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Record number of youth to take J&K's biggest govt job exam

Around 600,000 unemployed youth in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) are preparing to appear in the Union Territory’s biggest job examination to be conducted by the J&K Services Selection Board (SSB) in late October or November 2020. While the UT government has started its first employment drive for selection of incumbents for 10,460 Class III and Class IV vacancies, as many as 5,94,520 candidates have got themselves registered for the examination.

Never before has such a huge number of candidates appeared in any job examination in the erstwhile state which was split into the two UTs of J&K and Ladakh in August 2019. Officials say that over 10,000 youth have never been selected in one go for government services in J&K. These posts of different cadres—UT, Division, District, Block—have been referred by the UT government for selection of the most competent candidates and the SSB has notified the vacancies.

The selection process has been changed in view of allegations of corruption and unfair practices in the past when Heads of Departments (HoDs) or Deputy Commissioners in different districts would hold viva voce of the candidates after a screening. J&K SSB would make selection only for Class III and other non-gazetted vacancies through the three-tier process of screening, written test and viva. The UT regime has dispensed with the screening and the viva as it has decided to pick incumbents only on their performance in the written exam.

Candidates having passed Class X or Class XII examinations will be eligible for the Class IV posts in government services. Graduation and above has been stipulated for Class III posts like accounts assistants.

The candidates’ academic merit is not being counted in the current selection for Class III and Class IV vacancies as only their performance in the written exam would be taken into account for 8,575 candidates for class IV posts out of  4,04, 475 candidates. J&K SSB would also pick and recommend 1,885 youths for equal number of the vacancies of Accounts Assistants (Panchayat) out of 1,90,045 aspirants.

Chairman SSB, Khalid Jehangir, said that the board is prepared to hold the written exam of all 5,94,520 candidates whose results would be immediately compiled and declared. He said that the exam is likely to be held in the third week of October. However, if the proposed elections to fill up around 13,000 vacancies of Panches and Sarpanches is held in the second half of October, the SSB exam could be deferred to November.

Officials point out that both, the SSB as well as the Department of Elections, would have to hire manpower from the district administrations for conducting the processes.

Selection by SSB for 10,460 vacancies, initiated by former LG Girish Chandra Murmu, would be the first major employment drive after the bifurcation of the state into two UTs. This had resulted in the year-long suspension of almost all government recruitment as most of the boards and commissions, including the J&K Public Service Commission (PSC), were reconstituted. An undeclared freeze on appointments is perceived to have led to disappointment among a large number of unemployed youths, particularly those who crossed the age bar of 40 years and become disqualified for government services after August 2019. Demands for extension by two years have not been conceded by the government.

There is virtually no private sector in J&K, particularly in the Kashmir Valley, as most of the industries, trade and businesses have remained defunct due to militancy after 1989. Handicrafts, tourism, agriculture and horticulture, which were the mainstay of Kashmir economy, have also remained disrupted in the last many years.

Nearly 14 months after the restructuring, J&K PSC has declared the final results for 70 vacancies in the Jammu and Kashmir Administrative Service, the Jammu and Kashmir Police (gazetted) Service and the Jammu and Kashmir Accounts (gazetted) Service on 29 September. The appointment orders are expected to be issued after the medical test soon. Government sources said that the General Administration Department would be referring around 100 fresh vacancies in the Kashmir Administrative Service to the J&K PSC in the next two weeks..