars in order to earn a living are working in hotels. The growing distress has led to a phase of frustration and many youth are moving towards drug addiction. This is indeed a matter of great concern.
The government of the day needs to wake up to this. The efforts in this regard should not be idiosyncratic but a collective one with giving prior consideration to the demands and aspirations of the Youth of J&K. The need of the hour is a larger public discourse with students across J&K.