. . . . . . "Dalit Solidarity News" is an information project run by the International Dalit Solidarity Network. News stories are extracts from online newsservices. Link to the full story is found at the end of each blog. Visit the International Dalit Solidarity Network at www.idsn.org

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Formed in 2000, the IDSN is a network of international organisations, national solidarity networks and affected country groups, campaigning against caste-based discrimination throughout the world, from the dalits of South Asia to the Osu of Nigeria and the Burakumin of Japan. Visit our website International Dalit Solidarity Network for more information. SUBMIT DALIT NEWS HERE

Thursday, June 03, 2004  
The Times of India - Business India
2 June 2004

Quota spectre spreads disquiet in India Inc

NEW DELHI : Industry is stunned by the govt's plea to extend job quotas for weaker sections to private enterprises as well, saying this will affect industrial growth.

Industry lobby groups and analysts say the suggestion by the Congress-led coalition government, supported by the Left parties, will make industry less competitive against its overseas rivals.

"The present day market is very competitive and the Indian companies have to operate in a global environment. And in a globally competitive atmosphere, there is no way you can have such reservations," Bhaumik said.

In its Common Minimum Programme released last week, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) said last week that it was "very sensitive to the issue of affirmative action including reservations" in the private industry sector.

"It (the government) will immediately initiate a national dialogue with all political parties, industry and other organisations to see how best the private sector can fulfil the aspirations of Scheduled Caste and Schedule Tribe youth."

Industry officials warn that if the proposal becomes a reality, investors, even domestic ones, will think twice before investing their money in the private sector.

The Indian constitution established quotas in government jobs and in educational institutions for members of what are called Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes with a view to helping end centuries of discrimination against them.

"One can think of proposing this kind of reservations when the economy is generating a lot of jobs. But this is not the case. The job market hasn't been very strong in the last few years."

Bhaumik of CII said the government must explore other available options for boosting the employment market instead of using job quota as a tool to help youths get service in the private sector.

"Employment generation must be an important part of any government's economic policy. The focus should be on creating opportunities that will enable people to approach job market on their own."

A senior official of a New Delhi-based software development company expressed fear that since employment generation was a sensitive issue, very few political parties were likely to oppose it when it was taken up for discussion.

"Today everybody realises that a (political) party that has no solution for creating job opportunities will suffer in the elections. So the parties are projecting the quota system," said the official who didn't want to be named.

"But the fact is we are not bothered about caste and creed of our professionals. The only thing that matters for us is merit and we hope it will continue to be so."

Read the full story

8:17 AM

Wednesday, June 02, 2004  
Indian Express
2 June 2004

Mumbai missile: quotas for pvt sector

MAHARASHTRA: Eye on polls, govt gets law ready; unfair, says India Inc

It may yet turn out to be an election gimmick but for now it’s giving Corporate India nightmares. Armed with a legislation passed by the Assembly earlier this year, the Congress-led Democratic Front government in Maharashtra is fine-tuning a move to introduce reservation for backward classes in the private sector.

A formal Government Resolution is expected by the end of June or early July.

The Maharashtra State Public Services (Reservations for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, De-notified Tribes, Nomadic Tribes, Special Backward Category and Other Backward Classes) Act, was passed by the Legislature earlier this year.

It makes reservation mandatory in all government and semi-government bodies, education institutions and companies, which have been given aid in the form of government land at concessional rates or any other monetary concessions by the government or is recognised, licensed, supervised or controlled by the government.

The definition is so wide that most industries in the state fall under its ambit.

Expectedly, the corporate world is not happy. ‘‘Merit should be the prime motivator for recruitment,’’said Anand Mahindra, president, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). ‘‘Anything that is mandatorily and unilaterally enforced will be counter productive.’’

The committee included legislators from ruling and opposition parties. It cleared the legislation, which was passed by the legislature unanimously on the last day of the winter session in January.

The General Administration Department (GAD) has not decided on the percentage of vacancies to be reserved by the private sector, the staff levels that would come under reservation, and the nature of the supervisory authority.

However, there are a few who believe in the merits of reservation. Welcoming the move, V.N. Dhoot, chairman, Videocon Group said: ’’I think there should be at least 15-20 per cent reservations in the private sector.’’

Read the full story

11:26 AM

Tuesday, June 01, 2004  
MAY 30, 2004

Public hearing on discrimination faced by Dalits

AHMEDABAD: In the first initiative of its kind, a state-level public hearing was held on two major issues relating to discrimination faced by Dalits in Gujarat . The hearing was based on a 10-month-long research carried out by 10 NGOs which covered 11 districts.

The hearing which was held on May 1 and 2 at Nanidevti village near Sanad addressed the issues of payment of minimum wages to Dalit agricultural labourers and discrimination in providing access to primary education for Dalit children. The research, carried out in districts where the Dalit population is more than 5 per cent as per the 1991 census, covered 55 talukas where 901 primary schools, 3,354 Dalit agricultural labourers and about 6,000 children were interviewed.

Based on the findings of this research and eight case studies that were presented at the hearing, judges Syeda Hameed, S K Thorat, Bela Bhatia and Chandubhai Maheriya made certain recommendations. The NGOs then chalked out an action plan based on these recommendations, which will be released on June 7.

Geeta Oza, working with Behavioural Science Centre and the Banaskantha Dalit Sanghtan, said, "The public hearing was necessitated by the breakdown of the judicial machinery in the state, especially over the past two years when the state shirked its responsibility of providing justice to the Dalits and the marginalised."

Oza cited a number of examples like the 213 Dalit farmers from Banaskantha who owned land only on paper according to the Land Ceiling Act of 1950, and a backlog in apprenticeship at the Gujarat Electricity Board where 25,000 Dalit youth are eligible.

"The public hearing was a means to build pressure on the government machinery and provide a platform for combined and sustained efforts of the Dalits," said Oza.

Read the full story

7:09 AM

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