Reservation in Pvt Sector

Based on: Mr P Vishnumurthy’s Article in JANAMITRA, dtd 4th January 2004, published from Yanam (AP) Pondicherry

The Demand for Reservations in Private Sector is getting increasing momentum in the Country, these days, with every passing day. Various SC&ST Dalit Organisations, including Employees Welfare Associations, are now on warpath. They are demanding the Govt to maintain Social Equilibrium, in all Public Spheres, particularly in the spheres of Education and Employment. On 19th December 2003, Mr AB Vajpayee, the Prime Minister, while speaking before the SC&ST Members of Parliament, said –

Today an important issue has come up. ‘If there are Reservations in Jobs in the Govts, why not in the Private Jobs?’ An atmosphere has to be created for this. This Discrimination has to be removed.

The Govt of India had created a separate Ministry of Disinvestment, to Disinvest and Privatise, Public Sector Units and other Public Sector Enterprises in the Country. All PSUs and PSEs have been established, built up and created with Public Funds and Tax-Payers Money. They are to be the Public Assets, owned by the People. Hence, they are to be managed and held in trust by the Govts. That ignoble Ministry of Dis-Investments in GoI is now selling the Public Assets of the People. Whatever be the justifications, and legal interpretations, that is nothing but a betrayal, and fraud on the People – the Poor and Voiceless, the Marginalised and Helpless. The Govts in facts are really without any Moral and Constitutional Authority, to do that. Billions of Rupees worth Industries Corporations and Assets of the People in this Country, are deliberately being given away. That, to the masters financiers and bosses or friends of the Parties in Power. Now, big windfalls are also being reaped by Foreign Multi-National Corporations of the Countries that are financing greasing or dictating and twisting the arms of those in Govts.

Today, many Govt Industries and PSUs have already been sold off, through various forms of Disinvestments and Privatisation. As a result, employment opportunities for the Poor from the general public, have drastically gone down. It is reported that in the Central Secretariat at Delhi alone, 60,000 Posts, particularly at the lower levels, accessible by the poor and the helpless, have been abolished, during the current year of 2003-04. And about 2 lakh employment all around the Country, have been erased. Thus, the unemployment is going up very rapidly. It is very very high, amongst the youth of the Weaker Sections, like the SC&ST Dalits and other Backward Classes including the Minorities.

Today, there are large number of hamlets and villages, where hardly anyone is employed in organised sectors. And those form, continuously bleeding big sore stretches in the Rural Areas. Therefore, it is no wonder that, the Struggle for Survival to keep the bodies and souls together, is breaking out violently, in the form of extremism. Sadly many States and the Centre, are blindly branding them as Naxalite and Terrorist Violences, or extreme left communist unrest. Any consistent demand for justice and survival, or persistent protest for rights is a punishable offence – and a misinformed or misled communist radical extreme left act of terrorism. On the other hand, all fascist and fundamentalist murders killings rape, swindling looting and burning, are part of Acts of Great Nationalism. Situations, far milder had occurred in some of the Western Countries, as could be seen in very many classical writings stories and novels. Of course, there may be some good number of individuals and groups, who would feel it justified in taking their grudges on the stinking rich exploiting and swindling exploiters of the society. These definitely would inflict, serious damages on the States and the Nation, even if the Govts manage to catch up with the perpetrators of the Violences.

The Private Sector Industries and Business, had always enjoyed many benefits and concessions from Govts at the Centre, as well as in the States and UTs. And these days, pro-business Govts of business controlled and financed parties, are giving many more sops to private business. Govts of Andhra Pradesh and Pondicherry as well as GoI, are providing millions of Rupees worth of subsidies to Private Sector, on investment, cost of land, power and water. So are the exemptions from excise and sales tax, and what not. The Govt of India is further extending many more benefits, such as exemptions from Income Tax, and concessions in export and import levies etc.

We must all clearly realise with out any doubt that, those are all at the cost of the poor, most particularly the SCs&STs. Further, the Private Sector is known for discriminating the SC&ST Dalits in the matter of Employment. How can they be allowed to do that, and still go Scot-free? That too in a Democracy! This is not yet a Dictatorship of Private Sector, or vaishyas/baniyas and businessmen and women. The proof of the pudding is in eating it. How many SC&ST Dalits are employed in the Private Sector? Why so negligible Representations? That, because of the prevailing social biases, caste discriminations and personal prejudices. They are all traditional and historic. Hence, to overcome them, there must be Reservations for SC&ST Dalits, Backward Castes and Minorities. The prevailing biases, prejudices and discriminations at the time of every employment can be overcome, only by Reservations! And there can be no other better way!!

