New Delhi: Liberalisation and a free market economy have not changed traditional biases in companies.
A study conducted by American and Indian scholars shows that there is a caste bias in the country’s private sector with companies preferring to recruit upper-caste candidates even if they are less qualified.
Two Princeton University researchers, who are studying discrimination in the new market economy, and Indian scholars like University Grants Chairperson Sukhdeo Thorat have found that even in the private sector merit is not always the guiding factor.
The researchers responded to 548 job advertisements in over 66 weeks and sent about 4,800 applications were sent. The applicants were divided into three broad categories: those who had conspicuous upper-caste surname, those who had clear Dalit surnames and the third group comprised those who had Muslim names. Broadly, all three categories had similar professional qualifications.
The results were shocking: For every 100 upper-caste candidates who received calls for interviews, only 67 Dalit and 33 Muslim candidates were called. Upper-caste candidates who were not well qualified got better responses than Dalit applicants with higher degrees.
"Here as well as in the USA, problems of discrimination remain persistent and are necessary to deal with in terms of policy," says Princeton University Professor Katherine Newman.
Professor B C Mungekar of the Planning Commission said, "There is a basic conflict of the ascriptive role of caste in Indian society, in an achievement-oriented, market-based economy, over a period of time, particularly after 1991."
This has proved beyond a doubt that there is an upper-caste preference in the job market. The study comes at a time then the government has been trying to attempting to convince the private sector that there is a need for affirmative action.