Govt tells India Inc to fix 5% job quota for SC/STs

With India Inc not being seen as having done enough about affirmative
action over the last five years, the government plans to insist on a
5% reservation in jobs by the private sector for disadvantaged
sections, particularly scheduled castes and scheduled tribes

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), under
Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, has told the corporate
sector that companies benefiting from various government incentives
may be asked to reserve about 5% of their employment needs for
scheduled castes and scheduled tribes (SC/STs).

“We have asked the industry chambers -- the Confederation of Indian
Industry, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry
(FICCI), and the Associated Chambers of Commerce -- to submit their
views on this suggestion,” a DIPP official told the media.

In May this year, Social Justice Minister Mukul Wasnik wrote to the
prime minister seeking a review of the government’s efforts to
persuade the private sector to take affirmative action. In his meeting
with the Trade and Industry Council, the prime minister asked the
corporate sector to chip in more to improve social inclusion.

“But their intervention is restricted to promoting employability
through vocational training,” noted a government official. Ever since
the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the
Centre promised to introduce job reservations in the private sector
there have been negative reactions from some elite industry quarters.

The main intention of the job reservation policy is to assure
empowerment of dalits who constitute around 16% of India’s population.

Clearly, none of the industry chambers want quota legislation although
all acknowledge much more can be done for disadvantaged sections. “We
reckon that the government is under political pressure to show
tangible results on the affirmative action front. But reservation will
endanger merit,” said a senior chamber executive.

Top executives in the three chambers, who did not wish to be quoted,
said India Inc was better off without job quotas. “But we are not
opposed to the idea of affirmative action -- improving prospects for
disadvantaged sections in getting jobs,” said a senior FICCI

Towards this end, each chamber adopted a district about six months ago
based on DIPP’s recommendations. FICCI adopted Sonbhadra in Uttar
Pradesh, CII, Naushera in Punjab, and Assocham Cooch Behar in West

Incidentally, the Government of India made some attempt to get dalits
reservation facilities in the private sector in 1965. But the move did
not receive much support. The Indira Gandhi-led government also tried
to proceed with reservations in 1972, but failed.

Post-globalisation, the condition of dalits became worse as the role
of the public sector weakened. According to a report of the Working
Group (Tenth Five-Year Plan, Planning Commission) on Empowering of
SCs, 113,450 dalits lost their jobs, in 1992-97, in the central
government (public sector) alone.

Source: The Indian Express, August 3, 2010
  , July 24, 2010


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