Kanwal Singh and Sohail Malik In a recent notification inviting application in EPFO ,the government has scrapped the age relaxation clause to the domicile of J&K wef January 1, 2020. This will be followed in all central recruitments from January 1, 2020. It also implies that the age relaxation clause extended to all India services and other competitive examination also stands revoked. Youth empowerment should be the prime goal of the current political dispensation within the erstwhile State of J&K but every tall statements vis-a-vis the policies for the youth is proving to be a fallacy. Youth should be empowered to make choices and emboldened to chase their dreams but in the state of J&K it is more or less out of convenience. The recent decision by the Central Government to scrap the UPSC age relaxation clause to the domicile of J&K has turned the local youth to a State of disconcertment. With increasing unemployment in J&K; such incomprehensive decision will have lots of consequences and repercussions. It will prove to be a disaster and malignant for the candidates preparing for competitive examinations. Post abrogation of Article 370/35A, the youth of J&K has been deprived of both tangible and intangible relaxations in State and Central Jobs. Their careers are revolving around false promises of 50000 and 40000 Jobs. From a state of job crisis the youth is now in a state of dilemma and ambiguity. Legitimately, the age relaxation clause of 5 years to the domicile of J&K must continue in its original form i.e from the period of its inception, 1995 as it compensates to the period lost to violence, terrorism and conflict. The age relaxation clause was an attempt to reinstate and rehabilitate the Youth with the mainstream. It is pertinent to mention that the original clause of age relaxation would have terminated on its own on 31st Dec 2026. It’s untimely scrapping, just a few years in advance is unfair, prejudice and biased. UPSC every year conducts examinations across country for selections into IAS, IPS, IRS, IFS and other central services. As one of the toughest examination, UPSC has always been a appalling and daunting tasks for the aspirants across country. The upper age limit for the said examination is 32 years. However, CSE aspirants born in J&K between 1980-1989 used to get age relaxation of five years. The age relaxation was given with regard to the decade long disturbances and conflict in Kashmir. UPSC being one of the prestigious examination requires a huge amount of hard work, mettle and a conducive environment to compete. But in a state like that of J&K which is always bestrew with violence, conflict and shutdown, the youth was deprived of a conducive environment and an equal platform to compete. Just four months to the UPSC 2020 exam and status of the age relaxation clause is still unknown leaving thousands of candidates in quandary. Moreover, post the abrogation of Article 370, J&K is without internet services. A exam which is so comprehensive in nature requires daily updation of the current events. One bewilders that without internet services, how a candidate can compete with those having full access to modern technology. Thus, with ongoing predicament and long history of violence and disturbance, such biased and partial decisions by the center has affected a whole lot of aspirants preparing for civil services examination. It has been another stalemate to the ongoing colloquial jam post the abrogation of article 370.Given the situations of conflict and disturbances, In 1995, the DOPT, GOI had introduced a clause of age relaxation of upper age limit of five years to the residents of J&K born between Ist Jan 1980-31st Dec 1989. The clause of age relaxation was very well appreciated and welcomed across state. Under the clause of age relaxation many aspirants from J&K qualified the prestigious IAS examination with Top Ranks. In last one decade, J&K has given three IAS toppers with candidates from far flung border areas of Meandher, Poonch and Rajauri qualifying the prestigious examination. But on Feb 2017 the commission, UPSC issued a notification withdrawing the age relaxation of five years to the domicile of J&K. All of a sudden it shattered the aspirations and dreams of thousands of aspirants. Many concerns were raised by the then political dispensation including Former CM Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah of NC regarding it’s effects and repercussions. In response to the growing concerns, DOPT headed by Dr. Jitendra Singh agreed to give a one time relaxation for the year 2018-2019. However, despite being a relief it lacked the ability to provide a Justified solution to the gaining aspirations of thousands of aspirants and it clearly showed the prepexility of the political parties to deal with any genuine problem. One time relaxation cannot pay back years given to the preparation for this examination and also cannot compensate the years lost of conflict and migration. Also, why there was a need scrap it overnight, when the same clause would have automatically expired in the year 2026, when a candidate born in the year 1989 would have turned 36. As per the recent NSSO survey the Unemployment rate in the country is at a 45 year high. 7.8% of the youth in the urban area is already unemployed. With the ongoing economic turbulence and no vision document to deal with increasing unemployment, how the now inelligible and jobless youth from the disturbed state like J&K will deal with the employment distress. Comparison of age relaxation clause with that of a similar demand by NE states and India’s “One Nation One Policy is annulling, baseless and plausible. Firstly, the age relaxation has existed for over three decades and no such demand or protests from NE States was seen on a larger scale in the past. Moreover, the age relaxation clause was not category based, community based or region based but only for the personnel who had originally been domiciled in the State of J&K between 1980-1989. So, it was for entire population in general. Secondly, under the garbe of “One Nation One Policy” you cannot effect a generation who were worst hit by conflict and uproarious times of 90s. If that is the case then all the benefits extended to various regions, tribal groups should immediately be scrapped. The benefit to NE states by exempting them from appearing in any compulsory language paper in UPSC examination should also be scrapped. Out of the nine papers in the UPSC civil services mains exam, the first paper is known as ‘Paper A’ and is the compulsory Indian language paper. This paper is compulsory for all candidates except for those hailing from the north-eastern states of India. Many candidates born between 1980 to 1989 are yet to exploit all their attempts and thus scrapping the clause can disrupt the process of rehabilitation and integration of the youth with the rest of the country. Also, it’s a pan state demand and not regional based. Not only Kashmir but many other regions across state were benefitted from the age relaxation clause. The recent selection in the IAS examination has seen candidates from districts like Poonch, Kathua and Jammu qualifying the prestigious examination. The worst hit during the period of 90s were Kashmiri Pandit community and scrapping the age relaxation clause will take away their prime benefit as compensation to years lost due to forced migration, disturbance and violence. Same was the case with people living in Kishtwar, Doda and Poonch districts of J&K. Taking away such a benefit from the disadvantaged population of J&K cannot be justified. The age relaxation clause must be restored in it’s original form.
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