From the Viewsroom

A retrograde step

B Baskar | Updated on November 12, 2020

States rushing to reserve jobs for ‘locals’ is a disturbing trend

In the last few years several States have rushed to reserve jobs, in the private sector, for ‘locals’ — that is, for people domiciled in that particular State. The latest State to join this bandwagon is Haryana, which recently passed a Bill in its Assembly where 75 per cent of factory and other jobs are reserved for locals. According to this Bill, jobs where the salary is below ₹50,000 will be reserved for locals. This translates to ₹6 lakh a year, which means it will include not just blue collar jobs but also a chunk of white collar employment.

A number of States in the recent past have gone down this path. The shortlived Kamal Nath government in Madhya Pradesh had announced reservation of 70 per cent of jobs in the industrial sector for locals. The current BJP government in Madhya Pradesh has reserved government jobs for locals.

The Andhra Pradesh government last year passed a Bill in its Assembly reserving 75 per cent of private sector jobs for locals. The Karnataka government a couple of months ago said that it will direct industries in the State to hire Kannadigas for Group ‘C’ and ‘D’ posts. Maharashtra, the country’s richest and most industrialised State, too, plans to reserve 80 per cent of private sector jobs for locals.

Interestingly, parties across the political spectrum — the Congress, the BJP, the YSRC, the Shiv Sena — despite their ideological differences, remarkably seem to think alike when it comes to job reservation.

The GST regime, launched with great fanfare in 2017, was supposed to enable seamless movement of goods and spur growth. So, the Centre is ensuring free movement of trade in goods and services across the country, while State governments are busy erecting barriers on free movement of labour, which makes little economic sense. This move could hurt India’s attempts to lure investments relocating from China and clearly goes against the Prime Minister’s recent pitch to global fund houses.

Apart from being on dodgy Constitutional grounds, these State Bills, by putting barriers on Indians from moving freely across the country for employment, go against the spirit of ‘nationalism’, an issue close to the heart of our political class.

Published on November 12, 2020

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