Should there be job reservation in the private sector? From times of india:- It is essential to ensure social justice and democratise wealth. Social justice is the bedrock of any democracy. A society shaped and controlled by the ideology of caste militates against the concept of social justice. A fair society is possible only when hierarchies conceived and nurtured by the caste system are destroyed. Reservations in the fields of education and employment for people who have been on the wrong end of the caste hierarchy is a constitutional means to do it.
All this while, the provision for affirmative action in the form of reservations has been employed only in the public sector. With the State increasingly receding from the spheres of education and employment generation, it is time the policy of affirmative action is introduced in the private sector occupying the space. Or else, the old social order where the upper castes controlled wealth as well as the means of production and the lower castes took care of jobs that essentially facilitated the status quo will continue to hold fort in the future too.
A total destruction of caste is possible only when both the ideology as well as the economic order it created are defeated. Job reservations are a must for the latter. They are an integral part of the process of democratising the distribution of wealth. In today’s world, the caste that historically had access to education, power and wealth is at an advantage. That is why one can rarely find a dalit or an adivasi among professionals, be it in the infotech sector or any other private sector industry.
A level playing field in the Indian context necessitates the creation of unequal opportunities favourable to the lower castes. What-happens-to-merit is only an argument that seeks to maintain the status quo in favour of the upper castes. It is also preposterous to argue that merit is the dominant criterion for employment in the private sector. Social linkages, including caste and family ties, matter a lot in a sector where an overwhelming amount of businesses are family-run. There is no evidence yet of merit being hereditary.
What the private sector in India needs to do is to take the cue from the developed world. Companies such as Microsoft and Intel have called for affirmative action in admissions to educational institutions as well as hiring in the US. Rather than wait for the state to legislate, the industry should take the initiative to seek diversity among its workforce. That is how the private sector could play a role in creating a more democratic society in the country. Protectionism, including that of private (read caste) interests, goes against the spirit of democracy as well as capitalism.
MADMAN’S WEB:- The ugly word “reservation” is making an appearance again in the legislative circles. Now, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati is considering passing a law making a certain percentage of private sector jobs available only to backward castes. Job reservations for “backward” castes, regardless of merit, have been present in government and public sector jobs for a long time now. Isn’t it enough that we have to endure the appeasement of vote banks by shameless politicians? Why should the government interfere in the running of private companies and dictate its employment policies?
Unlike the government, social justice (or the appearance of it) isn’t one of the responsibilities of private corporations. A corporation exists to make money for its shareholders. While you could argue that it has a duty to its employees, it doesn’t have a duty to employ. A private corporation should be free to hire whoever it wishes, competent or not, justified or not, and pursue whatever path it thinks will lead to profitability. The government’s meddling will only result in more social divisions.
Do they honestly think people who get hired only because “there’s a quota for them” will be welcomed with open arms by other employees or that they will have a great career path? Reservations were originally intended to be a temporary measure; something to have in place while the government tried to provide education to the so-called backward castes and get them to equal societal and economic status. That they continue to exist only points to the utter failure of the government to do so in the last 55 years since we became independent.
You’d expect a politician like Mayawati to resort to such tactics, but what do you say when members of the intelligentsia also support these policies? JK points to this news article in which Narayana Murthy, the Indian media’s God of the software industry, opposes caste-based reservations proposed by Karnataka Chief Minister S M Krishna. He, however, extends his support for economic criteria-based reservations in our companies. In other words, Murthy wants us to reserve a certain percentage of jobs for the poor. No, it’s not for government jobs but in the private sector.
I’m not sure why Murthy, a capitalist for sure, is making such a statement. Why does he want to force philanthropy on us? Why isn’t he content with just hiring the best people, regardless of their economic background? His hypocrisy shows through in that he doesn’t think his own company, Infosys Technologies Limited, is a good place to start practising what he preaches. Does Infosys reserve any percentage of its jobs — and I mean the serious software development jobs, not the lower end “office attendant” type — for poorer people?
No, they certainly don’t. If Murthy is serious about his intentions, let him put his money where his mouth is. That may, however, present a problem because there’s something already there. His foot. From Financial Express : – The Common Minimum Programme (CMP) of the Congress-led government released on Thursday advocates that the government engages in dialogue with political parties, industry and other organisations for job reservation in the private sector for scheduled caste and scheduled tribe youth.
While the political compulsions of coalition politics may have given rise to this recommendation, it goes against the logic of economic efficiency and is clearly undesirable. It seems unlikely that the parties demanding job reservation have thought through the economic implications of their demand. To be efficient, it is desirable that enterprises be allowed to hire the best available talent, regardless of the caste or class the latter may belong to, with the selection being based only on the suitability of the candidate for the job based on his or her qualifications, experience, and potential.
This is as true for the private sector as it is for the public sector. Job reservation, whether in the private or public sector, introduces additional market distortions and leads to sub-optimal outcomes, and is thus undesirable. The pledge to have such a dialogue has been interpreted by some as revealing of the government’s desire to persuade the private sector to have job reservation. But what incentives will the government give the private sector to reserve jobs? Will the private sector be truly persuaded or will they be compelled to be persuaded?
Will those private sector enterprises that do reserve jobs be rewarded, and compensated by the government? And if so, how? Will the compensation/reward be sufficient to cover any losses that the private sector enterprise may have incurred while reserving jobs? Will this reward be decided on a case-by-case basis, which, as some have pointed out, can soon become “suitcase-by-suitcase” basis? Further, having persuaded a private sector enterprise to hire, will the government also persuade the enterprise not to fire?
Clearly, job reservation, apart from being undesirable from the standpoint of economic efficiency, would also throw open a Pandora’s box full of contentious issues. Instead of job reservation, what is needed to improve the lot of the socially deprived classes is better access to education, generation of suitable employment opportunities, and a social safety net. The private sector can and does have an important role to play in uplifting the deprived classes, but this cannot be through job reservation.
The private sector can contribute through greater public-private partnership in providing education and other amenities to… the deprived classes, setting up of industrial or small-scale units with employment opportunities suitable for SCs and STs, among others. The government should concentrate on creating conditions that would allow the private sector to function in an efficient manner, and not create distortions in the name of correcting other discrepancies. There is no need to even engage in a dialogue on job reservation in the private sector…