Unemployment stares JK educated youth even in 2024

Govind Sharma
The year 2023 was full of disappointment for the unemployed educated youth of Jammu and Kashmir as it saw a lot of demonstrations by our youth, who remained on roads throughout the year, sometimes demanding the Government to advertise vacant posts in various departments, release final selection lists of various recruitments and sometimes against alleged wrongdoings in several recruitment processes.
When we talk about career/job prospects, youth of J&K seem hopeless even in the forthcoming year. There are thousands of posts vacant in different Government departments of the Union Territory as every year, hundreds of employees retire but recruitment on the ground is negligible. The adhocism is ruling the roost in Government departments and Government is promoting adhocism to save money. Even when some posts are advertised, our recruiting agencies take years to complete the recruitment process and in the meanwhile many more posts fall vacant.
There were no private sector jobs in J&K since beginning. Earlier, Article 370 and special status of J&K was said to be the obstacle for the private sector to flourish here but even after abrogation of Article 370 and J&K becoming integral part of India in the year 2019, neither any big private company moved to J&K nor the youth got jobs in private sector companies.
Though some private companies, hotels and marts are there but they offer low -paid jobs which no youth holding engineering, business administration or hotel management degrees prefers. The educated youth even cannot move to metro cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Kolkata for the jobs as companies generally offer lower pay than the market rate and one cannot survive with that salary in metro cities.
Less qualified youth, particularly belonging to border belts of Jammu earlier prefer jobs in Army, Police and other paramilitary forces but after adoption of new recruitment system ‘Agnipath’ as per which youth will be recruited for a period of 4 years only at a salary of Rs 30,000 without additional allowances like DA, HRA or TA, they are reluctant to join Army or paramilitary forces and prefer to work in their fields or do some low paid jobs in their home town.
This was expressed by around two dozen educated unemployed youth in Jammu who were interviewed by EXCELSIOR. Majority of these youth expressed pessimism when they were asked how they see the year 2014 from their career perspective.
Virender Gupta, who completed his master’s degree in business administration from a Government college in Jammu was looking for work but even after interview at a corporate house based in Mumbai, he remained unemployed as the Company stopped recruitments and fired even several of its serving employees. He said other companies in metro cities were offering him lower pay than the market rate but he would not survive with that salary in those cities while in J&K, there are no such companies. He expressed hope that the coming year will bring in job opportunities for him, whether in Government sector or private.
The 38-year-old Arvind Sharma, who is trying his luck for last several years in Government jobs after doing graduation in science, said that in the year 2020, J&K Government advertised several posts and he also applied for two posts in Finance Department but till date even exam was not held for the same and now I have become over-aged. He said in last three years, not many posts were advertised by the Government and that is why the unemployment rate is going high in J&K. He expressed hope that the UT Government will advertised all vacant posts and fill them on fast track basis in the year 2024 so that at least his younger brother may get employment.
“There are few jobs both in Government as well as private sector in J&K and the competition is high. Private companies want candidates to work for long hours on low pay and that is why every highly educated youth wants a Government job and that too reputed one,” said 26-year-old Rashmi Verma, who is pursuing doctorate in economics. Verma said she does not think, big corporate houses would come to J&K even next year and offer them well-paid jobs so she is now preparing for civil services exam.
Sachin Singh Manhas, who is doing his masters in English from Jammu University, said firstly there are no multinational companies and big industries in J&K and secondly there is lack of opportunities for vocational training and therefore, young people here are ill-equipped to work in big corporate houses even in other parts of the country. He said our education system needs further improvement and every child should be given vocational training right from high school so that they can get well-paid jobs easily in private sector if they do not get a chance in Government sector. He pinned hope on the Government to introduce such an education policy in entire country in 2024.
The year 2023 was completely dry in terms of jobs for the youth of J&K, said Vandana, a medical degree holder, who works in a private nursing home and earns Rs 15000 per month. She said private jobs mostly available in J&K are poorly paid, so everyone longs for a Government job. She wished that Assembly elections will be held in J&K next year and the political Government will give the educated youth the gift of jobs, which the LG Government could not do.
“I wish I had not studied more,” said Renu Choudhary, who holds four degrees. “First, I did my graduation, then PG in Mathematics, followed by BEd and MEd but still I am without a job as in last 3-4 years, recruitment in Government sector remained dismal,” she said, adding, she has no hope of even getting a job in the upcoming year and that is why she is going to start a tuition centre from her home.
Rajesh Bhagat, 30, said he did a master’s degree in digital communication because he wanted a job and higher status in society. “Though my college had promised campus placements, no company turned up and even after two years I am still unemployed. I got one offer from a company in Jammu but they were paying very less, so I did not join,” he expressed while adding that he has not lost hope and still aspires to get a good respectful job in a big private company, may be in the year 2024.
Dheeraj Kumar, a 28-year-old youth who works as a security guard at a Bank ATM, said he lost his father when he was just 11. By doing household chores in neighbouring houses in our mohalla, my mother taught me till graduation in the hope that I will get a job and support her financially but even after undergoing several recruitments exams conducted by JKSSB, I could not get a job while with money power and approach, many managed to get Government jobs in the recent years and last year several such frauds surfaced. Kumar said after losing all hopes, he decided to work as a security guard at a Bank ATM, as doing something is better than nothing.
He hoped that some big industries or companies open their business in Jammu in the coming year and he will get a better job in his home town as he cannot go to other cities for work, leaving her mother alone. “There is every possibility of moving corporate houses to J&K as militancy has almost wiped out from the UT and peace is prevailing,” Kumar added.
Rajkumar Sharma, who holds a bachelor degree in Music and Fine Arts with specialization in Theatre and Drama, sees no career opportunities for him in J&K even in the year 2024. “I wish, like Punjab and other southern states, J&K also had its own film industry so that youth like me do not have to move to Punjab or Mumbai in search of work,” Sharma said and urged the J&K Government to work in this direction.