The Jammu and Kashmir Assembly Elections are slated to be held in November 2014 and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah seems to be in a very aggressive mood, something that he lacked in the last six years. But it is rightly said that aggression without caution is dangerous for the person who possesses this attribute.
Abdullah is feeling the heat ever since he lost badly in the recent Lok Sabha elections and wants to revive himself and his party in the upcoming Assembly Elections. But many of his recent decisions were taken in haste:
First, he increased the retirement age from 58 to 60. Has he thought what effect this would have in a state where 42,000 graduates and 11,000 post-graduates registered with the state government are jobless? Yes, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu also increased the retirement age, but AP has a better GDP growth than J&K. They also have a lot of players in the private sector to generate revenue for their state, unlike J&K.
Abdullah also announced one lakh jobs for the youth. But how does he plan to provide one lakh jobs without the help of the private sector? Even if one agrees that the state government has the potential to provide jobs to one lakh people, why did he not announce this earlier when he took oath as the chief minister in 2008? Then there is also the bitter truth that the Kashmir government doesn’t have sufficient money to pay them their salaries.
In 2011, Abdullah came up with a brilliant recruitment policy where non-gazetted recruits would be paid a fixed monthly salary equivalent to 50% of the basic pay (Pay Band+Grade Pay) for the first two years at the minimum of the pay-band. For the next three years or during the remaining period of the total five years (if the period of probation has been extended) such an employee would be entitled to receive a fixed salary of about 75% of the basic pay (PB+GP). In short, this happened due to scarcity of finance. So how does Abdullah propose to fill one lakh jobs in the coming months? A few days ago, he changed this policy and provided slender benefits to employees, presumably because of the elections.
During Abdullah’s tenure, Jammu and Kashmir became the number one state in corruption. The last time it had achieved such a dubious distinction was in 2005, when it was at the second position.
The schemes that Abdullah has announced, will surely put the next government (if he loses) in an unnecessarily grim situation. To provide one lakh jobs in a state where terrorism is already a major problem, in addition to an almost negligible private sector and with the state depending heavily on Central government funds, will definitely not be an easy task.
The chief minister should understand that elections sops will not work. He has to take some harsh decisions that can quickly turn the situation around for the better.
Instead of trying to revive himself and his party in the upcoming Assembly Elections, he should think about the people of J&K. These policies will give not provide relief to the people of J&K in the long run. The state has to become self-sufficient in generating revenue for the state via private sectors or some other means. The day J&K will be able to provide funds to the central government instead, imitating other states like Maharashtra, Karnataka and Delhi only then can I say ‘acche din aa gaye’ (Good days have come).