By K.N. Pandita
The State seems poised for rapid development particularly in technological and industrial fields and in next five years, an economically much developed J&K State is likely to appear on the map of India. The positive signal has come from Union Minister of State for Science and Technology, Dr Ashwani Kumar saying that 12 new initiatives have been taken for specific research programmes and advanced training for the youth in Jammu and Kashmir. “A total of 12 new initiatives have been taken by the Ministry of Science and Technology for specific research programme and advanced trainings to the youth in the State,” Kumar informed Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in Srinagar. University groups interested in specific research programmes would be encouraged and trained in research activities under the scheme called ‘Respond’.
Research activities in space technology, space application, natural resources studies and space sciences would be carried forward under this scheme and necessary support to the universities made available from the Space Department. A Centre for Excellence in Atmospheric Sciences is also proposed to promote specialized training in post-graduate studies in atmospheric science and mountain meteorology. Opportunity would be provided to students interested in the research areas of astronomy and planetary sciences to seek short-term positions to work in the Department of Space, and initiative will be taken to make Sher-i-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology Model University for Mountain Agricultural Education and Research (MAE&R).
Trainings in S&T institutions for 30 to 50 scientists from the State every year for skills development can also be programmed. These trainings would get support in the form of fellowships, institutional charges, expenses for stay in University and research support besides international fellowships for 10 scientists of the State for oversee trainings in specialized areas. In response to a question, the Minister said that in Jammu and Kashmir the transmission and distribution losses account to 65 per cent and same eats into fiscal health of the State. “We would like to focus on this issue and at the same time efforts would be redoubled for generation of 15,000 mega watts of power. In this regard we have identified some projects with Bursar power project in Kishtwar being the front runner” the Union Minister of State said.
Apart from these steps from the centre, the State Government has woken up to the need and utility of spreading technical education to the wider sections of population. This should have happened at least three decades ago and is a belated act. Nevertheless, it is a very important and much needed step that should go a long way in overcoming the entrenched problem of unemployment among state youth especially of educated unemployed. Various studies conducted by government agencies as well as by philanthropic organizations have pointed out that one of the main reasons for the alienation of the youth in the State is their unemployment. Thus the government seems determined to tackle this problem in many ways. It is not possible for the government to provide government jobs to all the unemployed youth in the state though in past three decades, a fairly large number of youth have been provided government employment. There is a saturation point beyond which the government cannot go. Thus self-employment has been considered as the viable alternative and the government has made good exercise in the past to help youth get self-employed. But moving another step ahead, the government has take a very good initiative of providing opportunities to the youth of acquiring technical education and various skills. This is in addition to the schemes of self-employment.
In an address to the Board of State Technical Education,, the Minister for Technical Education and Youth Services announced that the Government planned to open 50 new IITs in far-flung and hilly areas and 142 Skill Development Centres in all the blocs of the State popularize technical education among the youth and achieving the set target of imparting technical education by 2022 under Integrated Skill Development Mission. The encouraging thing is that the Central government will be providing financial assistance for running these institutes. In addition, the process of setting up 18 new Polytechnics is going on in all the uncovered districts of the State under Integrated Skill Development Mission and the Centre is providing 12.30 crore for each polytechnic. This will change the complexion of entire youth community in the State once they find themselves equipped with various technical training courses and skills to earn likelihood without depending on the largesse of the government.
Yet the more interesting thing in this venture, according to the Minister of Technical Education is that the Government is adopting Public-Private Partnership mode to promote technical education. We know that private technical sector in the country is fairly advanced and modernized and can contribute fruitfully to the development of new parameters for the emerging technical population of the State. A reasonable mix of private-public sector will be highly profitable as it will also open vast scope for placements for the youth not only in the state but even outside the state. Thus its impact on national integration will be immense. There is no doubt that our state lacked far behind many other states in the country in providing technical base to our youth in the process of widening the scope of education.
With the new scheme in hand the state government will overcome the deficiency. This is a viable means of improving economic condition of the state and ensuring that the youth will not be misled by politicians with selfish motives. The past experience in the valley and elsewhere has shown that unemployed youth can be easily manipulated. This should not be allowed to happen.
There are various programmes in the pipeline for engaging the state youth constructively in building a prosperous state. In a bold bid the government has already decided to bring education to even the remotest corner of the state. This is not an easy task to achieve because ours is a hilly state and a large number of people live in far off and remote places. To bring schools and colleges and even higher education to the people in these far removed areas is a real achievement. This has to be understood in a long term developmental plan of the state. We are planting the tree and it will take its time to grow and bear fruit.