veryone knows, the last two decades have been tough for Kashmiri young men and women. Joblessness peaked and with increasing population the number of educated men and women who are idling away their days has increased many fold. One thing has now been conclusively established that the government has failed in its efforts to create new jobs, but the bigger problem is that there is not much hope on the horizon either. Workers in hospitality, and retail have been badly hit. These jobs have seen the biggest impact from Covid restrictions. According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) data, the unemployment rate was recorded at 6.9 per cent in February 2021 which is slightly better than 7.8 per cent in the same month last year and 8.8 per cent in March 2020, during which lockdown was imposed. The data showed that the unemployment rate had peaked to 23.5 per cent in April and remained at 21.7 per cent in May. It started tapering off from June onward when it was recorded at 10.2 per cent in the month and further improved to 7.4 per cent in July. The thing is that, pandemic has huge consequences, unemployment is one of the biggest. But if it is the one that keeps the spotlight, we will miss the others that stay in the dark. The focus on jobs is obviously vital. However, higher economic growth alone will not solve the jobs problem. Jobs can be created when growth comes from the transition of labour from informal sectors like agriculture, horticulture, and service sectors. Such extensive growth, however, runs the risk of stagnation.
The horrors of the pandemic will multiply, further threatening our economic health along with our physical health. The primary objective should be helping the unemployed. All this is adding to the already bulging numbers of unemployed youth in valley. Many have already begun fleeing the valley for entry level jobs in various UAE cities. There are Kashmir based professionals with years of experience who are ready to work at entry level in dead end profiles to help their families make two ends meet. There are schemes, which govt needs to introduce in public domain so that they can get benefit from those schemes. According to labour ministry data, around 16.5 lakh people have benefited from the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Rozgar Yojana (ABRY) which was launched in October to encourage hiring in the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic till March 9, 2021. The scheme was introduced on October 1, 2020, to incentivise the creation of new employment along with social security benefits and restoration of loss of employment during the pandemic. This scheme, being implemented through the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), reduces the financial burden of the employers of various sectors/ industries and encourages them to hire more workers. To put it straight, don’t expect a recovery in job growth in the short term. The government knows it but that does not mean they can fix it. The malaise runs too deep now, and the clock is ticking.