he Jagan Mohan Reddy government in Andhra Pradesh took some bold decisions in less than two months of its existence. It started by doubling the salaries of sanitation and Anganwadi workers and creating a large youth volunteer force to check corruption from villages to cities. The YSRC government’s latest decision is to reserve 75 per cent of jobs in the private sector to ‘locals’ – meaning the Telugus living in the state. This is the first time a state government has done this, though the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh led by Kamal Nath made a similar policy announcement some time ago, to reserve 70 per cent jobs to locals. The Shiv Sena that rules Mumbai and is part of government in Maharashtra has been using its muscle-power to coerce the private sector effect a similar job reservation for Marathi-speaking inhabitants.
In part, there is the play of populism in politics; and in part, decisions like these are a necessity of the times for the reason that locals are deliberately being left out by those coming from outside to set up industries in many states. Fair play is a must in all walks of life. Natural justice demands that there are equal opportunities to all citizens. Practical difficulties exist, though. Competence is the catchword for the private sector, where performance matters most, unlike in the government sector which can take things easy. At the same time, outsiders who set up industries in an area have a tendency to have a mix of workforce rather than having a large concentration of locals, who could unite, raise the ante any time and halt work. It has also to be admitted that ‘locals’ living nearby the concerned industries or commercial establishments tend to work less and while away precious time more. It is a known fact that immigrants work much harder and longer and make efforts to stay away from trouble. Countries like the USA are glaring examples of societies that have blossomed primarily due to immigrants.
At the same time, if big cities like Bangalore, Mumbai or New Delhi – which are where jobs are hugely concentrated – come up with a similar policy, it would be disadvantage to youths of several states including Andhra Pradesh. A whole lot of youths from AP are in Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad, gainfully engaged. The governments there are unlikely to come up with such a diktat; for, they are generating a whole lot of jobs on a daily basis. There is little of such momentum for Andhra Pradesh.
New Delhi has undergone a large-scale demographic shift in the past few decades. Large numbers of families from outside have virtually invaded the city in matching with the steady prosperity of the city. Delhi’s growth is powered by youths from near and far. If the Delhi government brings in a law similar to the one introduced in AP, it could also seriously raise issues of national integration.
Large numbers of the workforce in states like Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Kerala are drawn from outside of those states, though these are mostly blue collar workforce. This situation arose in the context of a shortage of locals to do work even in factories, hotels and resorts, leave alone agricultural fields. Demand justifies supply. These states cannot afford to bring in a law similar to AP to regulate the complexion of the workforce. Their economic growth – largely backed by people’s heavy involvement in business in some cases and flow of NRI money to states like Punjab and Kerala – is of a high order and this creates huge job opportunities.
A state like Tamil Nadu now does not see heavy migration of people to other states for work. The reverse is happening. Large-scale opportunities have been created for the people by successive state governments there. Tamil Nadu is now the most urbanised state, alongside Gujarat, and boasts of having over 300 cities/towns or urban sprawls. Small scale industries are thriving as also agriculture in that state.
Andhra Pradesh has made headway in agriculture and has a port, steel plant and refinery in Visakhapatnam. Yet, Chandrababu Naidu threw his hands up in the crafting of a new capital, Amaravati, as he ran short of money. He tried to pressurise Delhi to pump funds in, but the Centre had no intention to play ball. Creating the conditions for economic development is the way forward for a government. That would, in turn, create more of jobs and more of opportunities for earning. Large flocks from AP are running the businesses and holding jobs in Chennai and Bangalore. If AP now shows the way to them, this is a scary thought. Gimmicks and freebies have their harmful sides and might not guarantee comfort to Jagan Mohan Reddy or his party in the long term.