The issue of reservation in the private sector has surfaced again in Karnataka, with a panel headed by SG Siddaramaiah, the chairman of the Kannada Development Authority, suggesting 100% reservation for locals.
However, unlike an earlier proposal sent by the state labour minister in December, the current proposal also calls for the inclusion of the information technology and bio-technology (IT-BT) sectors under the ambit of reservation.
On Wednesday, the five-member expert panel submitted a report that revisited a 30-year-old report on the issue to chief minister Siddaramaiah in which it recommended 100% reservation in blue collar jobs in the private sector for Kannadigas, who were either born in the state or have lived here for 15 years.
The report also calls for 80% reservation for locals in clerical jobs, and 65% reservation in high-skilled or category 'A' jobs. The chief minister said on Wednesday that he would bring a legislation based on the recommendations of the panel.
SG Siddaramaiah, the chief of the panel, told HT: “The need for the new report arose because 30 years ago, the IT-BT sector did not exist. These companies enjoy utilities provided by the government at subsidised rates and it’s time they gave back to the state that has helped them earn world-wide recognition.”
Siddaramaiah said the campuses where these firms have set up were built on agricultural land. “They should have given employment to those who gave up their land, but that never happened,” he said.
“They keep threatening us saying they will move away if the government intervenes in their functioning.” Siddaramaiah said the companies should be called on their bluff as they received many facilities here and also enjoyed the pleasant weather in the state.
However, according to data by the Department of Economics and Statistics, the sector formed 18-19% of the state’s gross domestic product between 2013-14 and 2015-16.
The state’s labour minister Santosh Lad also welcomed the panel’s recommendation. “Although it was not submitted to me, I welcome their report.”
Lad said he had recommended a phased implementation of reservation, unlike the commission. “We had recommended that the decision to include the IT-BT sector be taken judging the response of other sectors,” he added.
However, others were not very impressed by the proposals. CS Dwarkanath, former chairman of the state’s Backward Classes Commission and an advocate, said such a move would stand in court.
“Even if they do bring in a law, courts will strike it down,” he said. “The Mayawati government had passed a government order in Uttar Pradesh mandating caste-based reservation in the private sector, which was struck down,” he said.
A law that mandates reservation for locals will stand no chance Dwarkanath said. “The government is bringing up this issue because the elections to the state assembly is only a year away. It knows courts will strike it down, but it will be able to tell people that it was willing to pass a law but was thwarted by the courts,” he added.
R Chandrashekhar, president of NASSCOM, the IT sector body, said he did not wish to comment on the report. “We will take a call if the government plans to draft such a law,” he added.
However, industry sources said such a move would be retrograde and adversely impact the state.
Dwarkanath, too, questioned the report. “What is the basis of the report? There is no data to back the recommendations,” he said.
When asked, SG Siddaramaiah confirmed that the panel did not have any such data. “Our mandate was to safeguard the interest of Kannada and Kannadigas and our recommendations are based on this,” he said.