Us before them: Local quota politics to bridge job gap?

“People from other states like Bihar, UP come here and locals don't get jobs," said Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath in December last year while talking about a point in his manifesto right after coming to power. Implementing his jobs-for-locals poll promise, Nath, who is from UP himself, decided to make 70 per cent hiring mandatory for all state-funded industries in the state in February this year.

 

 

Madhya Pradesh, however, isn’t a lone ranger.

In what looks like a growing trend, politicians have been rallying for special reservation for locals in their states, something that has received a berth in the list of poll promises as well. And they’re pulling out all the stops to ensure that the goal is met.

“Our schemes of providing incentives of investment will only be imposed after 70 per cent people from Madhya Pradesh get jobs,” Nath had said. His next stop is to provide 70 per cent reservation in private industries.

The latest addition to the list is Andhra Pradesh. Keeping a poll promise, Jagan Mohan Reddy proposed the Andhra Pradesh Employment of Local Candidates in Industries/Factories Bill, 2019, early last week.

The Bill was passed on July 24 by the Andhra Pradesh Assembly, making it the first state in the country to lock down 75 per cent jobs for locals in all private industries and joint ventures with Public-Private Partnership projects under a clearly defined Act.

ReadAP: Bill passed to give 75% job reservation for locals

What is interesting about the Act is that it says that in case the local candidates who’ve applied for the job do not possess the required skill sets, the industry concerned will have to provide necessary training within three years in collaboration with the government.

There have been voices for and against the Act. Some are lauding it for its aim to reduce unemployment among local youth, others are wary of how it might end up dissuading prospective industrialists from investing in the state henceforth.

Then again, Reddy’s Andhra Pradesh or Nath’s Madhya Pradesh aren’t the only ones to have done something in this regard. States like Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra already have certain provisions in place. While some are recent, others have existed for over a decade.

Karnataka:

One of the missions of the Siddaramaiah government’s Karnataka Industry Policy 2014-19 was to enable scope for large scale local employment through the private sector. This was achieved by using incentives and concessions as bait.

The policy stated that all new industrial investment projects seeking to avail incentives and concessions under the industrial policy ‘shall endeavour to create maximum possible additional direct employment opportunities with minimum employment of 70% to Kannadigas on an overall basis and 100% in case of Group D employees.’ These Group D employees include skilled and semi-skilled manual workers like peons, sweepers, security personnel among others.

The policy further stated that the incentives and concessions sanctioned to the unit would be withdrawn and recovered in case it fails to comply.
 
Gujarat:

The Industrial Policy 2015 of Gujarat said something along the same lines. It stated that 85 per cent of the total number of employees in industries seeking government incentives under the Scheme for Incentive to Industries (General) 2016-2021 need to be domiciled in Gujarat and should have at least 60 per cent of the ones employed by the enterprise in a managerial and supervisory capacity.

The policy states that the incentives would be sanctioned only after the industry submits a list of locals employed and other information to check if they’ve met the conditions.

Over a decade before the policy was passed, an employment policy was devised in 1995 under the Govt. Resolution of Labour and Employment Department with the same figures and has been in place in the state ever since.

Himachal Pradesh:

For over 10 years now, Himachal Pradesh, under the Industrial Policy of 2004, has had a similar policy where industries could avail incentives, concessions and facilities only if they employ at least 70 per cent of total manpower, employed whether on regular/contractual/sub-contractual/daily basis or employment through any other mode, from amongst bonafide Himachalis.

To ensure compliance, the state stepped up the penalty for non-compliance, taking it beyond the regular discontinuance of incentives and recovery of already availed incentives. The defaulting unit, according to the policy, would be liable for further stringent action, including the withdrawal of the supply of power.

Maharashtra:

A government resolution passed by the Maharashtra government in 2008 spoke about an Employment to Local Persons Policy, which stated that all industrial enterprises were expected to ensure that 50% of all supervisory staff and 80% of all employees (including supervisory staff) were locals. In addition to that, the policy said that the head of Human Resources or the person in charge of recruitment should be someone with knowledge of Marathi.

This was seen as an apparent move by the then Maharashtra government to quell the rise of Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena which was riding on the 'Marathi Manoos' (Marathi man) agenda, both of which were gaining steam. Prior to the MNS, Bal Thackeray's Shiv Sena, which has been in Maharashtra's political scene for a while now, was the one to bring in and give a substantial push to the agenda.  

Who is a ‘local’?

Under the Himachal Pradesh policy, a bonafide Himachali is someone who has a permanent house in the state and/or has been residing in the state for 20 years and above and/or someone who has a house in the state but lives elsewhere owing to his/her occupation and has documents to prove the same.

For Gujarat, any person domiciled in Gujarat is a person who was born in Gujarat and has spent at least 10 years in the state and/or holds land in the state, among other things and documents proving the same. 

In the case of Maharashtra, it is defined as someone who has stayed in the state for a minimum of 15 years with a domicile, caste, school leaving certificate or property tax or any other document from a relevant competent authority establishing the same.

Karnataka, though, doesn’t have a specific definition describing who a Kannadiga is, under its policy.

While these provisions are in place, most of them, unlike the one passed by the Andhra Pradesh Assembly, aren’t protected by an Act. Most of them remain on paper and the implementation, therefore, becomes a point of contention.

As more states line up and attempt to hold on to the locals’ attention by offering such sons-of-the-soil policies, their success rate is yet to be ascertained.

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