Leaders create institutions and legacies. Politicians subvert them. After handicapping PSUs with job reservation, the private sector is now the politician’s new target. In Andhra Pradesh, 75 per cent of private sector jobs will be reserved for locals. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, whose family runs successful businesses will follow suit. Bihar’s Nitish Kumar is of the same mind.
Netas periodically adopt cynical tactics to deflect attention from their failures to keep approval ratings high. The current buzzword is jobs. Unable to provide enough government employment, leaders have taken reservation addiction to a whole new crazy. The fallout of job quotas in the private sector is certain to degrade quality. The survival mantra of companies, unlike that of the government-protected PSUs, is competition.
They demand high levels of competence, communication skills and sales and marketing expertise from employees to stay ahead. Competition drives evolution, not cosseting. India’s prosperity in the past three decades has been driven by private players encouraged by ease of doing business. India’s private sector substantially depends on employment migration from other states for sectors like IT, hospitality, engineering, education and more. Under the new rule, a local applicant with basic computer knowledge would get precedence over an outsider who can write code for Apple.
An expert in quantum physics from MIT would be rejected for a private university position in favour of a physics graduate from a local university. Qualifications for government recruitment are formatted without room for flexibility. Moreover, the quota system in government jobs is the fount of corruption, nepotism and vote-based patronage. Any local legislator can now twist the system with recommendations for unqualified candidates to enter the private sector. Bureaucratic interference, a significant cause of PSU decline, will ruin the private sector. With quality at stake, foreign investment will slow down to a trickle. As of last year, the total PSU losses were Rs 1 lakh crore.
The NITI Aayog is not in favour of quotas in the public sector; it advises the escalation of employment generation instead. Governments must invest in industry in the rural areas to create more work. It must also encourage rural industry by localising produce marketing.
India’s flawed reservation policies—a relic of the British Raj and adopted by Indian politicians plus caste and community pressure that played hell with the ceilings scope—have taken India backward in all social sectors. Just because various governments failed to do their jobs doesn’t mean that the private sector must become a victim of the same degraded system. To make One India, One Market a reality, this toxic move should be struck down. Or else the past gains of development and an open economy will be lost to venality, inefficiency and unconstitutional brinkmanship.