UNEMPLOYMENT: The Unsolved Mystery

The newly formed Union territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh have fared poorly in generating jobs for its young population. One of the stated reasons for bifurcating the erstwhile state into two UTs is the lack of economic and social development. Thousands of youngsters in J&K are idling away without jobs despite having a string of degrees; corruption and conflict are said to be the main reasons.Youth in the Valley maintain that the condition of unresolved conflict is the reason behind the unemployment. “As of September 2019, 1,03,781 unemployed youths have been registered with the employment department in J&K,” an official told The Dispatch “out Of these, 5634 youths are degree holders and unemployed in Jammu and Kashmir. The total unemployed youth included 3,144 youth included in Jammu division and 2,490 in Kashmir division,” he told.  As per the Economic Survey Report of 2016, the unemployment rate in J&K is higher than the average national unemployment rate. Nearly a quarter of its population in the age group of 18 to 29 years is unemployed, which is far more than the national rate of 13.2 percent .At present JKSSB had advertised 8575 class iv posts for District/Divisional/union territory cadre in various departments on 26.06.2020 and till 03.08.2020 they have received 4,04,200 registrations; and2,05,400 candidates submitted online applications so far.

The national average for the unemployment rate among male remained 5.6 per cent, whereas it stood at 9.4 per cent for J&K. In view of the growing unemployment, the Commissioner Secretary, Labour and Employment Department, Saurabh Bhagat, at a meeting on December 20, emphasised that career counselling and guidance shall be organised in coordination with the Education Department. At bureaucratic levels, a lot of discussions on the problem of unemployment in the state have taken place, but we are yet to have a concrete and comprehensive employment policy to tackle this menace. According to official  THE SKEWPY policy (Sher-e-Kashmir Employment and Welfare Policy for Youth) , which was a dream scheme of the then Omar Abdullah-led government in 2009, had almost been abandoned as it was kept on hold on April 10, 2015, following the 2015-16 Budget announcements made by then Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu.

“Besides, the government had also kept on hold the processing of all cases under the J&K State Self-Employment Scheme. It was decided to bring a new scheme as a replacement of the SKEWPY, but nothing has been achieved so far.       

Per Capita Income

Per capita income of Jammu Kashmir is Rs 24,214 which is quite low as compared to the national average of 33,283. According to the latest comparable data, Jammu Kashmir is ranked at the 21st position in terms of per capita income among all the Indian state(according  to economic survey report of 2011)

J&K’s per capita income remained Rs 65,615 in FY18, which is well below the national average of around Rs 98,000. Despite the low per capita income, the poverty rate in J&K is 10.35 per cent, which is almost half of the national average of around 21 per cent.


Poverty and unemployment are the two grey areas which need to be addressed; government needs to focus on generating more employment opportunities through industrial development in the state. There is a lot of scope for increasing investments in the agro based and food processing industry. The government expects private entities to invest in business process outsourcing units, tourism ventures and agri-based industries. As of now, apart from tourism, J&K derives most of its business revenues from handicraft, other cottage industries and primary-sector produce such as dry fruits, saffron and apples, IT, floriculture and horticulture, hydropower and tourism are the areas wherein huge investments can be attracted as well. However, these industry can have an impact on the economy only when these have the motivational force of the Private Sector.

Being a service oriented industries it requires professionalism and dedication which are generally lacking in the Public Sector especially in our part of the world. This would also help in reaping the exports potential of the state. The state government should focus primarily on the areas where the state has inherent advantage and promote industrial growth by providing priority in respect of allotment of land, sanction of power and grant of incentives and other clearances to the investors in these areas. J&K should encourage the flow of investments from other parts of India as well as FDI (Foreign Direct Investment).

It is suggested that the policy makers in Jammu & Kashmir should identify and exploit the productive capabilities of the three different regions of the state and formulate strategy accordingly for each region. The government should thereby facilitate the process of economic take-off for promoting prosperity and ensuring equitable economic development throughout the state.


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