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J&K’s jobless agri professionals need jobs, and now

By: Tanveer Ahmad Rather

Over the past many years, the J&K government has accorded approval to the authorities at Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Science and Technology (SKUAST) for introducing more professional courses.

The professional courses were introduced with an aim to instil professional skills to the students and make them employable for new jobs and serve the society.

But the government’s failure to provide employment opportunities to the professional qualified youth graduating from SKUAST gets reflected in the resentment brewing among the pass outs of different departments of SKUAST- Kashmir.

Recently, the forestry graduates complained against the government over what they termed as flawed recruitment rules and scarcity of jobs.

The forestry graduates are staging massive protests for last 1 decade over the eligibility criteria set by the government for different posts. This is not the only sector where the candidates after completing their professional courses land in a state of despair because of non-availability of jobs but almost every department is moving ahead with the archaic job policies which have no match with the new courses offered in colleges and universities.

The SKUAST started the Forestry course in 1995 and presently the intake capacity of the Faculty of Forestry, SKUAST-K is more than 50 for under graduate courses, 18 in post-graduate courses and 14 in P.hD.

All these courses were started after getting approval from the government, but the government has failed to review and amend the recruitment policies in order to create job opportunities for these youth. Though the course was started with a positive move in terms of strengthening the Forest sector, but it largely failed to address the purpose of providing jobs to the professional candidates.

Till the time over 1000 students have graduated from the Faculty of Forestry of SKUAST-K. Out of them around 250 students have pursued master’s degree while more tha 89 students have done their Ph.D from prestigious universities across India. But most of them are running from pillar to post to get the jobs.

Similarly, the undergraduate and postgraduate courses in horticulture were started in SKUAST-Kashmir in 2007 on basis of the consent from the government. But despite holding master’s degree and Ph.D in horticulture sciences the candidates are rendered jobless.

In SKUAST-Kashmir there are 7 faculties in place offering different undergraduate and postgraduate courses to the students. These include faculty of agriculture, agri-engineering, horticulture, fisheries, forestry, sericulture and veterinary science. Out of all these courses, only veterinary science is running smoothly which has comparatively better employment opportunities after completing their degree.

But the students in other faculties have become victims of official apathy. In case of fisheries department, at the time of any recruitment, the candidates having done masters or Ph.D in Zoology subject are also considered eligible for the fisheries posts in the government which are limited in number.

Same is the case with our faculty of forestry. The government invested crores of rupees to establish a faculty of forestry. The candidates who graduate from the department are thorough professionals as compared to those who have been recruited in the forest department decades ago and continue to run the department at higher positions. Ironically, all the candidates after completing their B.Sc, M.Sc and and Ph.D in forestry are rendered jobless as the government has no job policy for all of us as well.

SKUAST-Kashmir has produced well trained professional human resources which are fit to serve in the agriculture, horticulture, forestry and fisheries department.

People who are presently working in the department have done their degrees more than 30 to 40 years ago and it is also a fact that there has been no considerable improvement on ground in these sectors.

Government should create job opportunities for the young professional lot who have vast knowledge and better understanding of the issues and problems in forestry and other sectors. 

Depriving job opportunities to the professional graduates is complete injustice with them. If the government will continue to turn a blind eye towards this grave issue, these professionals have no other options than to get frustrated; any cold response from the government will discourage the young students to pursue their professional courses and they will switch back to the archaic non-professional courses at undergraduate and post gradation level.

The authorities at SKUAST have written letters and official communications to J&K Public Service Commission (JKPSC) and government to revisit the eligibility criteria of candidates in these departments. We cannot blame the University for the dearth of jobs, because the job of the university is to train and teach the students and make them eligible to serve in the government department.

It is high time for the government to take a review of the recruitment policies and create employment opportunities for the unemployed professional youth possessing professional degrees. Let there be jobs not the liabilities.

The writer is a Ph.D scholar at SKUAST-Kashmir

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