Kashmir plans 500,000 jobs in five years | india | Hindustan Times
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Kashmir plans 500,000 jobs in five years

The state government in its 11th Five Year Plan is taking up a major initiative for creation of self and wage employment opportunities during 2007-08.

india Updated: Jun 04, 2007 09:29 IST

With relentless violence since 1989 shattering its economy, Jammu and Kashmir has now set out an ambitious plan of creating about 500,000 jobs during the next five years.

The state government in its 11th Five Year Plan is taking up a major initiative for creation of self and wage employment opportunities during 2007-08 and the rest of the plan period up to 2012-13.

Over 60,000 educated unemployed youths - both male and female - are currently registered in the 17 employment exchanges across the state. However, the figure doesn't represent the overall unemployed population of the state, as all youths don't register themselves.

"Policies regarding employment generation have not kept pace with the increasing population," Zameer Ahmed Qadiri, an associate executive in J&K Bank, told IANS.

"Moreover, minimal industrial development of course cannot absorb the large pool of graduates. There is a virtual freeze on state government recruitment as these jobs have reached a saturation point.

"We have to be innovative and encourage self-employment in the state," he suggested.

The government will constitute a high power employment mission that will be tasked with looking into employment related issues and generating an estimated 500,000 jobs, according to the Plan document.

To accomplish this "mission", the planning minister and five other members will make up an apex body to determine the policies.

The body will recommend and also be empowered to initiate "bold steps for infrastructure development to open up avenues for self employment and wage employment by opening marketing opportunities for commodities and goods produced in the state."

Besides looking for opportunities in indigenous sectors like agriculture, handicraft and cottage industries, the committee will also foray into the prospects of the IT sector.

The common minimum programme of Kashmir's coalition government had promised in its manifesto to "give top priority to the preparation of an employment oriented medium term development plan..."

The leading coalition partners - Congress and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) - in their electoral promises had pledged to provide one job to every household in the state, especially those with no member in government services.

However, nothing much was done in the last four-and-a-half years despite nearly half a million people being jobless in Kashmir.

"So far we have not been able to address the (employment) issue because we were bound within the framework of the Tenth Five Year Plan which lacked unemployed as a thrust area," reads the draft of the Eleventh Plan submitted to the Planning Commission of India.

"Now that we have already stepped into the Eleventh Five Year Plan the time has come to ensure a holistic redressal of the unemployment issue."

Even as the authorities blame it on the previous plan that ended in April, experts believe "absurd policies - that didn't consider the key factor of increasing population - have led to the saturation in employment in the state".

"Unemployment reasons are simpler than being highlighted," says Qadiri.

The government, in the Eleventh Plan, has noted that the "prevalence of peace is sine qua non for investment by private sector in the state's economy" to help increase employment opportunities.

"Jammu and Kashmir provides few employment opportunities, which is perhaps one of the impediments to long lasting peace," says Mehnaaz Yasin, a media student.