Quota for Punjabis proposal: Move may be last nail in dying industry’s coffin, say traders

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The state government recently proposed a quota for Punjabis in government and private sector jobs, industrialists point out that Punjab industry is largely dependent on migrant labour

With the state government proposing a reservation for Punjabis in government and private sector jobs, a section of industry has opposed the move, appealing to the state government to keep the industry away from quota.

Stating that the Punjab industry is largely dependent on migrant labour, members of All Industries and Trade Forum (AITF) rued that fixing quota for locals in private industries may be the last nail in the coffin of the state’s sinking manufacturing sector. The forum has written to chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi, expressing their concerns with regard to the proposal.

The members said there are around 30 lakh migrant workers in the state and around 6 lakh have settled permanently in Punjab.

President of the forum, Badish Jindal said according to a study carried out by the Centre for Development Economics and Innovation Studies (CDEIS) of Punjabi University, 70% of the people coming to the cities are from outside the state and only 30% belong to rural Punjab. The MSME industries in Punjab have 70% to 90% workforce from outside the state and the large and medium industries employ between 30% and 60% non-Punjabi workers, the study says, adding 90% of unskilled workers in industries are migrants.

Jindal said, “The industry is already reeling under recession due to locational disadvantages, the ongoing pandemic and many other factors and this proposal, if implemented, will result in closure of a large number of industrial units. This may also affect the proposed investment in the state by different companies and corporate houses. The proposed law is not only against the constitutional provisions, but is also against the basic principle of meritocracy that acts as the foundation for businesses to grow and remain competitive. If at all the proposal has to be implemented, it should be implemented in the government sector only.”


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