Onderstaand artikel is gepubliceerd in/published in: The Hindu, 1-6-2005

Staff Correspondent
Industry backs plan for SCs, STs

Support given after assurance that it will not be statutory obligation

  • "Historic breakthrough for government"
  • Industry to implement more social justice schemes
  • Turnaround after initial opposition

    NEW DELHI: Several leading industrial houses have backed the Government's commitment to provide greater opportunities to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes as part of affirmative action, including job reservation in the private sector.

    Corporate houses were assured that the Government would not resort to legislative action to impose a statutory obligation of reservation on them.

    "Historic breakthrough"

    Announcing the "historic breakthrough" at a press conference here on Tuesday, the Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister, Meira Kumar, said captains of industry had "overcome their initial opposition to stand for the first time on a common platform to recognise the fact that merit is not a natural phenomenon but shaped by social circumstance."

    In a joint letter on behalf of more than a dozen corporate houses, the Tata group of companies chairperson, Ratan Tata, said: "The need is not just to provide jobs but incubate the mergence of a robust entrepreneurial class of youth from the SC/ST.

    "The imperatives of a competitive economy require that industry place a premium on merit," the letter said.

    The industrial houses must create an environment where the SC/STs can become as meritorious as any other youth when they enter their economically productive years.

    "We commit to expand our current activities for disadvantaged persons with regard to scholarships, company-run private schools, partnership with government schools, vocational training and other development programme. We will do this through credible voluntary groups and implement in letter and spirit a programme of affirmative action to empower persons who are socially and economically backward,'' the letter said.

    The signatories were "reassured to learn from the Government that it had no intention of resorting to legislative action to impose a statutory obligation of reservations on industry."


    The signatories to the letter include Anu Aga (Thermax group of companies); Rahul Bajaj (Bajaj group); Kumaramangalam Birla (Aditya Birla group); Naushad Forbes (Forbes Marshall India); Jamshyd N. Godrej (Godrej and Boyce Manufacturing Company Ltd); F.T. Khorakiwala (Switz group); H.F. Khorakiwala (Wockhardt Ltd); Suresh Krishna (TVS Group); Keshub Mahindra (Mahindra and Mahindra); A.C. Muthiah (First Leasing Company of India); B. Muthuraman (Tata Steel); N.R. Murthy (Infosys); Deepak Parekh (HDFC Bank); Azim Premji (Wipro); S. Ramadorai (Tata Consultancy Services); Gurpreet Singh (Continental Devices); and Gautam Thapar (Crompton Greaves). The others who signed the letter were Tarun Das and Sunil Kant Munjal, former chairpersons of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), A.S. Ganguly, former chairman of Hindustan Lever and Rafiq Zakaria, academician.

    Ms. Kumar said it was a big achievement for the Government since there was opposition when the concept of affirmative action, including reservation in private sector was mooted about a year ago. "That the corporate houses have agreed to discuss affirmative action shows that Indian industry fully supports the Government in addressing this important social goal. This is the first step towards a bigger goal we are targeting to achieve.''

    Denying that the industry had agreed to the concept of affirmative action after an assurance from the Government that it would not insist on legislation, Ms. Kumar said there was no mention of any legislation in the national common minimum programme of the United Progressive Alliance Government. "But a commitment on affirmative action would subsequently include job reservation in the private sector.''

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