Reservation In Private Sector
For Dalits A Political Stunt
By Dr.Vivek Kumar
01 October, 2004
Congress-led UPA Government has started a dialogue on affirmative action
including reservations in the private sector for Dalits. It is quite
possibly the first time in modern politics that a Central Government
has pushed forward an agenda without genuine public demand. What is
astonishing is there has not been a single move by the Dalits for such
reservation but even so the Government is trying to build a consensus
on the issue.
Second, this policy
was declared in Maharashtra, which is going to the election polls in
October. But we all know that it was in Maharashtra that Dalits have
led the longest movement of "Namantar Movement" for getting
Marathwada University's name changed after Babasaheb Ambedkar.
So the logical question
is if a Government was not able to change the name of a university after
a long movement, how is it ready to give reservation to Dalits in the
private sector even without any demands by them? For this reason, it
seems to be more or less a political stunt by the Congress party, which
has no long-term plan for the Dalits and has lost its credentials among
them at national level in general and in Maharashtra in particular.
Though there is
a need for the policy of affirmative action in the private sector because
of a shrinking number of Government and public sector jobs due to privatisation,
liberalisation globalisation, and disinvestment, Dalits are not convinced
that the policy will see the light of day in the near future.
Judging by the past
record of the Congress Government, it has not been able to fulfil the
allotted quota of reservation (15 per cent for the Dalits under Article
335 of the Indian Constitution in the central Government and public
sectors) even 57 years after the commencement of the reservation policy.
Mind you, this quota has been enshrined in the Constitution. Second,
the various governments took 44 years to identify other backward classes
and to begin the implementation of reservation for them. Then how can
Dalits believe that the Government will implement a reservation policy
that is not yet born?
That is why the
whole exercise looks more like a political stunt and it seems the Congress
wants to hide its own sins of not implementing the reservation in the
Government and public sector and plans to shift the debate to the private
If it were sincere
and seriously believed that reservation is necessary for the uplift
of Dalits, then it should have taken concrete steps toward filling the
backlog of vacancies within the Government. What is it waiting for?
The Government should immediately remove the administrative hurdles
before this plan.
have shown a vast reservoir of educated and trained Dalits in every
field. For instance, there are some 6,32,689 Dalit graduates today.
Out of them there are 30,193 BE and 12,615 MBBS. Therefore, the Government
machinery has to find some other lacunae for the posts still vacant
in different sectors. The long established excuse that candidates are
not available or not suitable does not hold.
Instead of taking
these aforementioned steps, the Government of the day, through its Dalit
faces like Meira Kumar and Ram Vilas Paswan, is unsuccessfully trying
to have a dialogue with only the private sector. The private sector
is abusing the whole community as devoid of merit. These politicians
do not have any authentic data to build an argument on the issue of
reservation in the private sector. In fact, they do not have any answers
for the questions raised by the private sector players asking whether
it is a step against industrialisation.
are unable to explain why the jobs are withering away in the Government
and the private sector as depicted by the Government's own document,
'Economic Survey 2003-2004'. How can they still talk of reservation
in the private sector? Do they have any answer to what the Government
is doing with the money earned through the disinvestment of the public
sector units? Are they allocating a certain portion of it to the welfare
of the Dalits because they had a share in the form of reservation in
the public sector?
These are, therefore,
a few important issues which the Government should discuss to create
confidence among the Dalits. It needs to make the masses aware of the
reservations first in the Government/public sector. Private sector can
come later. The Government should understand the spirit of the reservation
policy and not make it a programme of poverty alleviation by extending
it to every sector and to every caste and community, while failing to
declare any modalities for its implementation.
Dr. Vivek Kumar is Asstt. Professor, Centre for the Study of Social
Systems, School of Social Sciences ,Jawaharlal Nehru University New