‘Reservations for locals’ will not solve the employment problem

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan recently made an important announcement that government jobs in the State will be given to the youths of Madhya Pradesh only.  Making such an announcement in his speech on the occasion of Independence Day celebration on Tuesday, the CM made it clear that the State government is also making the necessary legal provisions for the same. In other words, youths from other states will not allow getting government jobs in Madhya Pradesh. Nothing is new in Mr. Chouhan’s announcement as he had made such announcements in the past too. His predecessor, Kamal Nath, had promised that 70 percent of the jobs in industrial units would be reserved for locals. But MP is, of course, not unique in this regard. From Haryana to Gujarat, from Maharashtra to Karnataka, across Indian states, there is either a policy framework that reserves educational seats and/or jobs for locals or there is a strong political push in that direction. Maharashtra and Gujarat made speaking knowledge of Marathi and Gujarati to get government jobs in those states.  There is a severe crisis of unemployment, and both public and private sector jobs have either shrunk or not grown at the pace required to meet the demands of India’s growing workforce. Instead of addressing structural economic issues, which can generate employment, political formations (across the spectrum) take the easy way out by framing the issue as one between ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’.  Before making such an announcement our leaders should check the reality. The fact is that where are the jobs in the government as well as in the private sectors?  According to the report of the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), Madhya Pradesh's unemployment rate increased 15.1 percentage points, rising to 27.5 percent in May 2020. Over a longer time period, unemployment has moved from 1.2 percent in Jul 2017 to its current rate.  Unemployment in Madhya Pradesh was greater than the national rate of 23.5 percent. Nationwide, unemployment was highest in Jharkhand, Bihar, and Delhi at 59.2 percent, 46.2 percent, and 44.9 percent respectively. It was lowest in Uttarakhand, Assam, and Odisha at 8.0 percent, 9.6 percent, and 9.6 percent respectively. An important principle that the Constitution strives to inculcate among citizens is fraternity —and this is possible only when there is engagement between citizens from different parts of the country, which such policies (jobs for state’s children) will only discourage. There is a real jobs crisis. But states turning insular will not solve that crisis, and, instead, create other challenges for national integration. Evolve a consensus across parties and states and refrain from this form of dangerous populism.
 

- Prabhakar Purandare

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