In the last few years, a vicious cycle of providing job reservations or quotas to locals in public as well as private jobs have been started by some state governments. And, the latest state government to fall for it is the Haryana government. Under immense pressure from Dushyant Chautala, who wants to appease the Jat community that has drifted away on the farm bills, the Manohar Lal Khattar government has brought a bill to reserve 75 per cent of the private-sector jobs for locals.
The first bill to provide reservations to locals in private-sector jobs was brought by the TRS ruled Telangana in 2017. TRS brought a bill to reserve 62 per cent of the jobs for locals, but it was limited to public employment.
Given the populist nature of Indian politics where every leader plays the appeasement card without considering the harm to the economy, Maharashtra and Rajasthan also rushed for it although the percentage was much lower and restricted to public employment.
After that, Congress-ruled Karnataka extended the idea for the jobs in the private sector with 100% reservation for locals in the blue-collar jobs bill. Although, the bill was never passed in the assembly and the city of Bengaluru was saved. In 2019, the newly elected Jaganmohan Reddy government also brought a bill to reserve 75 per cent of the private as well as public jobs to locals.
Such policies of reservation will compel entrepreneurs and industries to look for employees within the state and it places an extra burden on companies to become inward-looking. It must be borne in mind that in today’s era, industries cannot survive with unskilled or manual labour. This, by extension, means that the industries might not be able to practically access the vast demographic dividend of India consisting of technically skilled and qualified individuals, which would in turn directly affect the level of industrial growth and investments.
The 75 per cent job reservation to locals is a sure shot way to destroy Gurugram, which has emerged as the Information Technology and financial hub of North India. The majority of the workers in Gurugram are either from Delhi or other Indian cities and the number of locals in most of the companies is little. However, Gurugram pays more than one-third of Haryana’s total tax collection, contributing a significant chunk to the state’s financial capacity.
Haryana has emerged as the richest Indian state in the country, except for smaller ones like Goa and Sikkim, thanks to the economic prowess of Gurugram. This bill would bring back the Inspector Raj in the economy and halt the progress of the state. It would take less than five years to undo all the progress the state made in the last two decades and would deindustrialise the state that boasts one of the largest industrial capacities in North India.
The bill by the Haryana government might start this vicious cycle among other BJP governed states too, which have, so far, stayed away from this regional chauvinism game.
A pertinent question that arises here is whether all the states which are considering enacting legislation can boast off premier institutions producing highly skilled and qualified individuals matching industrial standards?
Moreover, this pattern could end up unleashing a new era of quota politics in terms of reservation of private jobs for locals. The fact remains that even if a quota is actually needed in the case of some of the states, the temptation of political leaders to replicate such quotas in their states in a politically charged atmosphere can never be ruled out. Especially, when polls are around the corner, an inefficient incumbent government might resort to such a tactic of doling out such quotas. All this will end up putting unnecessary restrictions on the industry leaders limiting the talent pool they can choose from.