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VSNL gets caste conscious

The company has asked its employees to submit information regarding their caste by Friday, reports M Rajendran.

india Updated: May 01, 2006 01:28 IST

Is the New York Stock Exchange concerned about the caste of those employed in Indian companies? And does it ask the firms listed on its bourses to provide data on caste equation?

Employees of the Tata-owned Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL) are led to believe so. VSNL, which is listed in NYSE, has asked its employees to submit information regarding their caste latest by Friday.

A memo from the HR department to VSNL employees says that according to the requirements of NYSE, the company has to be Sarbanes-Oxley compliant. (This means a high standard in the reporting of finances, internal audit and control.) As part of that, the details of employees are being updated and uploaded.

The note adds: "As per requirement towards our licencing conditions and the requirements of the Government of India for information, the company would require maintaining information about the nationality and caste details of all employees."

VSNL employees are nonplussed. "When we were a government-owned company we had to give details of caste as it was necessary to fill reserved seats," said one of them. "When private companies are opposed to reservation, how does it matter which caste the employee belongs to?"

Sources pointed out that with Tata holding 70 per cent and the government 24 per cent in VSNL, there is no mandatory requirement for the company to collect or report data about the caste break-up. 

Heads of some private firms that have a joint venture with government said they had not heard of any new directive. Nor have they determined caste details of the workforce in the past 50 years.