28 September, 2020

Reserved? SEZ Who?

The rejigged SEZ proposal may bring in job reservation in the private sector

Reserved? SEZ Who?

Initially, it was believed to be a breakthrough policy, which will help India create pockets of manufacturing excellence. A major reforms initiative that will create superior infrastructure to attract foreign and domestic investments—as is the case with China's Shenzhen, Chengdu, Zhuhai and Guangdong—on home soil. Unfortunately, it turned into a bitter battle between the commerce ministry, which initiated the idea, and the finance ministry which rejected it vehemently. Two staunch carriers of the liberal torch—P. Chidambaram, who fancies himself as a better reformer than PM Manmohan Singh, and Kamal Nath, who says he was single-handedly responsible for FDI in retail sector—went to war on the issue.

SEZs, or special economic zones, came to be jokingly known as special encounter zones in bureaucratic circles. Finance ministry officials criticised Kamal Nath's SEZ policy, and the FM launched a personal attack against it. Within the opposition circles in several states which were responsible for giving local clearances to SEZ proposals, it became a tool to strike...


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