Azad Hussain

Tackling dearth of employment avenues in J&K

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Although, for earning a livelihood  at low scale there is a vast range of  different  occupational fields in Jammu and Kashmir for the native people, but  the whole economy of people is primarily dependent on tourism, horticulture and government employment. The other areas of businesses ranging from shopkeeping to hotel industry are all dependent on the mentioned main three sectors directly or indirectly.

However, as we turn over another aspect, excluding the three main sectors, Kashmir is lacking space for creation of new jab avenues in the private sector. At the same time, though I can’t figure out exactly, but approximately, the educated unemployed youth are in lakhs and this number is increasing with every passing day in Jammu and Kashmir.

The two main two income generating business sectors of Kashmir — horticulture and tourism — would produce livelihoods for most of the people, directly or indirectly. But both have been affected severely over the past many years. Being a disturbed region, tourism here has remained worst affected due to frequent uncertain circumstances. Likewise, the fruit industry has also suffered huge losses over a couple of years due to worst weather calamities. The result has been that more unemployment has been created in the Valley.

With least possibility of private sector employment avenues, the job aspirants are mainly looking for jobs in the public sector. However, from past several years, the two main recruitment agencies — JKSSB and JKPSC — have just come up with a handful of job advertisements, which is too paltry when compared to the number of educated unemployed youth.

There is availability of thousands of vacancies in various government departments, filling of which could have brought relief to some extent for job aspirants but one fails to understand why government has always chosen to delay fast-track recruitment processes. If the governments in erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state are to be blamed for not providing employment opportunities before the abrogation of special status, after the conversion of Jammu  and Kashmir state into Union Territory the things, which should have changed as per the assurances of the authorities, have remained largely unchanged. No wonder the jobless youth continues to remain sullen and frustrated as ever.

They are being motivated by assurances and promises every now and then by various shades of politicians that government will soon come up with big recruitments in Jammu and Kashmir, in both public and private sectors. But no concrete steps are visible on the ground. History is witness that these assurances and promises later turn out be hollow!

The Kashmir Valley, given its distinct geography seems less feasible for generating private sector employment. No doubt, a little percentage of unemployed youth can get jobs in Information Technology or marketing, but establishment of big manufacturing industries by local as well as by outsider investors would not fetch enough in a long run. Because on one hand the only highway linking the Valley with rest of the country — a lifeline for to and fro transportation of raw material or goods between Jammu and Srinagar – remains frequently closed. Another vital input for the industry – energy — also remains precariously scarce here.

Government has been planning for establishment of private sector industries and companies here which it claims would create more jab avenues. However, in the current scheme of things the huge transportation and energy costs are going to be a big drain, which will automatically translate into a de-motivating factor. Moreover almost every business remains off here during at least three months in winter, which would create more difficulties for outsider investors too.

The domicile law which was introduced in Jammu and Kashmir recently would also leave a bad impact on unemployment here. The new entrants who would achieve domicile right here, despite having similar rights in their respective states and UTs, would add up to the unemployment figures in Jammu and Kashmir. If the government has extended the offer of eligibility to more new entrants, then at the same time it should come up with those workable employment policies which would satisfy the unemployed youth, both locals as well as those who may come from elsewhere.

Having its own economic woes, India is among those countries which exports human resource to other countries — every year thousands of youth head for other countries to earn their livelihood there. Like other parts of India the people from Jammu and Kashmir too follow this trend — many skilled youth leave for abroad in search of jobs. As of now a sizeable number of people from Kashmir are working overseas.

However, due to Covid-19 pandemic, the big economies in the world have suffered their share of huge losses. There is an apprehension that many people working abroad would return. It would also disappoint new aspirants who were planning to work outside the country. Simply put, this means there will be more unemployment in Jammu and Kashmir too, like elsewhere in the world.

The concerned authorities have to keep all this in consideration and prepare a way out to manage a space for rising number of uneducated youth in Jammu and Kashmir.

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