Say no to retirement age enhancement

Youth of Jammu and Kashmir are highly critical of any move to increase retirement age of University teachers
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Representational ImageFile/GK

The J&K Lieutenant Governor (LG) on November 23, 2022 made an announcement that the faculty of all Universities in Jammu and Kashmir will now retire at 65 instead of 62 years.

The LG made this announcement during the inaugural ceremony of Annual Youth Festival ‘Sonzal-2022’ at the Kashmir University.

The LG further added that the Vice Chancellor of Kashmir University has raised the issue of infrastructure and faculty shortage and earlier also, he has discussed the issue about shortage of faculty in the Universities.

"As an immediate solution, the retirement age of the faculty is being raised from 62 years to 65 years," he announced.

The announcement came as a shot in the arm for the University professors who are currently superannuating at the age of 62 years but at the same time was shocking and surprising for the thousands of educated unemployed youth in Jammu and Kashmir.

Prior to this announcement, the Jammu and Kashmir Administration led by LG Manoj Sinha took several decisions which were appreciated by the youth of Jammu and Kashmir. LG ordered a CBI investigation into the SSB recruitment scandal which led to the arrest of many accused. The move reinforced the faith of youth in the JK Administration, which has assured youth of fair and transparent recruitment on a fast track basis by PSC and SSB.

But the announcement for enhancement of the retirement of University professors was not well received by the youth in Jammu and Kashmir given the fact that J&K figures on the top in the list in terms of unemployment rate. The figure should be an eye opener for the J&K administration as it shows the magnitude of the problem of unemployment of highly educated unemployed youth in Jammu and Kashmir.

After the J&K LG made the announcement about enhancement of the retirement age in November, apparently there has been no progress in the issue, maybe because of the critical reaction received from people from all walks of life.

However, it has been learnt that a strong lobby of some university professors are meeting people in power corridors and creating pressure for the government to go ahead with the decision.

Some senior professors are even convincing the people in power echelons to enhance the retirement age in favour of only professors while retaining the retirement age of assistant and associate professors at 62 years. This has created doubts in the minds of assistant and associate professors.

Such rumors have created uncertainty among the masses particularly the highly qualified unemployed youth of Jammu and Kashmir.

The society by and large is totally against any such move which will pave the way for the enhancement in the retirement age of the University professors. Amid the rumors about the University professors pleading for their case, youth have voiced their concern and are completely against the enhancement of the retirement age of University professors.

The educated unemployed youth have hit the social media to oppose any such decision and urged the government to retain the retirement at 62 years. Many want the retirement age to be decreased.

"Enhancement in retirement age can have negative impacts on the young generation. It can make it more difficult for younger workers to enter the Labor force, as older workers remain in their jobs for longer periods of time. Additionally, it may increase the burden on young workers to support an aging population and contribute to the financial stability of retirement systems," said Rameez Ahmad, a Postgraduate in South Asian studies.

He said the decision to raise the retirement age is a trade-off between different priorities and requires careful consideration of the potential impact on all stakeholders.

"It is important to approach this issue in a comprehensive and balanced manner, taking into account the needs and perspectives of all groups and working towards solutions that promote economic security, quality of life, and a sustainable future for all," he said.

The stakeholders also voiced their concern that enhancement in the retirement age for university faculty will open a floodgate and such demands will be made by doctors, college teachers, IAS/KAS Officers as well. Even Non-Teaching staff members in Jammu University have started voicing their demand for an increase in retirement age from 60 to 62 years. 

"Where shall the educated youth go then. I have completed my Phd four years ago from a reputed university in the country but I am jobless. If the retirement age is enhanced, it will be a big disservice to the unemployed youth of the UT," said Ashiq Ahmad, another youth on social media.

Even some netizens opined that given the average life expectancy rate and the unemployment percentage in J&K, retirement age should be not more than 60 years.

"If the government cuts the retirement age by one or two years, it will be in the interest of both - the retirees and the department he/she is working in," said another netizen.

Besides the concern raised by the educated youth of Jammu and Kashmir, there are other aspects which need to be considered before making any final decision on the enhancement in the retirement age of the University professors.

The research scholars have also expressed their concern that most of the senior Professors are on deputation for different administrative assignments in other universities like IUST and are not contributing in teaching or research. Even some of the professors do not take the classes and put the burden on the contractual staff in the universities.

“If senior Professors do not teach, there is no fun to retain them. How will it be beneficial to the students and research scholars if they stay away in other universities,” questioned a research scholar.

To conclude, the youth of JK are totally disillusioned by such announcements because they are jobless and are demanding jobs. Instead of increasing the retirement age of Professors, the Government of Jammu and Kashmir should make recruitment of Assistant Professors on a fast track basis. There are highly competent Assistant Professors in need of jobs. They can do great justice with the Profession of teaching. They cannot be deprived of their right to jobs. Government itself says that Deadwood should be removed. 

Amid the apprehensions and the concern expressed by different stakeholders, a top official in JK Administration said that enhancing the retirement age of the University teachers was not a matter of any executive order issued by any officer in the administration.

"Any order issued in this matter will have to be a Statutory Order. It cannot be any Executive Order. This issue does not work like this," the top official in the J&K administration informed.

The top official said, "We have to see if J&K also raises the age bar, what will be its financial implications. All those things will have to be seen before an order has to be passed. An important aspect is the cutoff date, all these things have to be seen."

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.

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