Employment plan rolled out for job-starved Kashmiri youth (Lead)

March 3rd, 2011 - 9:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi/Srinagar, March 3 (IANS) An expert group headed by former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor C. Rangarajan Thursday rolled out an employment plan for the youth in job-starved Jammu and Kashmir, envisaging vocational training for up to 100,000 of them in the next five years.

The Rangarajan committee report, which was released simultaneously in Srinagar and New Delhi, assumes significance because the state, according to official findings, has some 500,000 jobless youth who are often targeted for recruitment by militant outfits to be their overground workers.

Last year in the summer agitation, according to the government, unemployed youth were instigated by secessionists to throw stones and participate in violent protests in a bid to revive the separatist campaign in the troubled state.

The highlights of the report are skill development, direct employment initiatives, improving skill sets through access to education and focused placement-linked, market-driven skilled training to 50,000 to 100,000 youth in the next three to five years.

This will cost the government some Rs.260 crore, said the report which was presented to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the capital and also released in the presence of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in Srinagar.

It also recommends a special industry initiative for the state that will enhance the skills and employability of 40,000 youth in the next five years.

The initiative is proposed to be implemented under private-public partnership. The private sector would bear 50 percent of the training cost and the government will help with the balance expenses.

Some top corporate houses have already agreed to help the state achieve this objective, according to the report.

“We have to prepare the youth with skills which will improve their employment rate. Youth is a great asset but only if it is properly trained and provided employment avenues,” panel head Rangarajan said.

It also called for a special scholarship scheme to be launched to benefit 25,000 students over a period of five years. The scheme would cover full tuition fees, books and so on and it has been recommended that Rs.1,200 crore be allocated for the scholarship scheme.

The committee has also recommended a faculty enhancement programme to persuade private schools and educational institutions outside the state to accommodate children from Jammu and Kashmir, the Delhi Public School to set aside seats for the state, and Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) to launch regional placement centres in Srinagar and Jammu.

“The faculty enhancement programme would help the integration of the local youth with the rest of the country,” Rangarajan said.

The committee report also has detailed initiatives on agriculture, animal husbandry, horticulture, tourism, handicrafts and a long-term strategy for the success of IT and BPOs.

“Peace and connectivity is vital for the IT sector with emphasis on creation of infrastructure and software technology,” it said.

Chief Minister Abdullah in Srinagar said the major challenge faced by the state was not just unemployment, but also “unemployability”.

The six-member Rangarajan committee was set up in August 2010 by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and was to submit its report within three months.

Manmohan Singh had last week in parliament said the government would do everything to provide avenues for gainful employment to the youth in state.

“If we can create jobs for a lakh of students from the (Kashmir) Valley and other parts of Kashmir, I dare say it will change the mental make-up or the mindset of the Kashmiri people,” he said in his address to parliament.

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