Mal Effect(s) of Patronage Politics

Mal Effect(s) of Patronage Politics
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Without seeking any approval from the finance and planning department, and without any notified vacancy, successive governments in the state have recruited thousands of teachers under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA). Now, the state treasury is staring at a crisis with a bill of Rs 1,200 crore this year for salaries of the teachers regularized illegally. It may be noted that SSA, launched more than a decade ago in Jammu and Kashmir, is aimed at universalising elementary education. Its overall goal includes universal access and retention, bridging gender and social category gaps in education, and enhancement of learning levels of children. It provides a variety of interventions, such as opening of new schools, alternate schooling facility, and construction of schools, drinking water facility, and textbooks. It is indeed both a travesty and even a tragedy that a rather noble policy or scheme, meant for the welfare of children, has been made victim of patronage politics in Jammu and Kashmir. The fact of the matter, in terms of the labor market and job opportunities ( or lack of these) in Jammu and Kashmir is that there is a huge mismatch between demand and supply. That is, supply of educated unemployed far exceeds the number of opportunities and jobs available. This “trend” creates an army of young people who are both vulnerable and who create a potential vote bank for politicians who exploit their vulnerabilities and use these people, in a patron client relationship, for power political purposes. Some or even most politicians promise or even offer jobs to the educated unemployed for and against votes. But, besides the moral issues involved in this rather bargain, practically a huge financial liability is created for the state, which is conveniently passed on by unscrupulous politicians onto the state and its structures. In the process, both the exploited educated unemployed and the economy as a whole is at the receiving end of the stick, so to speak. Those who get “employed” by the politicians neither have any guarantee or security of employment as it is and remains tenuous and the economy bears the burden of paying out salaries and emoluments to basically what amounts to members of a vast scam. The SSA saga illustrates these factors and points all too eloquently. Instead of pushing it under the carpet, the illegal appointments of the SSA must serve as a wake up call for powers that be to clean the Augean stables of Jammu and Kashmir, at the soonest and the earliest.