With election aroma strong in the air, the fluttering sound of manifesto booklets thrown by political parties has started fading away. Among such manifestos is one peculiar intention to put efforts in ensuring more jobs for Kannadigas, especially in the IT sector. Although the immediately apparent intention of reserving jobs seems glaringly myopic, we need to understand as to why this type of a demand is there from Kannadigas and what the industries, not limited to IT mind you, need to do to allay the concerns of Kannadigas that they are not being benefitted in terms of the employment opportunities created by these industries.
Rewind a few decades and we notice that the industrial sector in Karnataka had been flourishing in those years as well as it is today - only difference being the nature and magnitude of industry. But one similarity that stands clear is the trend of indifference in the attitude of industries towards the employment needs of Kannadigas, even when the much needed support from the state government has always been there.
Although industries have created employment in lakhs, the number of Kannadigas benefited from this has been a meagre portion. And the primary reason for this glaring problem is the blatant nepotism of non-Kannadiga officials in employing people from their own state for jobs in Karnataka even when qualified and eligible Kannadigas have been available in Karnataka. We saw this happening in Central Government departments and PSUs in 60s and 70s; in the IT, ITES and other sectors in the 90s and 2000s. These two waves of industrialization in Karnataka have seen more than a million jobs generated but the number of Kannadigas who have gained employment because of this development is not encouraging in anyway.
The fact that employment is the cause for economic development of the masses, and hence of the land they inhabit is one of the main reasons for the state government to provide sops for increased industrialization. But if employment for Kannadigas in substantial proportions has not been one of the outcomes of this industrialization policy, Karnataka government needs to think about ways to set it right.