Trained vets rue lack of jobs in Kashmir

Trained vets rue lack of jobs in Kashmir
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Irshad Khan

SRINAGAR”: Mohammad Yaqoob Bhat, a 28-year old youth from Chadoora in central Kashmir’s Budgam district got admission to PhD at a leading Indian veterinary university in November last year.
After graduating from the Sheri Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUAST) Kashmir, Yaqoob did his masters in Gynecology outside the state.
Even after depositing the fee for his PhD programme at the university recently, Yaqoob has not joined yet and may not at all go for the doctorate.
“There is nothing left here in the valley. I am planning to move to a foreign country,” a dejected Yaqoob fed up of near absent job avenues for professional veterinarians in Kashmir, said.
Yaqoob was among hundreds of unemployed veterinarians who appeared in the written test for a few hundred posts of general line teachers conducted by the J&K Services Selection Board (JKSSB) on Sunday.
Not just Yaqoob alone, “almost 50 percent” of the unemployed veterinarians in the state appeared in the Sunday’s written test for the teacher posts, Dr Ishfaq, another veterinarian claimed.
A PhD in Animal Nutrition from SKUAST-K, Dr Ishfaq, currently working as a consultant with an international veterinary house, had applied for the Naib Tehsildar posts for which the written test was conducted recently.
The unemployed veterinarians allege that the state government has consistently failed to create sufficient posts for them over the years.
While the government advertised 63 Veterinary Assistant Surgeon (VAS) posts in 2014, things only went from bad to worse three years later with a meager 24 such posts advertised in 2017.
The veterinarians allege that the state Finance Department is sitting on the creation of 420 VAS posts, which have been cleared by the Planning Department years ago.
Despite J&K being a livestock state, the Animal and Sheep Husbandry Department still manned by the manpower strength of 1980s, the veterinarians say.
“The veterinarians are now applying for class IV posts in the Animal Husbandry department. We already have veterinarians working as livestock assistants. Their own batch mates who are plain graduates are their officers,” says Dr Ishfaq.
“Even after repeated assurances, government has done nothing for us. Now a PhD veterinarian is opting for SSB posts,” he adds.
Even as the state government, as per Dr Ishfaq, spends around Rs 40 lakh on a veterinarian on average for his training, “the candidates are mentally suffering due to lack of jobs,” he laments. “There used to be time when candidates preferred B.VSc after MBBS in the state. Now veterinarians find themselves nowhere when they look at their own classmates at better positions.”
Firdous Ahmad Baba, who will complete his doctorate in Livestock Production at SKUAST Kashmir, too plans to move abroad after his PhD.
“I think there is no option but to move outside. The government thinks we have no role anywhere. If they think like this, they should close this business like opening these universities. What do hundreds of us take admissions in the colleges every year for?” a dejected Baba asks.
“If their product doesn’t sell in the market, they should wind up the factory,” he adds.
Baba says that “it is a shame on the state government” that “they cannot absorb its own product within the state.”
“It is a humiliation that a trained veterinarian appears for class IV SSB posts. What (else) can they do? They would be content if they can end up on a Rs 10,000-20,000 job.”
Fed up of the scarce job opportunities in the valley, Rouf Rashid, a graduate from SKUAST Kashmir has opened a veterinary clinic in New Delhi and is “planning to settle here permanently.”
“Obviously, the time we joined SKUAST, we were hoping that we will settle in Kashmir only. Once you come out of Kashmir, you will get to know that it is certainly a paradise on earth. So no one will wish to come out of state,” says Rashid.
But back home in Kashmir, “There is nothing left there” for a professional veterinarian like him, he says.
“There is no scope of pet clinics and other facilities in the valley. Obviously Kashmir is not the venue for you.”
While at least 200 veterinarians pass out of the state every year, “but not even 20 are adjusted” Rashid laments.
As per a recent media report, more than 1,200 VAS posts were vacant in the Animal and Sheep Husbandry departments.
Minister for Animal and Sheep Husbandry, Abdul Gani Kohli could not be contacted as he had switched off his phone.