Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Solving Unemployment in Kashmir

Minister claims youth spurn seed money to start businesses over a desire to get "sarkari" jobs, little realizing that massive corruption is killing enterpeneurship and attracting youth to seek positions where illicit greed thrives

Rather Confirms 5 Lakh Jobless Youth

‘Eyeing only Govt jobs won't help’

Sajad Kralyari (Kashmir Images)

Srinagar: Expressing grave concern over the minimal response to the government-sponsored schemes for the unemployed youth for setting up units, Finance Minister Abdur Rahim Rather Tuesday said the government is providing "non-refundable seed money" for the entrepreneurs to set up their own units.

“Only this can solve the issue of unemployment. However, I am disappointed to see post-graduate students hankering after Class IV jobs for meagre salary. The response to the schemes is disappointing,” the minister said at the inaugural function of Shaheen World, a multi-brand family showroom.

Referring to the establishment of the Entrepreneurs Development Institute (EDI) at Pampore, Rather said they have tied up with the Jammu and Kashmir Bank, which has agreed to provide loans on easy installments and lower interest rates. The government has provided Rs 50 crores to EDI.

“The experts at EDI will provide counselling to the unemployed youth for setting up units suiting them. They will be provided all the necessary training. The JKB will provide loans and we, on our part, will help youth by providing them non-refundable seed money for withdrawing loans from the bank," he said.

The finance minister said 5, 58,000 youth have registered their names with the district employment exchanges and it was impossible for the government to provide jobs to all. “Government has employed only 5 lakh people for the last 63 years. But, presently, we have more than 5 lakh registered unemployed youth and this figure increases every year. Obviously, providing employment to all youth is impossible,” he said.

Rather said the government has already provided employment to 20,000 youth this year and in the next six years around one lakh people would get job. “But this seems to have no effect on the chronic problem of employment. Government jobs won’t solve the problems. Youth have to change their mindset and come forward for setting up their own units. We will help them,” he said.

Referring to the traders, who had earlier alleged that the government was taking coercive steps for collecting tax which Rather said the government had strictly directed the tax collectors to be friendly with traders. “We have to collect tax to run the government. There would be no harassment while collecting tax but the traders have to cooperate,” said Rather.

He, however, warned the defaulters of stern action if they deliberately avoided paying tax. “If someone defaults deliberately, we have to take stern action. There is no other way out and there are strict laws for tax collection,” warned Rather.

The finance minister was requested to re-model commercial taxes for benefit of the traders.

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