Making a strong pitch for the formation of Equal Opportunity Commission without any change in its mandate, Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said the body will boost the government's efforts for affirmative action to help the disadvantaged sections of society.
"If EOC comes, affirmative action will get a shot in the arm. Right now affirmative action is all about advocacy, motivation, pushing, cajoling people. EOC will ensure that both private and public sectors respond to affirmative action plans of the government," Khurshid said in an interview.
The formation of EOC, which aims at ensuring affirmative action for all deprived groups by enforcing diversity index for both public and private sectors, was recommended by the Sachar Committee that went into the socio-economic conditions of minorities and has been on the priority list of both the UPA I and UPA II. It is now under consideration of a GoM.
However, even after two meetings of the high-profile GoM chaired by Defence Minister A K Antony, differences still persist over the mandate and location of the ministry.
While a number of existing national commissions looking after scheduled castes, minorities, women have apprehended that EOC can encroach upon their mandate, there have also been sharp differences on whether the EOC should function under Ministry of Minority Affairs or Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment headed by Mukul Wasnik.
Khurshid refused to give a time-frame for EOC formation.
"There is no timeline. GoM has never given any time line...the sooner the better. It's a dramatic step and I don't think one should take a dramatic step in a hurry and then regret later. We have to keep all stakeholders convinced and take everybody on board and and then move in a consensual manner," he said.
Claiming that "things are moving", Khurshid said he has no problem in the process taking some time.