Special Correspondent

Sets up task force to empower disadvantaged sections of society

NEW DELHI: The Confederation of Indian Industry on Thursday came out openly against mandatory job reservation in the private sector for the socially underprivileged sections. At the same time in a somewhat conciliatory gesture it announced a task force to recommend affirmative action for the weaker classes.

Announcing constitution of the Task Force for Affirmative Action, new CII chief R. Seshasayee at his first press conference strongly objected to mandatory reservation of jobs.

"Mandatory reservation in any form is not conducive to competitiveness of industry. It is not acceptable," Mr. Seshasayee declared.

Taking cue from what the Prime Minister had said while inaugurating the annual meet of his body, he, however, said that industry needed to take positive action to empower the backward classes.

"To ensure that SCs, STs and OBCs are able to compete and acquire job skills and as our response to the Government's call for reservation in the private sector, we are setting up a task force on affirmative action under the chairmanship of J.J. Irani," said Mr. Seshasayee, who is also the Managing Director of Ashok Leyland.

On legislation

Asked if the Government will bring in legislation making reservation mandatory, he said: "I do think the Government will be responsive to a dialogue. We are committed for positive action. I do not think legislation is a solution. If there is a law you have to abide by it."

Mr. Seshasayee said, "We are an externally engaged economy. We have many global companies here. If such a law is brought in these MNCs might say why should we set shop here and they will move out. If the legislation is only for domestic industry even then it will be detrimental."

The task force would submit the action plan in eight weeks, he said, adding that the plan would focus on education, skills development, employability, entrepreneurship and social development.

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