The recent announcement by the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister that only those domiciled in the state would be eligible for government jobs in the State.
India has been witness to many versions of the ‘sons of the soil’ argument over decades.
Some states are trying to introduce various types of domicile eligibility for job seekers, in private and government jobs. Some states are pushing measures to give priority to locals in employment in the private sector while some states are pushing for reservation of government jobs for the locals.
The developments seem to denote a certain mainstreaming of nativism with more political parties and states appearing to be adopting the ‘sons of the soil’ argument.
Similar demands are propositions that have been made in the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana and Telangana in recent years.
Apart from the regional parties which have always focused on local sentiments, even the national parties seem to be taking forward the ‘sons of the soil’ argument.
The calls for reservation for locals go against the spirit of national integration.
Such moves are meant to incite local passions in order to divert public attention from the real challenge of generating employment for the country’s increasing youth population.
India has a severe unemployment crisis and nativism cannot solve this problem.
The corporates often view increasing nativism with scepticism.
Migrant populations fulfil a market demand created by gaps in skills and preferences. The move to restrict migrant inflow can lead to a lack of requisite human resources in the region.
Nativism can aggravate the employment crisis by creating a hostile environment to investment, growth and employment generation.
There is a need to guard against the rising tide of nativism while accepting the exceptions provided in the legal and constitutional scheme of India to manage its remarkable diversity.
States requiring a certain proficiency in the local language to be employed in government jobs, which is for administrative reasons, cannot be counted as regionalism.
A restriction on the movement of people into tribal areas of India does not amount to regionalism.