Jammu, Nov 9: Amid raging protests against the government's new "controversial" job policy, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Wednesday broke his silence over the issue, saying there was nothing wrong in "stipendiary mode" of recruitment.
"There is nothing wrong in stipendiary mode. Our options are two – either we have four youth on stipend basis or one youngster on full salary. The choice is obvious given the current constraints in resources," Omar told reporters.
The Chief Minister categorically said that the government couldn't re-examine the whole policy but hinted that the state finance department could "re-examine the level of fixed stipend grades."
"The Finance Department can discuss about the level of stipend grades but the demand for re-examining the whole policy is one issue that we cannot consider. But, if the demand for re-examining the grades of fixed stipend comes, we can consider it and I am sure cabinet will impress upon the Finance Minister to take a re-look on the issue," Omar responded after being asked about the "prevailing anxiety" among youth over new job policy.
He also lashed out at the Finance Department for failing to explain the implementation of policy and its necessity to the youngsters.
"Unfortunately, the proposal should have been better explained to the youngsters. The department which brought this proposal to the cabinet should have made better efforts of explaining the implementation and its necessity. Because we didn't do that certain misgivings arise in the minds of the youth which is understandable," the Chief Minister said.
He also held various political groups responsible for putting state finances under "great distress", saying; "You will recall at the time of sixth pay commission award, I had made it very clear that this award will put the state in great disadvantage and put our finances under great distress, both in terms of implementing the recommendation of future salary and paying of the arrears. At that time all political groups, pitched for its implementation without delay and at no point of time they did tell us that don't do that as it would cause extra burden on sate finances. We went ahead and implemented the sixth pay commission."
Omar maintained that the decision necessarily put pressure on state finances and now the government was left with two options—"either freeze recruitment where no body could get the jobs or come up with slightly more innovative job policy wherein youth can get the job and they would be guaranteed long term employment with salary after certain period of the stipendiary employment".
"I can employ one person on full-fledged salary or four people on stipend. Given the nature of unemployment, I want to boost the employment and not to reduce it. The cabinet felt that it was necessary to recruit more youngsters on stipend than less youth on salary," he said, adding; "The simple truth of the matter is either you have lesser jobs on fixed salary or maximum youth on stipend for a specific period with guarantee of regular job. If I would have been on their place, I would go for stipendiary job rather than no job at all. And I hope youth will understand this".
The Chief Minister said the government jobs were not the answer to the unemployment. "At no point of time, I have said that the stipendiary mode of recruitment is aimed at diverting the youth from government jobs. It is just envisaged to recruit more and more youth in government sector given the current constraints in resources," he maintained.
"I started on stipend for the first few years. I didn't get full salary. My monthly salary was Rs 3000 for one year that went up to Rs 6000 after three years. If the private sector starts on stipend mode I am sure government can consider it," he added.
Omar said that the stipendiary mode was "unfortunately a compulsion which we would have to face in near future because the finances of the state are in that condition".
Responding to question that stipendiary mode has lower grades that what is being paid to surrendered militants, Omar said, "The ReT recruits are getting Rs 1500 and the stipendiary mode is significantly higher than their salaries. If the ReT scheme has worked well and the youth are willing to come and engage themselves on stipend of Rs 1500 with guarantee of regular employment, why suddenly stipendiary mode has become wrong. If it wrong then the ReT and ReZ recruitments, which have yielded good results, were also wrong. There is nothing wrong in stipendiary mode".