Troubled Times For Odia Workers; Incentive To Industries In MP For Reserving Jobs For Locals


Bhubaneswar: Newly-appointed Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath’s announcement of providing incentives to industries, reserving 70 per cent jobs for state residents, does not bode well for Odia labourers migrating to other states in search of jobs.

Critics have already raised the alarm bell, fearing other states may follow suit. Nath’s move has triggered an atmosphere of distrust among the existing migrant workers in cities such as Indore, Gwalior and Jabalpur and Bhopal.

The Chief Minister’s announcement were “politically immature” and “unconstitutional”, made with an eye on the general elections in 2019, political observers have pointed out, criticising the development.

“It is a lollipop for 2019,” said political analyst Girija Shanker while the Scroll quoted social activist Sachin Jain as saying that Nath’s announcement “doesn’t spell out the policy framework”.

Nath, however, defended his move, stating that other states follow similar policies.

Raising the issue in Parliament on Wednesday, some BJP MPs accused Nath of inciting hatred against people of other states.

So what if the Congress ruled states such as neighbouring Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Punjab and Rajasthan were to implement a similar policy?

Social activist from Odisha and outside fear it could potentially lead to job losses in the immediate aftermath forcing families into deprivation back home.

The Odisha government is yet to react on the development.

The inter-state migrant workers, according to the state government, increased to 1.5 lakh in 2015 from about 92,000 in 2011. The number could anywhere be around 2 lakh at present. If workers migrating through unregistered labour agents are taken into account, the number would be much more. While a sizable number of skilled and semi-skilled workers migrate to neighbouring Chhattisgarh from the western part of Odisha for work, a good number also travel down South to Andhra Prdesh, Telengana and Tamil Nadu, taking up jobs mostly in brick kiln. Gujarat has more than eight lakh Odia workers.

Karnataka, too has seen an exponential rise in number of Odia-speaking people in the state over the last one decade, thanks to its booming IT industry and other sectors that employ both skilled and unskilled labourers.

Alok Dave, the President of the Association of Industries of Madhya Pradesh, told the Print that the flip side of the new government’s decision could mean that people from MP could lose jobs in other states if they start implementing their own quota system.

ltimately, the long-term solution is to promote local growth by encouraging local industries. And this holds true for all states.

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