Karnataka keeps law on job quota for locals at bay

Karnataka keeps law on job quota for locals at bay

Karnataka, where the BJP is in power and there are calls to provide quota in jobs for locals, seems to have internal contradictions on such a move.

Earlier this month, the BJP-ruled Haryana enacted a law to reserve 75% jobs for locals in private sector jobs, which was inspired by a similar legislation passed by Andhra Pradesh in 2019. 

Karnataka, where the BJP is in power and there are calls to provide quota in jobs for locals, seems to have internal contradictions on such a move. 

Although the Constitutional validity of such laws remain challenged in court, Haryana's move has revived the debate in Karnataka where this has been tried before. 

That jobs should be reserved for locals dates back almost three decades when the Sarojini Mahishi report recommended this.

Last year, the B S Yediyurappa administration had drafted a legislation to provide 75% reservation to Kannadigas in industries, MSMEs, joint ventures and public-private partnerships. This is yet to see the light of day. 

The Siddaramaiah-led Congress government had moved to provide 100% reservation in all private industries, excluding IT-BT sector, which did not take off because the Law department vetoed it for violating Constitutional provisions under Articles 14 and 16. 

Law Minister J C Madhuswamy told DH that the government had already "reserved" jobs that came under groups C and D (blue-collared) in industries set up on government land. "However, exceeding reservation above 45% goes against the state's constitutional obligations," he said.

Madhuswamy's doubt notwithstanding, the government has tried to pacify the pro-Kannada camps by announcing 70% reservation in Class A & B jobs and 100% reservation in other categories under the new Industrial Policy. "All new projects will come up under the new reservation parameters and the process has started already," Industries Minister Jagadish Shettar said, adding that new approvals are being done based on the policy. 

Besides Constitutional limitations, mandating such quota would result in a “bureaucratic nightmare”, according to Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FKCCI) president Perikal M Sundar. "Under such a law, special permission should be sought from the government if a company has less than 75% local employees. This leads to a lot of logistical complications, as it is not necessary that all expertise required to run a firm or a factory is available locally," he explained.

Also, such laws run counter to the 'ease of doing business’ initiatives that the Centre is pushing, Sundar said. "Though reasonable restrictions to provide up to 50% reservation is fine, a higher limit is against the well-being of a company, which should be empowered to make its own appointments," he added.

It's retrograde, says DyCM

Deputy Chief Minister C N Ashwath Narayan, who heads the IT/BT department, concurred and said companies would prefer states with fewer regulations of this kind. He even called it 'retrograde'. 

Pro-Kannada outfit Karnataka Rakshana Vedike's president T A Narayana Gowda argued that providing reservation to locals was essential to tackle unemployment and that there was no shortage of skilled personnel in the state. "Since these industries enjoy all facilities from the government, we have some right to demand jobs," he said, adding that the percentage of Kannadigas in the IT sector was only about 30%. "In some companies, it's just 7-8%."

 

The government has already reserved jobs that came under groups C and D (blue-collared) in industries set up on government land. However, exceeding reservation above 45% goes against the state's constitutional obligations.