Daily Greater Kashmir has always been on the forefront in highlighting all the important issues and problems faced by the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Issues related to politics, economics, education, corruption and development of the state have always remained the priority for GK which has always highlighted these issues. Each of these issues is one way or the other a determiner to the development of the people of the state.
I believe it was the same concern for the society felt by GK in July 2007 when it organized an Essay Contest, which was a first of its kind with title "What is the most important issue/problem faced by the youth of Kashmir". The contest was a huge success and its winners were declared at Gandhi Bhawan, University of Kashmir, in a live debate. The first prize winner, a girl student, debated about the problem of unemployment and demonstrated how the problem has literally weakened the power of youth in our society. I was among the participants and raised how the issue of 'Corruption' was far more problematic than unemployment as each and every problem in all societies can trace its roots to the menace of corruption. Later in life, I came to realize how complex the problem of unemployment is and how it is made even more complex by Corruption. While majority of the youth in the state dream of a government job due to non availability of avenues in the state, a close look into the employment policy reveals how dangerously the government is playing with the future of the state and how a valuable Human Resource is being wasted for nothing!
As per the economic survey 2014-15 released by Directorate of Economics & Statistics, Govt. of Jammu and Kashmir, the number of unemployed youth registered in various District Employment and Counseling centers of the J&K State was 2.32 lakhs as on ending September, 2014. The figure may be higher as the registration with the Employment Department is a voluntary process and not mandatory. The registration ending September, 2014 was 231899. The Statistics of employment exchanges do not provide accurate picture of unemployment in the State. The data suffers mainly from two defects. On the one hand, all the unemployed persons do not register themselves with these Employment Exchanges and on the other hand, some of the registered persons may not be actually unemployed but only in search of better jobs. The actual number of unemployed people in the state stands higher at more than 6.00 Lakhs (Greater Kashmir, 03 May, 2012).
While we are always busy discussing 'Unemployment', there is a very dangerous trend in the state, particularly in the valley that has caught the attention of neither the academicians nor the thinkers. The potential of the youth is being wasted like it is worth nothing. Highly meritorious students find way into government jobs which are menial in nature, thus wasting their immense potential that could otherwise have helped accumulation of quality human resource. I managed to pull out some stupefying data that can make us numb for a moment. Let us look at some stats of employment in the government establishments in some recent months.
Among all the aspirants appointed for Class IV jobs in the state, more than 50 % of the selectees are between the age group of 18-22 years. Nearly 35 % of the appointed Class IVs are between 22-26 years of age. The remaining 10-15 % of appointees come in the age group above 26 years, but these are dominantly from backward communities. Let us look at another aspect.
More than 50 % appointees for Class IV Jobs are highly meritorious with more than 85% marks in matriculation. Around 30 % of them are those whose percentage in matriculation is between 75% and 85 %. Similarly More than 55 % of the appointed Class IVs have a Distinction in 12th class. All these figures have been derived out of average from the appointment orders of Class IVs in the last year.
The above two aspects of "Age" and "merit" of the appointed Class IVs in the state is a ringing bell and a warning for all of us. The trend is so dangerous that among all, the best minds end up doing menial jobs like making tea for Babus, fetching chairs in offices and even guarding schools as night chowkidars. The Question is, "Are we dreaming for a society with the best fertile minds as Class IVs"? It is very heartbreaking that neither the authorities nor the academicians of the state have sounded a ring of caution over such a serious issue.
The careless attitude of the Government in handling the Selection process for government Jobs has hit hard the prospects of the state. The responsibility of the government is not only to provide jobs but also to fit appropriate persons for appropriate jobs. In our state a large number of aspirants with even research degrees are applying for petty government jobs, which is a shame. On the one side we lament the fact that many deserving candidates do not get admission in colleges for higher education, and on the other side we have this humungous numbers of 'highly-qualified' candidates desperately looking for menial jobs. Or is it possible that they find they will get more 'lucrative' income by being important cogs in the wheels of the omnipotent government? It is an open secret that even the lowest ranking 'babu' has immense potential to earn far more than most highly qualified, hard working and efficient professionals in the private sector.
What is being pointed here is the callous attitude of the authorities when it comes to providing jobs to the youth. The selection process and selection rules are faulty and destroy careers. When youth of the world is allowed to fly high and look for the stars, why here we have recruitment rules that allow easy passage for brain drain of the cream of the society? There is a need of serious re-consideration on the recruitment rules particularly for the Class IV posts. It is obvious that the minimum qualification required for Class IV cannot be raised from matriculation to graduation but what can be done is that the minimum age eligibility for Class IV posts can be raised say above 25 years. Applicants with higher professional and research degrees should not be eligible for the said category of the posts. This will ensure that the best lot of human resource will not go to waste and also that those applicants with higher age and lower academic merit who have not been able to continue their studies beyond class 12 due to domestic compulsions get a chance to compete for the Class IV jobs. On the other hand the fresh secondary school pass outs with high merit be given good scholarships so that they do not suffer monetarily. If ignored, this issue can lead to a real brain drain and eventually destroy the valuable human resource of the state.
(Sajad Hussain Mir works in Dept. Of Finance, J&K)