Create jobs, not liabilities

Over the past many years, the J&K government has accorded approval to the authorities at Sher-i-Kashmir University of Agricultural Science and Technology (SKUAST) for introducing more professional courses.

The professional courses were introduced with an aim to instil professional skills to the students and make them employable for new jobs and serve the society.

But the government’s failure to provide employment opportunities to the professional qualified youth graduating from SKUAST gets reflected in the resentment brewing among the pass outs of different departments of SKUAST- Kashmir.

Recently, the horticulture and agriculture engineering graduates complained against the government over what they termed as flawed recruitment rules and scarcity of jobs. The horticulture and agricultural engineering professionals lamented the government apathy in amending the recruitment policies for the professional pass outs of SKUAST- Kashmir.

The horticulture graduates recently staged massive protests for three consecutive days over the eligibility criteria set by the government for different posts. After facing anger, the department was forced to withdraw the 221 posts which were advertised by the JK Service Selection Board (SSB). This is not the only sector where the candidates after completing their professional courses land in a state of despair because of non-availability of jobs but almost every department is moving ahead with the archaic job policies which have no match with the new courses offered in colleges and universities.

The SKUAST started the B.Tech agricultural engineering courses in 2006 and the intake capacity of the Agriculture College is 40 for under graduate courses, 18 in post-graduate courses and five in P.hD.

All these courses were started after getting approval from the government but the government has failed to review and amend the recruitment policies in order to create job opportunities for these youth. Though the course was started with a positive move in terms of strengthening the agricultural scenario but it largely failed to address the purpose of providing jobs to the professional candidates.

As compared to the majority of the in-service employees in the agriculture and horticulture department who have joined the department decades ago on the basis of the non-professional degrees, the agricultural engineering graduates and horticulture graduates are considerably well trained and can serve in the government while using new skills and technologies.

Till the time over 200 students have graduated from the College of agricultural engineering of SKUAST. Out of them 150 students have pursued master’s degree while 50 students have done their Ph.D from prestigious universities across India. But all of them are running from pillar to post to get the jobs.

Similarly, the undergraduate and postgraduate courses in horticulture were started in SKUAST-Kashmir in 2007 on basis of the consent from the government. But despite holding master’s degree and Ph.D in horticulture sciences the candidates are rendered jobless.

In SKUAST-Kashmir there are five engineering faculties in place offering different undergraduate and postgraduate courses to the students. These include faculty of agricultural engineering, horticulture, fisheries, forestry and veterinary science. Out of all these courses, only veterinary science is running smoothly which has comparatively better employment opportunities after completing their degree.

But the students in other faculties have become victims of official apathy. In case of fisheries department, at the time of any recruitment, the candidates having done masters or Ph.D in Zoology subject are also considered eligible for the fisheries posts in the government which are limited in number.

Candidates with Zoology degrees have an open field as compared to fisheries candidates and the government should not chock space for fisheries pass out candidates when any job opportunity knocks at their doors.

There are more than 130 degree colleges functional in J&K and Zoology subject is offered in almost every college while a fisheries course has not been introduced in all the colleges. There are limited positions in the fisheries department which should be kept available for those possessing fisheries degrees.

Same is the case with faculty of forestry. The government invested crores of rupees to establish a faculty of forestry. The candidates who graduate from the department are thorough professionals as compared to those who have been recruited in the forest department decades ago and continue to run the department at higher positions. Ironically, all the candidates after completing their B.Sc, M.Sc and and Ph.D in forestry are rendered jobless as the government has no job policy for them as well.

Surprisingly, all the students after completing their graduation or post-graduation in any of these faculties from SKUAST-Kashmir are accepted for jobs at higher positions outside J&K like Hyderabad, Mumbai and other states. Ironically, the same lot finds no jobs within J&K UT.

It is the matter of fact that market regulations, transactions have rapidly increased over the years and dealing with the agricultural and horticulture sector has become a completely scientific issue with the advancement in technology. SKUAST-Kashmir has produced well trained professional human resources which are fit to serve in the agriculture, horticulture, forestry and fisheries department.

People who are presently working in the department have done their degrees more than 30 to 40 years ago and it is also a fact that there has been no considerable improvement on ground in these sectors.

Government should create job opportunities for the young professional lot who have vast knowledge and better understanding of the issues and problems in horticulture, agriculture and other sectors. The pass outs of horticulture and agricultural engineering departments can serve in water resources, farm power machinery besides irrigation and drainage systems. Even these professionals are fit to serve in the Geology and Mining department as compared to those who have entered into the department on the basis of their non-professional degrees.

Depriving job opportunities to the professional graduates is complete injustice with them. If the government will continue to turn a blind eye towards this grave issue, these professionals have no other options than to get frustrated; any cold response from the government will discourage the young students to pursue their professional courses and they will switch back to the archaic non-professional courses at undergraduate and post gradation level.

The authorities at SKUAST have written letters and official communications to J&K Public Service Commission (PSC) and government to revisit the eligibility criteria of candidates in these departments. We cannot blame the University for the dearth of jobs, because the job of the university is to train and teach the students and make them eligible to serve in the government department.

It is high time for the government to take a review of the recruitment policies and create employment opportunities for the unemployed professional youth possessing professional degrees. Let there be jobs not the liabilities.