Maharashtra has done well to soften its ‘sons of the soil’ stance, but there needs to be even more relaxation
Although Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray has, time and again, leaned on ‘sons of the soil’ politics—his government even passed an order reserving 80% of jobs in industries for locals—his government now seems to be waking up to the harsh realities of labour shortage. As per an Indian Express report, the state is likely considering bringing the 80% quota down to 60% for high-tech sectors. The amendment would allow industries to accommodate 40% outsiders, as against 20% now, for three years, during which, they will train the local youth to ready them for jobs. The relaxation is indeed welcome, given states realise that such stances would hinder their chances of attracting industry or restart work. The problem, however, is that states are still engaged in quota politics, when the focus must shift on getting economy on track.
Besides, this kind of populist adventurism only fuels the demand for such quotas in other states. Andhra had introduced a similar quota last year, and Madhya Pradesh followed with a 70% quota for locals, if MSMEs wanted to avail of government benefits. Gujarat is an example of quotas not working in the past—despite having an 85% reservation for locals, there a large proportion of migrants in many industries. Maharashtra and other states need to relax norms further to restart their economies, and minimum wage norms need to be rationalised.