Unemployment is the challenge
Union Home Minister, Amit Shah’s recent visit to the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir was mainly focused at the youth as the Minister encouraged the youth to join the government’s efforts to put the UT on the fast track of development and progress. Youth, in any society is the basic engine of change and once put on right track can do wonders for the betterment of the society. However, in Jammu and Kashmir, the unemployment is the curse which the youth here are struggling with. While the governments, in Srinagar and New Delhi, have been claiming to address the issue of unemployment in Jammu and Kashmir, the Union Territory has registered the highest unemployment rate of 21.6 percent among all states, UTs in India. Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) latest report reveals that J&K has a 21.6 percent unemployment rate, which is the worst among states/Union Territories in India. The unemployment rates are produced by CMIE using its Consumer Pyramids Household Survey machinery. CMIE has pegged India’s unemployment rate at 6.9 percent thus indicating that J&K has much higher unemployment rate than the national average. The CMIE data suggests that the unemployment rate in J&K has jumped from over 13 percent in August 2021 to 21.6 percent in September. As per the official data, J&K is the only region in India which has over 20 percent unemployment rate. Other states, which follow J&K in terms of the highest unemployment, are Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Tripura where unemployment rate is above 15 percent.
Unemployment is the biggest challenge that the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is face to face with. The situation on the front further worsened post August 2019 as the life came to a standstill and all sectors got impacted. Whatever hope was left vanished as Covid-19 gripped the entire world. People lost jobs and businesses and in a place like J&K, where jobs were already scarce, the situation has been grimmer. Jammu and Kashmir has very little employment avenues available for the youth as, in fact, the government is the main source of employment. No government, anywhere in the country can provide jobs that could address the needs of all the unemployed and therefore the government here needs to look for avenues that would help educated youth to get employment. Though tourism industry has a potential to generate employment but this sector has suffered huge losses due to pandemic and thus has not much promise for the time being. Other main sectors are agriculture and horticulture. If the government takes step to realize the true growth potential of the local agriculture and horticulture produce, lots of unemployed youth could be encouraged to join these sectors. The young and educated people who are keen to try their luck in these sectors need hand-holding by the government but that is missing. There are many young people who are keen to contribute in agriculture and horticulture sectors and are desirous of joining different schemes of the government in place for such sectors. However, most of them fall victim to the red-tapism and administrative inertia. They are made to run from pillar to post for availing these schemes and most of them feel so disheartened and disoriented that they are forced to call it a day. Lt Governor has to make his administration accountable and ensure the schemes aimed at generating hobs are implemented and youth are involved to get benefits.
Secondly, government needs to involve big business houses of the country. These houses should be convinced and encouraged to work in fields of skill development, proper training, honing of talent and also absorbing the youth in their respective organizations. It may be recalled here that youth of J&K are second to none subject they are provided an opportunity to prove themselves. One would expect the Lt. Governor administration to help creating that opportunity. Sometime back, the Lt Governor had said that his administration’s focus was on providing job opportunities to 80 percent of the young population within the next five years. However, given the past experience, the youth always remain bit sceptical. In past, promises, as tall as Himalayas were made, but there was no change on the ground. In the past many initiatives were taken to engage the youth in Jammu and Kashmir but all of them somehow fell short of meeting the desired requirements. It is because of these failures that in comparison to the national average unemployment rate of 6.9 percent, J&K has a 21.6 percent rate. The figures are alarming and the administration should wake up to address the issue.