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India Inc?s answer to quota

The India Inc has come up with something: Affirmative action is open-ended, with no fixed numbers.

india Updated: Apr 21, 2006 20:00 IST

Just when the Government thought India Inc was being needlessly mulish in its resistance to jobs for the underprivileged, the latter has come up with something: affirmative action (AA).

Now, that's what the Government has been talking about, hasn't it? Precisely, said sources. "We have been talking about affirmative action," said a Government functionary, adding, "not quota or reservation".

The difference between the two is simply this: while quota sets aside a certain number of seats/positions for beneficiaries, AA is open-ended, with no fixed numbers.

R Seshasayee, the newly elected president of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), said on Thursday, "Mandatory reservation in any form is not conducive to competitiveness of the industry. It is not acceptable."

Seshasayee, however, said industry needed to take positive action to empower the backward classes and help them develop abilities to compete. "To ensure that SCs, STs and OBCs are able to compete and acquire job skills and as our response to the Government's call for reservation in the private sector, we are setting up a task force on affirmative action under the chairmanship of JJ Irani," he said.

The Government, said sources, was not contemplating a legislation. Not yet, at least. The Law Ministry has not been asked to work on one and the Ministry for Social Justice will move in that direction only after getting the cabinet's nod to a recommendation for constitutional amendment by the eGoM led by Sharad Pawar.

Sources also said the Government was talking of affirmative action only for SC/STs and not OBCs.