Choose Your Courses Carefully

If you want to expand your chances in the saturated job market of Kashmir, go for masters in political science, sociology, education, and other such conventional courses.

Muhammad Tahir
Srinagar, Publish Date: Jun 25 2018 1:30AM | Updated Date: Jun 25 2018 1:30AM
Choose Your Courses CarefullyFile Photo

I am writing this article to caution the recent undergrads and prospective masters students about the risks of joining ‘non-conventional’ degree programs, especially in the context of Kashmir. Here is a story that may help you understand the point better:  

In 2008, Islamic University of Science and Technology under the leadership of then Vice-Chancellor, Professor Siddiq Wahid, established the Centre for International Peace and Conflict Studies (CIPACS), becoming the only university in Jammu and Kashmir to offer a peace and conflict studies master’s program (Jamia Millia Islamia introduced its well-known Nelson Mandela Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution only four years earlier in 2004 and has now established a name for itself). The CIPACS, initially headed by Dr Jaleel Ahsan, attracted fresh graduates (including me) as well as mid-career professionals, and with an MoU signed between IUST and the University of Costa Rica, the university leadership of the time proceeded with an aim to bring international orientation to the centre and provide its students quality education in the newly introduced program, and ready them to enter, as trained graduates, into different fields, including academia. We were lucky to have talented faculty. 

In August 2009, the process of recruiting Assistant Professors for the centre (CIPACS) started. Applicants were exempted from UGC mandated NET qualification. Ultimately, permanent and contractual faculty was appointed. Later, the CIPACS also signed an MOU with Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (TUFS), with an objective to cooperate in resource sharing and teaching. So far so good. 

However, in 2012, the nomenclature of the program was changed from International Peace and Conflict Studies to International Relations (Peace and Conflict Studies) and the Centre’s name was also changed to Centre for International Relations, keeping in view the problems that the graduates of the centre faced in the field. For example, applications of IPACS graduates were initially rejected for PhD entrance exam at Kashmir University (I had to argue with the concerned officials at Kashmir University, go from one office to another to convince them to accept our forms); their applications for teaching posts at Central University of Kashmir were rejected for being ‘ineligible’, citing “PG not in relevant subject” as the reason (ref: CUK, Employment Notification No. 16 of 2015 Dated:07-10-2015 & 01 of 2014 dated 24-01-2014). Though some of the IPACS graduates have qualified NET and NET-JRF in allied subjects like Defence and Strategic Studies and International and Area Studies, still their applications were rejected.     

And to add salt to the injury, even the centre where they studied didn’t deem them worthy to be recruited; not even for a contractual position. For any centre or department, its trained graduates become an asset whose future professional and academic achievements are showcased with pride on university walls and prospectus. However, a cohort of around 120 postgraduates who have completed their master’s degree in International Peace and Conflict Studies and International Relations (Peace and Conflict Studies) from IUST find it very hard to get jobs, especially in colleges and universities. And, it is a sheer travesty of justice, and ironic, that their own centre does not find them eligible! 

On average, these IPACS graduates have spent over 2 lakh rupees to obtain the degree, and not to mention the hard work  and time that has gone into finishing it. Their families had expectations on them and they hoped and believed they will fulfil those expectations and also realise their potentials. But as of now they are left in the lurch, with no support whatsoever forthcoming from any quarters. 

Certainly, some of them are doing PhDs and a few have joined NGOs, but there are over 120 of them from the last 10 batches. Will all be able to join NGOs and do PhDs. Even with a PhD degree will they be eligible to apply for any position in any of the universities in Kashmir. I doubt it.   

Theoretically, IPACS and IR graduates could get a chance if the Institute of Kashmir Studies (University of Kashmir), which spends a lot of money to send their students to Delhi to attend two semesters at Nelson Mandela Centre for Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding (Jamia Millia Islamia), recruit them to teach the same courses. Even they can teach the courses like International Relations, Peace and Conflict Studies, Indo-Pak Relations etc. which are included in the syllabus of M.A Political Science program at Kashmir University. But as things stand, unless you don’t have a master’s degree in political science you aren’t eligible to teach students of political science. 

So, finally, that brings me to the main point, if you want to expand your chances in the saturated job market of Kashmir, go for masters in political science, sociology, education, and other such conventional courses. With a degree like peace and conflict studies or IR, the probability of you getting a job is very minimal. You even won’t be eligible to teach at your own institute. I know some IUST graduates who had to join IGNOU and do masters course anew to become eligible for posts; at least with masters in political science they can now apply for 10+2 and college lecturer posts. Recently, a few of them met concerned officials with some suggestions but the response they got was not encouraging. So, it is a dead end, ultimately. My suggestion is this: choose your courses carefully. Do your research first. Best of luck! 

The author graduated from the erstwhile Centre for International Peace and Conflict Studies, IUST, in 2011. 


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