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Over 4,000 youth clubs being set up in J&K—one in each Panchayat halqa

The Jammu and Kashmir government is engaging the youth in a big way (Photo: IANS)

In order to boost the local youth engagement with the Union Territory government’s developmental initiatives, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha has ordered establishment of youth clubs, one in each Panchayat halqa, for the first time in Jammu and Kashmir. An outlay of Rs 12 crore has been earmarked in the current financial year’s annual budget for the purpose of making this novel engagement a success in the region of the youths’ limited access to the government’s developmental initiatives.

While presiding over the Governing Body meeting of the Mission Youth on Thursday, Sinha accorded sanction to a large number of the proposed schemes of the youth engagement and development. He asserted that in the first phase of the new scheme of the youth engagement, youth clubs would be set up, one each in the UT’s 4,290 Panchayat halqas. For the first time in the erstwhile State’s/UT’s history, as many as 22,500 youths would be engaged with this rural development initiative. Sinha said that an amount of Rs 12 crore would be spent so as to make this initiative a great success.

In the general Panchayati elections of October 2018, which had actually become due in 2016, authorities in the erstwhile State had notified polling in 4,290 Sarpanch and 33,592 Panch constituencies. However, for a slew of reasons, including the security scenario and boycott by the traditional mainstream majors like Farooq Abdullah’s National Conference (NC) and Mehbooba Mufti’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), elections could be physically held for only 2,459 Sarpanch and 22,214 Panch constituencies.

In the Kashmir valley, as many as 935 Sarpanch and 11,814 Panch constituencies remained unrepresented. Elections for the Block Development Councils (BDCs) were held in November 2019 even as a large number of the constituencies were vacant. This was the first democratic exercise in the UT of J&K after the erstwhile State’s structural and organisational changes of August 2019. Only the elected Sarpanches and Panches had the right to vote.

However, the UT’s first universal adult franchise came in the District Development Council (DDC) elections in 280 constituencies—14 in each district— in October-December 2020. Elections for the unrepresented Sarpanch and Panch constituencies were also held alongside the DDC elections.

After completion of the formation of the three-tier Panchayati Raj Institutions for the first time in Jammu and Kashmir, Lieutenant Governor Sinha has now ordered establishment of over 4,000 youth clubs. According to the official sources, these youth clubs would also play a significant role in arranging for the village level community meetings for preparing the list of the most important and urgent works of public interest in each Panchayat halqa. These would also be leveraged with the community medicine programmes like setting up quarantine and treatment facilities at the Panchayat level across Jammu and Kashmir.

Over 20,000 beds—five in each Panchayat—are being set up for quarantine and primary treatment of the Covid-19 persons even as the curve of the second wave has attenuated and not more than 600-700 fresh cases a day are reported currently. The number of daily Covid-19 fatalities has also dipped from 60 to 9.

The high level meeting on Thursday also decided to start two state-of-the-art coaching centres in Jammu & Srinagar to impart coaching for Civil Services and other competitive exams under PARVAAZ, a livelihood generation scheme.

The Government, through Mission Youth, will provide financial assistance to dental surgeons to start their own clinic. In the first phase, 400 dental surgeons and 800 paramedics will be selected for a specially tailored self-employment scheme, Sinha disclosed.

Emphasizing on effective execution of the programme, the Lt Governor directed the concerned officers to put dedicated focus on effective implementation of youth-oriented schemes on-ground. He further called for convergence and linkages of existing schemes with the proposed ones to yield better results.

“It is important to incorporate the young generation's perspective in government policy and ensure their participation and representation at all levels. Health, Education, Economy and Employment are some of the key areas where young people can contribute for the sustainable development of the UT”, Sinha said.

Underlining the importance of Market-driven Training for youth of J&K, besides imparted Soft Skill Training to the youngsters, the Lieutenant Governor suggested to rope in reputed Organizations/ Corporate Houses, Centre for Invention, Innovation, Incubation and Training (CIIIT) at Baramulla and Jammu for up-skilling of the youths.

Sinha asked the CEO of the Mission Youth to establish Mission Youth Centres with recreational facilities in Jammu and Srinagar, besides setting up digital libraries in coordination with the Education department in every district. Directions were also passed for setting up One-stop facilitation centres for guiding youths regarding benefits of different schemes and establishment of District Youth Centres.

Stressing on the need to extend Psycho-Social Support to the youth, Sinha instructed for establishing Counselling Centres in 8 districts—4 each in Kashmir and Jammu divisions.

Seeking special emphasis on the welfare of youth with disabilities, Sinha directed for organising mega camps in the UT. Under Mission Youth, 5000 youths with Disabilities in the age-group 18-35 years would be covered and provided with access to the existing schemes; skilling, connecting with the digital world, livelihood support, link-up with banking and financial institutions.

For the promotion and development of Community Based Entrepreneurship, Sinha set the target for the establishment of 50 Model Community Entrepreneur units during the year 2021-22. Stressing on the need to enhance the skills of the youths in clinical management, directions were passed to train at least 1,000 youths through various technical courses in the respective field.

Under Recreation and Social Engagement, LG’s Rolling Trophy would be held in sports like Cricket and Football from Block to UT level, covering all 20 Districts of the UT.