In Kashmir, young and educated yearn to see their career take off

Kashmiri youth are waiting for an opportunity to chase their dreams, but the limited career options in the Valley are not allowing them to spread their wings.

More than 70% of population of J&K is below 35 years of age. The numbers are more or less the same for Kashmir alone where chronic unemployment and under-employment has spawned the problems.

In such a scenario, the lack of job prospects has resulted in too many youth, ready to take off in their career, sitting idle and yearning for the opportunities to excel like their counterparts in other states.

Greater Kashmir spoke to number of young people, in the age group of 18 to 30, only to find that the major worry they narrated was the absence of livelihood opportunities within the state.

A contractual teacher, Abrar Ahmad believes that young people can play a distinct role in socio-economic and political development of their communities. After a brief pause, he continued. “Education and livelihood options that support development of relevant skills and capacity can better support youth to constructively contribute to their communities and Kashmiri society as a whole.”

“But, where are the opportunities,” he rued.

Having completed his PhD and qualified the NET as well Ahmad is working as contractual lecturer for the past six years. “Where will I go from here now? Mine is a gone case now,” he sighed.

For young college students like Shakir Hussain majority of the educated youth don’t prefer to move outside the state given Kashmir is a well-knit society.

He says given a chance educated youth would prefer job or venture into some kind of economical activity in the valley itself.

“But who care,” he commented. “Neither the successive government nor the politicians have been able to address the growing unemployment by exploring and opening up other avenues of employment in the Valley,” said Hussain, a 1st year student at SP College.

A resident of Kulgam, Hussain is currently putting up in a rented apartment in Srinagar, along with his siblings. His elder brother, Muteen has completed post graduation and is now desperately looking for a job.

“What I have felt is that owing to lack of development and investment in Kashmir particularly, there are less opportunities among youth which pushes them towards anti-social activities,” argued Muteen, adding it was the responsibility of the state and central governments to respond to cry for lack of career opportunities in the Valley.

Many youth believe that mis-governance, poor administration and corruption have been the biggest problems of the state, fuelling alienation among youth.

“But the youth of Kashmir are now no longer willing to tolerate corruption, inequality and nepotism,” said Muhammad Iqbal, a postgraduate.

At SP College, scores of students were basking in the sun during class break. Asked about their future plans, they gave a grim look.

“There is hardly any opportunity. The jobs in the government sector are distributed by ministers, bureaucrats and top officials among their kith and kin. Corruption is at its peak. My appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to eradicate corruption from the state. It would be his biggest service to Kashmiri youth,” said one of the students who identified himself as Ahmad.

But, all of expressed this concern in unison. “Owing to three decades of violence development has taken a backseat and corruption has become a norm,” the students said.