Reservation in private sector adds new dimension to quota politics

New Delhi (IANS) Reservation for locals in jobs, either in government or private sector, seems to be the new trend spreading across the states, with some already taking the decision in this regard and some others mulling it.

The Andhra Pradesh government got a legislation passed by the state Assembly two days back to provide for 75 per cent quota for locals in the private sector.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath too promised earlier this month to bring a law to provide 70 per cent reservation for locals in the private companies in the state.

Earlier, in November last year, the Maharashtra Assembly passed a bill providing for 16 per cent quota for Marathas in government jobs and educational institutions. It was upheld by the Bombay High Court in February this year, although it scaled the percentage down to 10 per cent.

The moves to provide quota to locals have added a new chapter in the quota politics in the country, which was earlier confined to socially and economically backward sections like Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes (OBCs).

There is already a simmering anger among the upper castes over the issue of quota.

In 1990, the country witnessed a bloody agitation for weeks against the Mandal Commission, which recommended 27 per cent reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs), raising the total quota for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and OBCs in government jobs and educational institutions to 40 per cent.

The Commission had been set up in 1979 and its recommendations came in 1980. But it was the V. P. Singh government which ordered its implementation in August 1990, triggering a spree of self-immolations and other kinds of angry protests by upper caste students in Delhi and some other parts of the country.

The spiral of self-immolations was started by a Delhi college student Rajiv Goswami on September 19, who took the step and became of the face of the agitation. Subsequently, over 200 other students resorted to self-immolation, out of which 62 died.

There were also violent street protests in Delhi and some other places and clashes between students and police, which claimed over 40 lives.

Meanwhile, a petition was moved in the Supreme Court against implementation of the Mandal Commission and the top court, in a judgement in November 1992, upheld the government order and paving the way for its implementation.

The Commission had depended on 11 criteria and used various techniques to arrive at the conclusion as to who qualified as OBC to be entitled for 27 per cent reservation. The criteria were broadly social, economic and educational in nature.

Some years back, there were demands for extending the scope of reservation to the private sector as well. However, Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar had disfavoured such a move.

Now, the decision of the newly-formed Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy government in Andhra Pradesh to provide for 75 per cent job reservation to locals in private sector adds a new chapter in the quota politics.

Moving swiftly, the state government got a legislation in this regard passed by the Assembly on Wednesday.

According to the Andhra Pradesh Employment of Local Candidates in Industries/Factories Act, every private company will need to hire 75 per cent of their total staff/employees from the local population.

Reddy, who took the decision and got the legislation passed within two months of taking over, argued that the industry should take care of the locals who give up their land for the expansion of the industries.

He has contended that it will not hurt the industry.

Just days before this, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister said his government was planning to bring a law to provide for 70 per cent reservation for locals in private sector jobs.

The proposed law will make it mandatory for the private companies to hire 70 per cent of its employees from among the people having the domicile of Madhya Pradesh.

Taking cue from Andhra Pradesh, a demand has also surfaced in Tamil Nadu for 80 per cent reservation in private companies in the state to the locals.

The demand has been articulated by S. Ramadoss, founder of PMK party which is a constituent of the NDA.

This shows that the virus is spreading.

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