Jammu and Kashmir has the dubious distinction of having the maximum number of unemployed youth in India. According to official data, there has been a 400 per cent increase in the number of unemployed youth during the past five years. Curiously, the 6.11 lakh registered unemployed youth in J and K constitute 5.30 per cent of its total population, the highest ratio for any state in India, and alarming in comparison to India’s average unemployment rate of 2.60 per cent.
In 2007, Jammu and Kashmir had 1.10 lakh unemployed youth, and in the year 2011 and 2012, their number touched the 6.11 lakh mark.
With no jobs available in the private sector, a majority of the unemployed look for government service. The state has failed to convince private companies to invest here, or create some confidence by improved administration. Last year a top Indian industrialist cut short his Valley visit after he was stuck in a traffic jam near Pantha Chowk while heading for the Valley of Shepherds. He had come to Kashmir to explore the possibility of investing in various fields. The government has also failed to persuade TATA Telecom to continue its services in the state. The company withdrew from Jammu and Kashmir last year, leaving thousands jobless. This also reflects shortcomings in the MoU signed with the group. Had it been drafted properly, the situation today would have been different.
The gravity of the problem can be gauged from the fact that thousands of applications piled up for just fifty-five forest-guard posts last year. Similarly, interviews for some posts in the Fisheries Department in the Doda district the same year also evoked an overwhelming response. Agreed that the government cannot give a state job to everyone but this does not exonerate it in failing to come up with a comprehensive job policy. If government jobs cannot be given, there has to be some alternative.
The government has been providing soft loans for the unemployed. The canvas of this scheme must be widened, and all facilities needed for setting up income-generating units provided to make it a success. The government has to be serious, or this scheme too will come to nothing. Meanwhile, the state government must at least streamline basic administrative affairs to convince private investors that they are not stepping into chaos.