Of the many problems facing Jammu and Kashmir, while political uncertainty and violence have been a huge stumbling block in state’s progress and development; corruption has been another major challenge, which has been adding to the conflict by creating and sustaining unjust structures besides perpetuating widespread injustices. Notwithstanding the successive governments’ claims about fighting corruption, it remains an established fact that almost all the government agencies and institutions here are plagued with the menace of corruption. Laws like the ones providing for confiscating the ill-gotten property of the corrupt officials too have achieved no success in ending the problem of corruption here, primarily because there is a marked lack of will at the political helm in translating claims of anti-corruption into the reality on ground.
Another serious problem that has been posing a biggest threat to the state is that of the unemployment. The number of educated unemployed youth is increasing with every passing year, but the avenues of profitable and constructive engagement for them remain as sparse as ever. Although all political parties here have a tradition of promising proverbial moon and starts to the people during elections, but when it comes to delivering on the election-time promises there is not much in any party’s history one can feel satisfied about. Political gimmickry has always been a favourite pastime of politicos here and today also things are no better. Indeed this is why the state’s youth are no longer amused or enthused by what the political leaders promise without fail. Perhaps they have already had enough of this political jugglery and have over the years evolved with sufficient maturity to read through such designs of the political leaders and groups.
During the 2002 elections, then again in 2008, and once more during 2014, the unemployed youth were promised jobs, but despite those towering promises, nothing much has changed for them. For the past nearly two decades they remained as sullen as ever simply because they were not given the jobs they were promised. Needless to say that the previous NC-Congress government during its six year rule hardly showed any interest in prioritizing their economic well-being – that thousands of posts lying vacant in various government departments were either not forwarded to the recruiting agencies or the latter simply sat on them substantiates the point. Although given the Valley’s poor industrial base, it is the government which remains the only major employing agency, which, unfortunately in no circumstances, can accommodate the heavy rush of the unemployed. However, at the same time it is the responsibility of the government to devise ways and means for the constructive engagement of the unemployed people because if the same is not done the unemployment alone will emerge as a great threat not only to the physical and psychological health of the society but for the security of the state as well.
The PDP-BJP government which was in place until recently again promised many things on the job front – skill development and better economic avenues. But today it can claim that it didn’t get enough time for translating these promises into reality. Though this government could certainly claim some credit for some achievements on the job front, but, at the same time, it is also true that corruption and nepotism in the matters of recruitments have negated whatever the political gains could have been there for it.
It is an established fact that government is in no position to employ all the unemployed but at the same time it can’t shy away from its responsibility of helping youth find jobs with respect and dignity. The self-employment schemes are one of the alternatives. But here the government which is now run by the Governor will have to ensure that the unnecessary hassles and hurdles created by bureaucracy and banks are done away with. The private sector here is said could absorb a decent chunk of people. It is true, but for this the private businesses need to be sensitized properly about paying their employees. Right now not to talk of the small fry which deliberately choose to keep their businesses in unorganized manner vis-à-vis hiring of human resource, even the major players in Valley’s private sector pay proverbial peanuts to their staff. So pitiable is the condition here that one only wonders how could government and its agencies shut off eyes to the exploitation of the work-force in the Valley’s private sector.
Similarly it goes without saying that rampant corruption has rendered almost all the employment schemes almost useless. Need is to revive the self-employment schemes and think innovatively and make them more people-friendly. These schemes should be made so attractive that instead of looking towards the government for jobs, unemployed should voluntarily prefer to go for self-employment. And for this the government will have to make the financial institutions here to behave and share some social responsibility as well. After all, tackling the problem of unemployment is and should be a shared-responsibility of all. But all this will currently depend on the resolve of the Governor’s administration – if it seriously endeavors to deliver on the job front, there is no reason why it can’t do so.