Kannadigas demand govt to implement job reservation for locals

Pro-Kannada outfit staged protest in Bengaluru demanding job reservation for locals in the state. File photo: Karnataka Rakshana Vedike

After resisting the Hindi language imposition and three language policy, now pro-Kannada organisations urge the state government to implement the reservation for locals in private sector jobs.

Before the elections, as a pre-poll promise, the state government proposed that it would give 100 per cent reservation for locals in category C and D jobs in Karnataka. Now, activists demand the state to draft rules on how it will effectively implement it. Otherwise they vowed to storm into private companies and banks in protest, starting next week.

A similar protest erupted in December 2017, where pro-Kannada organisation members forcefully entered some IT companies and forced them to bring down the shutters if they do agree for the reservation to locals.

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While states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Gujarat and recently Madhya Pradesh struggle to implement the rule considering the resistance from business communities, Karnataka’s case might not be any different.

In Madhya Pradesh, Chief Minister Kamal Nath, soon after assuming office, announced 70 per cent reservation in industries for locals. While the business class was not happy with the reservation policy, politicians, activists and locals in Karnataka want it to be strictly enforced.

According to Vatal Nagaraj, President of Kannada Chaluvali Vatal Paksha, “Banks in Karnataka issue challans in English or Hindi. They will not provide challans in Kannada as most of them working in the private banks are outsiders (migrants from other states) who do not understand the language. This is one of the reasons for us to demand jobs for locals in private sector.”

Nagaraj had similar views for the IT sector. He said, “People from other states come here to work and they take away the opportunity of the locals. We welcome the state government’s decision to give reservation. But, that should not remain just on paper. We want the government to strictly enforce it,” Nagaraj added.

The state cabinet amended the Karnataka Industrial employment (Standing Orders), Rules, 1961, to implement the Sarojini Mahishi report, a committee report prepared by the then Union minister Mahishi in 1984, recommending jobs for Kannadigas. The amended clause that defines Kannadiga to be eligible for preferential employment in industries says not less than 10 years of domicile and ability to read and write the language for industries that do not get any form of support from the government.

Pro-Kannada activists and Kannada Development Authority wrote to the government to withdraw the notification and make it 15 years of domicile as recommended by in the Mahishi report.

However, Chetan Kumar, actor and activist, argued that the government should not just restrict the job reservation to sector C and D but also extend it to high paying white collar jobs (A and B category).

While some BJP legislators termed the government’s move as desperate attempt to retain power, people criticised them saying, the people of the state wanted job than Ram Temple in Ayodhya that the BJP promises every election. However, corporate sector had expressed its discontent before. Former Infosys director TV Mohandas Pai and Biocon Chief Kiran Mazumdar Shaw had come out in open to criticise the government’s move to give reservation to locals.

In 2016, when the government hinted at reservation, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw had said reservation policies reflected a desperate government trying parochial policies to retain power. “It never works. Development is the answer.”

Meanwhile, Pai urged the government to not harass industrialist and workers from other states as it would impact the investment ecosystem and many would not be willing start businesses in state with such rules in place.

Eshwar Khandre, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee member said, “The government will soon come up with the guideline to implement the proposal, until then urged the activists to resort to any kind of unruly behaviour in the state.”

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