India, Inc. jittery over job quotas
This is scary and riduculous……..!!
I hope it does not go through….arZan
India, Inc. jittery over job quotas
ABHINABA DAS & K YATISH RAJAWAT
TIMES NEWS NETWORK[ MONDAY, MAY 31, 2004 12:05:16 AM ]
MUMBAI: The UPA is likely to open a Pandora?s Box, as it plans to bring in job reservations for the underprivileged in the private sector .
There are also some who are secretly wishing that even if job reservation in the private sector becomes a reality, the overall percentage will be too low and all the jobs will be at the level of office support staff.
?How is it even possible? I can?t believe they are serious about it,? an incredulous head of a large industrial house asked ET. For Indian corporates, striving to become globally competitive, the ? reservation scare? comes at a time when their expectations of labour reforms are as good as over, at least for now.
Says CII president Anand Mahindra: ?This matter has to be dealt with extremely carefully. The concept of reservation without reference to merit could have a distorting effect on the operations of the private sector. We are, however, glad that the government is initiating a dialogue to solicit all points of view, including that of the industry, before making any specific policy changes.?
Industry observers however say the talk about job reservations, which is seen as a move to appease the Left, could flare up into a major issue as it will face ?tremendous resistance? from all quarters of Indian industry. ?There will be uniform resistance to this desire. At a time when the domestic market has been opened up and the manufacturing sector as a whole is looking at ways to downsize operations to become globally competitive, how can the government think of putting such a heavy burden on us,? says the CEO of a leading domestic company.
There is also a feeling from a section of Indian industry that the omission of other backward castes (OBCs) and the physically handicapped from the category of people who would qualify for job reservation, in case a consensus is reached, could be a deliberate attempt to get some support from the private sector.
The big worry for the private sector, however, is that most political parties, regardless of their personal views, could voice their support for job reservations, as it could otherwise affect their political support, particularly among the sections concerned.
If the reservation issue gathers traction in the coming days, apex industry chambers like CII, Ficci and Nasscom will have a lot of fire-fighting to do. ?A lot will also depend on how unified the opposition from the private sector will be,? said a top industrialist. ?Indian industry is very resilient when it comes to dealing with regulations. We will have to see how to deal with this,? says the head of the large industry house quoted earlier.
According to Kiran Karnik, president of the National Association of Software Services Companies (Nasscom): ?We are for affirmative action but we believe it has to be at the base level and not at the apex level. The government should look at the primary, secondary and up to the highest education level, even the IIMs, for such reservation. It does not make any sense to do it at the job level as it will completely destroy the meritocracy in the private sector.?
There is a feeling that in high skill sectors like software it is difficult for affirmative action to work and is likely to affect India?s image in the global environment.
?If the underprivileged section of society has to be economically advanced, it has to be brought to the same education level as the other sections of the society,? Mr Karnik said.
Says Nanik Rupani, president, Indian Merchants? Chamber: ?Such a move will send out a wrong message to the investor. As per my knowledge, nowhere in the world is there reservation based on caste. You have to respect the sentiment of the employer or wealth creator. While I am totally for the upliftment of the backward classes, employment opportunities should be based on merit and capability rather than reservation. In my opinion, investors would perceive this aspect as another obstacle in their path of development, which may lead them to invest in other economies like China.?
The immediate provocation for that contentious paragraph in the CMP seems to emanate from an old demand from some of the allies which have a large support base among the scheduled castes/tribes. The reasoning is as follows: PSUs, where reservation has been in existence for a while now, have all been implementing voluntary separation schemes.
Politicians feel that with the overall headcount coming down in the PSUs, the number of job opportunities available for SC/ST will also dwindle, given that reservation is a percentage of the total number of employees in an organisation. Therefore, their contention is that reservation now makes sense in the private sector, to enable economic and social mobility for the SC/ST.