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RSTV IAS UPSC – Jobs: Locals First Policy
Published on Aug. 12, 2019, 12:54 p.m.

Jobs: Locals First Policy

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TOPIC: General Studies 2

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors

In News: Fulfilling one of its biggest election promises, the Jagan Mohan Reddy government passed a bill in the Assembly which reserves 75 per cent jobs factories for Andhra Pradesh youths, making it the first state in the country to introduce such a provision in the private sector. 

  • The Andhra Pradesh Employment of Local Candidates in Industries/Factories Act, 2019 was approved by the Assembly 
  • The Bill states that if an industrial unit fails to find enough skilled local workers, then it will have to train them in association with the state government. The company is also required to act in accordance with the new law and submit a quarterly compliance report. 
  • The government had announced 1.33 lakh village volunteer jobs for unemployed youth in the state and the chief minister had said he wanted to implement the quota over the next three years and was confident of convincing industries.
  • Besides the industries/factories, the Act also makes the '75 per cent' provision mandatory for ' joint ventures and projects taken up under PPP mode', potentially covering construction and irrigation projects like Amaravati capital city and Polavaram irrigation project, where most of the contract workers deployed here were brought from Bihar and other places.

Similar demands have come up in different states like Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Gujarat. The Congress party government led by Chief Minister Kamal Nath in Madhya Pradesh has vowed 70 percent reservation for native candidates. 

The Locals First Policy

The Why

With the growth in industries, the demand for land for industrial use has been increasing. Since most of the requirement is met by acquiring private agricultural lands, the owners are being displaced and deprived of their livelihood. Therefore, there is a demand from land losers, apart from the local population, to provide employment.

Though there were promises by the industrial managements to meet these demands at the initial phases of setting up of their industries, more often than not, the objectives are not met. In some instances, even though the local people are employed as per the initial commitments, they are generally employed as gardeners, house-keeping personnel and other low income jobs. This is causing dissatisfaction in the local community and leading to industrial unrest

Define ‘local’

If the company doesn’t find suitable persons in the immediate vicinity, they need to try to look for candidates in the neighbouring villages. The scope will then expand to the district and finally to the entire state, where they will be able to find a suitable candidate for any job profile. There is therefore a need to collaborate on training the locals with skills required for the jobs they provide.

Criticisms

  • While the legislation only generally talked about 75 per cent jobs to be filled by locals and makes no mention about the cadres within these jobs in a factory, it has, however, left the issue open for a future debate by pointing out that only low-paying jobs were being given to locals in certain instances.
  • Under the law, if skilled personnel are not available for the jobs at hand, these industrial units cannot ‘import’ labourers from elsewhere; the burden of imparting the requisite skills to, and of employing, locals will fall on the units.
  • It will almost certainly push up the cost of doing business in such geographical entities that embrace this policy, and make a mockery of the concept of the ‘Indian Common Market’, which rests on the foundational premise of unfettered labour mobility.
  • Significantly, a reservation for local populations is also a violation of the constitutionally guaranteed right of every citizen to work, live and move freely within the country.

Conclusion

Providing vocational training and education — responsibilities of the State — could have been a long-term solution. But with the mandatory reservation of 75 per cent of all jobs for local people, the state government has shifted this responsibility onto the industrial sector. Further, mobility of labour is necessary to give industries the opportunity to select the best talent and remain competitive. A reservation such as the one in Andhra Pradesh will thus hamper the ease of doing business, discouraging industrial investment in the state and causing unemployment to shoot up further.

Affirmative action was once a tool to bring the most economically and educationally backward sections on a par with the rest of the population. At the hands of populist governments, it has been turned into an assurance — albeit a false one — of a shortcut to success. The reservation for Marathas — an economically and socially dominant segment — in Maharashtra is a case in point. The underlying causes for demands for reservation are, among other factors, agricultural and economic crisis, the lack of social security nets, unemployment and iniquitous access to education.

Connecting the Dots:

  1. Will Andhra’s 75% jobs-for-locals quota set off a wave of parochial politics? Discuss.
  2. Essay topic: One India, please!