Work-from-Home: A Lifeline for Kashmiris Amid Job Shortages


ROUGHLY two calendar years ago, Muhammad Nadeem, a diligent and ambitious young man, stood on the threshold of a new chapter in his life. With his newly earned degree in hand, he was filled with a potent mix of excitement and apprehension. As he bid farewell to the familiar walls of his university, he set out on a journey to find a job that would set his career in motion. Little did he know that the job market was still reeling from the impact of the pandemic, and a daunting job crunch awaited him.

Days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months, but Nadeem’s efforts were met with disappointment. His optimism started to fade; doubts began to cloud his mind as he wondered if his years of studying had been in vain. The weight of expectations from his family burdened him further.

He applied for some government job openings through the Jammu and Kashmir Services Selection Board (JKSSB), but the exams kept getting delayed, or the posts were scrapped owing to different reasons.  “I managed to secure interviews with private companies, but the number of job openings was few and the competition was intense,” Nadeem said. “Besides, these companies required me to relocate outside the region and the remuneration offered by them was not enough to sustain a comfortable life in a different city, let alone contribute to my family’s expenses back home.”

It was then that a friend came to his rescue with a suggestion. Aware of the limited job options in the region, the friend recommended exploring remote job opportunities. Intrigued by the idea, Nadeem decided to explore the remote job market, and discovered a multitude of possibilities. “While scrolling through job listings on LinkedIn, I stumbled upon an intriguing advertisement for a work-from-home opportunity from a Bangalore based company that had recently implemented a remote work policy,” Nadeem said.

He went through interviews and assessments and was eventually hired as a content writer. “I earn Rs 25,000 per month. I know this is not the best that one could get but in these times of inflation, it helps me bring some income into the family. At least, it is better than doing nothing,” Nadeem added, in a gentle tone.

Kashmir has been grappling with a job shortage, with fluctuating but generally low unemployment rates that have left numerous qualified individuals, like Nadeem, struggling to find work.  The lack of diverse industries and the dependency on a few sectors, contribute to their challenges.

With an unemployment rate of 23.1% in March this year, Jammu and Kashmir featured on the third spot of the unemployment graph as per Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). As a consequence, many individuals in Kashmir face underemployment, where they are unable to secure full-time positions or work in fields that match their qualifications.

In the face of limited local employment prospects, the concept of remote work has provided a glimmer of hope and a means of livelihood for many. The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the shift towards online jobs, but their popularity and demand have persisted even when there is no immediate risk or crisis.

“They offer individuals the chance to tap into a global job market, connecting them with potential employers and projects from around the world. This newfound accessibility has opened doors to a wide range of industries and professions that were previously out of reach due to location constraints,” said Abdul Mukeet, a Mass Communication graduate, who works remotely in the advertising and marketing industry.

“Despite good talent, Kashmir does not offer enough avenues to fully utilize them. Remote jobs are no longer confined to menial tasks; people are now engaging in meaningful work such as coding, virtual assistance, and HR responsibilities.”

For the people of Kashmir, remote opportunities have been particularly significant, Tahir Hussain Bhat, who works as Human Resource (HR) recruiter for, an India Based employment website, expressed.  “In areas where traditional job opportunities are limited, remote work provides a lifeline for individuals seeking employment. They provide an alternative and allow individuals to leverage their skills and qualifications in sectors that may not be prevalent in their local area,” Tahir said.

“I know people who have found opportunities in fields such as digital marketing, software development, content creation or online consulting, which can be pursued regardless of their physical location,” he added.

As remote working is getting more mainstream, gig work – which refers to short-term, freelance, or contract-based jobs – is becoming a viable employment option for many. Jameel Husaain has a Masters in Computer Applications (MCA) and presently works as a freelance graphic designer and animator, operating from the comfort of his own home. Initially, he collaborated with a valley-based organization, but soon realized that it did not align with his expectations. “I get paid according to the number of tasks I complete, and it has given me a chance to earn higher than the jobs available locally. Freelancing remotely also helped me to showcase my skills and expertise to a broader audience,” Jameel said. “This exposure to diverse clients and projects will enhance my career prospects in the long run.”

Not only freshers, but even experienced candidates, who have previously worked in traditional office settings, are transitioning towards online jobs. Recognizing the advantages of flexibility, work-life balance, and a global job market, these seasoned professionals are embracing virtual work environments. “I have previously worked in Chandigarh, where I had a 9 to 5 job. I presently work-from-home as a data analyst and I have the freedom to choose my working hours,” Tariq Bhat, a management graduate said. “Besides flexibility and convenience, it offers me a competitive salary.”

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