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Workers’ plight

Editorial CAITLYN SAMPLEY AGGIE


The plight of private sector employees in Kashmir is no secret. Since 2019, if there is one section of the society that has suffered the most, it is these private sector workers who used to live hand to mouth with the meagre salaries they got. The Covid pandemic last year proved to be the greatest financial crisis for people and especially these workers. Salespersons of these small shops or departmental stores are on the brink of starvation. And now most of them are unemployed. It is no secret that unemployment is a big issue in Kashmir. At 16.2% Jammu and Kashmir has the second-worst unemployment rate among states/union territories in the country as educated youth struggle with neglect and lack of job-creation policy. According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) figures, India’s unemployment rate is 6.7% which means J&K has a much higher unemployment rate than the national average. Rajasthan has reported a 19.7% unemployment rate which is the highest. The unemployment rates are produced by CMIE using its Consumer Pyramids Household Survey machinery. The unemployment rates are produced by CMIE using its Consumer Pyramids Household Survey machinery. CMIE has pegged India’s unemployment rate at 6.7 percent which means J&K has much higher unemployment rate than the national average. According to the periodic labour force survey of urban areas for July-September 2019, Jammu and Kashmir was among six states that saw rising joblessness. The other states are Gujarat, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. Besides, other data sources also indicate the severity of unemployment in J&K in the last 12 months. For example, the employment registration carried out by the Directorate of Employment last year witnessed three lakh registrations by post graduates and PHD degree holders. More than 70% of the population in J&K is below 35 years of age and chronic unemployment and under-employment coupled with Covid have spawned the problem. The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries also suggested that five lakh job losses were recorded in Kashmir region only post abrogation of Article 370 last August which was followed by lockdown to combat Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020. Many unemployed youths believe that mis-governance, poor administration and corruption have been the biggest problems in J&K. After the abrogation of Article 370, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his address to the nation had said the move would usher in a new dawn in the region and his government was committed to fill up all vacant job posts. In the months that followed, the government reiterated that it would create new jobs and fill up thousands of vacant posts on a fast-track basis. But nearly two years on, these job promises have fallen flat and J&K’s unemployment graph is soaring.