Debating India

OBC RESERVATION

Quota: India Inc gives in?

Thursday 20 April 2006

NEW DELHI: India Inc seems to have reconciled itself to the need to embrace affirmative action on job quotas in the private sector. CII has set up a task force to prepare a roadmap for affirmative action in eight weeks in what is seen as a manoeuvre to head off the pressure for a legislation.

Bharti Group chief Sunil Mittal reflected the mood when he acknowledged the need to take the initiative on that count.

But there remained a huge gap between the politicians spearheading the quota campaign and industry. Dalit MPs, now joined by their OBC equivalents, don’t wish to leave the issue to corporates, and are insisting on a law.

The corporate sector, on its part, is opposed to a law, with some leading lights like Rahul Bajaj warning of serious consequences. "There will be a backlash from those who don’t benefit from the system," said Bajaj.

Other corporate leaders like ITC’s Y C Deveshwar also expressed their opposition to such a law soon after Prime Minister finished speaking. Mittal said that a middle path needed to be found.

Unlike politicians who are concerned about quotas, to industry affirmative action means a whole array of measures, including preferences for Dalit entrepreneurs and farmers in sourcing raw materials and inputs.

Prime Minister seemed to be concerned more with politically correct themes of environment and land reforms. Speaking a day after he came in for attack from Arundhati Roy for not stopping construction of the Narmada dam, he made an attempt to reach out to the greens.

"I think the time has come to squarely address the issue of development, displacement and environment," he said in what many saw as an attempt to repair his standing with the vocal NBA activists.

See online : The Times of India

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