The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) has said that the promise by the Indian industry to voluntarily reserve jobs for SC/STs could become a 'farce' unless there is a legislation compelling them to have quotas.
"When the public sector enterprises have failed to follow the reservation policy in letter and spirit despite having a law, how can we expect that the private sector will reserve jobs for the weaker sections of the society without legislation," NCSC chairman Buta Singh told PTI.
On Saturday in a meeting with T K A Nair, Principal Secretary in the Prime Minister's Office, industry captains like Bharti Group Chairman Sunil Mittal, Videocon Chairman Venugopal Dhoot and others told that voluntary action would be better than legislation.
The PMO had convened the meeting to take stock of India Inc's "voluntary affirmative action" plan on jobs to SCs, STs.
"The living condition of SCs is like slaves. Unless there is a law, all promises of voluntary action would prove to be a farce. . . nothing but false promises. A law is a must," Singh said.
Citing the example of public sector undertakings, which were disinvested post liberalisation, he said all such units have given up the reservation policy after being taken over by the private sector.
"The day they (the units) were privatised, they finished the quota," Singh claimed.
"There is no monitoring. . . no commitment. . . no honesty (in implementing reservation in private sector)," Singh said.
Dhoot, who is also Assocham president, had said the chamber has created a corpus of Rs 5 crore (Rs 50 million) for skill upgradation of SCs and STs.
He also proposed a 1 per cent education tax on corporate profits to fund elementary education for SCs, STs and OBCs.
Ficci chairman Amit Mitra had said the chamber will adopt 50 industrial training institutes this year and graduate 5,000 SC/ST students in an equal partnership with the central government.
"We have requested the government to offer half of the stipend of Rs 750 per month for each SC/ST student; Ficci will bear the other half and also train 100 SC/ST students over one year," he had said.
The CII and Assocham had submitted to the government a joint affirmative action plan in July last year that committed to encourage employment of persons from socially backward communities at all levels, including managerial posts.
In March this year, the government had asked India Inc to incorporate employment data of SCs and STs in their annual reports for the year 2006-07. The government has asked industry to compile base-line data on such employment in order to enable an assessment of industry-wise progress.
The government has also sought to know whether the companies can select from a band of suitable candidates so that SC and ST candidates falling within this band can be recruited in larger numbers.