Dr. Shahid Amin Trali
There is no bright future with existing job policies in Jammu and Kashmir. A case in point is the SRO 202. There is widespread resentment regarding SRO 202 and the policy has attracted mixed reactions and opinions. But, the government has so far not shown any inclination to change it. There is a vigorous and intense appeal to revoke the policy. It is not going well with the satisfaction of promising candidates as well as the existing appointees. Moreover, there are other schemes which have failed miserably and in fact de-motivated young and energetic candidates.
Irfan Khan, a good citizen in a serious note writes, “It’s not by choice, it’s by compulsion because people don’t have any alternatives available. Are you trying to say that those willing to work should continue begging in front of you for few pennies and those who are not willing may leave? Leave all your luxuries and your facilities for a month and I will give you Rs 7000 for that month and you show us how you will take care of yourself along with your family, then we will follow it!”
Another anonymous citizen also raises his plight stating that he is one of the worst victims of SRO 202. “People appointed under SRO 202 are paid mere Rs 6000 to 7000 a month which is less than what a daily wager or a mazdoor (laborer) gets. At least, the SRO 202 appointees in Kashmir reach back to their home place after official duties for the day, but our case is completely different. We are four men and few females posted in New Delhi by Hospitality & Protocol Department. One can imagine how one can survive in a metro city on mere salary of Rs 7000 a month? It is very difficult for us to survive here”
The Government has all justifications that a maximum number of candidates would be accommodated by these policies. They have reasons that if someone doesn’t have luxuries but at least he/she can cover his basic needs with the small wages earned. We can say that something is better than nothing. But, a serious consideration is whether it will really motivate or simply backfire and defeat our good talent in the State? Moreover, a serious matter of concern is that we will pay a meager salary (Rs. 3000) but on other side we are ready for implementation of Seventh pay commission (where salary is 10 times more than jobs under policies), thus resulting in huge disparities. The market prices are soaring for the products where only a limited section enjoys privileges. We have a major section in the society with small earnings that always suffers and have less affordability. They are not even in a position to cover their basic needs. How can these job policies be justified? There is a big problem with these job policies in our State.
The Government recently advertised huge number of temporary posts for teachers and lecturers at the district levels with the monthly salary fixed as Rs. 3000 and Rs. 7000 respectively. The policy was initiated few years ago. But the candidates being selected on merit and serving better received pathetic treatment. We have one government acting as a savior but the formation of new ones put deserving candidates at risk. Alas! They are not in a mood to support previous government’s initiative and always beat the drums. One of my relatives few years before got appointed as a teacher under the said policy. She left her private job with high expectations. There was change in Government and scheme was called off and her job survived not more than a period of three months. She lost her government job as well as her previous private job. Besides she had to suffer a huge financial loss which she could have easily earned in her private job. She is not an exception as there were many others who left private jobs but had to suffer badly. There were brighter expectations that sometime ahead they will be regularized and hence accepted small wages. More pathetic was they were not even paid fully for their small work with small wages. There were candidates who may have developed suicidal tendencies because of such failed schemes. Who is to be blamed- policies or the candidates themselves? The deserving candidates have faith in those confusing policies and they have reasons to blindly trust government actions.
Now let us know the recent hikes in minimum wages by the J & K Government. The minimum wages for unskilled workers are above INR 6000 and INR 12000 for highly skilled workers. But the teachers selected on merit have to work on a meager salary of INR 3000 wand 7000. Moreover, highly skilled workers (engineering graduates etc.) are given INR 7000-8000 as per SRO 202 but there should be INR 12000 as per the minimum wage policy. The job policies are highly confusing and challenging Government’s own minimum wage considerations. The universities and colleges also appoint the lecturers under many policies with huge income disparities and hence produce higher de-motivation levels.
Let’s us help our teachers how they will spend their monthly salary of Rs. 3000 per month. A teacher may have to purchase two bags of rice for Rs. 1000 (Rs. 500 each bag) and Rs. 1000 may be required for vegetables and so on. Next, the gas cylinder filling for cooking rice will cost him or her around Rs. 500. A bus fare to reach to his work station may cost him around Rs. 500. Alas! Our beloved teachers are not even in a position to afford basic and medicine costs if required, what to think of other services? They can’t even afford to take care of their families or parents who were living a beautiful dream that their life would be better one day when their son/daughter would get a good job.
The ongoing job policies in Jammu and Kashmir pose a serious challenge and threat to the talent and future of our state. Are we pushing the system back to the dark ages where we are still inactive despite knowing its dark consequences? Let policy makers as well as the job seekers introspect deeper and with empathy. The policies to be implemented must be equitable and achieve the goal of creating opportunity, dignity and life chances for all.
—The author is an Assistant Professor at ITM University, Gwalior. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org