Joblessness ruins Valley's youth

5.3 per cent of youngsters remain unemployed; national average is 2.6 pc

Lack of significant employment opportunities for the youth of Jammu and Kashmir is fuelling their sense of alienation and anger against the government and New Delhi.

As per Census 2001, 71 per cent of Jammu and Kashmir’s population is under the age of 31. The number of registered unemployed youth is at a staggering 6,02,979 - 5.3 per cent, double the national average of 2.6 per cent.

The Sher-e-Kashmir Welfare Employment Programme was introduced in 2009 to generate job opportunities for 5,00,000 youths but till now has benefitted only 1,50,000 youths. Irfan Dar, 25, a filmmaker in Srinagar, said: “There is hardly any scope for even the highly-educated people to avail any employment opportunities. Many are eventually forced to move out.”

B A Dabla, eminent sociologist at the University of Kashmir, believes that both the central and state governments are responsible for the situation.

“The government claims to provide special schemes, scholarships and economic packages, but in reality only a handful of chosen get such benefits,” Dabla said on phone from Srinagar.

Emphasising on the need for revamping governance in the state, former interlocutor on Kashmir Radha Kumar said there is an increased risk of youth losing confidence in the system. 

“Last year the top business delegation led by Rahul Gandhi was a good initiative. I don’t think it was a mere political gesture. But it will take time for results to show,” Radha Kumar, who was part of a team that gave a set of recommendations to the government on Kashmir, said in New Delhi.

Last October, a high-level business delegation led by Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, which included the likes of Ratan Tata, Aditya Birla group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla, HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh and Bajaj Auto managing director Rajeev Bajaj, had visited the state.

However, concrete proposals are yet to fructify.

“We should deal with the fact that it is still very difficult for heavy and medium industries to invest in the Valley. We have been providing loans and subsidies to youth to start small enterprises. Our thrust has been particularly on the small scale and manufacturing industry,” said a senior official in the state employment department.

In 2011, an expert group headed by economist C Rangarajan recommended a five-year skill development plan for the state at an annual expenditure of Rs 761 crore.

Based on the recommendations, two central schemes, Udaan and Himayat, were launched in December 2011 but are falling way short of their targets.

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