New Delhi: The Government doesn’t want to force the private sector to implement reservation and would prefer that companies do it voluntarily.
Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Meira Kumar said this in an interview to Karan Thapar on CNBC’s programme, India Tonight.
"You have to do it amicably. I am the last person to do it by legislation. Please don't force me to a situation where we have to think of legislation. I have great regard for captains of industry and they should do it. I think they understand their moral responsibility," Kumar said.
The UPA Government was committed to implementing reservations for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, said Kumar.
"The commitment is to both affirmative action and reservation. Affirmative action includes reservation," she said adding the implementation was "not just a possibility but it is a commitment".
Kumar said she voluntary action or legislation was the only way to implement reservation in the private sector. "I suppose there is no third way".
Kumar, who had last month said that the Government would be forced to bring in a law if the private sector did not implement reservation, denied that she was on a collision course with business and industry on the issue. "We have to work with mutual cooperation," she said.
She dismissed as "too hypothetical" a query whether government would drop the demand for reservation in private sector if the industry succeeded in showing that it already employed enough number of people from the deprived sections.
She regretted that the industry and business was "all the time doubting the merit of SC/ST and said government has a "case" for the downtrodden in the country in the form of its proposal.
When confronted with the latest national Sample Survey (NSS) figures, which spoke of the SC/ST as also the OBC getting employment as per their share of the population, Kumar said that she was “not suspicious” about the figures but the deprived sections are generally considered for employment in lower categories.
To claims by certain industry organisations that several companies had already employed sizeable people from the weaker sections, the Minister said that the industry earlier was not even once ready to look into the composition of its workforce despite her pleadings.
"The need of the hour is that we should find job opportunities for SCs/STs in the private sector," Kumar said adding that that the proposal in the national common minimum programme was only related to SC/ST and not for OBC.