For years together successive state governments have promised moon and starts to people by way of jobs and fast-track recruitments. It goes without saying that so far the incumbent government has done pretty well on the jobs front, though it has also been mired by controversies following allegations that party interests and affiliations are prioritized in selection of people for different jobs. Now these allegations are not without merit, and the government will do itself a lot of good by ensuring transparency in recruitments. And once that is ensured, the ruling party will not have to burden itself with a weak defense that the previous regime, now in opposition, also indulged in back-door appointments and under-hand deals. Two wrongs do not make a right. That the previous government violated rules and norms and undermined merit does not earn the current government a right to repeat similar illegality. So the explanations put up by the incumbent regime in response to the opposition tirade even at its best only qualify its admission of the wrongs!
So leaving it just there – another sad reality is that the current recruitment policy continues to be very discriminatory in so many different ways. Take for instance, the ‘equal work equal wage (pay)’ tenet of law, which is violated here unabated. Indeed it is a travesty of justice that the governments here have for years been violating this basic principle and yet no harm has come to it in terms of legal hassles. Nor has anybody bothered to challenge this violation in the courts, neither have the courts too deemed it fit for taking suo moto cognizance or admonishing the governments that it cannot violate laws with such ease and impunity. How could two people appointed on identical posts and actually chipping in same kind and amount of work not be paid similar remuneration? But this is exactly what is happening – because those appointed as adhoc and contractual basis are seen and treated as lesser mortals and hence exploited accordingly.
Take the case of contractual lecturers in the Education department. By the way, those engaged last year have by the end of February been laid off and now they will have to seek fresh contracts for the next academic sessions. This is what they have been doing every year, for years together – some for the past 10-15 years, and yet there are visibly no chances of their regularization.
Now see – a contractual lecturer also does same job and actually chips in more work hours than a ‘permanent’ lecturer, and yet the former is paid less than even one-third of what the latter gets. So the only difference that differentiates one set from the other is the term ‘contractual’, which automatically makes one group stand out as inferior lot in terms of the rewards for its contributions. This discrimination has been going on for years together not only in the Education department, but in other government departments as well –the permanent employees drawing far better wages and other perks than the non-permanent ones – the adhoc, need-based and the contractuals. While the government should have been sensitive to this discriminatory policy and should actually have put an end to it, it has only perpetuated it further by bringing it into the recruitment policy with far greater punch and strength. This is the most unfortunate thing to have happened here.
In this God-forsaken land of unlimited unaccountability, week politicians have always remained at the mercy of powerful bureaucracy. And bureaucracy has over the years appropriated all-powerful roles for itself. They are accountable to none. Despite facing huge disconnect with the ordinary people living miserable lives in the Valley’s hill and dale, these ‘babus’ are supposed to frame policies for their well-being. No doubt they do, but their lack of appreciation of the actual ground realities is always explicitly visible in their policies and programmes.
Hundreds of thousands of jobless people in Jammu and Kashmir need jobs. Though no government can provide jobs to all these people in government departments, but it is also the responsibility of the government to create conditions which would create ample opportunities of profitable and meaningful employment for the jobless. Jobs are their right and their need; and needs are non-negotiable. Period. So government cannot run away from this responsibility. It has to do whatever it could to fulfill this need of the ordinary, and for it will have to create a level playing field for all and then also ensure that its policies and programmes, rules and regulations are also judicious and just. It will also have to do away with “adhocism” and “contractualism” so as put an end to the continued exploitation of a huge chunk of its work force who are looked at and treated as serfs but the rest.
Kashmir Images is an English language daily newspaper published from Srinagar (J&K), India. The newspaper is one of the largest circulated English dailies of Kashmir and its hard copies reach every nook and corner of Kashmir Valley besides Jammu and Ladakh region.