With the unemployment being officially considered a major factor responsible for most of the ills in Kashmir, why are official recruiting systems exhibiting a sub-average pace, Saima Bhat asks
Mohammad Altaf was one of the nearly 200 candidates who applied for a job of horticulture assistant, the post advertised by J&K’s Service Selection Board (SSB) in 2011. For almost a year they were preparing for the ‘competitive’ examination. Finally came the day, after five years, when the examination was held.
The examination hall indicated the crisis that ‘time-overruns’ had triggered. Of the enthusiastic 200 candidates, just four appeared in the written test!
“Was it difficult to declare the result of four candidates as well?,” asks Altaf. “But now we are waiting for interview call letters. At the maximum it should take them a month but one complete year has passed.”
Like him, Mohammad Junaid, 30, too has his experience to share. He completed his bachelors in engineering in 2013. Since then he has applied for every post that was advertised in newspapers. He belongs to a service class family where, he has no option than being an employee. Other than all engineering posts, he applies for jobs where the minimum requirement is a graduate.
“I sometimes feel behavioural changes in myself. I shout without a reason but I can’t help it. I am the only son of my parents, they don’t want me to go outside state,” says Junaid, who is presently waiting for the RE results of J&K Bank. “I feel it is better to apply for all post otherwise I fear I may cross the age bar for any job.”
The government revealed to the state assembly, in the just concluded budget session, that 104577 educated unemployed are registered with the employment exchanges. As of now, various reports suggest the unemployment which was earlier at 5.94 percent has gone up. One report even quoted Annual Employment and Unemployment Survey Report by Labour Bureau suggesting it has already reached 10 percent. Officials, however, insist their survey was limited to three of 22 districts and can not be taken final.
The unemployment situation has resulted in such a chaos and confusion that when a job vacancy is advertised at graduate levels, in private or public sector, crowds line up to apply. When they enquire about the examination and interview dates, they hear a common reply over the years now: “You will get to know.”
“For every vacancy they advertise by SSB, response is in thousands. For 700 posts, we go9t 80,000 applications,” a top official at SSB, wishing not to be quoted, said. “This response is specific to graduate level examinations and not technical positions in which we have manageable numbers.”
Selections in J&K and costly and labourious. For each advertised position in one notification, candidates have to apply for all aspiring post separately. So for every application, a candidate has to cough up Rs 400. They have to sit in all examinations for every position.
Systems outside J&K are better. There, it costs one application at Rs 100 for all non-gazetted positions. They need not to sit in all examinations. Outside J&K, there is one common exam, Common Graduate Level (CGL), for various posts where candidates apply and then give preference as per their choice.
Similarly, for competitive exam, there is a set system. Every time, there is an advertisement, it shows the tentative date of written exam, and interview as well. “But there is no accountability in our State,” says Bilal Ahmad, an engineer.
Bilal had applied for assistant engineer (electric) through PSC in 2013. The tentative exam date was scheduled for same year in November. He was working in a private company in Saudi Arabia but his family wished him to settle in Kashmir. “When examination date was finalised I returned a
nd now it has been three years and I am still waiting for exams.”
For one complete year Bilal was prepared but then, he says, it is not possible to remain always prepared for a job when you are not sure about the exams. He is now home, jobless.
Candidates like Shah Inam with doctorates also apply for various clerical positions on basis of their graduation. “All this is a consequence of limited job opportunities,” Inamn said. “This is the reason why a candidate with a doctorate degree and a number of publications is unsure of getting a job in a university or a college given the prevailing job crunch.”
Inam had applied for Public Service Commission advertized 10+2 lecturer posts as well. “You won’t believe that an institution like PSC sources its question papers from one local guidebook,” Inam said. “It is unprofessional what this institution is doing.”
Sheikh Umar has just one year left to cross the age bar. In December 2015, he was happy when JKSSB conducted a screening test of over 59,000 job aspirants at over 1,000 centres located all across the state. But the Board failed to manage its centres properly and there were cases of mass cheating. Some candidates were seen carrying mobile phone and internet to the examination halls.
One of the 30,000 candidates who had applied for 509 posts for Naib Tehsildar under state cadre in 2015, Umar curses his fate for Board has failed to conduct the entrance examination even as 2016 eclipsed.
Now top babus at SSB hold summer unrest 2016 responsible. Now it is scheduled for March.
Shazia Hassan was happy when she moved out of the University with a law graduate in her hand. She had desired to practice law but after a year of her struggle as a junior lawyer she used to get a stipend of Rs 3000 a month. Finally she thought it is not her cup of tea and she became a regular candidate among the waiting lines outside SSB office.
“Finally, I applied for the post of Patwari advertised by JKSSB, but it is yet to conduct the examination,” Hassan said. “I was quite optimistic after PDP came to power because they had promised fast track recruitment for government jobs. Is this their fast track recruitment?” If there is further delay in exams she says she can become ineligible as there is age limit to appear in this test.
J&K has three different recruitment agencies. Police, the biggest organization of the state, recruits directly. It has appointed 5249 youth in last one / two years, according to official sources. J&K Bank, the state owned financial institution, also has an inbuilt recruitment system but seemingly it will take some time to manage its stress. JKSSB is the sole agency for all non-gazetted recruitments. Officials in the Employment Department said that of 4995 positions referred to the Board in 2015 & 2016 years, it has made 12608 selections, so far.
As for as PSC, the gazette recruiter for the state, government says it has actually made 1387 appointments against 1610 positions referred to it in 2015 & 2016 years but the selections made included the posts referred prior to 2014 as well.