The Pros and Cons of Reserving Jobs for Locals and Regional and Linguistic Chauvinism
How Some Indian States Have Passed Laws Reserving Jobs for Locals
In recent months, there have been many moves by a few states in India to pass laws that make it mandatory to hire locals in industries and other private sector entities.
Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Karnataka have either passed laws that reserve jobs for locals or are in the process of doing so.
While these measures were both welcomed and criticised in equal measure, it goes without saying that whatever the merits and demerits of such policies are, more states can be expected to follow suit in the months to come.
This is due to many reasons, chief among them being the perception that outsiders and migrants are taking away the jobs meant for locals.
Moreover, this is also a trend that ties into the overall Immigrant and Outsider Scapegoating that is manifesting itself not only in India but, elsewhere in the world as well.
In short, we are building walls (literally and figuratively) to keep the outsiders out and hence, these laws are to be seen in this light.
This sentiment also extends to the propensity to promote regional and linguistic chauvinism wherein speaking in the local language and observing local customs and culture becomes paramount for everyone.
Are There Any Advantages of Reserving Jobs for Locals?
There are some pros of such measures, chief among them being the need to actualise and redress the grievances of the local populace.
Indeed, anti outsider sentiments flare up when the Economic Pie is unevenly distributed wherein the locals perceive that outsiders are garnering more shares of the gains from economic growth.
In addition, there is a need to preserve local languages and cultures and not fall prey to the temptation to impose a single or a common language on all.
Apart from this, world over, many experts (including those who favour immigration) often stress on the need to assimilate into the local conditions which means outsiders and migrants learning the local language and observing the local customs.
A practical reason why there must be some measures to enhance the opportunities for locals by reserving jobs is that there would be fewer mishaps and accidents on the shop floor of manufacturing firms since there are lesser chances of communication gaps leading to such incidents.
What more, hiring locals who are familiar with the terrain and language is critical in customer facing roles and hence, this is another reason why reserving jobs for locals makes sense.
Drawbacks of Reserving Jobs for Locals and the Flip Side
Having said that, there are many drawbacks to such measures especially when one considers the talent demand supply equation.
If jobs are reserved for locals, there are chances that some of such jobs would be done by people who might be less qualified than those who could have got the job in normal circumstances.
In addition, reserving jobs for locals narrows the supply of eligible candidates and this can result in poor and shoddy work.
In other words, it is always better to have a wide base of applicants so that the most qualified among them can be hired.
There is no point in indulging in regional chauvinism if it affects the industries and leads to deterioration in industrial growth.
After all, why kill the Golden Goose that lays the Eggs by reserving jobs for locals when it leads to industries moving out and stifles economic growth.
Moreover, there are many jobs that require specialised skills and innovative abilities that can go waste if the talent pool is narrowed.
In addition, such measures can also result in the vitiation of the workplace culture since the workforce would be polarised and split into natives and outsiders planks.
Governments and Other Stakeholders Must Proceed Cautiously and Carefully
Therefore, while one can debate the pros and cons of reserving jobs for locals and promoting regional and linguistic chauvinism, our suggestion is that the government move slowly and with great caution as well as circumspection.
It would be better to study the implications of such measures in a detailed and deep manner without hurrying through with them.
While we do not advocate committee after committee to go over the finer details and keep the issue on the backburner, we recommend that at least there must be a serious attempt by leading experts to come up with the modalities of such laws.
Indeed, while passing the laws is the domain of lawmakers, it goes without saying that implementing them and enforcing them might be a real challenge given the ground realities in many states.
For instance, with not enough locals available to do the jobs, companies might be tempted to circumvent the provisions and break the law.
Thus, it is better to reskill and train the locals and enhance the quality of education so that they are better placed to be hired for such jobs rather than entering otherwise.
Last, as the world turns inward, it is more than likely that these measures would soon be replicated in other Indian states.
Hence, we suggest that instead of rejecting or accepting such proposals in an outright manner, it would be better for all stakeholders to sit together and find the middle ground rather than disturbing the peace and harmony in the workplace.
After all, whoever is hired needs to get on well with his or her co-workers and vice versa and hence, a productive workplace is the need of the hour rather than a polarised and vitiated one.
To conclude, regional and linguistic chauvinism is here to stay and it is time we accept that and assimilate it and ourselves for mutual benefit.
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