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Quota in private sector

Highlights

Indian private sector is largely unorganised and informal. Employment is not permanent and to a large extent even seasonal. It is not possible to implement reservations in such a sector

Indian private sector is largely unorganised and informal. Employment is not permanent and to a large extent even seasonal. It is not possible to implement reservations in such a sector

Certain political parties and social groups are demanding reservations in private sector. In fact, the UPA government earlier thought of introducing it, but, retreated due to the opposition from corporate India. Reservations are the constitutionally mandated positive discrimination aimed at correcting social injustice done to certain sections of society. The advocates of reservations in private sector often argue that the Constitution is applicable to both public and private sectors. In the post-liberalisation economy, employment in public sector is wilting away. Private sector is fast becoming a significant source of employment, especially quality employment.

The very idea of reservations becomes largely irrelevant when it is not extended to private sector when India is pursuing free market economy. The new economy stands testimony to this. A study done by VV Giri National Labour Institute revealed that Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes form a negligible proportion of employment in Business Process Outsourcing and other IT-enabled services sector. Similarly, another study done by Centre for Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) in Delhi revealed that SCs, STs and even OBCs constitute only a meagre per cent of decision-making jobs in both print and electronic media .

Notwithstanding this justification for implementing reservation in private sector, the proposal is fraught with many practical difficulties and implications for the economy. Despite decades of implementation of reservations, official statistics reveal that the reserved posts are not fully filled up in government sector itself. When implementation of reservations could not be monitored and ensured in government, where is the mechanism to do so in private sector? The 11th Five Year Plan period has seen substantial increase in the contract and casual employment, observed the approach paper to 12th Plan. Any mandate to implement reservations in private sector would result in greater trend towards contract and casual employment. Indian private sector is largely unorganized and informal.

Employment is not permanent and to a large extent even seasonal. It is not possible to implement reservations in such a sector, which accounts for more than 90 per cent of the total employment in India. Private sector has to operate in a globally competitive market. The post liberalization period has increased competition, volatility and vulnerability in the economy. Corporates argue that they cannot balance between compulsion of such competitive market and discharge of social agenda. Any such move by the government would adversely affect productivity and efficiency, they contend. However, an affirmative action is needed to uplift socially and economically marginalised sections of society.

The youth should be given education, skill, enterprise and capacity rather than sops to sustain. Our youth should be transformed into creators of wealth rather than mere job-seekers. The social emancipation and economic growth cannot be mutually exclusive. The government should concentrate on substantially enhancing the productive capacity of under privileged sections rather than condemning them to a life dependent on eternal patronage. Economic reality should prevail over political populism.

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