The Andhra Pradesh government has passed a Bill in the Legislative Assembly, aimed at providing 75% reservation for locals in industries and factories across the state.
The Andhra Pradesh Employment of Local Candidates in the Industries/ Factories Act, 2019, seeks to reserve 75% of jobs for locals in all industries, including units, factories, joint ventures and projects set up under the public-private partnership model in the state.
While the Bill defines 'Locals' as candidates who are domiciled in the state of Andhra Pradesh, it does not elaborate on the requirements for 'domicile' status. Even as further details are awaited, many are skeptical if the move would dissuade investors, a point which the opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has raised as well.
Speaking to TNM, senior journalist Kingshuk Nag says, "It makes sense for Chief Minister Jagan politically, but economically not so much. Investments might be hit because when potential investors see that such conditions are not there in neighbouring states, they will go there."
"Of course, Jagan himself must be knowing this, but I think he is doing this to politically empower himself, because it will gain him local popularity," he adds.
Kingshuk Nag also points to the Praja Sankalpa Yatra, a 3,648 km-long walkathon that Jagan undertook over more than a year, covering all districts in the state, which is widely believed to have swept him into power.
"Jagan believes that he has won due to the support he gained during his padayatra, and therefore he seems to think that the momentum should be kept up to keep the popularity," Kingshuk opines.
Bureaucrat turned politician and founder of the Lok Satta Party, Jayaprakash Narayan, also feels similarly.
"I can understand extending reservations to the private sector, but the problem is that it may do more harm than good unless we are very careful. The investors, if they are deterred, there are no jobs to be created in the first place. The government doing it unilaterally without talking to investors is also not a wise thing to do," he tells TNM.
"Already, if you take a census, I'm reasonably confident that 80 to 90% of jobs are already going to locals anyways due to the skill level. By making it mandatory, we are not benefitting but actually losing," he adds.
Jayaprakash Narayan also says that if other states follow suit, it could damage the country's economy.
"If it is imitated by other states or other regions, skilled workers may end up losing more jobs than gaining them. It is better to treat India as one economy and benefit as a whole," he says.
However, the YSRCP is confident and says that it is far from a 'draconian' law as critics claim. It also pointed out that it made accommodations to ensure that training was also given to local youths.
"Where qualified/suitable local candidates are not available, the industry/factory within 3 years with active collaboration of government shall take steps to train and engage local candidates," the Bill states.
The YSRCP pointed out that there were provisions for exemptions if local candidates were not available as well.
"What I saw in my padayatra was that when locals come forward to give up their land for a factory, the youth are often swindled as they do not get the jobs that politicians promise them. It also has adverse environmental effects in terms of pollution," Jagan said in the Assembly.
"Now how do we make locals accept the factory? We can only do it when the local educated youth will get jobs in the same factory. They need an assurance that they will get employment, only then the locals will come forward to cooperate. Or else we will just be left with several educated unemployed youth who are migrating to other cities," he added.
The chief minister also said that it was a pro-industry move and insisted that 'locals' had been defined clearly in the Act, leaving no space for ambiguity.