Challenging Privilege: A Case For Private Sector Reservations

Dear All ,


Following is an interesting article on Private Sector Reservations by K S R
Murthy in TOI dtd 08/10/2004.
The link is

Jayant Ramteke
Challenging Privilege: A Case For Private Sector Reservations

[ FRIDAY, OCTOBER 08, 2004 12:00:00 AM ]
Dear Mr Bajaj,

It was engaging to read your article 'Devoid of Merit' (Sep 21). I was moved to
hear that your grandfather Jamnalalji in 1928 was a pioneer in helping Harijans
enter the Lakshminarayan temple in Wardha. Hailing from such a family, you too
would surely be well disposed towards the depressed classes. It is not a small
achievement to employ 34 per cent of 3,800 employees from the SC, ST and other
backward classes. In the government and public sector we have yet to see more
than 15-20 per cent of SC/ST composition even after 56 years of Independence.

Your suggestion that the profile of hundred top companies in our country should
be studied is good. I would request you to initiate a study on behalf of FICCI
or CII.

You observed that "an individual selected on the basis of caste acts differently
as compared to the one selected on the basis of merit. Such a person knows that
his position is guaranteed for life". While pleading for reservation in private
sector, we would not support the absorption of any inefficient person by you.
But I do not think persons recruited on reservations will give an opportunity
for indiscipline for inefficiency. They only need to be treated with sympathy
and understanding, and trained for brief periods. You will not normally come
across corruption among these officers.

In the US there are a large number of blacks in American universities,
government departments, private sector, journalism, TV and radio. Do you come
across that kind of representation in India in spite of 56 years of
reservations? Our universities are the biggest violators. You have observed that
reservation has a lot to do with the decline in effectiveness of government.
Effective reservation in government and public sector today is hardly 15 per
cent, of which 10 per cent is in the category of attendants, drivers, watchmen,
clerks, etc. Only 5 per cent are in the higher echelons of services like IAS and
IPS. Can this percentage of reservation be responsible for the decline of

In politics though 22 per cent of MLAs and MPs are from our lot, portfolios like
home, finance, revenue, commercial taxes, excise, transport, irrigation and
power are still the privilege of the upper castes.

My fear is that when the states, the Central government and the PSUs in the
country could not achieve even 22 per cent reservation in the last 56 years, how
would affirmative action help? Reservations have not been implemented in the
judiciary. Out of 485 high court judges in the country, only 21 judges belong to
SC/ST communities. The Supreme Court does not have a single SC/ST judge. When
former president K R Narayanan tried to suggest the elevation of one of these
SC/ST high court judges to the apex court, there was a furore. Scientific
establishments and defence services have also barred reservations in their
departments. A detailed study of reservation implemented in the country needs to
be carried out in all fairness. The bureaucracy is so hostile that it prescribes
qualifications which are very high while preparing rules for recruitment. As a
result, several reserved posts remain unfilled.

When I was secretary in charge of the panchayati raj department in Andhra
Pradesh, about 7,000 elementary schoolteachers' posts were kept vacant for more
than two decades in tribal areas. These posts were reserved for STs. It was
brought to my notice that matriculation was a necessary qualification for an ST
to become an elementary schoolteacher. Several tribal leaders told me that if,
instead of passing matriculation, study up to matriculation were made the rule,
most of the posts would be filled. I obtained the orders of the chief minister,
and all the posts were filled in quick time. I organised a month's training
programme for these people and they became successful teachers. A small
relaxation in qualification together with some training thereafter can make
reservation policy a success. If you pose this solution to bureaucrats, none of
them will support it.

I entered the IAS in 1959 after studying in a Telugu medium school. I went on to
become a secretary to government of India. How many SC/ST secretaries to
government of India do we have every year? I cannot get a house on rent in
Hyderabad if my caste is known. My children might be educated in best schools
and occupy important positions but no upper caste Hindu offers his children in

Atrocities continue to this day. The incident cited by you about a director of
NITIE, Mumbai, who was sent to prison because of a complaint made by a Dalit is
unfortunate. But do you know 90 per cent of the cases registered under the SC
and ST Prevention of Atrocities Act are dropped in courts of law in the country
due to inadequate investigation and pressure on witnesses?

Even an opportunity for good education is hard to realise. But for Dr B R
Ambedkar and his reservations I do not think even a few of us would have risen
to occupy positions in government and politics.

It is true that the government must improve the facilities in education, health
and transport for these communities. We, under no circumstances, would plead for
protection for ineffective and dishonest SCs/STs. But please appreciate that
people from these communities are more committed to the development of the

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