The Karnataka government has reiterated its stance on 80% reservation in jobs for locals (Kannadigas) in private firms.

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  • There has been a long term demand for seeking more jobs for Kannadigas in State-Run enterprises and job reservation for locals in the private sector.
  • Earlier, the Karnataka government amended the Karnataka Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Rules,1961.
    • It sought to reserve 100% jobs for locals (Kannadigas) vis-a-vis group ‘C’ and group ‘D’ jobs in the private sector.
    • It became a point of contention as the activists pointed out that the amended rules only asked industrial establishments to give priority to Kannadigas.
    • It was neither made mandatory nor attracted any punitive measures in case of violation of rules.

Need for such move:

  • In line with the welfarist approach of State government
  • Agrarian Distress - the agrarian sector is under tremendous stress across the country, and young people are desperate to move out of the sector. 
  • Lack of jobs - there is a serious dearth of jobs (private and government). Not only are the jobs too few, but they are also precarious and do not pay well. 
  • Lack of participation of all sections in the workforce - Several reports like the State of Working India 2018 released by the Centre for Sustainable Employment of the Azim Premji University have shown that discrimination is one of the reasons for the under-representation of Dalits and Muslims in the corporate sector. 
  • The perception that Central devolution is insufficient - especially in the southern states, as they feel successive finance commissions accord a high weightage to poverty and population vis-a-vis development thus majority share goes to the northern states. 

Issues involved

  • Sons of soil politics may strengthen sub-nationalism with a similar chorus growing in Maharashtra, M.P, Haryana, Odisha, Himachal, etc.  
  • This concept gives preference to the minority ethnic group rather than migrants who came to the city but are from the same country and adversely impact social fabric.
    • Recently, Andhra Pradesh became the first state in the country to offer a 75% reservation to locals in private jobs. 
    • 75% of the private jobs across all factories, joint ventures, and industries in the state, including those taken up under public-private partnership mode, will be reserved for local Andhra people as per the Andhra Pradesh Employment of Local Candidates in Industries/Factories Act, 2019. 
  • In contravention with Article 16 as it does not empower the state government to provide for such reservation, rather the Parliament is empowered to do so.
  • Compromise with the merit-based system as companies will be forced to employ only locals, who may or may not be competent.
  • Definition of a local (Kannadiga) not delineated properly. This can lead to inclusion and exclusion errors.
  • Such moves discourage investment and impair the ease of doing business in the state. For instance cities like Bengaluru a.k.a the silicon valley of India might witness a drop in their performance.

Way Forward

  • Need to tackle the core issues of unemployment by more job creation and industrialization rather than such moves. 
  • Governments should provide incentives to industries for more investments and create an enabling environment for it.  
  • The Economic Survey 2018-19 also alerts the policymakers against such policy uncertainties for the industries, which may rather impact economic development. 
  • The government should focus on making the youth of a state employable with proper investments in education, health and skill development. 
  • Need to promote labor-intensive industries to make use of the labour surplus in the country, rather than simply forcing any industry for the locals. 
  • Entrepreneurship promotion must be done where people are motivated to create a livelihood for them. The state can provide incentives and help here such as done for Dalit entrepreneurs in Maharashtra. 

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