Quota for weaker sections in private sector demanded

HYDERABAD, APRIL 29. The need for extending mandatory reservations to SCs, STs and BCs in the private sector, if necessary by a law or amendment, was stressed by speakers at a seminar on "Liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation - threats to employment opportunities for weaker sections" here on Sunday.

The seminar was organised by the Mahatma Jyotirao Phule Institute of Social Justice and Dr. B. R. Ambedkar People's Educational Trust and ended with the adoption of resolutions on reservation in the private sector and other allied issues.

Mr. P. S. Krishnan, former Member-Secretary, National Commission for Backward Classes, spoke of how there was no mention of reservation rights for SCs, STs and BCs in the MoU signed between the Government and Sterlite, on sale of BALCO to the latter. The MoU seemed to be oblivious of the existence of a category of Indians, designated by the Constitution as backward classes, socially and educationally, and who account for the majority of the population.

He said this kind of privatisation, on the one hand impinges on the traditional and constitutional rights of STs to their land and on the other eliminates the existing employment rights of the other backward classes. What is sad is that no one has raised the issue of reservation rights of these sections in extensive debates in the media.

Referring to the row between Enron's Dabhol Power Company and the Maharashtra State Electricity Board, he wondered how the country had got into such a mess. Is it an inherent aspect of globalisation? Is it because of rank ignorance on the part of a system which prides itself on "efficiency" and "merit" and invokes them as mantras to exorcise the frightening spectre of SC, ST and BC? It raises disquieting doubts about the capacity of the Indian elite--political, administrative and financial--to enter into global arrangements without doing harm not only to SCs, STs and BCs who form 75 per cent of the population but also the totality of India's economic interests in even purely commercial terms.

He said efforts need to be made in securing a clause in all MoUs on privatisation of PSUs mandating continuance of reservation for SCs, STs and BCs, right of reservation in private sector and securing the right of participation of authentic representatives of these sections in all stages of decision-making in liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation.

Mr. T. Gopala Rao, Principal Secretary, Industries, while supporting liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation, as it did wonders to countries like China, wanted the safety net spread around deprived classes. No economic reform can change the deep- rooted mindset on caste, he said and warned that there would be social unrest, if the rulers tried to leave the weaker sections out, at a time when the Government jobs were shrinking in the name of downsizing and rightsizing. He suggested bringing in a specific Act to make reservation mandatory in the private sector.

Mr. B. Danam, Principal Secretary, Labour and Employment, too said the right of reservation should be extended to the private sector, through a law or amendment to existing law as 80 per cent of the investment in any private industry is public finance coming from various public institutions and banks.

Mr. V. T. Rajaskehar, Editor, Dalit Voice of Bangalore and Mr. Appala Prasad, State Organising Secretary, Swadeshi Jagran Manch, spoke. Mr. Babu Rao Verma, vice-president of the Mahatma Jyotirao Phule Institute of Social Justice, welcomed the gathering.

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