Govt may rule out quotas in private sector
Wednesday, February 22, 2006 (New Delhi):
The government’s move to reserve jobs in the private sector has suffered a severe setback.
In their last meeting, the Group of Ministers (GoM), set up to examine the issue, virtually said the reservation was impossible.
Reservation in private sector was one of the most contentious ideas thrown up by the Common Minimum Programme of the UPA government.
NDTV now has access to the confidential minutes of the latest GoM meeting:
The Attorney General jurists and the Law Ministry said a constitutional amendment was needed before any job reservation could be done in the private sector. In reply, cabinet ministers concluded that the political feasibility and legality of making amendments need to be carefully considered. The ministers include Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal.
They now want the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to prepare a note for the Cabinet, as it is a sensitive matter and beyond their brief. The move comes despite the fact that the ministers’ mandate was to examine affirmative action, including reservation in the private sector. More importantly, this had been also mentioned in the UPA’s Common Minimum Programme.
No follow up However, GoM actually never picked up steam and there was no follow up action to the January 2005 proposal for tax breaks as incentives to the industry. During the November 2004 meeting, there was a proposal that talks should be held with industrialists at Chennai, Kolkata, Guwahati, Mumbai and Bangalore. But that never materialized and corporate India remained bitterly opposed to this.
The two champions of reservation in private sector, Railways Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav and LNJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan, were not even present when the decision to refer the issue back to Cabinet was taken. The lack of seriousness at the GoM and the inherent opposition to the idea of affirmative action could have led to the scuttling of the move. Observers point out that the ball is now in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s court.