It is this that is now under threat thanks to a new law in Tamil Nadu. After TCS fired employees last year and they formed a union and approached the court, the government responded by saying that the IT sector was covered by the Industrial Disputes Act and that unions can be formed. The real problem here is not the formation of unions but putting the industry under the Industrial Disputes Act. As it is, growth in the sector is slowing down and, more important, jobs creation is also slowing in the face of greater automation. So, if IT firms with more than 100 persons wish to retrench staff, they can do so only after taking the permission of the state government—since that can take a long time, chances are firms will be that much more reluctant to expand in the state now. Strict implementation of rules will also mean that firms will not be able to get employees to work 24×7, for instance, to complete mission critical work; even asking women to work after a certain time in the evening can become a problem if the rules are strictly implemented—indeed, while IT is under the Shops and Establishment Act in Delhi, the reason why BPOs flourished in Gurgaon and not Delhi was that the rules for hiring women were even more liberal in Gurgaon. As in all such cases ostensibly meant to protect workers, the biggest sufferers are workers. Pity an otherwise progressive state like Tamil Nadu should choose to forget this. At the central government level, it would be good to revisit the definition of a workman. Ever since a bench headed by Justice VR Krishna Iyer had expanded the definition of industry, a workman includes any person (including an apprentice) employed in any industry to do any manual, unskilled, skilled, technical, operational, clerical or supervisory work—narrowing down the definition to exclude a certain category of worker, or those paid above a certain amount, is a good place to start.