While India debates whether caste should be included in its population census, industry chamber CII has done its own statistical digging to assess the ground reality. Its findings: despite the absence of reserved quotas in the private sector, scheduled castes (SCs), scheduled tribes (STs) and other backward classes (OBCs) are already well entrenched in southern India’s private firms.
The Confederation of Indian Industry data reveals SC/STs make up 16.2 per cent of its member workforce — not far behind the 22.5 per cent reservation mark for these categories of people in government jobs. OBCs account for 51.8 per cent.
The survey was across 270 firms (10 per cent of CII firms) in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Puducherry, where average SC/ST population is 19.3 per cent.
A similar exercise is on for the north and will be followed by surveys in the west and east.
“The findings in the south show there is already a fair representation of SC, ST and OBC in the private sector,” CII president Hari S. Bhartia told HT.
Tamil Nadu appears to employ a higher number of SC/STs, owing to the presence of a large base of textile and apparel manufacturing units, the survey carried out by Feedback Ventures said.
Excluding Puducherry, the four states have 44 per cent of the total urban OBC population, according to a 2006 parliamentary standing committee report. That year, the government had asked industry to prepare base-line data on SC/ST employment to ascertain industry-wise progress later on.
Industry leaders oppose mandatory job quota. “Voluntary action would get better results,” Bhartia said. “Companies will continue to invest in the 4Es — employability, education, entrepreneurship and employment — with the focus on employability. This may be an incremental method of addressing this social issue but is a surer way of doing things, and in alignment with the inclusiveness agenda of the government.”