Sunday, July 15, 2007

Will the Congress try to make a law for reservation in private sector

The private sector in India is one of the least caste or religious conscious sectors. The private sector, at least bigger businesses and not lala companies, are in the business of making money and want the best of talent and could not care less if the first appelation is Mr. or Ms., cannot care less if the last name is a Gupta or a Ahmed or a Yadav or a Das or any other name. I have first hand experience in that, having been on the interviewing and selection board for candidates, and I have never heard any discussion about the sex or religion or caste of employees. Now there can be many naysayers who complain that smaller companies are more discriminatory, or that the number of applicants is itself skewed in terms of ratios of these different castes such that equally qualified SC/ST candidates are harder to find.
These are all spurious reasons. Businesses are in it to make money, and for that, they need the best of talent. In addition, with anti-discriminatory laws so harsh, it does not seem possible that companies can have policies percolating down to the rank and file that promote discrimination. Now, I am sure that it is true that there are lesser candidates of SC/ST who apply, but that is a failure of the education system. We have had reservation of 22.5% for SC/ST candidates since after independence, and we should be generating enough candidates to make their percentage. The main problem is that the Government has not effectively tackled the discrimination that happens in our rural areas where such discrimination against SC/ST in terms of facilities do happen. I have seen numerous villages where SC's are on the outside, and to change things requires more education and strict application of non-discriminatory policies; which is something that the Government in most states as well as the central Government have failed to do. However, it is not a solution to insist on reservation in non-public companies as the minister Ram Vilas Paswan and earlier Meira Kumar were insisting on:

A day after industry leaders conveyed their opposition to job reservation to the PMO, union minister Ram Vilas Paswan said nothing short of a legislation would guarantee work for SCs/STs in the private sector. Saying India was firmly on the road of globalisation, he suggested that the private sector should begin by recruiting SCs/STs in class III and IV category jobs besides imparting training to class I and II employees.
His reaction came a day after the industry chambers led by their respective presidents and former presidents met Principal Secretary to Prime Minister T K A Nair opposed any legislation on job quota in the private sector.

Industry has a social commitment, but this social commitment falls in the nature of enriching its surroundings, its employees, the neighboring environment, the shareholders, and in general, increasing the wealth of the nation. A key way to do that is to marshal its resources in the best possible way. Forcing reservation on the industry, with its attendant problems regarding reservations in promotions (a merit-based system currently), backlogs causing increasing pressure due to need to fill backlogs tends to cause an incredible amount of pressure.
Whenever there is a discussion around reservation, it always falls to the following argument, 'what is the problem in reserving jobs for SC/ST's since they are equally qualified'? This is a circular argument, since if they are equally qualified, then why would they need reservation, and if they are not qualified in sufficient percentage, then industry should not be forced to take them. As always, the Government really has no answers as to why they cannot take the required long term measures that will really benefit SC/ST's and OBC's: namely, crack down on the educational system so that they get equal and great education, and ensure that any form of discrimination is investigated and punished if found true.
Instead, there is going to be a greater push for reservation in private sector, something that the courts will surely overturn if it is passed by parliament.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 8:38 AM