Hire on merit, Bangalore IT employers told

A pressure group in India's Karnataka state, of which IT hub Bangalore is the capital, has failed to force Bangalore IT companies to hire locals.

The government in the south Indian state of Karnataka announced recently that it agreed with the view of local IT companies that recruitment to IT companies should be decided on merit and that there should be no job quotas for natives of the state.

The announcement comes shortly after activists of the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (Karnataka Protection Forum) protested outside the headquarters of Infosys Technologies, India’s second-largest outsourcing company. The protestors were demanding more jobs in IT companies for the native, Kannada-speaking population of Karnataka state.

Bangalore, which is the capital of Karnataka, has emerged as a software development and services hub. Many large Indian outsourcing companies and development subsidiaries of multinational IT vendors have operations in the city.

The government endorses the stand of the IT companies that recruitment should be strictly on merit, Karnataka state IT secretary MK Shankaralinge Gowda says.

The protest by the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike reflects the concerns of the native Kannadiga population about the changing demographics of the city.

The outsourcing boom has been met to a large extent by migration into the city from other states of the country and by non-Kannadiga populations that were already resident in the city.

However, IT companies say that they are hiring locally, though they don’t really check out how many of their staff are Kannadiga.

For example, Infosys hires from 46 engineering colleges in the state and has development centres in three locations in the state, an Infosys spokeswoman says.

Although the Vedike is a fringe organisation, the demand for jobs in the IT sector for Kannadiga natives has also been raised in the past by politicians in the local government.

Earlier this month, the state’s minister for finance and industries, PGR Sindhia, said IT companies, which were demanding better infrastructure for the city, should recognise that it is equally important to provide employment to Kannadiga people in their firms.

However, the government, in a subsequent reconciliation meeting with the IT industry over the city’s deteriorating infrastructure, conceded that employment in the IT industry would have to be based on merit alone.

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