Monday, March 26, 2012

Kashmir's Human Resources in Disarray!

A recent survey has revealed that Jammu and Kashmir has the highest rate of unemployment among the northern states of India. Unemployment in itself is a big monstrous problem but J&K, especially Kashmir is fighting against a bigger monster (violence and turmoil). More than often the state machinery portrays the first monster as the mother of the second monster, making it more important to tackle unemployment more seriously and in a proper way.

For any State which considers unemployment as its greatest nemesis the first step towards taking it head on would be setting up of an efficient and highly active Human Resource department. Well the state of Jammu & Kashmir has setup Human Resources Management units (HRM units)in five Govt. departments (Health and Medical Education, Power Development, Public Works, School Education, PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control) rather than a central department. The main aim with which these units have been formed is to exclusively look after seniority, promotion, vigilance cases etc in these departments. Well I would say it is an ill aimed move in the right direction and thus a waste of a very important resource. A well designed HR tool can take care of the seniority list or promotions list, these should had been add on activities of these units rather than exclusive. A better use of this resource would be made by employing them to fine tune the HR Policies of these departments, all the ruckus that arises in different departments regarding hiring or promotions is due to wrong or unclear HR policies, it would help in nipping bud at the base altogether . Recent report in an English daily (Greater Kashmir, published from Kashmir & Jammu) has revealed that as many as 18817 posts are vacant in 18 Govt department. Well this revelation puts a big question mark on Recruitment Agencies and makes the establishment of a central HR department altogether more important. The central HR department can decide and design HR policies for all the departments, do all the HR related work and at the time of hiring they should decide requisites of any job, based on ob analysis (eg qualification, experience etc required) and then forward it to recruitment agency for hiring (PSC or SSRB). This will result in better clarity, better coordination and better accountability (no blame game).

The second step would be to have a proper recruitment policy (in other words, hiring policy, which becomes first step of HR dept.). By recruitment policy I mean a proper well defined rules, who should be hired for what, which should be backed by logic & reason and should not be based on whimsical thinking or should not be twisted and turned for the benefit of near & dear ones. One can find umpteen number examples where the existing policy (in J&K) was twisted to give undue advantage to certain people. And at other times due to lack of clarity wrong people were (are) hired. It is said that the hardest part of job of a HR professional is to find an appropriate person for a job and hiring him. Well in J&K we seem to ignore the importance of this very basic fist step. It can happen only in Kashmir that for a post of labor officer candidate having a degree other than MBA-HR (one who has studied Labor welfare & law)is given preference or where for teaching a management subject the corporate experience is given no importance Or where a student from Barkatullah University (localy known as BOPO) or Dehradun is given preference over a student from Kashmir University or Jammia Millia or Jammia Hamdard or Aligarh Muslim University etc ! More recently the J&K public service commission advertised for the post of Court Manager and MBA set as the required qualification. But again due to lack of clarity problems seem to arise, the PSC authorities are very reluctant in accepting applications from candidates who have PGDM (Post Graduate Diploma in Management) which is approved by the AICTE ( All India Council for Technical Education) . MBA degree can only be awarded by a University and PGDM is awarded by autonomous education institutes, even the IIM's don't award MBA they too award PGDM! This needs to be addressed immediately.

Let us try to understand the recruitment procedure (mostly followed by SSRB, Universities, Colleges, Schools and other Private Companies in J&K) for any post in any department in J&K; be it Govt, non-Govt, Permanent or contractual. The first step of the recruiting agency is to advertise for the post, in the notification itself it is mentioned that the selections will be on the basis of merit and then details the distribution of Marks for different aspects are listed as such:

Degree Marks
Phd 5
M.Phil 3
B.Ed 15
Masters 10
Interview 20

Now when the response in form of applications come in overwhelming numbers, the recruitment agency has to come out with a short list (merit list) as to who have qualified for interview. Now it seems to be a good policy, but what we don't pay attention to is how this short listing is done. For short listing they take in to consideration the percentage of the qualifying degree, with out taking into consideration from which ( college or university) the degree has been earned from . Well we all are well aware and understand that all education institutions can't stand on the same pedestal in terms of their student selection process or education imparted there after. So now I ask you is short listing on basis of only percentage (when students of Prist etc have marks %age well above 80 even 90, while students from reputed college only lay between 70-80 ) a good way of gauging talent. Now let me put it this way, can a student who competed on all India level to get admission in a certain college be held equal to a student from PTU (Punjab technical University) or PRIST or any other such institute, wouldn't it account to being unjust. I am not saying that students from PTU etc are not good enough, what I am trying to convey is don't mix cream with rest because after wards if you try to search for cream it would be same as searching for a needle in heap of hay. The process directly reflects in the quality of the employees that are being hired by different department, these are same people who are entrusted to serve the public in general, Teach our kids in schools & Colleges, sit in chairs of high responsibility and decide what is good for us and what not. Now taking into consideration the far reaching effects that a wrong person can have on the society at large, who would you want the responsibility to be bestowed on?

A better way to deal with this problem is by clubbing different college or universities into groups (Tiers) (A,B,C,D). Then at the time of short listing or selection process giving preference to the students from upper most tiers. Now you would say that the process of forming this list (Tiers) is time consuming and needs discretion as to which college should be included into which tier. To all those people who have this question in mind would like to tell them, well somebody else has already done this hard work for us we just need to compile. NAAC & AICTE (many other private bodies) give recognition and ratings to colleges and universities. We can make use any one of them or a mixture, but the thing that needs to be kept our mind is what ever we choose should be able to satisfy our needs, if not completely then most of our needs. Later on when the Human Resource Department of our state is competent and efficient enough we can make our own list. Where ever need for screening test is felt & is feasible, it can be included in the whole process.

This will increase the quality of the new hires drastically thus slowly having an affect on the over all working of the whole Govt. and Non-Govt. apparatus. This will make the whole procedure more just and transparent. To make this system more effective it needs to be communicated in a very robust way to all the stake holders. And hopefully we will see less litigation after any selected candidate list is released, thus time and resources will be saved. The bright minds will stop cursing themselves for working hard and getting admissions in good colleges and Universities. I am not claiming that this is the Solution of all that is wrong but over all this can be the first step towards the adoption & implementation of the world renowned Human Resource Policies in J&K.

This Article also appeared in "The Kashmir Monitor"

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