Axing its own foot?

The Haryana government’s move to pass a Bill securing private sector jobs for locals faces flak from within the BJP itself

For the people, but against the essence of equality and fairness? Questions are continuing to be raised on the Haryana government’s decision to introduce a Bill to reserve 75% of jobs in the private sector. This Bill was passed in the Vidhan Sabha and now awaits the Governor’s approval to become law.

Critics say the legislation contravenes Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution which dignifies every individual’s equality, and their right to practice any profession anywhere in India. Its supporters believe this would be what the state needs to fight a crippling unemployment rate which according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy is highest in Haryana among all Indian states. In October, it stood at 27.3% (followed by Rajasthan at 24.1%).

Congress MLA BB Batra has spoken out against this Bill and called it a violation of the Constitution. Speaking to Patriot, he says the quota stipulation would not stand scrutiny. “It is clear that on the basis of caste, sex, religion, place of birth, or religion there cannot be any kind of discrimination…When it (the Bill) goes to court, it won’t (be allowed to) go through (as law). When we speak of one nation, one Constitution, one ration card, then how can you justify local quotas?”, he asks.

Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar of the BJP and Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala of the JJP are all for it, claiming it would counteract unemployment and an influx of migrant labour. But Chautala’s colleague, JJP’s legislator from Narnaund termed the Bill against national integration. He said it would set a bad precedent as other states would follow in the footsteps of the state and bar people from Haryana from employment in their respective states.

And just as a party colleague is not on the same page as the Deputy CM, so is the case with Congress, with Secretary of Youth Congress, in Haryana’s Sonepat, Mohit Gaur, telling us he supports the idea of quotas in private jobs. However, he goes on to question the ability of the BJP to actually enforce it saying, “Whatever they promise doesn’t ever come true. They spoke about giving youth work but they haven’t done anything”, he believes if it is imposed, such a move would be good for the youth.

“In Sonepat all our young people are moving around unemployed, they have nothing. Nothing in private sector work because outsiders come and take the jobs. It would be good if the youth of Haryana get jobs. Many of our young people are in Gujarat, or Mumbai. If they get a job here, they would stay”.

The danger is that many industries would remain in Haryana if such a law was implemented. Batra points out that the corporate sector is not happy with this decision. “They need their independence and this law would not work for them. Maruti Chairman (RC Bhargava, chairman Maruti Suzuki India Ltd) had expressed his concern over such a quota.”

The Automotive Component Manufacturers Association (ACMA) has even urged the Haryana State Government to reconsider the bill. The organisation’s president Deepak Jain said in a released statement that hiring is done on the basis of talent and skills needed by the industry rather than on domicile of the candidates. He further went on to point out that the move “would not only adversely impact the ‘ease of doing business’ in the state, but also be detrimental to Haryana’s image of an industry-friendly state and in attracting future investments.”

The automotive industry has made its concerns known, and the IT industry which commands a good space in Gurgaon would be affected by such a quota, but the Bill does provide for an escape clause, so to speak.

The Bill – which applies to all private companies, societies, trusts and partnership firms, among others, located in the state, and to those jobs offering a gross monthly wage of less than Rs 50,000 – has an exemption clause which the company can cite, pointing to lack of suitable candidates. At the same time it says a “designated officer” would act as a representative of the government who will rule on companies invoking the exemption clause and overrule it by directing the company concerned to “train local candidates to achieve the desired skill, qualification or proficiency”.

For youth like Vikram, a resident of Delhi, who hails from Himachal, the city of Gurgaon is a safe place to work. He says Himachal had no good opportunities for him, and while he worked in Noida for a few years, the security that came with working in Gurgaon is different. If such a law comes his job would be secure, as it does not affect those already employed, but others, many like him who come to the city to find better prospects, would find the doors shut.

(Cover: Getty Images)

 

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