Bureaucratic ‘ritualism’ halts JKEDI functioning


Distressed unemployed youth await training, approval of cases

Suhail Khan

Srinagar, Nov 22: Jammu & Kashmir Entrepreneurship Development Institute (JKEDI), a pioneering organization for the youth of the erstwhile State has been facing an ‘official neglect’, post Article 370 abrogation.

Two days after the abrogation of Article 370, the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi in his address had promised that better days for the people of J&K were on their way, and that the act would usher in a new dawn by helping to create opportunities especially for the youth in J&K.

Contrary to this, the bureaucratic lariat that has taken hold of the destiny of the hapless youth of J&K has been too casual in handling the affairs of developmental institutions like JKEDI, credited with creation of thousands of employment generation units by the unemployed youth. Besides, the institute has been providing a host of services to generate employment, either through the processes of entrepreneurship, incubaton and innovation.

Like other developmental organizations of the J&K government, JKEDI has been at the forefront to create entrepreneurship and self-employment opportunities for the unemployed youth of Jammu and Kashmir including the now UT of Ladakh. The institute has facilitated the establishment of over 14,000 entrepreneurial and self-employment units across Jammu and Kashmir under different government sponsored schemes. The employment generation schemes of the J&K government and the Union Ministries of the Minority Affairs (MoMA), and Rural Development are being implemented by the institute for the last 10 years with a success rate of over 88%, according to the inspections/surveys conducted by the Directorate of Economics & Statistics as well as the Department of Employment, J&K, from time to time.

Moreover, the Jammu and Kashmir Entrepreneurship Development Institute (JKEDI) has been awarded as the second best organization in the entrepreneurial and self-employment space in India, by India’s leading industry lobby, Assocham. JKEDI was awarded the silver award in the category ‘Best Organisation Encouraging Entrepreneurship in MSME’, earlier.

JKEDI is mandated to train and facilitate educated unemployed youth of J&K to establish business units under different government sponsored schemes.

However, post Article 370 abrogation, the bureaucratic hurdles have become a major impediment in the functioning of JKEDI, actually registered as a society of the Government with its own rules and regulations approved by its Governing Body headed by the Chief Secretary of J&K.

This has literally halted the routine activities of the institute like public outreach, training, preparation of project reports, steering committee meetings, approval of cases and disbursal of loans which in turn has affected the unemployed youth of J&K who intend to start their own ventures to earn livelihood.

“We have been making rounds of JKEDI Main Office at Pampore and its District offices to register under any scheme for training and financial linkage. Ultimately, we were told that the J&K government has not released any funds so we should wait till March 2021 or look for other options like banks,” a group of distressed unemployed youth told Kashmir Despatch.

They alleged that the institute’s Director has been making false commitments during the recent much touted ‘Back to Village’ drive. “Director JKEDI has been saying that he is ready to help the unemployed youth under different schemes but the reality is different. He has been making false commitments to the unemployed youth in front of the media but actually he is not a helping hand at all and has been stalling the pro-youth activities under all schemes as per his wishes,” the delegation alleged.

Sajid Hussain, a member of the delegation of the unemployed youth said, “My cousin brother got trained in 2019 and his file is lying on the table of the same Director for his approval. But the approval of files is being intentionally delayed on one pretext or the other. The truth is that he has been delaying the approval of files of those aspirants who have completed their training either in 2019 or earlier this year.”

Sources said, there have been hurdles in the normal functioning of the institute at the Civil Secretariat level. The Industries and Commerce (I&C) Department, under whose administrative control JKEDI functions as a training institute has been maintaining silence over some critical matters like implementation of schemes, holding of regular Steering Committee Meetings, a proper training calendar, disbursal of funds in a timely manner, or efforts needed to provide timely financial linkage to the unemployed youth.

The delay on part of the Labour & Employment Department officers in granting approval to the cases under Seed Capital Fund Scheme (SCFS) and Youth Startup Loan Scheme (YSLS), ultimately delays the establishment of business units by the unemployed youth and some are even facing avoidable losses.

An official of JKEDI said, “We have everything in place like training halls and trainers, people in district offices to reach out to the masses, conduct inspections etc. but for unknown reasons no activity is being encouraged by the institute management. What can the employees do in this situation? If anyone raises their voice he/she is victimized.”

Sources further said that the official files of JKEDI have been a victim of ‘bureaucratic ritualism’ at Civil Secretariat – the highest seat of governance in J&K.

“The funds for the normal functioning of the institute have been withheld for reasons better known to the concerned officers. It seems that scores are being settled and the young organization is being deliberately harmed in a planned manner. In a place like J&K, where such organizations are much needed to curb the unemployment and the frustration it causes, the bureaucrats seem to have pledged to bring it down for all the good work it has done,” a senior officer in the I&C Department, wishing anonymity told Kashmir Despatch.

He said the institute survived two bloody gunfights at its Pampore office but continued to work for the betterment of unemployed youth.

“I am amazed the way JKEDI has been functioning as a young organization. For a change, the institute has been earning money for itself through different training programs and implementation of schemes which is quite rare in the government sector. Nevertheless, I don’t understand what is stopping the concerned departments in the government to recognize the efforts JKEDI has been making in line with its mandate,” the officer added.

Despite repeated attempts, Executive Director JKEDI, G M Dar could not be reached out for his comments.


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