The Job Creation
Liberalization, Innovation & Skill Development
JUNAID AZIM MATTU
The State Government has predictably started tinkering with the recruitment process ahead of the Assembly Elections of 2014. As expected, the process has been left with enough wriggling space to accommodate the chosen aspirants of the ruling political dispensation. It’s still structurally and fiscally impossible for the State government to take on 80,000 additional jobs and for now the hullaballoo promises to die in the rhetorical realm as soon as the elections conclude. I have repeatedly emphasized the fact that our State cannot afford such an increased fiscal burden without catastrophic consequences for the State’s Economic functioning. There can be no arguments on the dire need for more jobs, but such jobs will have to be churned out organically as a result of structural changes and value additions. Most of our new jobs should come from a sustainable private sector growth and that happens to be the only option.
One of the most pressing needs for the State of Jammu & Kashmir is to invest in Education. And when I speak of Education, I put a greater emphasis on Innovation & Skills Development. Our private sector as of now is disorganized and has shied away from the processes of institutionalization. And when we talk about entrepreneurship as well, the systems that have been put in place, such as the Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) have been incorporated as peripheral and tertiary resolves. There has been no, multi-pronged and financially empowered comprehensive policy to incentivize and facilitate a private sector growth in the State. And the first step that our system will have to take towards that goal is to invest heavily in skill development, research and encourage and incentivize business innovation.
We need to double our investment in higher education. Let’s for instance look at the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences & Technology (SKUAST). The SKUAST is the State’s only Agricultural University that operated on an inspired system of the Land-Grant University system following the Model Act of State Agricultural Universities evolved by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. The 2012-2013 Approved Budget for the University is 10,212.51 lacs out of which 8,187.05 lacs is estimated to be spent on salaries and 1,625.46 lacs is the estimated expenditure on pensionary benefits. That leaves a paltry 4 crores for “other charges”. Now, it would be interesting and embarrassing to note that around 96% of SKUAST’s budgetary allocation is spent on salaries and pensions. The normal vision for State Agricultural Universities (SAUs) is a triple mandate of teaching, research and agricultural extension. I’m an alumnus of the first Land Grant University in the United States and know for a fact that a sizeable chunk of the annual budget, both allocations from the State and those from the Federal Government in form of grants, is apportioned for research and innovation. Unfortunately that is not the case for SKUAST. As of today, the University serves the primary purposes of jobs for the faculty and education degrees for students and stands severed from its imperative goal of research and innovation in the agricultural sector. Things like this, we need to sort out. I have always stated that most of our problems have structural roots and as a student of Economics, there is a blunder hiding in every nook and cranny of our system.
Our government needs to work with universities, colleges and students to provide students the skills they need to compete in a cut-throat job-market. The government needs to support innovation and take concrete steps to develop J&K’s science and research industry, which is a non-negotiable pre-requisite for economic growth. I also think that there is an urgent need to understand the importance of a sizeable budgetary allocation for State loans and grants for higher education with perhaps a consolidated and need-based loan system funded by both the Ministry of Higher Education in the State and the HRD and Education Ministry in the Delhi.
Vocation training should also be one of our top priorities. Our skilled labor market is grossly under-supplied locally. As Dr. Amitabh Mattoo rightly pointed out during a Track-2 conference in Delhi last month, most of our plumbers, painters and carpenters come from outside the State. This reality is the manifestation of skewed policy priorities that successive State governments have had. And until we invest heavily in vocational training and skill-development, this reality is not going anywhere anytime soon and has serious macro-economic repercussions.
The State Government also needs to liberalize laws and cut down on bureaucratic rust to make the State an easy place to start and run a business. We need to end the concept of ‘tick-box’ regulation and instead focus on co-regulation and an improvement in business standards that would facilitate and aid institutionalization and professionalism.
These are some of the steps we need to take urgently to steer J&K out of Economic Doom and the growth of unemployment – Invest in education and skill development, liberalize laws and regulations and incentivize small and medium business enterprises. More government jobs is not the answer. This State cannot be sworn to continued penury for the electoral interests of political parties. We deserve Economic Vision. We deserve Leadership. (Junaid Azim Mattu is the Srinagar Head of J&K Peoples’ Conference. Views are personal)
Lastupdate on : Fri, 1 Feb 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 1 Feb 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 2 Feb 2013 00:00:00 IST
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