Kashmir’s jobless youth certainly have something to cheer about, at least for the time-being, as they are once again being promised a lot of things, courtesy forthcoming elections. Even though, unlike in the past, as of now various mainstream political parties have not promised jobs to the youth – which they will certainly do when dates for Assembly elections are announced. But even today, almost every group is talking about the “change” while extolling youth as the super-engine of that change.
It is true that the young population is certainly in the vanguard of any transition process, but it is also true that the young people of the Valley have all along been exploited to the hilt by such emotive slogans and promises. While their participation in the election process has definitely changed the political fortunes of the mainstream leaders, they have hardly got anything worthwhile in return, something that could have enthused and encouraged their other counterparts to participate, and have faith in the systems of governance.
At a place where every individual and each group has, over the years, preached and perfected a narcissist culture, nobody seems to be bothered about the long-term impact of neglecting the basic needs (physical and psychological) of the youth on the general health of the society and the state. Successive governments (and also those whose politics remains opposed to the governments) have used the young people for achieving their selfish political ends without actually doing anything in return for them – something that could have channeled their energies towards bringing some positive and constructive changes in the society and the state.
There is no dearth of people ‘in power’ (not necessarily in government) who very boastfully lament and regret the prevalence of various vices among the youth, but when it comes to doing something concrete that would actually keep the young away from social ills and evils, these people too have nothing to offer. We have seen the government employees demanding and then getting over-stay of two years in the government jobs, without bothering to think of its impact on the job opportunities and career prospects of hundreds of thousands of unemployed youth of the state and well as the general problem of unemployment here.
For the hundreds of thousands of educated as well as uneducated jobless youth, getting employment, some kind of profitable activity that would keep them busy and take care of their economic needs, is something that concerns their life and death. Jobs are their both long-term as well as immediate need. They need jobs to live productive lives for themselves as well as for the society and the state. They need employment and being able to get employment is their right.
Tackling the problem of unemployment in the state is an urgent need of the government as much as it is its duty. No government can compromise or forego right to jobs of unemployed people because it is unable to devise plans and mobilize resources for their gainful engagement. Talking about so-called flagship programmes aimed and skill development et al is ok, but then one also needs to understand that these initiatives have only achieved limited success. Besides seen against the magnitude of unemployment here, one can say without any fear of contradiction that whatever has been done is not even five percent of what could and should have been done to deal with joblessness here.
Those sitting on other side of the political divide are also blameworthy, for they too have and still do use the young people for their political games but never really bother to show them a way out, or do anything themselves to deliver this chunk of population from the clutches of joblessness. For instance, while both sides have all along used the young population for and against elections, it can be said with good degree of hindsight that once the elections are over, the young ‘pawns’ are consigned to the dingy corridors of absolute neglect, until the time there are new elections which is when the young people are again flattered into being at the forefront of campaigns for and against the elections.
It needs to be understood by all that the needs and interests of entire generations cannot be mortgaged to the selfish interests of a few people who comprise the political elite here. Needs, after all, are non-negotiable. There cannot be any compromise on needs.