11 August, 2005
At the outset, the main purpose of the reservation policy was to ensure social and economic justice; thereby realize the goal of the empowerment of the dalits and tribals. It can address certain social inequalities that pervade Indian society for so long. For, these social inequalities leave the so-called low castes deprived in everything from education to economy. Thus, the policy of job reservations intends to bring about proportional representation, as it is a mode of distributing benefits based on the proportion of population i.e. 15 percent for the Schedule Castes (SCs) and 7.5 percent for Scheduled Tribes (STs).
Thanks to Dr. BRAmbedkar’s instrumental role in the constitution making, the governments are bound to implement them on the basis of the principle of distributive justice and compensation for past disadvantages. But then, that was confined to only the public sector that had been shrinking over a period of time. At a time when the number of educated among these unprivileged classes is increasing in geometrical progression, their share of jobs in the public sector is dwindling on end. This is more so since the last decade and half, all in the name of so-called globalisation and till date.
Now that there is some political consensus, as is evident from the latest conclave of national leaders of all parties including the Left ones in Delhi recently, emerging from several quarters, the Central government of all nomenclatures is under the obligation to implement the job reservations in the private sector too. Of course, there were several Ambedkar organizations and Dalit-based parties raised this issue of private reservations for the past decade or so. Since the Upper class-oriented business class was adamant to concede this measure, no political party was willing to bulldoze its decision on the private sector. However, thanks to vote-bank politics, the political parties of all hues are compelled to consider the serious nature of this demand and thereby echoed with the aspirations of the underprivileged classes.
Ever since the present United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government at the Centre promised to introduce job reservations in the private sector, there were acrimonious reactions from some quarters. In fact, as part of its Common Minimum Programme (CMP), the Congress-led political coalition provided this measure in the election manifesto more than one year ago. While there were no serious objections raised from the very private sector since then, certain sections are at great pains to digest it. As usual, a section of media has always been biased against the downtrodden and dalit communities in this country. Thus, it evoked sharp reaction from such vested interests in the media and elsewhere.
Incidentally, the so-called experts who seldom supported for the job Reservations in the public sector for so long are also the ones who raised objections to the same this time in the private sector. As a result, the UPA promise (Reservations in Private Sector) has created many a controversy on the subject. That in turn was responsible to raise certain pertinent questions. For instance, whether dalits and downtrodden should be given some preference in the employment sector? Whether this preference based on their mere birth in a particular caste or community is justified? Why is this to be given to certain people? These are some serious questions that deserve attention.
This concept of ‘Reservations’ aimed at ensuring the betterment of underprivileged and deprived sections of society was sabotaged from ‘within’ in the initial days. Thus, these reservations were being renewed decade after decade. Even though constitutional obligations are binding upon all the government departments, not more than ten percent of reservations were ever implemented. It is only in the last few years, owing to the efforts of some dalit leaders and their movements that there was some improvement in this direction. The fact that several governments both at the centre and in states and public sector units were found to be advertising, the ‘backlog vacancies’ in the name of special-drives, so as to recruit members from these reserved categories vindicate the above proposition.
Even then, none of the departments could ever claim that required vacancies were filled up. More than the case of lack of availability of suitable candidates in these communities for the prescribed positions, it is the employers’ biased attitude against such candidates that is largely responsible for the prevailing situation. However, except in the top-level central services, the jobs in the other categories are still unoccupied by the dalit candidates. Of course, some court cases in the Supreme Court a couple of years ago, filed by the of All India Confederation SC &ST Organizations, could help the community in securing some justice in terms of revising the orders of promotion among other benefits.
This is long-awaited measure and of course welcomed by all sections of society. Obviously, even a section of the business class is willing to implement it, how so difficult it may appear to be as far as its feasibility is concerned. For, there are certain apprehensions expressed by several persons cutting across all castes and communities. Not just because the very security of private job is at the mercy of the management, but also because the government does not have any role in protecting the private employee. Since the government plays or intends to play the role of best spectator in the operations of private sector, private job aspirants, be they from general category or from others, have to merely dependent on none other than themselves!
In any case, this concept of private reservation cannot be considered as charity, but a right from a government that exposed its hollowness. Further, it is a necessity as the government failed to create jobs to its qualified aspirants. In other words, the nature of private job is such that there is hardly any guarantee (in terms of pay and period) to that job! It is so insecure that one should continue searching for jobs as usual, of course till a government job is secured. Then, why should there be such hue and cry about the ‘reservations in private sector’?
The author can be reached at Kvsagar2@rediffmail.com