An Employment Policy That Never Was!

Mir Hussain

Unemployed youths waiting in queue to submit their government employment forms.  Pic: Bilal Bahadur
Unemployed youths waiting in queue to submit their government employment forms.
Pic: Bilal Bahadur

The only time politicians are shaken from their slumber is the canvassing period pre-elections and the very brief period after its results are declared. This brief realization of misses and deficiencies happens more violently for parties who lose elections. Right after NC faced its worst electoral performance, CM Omar Abdullah started searching for answers for the mass disenchantment against his party (as if he never knew those reasons!) pushing for some half baked reactions that came too little too late. One of the few ‘sops’ offered was rolling back of the employment policy that had been approved by his cabinet in February 2011. As per this policy, for the first five years an employee would get even less than half of the stipulated salary and only after a five year job will an employee be entitled to full salary. While this policy mocked at the highly qualified talent pool in Kashmir, yet not many jobs were offered even under such a depriving policy. For most of the following years, plain rhetoric was offered in statements like ‘soon jobs will be made available’ to ‘80,000 posts will be filled soon’. Ironically this government had appointed Prof Mushtaq Ahmad Peer as consultant for “fast-tracking recruitment to non-gazetted posts”; the same Mr Peer was later arrested as the kingpin of CET scam. And his arrest only came after this case had been followed in the courts by aggrieved and covered extensively by the media. The government on its own did not act even when reports had earlier surfaced pointing to the CET scam and his involvement therein. Appointment of dubious Mr. Peer as Chairman BOPEE, then extending his domain by making him a ‘consultant’ in ‘fast track recruitments’ finally culminating into the reluctance of this government into probing his CET scam, pointed to totally different ‘employment policy’ the government was practicing. A policy of nepotism, corruption and loot where politicians and bureaucrats became equal partners of spoils in professional education tests and recruitments. Even when more allegations of corruption appeared in recruitments under Mr. Peer (and other officials), this government never instituted any serious inquiry making its intent clear. In other instances too, politicians have been known to push backdoor appointments of their kin or party workers into government departments, seats of higher learning of the state or autonomous bodies, while genuine merit is trampled. It is this anarchy and brazen loot that is the real ‘employment policy’ of this government, everything else being just rhetorical claims.

In one of the offices I visited, some sub staff were identified with tags of politicians who had got them appointed from the back door. This is ‘**** sahib’s person’, that is ‘**** sahib’s person’ went the identity of these political appointees, all such labels being proclaimed shamelessly.

A highly qualified young man I know has been working in a state corporation for the past almost eight years on a consolidated monthly pay of two thousand one hundred (2100) rupees. With almost 2400 rupees spend on just his travel to office every month, he ‘takes home’ (sic) a salary of minus three hundred (300), even after having toiled hard for the month. Survival for him is depending on his father’s pension. Ironically it is this government corporation that politicians use to construct their constituency projects, inaugurating larger than ego foundation stones and boasting of their exclusive efforts in the creation of this infrastructure. And it is these development projects that politicians then sell to garner votes, while the working hands behind such projects remain underpaid, un-regularized and on empty stomachs. I am sure most of the politicians who decide the fate (or pretend blind to the fate) of this state are not even half as educated as the young man who sweats his blood in this government job yet stays hungry. This young man has now reached almost his 40s yet can’t even dream to marry, in the non-existent earnings he has from his job. He once told me about a senior politician’s son, who used to study in his class and always failed his grades, most of the time passing only when the politician father put in his word. Now the senior politician’s son, a college dropout has assumed the mantle of junior politician following his father’s political enterprise, while this young man who was a topper all along has been reduced to do ‘begaar’ (forced labor) by the same politicians for virtually no pay. This again is the real employment policy of this government.

An election loss forced the government to make a rethink about a flawed recruitment policy, but will it also open its eyes to the huge talent pool it has been using under the shackles of ‘consolidated’ ‘contractual’ employment, where these employees only survive on the hope of getting regularized, one day. Will this government confirm that such ‘consolidated’ people are humans, deserving their rights?  This young man has never voted before, but intends to vote in the coming assembly elections. Paradoxically, a government that has openly and brazenly deprived people of their basic rights then wonders why people hate it and want it out of power.

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