Kashmir needs private enterprise and industry, not socialist sops

Kashmir needs private enterprise and industry, not socialist sops

It is high time the administration shuns long speeches and stops handing lollipops like 5,000 jobs to selective individuals when there is a need for a much greater and well directed effort.


Kashmir’s economy has somewhat failed itself by not allowing the proper establishment of a private sector to complement the public sector. The scope for business in Kashmir is profoundly vast, especially now when the socio-political tensions are at a negligible low. However, it is quite saddening to see the private sector economic activities in the valley to be restricted to tourist hotels and some selective call centers.
Kashmir has reported a very healthy average economic status of the people in the past as compared to the rest of the country. However, recent surge in the number of unemployed youths suggests that the economic conditions may take a turn towards a very imminent downward spiral. Although the government is doing its part in deadly-slow job creation and PM Modi’s recent remarks of “This decade is going to be the most important one in Kashmir’s history” after handing around 5,000 jobs seems quite Kashmir-like, it is high time that the administration and the capable individuals collaborate to invite investments into the private sector.
It is imperative to secure the future of the thousands of young aspirants whose talents are either being exploited by private educational establishments for meagre salaries of 3 to 4 thousand or are pushing their luck in the JKSSB and UPSC job posts, which, in all honesty, are not everyone’s cup of tea. Amidst the cry for job creation, a focus on private sector development can provide a long-term solution to the people of Kashmir. Vast stretches of unoccupied land can be put to better use if a company, invited for business, is erected instead of barbed wire fencing to restrict local movement.
There is a characteristic of the private sector: it inculcates a sense of competitiveness, work ethic, discipline and last-gasp effort in the community. The system of government employment and, to some extent, an inefficient education system, have drawn the youth dry of the spirit and energy to achieve success. People are hoarding degrees after degrees and still ending up living off of the scrapes of a collapsing fruit industry.
It has almost become a norm in Kashmir to get at least a doctorate from a university like AMU, JMI or KU, and return home at the age of 31 with grey hair to complete the marital formalities and then turn to the 3,000 to 4,000 private schools for a job or become local gossip suppliers at tea shops and roadside gatherings. Why? Is a scholar worthy of such treatment? Some may argue that education has nothing to do with degrees and even a hoard of degrees may not inculcate competence. Well, the government job structure has never encouraged any skills, competence and talent. Just degrees and exams! Skill and talent are appropriately recognized and used only in private sector jobs. There, little emphasis is laid on the number of degrees an individual holds or the particular exam they have qualified. What really matters is if they have the relevant skills required to complete the task at hand or not, or if they are the masters of their field or not. That, without dispute, should be the actual meaning of education.
Hence, it is quite hard to argue that the public sector requires more education than the private sector and yet, the private jobs come with lesser degree tussles. As far as the benefits and remunerations go, private jobs are far better paying and provide much better career expansion scope than the public sector. The only downside it may present in some cases is that of job security. This aspect pales in comparison to the need and urgency of private sector in Kashmir.
The government has previously introduced various schemes and policies like DDUGY and partnered with private enterprises outside of Kashmir, like FIDELIS, to set up training and placement institutes, like HIMAYAT, ITI, etc, but these schemes need a revision. These institutions are in a dilapidated state and the functioning is faltering. The government needs to work in collaboration with colleges, universities and other educational institutions to set up recruitment camps and create a platform for companies to tap the potential of Kashmiri youth and their skills. The placement cells of various institutions need to be revisited and a new lease of life needs to be induced in an otherwise shambolic system.
There are US-based recruitment companies like ATX Learning, Soft-nice, etc, which would gladly invest in talent-abundant areas like Kashmir. However, such a platform won’t fall out of the plain blue. The administration needs to devise strategies to engage in the process of the private sector development of Kashmir and put the skilled, educated, yet unemployed youth and the struggling, downward spiralling economy out of misery. It is high time the administration shuns long speeches and stops handing lollipops like 5,000 jobs to selective individuals when there is a need for a much greater and well directed effort. We need to stop restricting the horizons of the Kashmiri economic-verse and treat it as a mixed-economy and not just a socialist one, to cater to the general demand of employment as well as overall state development.

The writer is a student of MA Economics at Aligarh Muslim University. [email protected]

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