Living with Unemployment


Patriot Correspondent

SRINAGAR: The unemployment in the state of Jammu and Kashmir has been a difficult challenge for the successive regimes besides a gravest problem the youth is facing.

The unemployment problem, among youth especially among educated youth is turning out to be disastrous for the healthy growth of society and overall life of youth. On account of rampant unemployment, the youth of Kashmir on a large scale are resorting to drug addiction, violent tendencies.

The menace has taking heavy toll on the mental health of youth wondering for jobs that ultimately have resulted rise in mental stress and suicides in the Valley of Kashmir.

The unemployment in Kashmir is characterized by lack of opportunities, chronic underemployment due to lack of government’s significant policies to tackle it.

Statistics and surveys related to the problem of unemployment in the state clearly highlight its disastrous impacts on the life of Kashmiri youth. As per the last Economic Survey, when it comes to overall unemployment, Punjab (4.5 per cent), Himachal Pradesh (2.8 per cent), Delhi (2.7 per cent) and Haryana (2.6 per cent) are much better placed than Jammu and Kashmir.

Official figures have further revealed that unemployment rate for males in J&K was 3.6 per cent whereas that of females was 17.1 per cent which is far too high when compared to the neighboring states Punjab 11.7 per cent, Haryana 2.8 per cent, Delhi 2.8 per cent and Himachal Pradesh 2.5 per cent.

Candidates at the police recruitment drive at Bakshi Stadium in Srinagar on May, 15, 2017

Earlier the number of the unemployed youth in Jammu and Kashmir was six lakh but as per the latest figures, the number has witnessed a sudden increase and has shoot up to nearly nine lakh at present.

As per the Labour Bureau, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India (GoI) Jammu Kashmir has a very high unemployment rate in entire India and as per a survey conducted by the bureau in 2015-16, Jammu Kashmir has 72 unemployed persons per thousand, which means the number of unemployed youth in the State is over 9 lakh based on 2011 Census. Of these more than 9 lakh unemployed youth only over six lakh of them are registered for employment assistance across 22 district employment and counseling centers (DECC) of the State.

Due to prevailing turmoil unemployment problem has soared with no industrial growth and struggling key tourism sectors. To add to it, poor industrial governance, infrastructure along with the poor investment climate has left the industrial sector of Kashmir valley in shambles.

Young men undergo physical endurance test in the Kashmir Police recruitment drive in Anantnag on June 01, 2017

The pain and frustration inflicted by hydra-headed monster of unemployment on the youth of Kashmir can be understood by this fact that recently, nearly 1.25 lac youth appeared for the meager 100 posts of Naib Tehsildar with similar trend witnessed for just 2154 teacher posts notified. This aptly shows the grim and chronic nature of unemployment in the state.

Many youth activists believe that the unemployment levels have achieved monstrous proportions among the youth and there seems to be no hope at the end of this dark tunnel for them.

“The youth is openly being fleeced with heavy fees for employment forms by government which is proving taxing on pockets of unemployed youth. This chronic unemployment problem is pushing youth to the wall, forcing them towards negative vices like Drug Addiction, aggressive tendencies” they said.

The ironic state of affairs is that highly qualified youth with doctorate degrees, professional degree holders are lying unemployed for years, hence proving damaging to their intellect, mental health and lifestyle.

The problems and issues creeping for youth of Kashmir due to prevalence of serious unemployment are multidimensional. The overall consequences on the life of Kashmiri youth due to unemployment are many. The social fabric stands rattled as the problem of unemployment has lead to surge in late marriages in the past few decades.

It is being also observed that the problem of unemployment is forcing talented youth to leave Kashmir for other places like Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore or abroad in search of job.

Girls take part in a race in the Kashmir Police recruitment drive in Srinagar on June 01, 2017
Undoubtedly, the drawbacks and repercussions of unemployment on Kashmiri youth life are quite damaging and deserve to be addressed by stakeholders especially government.

From time to time there have been much hopes that the state government’s policies to tackle the problem of unemployment would help in reducing the rates of unemployment.

The policy document is being launched on the 5th December, 2009, the 105th birthday of the great visionary of the State, the Sher-e-Kashmir, Jenab Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah Sahib and hence named as “The Sher-e-Kashmir Employment and Welfare Programme for the Youth” (SKEWPY).

In 2009 the previous NC-Congress coalition government led by Omar Abdullah announced with much fanfare Sher-e-Kashmir Employment on the occasion of birth anniversary of Shiekh Mohammed Abdullah.

Government claimed that this State policy on Employment named as Sher-e-Kashmir Employment & Welfare Programme for the Youth” (SKEWPY) simultaneously and comprehensively address all issues relating to the problem of unemployment in the State.

As per the guidelines, the prospective entrepreneurs are to be provided with seed capital equivalent to 35% of the project cost up to a maximum of Rs.3 lakh in respect of undergraduates and Rs.5 lakh in respect of post-graduates and Rs.7.5 lacs in respect of technically qualified persons such as engineers, doctors and computer science & technology graduates.

Unemployed youth waiting for physical test during police recruitment drive in Anantnag

To address this problem, the State entrepreneurship Development Institute (JKEDI) was asked to offer ‘Entrepreneurship Development programme/s (EDPs)’ as a package which apart from sensitization, training and consultancy inputs shall include an incentive in the form of non-refundable seed money to enable prospective entrepreneurs to kick start their ventures and make their projects bankable. But despite this and many other schemes the problem of unemployment has not been addressed to desired expectations.

Khair Ul Nisa, a Management Professional stated, “It would not be farfetched to say that unemployment is the single biggest issue faced by the youth of Kashmir”.

She added, infact there are very meager employment avenues available to the educated youth of Kashmir. This bleak scenario related to employment and prevalence of grave unemployment among the youth of Kashmir is giving rise to what can aptly be termed as Brain Drain”.

Adding that the Brain Drain refers to the departure of educated or professional people from one country, economic sector, or field for another usually for better pay or living conditions. She said that the same is happening in Kashmir at an alarming pace, hence deprives the place from the experience and exuberance of quality youth.

In the election manifesto of present PDP-BJP coalition government, it was maintained that ending unemployment would be the prime focus of the parties. However, the two years are completed for the alliance; the figures issued by the Ministry of Labour have punctured the claims and unmasked the actions taken on ground till date.

The educated unemployed youth believes that the regime hasn’t done enough to tackle the unemployment menace and eradicating it seems to be distant dream. They said that the apart from filling the vacant posts that are in thousands in various government departments, the authorities are yet to identity the plans and modalities to ensure public private partnership for the creation of jobs in the state.

“There hasn’t been much work done and the findings of the survey by ministry of labour vindicate the inaction by the state authorities,” they rue.

Career experts are of the view that the state has time to time witnessed the successive governments making lofty claims that they have devised magical policies to fight the problem of unemployment but on the ground zero results are very few.

They said that the youth continue to suffer on account of lack of meaningful employment opportunities. Adding that, there is need to devise visionary and have pragmatic outlook to fight the decades old menace of unemployment. “More focus should be on skill based education as well”, they said.

The problem of unemployment in the state especially that of the educated unemployed has reached alarming proportions. This deserves immediate focused and coordinated attention with new policy initiatives, sound institutional arrangements and effective operational strategies for creating employment opportunities and enhancing employability. A Collective, comprehensive and holistic endeavour is required to address this gigantic problem in a principled manner. (Input KNB)