Jammu & Kashmir Public Service Commission was revived in July 2015 after remaining dysfunctional for 10 months. Commission chairman AA Latief-U-Zaman Deva, who is on a three-day visit to Indore, talked to Hindustan Times on Monday about the Commission’s fresh initiatives to draw more youth into mainstream. Excerpts of the interview:
How has unrest in J&K affected Commission’s working?
Ours is a constitutional body formed under the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir. But its regulations are more or less same as of UPSC. Commission as such has not been affected by turmoil. But its output doesn’t commensurate with demand. This year, 20 examinations were held for 1,800 posts. Appointments for 750 posts have been made final and recommended to the state government. Hopefully, appointments to remaining posts will be complete by January 2017.
What are Commission’s major constraints? Any initiatives launched to address them?
All (government) appointments are examination-based. Major constraint has been about logistics. We had to ensure that candidates appearing for exam from different parts of state reached examination centres safely and on time specially during unrest. So, we arranged for transport and security. Earlier, Srinagar and Jammu had examination centres. We’ve added six more including at Leh and Doda.
Secondly, we did not have dependable internet services. Recently, we launched two major services. We’ve begun inviting applications for exams online. Second is one-time registration. After graduation, a candidate can register with us. His profile gets updates as he obtains more degrees. Commission sends him automated alerts through email or SMS about taking examination he is eligible for. This has helped specially when all don’t have access to newspapers, radio in J&K. Result is we received 86,000 applications for 1,001 posts of higher secondary school teachers this year.
Thirdly, we’ve reduced percentage marks for interviews of candidates. Out of 25 marks for viva, candidate gets not less than seven marks and note more than 19 marks. This is because 60 points are kept for main exam, five each for higher qualification, extracurricular activities and experience.
What is solution of unemployment in J&K?
It is a major issue. There is no industry except in Jammu and Kathua. Electronics industry can be revived (started in 1980s) and IT industry can be set up which require less investment.
What should be done to address alienation among youth?
Present-day educated and unemployed generation was brought up during militancy when 80,000 people died. They have seen death, destruction of property. J&K was in 3.5 years of curfew during 25 years of militancy. All government schemes should focus on this segment of population which has suffered instead of focusing on people in general in J&K. This can mainstream them. They should be educated and skilled. Corporate sector should also earmark job quota for this segment.
What is status of higher education?
J&K has nine universities. But university campuses of Srinagar and Jammu at Chenab valley, Pir Panjal, Anantnag, Baramulla, Ladakh need to be upgraded as full-fledged universities. Secondly, government releases funds for construction of educational institutions as per national norms. But J&K’s climatic conditions are different. For instance, cost of construction in Srinagar on 100 square feet of land is 30% more than Delhi. As a result, infrastructure is not of desired standard. 50% of candidates selected in JKPSC are non-Muslims. Need to spread education among Muslims.