New Delhi: Pushing hard for reservation in the private sector, the Centre on Tuesday asked industry to show its performance on this front in the first three months of the new year and told it that if the performance is not found to be satisfactory, the government will be compelled to enact a legislation to make reservation mandatory from the first quarter of 2007-08.
The Secretary of Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ajay Dua, has asked India Inc to incorporate the data of the SC/STs recruited from January 1, 2007 onwards in their annual reports for the financial year ending March 2007.
"But if the department is not convinced with the quantum of voluntary affirmative action by companies, it will enact a legislation for mandatory reservation in Q1 of 2007-08," Dua wrote in a letter to the three prominent industry associations on February 23.
DIPP feels that incorporation of this data will reveal the seriousness of private sector on their commitment to affirmative action.
Last year, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had asked the private sector to come forward and voluntarily carve out space for SC/STs. Minister for social justice Meira Kumar had also sounded off India Inc that failure to act on their own would make them face a legislation.
However, the government later decided to avoid any legislative measure to make reservation mandatory in the private sector following a commitment on voluntary affirmative action from by industry bodies like Assocham and CII.
The industry bodies are upset with the letter, saying such a headcount could divide the factory floor along caste lines.
Dua's letter was addressed to Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci).
"The member companies need to be told by the chambers in more specific terms about the ways and means of promoting affirmative action," the letter said.
According to Ficci Secretary-General Amit Mitra, the feedback that the association has received from its members is that such an exercise could lead to divisions and tensions on the factory floor along caste lines.
Assocham and CII have already told their members to include the employment data of SCs and STs in their annual reports. The two industry bodies have also chalked out a joint affirmative action plan in this regard.
“There is no disagreement on the observation that the code on promoting inclusiveness of SCs and STs needs to be made operational and action-oriented,” The Economic Times quoted Assocham Secretary-General DS Rawat as saying.