To the external world, the combined territories of Jammu and Kashmir are seen as a restive area where India, Pakistan and China continue to stake political claims with sporadic armed conflicts.
For locals, the regular shutdowns that ensue due to political conflicts have halted the economic growth of the province, especially the months-long internet shutdown after the abrogation of article 370 by New Delhi in August, 2019. The shutdown ensured more than 50% of the businesses operated online by local entrepreneurs had to shutdown forever due the financial consequences of the long lasting curfew after the abrogation of the article which also saw the internet gag through out the erstwhile state.
Employment is no exception to the list of commodities that have been affected by such political conflicts in general and by abrogation of article 370 in particular if we talk about the recent set of events that occurred in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. The regular shutdowns (which also affect the internet services) have only added to the increasing unemployment rate of Jammu and Kashmir.
There have been many efforts to start online services of notifying the local netizens of job vacancies that pop up sporadically in the province and help unemployed youth get new job opportunities. This has included many Facebook pages, Instagram handles and/or groups over WhatsApp/telegram. Efforts have also been made in starting websites and/or getting android apps developed to cater to the need to providing timely job updates to netizens of Jammu and Kashmir. Part of this local push is homegrown job portal Jehlum.in, which began as a Facebook group back in 2014 and has since grown to provide relevant news updates and even scholarship offers.
In almost a decade, this groundswell initiative has helped around 1,000 jobs get filled – making both employers and jobseekers happy. Some employers even said the Jehlum initiative was even more effective than job classifieds in newspapers like GK.
Buying newspapers or subscribing to job postings became yet another barrier for those seeking to better themselves. Being free to both employers and jobseekers, the Jehlum initiative overcame a lot of barriers for so many in recent years and helped many unemployed youth find a job when they needed the most.
This project started as a sideline for a group of friends in 2013 – where the sharing of job offers began drawing attention far beyond this bunch. So they created a Facebook group to share these job offers, and the online reception skyrocketed.
Other digital sharing platforms – including a website & android app– were later created in 2015 to cater for the rapidly growing number of followers. Musaib (one of the owners) explains the ‘Jehlum’ name was derived from the area’s main river, also known as Hydaspes to ancient Greeks, Vyeth to locals, and referred to as ‘vitasta’ in Sanskrit.
As the years passed, they continued to keep this project going – declaring it to be a labor of responsibility for the local community. They continue to run it at a loss as there’s no income stream, no ad potentials and lack of funding to employ professional services of content writers to keep the website google-compliant in order to get Google Adsense approval.
And despite the relative traffic volume and owners keeping the content (job opportunities, scholarship updates, news articles) updated on a daily basis, they bemoaned: “We never got Google Adsense approved as their requirements are long stories, unique content, etc.”
They said Jehlum almost got wiped out when India blocked Internet access for about five months after it revoked, in 2019, the Article 370 of the Indian Constitution to Jammu and Kashmir.
Thus unable to renew the old website domain, all the archived content was eventually lost and they had to start afresh with the current domain; Jehlum.in. And its following and traffic numbers continue to grow as other content like news and scholarship updates were added.
“It’s a thankless job to be honest,” the admins of Jehlum portal admitted.
“We still keep it running because it helps us within the community. Now, if only we can get a regular income stream going so that we can hire staff to delegate to,” they concluded wistfully.
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