J&K: Education, skilling & entrepreneurship for employment
by Jaibans Singh on 06 May 2021 9 Comments

The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has undergone monumental changes for the better in the last few years. The security forces set the pace by carrying out relentless counter-terrorist operations, which succeeded with the support of the local populace and government, and resulted in near decimation of the terror machinery in the region.


The improved conditions created a conducive environment to reactivate the political process that led to parliament’s decision to abrogate Article 370 and Article 35A of the Constitution and bifurcate the state into two manageable UT's of J&K and Ladakh. All the Valley-based political elements and neighbouring Pakistan launched a belligerent information campaign against the decision and predicted widespread violence in protest.


That the violence did not happen indicated that the people accepted the changes and wished to move away from the foreign sponsored cycle of violence and move towards peace and prosperity as fully integrated members of the Indian Union. The central government then launched a concerted effort to strengthen democratic institutions of the region and usher in development through clean and transparent governance. The successful conduct of the District Development Council elections was a big victory.


To offset the immeasurable suffering of the people who lived under the shadow of the gun for decades, a multi-pronged effort has been launched to boost the economy and infrastructure of the region. With J&K integrated seamlessly into the Indian Union, all central schemes have been extended to the UT and are being given an extra push.


Youth are the focus of the development process. Sustained efforts are being made for creation of skill sets by providing financial support for education, training and entrepreneurship  and generation of employment in both the Government and private sector.


While the process is progressing at a healthy pace, the youth is not gaining maximum benefits due to lack of awareness of available opportunities. There is some nervousness in taking the plunge in uncharted waters and competing with more evolved and aware students in the rest of India. Government jobs continue to be most coveted. The government needs intense engagement with the youth to instil awareness and confidence to take to entrepreneurship and jobs outside the government sector.


This could be in the form of workshops, websites having all information of the opportunities offered and easy availability of experts to advice on specific queries. Such a structure should be created down to the grass roots level. Under existing COVID conditions the process of holding webinars could be initiated; if successful it can become a long term means of dynamic engagement.


The Army has long been carrying out education and national integration tours under its welfare programme “Sadbhavna.” Under the scheme, school/college students and even elders have been taken for visits to various places across the country to give them first-hand exposure to the culture of fellow citizens and the growth trajectory of the nation. They invariably come back motivated to become productive citizens and actively leverage their own ability with confidence. The UT government should emulate this system on a massive scale as it has given positive results.


Young people who go to work outside the UT feel slightly nervous in cosmopolitan cities; a majority thrive but some get overwhelmed and return. The Government should monitor their settlement process in their new environment and create a helpline. The management of companies where these young boys and girls work should be sensitised about their circumstances and co-opted in the settlement process.


At the personal level, the youth need to ensure optimum utility of all initiatives being taken for their growth. They must shed the negativity that has set in due to decades of living in an insecure and disrupted environment and come out with vigour to take advantage of the new eco-system being created. They must keep themselves informed, work hard to meet all criteria for gainful employment and approach the future with faith and confidence. They must rise above dependency on Government jobs and look for other avenues which are more lucrative, challenging and interesting. Most importantly, they must be vigilant against indoctrination by those trying to lead them towards the self-destructive path of terrorism.


Higher education in India is fast getting employment oriented; it is a model that needs to be applied in J&K on priority as lack of employment is a major issue here. This has to be supplemented with creation of more job opportunities by giving a boost to industry, agriculture production, services, tourism, health, education and such like sectors.


A lot of effort is being put in to overcome unemployment in J&K which cause disillusionment among the youth and is the biggest roadblock to complete normalcy in the region. Basically, skilling, entrepreneurship and higher education would go a long way in boosting employment. A focussed approach with employment generating factors being the Key Result Areas (KRAs) of Government would bring maximum benefits, but the acctive participation of the people is the most important factor.


(Jaibans Singh is a social worker, columnist and commentator)

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