The government has convened a meeting of industry representatives next month to take stock of India Inc's voluntary affirmative action plan on jobs to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe individuals.
Sources who did not wish to be identified said the Principal Secretary in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), TKA Nair, would chair the meeting. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh constituted a coordination committee for affirmative action in the private sector in October 2006, headed by Nair.
The meeting, scheduled to be held on July 14, comes three months after the government had asked India Inc to incorporate employment data of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in their annual reports for the financial year 2006-07.
In a letter to all three apex industry chambers—Assocham, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI)—the department of industrial policy and promotion had asked whether data on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes recruited from January 1, 2007, could be incorporated in the Annual Reports for 2006-07.
The government has asked the industry to compile baseline data on such employment in the private sector in order to ascertain the industry-wise progress later.
The government has also sought to know whether the companies could select from a band of suitable/competent candidates so that Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe candidates falling within the band of eligible persons could be recruited in larger numbers.
Sources said these issues were expected to come up for discussion during the meeting with the coordination committee headed by Nair. The government, it appears, is not satisfied with the overall progress on affirmative action.
The three chambers have written to their respective members to include data on Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe employees in their annual reports for 2006-07.
A leading Delhi-based industrialist, who did not wish to be identified, said the idea of employee profiles on caste lines could have dangerous consequences. "Such an exercise could lead to tension on the factory floor and the ramifications from a human resource perspective could be grave," he said.
The CII and Assocham had submitted to the government a joint affirmative action plan in July 2006 that committed to encourage employment of persons from socially backward communities at all levels, including managerial posts, progressively and had said the efforts would be more visible within the next year (2007).
Specifically, the plan states that larger companies will mentor and create at least one entrepreneur from the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes every year. To begin with, 100 entrepreneurs will be created in the first year, which will be scaled up in the future.