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Manoos wants jobs, not hate campaign

The competitive rabble-rousing of the two Senas continues to resonate among many Maharashtrians who might otherwise find their hate-filled rhetoric repugnant because they are deeply anxious about jobs, economists said following a HT-C fore survey. See graphic

mumbai Updated: Feb 05, 2010 01:38 IST
HT Correspondent

The competitive rabble-rousing of the two Senas continues to resonate among many Maharashtrians who might otherwise find their hate-filled rhetoric repugnant because they are deeply anxious about jobs, economists said following a HT-C fore survey.

Two-thirds of Maharashtrians surveyed on Wednesday said jobs should be reserved for locals, even though nearly 60 per cent thought the Shiv Sena’s campaign on migrants would cast a slur on Mumbai and nearly 80 per cent felt it was a political gimmick to regain lost ground from the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena.

“Locals are anxious about jobs, especially in the unskilled and basic services sectors, not just in Mumbai but all over the world,” said Abhay Pethe, an economist and academic. “Why do you think [US President] Obama speaks against outsourcing when he addresses a domestic audience?”

Migrants everywhere are willing to work for less than the locals, so they make inroads in areas where skills are not crucial.

For instance, one can now see many north Indians in Dadar’s vegetable markets, where once the local bhajiwalis had a monopoly, Pethe said.

“Locals are literally seeing the city’s character change,” Pethe said. “There is a whole lot of money in Mumbai, but they feel the growth is bypassing them.”

The lower middle-class's predicament is particularly acute. Many aspire to work for the government as peons, clerks, etc, but the cash-strapped local and state governments are not expanding.

“By and large, there won’t be sympathy for violence among them,” said Pethe. “But in the absence of a social security net either in the form of government jobs or a welfare system, they find the Sena’s arguments compelling.”