Within a month of coming up with a law — in early March — that mandates as much as 75 per cent reservation for local domiciles in jobs paying up to Rs 50,000 per month in private sector units with over 10 employees each in Haryana, the state government is constrained to adopt a cautious approach to its policy. The reasons for the shift are many and all are good. Being exclusionist and against the grain of equal opportunity for all, it fails judicial scrutiny. The other states that have adopted this line — Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh — are either battling a challenge in the court or having trouble implementing it.
There has been widespread opposition from industry that has flagged concerns of adverse economic ramifications, especially in the booming IT-BPM hub of Gurugram and Manesar. Plus, the compliance of this norm raises the spectre of the dreaded inspector raj. If Haryana bulldozes its new quota into companies looking to hire staff largely on considerations of merit, it risks losing its golden goose. With almost 70 per cent of the state’s annual economic investments, Gurugram accounts for a major chunk of the revenue. Haryana cannot ignore any policy that is regressive or has the potential to rock its fiscal boat. The new legislation may force some industries to relocate and discourage the existing ones from expanding and growing and new ones from setting shop. The ominous boding of a shrinking of private jobs that such a scenario entails cannot be overlooked.
The policy is thus self-defeating and merits a relook. It was enacted in view of the fact that Haryana has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country and public sector jobs are on the wane. While keeping the reservation in government jobs to the constitutional limit of 50 per cent, focus needs to be on addressing the challenge of job creation as also the unemployability of the youth. Even as migrants vie for jobs in their area, it needs to be ensured that the Haryanvis get access to quality education that enables them to have the competitive edge.