Caste and Caste biases, discriminations and prejudices based on racial considerations like colour, language, religion and race. Those are all behind the marginalisation of SC&ST Dalits everywhere in India today. They are all clever means of exclusions of SC&ST Dalits. That, from their birth to death, admissions to schools and passing out, employment to retirements. Look at the numbers of forced ‘voluntary’ or compulsory retirements. And then there are so many dismissals. Why only SC&ST Dalits? And so many of them. Even the tell tale stories of misery discriminations and harassments at the times of normal retirements are endless and horrifying. It is because of these that SC&ST Dalit Organisations, right from the Villages to the National Capital in New Delhi, are demanding legal protections in Employment in Private Sector. The importance of this demand becomes crucially significant, as the pro-business baniya Govt is consciously and deliberately handing over the control of all Peoples’ Industries and Employment to the Private Sector.

Govts, it is said, exist for the benefit of the People – their security, safety, welfare, development, growth, peace, and also maintenance of law and order in the Nation. The best thing that can ensure these for the Poor, Weak, Helpless and Marginalised is secure and safe Employment. When an individual is employed, on an average three to four, or six to eight family members, and many more relatives, friends and community people are benefited. That on an average, for a period of thirty to forty years. They become examples and nucleus of development for others, in the family community society village and the region.

In case the Jobs are not available in sufficient numbers, and hence employment, if not of all, at least many is not possible, then it becomes the bounden duty of the Govts of the day, to ration out the Jobs, in proportion and equitably amongst all. This, like the rationing of food, during the periods of shortages and famine. If that is not possible, the Govts have no business to be in power. They should back up, leave their offices and go. Therefore, the Govts both in the Centres and States/UTs, must make appropriate laws to provide for proportionate Reservations, and equitable Employment of all and every section of the society in the region. That 100 % for all identifiable groups and communities – such as Castes and Religions.

The more than 100 SC&ST Members of Parliament, elected to the Lok Sabha from all parts of the Country, from almost all political parties, plus those in the Rajya Sabha, had for long been unanimously demanding such Reservations in Private Sector. At least, something like the Affirmative Action in the capitalist United States of America should be done. Various Prime Ministers had also been responding favourably. Only that, they always had lots of inertia, in their minds and hearts. Those were not as quick and sweet, as their tongues and lips. Hence they all had failed to act so far.

The adverse impacts of all the reforms, structural adjustments, liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation, had cumulatively descended on the heads and shoulders of SCs&STs and their households. While PSUs are being palmed off to the private sector, employment opportunities are shrinking. To add to that, Govt Employments are being curtailed deliberately and specifically. Govts are doing very little to create employments in the public sector. Nor are they taking any direct or indirect steps to generate new employment opportunities in the private sector. Nor are the Govts doing anything for accrual of regular incomes or even reasonable wages to the people. The Govts that are handing over the PSUs and PSEs of the People to private business, has a duty to answer the Weaker Sections. That becomes the Govts Political Responsibilities and Constitutional Duties.

If the Govts now fail to act, in spite of sympathetically responding in words, speech, debates and discussions, Jobs in the organised sector and regular decent wages would become ‘unreachable far distant dreams’ for the youth in the Country. Govts must wake up to intervene before it becomes too late. Otherwise, it would rather become impossible to prevent development of extremism, as the only way of life both in the rural areas, and urban settlements. The Govts must specifically protect and shield the Weaker Sections from bloating up the numbers of Naxalites. Their attention minds and lives should be tooted in education, oriented towards creativity employment and jobs, and intertwined or tied to learning, reforming and building up the society, peacefully with justice and equity.

The Prime Minister observed in the Meeting, that there could be no coercion on the issue. But at the same time he reminded the private sector that, it can not exist in isolation, and must be responsive to the needs of the society. He also said that, the private sector must create an atmosphere for provision of employment for the Members of SCs, STs and OBCs in the Country.

Is this just an Election Time Drama? Or is it only a meaningless statement read out from the prepared speech by the speechwriters? Or is it deliberate postures meant to be forgotten, to betray and cheat the SC&ST Dalits?

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