In a shocking development for thousands of educated unemployed youth, the Government of Jammu & Kashmir recently directed to withdraw all the posts referred to the Public Service Commission (JKPSC) and Services Selection Board (JKSSB) before October 31, 2019, for which selections have not been finalized till date.
The General Administration Department (GAD) has informed the PSC and SSB that the Administrative Council has decided to withdraw all the posts referred to PSC and SSB prior to 31- 10- 2019 for which selections have not been made till date.
On the one hand Govt claims that institutions like Public Service Commission and Services Selection Board are autonomous institutions, but on the other hand Govt issues orders from civil secretariat which erodes and undermines the autonomous character of PSC & SSB.
We recently met an educated young man named Raof Naik who got selected as plus 2Information Technology-IT subject. Raof had figured at serial 3 in the open merit list some years back, but his selection was withheld due to the equivalence issue of his MSc Computer Science degree with MSc IT. The equivalence committee gave a report in his favour in September last year.
It was submitted before the Director colleges, Secretary PSC, Secretary SSB on 10.09.2021 by Higher Education Department education which looks after such cases under an expert committee.
It took two more months for this report to reach PSC and they too sat on it and during this time the Govt came with the order of withdrawal of all posts.
Where shall candidates like Raof go? Why shall he be made a scapegoat when the delay was caused by Govt and PSC? There are many more such cases which need to be examined by Govt. This is total injustice.
Moreover, crores of rupees were collected as application fees from candidates, will PSC or SSB pay this amount back to candidates? Some candidates have crossed the upper age limit, will the Govt be able to do justice to them?
SSB earns Rs 77 crores revenue
Last year the J&K Services Selection Board (JK SSB) in an RTI reply to us informed us that more than seventy seven core rupees ( Rs 77 Crores) were collected from job aspirants between March 2016 to September 2020. Out of this amount Rs 5 crores were collected in 2016 , Rs 16.17 crores in 2017, Rs 27.77 crores in 2018 , Rs 6 crores in 2019.
In just nine months (January to September 2020 more than Rs 21.68 crore were collected as revenue by the Service Selection Board. From September 2020 to December 2021, SSB earned crores again from unemployed youth of Jammu & Kashmir.
The application fee for a single post advertised by JK SSB in 2020 was 350 and for the recent Sub Inspectors Post was 550. Similarly, the J&K Public Service Commission charged huge application fees of Rs 500 for state civil service posts (KAS, KPS) Prosecuting Officer, Medical Officer, Lecturers, Assistant Professors etc.
Greater Kashmir last year reported that Jammu & Kashmir had the worst unemployment rate in India when compared with other states and UTs. “The Center for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) report says that J&K has a 21.6% unemployment rate. The unemployment rates are produced by CMIE using its Consumer Pyramids Household Survey machinery. CMIE has pegged India’s unemployment rate at 6.9 % which means J&K has much higher unemployment rate than the national average.
According to the CMIE data, the unemployment rate in J&K has jumped from over 13 % in August 2021 to 21.6 % in September. As per the official data, J&K is the only region in India which has over 20 percent unemployment rate.
Other states, which follow J&K in terms of the highest unemployment, are Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Tripura where unemployment rate is above 15 percent. The unemployment is on rise and financial desperation in Jammu and Kashmir is making educated unemployed youth apply for every Government Post available but the exorbitant price of the application fee is making them financially vulnerable and undefended.
Welfare state & unemployed youth
The unemployed youth in Jammu & Kashmir are caught up in an awful situation. How can the Govt collect Rs 500 as an application fee from unemployed youth? Had a few hundred people been applying for the different posts in JKSSB or JK PSC one could have understood the logic behind asking for payment of Rs 500 for each application ? But when around 3 lakh unemployed youth apply for the post of a teacher or a junior assistant, how can Govt ask the applicants to pay such a huge fees?
JK SSB or JK PSC are not public sector undertakings (PSUs) working under the Govt who have to generate income for meeting the expenses or paying salaries to its employees. PSC and SSB gets funding from Govt and officials posted there are Govt employees who work on deputation in these organisations. How can Govt earn revenue from unemployed youth when the Govt is controlled by the welfare state?
The syllabus of the exams covers different subjects, topics such as different books are required for preparation and a single book for the same costs not less than Rs 400-500.
Apart from this, coaching cum preparatory institutes are charging not less than Rs 15000 as coaching fee for the Government posts advertised by JK SSB or JKPSC.
This is commercialization of Govt Job where a business industry is profiteering through Govt, publishers, unregulated coaching centers, online coaching classes & only a handful get selected. The reservation policy of Govt is another concern for the bright candidates having to compete under open merit category.
Had the reservation policy been availed by genuine people that was acceptable, but most of the candidates having reservation belong to well off families living in post housing colonies of Srinagar and Jammu.
In the Pandemic era, where citizens are financially hit and suffering from economic hardships due to Job loss, the application fee for Govt s Jobs is enhanced and not reduced by Government.
Parity demands that Union Public Service Commission, Staff Selection Commission’s application fee of Rs100 for each Central Govt job must be followed and implemented by JK SSB and JK PSC.
Access to education in a welfare state
JK SSB and JK PSC’s role is to provide government employment to eligible and competitive candidates which is also the facet of a Welfare State, but when instruments of the Welfare State are minting money by way of exorbitant application fees for government employment, intentions of a welfare state and its welfare policies are bound to get questioned.
The government of Jammu and Kashmir has to answer whether minting money out of application fee is the spirit of a model welfare state? Why is it that India’s premier central recruiting agency of Class A officers is charging Rs.100 as application fee and JK SSB, JKPSC which adopts modus operandi and procedure from the same is charging Rs 500 or 550 as application fee? This defeats common sense, parity, and equality.
Furthermore, the exorbitant price of the application fee is discouraging unemployed youths to apply for government jobs and in the future, more and more candidates will find it difficult to apply.
Rather than discussing the menace of a high-priced application fee, the candidates / job aspirants should practically demonstrate possible ways for reducing the fee such as representations before concerned offices of JK SSB, JK PSC along with social media campaigning.
Govt must take back its order on withdrawal of posts referred to PSC or SSB. We urge the Government, particularly the Lieutenant Governor to kindly consider grievances of thousands of unemployed youth.
Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat and Advocate Badrul Duja are members of Jammu & Kashmir RTI Movement.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.