It is a tad unfair to attribute what may appear as outlandish populism in a political party’s manifesto to pure electoral adventurism. The promise made, and delivered, could be based on appreciation and articulation of the concerns of a large section of the population, like the lack of employment opportunities. Andhra Pradesh, under its ‘youthful’ Chief Minister, did it first and now Haryana, apparently at the insistence and persistence of its even younger Deputy Chief Minister, has followed suit in the pursuit of reservation of 75 per cent jobs for residents of the state in the private sector. The Andhra initiative ran into legal hurdles, so could Haryana’s. In backing coalition partner JJP in passage of the Bill, the BJP has given new meaning to the Prime Minister’s ‘vocal for local’ slogan, something the party leaders in Delhi may not take kindly to.
The Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Bill’s potential to clear the test of constitutional correctness looks slim. There was no dearth of voices of dissent in the Assembly itself — that the proposed legislation violates the right to equality, opens floodgates of similar discrimination in the matter of jobs to Haryanvis elsewhere, goes against national integration. A former CM objected to the quota cap of any district in employment at 10 per cent. Industry leaders have been blunt about how the move could hurt the business-investor sentiment and encourage a gradual shift out of the state.
A unit opting for outside talent for jobs that pay up to Rs 50,000 a month is a reflection on the state’s under-preparedness in skilling its youth. Recognising, and working on, the deficiencies seems a rational proposition. Imposing domicile, territorial and numerical conditions and expecting businesses to train under-qualified, unskilled candidates is an unrealistic projection. Such deliberation in the time of the pandemic defies logic. Job creation is a burden that weighs heavy on the government. The proposed legislation may score high on optics and intention, but the message is ambiguous for both the prospective employers and employees.